Monday, February 18, 2013

Writing in the Sensitive

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My novel, Neverlove, tackles a few heavy-hitting topics:

Familial sexual abuse


Unrealistic expectations

When topics like these aren’t handled well (determining this is, of course, subjective to each reader), they can result in a DNF – did not finish – like the review I saw for a novel.  A rape scene caused the DNF, not so much because it was in the novel, but because it had no purpose, it played no part in driving the story forward so the reviewers couldn’t appreciate the way it was handled.

For Neverlove, I tread delicately when addressing the familial sexual abuse in particular. There is a deeply painful violation in the real life act. Bringing this matter into the story, I didn’t want to add insult to injury for readers who may have experienced it before by treating it as some instant I’m-over-it kind of thing.

It was suggested to me, once, to leave it out altogether. I gave that suggestion a great deal of thought. But my main character, Abby, came back with a response of her own, “I came to you broken and in need of mending, in need of sharing the pain of my past so others can know they are not alone as I’ve always thought I was alone.”

Nuff said.

What about you? Have you ever written about (or considered writing about) a very sensitive topic? Perhaps you’ve read a book that deals with a very touchy or even taboo subject. What was your response to the way it was handled?

~ Angela Browna lover of Wild Cherry Pepsi and chocolate/chocolate covered delicious-ness, also author of the dark YA Neverlove with elements of paranormal, romance and action woven throughout.

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  1. I've played it safe. My main character had a rough childhood due to his parent's death and abandonment by sister. but I never thought of those things as sensitive.

    1. Characters can be flawed in so many ways for so many reasons, even with examples you touch upon with your novel.

  2. You know me, I can't go there! I have to go to the light side. And while Neverlove had those elements, the book was about overcoming, so I was able to read it and enjoy it.

  3. Angela, I think writing about sensitive issues is important, albeit hard. It takes a lot of courage. For me writing a sex scene was sensitive enough... but I worked through it. I think that our comfort zone, once we expand it, grows and so do we.

    I know this is not like a sensitive issue like rape, or sexual abuse... but this would be a really great exercise for writers to do this just for themselves. But you're right that it must be a key and move the story forward. Sometimes it's not writing that bothers me, but the reading it.

  4. I agree with Karlene, it's so important that these issues aren't ignored. And I applaud you for having the courage to do so. Neverlove was excellent and you did a fantastic job of tackling such an issue.