Tuesday, September 8, 2015

How to Write about the Bad Stuff and Still Keep Your Writing - Clean

It's not always easy to write, especially when you're writing something of a sensitive nature. And while I do believe a writer should be honest in what they write, I don't ever believe they should be blatant in what they put to paper.

There's something to be said about caution in the midst of turmoil, and I truly believe a writer can write their heart and soul out without explicitness or scenes that share all.

Emotion has far greater power than anything visually blatant that a writer can pen, though there are many writers out there who believe cuss words are okay, and at least one bedroom scene in their novel is what reader's expect.

Actually, they don't. But perhaps that's why I write Christian fiction and non-fiction, cozy mysteries and Christian middle readers. I am giving the reader what they expect.

Of course, in any novel, there needs to be opposition, a protagonist as well as an antagonist. There needs to be a pulling at both sides of the rope, so to speak. And your book may have a murder in it. A rape. A child abduction.

In a nutshell, there needs to be something (perhaps many something's) that cause the main character to grow and change. Do you need to lay out every possible image, every possible crude word, to get your point across.?

Have you ever heard the phrase, less is more?

Why not shut the door when the bedroom scene begins.
Why not say, "he swore," instead of using the word.
Why not focus on the inner feelings of the person being raped, or the child being abducted, than on the blood and gore.

If you write adult books, I don't think you need to cater to what some consider 'the norm.' Who wants to be normal anyway?

Not me!

If you don't speak that way yourself. If you don't watch those things in your own life, or hate to see them flashing across your television screen, why write about them in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable?

If you're having a difficult time finding a publisher because your mainstream books are 'too clean' consider self-publishing. I have personally never been sorry.



  1. It can definitely be a challenge! I write about mental illness, addiction, abuse, gangs, street kids, foster care, prostitution, etc. and writing about these heart-wrenching topics in a way that is not too graphic or uncomfortable is a skill that I have had to develop. I can't promise that it won't offend or disturb anyone (and one of my books I did have to put a warning on and make sure that it was not included in any YA categories, because one chapter is just too disturbing, even though it is not gory,) but I do my best to keep it no higher than PG!

    1. Thank you for your comments. Warnings are great on books - don't see them much; I wish they came with ratings like on movies - but I like what you're doing.

  2. Thank you for your candor about graphic and disturbing novels! I too prefer that a more graphic novel comes with some kind of a warning explaining that it's very gory, explicit, or "too mature in nature" for teenagers. That warning can be written inside the back cover, or in a Foreward, or on an introductory page - just as long as there is something there! Also, thank you for trying to keep them at the PG level !

    1. Thanks, Jonathan. Sometimes, the difficult things, like striving to keep your books on the PG level, mean the most - especially when others like yourself, agree.


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