Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The fine line

I've let a whole week go by without posting. I refuse to be ruled by the blogging world and the pressure of having to post often! LOL If I have time and something interesting to say, I'll post. If not, I'd rather work on my book any day.

I've had some interesting thoughts lately. First let me ask a question. Where is the fine line of writing about things that can easily be taken as offensive to others? Say for example, you are an active member of a church, do you delve into it's fascinating and sometime controversial history and write stories that cast a negative light? Is it wrong to write something that other members of your church would read and freak out about?

The reason I ask is because I have a friend who is writing a story that is getting this reaction. So, I ask again. Where is the line? Is there a line? Do you "write honestly" as Stephen King says, or do you stay true to your own spirituality, ethics and beliefs and not write that way? Or is THAT what he means about writing honestly. Is everyone "honest-ness" at a different level? Can't decide if I love that.

Then comes in the question of cussing and sex in your story. How honest is honest? As for me, the rule of thumb I use is . . . Would I let my kids read this? Since I write YA it's a pretty easy answer for me. Do I ever read books that I wouldn't let my teenagers read. Yes. Am I a hypocrite? Sometimes. Yep. I think we all are.

Also, I wouldn't want to write something that would make a person question where I stand in my beliefs. I like my ethics and morals to come out in what I write. I want people to be able to trust that I'll give them a fun, clean story. But should that rule apply to everyone? I can't decide what I think. We're all different. We all have something special to offer. Where is that dang line anyway?


Chris Catledge said...

The questions you ask are the questions that I struggle with on a daily basis.

I think you have to be true to your genre. If you write YA, then by all means you've set yourself up to a certain code of ethics. You owe it to your following.

Human emotions, graphic details, and expressions outside of a Quaker mentality are, for me, what makes literature great. The ability to pour my unconscious mind on paper and invoke feelings in others is why I write. I feel that when your muse is looking over your shoulder and it embarrasses you, then by all means write it. Put her to shame.

Nicole MacDonald said...

write honest, there is no need for bluntness and rudeness though! Actually just did a post on honesty - cept it was about the honesty of the person critiquing :)

Ann Best said...

Melissa, I think I'm getting to where you are with blogging. It's been almost a week since I've posted too, partly because of a difficult week, no aide yet for my disabled daughter, and other family responsibilities and activities. And I did spend all day yesterday getting a good draft of my memoir. So, priorities.

As to Be Honest. I don't think it means letting all the dirty laundry hang out, or using swear words if you don't feel comfortable doing it. But the dialogue has to be true to the character. Tough decisions to make.

A thought-provoking post. Thank you.

Kaylie said...

I don't know but I think the honesty part has to do with your characters. You need to be true to them. If your characters believe a certain way that's different than your beliefs, then I say go for it. I enjoy the challenge of seeing things from another point of view. Of course it's scary and people will hate it, but people will be offended no matter what you write. If someone assumes you think and believe the same way your characters do, then they don't know how to separate an author from her words, so do you really care what they think if they rush to judge you?

Melissa J. Cunningham said...

All great comments! Thank you and I think you all are right. You need to be true to your genre and true to your characters. And . . . true to yourself.

Old Kitty said...


I leave all that to my characters! They can be as obnoxious and as horrid as they want - my job will be to keep the narrative strong and believable and interesting and honest. I hope anyway! LOL!

Take care

Jennie said...

good thoughts... not sure i have answers... :)

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