Friday Fun – Taboo Subjects

Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, get-to-know-us question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.

QUESTION: Is there any topic that you refuse to write about – out of respect, fear, or discomfort?

LisaJJackson_2014Lisa J. Jackson: Not generally speaking; I make sure my writing is appropriate for the audience I’m writing for. This blog is about the writing life, so unless something is related to writing in some way, I won’t write about it here.  Having said that — if something is related to either of my fictional personas, I may or may not write about it here as the genres are not all encompassing or appealing to a mixed audience.

Julie Hennrikus: In my genre, cozy mysteries, there are “rules” for topics and the way subjects are discussed. No excessive violence, sex mostly off stage, children and animals should be safe from harm. I agree with Lisa, I try and stay true to my audience, so I don’t write about politics, for example, on my writing blogs. But honestly, I might not enjoy writing about some subjects, but if it is necessary for the work, I would do it.

Deborah Lee LuskinDeborah Lee Luskin: While I agree that writing for your audience is paramount, I also believe that the job of the writer is to speak the truth, regardless how uncomfortable, troubling, or dark. For me, there aren’t subjects that are taboo, but ways of treating them that are.


wendy-shotWendy Thomas: With my writing, I choose to tell positive stories. As a result I *try* to stay away from certain language and some “controversial” topics (namely the big 3 – politics, religion, and money – except for how to be thrifty) are, for the most part, off limits.

That’s doesn’t mean I won’t write about them, what it means is that for my *general* audience I watch what I say and how I say it.

As a writer though, I want to make it very clear that I believe that there is no taboo subject. (It’s that old freedom of speech thing.) The reason I might object to someone’s writing (50 Shades) is not the topic but instead the objection will lie with its delivery.

If you write well, you can write well about anything.

21 thoughts on “Friday Fun – Taboo Subjects

  1. It’s a fine balance. I rarely write on taboo subjects (in a weird coincidence, I did at the start of today’s post) and when I do, I always slightly regret it. I have a typically British sense of humour and can’t always repress it.

  2. I’ll write to tell about a mirror that people has stopped looking into it. I’ll write about the leaf that has been dried and has no use. I’ll write about real emotions.

  3. As a teacher, mother, and writer of fiction aimed at a younger audience (YA and below typically) I am often amazed at how some subjects are handled in, for example, contemporary YA fiction. To me, who grew up on Babysitter’s Club, Nancy Drew, etc. a day writing means an escape from the terrors of reality, including sex, drugs, etc. However, a glancing blow or passing statement can be found because I am not a robot. I have humor and a twisted brain…But I do try my best to avoid my personal taboo subjects in both my blog and my books.
    Every once in a while I might mention them or, if it is relevant to something I’m working on or a trending topic I’ve been asked about, I may even do a post. But I then make sure they are clearly marked. (My dad is a Church of Christ minister and that has a lot to do with how I handle these things. Heaven forbid I say ‘dang’! 😉 )

  4. Pingback: Friday Fun – Taboo Subjects | JCU // Creative Writing Workshop

  5. What an interesting topic. I believe your responses are on target. I agree with Julie that audience is a top priority. With Facebook, a phenomenon with which I have a love/hate relationship, I absolutely avoid politics. And my blog, I try to simply stay on task with my theme, so I’m not, or at least I’m going to try hard to not rant and rave against editors who judge a narrative by its word count. I’ll stop there! 🙂
    When it comes to my own writing–literary fiction is my chosen genre (with a dose of fantasy every now and then)–I will write about almost everything…BUT one thing, I will not do. I cannot write or let’s say incorporate into a narrative extremely personal situations involving my siblings. I have a series of stories, one of which was published in The Sun magazine, that is based on my own experience as a young boy, but I was able to shape it–fiction-wise–into a meaningful narrative that doesn’t harm anyone

  6. Sorry hit the wrong button again…gaaaa. I’ll finish by saying that while my two sisters and one brother have endured a number of life experiences that could make for an interesting story or two, I truly believe the pain these stories would cause far outweighs the need to communicate them and no good cause would be served.

  7. Really like this post, it is an interesting topic, whether or not to write about taboo subjects. But my stance is that once a writer lets he/she be dictated one what they can or cannot write, then right there they loose a good piece of their freedom and creativity. Sometimes the subjects we write about aren’t pretty or “in style” or “politically correct.” But we mustn’t loose our voice and the power it may have. That being said, writers need to understand that truly the pen is mightier than the sword. Writers have to be careful not to purposely insight violence and death because of their views. So really, be careful and make sure you are 100% behind what you write. Great post again 🙂

  8. There are things I don’t like to write about. For example, I don’t like writing about what I won’t write about because it will most likely be a lie as soon I as finish writing it. If I say I won’t write about sex, my brain will find away to do it in a way I am comfortable with, thereby making my statement that I don’t write about sex a lie.

    The above comment is best read after two glasses of a nice dry white wine…

  9. I am generally comfortable with any subject. However, I’ve found that I’m okay writing about sex in a technical sense (the need for proper sex education, which I feel very strongly about, is a good example), but I am not comfortable with writing about sex in a fictional sense, such as two characters having sex.

  10. I never wrote for an audience, it was just a personal blog to express things I needed to say. But, in the back of my mind was that somewhere there would be a place where my kids could read who I was just as a person, not always in ‘mum’ mode. And then I found that when you share, there is the occasional person who can relate to some of the posts.

  11. Religion and politics. I avoid discussing them even in real life. They are not only touchy/explosive subjects, I find that there is no right or wrong side of it. It all depends on perspective and personal opinions, culture and tradition; and who we are to judge one’s personal preference. One might say wrong is wrong in any condition but wring or right, good or bad is fairly subjective.

  12. I wish certain bits of writing, novels for example, had trigger warnings. I do not want to read gratuitously lurid descriptions of torture, animal cruelty or other upsetting things. If they need to be in the book, they are not gratuitous, but they still don’t need gory details. Other folks have other triggers. Not saying they shouldn’t be written about, but it would be nice to have a warning they are there so one can decide whether or not to read it at all, or pick a time when one is feeling brave. To be confronted by a trigger unexpectedly can be very upsetting, even if it is handled sensitively, which sadly not all things are.

    I wouldn’t want to write something I wouldn’t want to read, but I suppose if the story took me there I might have to.

  13. Pingback: Before and after life turns on a dime | Write on the World

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