Why Write That? A Writer’s Perogative.


Hi guys!

This post mentions rape, abuse  and torment. Don’t read if there’s a chance of being triggered. 🙂

Picture the scene.

You’re happily chatting away about your work in progress. The person listening is nodding along in interest, but then something happens. The person stops. Their mouth is hanging open at the mention of the most horrific, most grotesque scene you’ve just described.

“Why write that?” They ask with disgust. “There’s already so much negativity in the world! Why add to it?” They keep quiet for the rest of the duration.

I know a couple of writers who get asked this from time to time.

This question doesn’t always come from readers.

In fact, the other week I was looking through the forums and found a post from a young lady who said that her novel included child trafficking, rape and torment. She was met by bewilderment by fellow writers. “Why write that?” One asked. “How incredibly morbid and disgusting of you,” Another said. “Imagine how survivors of that will feel having it brought up.”

I am always shocked when I read writers react like this. As a writer I believe in supporting my fellow writers and guiding them when they need it. This kind of behaviour does not surprise me. It does make me wonder what those writers create on the page.

Writing something happy can bore your readers to tears.

I found this out for myself when I wrote my first novel at sweet sixteen (ten years ago now). There was no negativity, no violence and no conflict. Everything was perfect.

Needless to say when I read it again a couple of months later I was uninterested in what new clothes they’d had bought for them or who they were dating. I think I got to the first twenty pages before putting it back.

Needless to say that the rewrite was much different.

Conflict is needed for any novel to hold its own weight and to intrigue the reader. Some subjects can be uncomfortable to read, but I believe that behind every book idea there is a purpose for that novel to be in someone’s hands.

When I was child experiencing abandonment and abuse there was nothing of relevance. All the books that I read had such happiness that it was almost smothering. This is still the case in many areas of people’s lives. Whether they are children or young adults. Readers always want something they can relate to. Just as we turn to TV for respite. When I read books I can relate to, it makes me feel calm. Like someone gets me and that I’m not alone.

A book can hold many things. A blessing can be one of them.

What suits one will not suit another. And that’s OK. It’ll either be for you or it won’t. It’s the author’s story to tell and up to you whether you listen or enjoy it.

That’s all from me this week,

Until next time,


With thanks to Aaron Burden for the image via Unsplash.com.


2 thoughts on “Why Write That? A Writer’s Perogative.

  1. This post made me think of Neil Gaiman’s Trigger Warning introduction and Lamb by Bonnie Nadzam. I’m sure plenty of other writers would have given Ms. Nadzam the same retorts; “why would you want to write that?” and so on that you mention here. Yet, she did it anyways and with her debut novel, she went on to win prizes and within 5 years, had a movie recreated from it.

    So, it’s always a matter of understanding and sometimes, other writers (especially on writing forums) aren’t the best source of advice when it comes to a story’s actual content or subjective creative decisions. Those types of decisions should be made solely by the author.

    My writing was the opposite than what you describe. When I started writing, I often included negative and traumatic elements in different perspectives and ways and I got that back as a response sometimes; I also got back a lot of positive responses to negative scenes. A few years ago, I drafted an erotic thriller and took a lot of time to really think about whether I wanted to put the imagery and underlying thoughts out to the public. I decided against it, but I still finished it regardless though I’ll never share it. To me, dealing with the darkness of civilization seems like a process of contemplation for the author to decide what creative path they want to take with their body of work and what sort of ride they want to take their readers on; negative, positive, or somewhere in between, or perhaps just a bit more complex than a single spectrum.

    • I’m so glad that you received a positive response :). I agree that forums aren’t the best source to get advice. I rarely post the content of my story due to the fact that it can easily be taken out of context. During my very first draft of Pandora’s Kiss I included the offending scene, but many rewrites later I left it out. I felt it was better to focus on the aftermath rather than risk upsetting folk. I want to take my readers on a ride that’s somewhere in between negative and positive.

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