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  1. Jo-anne
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    Jo-anne New Member

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    Touching a nerve

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Jo-anne, Jun 25, 2011.

    Would really like your views on subjects in fiction that in real life really touches a nerve, subjects that bring pain and suffering to people.
    Do you think if researched well and portrayed correctly it is acceptable to write something that you care about and also at that same time can not believe really happens to people. I have read many novels that have included such events, but turning the tables and actually write it, leaves me to consider should i be the one to tell such a story, but to leave it to someone else to tell.
     
  2. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    You mean subjects like rape and oppression? Lots of novels deal with those issues and it's definitely acceptable to write about - these types of stories draw attention to certain issues as problems in society, and if you have a hero/heroine who can beat such issues, that's a pretty impressive main character.

    Don't ask for validation though. Write what you want.
     
  3. CottonCandi
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    CottonCandi Active Member

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    I think writing about terrible things is good. You never know who will be reading your work and who it might help. In the least it can tell them they are not alone.
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    huh?... what is it that you can't believe really happens?
     
  5. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    aren't there lots of things we cannot imagine really happen, because it's so far from our own reality? Im thinking of female genital mutilation, for example, something that happens a lot in some countries... for me it's almost incompehensible, even though I know it happens all the time and that it is a part of life that many people can't avoid. Also stuff like child prostitution etc. Aren't those things you'd rather not believe them true? It so goes against everything we have learned about life and what is acceptable and what is not but it doesn't change the fact that it does happen.
     
  6. Ellipse
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    Ellipse Contributing Member Contributor

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    You don't even have to think that far. Physical/verbal abuse is something that is common wherever you go but many people don't pay attention to it or simply pretends it doesn't exist.
     
  7. nhope
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    nhope Contributing Member Reviewer

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    Every person tells the same story differently, and every reader reacts to each story differently. If you feel you have a story, tell it.

    It's like all the math teachers you had in school. They all taught the same principles, but there was one teacher who just made you "get it".
     
  8. wolfi
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    wolfi Contributing Member

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    I'm not looking for an argument but I did want to awnse these. I can believe in them, but I donut belief "life is special" in any way so maybe thats why,
    would I'd rather not believe they where true? Maybe, I defiantly sometimes feel powerless ageist it, but I was taught what was "right and wrong" even then I know there is wrong in the world so its not incomprehensible to me
     
  9. Ashrynn
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    Ashrynn Active Member

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    I would say that you should write what you want to, but I will say this. Unless you are someone who is the victim of, knows a victim of, or is a steadfast advocate against the terrible thing in your writing it'd be pretty hard to actually capture the correct emotional tone you are seeking to create.
     
  10. wolfi
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    wolfi Contributing Member

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    Also another thing is you have to watch it, because those who have had it happen to them may read it, don't put what you think they are going though cause odds are you have no clue.
    Can I guy tell you what its like to give birth?
    So my advice is make sure you read up and STUDY on how it affects someone
    I realize its not a fun thing to do but IMO it should be required before Writing about it
     
  11. joanna
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    joanna Active Member

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    I think some of the most important stories that have had impacts on society contain such things. I'm writing a story about childhood sexual abuse currently, and research is important because you want to capture the ramifications and emotions effectively -- that's what makes a story have that impact. Experience helps (doesn't help psychologically, but it sure helps your writing), but it also helps to know and talk to people who've been through what you're writing about.

    One of the issues is that people can't imagine something like these things happening and would rather think that it doesn't, so putting it out there makes people realize how the world can be, why people might act the way they act, and possibly even what we can do about it.
     
  12. Gigi_GNR
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    Gigi_GNR Guys, come on. WAFFLE-O. Contributor

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    Even if something is awful, people shouldn't blind themselves to it or turn away simply because it's awful. Writing about bad things brings attention to them and can even help the victims of those events. I don't think writing about bad things is bad, and you should write what you want.
     
  13. Heather
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    Heather Contributing Member

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    I agree with this to an extent - although when writing we cover things which we haven't actually experienced (we have to really, otherwise there would be lots of full novels), I think its important not to just write based on cliches. For example, the cliche of the woman suffering from wife beating had a dad who used to beat/rape her ...... I'm not saying that doesn't happen, but I think you should be careful when you're writing to handle delicate subjects thoughtfully, and not by using a couple of cliches you've seen in a film etc.

    As for how I'd react if a book covers a difficult topic - sometimes it upsets me, but I think its good that that happens, because I think people should have their eyes opened to issues in the world, and shouldn't just ignore that heinous things happen. I think it is good when a book/poem/film handles something which is difficult - after all, soaps do it every week, and they have a large audience (at least in Britain).
     
  14. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    As for whether it's something "acceptable" in fiction: Anything but boring is acceptable. If you can pull it off, do it.
     
  15. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ...not to those who are old enough to open their eyes and minds to what really goes on in the world beyond their own backyard...

    'rather not believe' isn't quite the same as 'cannot imagine' or 'not believe'...
    and the reason such atrocities are allowed to continue is in large part because so many who could stop them prefer not to 'see' that they are the reality for so many... or don't really care, as long as it's not happening to them...

    exactly!... which is why it makes no sense to try to pretend or 'rather not believe' they do, whether in your writing, or your everyday life...

    what's totally unacceptable to me in re such 'nerve-touching' things is using them to titillate and entertain, as is done in fiction... the real horrors in this human-fashioned world should be kept to non-fiction, so those who've suffered them won't have to see them become the focal point of best-selling novels and movies that make millions for their creators, while the victims of such crimes remain powerless to do anything about it...
     
  16. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    Perhaps, what you should ask yourself before deciding on this, is what type of story you want to write in the general sense -- is it meant as escapism or social realism? These are like polar extremes and rarely mix well. If you're going for escapism, writing a story that makes people forget all the troubles of the world for a spell, then "touching nerves" will drag the reader out of that spell. If you, on the other hand, wish to go for social realism, it comes with the requirement of knowing what you're saying, or you'll do more harm than good to your own story.
     
  17. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    This strikes me as a little bit odd. It implies that there is one single "correct" emotional tone, but as we all know, there is a large variety of emotional responses to "terrible things".

    It also says that writers don't have enough imagination to understand the emotions of people who have been through different experiences. But writers do have good imaginations. Also, isn't part of the reason for writing the communication of our own emotional responses to things? Many people who WERE sexually abused as children, for example, have written about the experiences and how they affected them. The great thing about writing - about language in general - is that it allows us to learn by vicarious experience.

    In sum, we don't have to personally experience a "terrible thing" in order to be able to write well about it.
     

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