1. radkovelli

    radkovelli New Member

    Oct 12, 2015
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    Novel How to handle writing about serious topics?

    Discussion in 'Genre Discussions' started by radkovelli, Dec 7, 2015.

    The novel I'm writing deals with many serious issues and I feel as though I've portrayed them all very well. There is one I want to double check, though.

    An important part of the book is when the main character recalls of when he got raped a few years prior. This is so important because he mentions the person who did it and the act of it many times as the book progresses; it's a huge reason behind all his fear and struggling. I believe I've written it in a way that handles the issue properly, however, I just want to make sure.

    What are some good things to keep in mind when writing a scene like this? Are there any do's and don'ts? When the character discusses what happened, he talks about only the mental aspect of it, not any physical details. Is that okay?

    I just want to look back at my work, check it, and make sure I've dealt with this subject properly, since it is so serious.

    Thanks for the advice. :)
  2. AASmith

    AASmith Senior Member

    Mar 26, 2015
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    I think the best thing is to make the scene believable. As long as it's believable then you will be okay. If you have not experienced this, try talking to people who have that may be willing to give you some tips on what it is they go through. Or you can probably look this us on reputable websites that discuss rape.
  3. NiallRoach

    NiallRoach Contributor Contributor

    Jan 7, 2015
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    The middle of the UK
    The fact that you're concerned about this basically precludes you being horribly insensitive. There's no way to be 100% sure, because we've not read your MS, and because sensitivity is different to different people, but you're probably already safe from most grievous offensive accidents by simply realising tat this is something to be handles with care.
  4. DueNorth

    DueNorth Senior Member

    Jan 7, 2014
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    Many times people, well-meaning as they might be, think they are helping the sexual abuse victim by colluding with them in not openly talking about the details of their abuse/assault. I wonder if your reluctance to reveal the details to your reader is in any way an indication of your own discomfort with the topic? The reason I raise this point is that the chief psychological issue for victims is shame. What enhances shame? The implication that what happened is too awful to talk about. What is the antidote to shame?--open discussion and acceptance. Pat Conroy in "The Prince of Tides" portrays the long-term outcome of sexual assault and secrecy in his typical vividly descriptive fashion. I'm sure others can cite many other literary examples. As a writer, I think it would be a more powerful story (unless there is a compelling reason not to do so) to let the reader know what happened and this will provide more insight and empathy towards your character's struggle with shame, anger, urges for revenge, etc.
  5. Jeff Countryman

    Jeff Countryman Living the dream

    Aug 28, 2015
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    On the "do" list is - keep it relevant to the character's arc/maturity/age. For example, if the incident happened when he was 12 and he's now 70 year old, he'll have matured and developed and different perspective. On the other hand, if the story is only 1-year long and he's now only 13 then he'll not have matured enough to deal with it maturely. It's all 'relative to time', perhaps.

    On the 'do not do' list is - write the rape scene per se. Let them come out in bits and pieces through the character's memory/emotions/character-development.

    The best I've read is Diana Gabaldon's series called 'Outlander' where one of the two main characters had a male-male rape scene in prison in the 1700's (described vividly at the time) and how it plays-out through his character/acceptance of the span of his life (the novels are exceptionally long and span mega years, though) and it's not 'the story'; it's only portrayed to point out his maturing attitude to people and life.

    Hope that helps. Just keep it relative and 'in character'.

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