So I have had a few ideas for novels floating around for years and recently I decided to finally take the leap. I've basically never done any writing outside of English classes in school, and so I'm expecting this thing to be pretty dreadful, at least in the first draft. I'm not really sure how foolish it's considered to jump in this way. I'm currently about 26,000 words into this, and I'd say it's about 65% done in length. I decided to start with what I had assumed was going to be the easiest of the stories I had in mind. I'm mostly interested in science fiction and fantasy, but this is not really either. It has a fairly simple plot, a small cast of main characters, and I suspect it will straddle the line between novella and novel. However, it has turned out to be surprisingly challenging, and there are a number of concerns I have and things I don't want to get wrong that I think would be easy to get wrong. I started writing this story from a thought I had about disaster movies (Armageddon or Deep Impact, for example). These movies tend to be pretty white, and even when the cast is somewhat diverse ethnically, they focus on characters who are generally well-off financially, and this puts the characters in a position of being able to do something to save the world. I got interested in the idea of a story where the end of the world is coming for some reason, and the story instead focuses on the lives of homeless teenagers living on the street, and how they deal with it being unable to at all influence the fate of the world. 3/4 of the cast is non-white. One of my first questions is in the depictions of the minority characters. While I had an interest in writing a story like this about mostly non-white characters, I am white myself. One of the things I have been struggling with is finding the area between racial stereotypes and writing unrealistic characters. So my question is, am I likely overestimating how much of an issue this is? The intent with this story evolved a bit as I was writing. I had written one section that was very dark and disturbing, and I had realized it was my most well-written part thus far. I've been going more in that direction, such that I would say that a significant objective now is an exploration of the most disturbing aspects of adolescent violence and sexuality. It isn't that the violence is particularly graphic (and I'm certainly not writing erotica), but that I try to keep the psychology authentic. When a 14-year-old boy is forced into nearly killing someone, and he debates finishing the person off, you get into his head, and it's hard to read, and hard for me to write about, and it's natural that this character cries from the ordeal. Likewise, it's been an uncomfortable experience for me writing about a girl that age taking her clothes off in front of a boy for the first time, but not due to being particularly explicit (in fact I've been avoiding directly referring to people's bits because of this perhaps irrational fear of mine that it will be seen as some kind of erotica for pedos or whatever). It's the psychology that's uncomfortable, because I've refused to write her as being mature for her age or anything like that. She's a child doing adult things, and part of her reason for doing it is that she thinks she's getting back at her mom. I've tried as hard as I can to keep the psychology authentic to the ages. There is a question in all of that, which is basically, are there subjects that simply can't be written about due to being potentially offensive? Should I even be considering that question? I guess one of the reasons this has been bugging me is the case of the infamous scene in Stephen King's "IT". If you know the book, you know the scene I'm talking about (if not, let's just say without spoiling it for anyone that there is a child sexuality aspect). While the book has overwhelmingly positive reviews in places like amazon.com, there are numerous 1-star reviews and pretty much all those reviews are due to that scene. I suppose one can't be a writer without being open to getting poor reviews, but I'm still curious to hear other thoughts on this subject.