Friday, May 29, 2009

When writing what you love goes wrong.

Well, not wrong, actually. Rather...'When writing what you love could get you in trouble.'

What is this, you ask?

I'm close (another 500 words?) to a third of the way done in my new WIP. It's flowing, baby. Imagine: I was writing happily away in the train yesterday evening, when a particular (relatively important) character did something.

Something that made me not only pause, but say out loud (in a german train, mind you): 'Holy Sh*t.' I had to stop writing for the night, and I didn't write this morning either. I was, as they say, knocked for a loop: I had no idea this was coming.

I write for the MG/Upper MG group, so at their oldest my target audience is about 13. It's something (without going into it here) that makes me wonder if kid's parents would lambast me for...I'm pretty sure they would. And will, when it's published. (see, positive thinking).

What made me ashamed of myself was the fact I actually stopped writing and worried about what people would think when they read this. And I truthfully didn't know how to handle it.

I'm better now - I've decided to finish the first draft and see how/where it might be important and go from there. I won't let others determine how I write my WIP, but it sure gave me pause.

What about you? Have you ever written anything that you felt could/will get you in trouble? And how did you deal with it?


  1. You're falling into the sneaky writing trap. Keep writing. First drafts are first drafts, and things will change by the time you get to the query process.

    I used to be really careful about what I was writing and having my characters do. I finally realized that I needed to write for me first, and the rest of the world second. So, with that thought in mind, keep writing. The point is, at some point an editor (positive thinking, don't ya know) is going to get hold of your work and say "hey, maybe we need to change this, that, and this, and that, oh, and delete this section entirely and . . ." Until that point in time, just write, edit what you must, but most of all go with your instincts.


  2. Oh, I write MG as well so this post has me very interested! What salacious material could you have written??? I'm so intrigued!

    Still - just know it may bump your book to the YA aisle. I had this happen to a dear friend of mine. The problem was, his book was not a good fit for the YA group (as he truly intended it for MG), but booksellers shelved it there for a tiny reason regarding content. In the end, it hurt his sales.

    ps - is that how you spell salacious?? I wish these comment boxes had spell check :D

  3. So, my career is as a minister. My poetry & books don't fit a conservative Christian mold (which is okay since I'm a liberal progressive) and my Southern-Bible-Belt upbringing makes me catch myself sometimes.

    LOL @ Tess wanting to read the salacious material!

  4. Jen - I had that same moment - without the expletives :) - when a character in SKON walked in and said something all Christiany, and suddenly I thought, "Crud... this is going to end up being Christian fiction."

    I stopped for a moment, and then just decided to write what the story demanded and deal with it all later.

    Which, I suppose, is what I'm doing now.

  5. This post is wrapped in bacon!

    "Have you ever written anything that you felt could/will get you in trouble? And how did you deal with it?"

    He he he. I am a bit fearless in this regard, but after I write I always reflect on how it will be perceived.

    This is why I love beta readers. Their input on these things is critical. It also goes the other way. I wrote something waaaay out there, and nobody complained.

    My novels are my own, but if someone you respect gives you feedback, then what you have is the truth. And one may agree or disagree, but the data point cannot be denied. It must be faced with the same honesty as it was given.

  6. Most of my WIP makes me picture letters to newspapers signed by people calling themselves "Outraged".
    Whatever you write someone isn't going to like it. It will be too... (insert descriptive word). Too happy, too soft?
    Much better that it ends up being too real.

  7. Scott, I won't stop writing it the way I think it ought to be written. It was just so odd to have that feeling on one of mine.

    Tess, in looking more into it, it's mostly just kind of alluded to, but shoot me a mail and we can talk about it. Deal?

    Aerin, I had to LOL too. Salacious! I even think you spelled it perfectly right!

    Heidi, it was only one expletive. :))))))) But I know what you mean.

    Anthony, it's my first bacon-wrapped post! Wait, that sounds rather questionable. :) But you're right, I'll trust my trusty youth MG betas to tell me what they think. They run the mill from totally conservative to mostly liberal, so I'll wait and see what they say.

    Barb, I'm afraid it is quite too real. I guess I'll just wait and see.

    In my WIPs defense, it is so cool, my WIP. I love it huge amounts. Love love love.

    Thank you all for these fantastic comments! This really helps me. :)

  8. I agree Anthony, this post is wrapped in bacon.

    Unfortunately it is something which I have also struggled with, not so much with readers, but with family. You see... I was raised in a bible thumping family where certain words were not allowed to be spoken. And now that I'm all grown up... so to speak... I still can't say them around my parents, and other family members.

    It's not like I'm the black sheep of the family, but one of my books definitely moved me into a gray region.

    I have another aspect of this I'll discuss on Monday.

    JKB. Write what you like and ignore the critics.

  9. I'm not sure from your post if it was something your character did or something that was said. But I can tell you that I think once you know something about a character you can't un-know it. Pretending otherwise will just stifle the character. So, go for it.
    I'm glad you like your WIP. I love the stage when you are just totally in love with it and writing like mad. It's the greatest job in the world, isn't it?

  10. we writers must walk an interesting balance of keeping our audience in mind while being true to the story or the character. I don't think you can forsake one for the other, really.

    i love how you've taken time out to think; there's nothing to be ashamed of -- it's just thinking time. rock on, girl :)

  11. My current WIP is a category romance (think: Harlequin) and that's a genre that's filled to the brim with unwritten expectations.

    Most of them I don't mind, or I wouldn't have taken on the challenge. But then there are others that really make a difference to what kind of story you can write.

    ie: Neither H nor H should have enjoyable sex with anyone other than each other once the book has started.

    Neither H nor H can partake of illicit substances. (Unless it's at the very beginning of the book to show how low they are before the power of love swoops in and saves them.)

    Neither H and H can swear like a longshoreman on the page. Mention can be made of foul language, but the language itself is rarely uttered more than a few times, and only in dire circumstances. (No "Hand me a motherfucking beer.")

    These sort of genre expectations definitely inform how I write and what my characters can "get away with." In categories there's an unspoken writer/reader contract that the editors won't let you break without a damn good reason.

    In single titles though, the romance rulebook is a lot leaner.

  12. Oh, and Laura, I love your point.

    You can't unknow something about your character, once it's there, it informs everything else--eve if it never makes it to the page.

    It reminds me of an old Communication Studies adage. "You cannot not communicate."


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