What Do You Think?

Yesterday’s post made people think.

Today’s writing exercise should make you think, too. And right along those controversial lines.

Answer these questions for yourself, share your answers if you’d like. Let’s think mostly young adult books when we answers these questions. Even if you’re a picture book writer, put your mind to the test and see what you think.

 

What is edgy writing to you?

Do you want to write edgy stuff?

Is that okay?

How far will you go in your writing?

Is there a place that is too far?

Just what is it you will not write?

Why not?

Can things be too happy?

Too simple?

Too preachy?

Are those things (too preachy, too simple, too happy) okay to put in a book?

Do you have a moral right to keep books from others?

What do you think about the banning of books?

Is censorship appropriate?

Why?

Morally, do you have an obligation to write different stories than what you are writing (whether they be lighter or darker)?

What is your ultimate goal when you sit down to write?

Is everyone really entitled to their own opinions?

Some people think we have too much dark in the world and that writers should not contribute to that. What do you think?

Why?

 

***

We’ve chosen a date for the marathon but Ann Dee’s gonna tell you ’cause I have to go get dressed. Have you started preparing for that three-day writing extravaganza?

4 Comments

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4 responses to “What Do You Think?

  1. I didn’t get a chance to comment yesterday. I’m not sure what I would consider an edgy book, but I think that books should be available for people to decide for themselves.

    I have a ten-year-old daughter who inhales books and I have no problem with her reading things that might be considered “edgy.” I think she’s mature enough to handle it and I think that it’s a great way for her to learn about darkness. I mean, let’s face it, she doesn’t face a lot of darkness. She’s in fifth grade and from a (somewhat) stable family.

    I have a friend who quit reading “The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe” to her kids because she didn’t know if they could handle Aslan dying. She felt like maybe it was too violent, too emotional. She’s Christian and I was pretty incredulous. “How do you explain about Jesus then?” I wondered to her. I think that learning things like this from literature is helpful to young kids. I know it helped me to compartmentalize issues that I wasn’t facing–but wanted to understand.

    Having said that, this is just my opinion and I guess that people should be able to have different opinions, I might even have a different opinion for a different child–they’re all different and can handle different things. But I don’t think that libraries or schools should deny kids and parents the opportunity to decide for themselves.

  2. Lauren Call

    Because all of you and Carol care what I think, I answered a few of the questions. 🙂

    Do you want to write edgy stuff? Yes. Do I? I don’t know. But I’m about as edgy as a sixteen year old.

    Is that okay? Yes, since that is my target audience.

    How far will you go in your writing? I have no problem with blood and decapitations, but exposing teens to too much sex makes me nervous. Not saying that I wouldn’t write a sex scene one day. For now, I just try to be sexy without the actual sex.

    Is there a place that is too far? I don’t know. If it progresses the story and isn’t just gratuitous, no.

    Just what is it you will not write? Rape, incest. I just can’t go there.

    Why not? Because it’s too horrible for me to think about. Cowardly, yes. But it’s my story.

    Can things be too happy? Yes. Rainbows and butterflies are great, but eventually the rainbows fade and the butterflies fall from the sky. There has to be conflict, lots and lots of conflict.

    Too simple? I like complicated messes.

    Too preachy? YES! Don’t tell me what I should believe. Trick me into it.

    What do you think about the banning of books?
    No. All I can think of is the scene from Footloose where even John Lithgow sees that burning books is wrong. If you don’t want your children to read edgy books, don’t let them. As a parent, it’s your job to censor their books, movies, etc.

    Is censorship appropriate?
    Yes. With the internet and TV, it is too easy to expose our children to inappropriate things. It’s our job to protect them, keep them children for just a little longer. Then again, I don’t know. Sometimes it’s good for people to be exposed to bad things, especially in books. Books won’t bite.

    Morally, do you have an obligation to write different stories than what you are writing (whether they be lighter or darker)?
    I always like the darker stuff with humor to balance it out. Life isn’t perfect, but I have to have a happy ending.

    What is your ultimate goal when you sit down to write? To entertain and to take the reader from this boring, sometimes sad world. And if you learn something. Bonus!

    Is everyone really entitled to their own opinions? Yes, but don’t shove them down other’s throats.

    Some people think we have too much dark in the world and that writers should not contribute to that. What do you think?
    Not everyone likes princess fairytales. Some people like ghost and ghouls (me). I think we should write the dark, not just the light. Opposition in all things, right?

  3. Hoo, those are some deep questions, especially from a YA perspective. Myself, I’m one of those terrible ‘happy-endings’ sort of people – not as in ‘ride off into the sunset together’ kind of things, but as in: do I feel satisfied. I’m willing to be tortured, disturbed, upset, immersed in darkness, etc., (no trash, though) if the end brings the story around and makes the journey worth it. And I’m okay with my kids reading books like that – especially if I’ve heard the controversy and checked it out. In the end, everyone has their own opinion on what crosses the line, so banning is almost an impossible call.

  4. What is edgy writing to you? Good edgy is pushing the line to get a little more emotion, a little more tension, a little more terror… for the benefit of the reader. Bad edgy is jumping the shark over the line to create controversy. It’s a taunting challenge aimed at daring people to call them out on their crap ’cause then they can act oppressed. To me, it’s the difference between creating art because you’ve been impressed… and creating art to make an impression. Kind of difficult to explain. Good story vs ratings week?!

    Do you want to write edgy stuff? The good edgy, yes.

    Is that okay? Yeah, I think so. I really want to connect with people, and being a little daring is a good way to do that.

    How far will you go in your writing? My current novel has someone dying a kind of grizzly death at the beginning of the chapter. The first novel I ever wrote has themes of depression, suicide, rape, etc… but it was all pretty vague. I think I’ll cut the rape in the next draft and spend more time on the suicide attempts. I guess what I’m trying to say is that violence, when it moves the plot forward, is cool with me. Language… to some degree, but it has to be appropriate for the setting/characters.

    Is there a place that is too far? Besides needlessly jumping the shark things? Yeah, I think so.

    Just what is it you will not write? Detailed sex scenes (rape or otherwise), horrible things happening to children (and I’m not talking about the death of a parent or sibling here)…

    Why not? I don’t like reading sex stuff. Most of the time it’s boring or I just have to roll my eyes at it. MUCH BETTER is when things are hinted at and we can figure it out for ourselves. 😀 Like comic books… so much more effective to show someone swinging the axe… then cut away to a long shot with maybe a sound effect, but not show the gritty details. Our brains are much better at that. As for the kid thing, well… blehehghghg I just.. no way. It hurts too much.

    Can things be too happy? Ughhh yes.

    Too simple? Yeah. (Though this is not to be confused with things that appear simple but are, in truth, very deep/symbolic/etc.)

    Too preachy? Indeedy they can.

    Are those things (too preachy, too simple, too happy) okay to put in a book? Sure, you can have elements of those. And it’d be interesting to have a character who was too preachy and then had to pay for it later when the other characters got sick of it… 🙂 But maybe I am missing the point here.

    Do you have a moral right to keep books from others? Me? Not really, no. If I had kids I would probably play a part in what they read but…

    What do you think about the banning of books? Bad news buffet.

    Is censorship appropriate? Sometimes, I guess…

    Why? There are plenty of books and movies where I wish they’d cut some things out because it seemed pointless. But I guess that’s more good editing than censorship. Uhhh… uhmm…

    Morally, do you have an obligation to write different stories than what you are writing (whether they be lighter or darker)? Not a real obligation, but I sure feel like I shouldn’t be writing some of the things that I do… and I do tend to tone things down.

    What is your ultimate goal when you sit down to write? To connect with people through stories.

    Is everyone really entitled to their own opinions? YEAH but that doesn’t mean that they’re right. 🙂

    Some people think we have too much dark in the world and that writers should not contribute to that. What do you think? People should write what they feel, know, and want. If that’s dark, then so be it.

    Why? The world is dark, yes… but if I didn’t have books to read where things were sad, I would feel very, very alone. Sometimes the darkest books make cheer me up the most. The whole “They know what I went through/am going through… I’m not the only one…” thing is very therapeutic. There are a lot of hard things in this life. Books can help a person process events, feelings, decisions, etc etc etc in a safe environment. It’s important that we have them. I would probably not be in a good place right now were it not for sad/scary/disturbing/etc books.

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