In a fractured and volatile world, one thing we can rely on is the first Wednesday of the month being the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Hosted, as ever, by Alex J. Cavanaugh, the aim of the group is to offer a place to share fears and insecurities about writing without being judged. Join us if you haven't already. Today's excellent co-hosts are Janet Alcorn, Pat Garcia, Natalie Aguirre and Shannon Lawrence!
Today's optional IWSG question is: Have you ever been conflicted about writing a story or adding a scene to a story? How did you decide to write it or not?
This is a pretty interesting question because I'm not afraid to take on difficult topics if it's what the story demands. I always think that whatever goes in has to serve the story rather than just being there for the sake of it, but that doesn't mean I don't worry about the possible reaction. Taking my recent WIP as an example, I had written a scene featuring an attempted sexual assault on my protagonist. Note "attempted"; the incident doesn't actually take place because my character deflects it by going inside the attacker's mind, which serves as character development because it's an aspect of her power she hasn't realised yet. However, when I sent the book to critique partners, I left out that part with a note that it was to be rewritten. This raised questions based on later references to the incident, and after a few discussions I ran the scene past them. They suggested that, with a few tweaks, it could be incorporated as an important part of the story. It was absolutely the right thing to do.
My reticence stemmed from a previous response from a CP for my dystopian series, who stopped reading after a rape scene. In hindsight, that was unnecessarily graphic, and I rewrote so this was only alluded to off the page, but in that case, it was also a necessary part of the story because it showed the controlling actions taken by a corrupt antagonist - but it was only one part of those actions.
I have also written death and murder scenes, and these books are YA, but I believe it's important not to sugarcoat things for a younger audience or pretend that certain things don't exist. If it's handled sensitively, it can be a key part of fortifying, moulding and making a character.
If you're interested to hear others' answers to this question - I know I am! - you can find many more entrants to the IWSG here.