What won't you write?

Discussion in 'General Writing Discussion' started by Mouse, Mar 22, 2012.

  1.  
    Mouse

    Mouse roar

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2006
    Messages:
    8,584
    I was thinking about this the other day, but I can't remember what I was reading at the time to make me think it.

    Anyway, what can you just not bring yourself to write about?

    When I write, I have to write as the character whose POV it is. I have to be really in their head. So...

    I couldn't ever write incest - I couldn't imagine writing as a character who did that sort of thing, so I wouldn't be able to write it with any realism. Or animal cruelty. I just couldn't do it.

    I can write torture of humans though. And murder. And other horrible things. Weird isn't?

    What's your can't write/won't writes?
  2.  
    springs

    springs Juggling life

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2011
    Messages:
    8,173
    If I felt it was right for the story, and if I felt it wasn't gratuitous, I'm not sure there's that much I wouldn't attempt. Apart from paedophilia, that I couldn't, ever, do. In fact, cruelty to kids. The one time something bad happened, and a child died, I tried to make it as painless and quick as possible.
    I've done torture and hated writing it, put as much of it into a different perspective as I could.
  3.  
    Mouse

    Mouse roar

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2006
    Messages:
    8,584
    I almost added paedophilia. There's a Neil Gaiman short story called Keepsakes and Treasures where one of the characters is a paedophile. I didn't realise he was until it was spelled out and then it just hit me. The way Gaiman wrote it was very clever.

    So I think, if I was clever about it, to fool myself, almost, then I might be able to write it*.



    *not the actual act.
  4.  
    allmywires

    allmywires not sure if...

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2012
    Messages:
    1,483
    It's more what I can't than won't write, but gratuitous sex I can't do. Seem to always make it IKEA porn, then put the Part A in Part B et cetera...

    I won't write weak female characters. I just can't do it. I'd like to, because I can't seem to give them the variety I give my male characters. Then again, all my other females end up cold and condescending (or I think other people would find them so).

    I'm a sucker for torture though. Can't put my characters through enough gruesome, limb-severing injuries.
  5.  
    Anne Lyle

    Anne Lyle Fantastical historian

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2007
    Messages:
    1,455
    I'm not keen on writing either paedophilia or rape - in addition to them both being distasteful, the latter (at least in regard to women) is so overused in fantasy that I avoid it on principle.

    I also don't like animal cruelty, which is a problem when writing about Elizabethan England - I may occasional mention bear-baiting, but my PoV characters don't go there. Luckily my hero has an aversion to gambling, since his brother gambled away the family fortune, so he tends to avoid such places.
  6.  
    Mouse

    Mouse roar

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2006
    Messages:
    8,584
    Depends on your definition of weak, I suppose. I used to be the same 'won't write a weak woman,' but now I do love writing a really ditzy female character. Mind, I love writing ditzy male characters too.

    Scarily overused.
  7.  
    Warren_Paul

    Warren_Paul Banishment this world!

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2012
    Messages:
    2,589
    I think I'm like Springs, if the story calls for it, I'll write it - whatever it is.

    My first draft did have child abuse (not to the point where rape actually took place though) - part of it followed the story of a homeless girl - but with the evolution of the plot that story arc got taken out, the character with it - possibly to return at a later date.

    I've got plans for a kind of rape plot as part of the story for my second book, but it will happen behind the scenes, and it's critical to the development of the story - a bit of a mystery story arc involving it and the consequences of the act.
  8.  
    Mouse

    Mouse roar

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2006
    Messages:
    8,584
    It occurs to me suddenly that I've possibly not been clear. Perhaps I should've asked what won't you write from a POV. If that even makes sense.

    Would you write as the torturer? The rapist? The animal/child abuser?
  9.  
    Warren_Paul

    Warren_Paul Banishment this world!

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2012
    Messages:
    2,589
    No to all of those - except possibly the torturer, Joe Abercrombie showed how to do a torturer PoV well.

    If something really evil was going to happen, I'd write it from the victims PoV. To write it the other way around feels disgusting.
  10.  
    Sapheron

    Sapheron Making no sense.

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2006
    Messages:
    836
    I don't write sex scenes at all. I go for the 'fade to black' approach. Partly because most things I write it wouldn't fit in with the style of the story. Secondly, because any sex scene I've ever written is wince and/or vomit inducing.

    As a side effect, anything more than slightly sexual is similarly avoided.

    Oh, and a few years ago, when talking with another amateur writing over a few pints, we both agreed that neither of us would ever attempt to write a scene in which someone gave birth. Some things just don't want to be written down, and the wisdom of beer revealed that this was one of those things.

    Edit:

    Oh dear lord no. Even more so than what I wrote above. In a similar way, I thought write from the POV of someone insane, or a god or an ancient immortal being. There would be no way to write effectively from this point of view, as by neccessity that would involve getting inside their mindset. If its something so different from myself I don't believe I could possibly make it convincing, and the whole thing would come across forced and unrealistic.
  11.  
    Mouse

    Mouse roar

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2006
    Messages:
    8,584
    Ah. See, I find all this fascinating! I've written from the POV of a woman who tortured people and she got a kick out of doing so. I've also written from the POV of a rapist - but he was so, so, distraught about the whole thing so it wasn't like he was a lurking-in-the-bushes kind of rapist.
  12.  
    Warren_Paul

    Warren_Paul Banishment this world!

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2012
    Messages:
    2,589
    I've read some good books that have birth scenes in them. Kate Elliot's Crossroads trilogy comes to mind. But I think the point is, only write it if you can actually pull it off - same goes writing from the criminal's PoV.

    EDIT:


    I guess I can see how you could lighten it by making the rapist regret his actions - makes it more bearable. But I've seen books written from criminal's PoV where it gets really disturbing and I sit there wondering what was going through the author's mind - a bit creepy.
  13.  
    Anne Lyle

    Anne Lyle Fantastical historian

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2007
    Messages:
    1,455
    I'm not anti the whole topic of rape - one of my favourite recent reads featured a (male) rape scene. It's just when it's used (mainly by male writers, it has to be said) as the go-to trope for putting a female character in danger.

    Yes, it happened an awful lot in the past, but so did many other terrible things that don't get featured in escapist fiction. A little more variety would be nice...
  14.  
    Mouse

    Mouse roar

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2006
    Messages:
    8,584
    Yeah, this is what I find interesting. What have we got in us? Have far can you put yourself in someone else's head? Some authors write as characters doing awful things and I wonder about them.

    edit: just seen Warren's edit! I agree.
  15.  
    Teresa Edgerton

    Teresa Edgerton Goblin Princess Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2004
    Messages:
    10,782
    I wouldn't write in any detail about rape, pedophilia, violence toward children. But if the enemy overruns a town, I naturally expect readers to fill in the blanks. I can't imagine that a story where writing a graphic account of any of those things was right would be a story I'd be eager to write. (Therefore, not a story I would be likely to write, since there are so many other stories I do very much want to write instead.)

    I agree. And I agree with Mouse.

  16.  
    Anne Lyle

    Anne Lyle Fantastical historian

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2007
    Messages:
    1,455
    I don't think I'd want to write from the PoV of any of those - the kind of PoV characters I write wouldn't do such things.

    The nearest I've come is when my hero took advantage of a tortured villain's lingering injuries to try and get further information out of him. Somehow it was much less unpleasant to write when the PoV's actions would not have hurt an uninjured person at all...
  17.  
    Hex

    Hex Mod in tooth and claw Staff Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2011
    Messages:
    3,336
    This fits in quite nicely with Lolita, which I was thinking of nominating for best opening paragraph in HareBrain's 'Inspiring Lines' post. I've read The End of Alice too, which was an amazing book.

    I have not yet encountered anything I'd be unwilling to write, although I'm not awfully good at landscape descriptions, nor at killing characters.

    I like writing sex (sorry) and I would love to write or to read a well-written childbirth scene. Without going all weird about it, it's a really intense experience, and most (fantasy) novels seem to deal with it as fetch-hot-water-a-bit-of-screaming-aww-look!-he-has-your-eyes! which is um not something that chimes with my experience.
  18.  
    Interference

    Interference Destroyer of Words

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2007
    Messages:
    2,573
    I find explicit sex incredibly difficult, and hugely embarrassing, to write about. I have never included it in any of my stories, though I did dabble briefly with something that might be considered pornography, thinking I might actually get it published, but then I read what the professionals were doing and quailed. Some of it was either embarrassingly awful to read or else was far more imaginative than, shamefully, I am myself.

    I haven't actually written anything yet that I feel has led me to a need to describe the details of boudoir activities (which, from my intensive and detailed studies on the subject, is often the last place such athletics are intended to occur) and wonder what I would do, should that happy day ever arise, that a publisher asks me to add a scene of that kind. I might need to hire a ghost-writer.

    The scary subjects; deviation from sexual norms, extreme anti-social behaviour patterns, torture and the rest, don't seem to bother me as much as a writer as they would in reality. In a comic I wrote about thirty years ago, I gave a hero racist tendencies, my intent being to show how distasteful characteristics can lurk beneath the surface of people we otherwise like a great deal and to ask how we deal with the apparent conflict it may provoke in us, but I did it in such a ham-fisted manner that it looked as though I was condoning racism. One day, when I have the talent for it, I might tackle the subject again.

    Also, as a callow youth, I included a rape scene in a radio play which, rather than the character-changing event I'd intended it to be, came across more as a sensationalist insert performing only a gratuitous function. Happily, the error was corrected before the play was broadcast and the re-write was considerably more satisfying and progressed the character far more realistically.

    I have hinted at paedophilia as a sub-plot in another story but not yet been courageous enough to examine the subject in detail. The story itself was probably the wrong place to do that and I wonder, sometimes, when I look back at things I have written, what was motivating me to tinker with things I couldn't have understood.

    Which is why I now write about time travel.

    I've led such a sheltered life :)
  19.  
    Warren_Paul

    Warren_Paul Banishment this world!

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2012
    Messages:
    2,589
    Yes, I agree, it shouldn't -- ever -- be graphic when involving rape or child abuse.

    I think there are some exceptions though, like stories written based of true stories of rape and child abuse? When the books are written from the criminal's PoV in those books, you don't have to wonder about the author... often though, writing those books is their way of escaping their past by talking about it - a form of therapy.


    EDIT: actually, imo, not even true stories need to be graphic.
  20.  
    Mouse

    Mouse roar

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2006
    Messages:
    8,584
    *cough*weirdo*cough* :p I've written from the POV of a heavily pregnant woman who went into labour - I cut away to a different scene - come back and she's had the baby. So chickened out there!

    :D:D
Similar Threads: won't write
Forum Title Date
General Writing Discussion My story won't let me write it! Jan 19, 2013
Tickety Boo Press Death Won't Be Cheated... Apr 8, 2014
George R R Martin I'd almost bet that GRRM Won't... Aug 24, 2013
Humour Darth Vader won't hear a report... Aug 15, 2012
General Book Discussion I like reading old books because I know they won't become too popular. Dec 12, 2010

Share This Page