Sunday, October 11, 2009

Writing the Controversial


"An Itty Bitty Column on Writing" by Mindy Phillips Lawrence
From Sharing with Writers (Carolyn Howard-Johnson)
October 3, 2009


On Banned Books Week from September 26th until October 3rd, we celebrate the First Amendment which allows us the freedom to read what we wish to read. It also celebrates our intellectual freedom to express ideas that might not be acceptable to everyone.

An amazing number of books have been on the “banned” list. Almost every state in the Union still has some group who wants specific titles censored, out of the libraries and off the bookstore shelves. This is the outcome of writers who have been bold enough to speak their minds. Harper Lee did this with To Kill a Mockingbird. Mark Twain is still in the hot seat for Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer.

When you write, you sometimes must take sides on an issue. Writing is not for cowards, especially when you write about hot-button topics, attempt to make a specific point or include characters in your work that are less than conventional.

Writing is not only for enjoyment but also for enlightenment. When we see something that doesn’t seem right to us, or have a deep sense of commitment on an issue, we naturally have a desire to write about it. Not all readers may agree with us but we must be who we are as writers and as individuals.

To write from a controversial perspective, you must do your homework. Look on ALL sides of the issue, not just the one you agree with. Do some research on your topic and on your story line that represents your intellectual point of view. Develop your characters with care and understanding.

There is one lesson no one can teach you, how to be thick-skinned. You can suffer for your decision to express yourself so be prepared. However, if no one took writing past the normally acceptable path, we would never grow in our awareness of that which is unfair and unacceptable in our world.



ALA – Banned Books Week

Banned Books Week

Banned Books List

Taking a Stand

Diane Chamberlain Blog

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