How do you deal with sensitive subjects in writing? - Page 10

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Thread: How do you deal with sensitive subjects in writing?

  1. #91
    Global Moderator Squalid Glass's Avatar
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    Okay, this thread is circling the drain at this point, and this board has seen this debate too many times to count. The OP asked about how one should handle sensitive issues in a story. Let’s get back to that and move on.
    "I don't do anything with my life except romanticize and decay with indecision."

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  2. #92
    Quote Originally Posted by andrewclunn View Post
    DiAngelo's book is literally the seminal work promoting the notion that "racism is prejudice plus power" and that white people can be racist in ways that others cannot due to institutional authority. To promote her as an advocate for your world view while simultaneously pushing the notion that there's nothing particularly different about white people and racism, is to either be ignorant of the very work you are suggesting others read to better understand your point, or to be disingenuous in your arguments. There have been people who have suggested that some level of racism is inescapable, and universal to all people. They do not agree with your views on censorship:

    My last word on this, which I insist on because my position is misrepresented: I invoked DiAngelo solely in the context of her book being an accessible and interesting perspective on systemic racism and its ubiquity -- not because I believe that other races cannot be racist, or to say that DiAngelo represents my world view, she does not. Certainly you can find racist Jewish people in Israel and racist black people in parts of Africa and racist Chinese people in China and probably, yup, in America too. There are plenty of studies on the evolutionary origins and natural tendencies toward racial discrimination. Jane Elliot's experiments demonstrate this well, too.

    What I actually said was that other races are equally predisposed to being racist. This has nothing to do with whether such racism manifests or not or where/how. The fact that white people are the ones with institutional authority is incidental and basically unique to countries where white people are the majority. In a parallel universe, one where America is 80% black and society had a history of black supremacy, we can 100% assume 'White Lives Matters' would be the issue of the day, because on a psychological level (as distinct from a sociological one) such racial tribalism is a human problem not a white problem.

    Nothing further to add -- further continuation of the racism debate will hereafter result in zero. Enjoy your day.

    Quote Originally Posted by Taylor View Post
    I'm not sure why you are arguing this so hard. Because I think you do believe that authors shouldn't limit themselves based on their race. In fact isn't that the basis of an inclusive society, that we don't tell people what to do, based on race, gender, age, etc.?

    So you would tell a white author that they don't have the right voice to express the frustrations of racial discrimination from a black point of view.

    Would you also then tell a black author that they shouldn't try to see racism from a white point of view? What if they also had a great idea for a story of a white cop that gets caught up in the police precinct politics. If you said, "you can't write that from a white person's point of view", that would be discrimination.

    Would you also limit POV to gender, age, and disabilites?

    Authors are professionals. They can write in a POV that is not their own personal POV. That's the craft of writing.

    I'm not trying to limit anything.

    Again, I don't know how many times this needs said, this isn't my position. I don't like that this is an issue of contention, it sucks that the world isn't colorblind and that the immutable characteristics of human beings often shape the perceptions of the work. It sucks for me, a white male author, and it presumably sucks for female, black, gay, whatever authors as well. We all want, I assume, to be judged on merit, not on tokenism. position doesn't matter. Once again, we are in the weeds of Should-Be when I only want to talk in terms of What-Is-Right-Now. If we were talking in terms of Should-Be, I would agree with what you and others are saying, no question. There are all kinds of stories I have wanted to write -- and in some cases have written! -- only to figure out that they are simply not publishable due to lack of market (try writing a traditional western and see what happens) or require huge revamping to work in the world of What-Is-Right-Now.

    Do me a favor: Go to If you are not familiar, this is where agents and editors 'tweet' about the kinds of books they want. It's probably the easiest and best way to get a quick, casual read on what is wanted.

    What do you notice? Here's what I see:

    My tweet on an alternative for a Fiddler on the Roof remake got a little bit of traction, so I decided to put some more ideas for new Jewish representation out there because we truly need it. #MSWL
    I would truly love an SFF, YA or Adult, with queerness so baked into the world la She-Ra that nobody even blinks. There’s danger and end-of-the-world stakes and messy relationships galore, but that particular threat is non-existant. This has been today’s #MSWL
    I'm really looking for Black witches/psychics in contemporary fantasy (adult, YA, or MG), plus size MCs, YA and adult thrillers/suspense, and please keep sending these #ownvoices LGBTQIA+ and disability rep books.
    the project I would most like to find right now is a LatinX graphic novel for MG or YA. #mswl
    Before I close for queries tomorrow, I wanted to get out a #mswl of what I really want to see in my inbox. - Authors of underrepresented communities (POC, LGBTQIA+, body, neuro, disabled) - Fat girl stories where their weight is not the plot. - MG and YA horror.
    Now, this is not the entire industry (not all agents tweet) and, sure, there are always exceptions. But let's take this as being a snapshot, because we have to, because we really have nothing better as far as insight in real time. ^That^ is just from the first page (the FIRST page!) and, as you can see, practically every other tweet is either requesting diversity in character or diversity in author and it sure sounds like they're pretty committed to social justice, doesn't it?

    None of these requests preclude me -- as a white, straight, male -- so my interpretation from that is not 'I am canceled'. That's silly. However my interpretation is that I have to chart a narrow course between 'writing what we want' and 'writing what other people want'. It seems pretty damn obvious to me that these people are not going to want, say, a gritty Civil War era novel where people chuck around racial slurs for 'historical accuracy'. It seems pretty damn obvious to me they probably are going to want or expect any authors to tread very carefully on the subject of race and how it is portrayed. Nobody is asking for 'Nazis who really talk like Nazis'. Nobody is asking for 'whatever so long as it's good'. I don't think they will tolerate the word 'nigger' outside of a really narrow context -- do you? They have specific interests and themes in mind, many of them relating to social justice, which will, presumably, affect the success of a submission.

    But nevertheless I am not suggesting, have not suggested, that people should not be taking risks or be writing according to the literal prescriptions of what some 'tea drinking liberal' throws out on a tweet or puts on their website/blog. I am suggesting we listen closely to what the customer base is telling us and eliminate minefields where we can. It's really hard to get stuff published as it is and if a market research survey finds 80/100 people saying what their town needs is a McDonalds and we go ahead and build a Pizza Hut ('cause we don't give a damn) we need to accept that is a major risk in an endeavor that was already risky.

    But, that's the choice. And yes, perhaps it will work, there are always exceptions, but it's plain ignorant to assume the industry will treat our creative choices equally and that 'so long as its good, that's all that matters' and it's really dumb to get angry or combative about it and start sounding off on a forum about how these people are 'crybabies'. They don't give a crap, will never give a crap. It's a buyers market. Plenty of well-written books get rejected and plenty of mediocre ones get published purely based on how they are perceived to relate to the issues of the time. That's nothing new, it's always been that way.
    Last edited by luckyscars; August 3rd, 2020 at 06:09 AM.

  3. #93
    The woke crowd wouldn't publish me anyways because of my political beliefs.

    (Feels good not to care what they think, though.)
    Currently writing: The Huntsmage

    "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch." - Robert Heinlein, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

  4. #94
    I would say it's a case by case basis and it depends on the subject matter particularly of course.

    In your plot's case, does the sexism play a large them in the story that you want to explore, or is it just a setup for other plot elements?

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