Thoughts About Writing Difficult Subject Matter

Writers truly have beautiful minds. No, I’m not saying that as a way to praise myself, but I mean this on a general scope, in particular regarding those who’ve been writing longer than I have. They are the ones who can create worlds, create characters, and create unique situations for them to get into on a whim. Writers are also responsible for creating the tones of stories and just how far down the road of difficulty they’ll push their characters towards. That requires a mindset of its own that writers need to constantly put themselves in, and that is something that I wanted to explore as today’s topic.

Writing about difficult subject matter can be a trip in itself. It’s obviously not going to be the most fun thing in the world when it comes to writing fiction, and yet sometimes, it’s absolutely necessary in order for the story to progress from Point A to Point B. But of course it’s never easy, for depending on exactly what difficult subject matter you may be writing about, it all depends on 1. how well you can write about it and 2. how willingly you’re able to embrace such a mindset when writing about it.

Sometimes, the difficult subject matter you may be writing about something is you initially have never experienced in your own life. That can create a challenge for the writer in terms of how accurate and believable they’d be able to convey such an experience. Those who are effective in their efforts may have gone out of their way of doing research of people who have gone through such an experience in their own lives, study their emotions and psychology and go from there. It’s very much like how one can be in an acting mindset when writing, and this is one of the reasons why.

I know that was the case for me when creating the character of Dagny in A Moment’s Worth. I went out of my way and watched videos of kids who lost parents in the 9/11 attacks prior their birth, and see how they carry the weight of that reality.

In some instances, writers may plan to write difficult subject matter they’ve never experienced themselves, but then something might happen in their lives that help make the subject matter feel more real. It’s very much life imitating art, but instances like these, while it’s in the worst of ways, can also be beneficial for the writer, for they can now slip into the designated mentality more easily.

A common example can be J.K. Rowling when it came to creating her orphaned protagonist Harry Potter. While it was always planned for his parents to have been killed, the depth and darkness to that was heightened following her mother’s passing and breaking off contact with her father. It’s because she knew what it was like to suddenly be without parents that she was able to slip into that mentality more easily than before.

Then there are, of course, the subject matter in fiction that actually was inspired by real life occurrences, and so while slipping into that mentality can be an easy feat, it can also be quite difficult, due to knowing of its source. But much like the previous instant, that’s what makes it feel more real. I’ve previously talked about this, about when the personal joins the fictional, and I stand by what I said about how even in the reader isn’t aware of the real-life inspiration behind a certain character or plot maneuver, the depth of it is felt.

I know that this is the case when it comes to my second novel. While there are several themes and aspects to it, one of them is the topic of carrying on the legacy of someone you perhaps didn’t know too well. I can already confirm that that was inspired by real life experiences, and conveying that in the story, while difficult to do, is something that I hope comes across to the readers.

Writing difficult subject matter in fiction can be a daunting task, regardless of whether or not the subject matter is something the writer has experienced before or not. However, it’s also necessary in the progression of the character development, to bring a certain depth to the overall story, and how it moves along.

A Moment’s Worth is now available through the following venues: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, iTunes. Please leave a review if you can, for my goal is to get a total of at least 20 reviews on all venues (so far, I’ve gotten 12 reviews so I’m already just past the halfway point to my goal). Check out its Goodreads page, which includes two trivia quizzes for all who’ve completed reading it already.

One Reply to “Thoughts About Writing Difficult Subject Matter”

  1. Oh, I agree with this so much! It is hard to write complicated subject matter. Often, I worry I’ll offend someone who went through the experiences. I want to make sure what I am writing about is accurate as possible.

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