Sensitive Subjects

Sometimes when you’re writing, a sensitive topic will show up. In some places on the Internet, it is appropriate to put a “trigger warning” with a list of possible triggers. Some people get extremely upset by certain subjects, such as suicide and rape. This can sometimes cause a panic attack. We don’t want that! So if you decide to go that route and you’re going to post it on the Internet, then you should probably put a warning.

But how do you deal with those topics in the story itself?

If the story is about the sensitive subject, then you can handle it as you see fit. Sometimes we need to show people the brutality and horror of something. In that case, go all out. Don’t exclude anything. Every awful detail is good to have. In other cases, you may feel it’s better to keep it brief and just let the character’s reaction take care of the rest.

If it’s simply part of the plot, then you should probably go easy on it. There’s no need to get into the awful stuff if it’s not the focus of the story. Let it happen as it needs to, but don’t go overboard.

If the subject is very close to you, please don’t be afraid to talk about it and how it makes you feel. That’s some of the best stuff. The best writing comes from when you’re saying something nobody else has the words for. That is your gift and duty as a writer. Write things that people will think about. Write things that will make people say, “That’s exactly how I feel! But I didn’t know how to say it!” Don’t be afraid.

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