Censoring Our Writing
How far should a writer go when they create a story? Should certain things be taboo? Should the writer censor their work for fear they might offend someone? Should they censor their creative endeavor by not touching on some topics? Is the writer responsible if a reader acts out something from their book that harms or kills another? What about books written for children and young adults? Should every story carry some sort of lesson? These questions have popped up and they trouble me.
Most people that read do it for one of several reasons:
Entertainment. The reader wants to escape into another world, free from his or her own worries and cares.
They read to learn something: maybe they want to learn about ancient civilizations, or the history of a county.
Improving their life. They want to improve their memory or a certain set of skills they have.
Curiosity. They find a subject that sounds interesting and they read about it.
Whatever reason a person picks up a book, must we, as writers, be careful of what we write?
Now, I can see where adding something like a rape scene to make the antagonist look bad is nothing but bad taste. The villain can be bad or evil for hundreds of other reason. However, if a protagonist in a story was raped years before, and the event still affects them now in the story, using minimal details can get the point across, not a full-blown recall of the incident. The same goes for any scene that contains abuse or assault of any sort.
Suicide is another touchy subject. If you mention or write out a scene where a protagonist or main character attempts suicide, are you setting the stage for a reader to try the same thing?
I believe most readers are intelligent and not about to commit crimes or harm themselves because of something they read in a fiction book. Dealing with these topics can be done if they are needed in the story and are part of the plot. Personally, if I’m reading a book and come across a scene that involves rape or abuse and it has heavy detail, I skip over it. Same goes for hot and heavy sex scenes. If I wanted to read that, I’d buy a fiction erotica book. I want to be entertained, not bombarded with all that other stuff. If it doesn’t advance the story and the plot, then don’t put it in! It’s that simple. Readers have imaginations and can easily fill in the details for themselves.
When it comes to children’s books, not everyone you write needs to be a lesson. A child needs to dream and stretch their minds. They get enough lessons from their parents and in school. Write so they can follow a favorite character as they go through a myriad of adventures and make new friends. Let the story you write inspire them to write their own stories or draw or make things out of clay. Let them be kids and not mini adults. With all the children books out there the child’s parent or guardian will decide what is and isn’t appropriate to be read to their child. Write the stories you feel comfortable writing and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Think back when you were a kid, why did you read? Did you read because it was fun and the story good? Or did you read to learn life’s lessons? If
Ah, young adults. The teen years. Since they believe they already know what there is to know, they read for fun. Write that way for them. Give them characters to identify with and a story to transport them out of their troubled minds and hearts. Let them explore new worlds and meet new creatures. Heck, toss in a bit of first love too if you like, but make it fun.
Now, if you write a manual on how to do something, like committing a crime or what have you, you’re on your own. If you deliberately publish something that can lead to a criminal act of some sort, the axe should fall on your head and no one else’s.
May the words ever flow!