Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Writers take risks

   If we don't take risks, we may end up boring the readers. This is my opinion, of course, so don't take this statement to heart.
 From my own experience as a reader I can conclude that the stories that I like the most are the ones that take risks.
   What does taking risks mean?
    A way of taking risks, for example, is  by exposing issues that can spark controversy, or that are normally pushed aside because they may be inconvenient. When we take risks  we explore themes with refreshed eyes without being preachy. We let reality shine by itself as we show characters and events.
    Taking risks means writing about something with honesty, digging deeper into subjects we may fear. I believe most readers will appreciate this honesty and even fall in love with it, but we need to accept that some of them will despise it, dread it or even feel uncomfortable.
     Characters drive my stories, so I feel devoted to them. My characters are human beings, so they harbor contradictions. I am a keen observer of peoples' behaviors and attitudes and I pour much of this into my own writing.  Human beings are far from perfect. They can be the source of both good and bad actions. They can be kind, but their actions can also be the result of envy when they don't feel they've fulfilled their own lives. They can be carried away by greed, pride, or insane competition. Some critiquers occasionally like to point out "Oh, but this character is contradicting herself. Oh, but this character is making a mistake." If we want to create realistic characters in adult fiction we need to accept our characters' foibles and embrace them. Perfect heroes don't appeal to me.
        I appreciate unique realistic characters with both positive traits and weaknesses. In doing so, I'm taking the risk of annoying some of my readers. It is to be expected. We can't please all our readers, can we?
       Do you take risks when you write? What kinds of risks do you take?


  1. Oh, I so agree with you. If our characters were reasonable, well-adjusted, upstanding citizens there would be no story. A lot of time we crit and say "I wouldnn't do that." or "Why would she do that?" without realizing we're not in the novel and our lives are boring because we pay our taxes, obey the speed limit, and feed our children three square meals.

  2. You're absolutely right, Julia. With every word we put on paper, we take a risk of someone not liking what we write. For me, writing romance is a risk (especially when I hint at sex between an unmarried couple) because my mother a devoted Christian believes sex before marriage is a no no.
    Anyway, how our family members or friends react to our writing can be the price we have to pay for living our passion.

    I just dropped by to see how you're doing. See you soon my dear. Liz

  3. Hi Liz, I'm just lucky my mom isn't about to read anything I write. :)

    But yes, I have sex in a Bible story. And when I ran it through Critique Circle, someone commented that church members might not like it. I tried to write a clean version, but it would not work. How can I explain the depth of their emotions without showing it?

  4. Rachelle and Liz, thanks so much for stopping by and commenting on such a delicate matter. There are endless ways of taking risks. But as the poem says "risks must be taken because the greatest risk in life is to risk nothing". Sometimes there are readers who are blinded by prejudice. Others may not care to understand a different culture. Then, they want their characters to do what feels right to them. However, characters need to take risks. Even religious people don't follow what their religion says at times. That is why I love literature. It is reality in disguise.

  5. I totally agree. One must take risks--in life and in writing--to challenge oneself creatively. The mind is a sort of muscle and it needs strong exercise. I prefer to write about topical, edgy subjects that may make me cringe a bit, or subjects that are deep and require some research. Stretching in all areas.

  6. Hi Julia..I agree with what you said in this post. Unless we take risks, unless we push the boundaries and get out of our comfort zones, we will surely be boring our readers.

  7. Yes, Catherine. It is an experience that surprises every day as we explore new ground, new thoughts, new dilemmas. It is like a journey. Rachna, yes, I agree with you. Thanks for stopping by.

  8. I once read that, before writing, you have to be sure of what it is you want to say. I don't think you can expect to make any sort of dint in the world with your writing unless you take risks. We may think ourselves to be evolved creatures, but we sometimes need to be shocked in order to pay attention :) I try to take risks on my blog! :)

  9. Thanks for commenting Jessica. It is true. Sometimes we need to be shocked to empathize and understand ... or at least to begin to understand something. I will check your blog! Thanks for sharing it!


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