Should we stifle our characters/books in case we offend
More and more I am seeing people say that they are getting bad reviews because they didn’t warn the reader of something that may potentially offend them. A love story that contains an affair or anything that someone may find controversial.
What is a book?
A story that is either a reflection on real life or a trip into a fantasy world which has no connection to reality. We will never be able to write 100% to please every reader and what works for one person will rub raw on another.
I have a love story that is bouncing back between me and my editor at the moment and she, rightly so, has pointed out some comments that my characters have made or thought that could be seen as offensive. I have chosen to leave them in, however, because I believe this to be a reflection on the time that it is written, the characters and the thought processes of some men in this country. I have no wish to offend anyone but if I start to second guess everything that my characters say then I might as well give up writing now. I will put a warning at the front to make it clear that this book is meant in no way to offend.
I strongly believe that we need to write the story in the way that it demands to be written and allow the character to have their foibles, bad habits, thoughts that may not be politically correct because this is real. Not everyone in life thinks in the same way.
This does not mean that I agree with these thoughts or that should I hear them being expressed in real life in a manner that is aimed to harm someone that I wouldn’t step in and say something.
Books are full of situations that are unacceptable in real life: murder, rape and much more so lets put this back into perspective. I had an English teacher once who told us that if we needed to use swear words in our writing then we should. If they’re not needed then leave them out. I think this is true for anything, if you feel that what you have written is in keeping with your story/character and the time they live in then use it, if not then don’t.