Learn 5 Ways to Take Risks With Your Writing

Learn 5 Ways to Take Risks With Your Writing

Learn 5 Ways to Take Risks With Your WritingWe writers are really kind of a whiny bunch. Our Facebook and Twitter streams, our blogs, sometimes even our books are full of discussions about how hard it is to to be writers. There’s a lot of (mostly) good-natured woe-is-me-ing; sharing of commiserative quotes from our patrons, St. Hemingway and St. Plath; and so, so much of that fantastically cathartic black humor we all love so much about how hard it is to take risks with your writing.

There’s a reason the #YouKnowYouAreAWriter hashtag is popular. There’s this sense within the community that “only another writer could understand.” Non-writers glaze over in the face of our whinging. Even if they’re too polite to say it, there’s this sense they’re thinking: “What’s so hard about writing? Anybody could do that. I wish I could stay home in my pajamas and play on the computer all day.”

In all fairness, there’s a certain justice to that. I’ve talked before about what I call “the myth of the suffering writer.” We definitely can take ourselves too seriously—our melodramatic existential blocks, our laziness in the face of the the blinking cursor, and our insistence that the process of writing will never be easy, can never be easy, should never be easy.

I can attest that the process of writing gets easier with time, patient practice, and gradual mastery.

So why are we still whining?

Because the difficult intricacies of the craft aren’t really what scare us witless, are they? The scariest part of writing—the part that never really gets less scary—is the inherent risk of writing our guts out every single day.

And yet, if you want to write anything worthwhile, on either a technical or thematic level, you have to be willing to take risks with your writing.

The Riskiness of Good Art

Art that is safe is art that doesn’t matter.

Safe writing doesn’t challenge the reader, and it certainly doesn’t challenge the writer. This is true on so many levels: personally, socially, even commercially. Safe writing is stagnant writing. Where the art is stagnant, so too is the society.

Even just stating that feels a little scary, a little risky. Writers are just humans, after all. We like to be safe. We like to be able to control our worlds, our lives, our beliefs, and other people’s beliefs about us. For many of us, our writing is our safe spot—or started out that way. We started writing in private, perhaps for fun, perhaps for catharsis, but in the understanding that our words were sacred secrets held between us and the page. No risk involved.

But time goes on. People begin to read our words. They begin to learn about us through our words. More than, that we begin to learn about ourselves through our words. The page is no longer a silent receptacle. It is a reverberating challenge to ourselves: be honest, be brave.

You can either stop your ears to that challenge and close off the call of life itself. Or you can rise to it and seek to take risks with your writing that may leave you feeling unsafe but that will also spur you to greater growth as individuals—and, by extension, give you the opportunity to share that growth with your communities.

5 Ways to Take Risks With Your Writing

Sounds exciting, right? But… how do you do this? What does it mean to take risks with your writing? Does it mean dramatizing your most embarrassing moments? Villainizing problematic family members? Spouting only your most radical ideas and beliefs? Choosing vulgar language and situations just for shock value?

Light the dark BookMaybe. But probably not. Taking risks with your writing is actually a pretty precise science. Hanya Yanagihara put it all in a nutshell in his essay “Writing for Right Now” in the anthology Light the Dark:

Whether it’s plot, or characterization, or structure, or a voice, or the language, a book has to take risks with at least one thing.

1. Be Honest: Question the Narrative—Your Own and the Story’s

The riskiness of good writing begins and ends with honesty. It’s the truth that scares us—the truth about the world, the truth about ourselves as people, and the truth about ourselves as writers. We’re endlessly afraid that none of these things will measure up to our own hopes and ideals.

Frankly, sometimes they don’t. But as the science of character arcs teaches us so clearly, the only way to move forward in life is to be willing to abandon the comfortable Lies in favor of the oft-painful Truths.

Being honest on the page begins by being honest with yourself. I am coming to see that, really, this is the whole journey of life. Could it be that in giving us life, God also gives to each of us a great gift—a great mission? That gift is ourselves—and that mission is finding ourselves.

Your job on this earth is to find yourself. No one else can find you. Others can see you, learn from you, love you, use you as a mirror in finding themselves. But no one else can find you. You are here to find yourself. It is one of the most important things you can ever do, because you are the only person who can do it.

The only way to do this is to be honest with yourself—about who you are, what you want, why you want it, and what you believe.

Your view of life is the single most important thing you bring to your fiction.

From that springs the further honesty of telling honest stories. Choose your narratives, your premises, your genres because they are yours, not because they are familiar and easy. In these days of commercial pressure to conform to popular genres and narratives, this in itself can sometimes feel inherently risky. And that’s just the beginning.

2. Be Innovative: Never Write the Same Book Twice

I used to say that I never wrote the same book twice. On the surface, this seems true. Up to this point, my published books are wildly varied in premise and even genre. I’ve written everything from a straight-up western to a medieval love story to a portal fantasy to a crazy historical/dieselpunk mashup to a historical superhero story. But actually, they are all, in a way, the same story. I have a theory that we all go on writing the same story over and over, just in different ways.

K.M. Weiland Novels Behold the Dawn Dreamlander Behold the Dawn

So when I say “never write the same book twice,” I’m not saying you have to reinvent yourself with every new story. You like writing procedural mysteries? Keep writing ’em.

But don’t settle for the familiar. You should be risking something new with every book. If you’re taking the same risk in this book that you took in the last, you’re not pushing yourself. Even as you try to satisfy readers, you want to be putting them ever so slightly off their guard with each new book. Don’t ever give them exactly what they expect.

Curiously (or not), a majority of the books and movies I love most passionately were those to which I initially had a knee-jerk negative reaction. And yet with a little time and re-reading/watching, I not only learned to appreciate the unexpected in these stories, I came to love them. In his Light the Dark essay “Music for Misfits,” Mark Haddon observed:

I think it was Jean Cocteau who said fashion is what seems right now and wrong later. Art is what seems wrong now and right later. Great art has the slight discomfort to start with. It takes you a while to think, Yeah, this is right. I just didn’t realize that it was right at the time.

It feels this way because good art is innovative art. It is not what we initially expect. It takes time for us to adjust our expectations. “Bad” art, on the other hand, is what we initially expect, in the sense that we’ve been there before. It’s familiar and therefore often cliched. It’s not risky. It’s very, very safe. And as a result, it’s ultimately forgettable.

3. Be More: Look Beyond the Mere Gratification of Fiction

I write for pleasure. I write for gratification. I write for escape. I write for catharsis. If I didn’t get these things from my writing, perhaps I wouldn’t write at all. They’re important. But if I lose myself too deeply in them, I risk writing stories that are not only self-indulgent but probably vapid.

You must challenge yourself to consciously seek a higher level of writing, a higher purpose. Please: write fun, entertaining stories. But don’t write just fun, entertaining stories. Use that simply as a launchpad for stories of greater depth, meaning, and honesty. This requires guts. It requires bravery. But it’s the doorway through which all great art enters.

In his New York Times essay “Writing Is a Risky, Humiliating Endeavor,” David Gordon acknowledges:

Writing then, must feel risky in order to feel like life. I used to cringe when people talked about “brave” writing. I’d think, calm down, it’s not like you’re a fireman or a Special Forces commando. If the mission fails, just toss it in the wastebasket. But I do think, upon reflection, that there is a need to generate emotional risk, a sense of imminence, of danger, in order to transmit that aliveness to the page. This needn’t mean personal revelation or offensive language. Sometimes quiet, dense writing is the most deeply and complexly honest. Sometimes intellectual discourse is brave in our Twitter culture. Genuine and sincere emotion can be risky in a world of snark and irony. So can making silly jokes about matters our society regards with sanctimonious seriousness. Sometimes it is just a matter of a writer doing what she does not yet know how to do, speaking about something he does not yet understand. The risk of ambitious failure.

4. Be Rebellious: Never Follow the Rules Blindly

I pledge allegiance to the writing rules. I love them, and they love me back. But our relationship is not that of a dictator to his slave. It is a vibrant, evolving relationship of constant interchange, a dialogue of learning and refining.

In short: it’s a good idea to follow the rules, but never follow them blindly. Questions are our greatest tool in this life. Question the rules and keep questioning until you find the right question that leads you to the right answer—a full and personal understanding of your craft.

Where have the principles of story theory come from? Why is it that the patterns of structure and character arc are the way they are? (Or are they?) How do you see story? What patterns, archetypes, and symbols are most powerful and pertinent for you? Why?

Occasionally, I watch Michael Tucker’s great YouTube channel Lessons From the Screenplay. Recently, he posted thoughtfully about why it is that some writers reject the idea of classic structure, find it confining, even condemn it as formulaic. The answers he came up with were deeply personal to him and, as a result, usefully honest to everyone else who watched his video. Although he more or less ends by confirming the same ideas of story theory, he did it in a way that was intensely personal to him. He’s a perfect example of a writer who embraces the “rules” from a place of understanding rather following them blindly.

5. Be Committed: Don’t Give Up

Sometimes the riskiest part of writing is just doing it. Showing up at your desk every day, going to that raw honest place inside yourself, putting words on paper with the utmost of your own ability—that takes guts. That takes commitment.

In the course of writing our lengthy first drafts—before anyone else even sees them—we face down our own doubts about the worth of what we’re doing. We struggle with our inadequacies. We admit our fears about sharing these dangerously vulnerable parts of ourselves with others.

And then we let others actually read what we’ve written—and some of them love it and some of them hate it. We have to deal with the fallout. In the harsh light of new realities, we face new truths about ourselves—as people and as writers. We pick up the pieces, we try again, we fail again, we fail better.

It is a life of risk. But we do it because we must. It is the only way to reach for our potential, the only way to live our lives to the utmost, the only way to give all we have to give to our world.

Perhaps it is impossible to write and not risk. Perhaps even if we are trying our best to protect ourselves and only write what is safe, we are still inevitably risking something—some part of ourselves that trickles around the edges of our defenses.

But today I challenge you—I challenge myself—to write every word with honesty, innovation, bravery, awareness, and commitment. Let’s risk.

Wordplayers, tell me your opinion! Which of the above do you think you could do more to take risks with your writing? Tell me in the comments!

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About K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland

K.M. Weiland lives in make-believe worlds, talks to imaginary friends, and survives primarily on chocolate truffles and espresso. She is the IPPY and NIEA Award-winning and internationally published author of the Amazon bestsellers Outlining Your Novel and Structuring Your Novel. She writes historical and speculative fiction from her home in western Nebraska and mentors authors on her award-winning website.

Comments

  1. Step 2. I have never published anything before but I would like to take a risk and write in multiple genres, but I have heard from authors that this is a bad idea

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      I write multiple genres. It’s a marketing challenge to be sure, but I would never let that hold me back.

  2. This is an awesome post! Thank you for sharing this.

  3. It’s funny, I always tell my students to take risks with their writing, but I’m always a little afraid that I don’t tell them what that means. So I’ve started talking about it in terms of choices. It seems to me that we are constantly making choices when we write—many of them before we even know we’ve made a choice (POV, tense, voice). Every time we have a character act or react, every time the plot turns, every time we describe the world…we are making choices. But the problem is that our first choices are often the same choices that everyone else would make because they are the easiest possible choices. Water runs downhill. We tend to think we are unique snowflakes but there really is a collective mind. Test it sometime: ask people to come up with a simile for something, anything, that is blue. It’s crazy how often the first answer is “sky” and the second answer is “ocean,” even when the blue is nothing like those things. It’s only when the easy answers are used up that people will push past to something personal and unique (“blue like the beat up duster I bought when I was 16, the car I drove until the engine fell out right in the middle of my date with Jenn Smith…,”). The same thing can be said of plot, theme, character, language. We need to learn to make choices that are unique to us and not the easiest possible answer. This is the hardest thing because the answer always starts with “I don’t know!” If you already know the answer, it’s not compelling. We always have to be writing to discover the answer we don’t yet know. And this, it seems to me, is a lifelong process. There is always a more difficult, complicated, personal choice.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      Great advice. This is something I particularly try to pursue in the outlining stage. I give myself the freedom (and the push) to throw everything on the page, no matter how crazy. It’s important to think beyond the box.

  4. Louisa Bauman says:

    It’s all true. If you don’t put your heart into it and bare your soul, you probably won’t be a great writer. That’s why we have to be brave, because we’re uncovering our deepest thoughts.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      Bravery and honesty. I believe they are foundational not just to great art but to great living.

  5. Sally M. Chetwynd says:

    Excellent specifics given in this post, much food for thought! Thank you!

    One of the risks I am taking, which I think I will carry through to print for my novel #2 (which I hope to do within a few months) is the use of en dashes for internal thoughts (what we usually call “internal dialogue”) of my characters. My story’s characters engage in A LOT of internal thought. I found it cumbersome to use “she thought” and “he thought” almost as much as “he said” and “she said.” I think it distanced the character from the reader, and I want my readers to be right inside my characters’ heads in this story. Also, going right into internal thought without the “he thought” and “she thought” was confusing to some of my beta readers, who sometimes thought I was slipping accidentally into present tense (the internal thoughts) from the past tense (narrative).

    I have seen one instance of the use of en dashes (shorter than the em dash but longer than the hyphen) for internal thoughts in a print book before (I can’t remember what book, now), but it is obviously employed very rarely.

    I hope that once readers get into the story and see what I am doing, the consistent use of the en dashes will train readers to accept this distinction, just as the use of colloquialisms or vernacular in written ethnic dialogue trains the reader to associate unusual spellings or usage as distinct to any given character.

    Here’s an example. (In cutting and pasting this section into this format, I see that the longer em dashes are almost as short as the en dashes. One difference is that there are no spaces at the em dashes, whereas spaces occur before the opening en dash and after the closing en dash. I’ll have to see how these display in the editor’s proofs. It might be a typeface issue.)

    Rory came over. “You all right?”

    “I think I pulled a muscle. It came on paddling against that wind this morning.”

    “You can’t reach it. Let me loosen it up.”

    Josie hesitated. Would Rory trigger her second sight? She recoiled, hating to risk it.
    Greg’s image rose before her. [en dash to open internal thoughts]–Damn! Caught between a rock and a hard place. This is just what Greg figured on. He’ll never know if I let Rory go ahead. But I will.– Even if she never told Greg, she was certain he would know she was hiding something. It would jeopardize what she had with him. Secrets ate relationships from within, like dry-rot.

    –But if I don’t let Rory do it, I’ll be in trouble tomorrow, maybe do real damage. Can’t be out of commission, way the hell and gone in the middle of nowhere.– She stretched her hand back, but only her fingertips could touch the sore spot. –Lousy options. I wish Kat or Ellen had offered. I won’t—[em dash]I can’t!—let anything happen. I don’t want it—not the visions, not a relationship, not sex. But have to accept the help, keep it from getting worse.–

    “Yes,” she assented, reluctant. “You’d better.”

    “Let’s do it while the air’s still warm.”

    Anybody out there with an opinion about this use of en dashes?

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      A common way of punctuating direct thoughts is simply by italicizing them.

      Personally, I prefer indirect thoughts that allow the internal thoughts to flow as part of the narrative itself:

      But if she didn’t let Rory do it, she’d be in trouble tomorrow, maybe do real damage. She couldn’t be out of commission, way the hell and gone in the middle of nowhere. She stretched her hand back, but only her fingertips could touch the sore spot. Lousy options. She wished Kat or Ellen had offered.

    • I agree with KM. Readers are already trained to recognize italics = direct thoughts, or the method she illustrated. It doesn’t break immersion, but your en dashes force the reader to stop and puzzle out what’s going on.

      To be honest, if I saw the en dashes in your ebook (or print) I would assume they were the result of a failed proofing. A tradition from the old [typewriter] days is the use of _underscores_ (like so) as a placeholder to signal that word or words should be italicized.

      Since you’re writing direct thoughts, I would just assume you were using the en dashes the same way the underscore is used, and if I had bought the book I’d wonder why it went live before fixing that. And then I’d innocently shoot KDP a note to have you fix it (I did that for a Susanna Kearsely e-book that had unusually narrow margins, as in three or four words to a line. And that was on a Kindle, not my phone).

      By the way, if you ever have characters who communicate telepathically, it isn’t unusual to use the guillemet symbol in place of quotation marks. They look similar to <> but smaller and closer together. I am wondering if you saw that unusual use of the en dash in a novel where characters are speaking a foreign language.

  6. Thanks Katie, encouraging piece. There’s a preacher in you!
    In Reading im strongly reminded of Chris Redston and his journey of self discovery. Literally
    I think im facing risks, with 3 young children time is precious and writing is something i really want to pursue, but it needs to be done right, plus specific risks with the story itself. What if I do all this writing and no one likes it? its a risk, what if i cant get it published? Its a risk.
    But what if im meant to do this, and i dont try, that is a risk.

  7. Another wonderful post. I need to take the right kind of risks in life

  8. This is going straight into my Quote Box!

    Art that is safe is art that doesn’t matter.
    — K.M. Weiland

  9. Excellent post Katie.
    I love the advice.
    I am going to give more to my level of commitment.
    I want to write, and have a handful of ideas that I know given the time and attention they need, I can craft my works of art the way I want them to be.
    Part of the problem with commitment is fear of not being good enough.
    But I will never know, if I don’t commit myself to producing the work.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      Something I’ve learned through my writing journey is that we’re never “good enough.” There’s no such thing as a perfect story and therefore no such thing as a perfect writer–and therefore, we will always have the opportunity to feel like failures at some level. Once we realize this, it’s actually incredibly freeing. If we can give up a pursuit of perfection in exchange for a pursuit of improvement, we gain all kinds of room to take risks and make wild and interesting mistakes.

  10. Ms. Albina says:

    Great Article, I like to write children’s and ya but not horror or westerns books. I have a self-publish name TBP. Sometimes it is difficult for me to write them since I am mildly autistic which means I learn slower. I am hopeful. Do you choose the numbers of chapters you write or see how the story goes and the pacing also?

  11. Andrewiswriting says:

    It’s an interesting video around Act Structure. I’ll give you three examples:

    Avatar (James Cameron)
    How to Train Your Dragon 2
    Black Panther

    None of these movies – NONE of them – held any surprises for me, because each of them follows the classic structure exactly. At every reversal, at every tent-pole, I knew how it was going to go.

    Ultimately, I think I found all three of these movies less satisfying because of this.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      Eh, I’d argue that all of those movies are examples of the pitfalls of cliched structure (so prevalent in movies these days) rather structure itself.

  12. I am intrigued and heartened by the formulation that bad art can actually be good art with the perception of time. Stanley Kubrick’s films from 2001 A Space Odyssey on sharply divided critics and audiences at the time but has since come to be accepted as great works. As you mentioned, Kubrick never made the same film twice; most of them contain iconic images and sequences that were a serious risk at the time.
    Be like Stanley.

  13. There’s valor in your manner, Katie !

    Writing is meant to be risky, but some of us choose to be conservatives. Dickens, Hugo, hemingway and the likes were risky writers- they put a mark in history, and in effect loved by us.
    We fell in love with the defiant characters of Offred (The Handmaid’s Tale), Sal Paradise (On the Road), Lisbeth Salander (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) and MacMurphy (One Flew Over the Cukoo’s Nest). The great writers of these great characters took risks and made them rebel against degrading society.

    A great piece, Katie! We pray you serve us more.

  14. Katie, one of the things that sets your blog apart from others is your ability to take vague writing advice and explain what it actually means in a practical sense. I’ve certainly been told to “take risks” in my writing before, but I don’t recall anyone ever explaining what it does and doesn’t mean. My biggest takeaway from this post is it’s a good idea to acknowledge what risks you are taking in a particular work, if for no other reason than to ensure you are taking some. There are many other gems in your piece, but I almost feel like I’m not ready for them yet. I have to chew on this one for a bit, like what it means to be honest in my writing. This was an advanced class lesson; something you’ve learned because you’ve already written so many books. Your observation that, despite writing across very different genres, you’ve essentially written the same story is incredibly self aware, and I bet I will see the same in my own work when I have a few more books under my belt. I’m still at the stage where the biggest risk I’m taking is having a book out there currently being judged by the reading public, and that is scary as hell. I enjoy all of your posts, but I particularly appreciate the ones where you share your philosophy around writing and writers, because you’re giving us pearls that can otherwise only be learned through experience. Thanks.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      Thanks, Chris! I’m a big fan of specificity. 🙂 If we can break a problem down into a specific question, it becomes easy to pair it with a specific answer.

  15. Thanks for writing another insightful article. I’ve been mulling over writing a paranormal romance. The charity and story line have been bouncing around in my mind for weeks.

    This is so outside my realm of writing which is black comedy and thrillers. This is a scary road for me but you’ve given me the inspiration to go forward.

    I will keep your words in a folder to look at every time I think I cannot succeed.

    Thanks for taking time to write this.

    Lyle Nicholson

    PS . Do you know of any paranormal romance I should read?

  16. Great post. I find the self-revelation aspect of writing to be the most daunting. If I’m feeling particularly daunted I play songs that I find particularly inspirational in their honesty. They address about loneliness and the hurt the musician feels at being exploited by friends and family. This helps me write about these things too rather than just physical pain or painful breakups etc.

    I don’t know if it’s relevant but I’m surprised writers never talk about vicarious trauma. For instance, the violence in Game of Thrones series sometimes makes it distressing viewing/reading. But, readers and viewers spend less than an hour reading/watching something that would have taken the author days or even months to write. Imagine it. Days or months trying to make a torture scene more realistically painful. No wonder George Martin takes so long to write: he’s probably managing his self-induced PTSD.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      Not that I write in-depth torture scenes, but personally I find writing the trauma in stories cathartic. It feels like a place to put painful emotions and work through them.

  17. John Wells says:

    Your #5 is right on the money: Never, ever, ever, ever give up! I’m a youthful 86 and just signed a publishing contract for a first novel. Risk? Hey, that’s life. I made a decent living writing technical plans for the Navy and learned to express ideas clearly and elegantly, but I wanted more. I wrote; agents said I was verbose. Hard criticism to swallow, even though it was true. Submitted a revised manuscript to a friendly agent; she crossed out every adverb and told me that when I need an adverb, I’ve chosen the wrong verb. Revised and returned it; she crossed out every one of my words from my egotistical vocab and told me never ever send my reader to the dictionary. All the while I pursued the point you make in #5. Came to realize that a novel has to have two attributes: readability and a character-based dynamic storyline. And on and on we go! Ain’t we got fun? Hey, I pity the writers who “play it safe.” Lotsa luck.

  18. DirectorNoah says:

    My current WIP, a supernatural mystery, is a big risk for me, as I think of myself as more a fantasy/sci fi writer, since lots of my story ideas are suited to that genre. I don’t usually read mysteries, though I do love any complex characters or plots in other books, so perhaps that’s why I’m writing it.

    I also chose to write a female protag because I wanted to challenge myself, to see if I could do it right, and therefore grow as a writer. Even the structure is a little unusual, partly by accident. I do like to keep experimenting and trying new things in my writing. Even now, I’m thinking of new concepts for plots and different methods to explore and build characters, but also ways of making my stories have deeper meaning to readers with themes, like in Step 3.

    The one thing I do worry about, is that since mysteries will likely not be my genre, whether I’m making a mistake doing this as my first publishable novel…
    Thank you again for another inspirational post, Katie! 😀

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      Sci-fi is an umbrella genre that can include many different types of stories, including mysteries. So you’re really not wandering that far afield. 🙂

  19. If I’m lost, I’m the last, and likely the worst person that I’d want trying to find me… (I need an extra five minutes in front of a mall map to locate the ‘you are here’ arrow) nor am I the only one who can find me (thankfully!) as the last verse of the longest psalm shows. 😀

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      Hah. I get lost in stores too. 😉

      • haha… those are likely two of the main reasons e-tail has done so well. 😀

        • I tried to explain to a boss once that I bought clothes online because “I’m petite and I can’t find the right sizes in the stores.”

          He said, “Wrong. You don’t like going out, you don’t like crowds, and you don’t like people.”

  20. This is just perfect. Something I have been thinking about a lot, and don’t understand, is how to transcend wish-fulfillment and write something that really can re-educate desire. This is what the best art has done for me — it has given me a vision of transcendent beauty that purifies the heart and cleanses desire. But this is so hard to do. It is hard enough to write a story that soothes us where we know we ache (and there’s nothing inherently wrong with this, except when a story is pandering to sinful desires). But I’m fighting to discover how to do more, how to transform desire. I don’t really think I can do it, but the attempt makes the story worthwhile to me.

    It’s particularly a problem with any sort of Christian love story. It could be done just like a regular romance novel, but with the naughty bits left out, but it really shouldn’t. The story should not satisfy what we think we want, because what most of us have been brought up to want romantically isn’t good for us at all. That doesn’t mean it can’t be even more deeply satisfying, but as you said, it might initially feel wrong. It takes some faith and bravery to tell the truth about the human condition and trust that it is beautiful. And maybe that’s something — to let our sense of truth be the guide rather than any tainted sense of what is beautiful. But I don’t think that’s the final answer, either, since I really believe our hearts are made to respond to real Beauty.

  21. Especially in item #1 I felt like you were talking straight to me, echoing our past public and private conversations.

    My WIP is a teen coming of age and dealing with his first romance. More importantly, it’s sharing all the pain and struggles and temptations of my late teen years, several of which I’ve never said out loud (hence the nom de plume) – then showing that teenage version of me learning the view of life that I now possess as an adult several decades older.

    Although #3 and on similarly brought it home, at first read I didn’t think #2 applied to me as much (as I have yet to start writing anything else.) However, I have kicked around an idea, extrapolating current politics and borrowing on my knowledge of world history the last hundred years, to have a father struggling with issues of right and wrong in trying to protect his family in a dystopian not so distant future. Totally different premise and setting, but it gets back to a similar theme – matching a particular view of life with a difficult real world setting.

  22. Interesting point in regards to writing the same story over and over again. There is so much here relating to our subconscious, so much that we haven’t even fully understood yet. For me, it seems like some of my past wounds which make me who I am are what continually come up in my writing, especially in formulating the thematic arguments for my stories. Maybe that’s why it’s been said, “you don’t go looking for a story, it finds you.” 😀

Trackbacks

  1. […] When you’ve completed that manuscript, Tiffany Yates Martin recommends mining your manuscript for buried treasure, and K. M. Weiland suggests you learn 5 ways to take risks with your writing. […]

  2. […] https://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/take-risks-with-your-writing/ “Because the difficult intricacies of the craftaren’t really what scare us witless, are they? The scariest part of writing—the part that never really gets less scary—is the inherent risk of writing our guts out every single day.” She’s right. We need to challenge ourselves with every book we write. […]

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