04 April 2016


**My theme for this year's A to Z Challenge is THE REVISION PROJECT. Topics I come across while I write the third draft of my novel, Uneven Lines.**

I wasn’t some vulnerable child, and he knew that, too. But to him, it was completely black and white. Anything we could possibly do would be illegal and that was that. Final answer.

Not all stories are filled with happy fluffy bunnies and rainbows and unicorns. Some stories go to a dark or scary place. A place that makes people uncomfortable. And that's ok, as long as you do it right.

There are plenty of different kinds of controversies you could throw into a novel. You could write about war, politics, race issues. It usually involves something that people have differing opinions on. Or, you could write about something that most people would agree is wrong. But if you do, will they still want to read your book?

This is something I constantly struggle with. This is why I worry that people will hate my book, because some people aren't willing to give a controversial story a chance. So how do you stick with your idea but make it something that people will actually want to read?

My book is controversial because it centers around the relationship between a 15-year-old and a 28-year-old. As much as I say that my story chose me, I have to admit this is how it started. I wanted to write about a student-teacher relationship, with no other concrete details in mind. Then a few hours later all of the characters and details hit me like a pile of bricks falling on my head. But it did still start with my own little spark of an idea.

I've always been a sucker for a forbidden romance. The problem with this one, though, is that the thing keeping them apart is the law. Most people would agree that it's controversial, and that these people shouldn't be together, no matter how strong their feelings are. They should either walk away from each other or wait until the younger person is old enough for it to be ok.

So why would someone even want to read this story? It's not like it's the first book to feature such a subject. Actually, one of my favorite novels of all time is Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. But that's a book that's incredibly well written. What if my writing isn't good enough to make such a tough subject more interesting to readers?

What I really want is to tell an interesting story. I want people to have mixed emotions when they read it. To actually want the characters to be together one moment, and then pull back and think, "wait a second, no I don't!" I'm not trying to say that I think this type of relationship is ok, even if it's very clear my narrator thinks it is. I write from the younger character's point of view, and he's actually the more manipulative person in the relationship, which I think (or hope) is different from other stories like this. I think the voice is strong. And I know there are some people who will just have no interest in reading a story like this, and that's ok. I just hope the people who are willing to give it a shot will find it, pick it up, and hopefully not put it down.

Do you ever write about controversial subjects? Do you like to read stories that feature them?


  1. Controversial indeed! But sometimes, for the story, you have to go with your gut. I realise I've written controversially when people stare at me in horror :-)

  2. I don't write controversial (I try too hard to avoid it in real life)... but I do struggle with self-doubt.

    You speak about your story with such passion and conviction - I believe it is the story you need to write for you as well as for others.

  3. For me, there has to be more to it than just the controversial aspect of it. How it's handled, how it's written, etc. If it feels like pure gimmick then I steer clear, in my reading and in my writing.

  4. There's a YA novel out there called "Boy Toy" by Barry Lyga about a boy who has an affair with his teacher. And C. Desir writes controversial novels. I enjoyed them all.

  5. I don't write controversial either. I just can't buck my own moral standards.

  6. If it's controversial I need to really believe in both the characters and the author, so keep with it :)
    Suzanne from
    Suzannes Tribe

  7. I haven't really tried to write controversial stuff.
    Then again, everything can be controversial, so to some really traditional-type people, me writing fantasy about dragons and elves is already controversial...

    I think if I were invested in the characters, I would still enjoy reading a controversial story. So I guess it's how it's told.

    ATSP @ Deeply Shallow

  8. Nabokov pulled off a taboo relationship. Of course, Lolita was banned, but that didn't hurt sales. I'd say exploring the "uncomfortable" and "culturally unacceptable" is part of the writers duty.

  9. Nabokov pulled off a taboo relationship. Of course, Lolita was banned, but that didn't hurt sales. I'd say exploring the "uncomfortable" and "culturally unacceptable" is part of the writers duty.

  10. Just because you write it doesn't mean you agree with it. That's fiction.

    No one blinked about the sparkly old vampire and the underage girl!

    Heather M. Gardner / @hmgardner
    Co-Host, Blogging from A to Z April Challenge
    The Waiting is the Hardest Part

  11. As far as I'm concerned, the more controversy the better! Sounds like a great story and I enjoy reading about your process. Never "write to please." Stay true to your original vision.

  12. Are serial killers controversial? Check that one off the list. You know, I've been reading a series based in the 13th century, and it's funny that what's controversial in our society would have been completely acceptable back then.

    C is for Cheese

  13. The nearest to controversial I have written was actually coincidental. I have a book which features a British police officer shooting a youth who turns out to be carrying a fake gun. It's actually the premise to the story and was written before cop shootings became such a visible issue, but I did think twice about publicising the story since it went live at the same time as the issue went viral.
    Sophie's Thoughts & Fumbles | Wittegen Press | FB3X

  14. As long as you can convince readers the motivations of the MC are legitimate in their own mind, then have at it. People and controversy are what make stories interesting, even if the reader doesn't necessarily agree with the subject matter.
    Discarded Darlings

  15. It doesn't matter what subject you choose, there will always be some people who just don't like it and that's ok. Write for yourself, write with passion and write honestly and you will find the right readers :)

  16. I don't know about controversial, but I have written unusual things that aren't done often and worry about how people will react. Don't let it stop you. There will be haters, but there will also be people who love it for the fact it's not a 'safe' topic.

  17. At first, I was like, "What's so controversial about..." and then I forgot about the age difference. Then, I thought, "Well, what about Lol---" and then you mentioned it. lol

    I think you just need to go for it. Stick to your guns, and if you get enough negative feedback on the writing vs. the actual content, strengthen that and keep trying.