Linda Maye Adams

Rule Y: You can’t avoid offending someone with your writing


Linda’s Rules of Writing

We’re onto the letter Y in Linda’s Rules of Writing of the A to Z Challenge, and You can’t avoid offending someone with your writing.

When I was writing with a cowriter, he asked a friend volunteer to read our novel in progress.  He told her it was a thriller set in Virginia during the Civil War.

She was a published writer, so it was kind of exciting because if she liked it, it would be a good referral.  She read 70 pages, and then gave back a 4 page critique that nitpicked the story to death.  I read it over and had set it aside for a few days.  It was scathing!  Her kindest words were “Your prose is clean.”  I read a few days later and immediately realized she’d hated the story and hadn’t known why.  So she’d picked it apart as justification.

A few months later, cowriter mentioned that the romance writer was vehemently anti-gun.  That explained a lot.

Civil War soldiers grapple with guns.

Seriously, it was Civil War. Did she think that we would leave out the guns?

You can’t avoid offending someone.  It’s simply part of being a writer.  Have you run into anyone you’ve offended for something in your story?


Caption: A to Z Challenge Logo

12 Comments

  1. sadly yes,, not that I am published, but I post stories on the web and let my internet challenged friends and family read them as hard copy…I digress, I have offended people by exploring what if topics in societal collapse stories , having a secondary character who is gay, having violence, guns. what Ive found is if you dont cater to the upset persons opinion they wont like a thing you write.

    LOL I am now toying with shooting for the moon to really annoy whole groups and write a Gay, Violent, gun toting, meat eating, former Sociologist and bad guy who kicked a puppy once, main character.

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    • Worse would be writing something you don’t like in an effort to please everyone. Good luck with your project!

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  2. K.Jacqleene

    Opinions are just that, opinions. Everyone has them, some are more vocal with their’s than others. The only time to be concerned is when the very opinionated try to force their views as a way of life on others. Some are so anti-something or other they try to rewrite history to make it fit with their personal or societal beliefs of the day. Changing things for the better I’m all for but rewriting history to make a more peaceful, tolerant read will only contribute to our future generation’s demise. Are we not taught to learn from our past in order to change the future?

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    • So true! I think our best stories come from challenging our beliefs.

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  3. You know if you expect everything written to please you then you are not looking to the write genre. It is unfortunate this person allowed their personal views to get in the way of giving the story a fair read.

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    • I would have been fine if she’d said she couldn’t read it for personal reasons. I just wished she had recognized what was happening and walked away from it.

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  4. Sue

    I probably have offended people. My main character works for the devil and I’ve written on the theme of homophobia. But I was told not to worry about who you will offend. Write for yourself

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    • Thanks for stopping by, Sue!

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  5. Yes, most certainly! As a newer blogger, only started 2 years ago, I had thought myself lucky to have not offended anyone, and what I thought was an innocuous comment turned into a big offense. I ended up rewriting my post, because I did see it from the other person’s point of view and did want to clarify things so no one else interpreted it that way. At the time it was very painful.

    Later on, it became grist for the mill and I wrote another post that provided some definitions of terms that I use. The feedback so far has been positive. But it was a heck of a learning experience!

    However, I’m sure some of my perspectives and posts have or will offend people. I hope most of my readers are open minded and have a good sense of humor.
    Maui Jungalow

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    • I’ve done that with online critiques. I remember one guy had a huge meltdown and went on the attack for some comments I’d made. I didn’t get why because another critiquer had said exactly the same thing, but my comments seemed to offend him. It was horrifying and very frightening. But I’d have still given the same critique.

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  6. I should probably work on offending more people, heh. I don’t push some of my themes enough, because I worry what people will think — when what’s important is that they DO think.

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