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You're not a psychopath

Iain Broome
Iain Broome
1 min read

Zoraida Cabrera writing for Write Anything:

Yet, when a person writes fiction that is all he or she is writing: fiction. This means that reality can be distorted as much as the writer wants, while still remaining in the story. This is one of the beauties of writing. It is also one of the horrors because the fear of judgment is still there. Still, usually the things we are most afraid to write about result into the best pieces we write.

Writers can’t afford to worry about readers not being able to separate them, the author, from their content, the fiction.

It doesn’t matter whether you write autobiographically or not, most readers will infer something about you from your writing. Don’t worry about it. It doesn’t matter. Just make sure that whatever you do write, you do so for the right reasons. Ensure that it’s appropriate and in context.

I have personal experience with this. I was initially uncomfortable about a scene in my novel where the protagonist gives his wife a bed bath. She has recently suffered a stroke and is now immobile and unable to talk. The scene is detailed, which caused the discomfort, but it isn’t graphic or manipulative.

But still, I worried that it might unsettle some readers, and that there might be some who ask, ‘Why did the author include that? What does that say about them?’ However, I soon realised that, actually, it said absolutely nothing about me at all, other than that I’m prepared to write about tough subjects. It has nothing to do with who I am as a person. In real life.

Of course, that bed bath scene was difficult for me to write and yes, it’s difficult to read. But it had to be in my novel. I had to include it because it demonstrates the true horror of my characters’ situation. It provides authenticity. It plays a key role in my story.

It would be a mistake for you to not write about something or avoid a specific topic because you’re worried about how it might make you appear to your readers. This is fiction. What matters most – all that matters – is your characters and their stories. What you have to say about the world. Your thoughtful writing.

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I'm the author of the novel, A is for Angelica. Every week, I send Draft Mode, a newsletter full of tips and tools that help you improve your craft and promote your writing.