Monthly Archives: October 2013

Can we stay relevant without drawing blood?

mosquitoA good story resonates with the ephemeral everyone. As a writer, your goal is to connect; but once you tap that cosmic pulse, how dangerous is it to be the mosquito?

Particularly if you’re not intimately involved with the (politically, socially, geographically, or religiously tense) topic du jour, from somebody’s perspective you’re bound to get it wrong (or undeservedly right).

  • Is there a context or convention that allows you to write about a topic you’ve researched from afar?
  • Puppy immunity for well-meaning newbies?
  • Must you be a minority in order to write about that minority?
  • Is “story” a socially accepted lie?

In “How Not to Write a Novel: 200 Classic Mistakes and How to Avoid Them–A Misstep-by-Misstep Guide,” we’re admonished not to be the jerk who writes a condescending “hey, man, you get us.  You’re okay!”  But I haven’t seen an etiquette guide for sensitively acknowledging, much less addressing the elephant (or as we say in Canada, the moose) in the room: writers write about places they’ve never been (understandable if they don’t exist, but we can’t all write Sci-Fi).

Today’s online backlash is public and permanent.  Is the naive-but-empathetic writer food for crows? To paraphrase, was Leonard Cohen right - must the [writer] die?

[Ed. Note: The song found at the links above may offend – due warning.]