Writing about poltically charged topics?

#1

I have recently started a new project. I am pantsing it, so I’m not exactly sure where it will end up yet. But it will definitely deal with abortion and its (in my opinion) unjust criminalization.

This is my opening paragraph:

My mother’s grandmother was many things that I am not: a free woman, a king’s daughter, and a priestess taught the secrets that can bring a child safely or purge the body of an unwilling mother before the babe is born. I have never met another member of my family, have never visited the kingdom of my ancestors, and know nothing of my mother or my grandmother or my mother’s grandmother except for stories.
The stories, it seems, are enough to condemn me. Though I have none of the healing arts, have never picked pennyroyal or distilled wormwood, they say that my mistress had a child that died in her womb. They say that I killed it.
They lie.

I am concerned about offending people. Or that when I post it people will have angry reactions. I’m unapologetically pro-choice, and that will come across in the story. I just don’t want to have a lot of angry reactions from people who disagree. Do you think it’s a valid concern?

#2

They will be angry no matter how nice or sensitive you are. This isn’t one of those ‘meet in the middle’ topics.

Write the story and mute users aggressively.

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#3

I’d say make a point of saying the story involves this at the beginning of your story, just so people who disagree with you maybe don’t want to read it and then you don’t get as many of those negative comments.

Don’t let anyone stop you though, writing about these polarising topics I think is important!

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#4

Feels like a contradiction. In any case, you can’t have your cake and eat it when it comes to politics. Unless you’re sneaky, and mentioning abortion in the first chapter is not. If you want to promote your views, you’re going to lose or upset readers for it.

https://twitter.com/hashtag/AlabamaAbortionBan?src=tren

Yes.

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#5

I personally do not think it is a valid concern, because there will always be at least one person who yells, and hates what you write and how you think. You aren’t writing to that person, or for them. You write for you, and if that means that your story is the way you express your views then you do it will the best of your ability.
I would only suggest that you “do yourself a favor” and put things in the story that validate the view and don’t just throw the " Well I believe this so meh!" justification in there. I have found that, in general, people are more willing to be ration when presented with clear logic versus an “unfounded” conviction.
I throw a load of “” in there because these terms are very subjective and I do not want them to come off as an attack, as that is not the intent at all.

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#6

If you do decide to go political, people are either going to love it or hate it and there is no way around it. Just remember that books have always been politically charged since the dawn of time. Heck, there was a time when Pride and Prejudice was controversial because Elizabeth Bennett married Mr. Darcy who was leagues out of her class. If you want to make a statement then make it. If you’d rather not, then find a way to be more sensitive.

#7

No way around offending people, especially if you want to cover a topic that’s so actively heated in the public eye right now. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write it.

It’s really just a matter of finding ways to deal with the inevitable backlash. Your best bet is following others advice, offering a warning up-front what the subject matter is, and being willing to mute and block people left and right.

Contrary to popular belief there is nothing wrong with deciding you just don’t want to hear shit from people. You don’t owe anyone a voice in your space. If people are aggressive, or hateful just mute and move on. That isn’t a personal failing, it’s just part of being willing to tread ground others don’t agree with, and staying sane while you do so.

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#8

You’re right. I should have worded it differently. I’m concerned about abusive or aggressive comments, not necessarily about offending people.

#9

Writing about controversial topics is always difficult. You’re bound to alienate half your potential audience. However, if you feel strongly about a topic (and clearly you have a strong opinion on abortion) you should feel free to write about it. Censorship (except for truly offensive material), shouldn’t stifle the free expressions or ideas or opinions.

#10

I have an abortion story up and got almost14,000 reads in like a month. There’s not one negative comment and I did not lose even one follower.

Mind you, our opinions might differ but I put a huge warning disclaimer on mine.

Do not and I repeat, do not shame anyone in your book for their decisions. Respect pro-life and pro choice.

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#11

I think that most book deal with some political topic at some point or another. The thing that you want to do - as it is said above - is to not shame people for having a different perspective or point of view. When I find myself having to deal with political statements (in one of my old story I used to write about migration and racism and stuff) is to present one point of view, one argument, through one character and the opposite argument through another character or another story. For instance in the case of abortion you can talk about a woman who wants to have an abortion because she is entitled to her choice and to decide for her body, and another woman who was forced to have an abortion against her will and doesn’t understand why other people would want that (with trauma and all). This way you can highlight both points of view and then as an author you can ‘chose one or the other’ or make a special statement about it. Writing is also about this grey area where you have to show that the world is not bi-dimensional and that characters have deep and complex personalities with their own story, so you can go political (I strongly advice you to do that no matter the comments you will receive) but you could show the spectrum of decisions as a whole and make it more relatable to the reality we live in. But that’s just my opinion ahah I hope it helps

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#12

I totally agree. In a different story I had to really balance it all out within two characters.

To OP: If you’re writing for popularity make sure you have a clear idea and understanding about what you are writing about and just because you think you might have the popular opinion of something you could be very wrong. Some people are silent voters and you may never hear their opinion.

If you’re writing to send a message and don’t care about popularity, go for it. Send your message.

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#13

This is very well said!

I thoroughly agree. Throughout history, art has always been political. Paintings, poetry, prose. That being said, some of the most impactful statements come from the understanding that the world is multi-dimensional.

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