Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Ethics of Writing for Children / Young Adults

I'm in the middle of writing a break-up scene for a teen / young adult novel.  The stakes for the characters are very high - both in life and love - and there's a great deal of anger and tension on both sides of the conflict.

I've paused to write a blog post because I caught myself about to write a paragraph which would, in effect, have the heroine assaulting the hero.  In my mind it was her frustration and hurt being communicated in a way that she knew wouldn't actually hurt him, but would vent some of her anger.  He's a big boy, he can take it.  I was fine with it - until I remembered a conversation we had on the blog a couple of months ago.

In this post on what I dubbed "The Stephenie Meyer Effect", while discussing some of the technical writing issues, the ethical aspects of the love-story in the Twilight Saga were raised.  While I didn't agree with all of the comments, they gave me significant food for thought.  Now, in my own writing, I find the issues front and centre.

Some readers of the Twilight Saga see a passionate, fantastical love story between a human girl and a vampire man.  Others see an obssessive, unhealthy and at times illegal fixation of a mature man on a young girl. 

Depending on the reader's interpretation, the actions taken by the 'hero' in Twilight (Edward - the 100 year old Vampire who looks like a seventeen-year-old boy) could be read as unerringly protective and chivalrous, or frighteningly controlling and power-hungry.

Some people find the character's behaviour abhorrent and a terribly dangerous example for young people, others see chivalry and romantic sacrifice.

Who is right?  Both?  Neither?  And what, if anything, should an author do about it?

At what point do we, as writers, become responsible for how our stories affect or shape the minds of our audience?  I am guessing that writers of adult fiction would be mostly free of stricture, as the audience would be considered to be in a position to determine for themselves not only what  they will read, but also have enough life experience behind them to choose what they take away from a story.

But young minds?  Can we really believe we aren't at least a small part of forming desires, expectations, even boundaries for young readers?

Is it irresponsible for me to depict a heroine physically expressing her hurt and anger when a young reader might romanticize the scene and later emulate it?  Am I responsible if a young woman took similar action - perhaps in the company of a young man without the moral fortitude and physical restraint of my hero?   

My writerly heart is heavy.  I am a mother myself.  I write for teens.  I have no desire to be a negative influence on anyone - quite the opposite.  Neither do I want to pretend that human relationships and conflicts aren't fraught with danger for both sides.

Where should I draw the line?

What do you think?  My authorial ears are wide open.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

Thanks for coming along for the ride this year.  I hope you have a wonderful holiday.  Wherever you are, whoever you're with, have a very Merry Christmas.

See you on the other side! 

God bless,


Saturday, December 11, 2010

And the Winner Is....

Thanks for your patience guys, sorry it's taken so long. 

So here's the thing.  I asked an independent (i.e. professional writerly) source about the entries on my blog mini-comp and the answer was:

"They've given you some powerful words, but nothing I'd describe as 'excellent'." 

Hmmm....  That's hard to hear - but we're all in this together, right? 

So I started thinking about what makes for excellence in writing, and one thing kept coming to mind.  This post by Lynn Hoffman on his Radiationdays blog:

Skip down to Part Two and read what has to be the most powerful description of a 'mundane' task (the art of cooking and eating a Creme Brulee) I've ever read.

Here's an excerpt of my favorite part, when Lynn has made two Creme Brulee and is about to eat one of them:

"...Say the name car-a-mel. Don’t cheat on a single syllable: caramel. Sugar all grown up and ready to go out dancing.

I’ll put a piece of plastic wrap over one of the dishes and put it in the reach-in. It will be a gift. Then I’ll sit the other one on the counter where the skylight is rich and cool and shadow-less. I’ll take a teaspoon and tap the back of it on. . . what? Yes, the caramel and it will crack.

I’ll make a dozen pieces or so. I’ll look at them, study them like they were a map of a place I plan to visit next week. I’ll smile at the vanilla-rum scent that comes through the borderlines. Then I’ll dip the spoon in one of the cracks and lever up-a township? a county? some little division of Carameland. There will be exactly the right amount of eggy dense custard clinging to the crust. I’ll look for a little translucency on the edges-do you remember that tv show-I Love Translucency?

It will take a long time for each bit to dissolve and coat my mouth. Texture, flavor, evocation, drama. The custard will play the part of Love, the caramel will appear in the role of Wit. I will rumble with the beauty of it, I will think of absent friends-and that my dears, is the only possibility."

That, my friends, is excellence in writing.  It's what I wish I could achieve every day. 

How about you?  Can you point us to an example of something that just took your breath away?

Friday, December 10, 2010

What Happens When Mr. King Hits the Eggnog...

...or maybe I was only dreaming?

Ten points to the first person who can tell me who the third author is???

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

How NOT to Become a Published Author

....or so I'm told:

If you agree with or empathize with the writer in this video at any point, let me know which line is in your head.  I'll find an agent to respond to it.

Have fun!


Monday, December 6, 2010

Mini-Comp Winner?

I know you're sitting on the very edge of your seat (teetering on the verge of mental breakdown, no doubt) wondering who won the Mini-Comp.  Unfortunately, "Real Life" has interrupted the pursuit of the Write Life.  I blame the Twitter Elves.

So, you'll have to teeter for a few more days. But, in the meantime, feel free to change or add an entry here.  I won't be reviewing them until Thursday.

Hope you're all enjoying the madness that is December!


Friday, December 3, 2010

The Natalie Fischer Mission

...or rather yours: 

Natalie Fischer, Literary Agent, and thus One Of Us Writer Types, is currently being out-googled by a... doll maker. 

This cannot be.

Mainly because a while back Natalie (without even knowing me) was responsible for retweeting my blog and gaining me a bunch of followers.  So I'm grateful.  And I need your help to show it. 

Here's YOUR mission:

Get on Google and search "Natalie Fischer Seeking Write Life" or "Natalie Fischer Mission" or "Natalie Fischer Aimee Salter Best Author Known To Man", etc, etc, etc (whatever comes to mind).  And lets see if we can get Natalie back her google mojo.

Are you game?


PS - No, Natalie isn't my agent.  In fact, we've never met or tweeted.  She's probably pretty creeped out by this.  The idea makes me giggle.

PSS - I already have an agent.