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Thread: Uncomfortable stories

  1. #1
    Sentient Being KawaiiTimes's Avatar
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    Uncomfortable stories

    Was just wondering how you all handle story ideas that make your own skin crawl. I'm nearing the end of my first draft of this manuscript and thinking forward to the next one. Just awoke (at 3 am AGAIN!!) from a dream that made me jump and makes me uncomfortable because of a theme that includes a cult, child abuse and an overwhelming urge to escape. But, it's one of those things that strikes me as a story I'd like to write an end to.

    Although I don't know that I really want to write it - I'd really kind of never like to think about it again.

    On the other hand, the images are stuck in my brain and maybe outlining it would help me get calmed down enough to go back to sleep.

    But, if I outlined it and ran across it again I'd probably be stuck in this quandary again some other 3am.

    Thoughts? Have you ever written a smashing story about a topic that is completely distasteful? And how would you even pitch such a thing to anyone to interest them in reading it?
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  2. #2
    figuring it all out moreferarum's Avatar
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    I don't think it's a sense of the plot being distasteful. The only thing that could make it distasteful is how you write it and handle the topics.

    People write about all sorts of things, it doesn't mean that they shouldn't. If it's done in the right way, researched well and written in the correct style it could be very powerful. It's only when topics are handled with disrespect or when they are handled poorly that the matter is best not written about in that way.
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  3. #3
    Sentient Being KawaiiTimes's Avatar
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    Thanks for the response. I know such topics would have to be dealt with carefully and with respect, and that they would elicit at least some type of emotional response from the reader.

    But how do you write about at topic that makes you uncomfortable? I.e. as you are putting your thoughts on paper it makes you, as the writer, squirm in your seat?
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  4. #4
    Who rules?! Hyrules! Liosse de Velishaf's Avatar
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    If it makes you squirm, then that is a legitimate feeling to pass onto your readers. That said, if the story makes them too uncomfortable, they might decide not to finish it.

  5. #5
    Sentient Being KawaiiTimes's Avatar
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    Thanks. I guess I need to rephrase my questions though. I'm not really too concerned with how to convey feelings or whether the topics are taboo at this point. My real quandry is how I, the writer, wills survive thinking and creating this type of story over an extended period of time.

    My real question is have you ever written a story that makes you, the writer, uncomfortable and if so how did you get through it emotionally speaking.
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  6. #6
    Geekzilla BigWords's Avatar
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    Nothing is taboo. There have been many successful books which are pretty much the definition of squick, but the writing needs to strong enough to carry the weight of the ideas - I suggest writing the ideas down, however they make you feel, and try to set them aside once you are done. You need distance, maybe a month, before you go back to it to see if it really is as discomforting as you are thinking.
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  7. #7
    practical experience, FTW
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    Quote Originally Posted by KawaiiTimes View Post
    Thanks. I guess I need to rephrase my questions though. I'm not really too concerned with how to convey feelings or whether the topics are taboo at this point. My real quandry is how I, the writer, wills survive thinking and creating this type of story over an extended period of time.

    My real question is have you ever written a story that makes you, the writer, uncomfortable and if so how did you get through it emotionally speaking.
    I believe I understand your question to be how I would deal with such a story, not whether or how this story should be written correctly.

    The answer, for me, is that I wouldn't write it. I write and tell stories that I like, that I find interesting, that raise interesting questions and have interesting answers. If I want to be disgusted by something, all I have to do is watch the news. I don't need to spend hours each day for months wallowing in miserable and uncomfortable thoughts. For me, life's too short.

  8. #8
    New kid...seven years ago! DancingMaenid's Avatar
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    I stopped working on a novel several years back because the topic was proving too depressing and toxic for me to think about. I think there are times when a topic just bothers you too much, or hits too close to home, and maybe it isn't worth writing it.

    Otherwise, it's not always a bad thing to be a bit uncomfortable. But I think it's helpful to get a little distance. This is a time when it can be helpful to have a firm understanding of what you think is best for the story, which may not be the easiest or happiest thing to write.

  9. #9
    Sentient Being KawaiiTimes's Avatar
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    Thank you all. I think I've decided to just table it. I think it could be a great story, but I think it would be very difficult to write it without totally getting lost in the misery of it.
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  10. #10
    Knight Templar richcapo's Avatar
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    I pretty much just zone out and let the disgusting stuff write itself, if that makes any sense. Doing that allows me to divorce my morals and beliefs and handle the rough stuff without reservation or bias.

    I've done deplorable acts to children in my work -- to infants, even -- if I couldn't divorce myself from my work, I'd never have been able to do so. I've also written about incestuous sex in detail, rape, impossible dismemberment, et cetera. Same thing with the cruelty to children -- I put distance between my ethics and my writing to enable me to handle these disgusting things as best I can.
    Last edited by richcapo; 02-01-2013 at 08:06 PM.
    Richard

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  11. #11
    Huh. kkbe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KawaiiTimes View Post
    I think I've decided to just table it. I think it could be a great story, but I think it would be very difficult to write it without totally getting lost in the misery of it.
    Totally your prerogative to shelf or not shelf your story. You have to take care of yourself first, right?

    Having said that, if you keep thinking about your story, if you suspect it has merit, you may decide to revisit it some day. Maybe take a different approach to the thing. There are many ways to skin a cat, metaphorically speaking.
    From CHERRY:
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  12. #12
    Knight Templar richcapo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kkbe View Post
    There are many ways to skin a cat, metaphorically speaking.
    Literally speaking, too.
    Richard

    It was that bastard manís voice that woke my father. Papu found himself back in his cell, lying atop a lush bed crafted of various male and female organs and his enemy's passions. Strong with that bastard manís magic, the organs restrained Papu and sensually rubbed against him. Some xxxxxxx him and some xxxxxx with his xxxxxxx.

    Poetry and Jest

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by richcapo View Post
    Literally speaking, too.

    Just as an aside - if you decide to do this, there are, at last memory, 1001 uses for a dead cat.

  14. #14
    Geekzilla BigWords's Avatar
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    Dead cats are terrible as an air freshener, so #862 can be scratched off the list.

    1000 uses.

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  15. #15
    Knight Templar richcapo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Liosse de Velishaf View Post
    If it makes you squirm, then that is a legitimate feeling to pass onto your readers. That said, if the story makes them too uncomfortable, they might decide not to finish it.
    One of my rejections noted how cruel, prevalent, and disgusting my violence is -- one of the reasons the rejectors said they passed on the novel, which was my first. I made sure to tone it down for my second novel, which alas like the first has gone nowhere. Que sera. I'm still learning.
    Richard

    It was that bastard manís voice that woke my father. Papu found himself back in his cell, lying atop a lush bed crafted of various male and female organs and his enemy's passions. Strong with that bastard manís magic, the organs restrained Papu and sensually rubbed against him. Some xxxxxxx him and some xxxxxx with his xxxxxxx.

    Poetry and Jest

  16. #16
    Huh. kkbe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by richcapo View Post
    One of my rejections noted how cruel, prevalent, and disgusting my violence is. . .
    Not toward kitties, though.

    Right?
    From CHERRY:
    Maybe Iím just getting old, to wit: this very morning, I plucked a preternaturally long, grey pubic hair from the folds of my left nut.
    I know, I know. Fantastic stuff.
    Youíre welcome.

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  17. #17
    Straw-fed HarryHoskins's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KawaiiTimes View Post
    Thoughts? Have you ever written a smashing story about a topic that is completely distasteful?
    Yes. But the story was written to explore reader involvement in violence against women so I felt I had a safety net that made it less distasteful. (though some might argue that was distasteful in itself).

    However, having the safety net made me think, why not just be distasteful with no agenda -- kinda like an experiment to not be a wuss. That piece is proving hard to write, but I'm getting there.

    And how would you even pitch such a thing to anyone to interest them in reading it?
    For the first piece I just subbed it as a straight horror -- It didn't sell.

    Then I started adding in my covering letter it was aimed at the horror market -- It still didn't sell.

    Then I just outright said 'This is not splatterporn, this is anti-splatterporn.' -- It still didn't sell.

    Then I went back to a normal cover letter. Fuck 'em and let them work it out for themselves. (or maybe it's just a shit story badly written). Either way, I'll let you know if it ever sells.


    Quote Originally Posted by BigWords View Post
    Dead cats are terrible as an air freshener, so #862 can be scratched off the list.

    1000 uses.

    The below link is not suitable for people who like cats and/or have a fear of flying.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Kslv7l75jQ

    1001 again (unless this was already number one)
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  18. #18
    Knight Templar richcapo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kkbe View Post
    Not toward kitties, though.

    Right?
    No, but I do have a cadre of insane Christian mystics rape sewer dwelling fish ("shit fish") over and again because ... well, why not?

    As you might guess, I don't have an agent.
    Richard

    It was that bastard manís voice that woke my father. Papu found himself back in his cell, lying atop a lush bed crafted of various male and female organs and his enemy's passions. Strong with that bastard manís magic, the organs restrained Papu and sensually rubbed against him. Some xxxxxxx him and some xxxxxx with his xxxxxxx.

    Poetry and Jest

  19. #19
    Huh. kkbe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by richcapo View Post
    No, but I do have a cadre of insane Christian mystics rape sewer dwelling fish ("shit fish") over and again because ... well, why not?

    As you might guess, I don't have an agent.
    Narrow-minded. The whole damn lot.


  20. #20
    Knight Templar richcapo's Avatar
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    Nah. I just have a long way to go.
    Richard

    It was that bastard manís voice that woke my father. Papu found himself back in his cell, lying atop a lush bed crafted of various male and female organs and his enemy's passions. Strong with that bastard manís magic, the organs restrained Papu and sensually rubbed against him. Some xxxxxxx him and some xxxxxx with his xxxxxxx.

    Poetry and Jest

  21. #21
    Words. Words. Words. Spiral Jacobs's Avatar
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    I wrote this book that I thought was going to be YA, about a teenage girl werewolf. Turned out to be an exploration of an incestuous love, with other disturbing elements. So much for YA! I felt a lot of discomfort when I realized that my protagonist was in love with her uncle (talk about a love that dare not speak its name), and I had to write that story without turning him into a pedophile or making it a book about incest. It was a challenge. But you tell the story you have to tell, and worry about what it's all about later.

  22. #22
    Lord of the Sad and Lonely Immortal's Avatar
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    I deal with this with pretty much everything I write. My stories are usually violent, depressing, and disturbing. Try writing about a dead human fetus in a trash bag and see how you feel afterwards....
    ďA man writes because he is tormented, because he doubts. He needs to constantly prove to himself and the others that heís worth something. And if I know for sure that Iím a genius? Why write then? What the hell for?Ē - Andrei Tarkovsky

  23. #23
    practical experience, FTW
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    Quote Originally Posted by Immortal View Post
    I deal with this with pretty much everything I write. My stories are usually violent, depressing, and disturbing. Try writing about a dead human fetus in a trash bag and see how you feel afterwards....

    I appreciate the offer, but no.

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