Writer criticism

How to Deal with Criticism When Writing About a Controversial Subject

Writer criticism

Image Courtesy of PictureQuotes.com

 

by Jezebelya Orobas

 

Writing about controversial issues is a skill that not only non-fiction writers must learn, but it also applies to writers of fiction. While many authors try to avoid writing about anything that might offend their readers, you might be surprised at what offends people today. Writing about controversial topics can prove fatal to the career of any author, which is why it’s so important to learn how to do it correctly before you begin writing.

For example, my friends Shiva Thejust and Vishnu Tannay wrote The Unconquerable Heart, an action/adventure work of fiction which deals with autism, gender equality, LGBT issues, and one hot button topic in America right now – transgenderism. The way they wrote it resulted in great press for them, but it could have easily been quite the opposite. If your fiction book includes a topic that has appeared in the news headlines recently, there is no way of escaping the scrutiny of the media as it applies to your book.

When I wrote All Women Are Whores, I made a conscious decision to embrace the controversial topics head on. I knew that the title would spark controversy, but I didn’t realize that it would result in a social media backlash leading up to feminists calling on Amazon to ban my book. Feminists who, by the way, admit to never having read my book. It’s a book about female empowerment with a facetious title, but not a lot of people get that when they see it on social media or on Amazon.

The controversy surrounding All Women Are Whores doesn’t stop at the title, however. In the book, I write about a number of harmful social issues and gives real-world solutions to each, such as archaic social archetypes put into place to prevent women from being successful, the perverse use of the female figure in advertising, and comprehensive sexual liberation. If all of my solutions were put into action, a lot of people’s morals would probably be offended, but it would also mean the death of thousands of global businesses in order to achieve social justice.

I also call for a boycott of the fashion and cosmetics industry – both of which I have worked in for many years – in order to put an end to what Naomi Wolf calls the Beauty Myth as it applies to the beauty industry. I renamed this the Cult of Beauty in All Women Are Whores because I went one step further by calling out the fashion, cosmetics, pornography and diet supplement industries, which have proved to have devastating, and in some cases fatal, psychological effects on women.

Half-way through writing the chapter about the Cult of Beauty, I realized how Ludacris it was to go against a multi-billion dollar industry. I am asking the reader to replace the role in their lives filled by fashion and cosmetics – which women have been programed from birth to use on a daily basis – with absolutely nothing. But I feel like these are topics that we, as a nation, cannot continue to sweep under the rug and act like they don’t exist when there are studies linking the Cult of Beauty to an increased suicide rate among women.

So, I implore authors to go ahead and write about all of those controversial topics, but for God’s sake, learn to do it correctly if you want to continue to write books. This is why I made absolutely sure that the wording I used when writing about these topics was very careful and deliberate.

As writers, I think that most of thrive on achieving that ”flow” state, when our thoughts fluidly and freely spill onto the page. You simply can’t do that when you’re writing about a controversial topic. The best advice I could give for writers who are taking controversial issues is to assume that your words will be used against you.

When writing about controversial topics, authors can escalate each topic to the point of reaching critical mass, then, just when the reader expects you to say something damning, they can use vague wording which will still get their point across, but is also left open to interpretation if and when they get called out on it later. You can find many of these examples in my book, All Women Are Whores.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jezebelya Orobas is an author and ex-fashion model who founded and build her on modeling agency by the age of 21. Today she is an artist, media blogger, traveler and observer. She puts a lot of focus on scientific research and the psychological influence of media and advertisement.

She is working with financial astrology and astrocartography to help people improve their investments and business decisions. Jezebelya Orobas lives in Monaco and is of American/German Origin. She is plans on traveling around the world to embrace femininity and combine it with a new, modern form of feminism.

 

Find more writing and publishing tips at Nothing Any Good.

5 thoughts on “How to Deal with Criticism When Writing About a Controversial Subject

  1. I frequently wonder how many sales I’ve lost because my novel, “Child of Privilege,” presents a painfully vivid portrait of domestic violence and its effects. My book was NEVER intended as a scientific or educational tome; nor do I–for a second–present myself as an authority on this societal disgrace. DV is simply an integral element of the storyline which continually drives my female lead character to escape the torture chamber that is her home and create a new life for herself.

    I will go to my grave insisting that I handled the DV issue (and its aftermath) with honesty and frankness. I also insist that my novel reflects the utmost empathy and sensitivity toward the survivors of this scourge. But still I wonder….

    If I’ve learned anything from writing and self-publishing this book, it is this: NEVER AGAIN will I write another novel with such an intimate tie-in to a major societal issue. Perhaps writings of that nature are indeed the province of the non-fiction genre.

    Lesson learned.

    • Ross, are you saying that publishing that book had a negative impact on your career? It’s too easy to offend someone by accident today. Even if that is not your intention, words can easily be weaponized against you, which is why it’s essential to choose your words wisely. 😉

  2. This book isn’t even controversial. It just explains how women deal with hypocrisy in society. The title is totally misleading

    • I think you may misunderstand, Heikejoanna. I don’t think the point is that the book is controversial, but that the book deals with some controversial topics. Did you think so when you read it?

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