How To Handle Difficult Topics

By on December 13, 2019

As a writer, there may be times where you are required to write about difficult topics. This may be for a particular writing assignment or through your own creative writing where you want to address painful feelings or revisit troubling experiences to help you work through them or share them with others.

Writing about tough topics can make your writing feel more authentic, and help you to create characters that are believable and relatable.

So how do you do so?

Use your personal experiences

Leaning on your personal experiences can be the best way to tap into those raw emotions and explore the feelings that are catalyzed when difficult situations arise. Use your insights into these dark and challenging topics to help write your character's actions and reactions when they occur in your story. 

Make sure you do your research

If you don't have personal experience, then make sure you do your research. Books and the internet provide a wealth of information on every topic. If your character is suffering abuse, contemplating suicide, dealing with loss, dealing with an eating disorder, and so on, make sure you understand as thoroughly as you can what might happen to them, both physically and mentally to help inform how you write about these situations in your story. Research the more practical aspects as well; for example, if your character ends up hospitalized, understand what the process might be for recovery, and so on. Doing so will help build authenticity and reader engagement with it.

Interview people who've lived it

You could also try a different tactic and ask people who have lived through the events you are hoping to recreate in your story to gain a better understanding of what details and insights you should include. Doing so can also help to capture the genuine and real feelings from a person who has had a first-hand experience.

Be empathetic

Empathy is essential. If you want to understand someone or something, you must try to see things from their point of view. By really trying to put yourself in another person's shoes, genuinely listening to them, and trying to understand their thoughts and feelings, you can hope to recreate them through your writing in a way that will feel real to your readers. 

Prepare yourself to face your feelings

While you are researching and writing about difficult topics, you must prepare yourself. Sometimes doing so can bring up unexpected emotions or memories which can be distressing. Preparing yourself for this and seeking help where necessary can ensure that you can successfully translate these emotions onto the page in a way that is helpful and cathartic and will leave you feeling unburdened and free. 

By following the above, you can handle difficult topics with sensitivity, intelligence, and empathy. By getting to the heart of the emotion, by truly understanding how difficult situations arise and how different people react to them, you can use this as fuel to write persuasive, engaging emotionally gripping stories that will give your story life, depth, and general awesomeness!

bethany cadman
Bethany Cadman - bethanycadman.co.uk

About Bethany Cadman

Bethany Cadman is an author and freelance writer. Her highly anticipated debut novel 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers' is available on Amazon as both an eBook and a paperback. You can find it here - http://tinyurl.com/z47t8qf

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