What I Won’t Write About

Congratulations to Keli Gwyn!! You are the winner of a copy of A Jane Austen Devotional! Please email me your address asap! 🙂

Religion and politics. Two of my favorite topics.

Really. I could talk about either one all day long. Add some history in there, another of my favorites, and I’ll bore you to tears. 🙂

As those topics are “taboo” in polite conversation, we all know that there are topics that are somewhat “taboo” in the Christian fiction market.

We all have a general understanding of what those are, so I don’t really want to focus on that.

Instead, I want to pose a question to you writers and to you readers.

Writers: What topic/subject/incident will you not write about?

Readers: What topic/subject/incident do you not want to read about?

Let me give you a little context so that you can better answer these questions.

I’m talking about too painful. Too unimaginable. Too uncomfortable to write or read about.

I read a novel some time ago that I really, really disliked. (Don’t worry–said novel and author shall remain nameless.)

It wasn’t that the story was written badly–it was fine. But I didn’t like the story because of the heroine. She was an idiot. She made me angry. She reacted badly in all situations and for the most part, her bad decisions drove the story, but as a reader, I was supposed to accept her bad decisions because she was a Christian seeking God’s will.


I read the entire book hoping that there would be a moment of epiphany on the heroine’s part when she realized what a moron she was, but no. Instead it ended with everything working out for her, and someone else getting hurt because of her bad choices.

I was left unsatisfied and angry. And although this book was one in a series, I didn’t bother to read the others, and probably won’t read that author again. I couldn’t see myself in this heroine. I couldn’t identify with her choices or thought process. From page one I just wanted to reach into the story and smack her.

Can you tell it left a bad taste in my mouth?

The reason I disliked it so much is that I was supposed to believe that the heroine was committed and hopelessly in love with her husband, but within pages of her husband’s sudden death (mere weeks in the storyline) she’s already thinking of another man in a romantic way. While she’s pregnant with her dead husband’s baby.

Call me insane, but I have a hard time with this topic. Perhaps it’s because I’m happily married to a wonderful man. I can’t imagine another man evoking the same emotions in me, even if something were to happen to my husband. This is a situation I’ve never faced, and one I hope to never face.

Because of that, I find it very difficult to swallow a character who can fall for another so quickly after the sudden death of a spouse.

I can understand it if time as passed (I’m not specifying how much time, just enough that I can believe it’s possible that emotionally the character is able to move on), but I cannot write a character who’s in a Godly, committed relationship (much like my own) who loses a spouse and is able to move on so quickly.

Do these people exist in real life? Sure.

But I can’t write about it. The idea is one I can’t process in my own life, so I can’t write it organically. Just imagining it is too painful. If I’m going to write from a place of authenticity, I’d have to write about a woman who mourned the loss of her husband for a significant period of time and when rediscovering romance, had to process and pray through the ability to move on. (And again, I hope I never, ever have to face this as a reality!!)

And for now, I have not been inspired to write a story that contains such an incident or plot point.

So now that you have the context…

Share with me: Writers: What topic/subject/incident will you not write about? Readers: What topic/subject/incident do you not want to read about?


Filed under Romance, Writing

14 responses to “What I Won’t Write About

  1. Jessica R. Patch

    I’m going to have to think about this and come back. At the moment, I can’t think of anything I wouldn’t write. LOL I mean obviously I won’t be writing erotica, but I think you mean a specific topic.

    On the falling in love a few weeks following a death…I don’t think I’d be sold as a reader. Six months to a year. I could believe that simply because I’ve seen it happen. But no one was making crappy choices or anything. It depends on how the author presented it. If the author is really good, I might believe anything. But I’m a gullible reader when not reading as a writer. If that makes ANY sense at all. 🙂

  2. Wow, I totally agree about that. I’d be skeptical for sure. Then again, I’m skeptical about anyone falling in love in a book or movie in like a week or something. I believe it could be the beginnings of love, but full love? Maybe I’m a cynic, but I don’t think so.

    It’s difficult for me to think about writing a book where the mom dies of cancer, because mine did. Whenever I read a book about that, well, it’s really hard to stomach. I’m not saying it makes me not read it or not like the book overall, but…it’s definitely one of those harder subjects for me. I’ve thought about writing a story where that happens, but am not sure I want to write a story where I cry the whole time while writing it. We’ll see where God directs me in that regard…but for now, that’s a too-painful subject for me to write.

  3. Write about: Anything that would be considered confidential or too intimate about others who haven’t given me permission.
    Read about: I have an aversion to complaining and needless rants.

    ~ Wendy

  4. I can’t write, watch, or read a story about children being kidnapped. I guess it’s a deep, dark fear of mine, and I just can’t handle it. It’s just too emotionally draining. Every time there is a commercial for a new “Ransom” type movie, my husband looks at me and says, “I guess you won’t be watching that one.”

  5. Wow! How fun to see my name at the tip top of your post today. I’m looking forward to seeing that devotional. I’ll be in touch via email, Jennifer.

    I haven’t given a lot of thought to topics I won’t write about. One I’m not apt to tackle is the conversion of a mentally twisted villain into a believer following one brief conversation. I saw this done in a story once, and I found it unbelievable.

  6. I can’t read or write about things happening to young children. My stomach just wasn’t made for it.

  7. Such a great question! I have several things. First off, female heroines who appear stupid. I’m by no means a Feminist, but I balk at how many romance novels depend upon a female weakness rather than a male strength. I don’t find it romantic that a heroine needs that kind of rescuing. I worry about her and think she needs therapy. 😉 I also can’t handle anything where something bad happens to animals, and my final “hot topic” issue would be homosexuality. I’m not afraid to take a stance for what a believe, and would definitely consider writing something about it in a non-fiction arena, but I have many homosexual friends and think that addressing the issue within fiction can come across preachy and alienate them, something I think the church already does all too often.

  8. I love the responses you guys are giving! This is exactly what I was hoping to get– the things that strike an emotional chord in you and are difficult to write or read.

    I have to admit something and please understand, I feel like a moron. Just now as I was straightening my hair (because it’s a gorgeous day and this wavy-haired girl can have a good hair day!) I realized that I HAVE written about what I talked about above and I can’t believe I didn’t think about it before! I’ve written a character who goes through the death of a cherished spouse and quickly rebounds to new love. However, this wasn’t a main character and the thoughts and emotions of this character aren’t explored–just the actions and their consequences on others. So, I think I need to clarify– I couldn’t write about the topic authentically for my protags, female or male, because it would require a deep, mental and emotional exploration.

    Maybe I should challenge myself and give it a shot someday. Maybe.

  9. I don’t want to read about, hear about or watch something on TV that has to do with the specific reasons that my ex-husband left me and my boys. Lying and cheating are not interesting to me. I want to be transported away from my own problems when I read.

  10. Amy Leigh Simpson

    As both a writer and reader, I hate a story that involves infidelity. Now, I know infidelity exists, and I even know people who, by God’s grace, have been able to move past it and receive healing for their marriage. But for some reason, whenever I read about it I literally feel sick to my stomach. Even from my favorite authors, I just can’t enjoy a story that has it. Thus, this is one topic that I will not likely write about.

  11. You know what’s really interesting? Is that everyone has these things they can’t stand. Including editors! One editor might totally allow a certain story because it’s not there “off limits” topic. Another editor won’t want it at all.

    One thing I don’t particularly like reading about (so I can’t imagine I’d ever write about it) is rape.

  12. Yes, I agree w/Julie J above–I hate kidnapping stories…though I’ve been sucked into the show 24 and it does have a kidnapping, but the girl’s older. I’ll also shut the book for a homosexual scene.

    As far as what I write about, I did have to handle some death scenes, but hope I did them in a realistic, careful and non-offensive way. I also handle thoughts of infidelity, but I felt this reflected what I see going on among Christians, as well as non-Christians today. It’s a topic that I felt should be addressed w/my story.

  13. I’ve enjoyed reading the responses above. I agree with most of them. Can’t stand to read about weak, whiny heroines. Also want to slap them…or throw the book. Can’t read about or watch movies containing rape. My heart/mind just can’t imagine/process…just too awful. But my biggest no-no is anything to do with kids. Kidnapping, abuse, neglect, anything. I cringe, I cry, I have nightmares, I usually end up praying for understanding–or a lightsaber to annihilate all the bad guys. 🙂

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