Saturday, July 21, 2018
Tackling Issues of Sexual Consent in Writing #newadult #books
I was once told that to be a great writer, you need to write without censoring yourself. That's sometimes easier said than done--especially when writing about sensitive topics like sexual consent.
In my series, Addison Chronicles, my heroine is a rape survivor--but at first she doesn't identify as such because she's working through the details of what happened and with whom. This story unfolds through all six books in the series as she travels alone through Europe. The distance from where the rape happened brings her clarity--and stifled trauma busts through her carefully constructed facade. Despite the new relationships she's forming in beautiful places, the underlying ramifications of being raped while passed out at a party come forth in ways that are sometimes brutal but are ultimately healing as she finally confronts the reality she's hidden for so long.
Writing about consent is important as an author of any genre, but especially one that focuses on relationships. As authors, we have a responsibility to write the hard things to bring them to light. Rape is a sensitive issue and that is exactly why we must address consent in realistic and gentle ways.
We live in a world where everyone is highly sensitive so I understand why some authors might shy away from the edgier topics. Not everyone needs to be a literary warrior; however, if you have a desire to address consent or any other sensitive matter, I encourage you to do so. It's important to use your ability to communicate to reach someone who might be feeling isolated or flawed so that they know they aren't alone.
Through our characters, we have a chance to create a relatable person who works through the doubts, the shame, the denial, the angst and who ultimately triumphs. Characters are powerful in this way--readers connect and identify with them on a deep level. Who knows? Your characters could save a life and you may never know the impact you've had.
When writing about a sensitive issue like consent, though, it's important to be realistic without going over-the-top. Always remember the big picture of your story. Are you trying to give hope? What is your ultimate message? Create characters that are relatable and who stick to your desired outcome.
The Addison Chronicles are so much more than a story about sexual consent--they are about life moving forward, breaking down stereotypes, discovering that you're capable of more than you've ever dreamed, and facing down your past so you can claim your future. But the character is a rape survivor and, if anyone has experienced a situation like that, you know that that shapes you whether want it to or not. In the series, Addison doesn't want to admit that at first...but her journey is all about learning exactly how strong she truly is.
Writing the hard stuff can be daunting. There's always this little voice whispering about "triggers" and cautioning about the world's reactions. The only way to write authentically is to tell those voices to shut up and be true to not only your characters but to your intentions. It's important. And, hey, all the best writers in history rocked the boat and stirred shit up so you're in good company.
Peace to you!
See all of Cassidy's books at Author Cassidy Springfield