Since this is something near and dear to my heart, I wanted to get the discussion going here!
I'm a HUGE proponent of not glossing over difficult issues and including controversial topics in my books. I've written about issues such as abortion, rape, abuse, global epidemics, and suicide. And I'm just scratching the surface. Everything is altered enough so that it fits within the confines of the particular world I've created. I write Fantasy after all! However, just because it's in a fictitious world doesn't mean we can't relate to the characters and events, take away things from the story, and apply them to our lives.
Our world is facing many issues today, and right or wrong, ignoring them won't bring about change. Pretending something doesn't exist or not discussing it out of fear of offending someone only lets the problem fester and spread.
That being said, there are certainly better ways to write about such topics. Let's take rape for an example. In my series The Dragonath Chronicles, Mionee experiences a few situations with rape. A couple scenes are written as flashbacks where she recounts the many times she was raped by her husband. Another scene takes place between her and the Hellborn where he threatens her with gang rape. She also discusses her experiences with Détaldin in another scene, which helps strengthen her healing process.
I don't ever come out and explicitly say rape is wrong, but I most certainly don't glorify the act. I'm not there to lecture my readers. I'm there to make them think and form their own opinions.
Because it's written through Mionee's eyes, readers experience her torment and pain, but they also experience the strength she gains in the aftermath as she learns how to not let it define her as a person. Instead of giving in and letting it break her, she rises above it and finds the grit and determination to continue on with her life and do her best to put it behind her.
Writing it in this way does a few things:
- It brings rape to people's attention and forces them to realize that yes, it does happen and it can happen to anyone, male or female.
- It can help people who've experienced rape discover their strength like Mionee. To perhaps come to realize they didn't deserve it, or maybe take the step to not keep it bottled inside and seek out others to talk to whether it be family, friends, or support groups.
- It brings attention to the aftermath of rape and how profoundly it impacts the victims' lives - that it isn't just a once and done act with no consequences.
What are your thoughts on controversial topics? Do you think they should be incorporated into sci-fi/fantasy books? Are there certain issues you think are too controversial? How far is too far?
I'd love to hear your thoughts! Post a comment below!
And since this is a discussion where people are likely to be strongly opinionated, let's please remain respectful to each other's thoughts! :)