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Writer's Circle > Worried about offence

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message 1: by Rachael (new)

Rachael Eyre (rachaeleyre) | 44 comments I'm putting this here because I'm not sure where else it can go ...

I've had an idea for a thriller novella that I'm planning to write as a Kindle Single. The only problem is, the main antagonist of the story will be transsexual. Might this be perceived as transphobic?

I'll research it to make sure the story's convincing and do my utmost to make her relatable, but I worry that this will turn readers off. Seeing as I write for LGBT audiences, I don't want to risk upsetting or alienating anyone. I have a positive transsexual character in my current story (which I wrote first) but wonder if people will see this as a sop.

I'd love to know what you think.


message 2: by Emma (new)

Emma Jaye | 80 comments Wouldn't bother me; nasty people come in all shapes, sizes, genders and sexuality. Always painting one group as 'halo' wearing is as bad as always having them with devil horns.

As long as you don't imply that her gender choice is the reason for her antagonistic behaviour, rather than her personality I don't think anyone with half a brain would object.


message 3: by V.W. (new)

V.W. Singer | 132 comments And those who do complain would have complained if you had painted the TS as an angel. Just don't use silly stereotypes and you should be fine.


message 4: by Gary (new)

Gary Jones (gfjones_dvm) | 53 comments I had the same concern when I made a graduate student from a middle-eastern country a villain working with jihadists. I tried to compensate by having 2 characters from the same country provide assistance to my protagonist.


message 5: by Kitiera (new)

Kitiera Morey | 5 comments Make your character fully fleshed-out, a character you're proud of, and a majority of people won't have a problem with it. Sure, you'll have people who'll complain, but they probably complain about everything so I'd just ignore them.


message 6: by Kenneth (new)

Kenneth Brown | 4 comments Why worry about people you don’t know who criticise you or those who make nasty comments. Mind Process and Formulas: Principles, Techniques, Formulas, and Processes for Success


message 7: by Jim (new)

Jim Vuksic A person's sexual persuasion is a choice. Whatever the choice may be, it is their's to make and it makes that person neither good nor bad or right nor wrong.

It is nearly impossible not to offend someone when writing a novel. As long as the offense in not intentional or mean spirited, you should not permit that possibility to influence your writing.


message 8: by Gary (new)

Gary Jones (gfjones_dvm) | 53 comments Kenneth wrote: "Why worry about people you don’t know who criticise you or those who make nasty comments. Mind Process and Formulas: Principles, Techniques, Formulas, and Processes for Success"

But that was my problem. I know several people from the country and religion in question, people I consider my friends.


message 9: by Sophie (new)

Sophie (notemily) | 22 comments I suggest asking yourself exactly why you need this character to be trans, and what purpose it serves for your story. I also think you should worry less about upsetting people, and more about causing harm to actual trans individuals, by promoting the narrative that trans people are dangerous. I'm not saying that your story will necessarily promote this narrative, but I am saying that's what you should be asking yourself, rather than "will this upset people."

I'd also suggest asking some actual trans people about this.

Writing the Other is a book I've seen mentioned as a good general resource for this kind of thing, but I haven't read it myself.


message 10: by Rachael (new)

Rachael Eyre (rachaeleyre) | 44 comments Perhaps I didn't communicate it well in the original post, but that is exactly what I was worried about - hurting and possibly endangering trans people. There are so few narratives out there featuring them in the first place, and they are virtually never depicted by trans actors.

I'll be honest with you: the original plot didn't involve trans people at all. I wanted to write a series of sci fi shorts for Kindle singles, and my first idea was that a couple's relationship should be threatened by this strange pushy woman who claims to be a former school friend. The narrator is sure this isn't true, it doesn't feel right, but her wife seems mesmerised by this strange woman. She's able to produce evidence too, but something still doesn't add up ...

Perhaps I didn't express myself well, but the idea was shouted down and dismissed as cliche and naff. I was told to adopt the current format. But yes, speaking as someone with trans friends, who thinks they already get a raw deal, I don't want to perpetuate this idea. I'll jack it in (not that I've even started writing).


message 11: by V.W. (new)

V.W. Singer | 132 comments Rachael wrote: "Perhaps I didn't communicate it well in the original post, but that is exactly what I was worried about - hurting and possibly endangering trans people. There are so few narratives out there featur..."

I don't think you're doing the Trans community any favours by handling them with kid gloves. The greatest respect you can show is to treat them like any other human beings. If the character is evil just don't blame it on her trans status.

In Asian cinema transsexual characters have appeared as main characters, both good and bad, and have been well received internationally. Have a look at the following:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dongfan...

http://www.colorq.org/PetSins/article...


message 12: by Jim (last edited Aug 19, 2015 01:56PM) (new)

Jim Vuksic V.W. makes an excellent point.
All too often, well-meaning individuals who truly support equality for all, regardless of race, religion, physical challenges, mental challenges, lifestyle, etc., and are sensitive to the problems they face in society, inadvertently treat some people differently by exercising extreme caution, deference, and politeness.

Depict all of the characters in your novel exactly the same - as human beings - some good, some bad, and none perfect.


message 13: by A.L. (last edited Sep 01, 2015 12:35PM) (new)

A.L. Butcher (alb2012) | 188 comments Rachael wrote: "I'm putting this here because I'm not sure where else it can go ...

I've had an idea for a thriller novella that I'm planning to write as a Kindle Single. The only problem is, the main antagonist ..."


Someone somewhere will get offended by something. If you want to avoid it - don't write. I'm sure plenty of people are upset by gay characters/straight characters/transgender characters. That's their problem.

Write a good story - if you upset someone, so be it. If you help someone even better. People are people - good or bad has no relation to gender, sexuality or sexual identity. Nor should it. People are good - or not. People are people.

Although - yes I'd look at why this character is the antagonist. What is the most important aspect - the gender identity of this person or their behaviour?


message 14: by Sally (new)

Sally (brasscastle) | 261 comments If we worried about offending anyone, we'd never write anything. Providing that your story is well crafted, anyone who is offended by it doesn't have to read it. You can't please everyone, and there's no author out there who can write a book that will please everyone. You ought write for the story's sake, not with your finger gauging the wind.

My stuff isn't provocative or explicit, but I'm sure that anyone determined to find something offensive in my stories will find it, or will read offense in where there is none. There are people out there who have assigned themselves a mission in life to find offense in everything. I can't control that, and I have no intention to try.

Personally, I would prefer that readers who look for offense in everything and anything NOT read my work.


message 15: by Sally (new)

Sally (brasscastle) | 261 comments Rachael wrote: "... shouted down and dismissed as cliche and naff."

I'm ignorant here: what is "naff?"


message 16: by A.L. (new)

A.L. Butcher (alb2012) | 188 comments erm sort of rubbishy and a bit common.


message 17: by J.W. (new)

J.W. Davis | 6 comments http://www.theguardian.com/notesandqu...

I had to look it up as well. That is a link I found that appears to explain it reasonably well.


message 18: by Sally (new)

Sally (brasscastle) | 261 comments Thanks! It's worth getting up in the morning if one can learn something new every day.


message 19: by A.L. (new)

A.L. Butcher (alb2012) | 188 comments Yep, that about covers it:)


message 20: by Iris (new)

Iris Chacon (irischacon137) | 7 comments One of my screenwriting mentors used to say that if the antagonist was an identifiable "type," (i.e., race, gender, religion, nationality, etc.), the writer should include other characters of that same type who were not antagonists, to create balance. In other words, if the villain is a Catholic, there should be at least one other Catholic in the piece who is not a villain. It doesn't have to be a main character or a character with the same "weight" as the villain, but the introduction of other Catholics creates a balanced situation in which the subconscious mind of reader or viewer does not receive an "all Catholics are evil" message. This became especially important when stories might tend to imply that "all criminals are black" or "all Muslims are terrorists." In each case, black characters or Muslim characters who are clearly NOT what the generalization says they are, provide a balance and counteract the subliminal stereotyping message.


message 21: by Gary (new)

Gary Jones (gfjones_dvm) | 53 comments That's how I handled my second novel, A Jerk, A Jihad, And A Virus. One Pakistani muslim bad guy, three Pakistani muslim good guys, two of which helped the protagonist. For religious identity, you could also imply that the antagonist is non-observant or is pretending to be religious to fit in with a group.


message 22: by V.W. (new)

V.W. Singer | 132 comments I think rather than having "good" Muslims/Catholics/whatever, and "bad" ones, the story should be clear on how the villain's motivations differ from others of his persuasion. By this I mean that his or her primary motivation for doing "evil" is not the race or religion, but (for example) simple greed, hatred of a particular person or group who he perceives as having wronged him or her, misplaced patriotism, or even being a dupe of someone else.

In reality, nobody's motivation for anything is as simple as "God told me to do it" or "I am homosexual/transgender" or "I am an oppressed minority". Those are usually excuses, simplifications, masks that hide a much more complex group of reasons.


message 23: by T.D. (new)

T.D. Edwards (tdedwards) | 12 comments Without knowing much about the plotline for your story, is it possible that you can include more than one transgendered character in this story?

Perhaps creating balance will help. If one transgendered character is the antagonist, have others as well, on the side of the protagonist. I don't think you'll risk offending anyone if you include multifaceted characters from the transgendered community. Just like with any of your other characters, create some who are good, bad, and varying shades of grey.


message 24: by Christopher (last edited Nov 16, 2015 08:57AM) (new)

Christopher | 15 comments Sometimes a simple answer is best, "You can't please everyone."

You could always cover your self with a disclaimer
Everything in this book is fictional any relation or similarities to any person(s) either living or dead is purely accidental

But you are going to piss people off despite your best efforts Haters going to hate.


message 25: by Jim (new)

Jim Vuksic Leave political correctness to the politicians. Most of them have become so adept at it that they can now speak at any length on any subject without actually saying anything.

True, a novel is fiction; however it, more often than not, reflects real life, real situations and real social issues. To insure that their work is believable and thought-provoking, as well as entertaining, an author must depict their human characters as true humans: good and bad, straight and gay, admirable and despicable, etc., etc.

Excessively agonizing over how some readers may react will turn the story into something other than what was originally intended. As long as the author is totally satisfied with the finished product, it doesn't matter what some others think.


message 26: by Sally (new)

Sally (brasscastle) | 261 comments I agree with Jim and others who comment above. Political correctness is nothing more than an insidious form of terrorism; don't submit or kowtow to it.

It's your story - or rather, it is the story of your characters. Let them tell THEIR story. Let your characters be true to themselves, and in the same vein, to thine own self be true. Let those who look for offense in every little thing be damned. They have more problems than you do.

Those who may find it offensive don't have to read it, and are welcome to write their own stories.


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