On Writing to Make a Difference

Photo credit: Mine!
There’s been a lot of really wonderful discussion lately on diversity, sexism, ableism and so much more that’s been absolutely incredible to see. And it’s got me thinking about writing, and more specifically, about the messages we can send with our manuscripts.

Let me start by saying I don’t go into a book setting out to send some kind of message. Most of the time, I’m not even aware of the themes in my manuscripts until I’ve edited several times or a CP has pointed one out to me and I just smile and nod like, “oh yeah, I totally did that on purpose.”

Back to the matter at hand.

I’ve been thinking about books like Easy (Tammara Webber) which feature a love interest who very clearly understands and respects boundaries and shows one of the healthiest, most respectful relationships I’ve ever seen in a book.

I’ve been thinking about books like Every Day (David Levithan) which puts you in the shoes of characters who are depressed, who are addicts, who are of varying sexual orientations and all have fascinating and equally valid perspectives and challenge you to empathize with them equally.

I’ve been thinking about books the challenge the status quo with little things—with diverse casts and strong characters and calling out harmful tropes for what they are.

And I’ve been thinking we can make a difference with our writing. And it doesn’t have to be a big message book or a story with a moral—it can be a respectful relationship, or a respectfully represented minority or a couple well-placed lines.

Because you never know how that character, scene, or line will affect a reader. Or many readers. And really, that’s all it takes to make a difference.

Have you read any books that made a difference to you?

Twitter-sized bites: 
"You never know how that character...will affect a reader...that's all it takes to make a difference." (Click to tweet)  
Have you read any books that made a difference to you? Join the discussion on @Ava_Jae's blog. (Click to tweet)


Jen Donohue said...

Occasionally I read a book that was just what I was looking for. FORTUNE'S PAWN, by Rachel Bach, was my most recent. Space scifi, good worldbuilding without infodumps, and a great female main character.

When I'm writing, frequently I'm "writing the book I want to read". I try to make characters I'm interested in and want to hear stories about, I try to have diverse situations that make some degree of sense. Oh yeah, and I try to justify all the bizarre things I read about into "story research". It can be an interesting mix ;)

Ava Jae said...

Thanks, Briana! Every Day really hit home with me especially on this point. It's incredible what we can do just by telling stories. :)

Ava Jae said...

I definitely follow the "write what you want to read rule"—after all, if you wouldn't want to read your book, no one else is going to want to, either.

RoweMatthew said...

Thinking about a message is how I shape my work and it helps me decide the ending. I normally start with an idea, the beginning of a novel comes from setting this up, the end comes from the message. I always think, what does it say if the character succeeds? What does it say if the character fails? The thing about messages is though that readers will find meaning in things that you never intended to put there.

Ava Jae said...

That's so interesting! And so very different from the way I work. I love seeing just how much the process can vary—thanks for sharing!

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