TRIGGER WARNING: This post mentions traumatic situations.
Pushing boundaries in writing can mean pushing your personal boundaries or pushing your story’s boundaries. This means different things to different writers, but I’m referring to adult content and dark themes.
- Spicy scenes
- Graphic violence
- Killing off characters
- Dark themes that might be triggering for you or readers
- Unusual worlds that may take more effort to get across
- Emotional journeys that mean tapping into your own past
In part 1, I’m going to talk about pushing personal boundaries.
There are many things I didn’t think I’d write about because it meant delving into my own emotions and experiences, but now there are few things I wouldn’t write about. These things came naturally as my confidence grew. I dared the love scenes, touched on the darker themes that are very real to me and my past, so I wanted to make them real for my characters.
This isn’t something everyone feels comfortable doing, and that’s okay. A recent post on social media got several comments about this when the writer asked about whether they should add spice or not. My comment was to ask if they felt like the book needed it and why they wanted to add it. Sure, we all adapt our writing to make it work for readers if we think we can pull it off or if you want to take your novel to the next level, but you shouldn’t write content for the sake of it.
So ask yourself why you want to push your boundaries. Is it for you or your story, or both? And what will readers get out of it?