Wednesday, April 7, 2021

On Taking Risks in Writing #IWSG


It's hard to believe it's April already. I hope everyone had a wonderful and safe Easter. The IWSG question this months is: Are you a risk-taker when writing? Do you try something radically different in style/POV/etc. or add controversial topics to your work? 

The whole process of writing and publishing is one giant exercise in risk-taking. We put ourselves in the stories we write (even when it's fiction) and then bare it all when we let those stories out into the world for others to read and judge. 

Then there's the risk of choosing a genre that might not be considered easy to sell.

Or the topics that people might have issue with.

Or the style of writing that might step slightly from the expected norms.

Or heaven forbid we should break those golden writing rules.

So yes, I'm a risk-taker when it comes to writing. I love breaking rules if it gives me the impact I want for the story. I don't have a choice of the genres I write in because while the market might be flooded with YA Fantasies, I love reading and writing YA Fantasies. And if the story edges toward a controversial topic, I will do my best to handle the topic with as much sensitivity and respect as I can, but I won't shy from it. 

One more thing: I won't dumb down my language for the teen market. I write for young adults, not children. It's ridiculous the number of articles that say you should keep the language simple for the teens to understand. A rich vocabulary is important for all of us to be able to express the nuances of life. I don't write in jargon, but if there's a word that succinctly captures what I'm after, then I will use that word...even if it has--gasp--more than two syllables. 

Just sayn'

How about you? Are you a risk-taker in writing? Do you bend or break the rules, if so, which ones?


 

This post was written for the IWSG. Every first Wednesday of the month, members post on their blogs about their writing insecurities or offer some encouragement to others. If you are new to the IWSG or want to learn more, then please go HERE.

43 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Dumb it down for teens and they'll never learn to speak properly.

Liza said...

I love your perspective. Yes, there is so much about writing that inherently comes with risk. It made me feel better to read that, as I don't think of myself as a risk taker. And thank you, for keeping your vocabulary "rich." We baby our teens in too many ways as it is, these days...IMHO.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Some words are beyond what a teen would know, but how will they ever learn that word if they aren't exposed to it?

Natalie Aguirre said...

Teens do not like to have their stories dumbed down for them. And yes, there are a lot of risks in writing. Just putting words on the page and sharing them with others is risky.

Nick Wilford said...

Teens definitely need the respect of being able to handle complex language. They don't want to feel they're being spoken to like children. And yes, sometimes controversial topics must be handled because they're part of life, even if your writing is in a different universe.

Jemi Fraser said...

Love it.
From my experience working with kids, they always know when someone is patronizing or preaching or dumbing something down for them. And then they're done with it!
I hadn't thought about the entire risk-taking aspect of publishing for this question. You're so right - we are all risk takers simply by putting our work out there!

Ellen Jacobson said...

When I read as a kid, having to look up a word you didn't know was part of the experience. That's how you expanded your own vocabulary. Totally agree that you shouldn't dumb down vocabulary (or anything else).

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Lynda - I think it's so important to be quizzy throughout life ... if you don't know something look it up ... so many don't. I do use a rich language and always have done - your books are delightful to read ... all the best - Hilary

Lee Lowery said...

Not dumbing down language for teen readers is so important. I remember, as I'm sure many voracious readers do, occasionally getting the stink-eye for reading "above my level" with adult content books, notably hard-boiled mysteries. Younger readers are like the rest of us - they want excitement, danger, and to go places that are "off limits." And they don't want a bunch of soft-pedaled, safe language. I loved looking up new words in my ever-present hard-bound dictionary.

Jacqui Murray said...

Love what you're saying. I agree about clear vocabulary. YAs learn to love words by reading them.

PK HREZO said...

Hi Lynda! Long time no see. :) Great point with the risk being writing in an already flooded market. I've done that too and it's heartbreaking but at least there is a hope it'll reach our target readers.

Carol Kilgore said...

I'm somewhat of a risk taker on some things, but not all. I'm more willing to take a small risk than a larger one.

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

exactly

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

I'm glad my post helped :)

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

Exposure broadens the mind

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

You're right. And most teens don't only read teen books anyway. They'll delve into adult stories without a problem as well.

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

Respect is a good word for it.

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

They are smarter than a lot of people give them credit for.

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

Totally agree!

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

Aw, thanks so much, Hilary.

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

I still have the dictionary I grew up with. It is a little pocket-sized book that's so beaten up that I had to tape the cover in because it was falling off.

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

exactly :)

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

a rich language and clarity of thought are tied together too.

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

Yeah, I sometimes wish I loved to write in a smaller niche market, but it is what it is :)

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

I hear you :)

Pat Hatt said...

Yeah. Pffft to dumbing down the language. Break the rules indeed.

Denise Covey said...

I love that you don't dumb down for your teen readers. So much to learn from reading books!

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

Yes indeedy!

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

I'm actually surprised by the hearty support I've received over this topic :)

Lynn J Simpson said...

I'm glad to read that you choose the words you feel are suitable for teens! I picked up Anne of Green Gables recently noticing the language used is much more sophisticated (and beautiful) than some current novels targeted at teens I've read lately. Gosh, I even found the prose a bit challenging, in a very good way. Just sending out my words is risk-taking for me at this stage! :)

Michelle Wallace said...

"The whole process of writing and publishing is one giant exercise in risk-taking."
I didn't even think of it in this way. That sums it up perfectly!

S.A. Larsenッ said...

I agree that the entire process and business of writing and publishing is in a lot of ways one big giant risk. It's also a way for us to grow and to see the world/people through different lenses. It's great to see you this month! Enjoy the rest of it.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I never really thought about it the way you said. I guess we're risking all the time we spend writing that it may amount to nothing. Glad you don't 'dumb down' for teens.

Diane Burton said...

You wrote: I won't dumb down my language for the teen market. Good for you! Though I usually write for adults, I wrote a sci-fi adventure for middle grade. I sure didn't dumb down my language for that. The more kids read the better their vocab becomes. Have a good month, Lynda.

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

Pushing ourselves and others to be better can be rewarding for all involved.

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

Thanks, Michelle

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

Thanks, Sheri. It's great to see you too :)

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

Our writing amounting to nothing can never happen, because I'm a firm believer that no writing is wasted writing.

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

Thanks for the hearty support :)

Toi Thomas said...

Happy Belated Easter and IWSG Day! Glad to hear you don't "dumb down [your]language for the teen market." The so-called experts forget that teens are young adults, some might like to increase their vocab skills.

Luciana Cavallaro said...

I agree! Don't dumb down for YA market. I teach teenagers and we need to extend and challenge students and the more they read smart writing, the better they become.

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

or might already have a rich language, especially if they are readers.

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

so true!