Friday, February 11, 2011

Make your readers uncomfortable

I have this one scene in TWISTED ROOT that is…intense. It is so intense that I’ve had reactions all over the place from my CP’s and betas.

Let me start by saying I have a ton of people read my work. An 8 person crit group, 2 crit partners, and 2 that I would say are alpha readers—friends who read tons and have strong editing backgrounds.

So I receive crits all over the place, and this scene has created some interesting responses. One critter went crazy for it, loved it. Another referred to it as slightly icky. I loved that response. :) Another blushed when we discussed it in person. And all of the male critters I have thought it was awesome—go figure. Men have a much higher threshold for uncomfortable-ness, than most women. (JMHO!!!)

Now I’m not saying I don’t adore all my readers. I do. I couldn’t write without them. Each one makes my work stronger. But here’s the thing, I’m keeping the scene, as it is (for now). Wanna know why?

I think as a writer you should make your reader uncomfortable at times. If the reader shudders—good! If the reader cries—good! If the reader makes a disgusting face because the scene produces such an intense image—all the better!

I believe in tasteful writing. I’m not sure I have ever written a scene that I feel is inappropriate or tasteless (CPs could disagree!). All that said, I prefer to write with emotion—intense emotion. I want people to read my work and know that, if nothing else, they’re going to feel something during the process.

What about you? Do you have uncomfortable scenes? Share. I promise not to judge. :)



  1. Great post! I hopped over from Hannah's blog to say hello. :-)

  2. Hi, Shannon! Thanks for stopping by and for the follow. :)

  3. SO true!! That is awesome that you're getting so much reaction! Means it must be something deliciously interesting!

  4. These are the scenes that really make an impact, stick in my mind, and that I think about long after I've finished reading the novel. Usually this is good (although I've had some nightmares over unusually icky decriptions years later).

  5. Colene - I hope so! I guess it could be very good...or very bad. Ha!

    Krista - These are my favorite scenes as well. I think they remind us of our own lives. We always retell over and over the stories that were embarrassing or crazy or strange. Ya know?

  6. I think you are right. If you are getting a variety of reactions you've accomplished something good as a writer. Don't we want our readers to talk about our work, mention scenes, have a great discussion? Keep it in!

  7. I agree. In my nano novel (that I haven't begun editing!) there are a few scenes that are quite high on the icky/yucky/eeewwww scale. But, if you've managed to elicit that response, that means they're into it!

    BTW, I'm over from Hannah's blog, visiting. And now following :)

  8. I think good writing gets the reader to have a strong emotional reaction. I've loved books that made me completely hate a character. Why? They made me feel strongly about the person. It doesn't matter if I love something, am grossed out, or hate a character, if the author can make me feel that strongly, then I think he/she is great writer.

  9. Catherine - Thanks, I totally agree. I want readers to talk about my work, for it to stay with them. Maybe I'll get super lucky and this MS will be the ONE as it is creating a lot of talk. :)

    TWC - Thanks for stopping by and following! This was a Nano project as well. :)

    Kelly - Thanks for following! I agree 100%. I remember characters with strong influences and scenes with strong emotional appeal. Didn't we all hate Snape? Yet, he is for super a memorable character from HP.

  10. Have you read UNWIND by Neal Shusterman? There's a scene in there that will stick with me forever because of how uncomfortable it was. I think that totally proves your point!

  11. Anna - no, but I'm googling it now! :) I think the scene with Rue in HG's is one of these sort of uncomfortable scenes.

    * And to all, please ignore the typos during my replies before coffee. My mind doesn't function properly before the 2nd cup!

  12. Where did you find your crit group? I've been working on something for a few weeks, and am wondering if I'm fooling myself.