Monday, March 30, 2015

The Writer Will Take Your Questions Now #319 -- All Ages Writing

Do you write your pulp-style action stories with all ages in mind, 
intentionally targeting a particular age group as being okay for it?

Unless I'm mandated by a publisher, I don't set out with the intention of telling a G, PG, PG-13, R-rated story. I mainly just focus on being true to my characters.

If my dirty cop would cuss like a sailor, he's gonna cuss like a sailor. If my jaded P.I. would drink himself into a stupor and sleep around, then you can bet he's gonna do it in the story. If my struggling pastor recovering from an affair stays on guard and tries to be the most moral person in the room, by golly that's going to flavor the words he says and way he does things.

Nothing irks me worse than reading a cop thriller in which the cops all talk as if their moms were hiding behind the corner to wash their mouths out with soap at a moment's notice. Or to read about despicable people who do despicable, violent things, then talk like missionaries (unless that's an intentional affectation). Or worse, to read about lost, broken people who are looking for affection in a physical relationship, then have a writer chicken out and have them barely hold hands with each other and only hint about rainbows and doves and rain as euphemisms for physical interaction. I got enough of that in the overly sanitized religious fiction I used to sell when I worked in a Christian bookstore.

When I write, I write gritty, pulp-style narratives or adult literary prose. I don't write bloodless cozies or sweet young debutantes solving a murder with their local book club. I write about real people (or at least the closest I can get in prose) getting into life or death situations and struggles who react like the broken, angry, hurt, beleaguered, wounded, faulty, fallen people we all can be. My characters speak, think, and act in neither whites nor blacks for the most part. They live in the grays where we all have to.

My bottom line is to be true to the characters. If I'm writing for a younger market, I'll create and write about characters that are appropriate to that market. If I'm writing for a religious market, I'll create characters that fit that market, not sanitized characters who don't fit it until the point of overly sensitive artificiality.

If none of those cases apply, I'm going to assume I'm writing to adults who want to read my story the way it's supposed to be written.