Writing is risky business. Maybe not the kind of risk the pioneers took when moving west (can you tell I’ve been watching epic westerns all weekend?), or the kinds of risks a test pilot or soldier would face.
Our risks are the risks no one sees. These are risks of the heart, they’re laying our emotions and experiences out in the open for the whole world to see. These risks are the kind that go against the expectations of society. We take risks to evoke emotion, strong emotion, from our audience. Like publicity, there’s no such thing as good or bad emotion. A scene or a character can be totally reprehensible, absolutely lovable, tortured, pitied, admired, despised, sympathetic…and what it all comes down to is they pulled a specific response from your readers. If you’ve made your readers cry, laugh out loud, scream or shout, “How could you do that?”, then you’ve done your job.
Risk is about breaking boundaries. In this video, one of my favorite authors, Anne Rice, talks about risk and a few she’s taken herself. Would you have the guts to write Jesus Christ in the first person? I know I would, if I had the right story for it. Would you take a personal experience and write about it through the eyes of your character? Been there, done that too. Plenty of our life experiences lend themselves well to the stories we tell. This is how you make characters real. This is how you make them resonate with your audience.
How have you taken risks with writing? And if you haven’t yet, why not?