Discussion Post: Is there ever a topic that shouldn’t be written about?

topic shouldnt be written about

This thought has been on my mind for a while now, so I decided to make it this week’s discussion.

Have you ever read a book where you thought something that was mentioned shouldn’t have been there?

Maybe it was approached wrong. Maybe it had no place in the story and was just unnecessary. Or may it just shouldn’t have been written about.

So I’m asking today…

Is there ever a topic that shouldn’t be written about?


As we all know, there’s certain topics that are more sensitive to write and read about than others: think mental health, abuse, disabilities, suicide etc. But have you ever come across a topic that just shouldn’t have been written about?

Are some things better left unsaid?

Personally, I think no. There’s never a topic that shouldn’t be written about. Every time a bit of knowledge on these topics is shared, people become less ignorant and gradually learn more, possibly without even realizing it. If these topics weren’t talked about, how would anyone understand?

The problem, however, can be how the topic is handled

If any topic is written in a bad and inaccurate way, it can cause offense. Or give the wrong impression. Teach people the wrong thing. And that is when it becomes a problem.

So to me, I can’t think of any examples where a topic shouldn’t have been written about. But maybe, just maybe, it shouldn’t have been written by that certain author. If they can’t portray it in a careful, accurate, understanding way, then maybe they should just not write about it, because it could cause more problems than not.

However, if the author can explain things right, and enlighten the readers just a little bit more, then that’s got to be a good thing, right?

So share your thoughts!

Can you think of a topic that shouldn’t be written about?

Or have you read a book where a certain topic was approached in the wrong way?

Do you agree with me – that it’s not the topic, but how it’s handled?

Join the discussion in the comments!



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19 thoughts on “Discussion Post: Is there ever a topic that shouldn’t be written about?

  1. Generally, yes, I agree with you – its not the topic, its how its handled.

    However, it bothers me in general when people heap abuse on their characters in order to make them a tortured soul or whatever. I feel like (and this is probably in part because I have lost a child) people tend to treat losing a child as the ultimate pity-me factor in books OR movies. Like in the movie Gravity – they included the fact that she’d lost a child to make her seem more vulnerable or whatever – there was no reason to include a child loss. None. They used it as a vehicle to propel her hopefully toward awards. So, that’s when I hate it.

    Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’d class that under handling it wrongly. Very wrongly. Like it’s something to define a character or add pity when like you said, it doesn’t need to be there. It does really bug me when things like that happen.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Yeah, it’s all about how the topic is handled. You shouldn’t romanticize problematic and traumatic things and you always have to be aware about what message you’re ultimately sending. Sometimes an author’s ignorance on a topic is just blatant. 50 Shades of Grey should definitely have been written by a different author, one who would either A) remove the abusive aspects of it and actually write a smexy BDSM erotica or B) actually write a book about an abusive BDSM relationship and explore the consequences of it and eventually have the heroine realize what’s going on.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Romanticizing is such a huge problem! So many books and movies do this, and the effect they have can be awful. I’ve not read 50 Shades myself, but I can guess from how everyone reacts to it that you’re right with that one!


  3. I agree that there are no topics that shouldn’t be talked about. Especially since they are things that someone has experienced. I think that by saying they shouldn’t be written about, it could prevent someone from talking about it. Laurie Halse Anderson does a good job of talking about sensitive topics. I had to read “Speak” for a class and it was really good

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s exactly what I mean! If anybody ever says a topic shouldn’t be talked about, they’re essentially just closing off the people who have gone through these things, and cutting off the amount of people they can talk to and gain understanding from. It can be a comfort to people to have these things talked about.
      I’ve not heard of that book before but I’ll definitely look it up!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I agree, Ashleigh! I don’t think any topics are off-limits, but I do think sensitive subjects should be handled with care and research. If you’re going to be writing about something potentially controversial, you should make sure you know what you’re talking about and think hard about what message you’re sending. I think Anette’s example of 50 Shades is a good example of a topic that was handled really carelessly. I don’t have a problem with BDSM, but the way the author portrayed it was really dangerous and misleading.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh definitely! Even though I’ve not read 50 Shades, I can tell just from people’s reactions that the relationship in it wasn’t exactly a good thing…and was still romanticized even though it seems possessive and controlling. I know that sort of comes with the topic, but it still seems wrong, especially since it’s so widely known.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I literally couldn’t agree more- I don’t have a problem with any topic being covered in any book- I just have a problem with how some books handle it. For me, it’s not so much a worry that people will get offended (although of course people do), but that people will get the wrong idea- like you mentioned. Misinformation can do far more damage than not mentioning the issue at all.
    But for me, I think the main issue comes about when a book moralises too much about important issues. When an author includes things like suicide or abuse or mental health issues in a matter-of-fact way, it’s powerful and actually helps people understand these issues far better than when an author points out their stance. (For instance I would rate Hardy’s exploration of suicide in Jude, which merely shows its devastating effect, far above 13 Reasons Why, which explains and pontificates over the issue) It’s classic “show don’t tell” territory- and I don’t know why some authors haven’t figured that out yet. Blatant messages actually pulls the reader out of the reading experience and has the exact opposite effect to what they intend- it doesn’t create empathy or understanding- it’s just really jarring.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Misinformation is a huge issue. If someone gets the wrong idea, they could potentially do more damage than good by trying to help and just not understanding the issue at all, even when they think they do.
      I suppose some authors may be wary of romanticizing a subject, and hope to avoid it by saying “this is the issue”. But like you said, when it comes to reading it definitely should be a “show don’t tell” scenario. It’s far easier for readers to understand when they can imagine it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah exactly! It’s very worrying. It can also have the opposite affect- for instance in the case of suicide, books that are designed to bring the issue to light can instead, like you said, romanticise the issue.
        But in terms of art, trying to avoid romanticising the issue usually backfires pretty badly- because it presents a completely unrealistic representation of the issue- and that’s where a lot of the misinformation comes in. Not to mention the fact that by coming down heavily on one side or the other, it fails to recognise the complexity of the issue. And it also prevents the reader from empathising with the issue. Exactly!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I totally agree with you. The whole point of writing is to explore everything – the good AND the bad in life and the world. The question is whether the author is skilled enough to tackle the topic with insight and sensitivity. Great post! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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