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The Potential for Controversy: Handling Sensitive Themes

These days we're moonwalking on eggshells! Welcome to the censorship era in which we have to handle sensitive themes in media, art, and conversation because some have skins made of bubbles. In my previous post, I mentioned about Trigger Warnings and Reader Discretion, whatever F is that.


So, in this article, we will focus on potential controversy writing transgressive fiction, dark romance or as I like to call the mix of both 'Transgressive Romance'. Let's tie up our laces and learn how to tango with topics that can easily turn into a foot-in-mouth fiasco.



The How-To Guide: A Spoonful of Empathy, A Dash of Research

1.The Chameleon Approach: Before you dive into the deep end, take a moment to gauge the temperature of the water. Who are you talking to? A group of high schoolers, a boardroom of executives, or your cat (who, by the way, has quite an opinion on world affairs)?


The Chameleon Approach is a theoretical model designed to navigate and adapt communication strategies effectively in diverse social environments, especially when dealing with sensitive or controversial themes. Just like a chameleon changes its color to adapt to its surroundings, this approach involves altering communication styles and techniques based on the audience and context. Here's how the model breaks down:


Theoretical Model: The Chameleon Approach

To summarize what's this model for you I can say that this model begins with an Environmental Analysis, focusing on understanding the audience's demographic, cultural, and psychological characteristics, as well as assessing the context of the setting to determine the appropriate tone and style of communication. Adaptive Communication Strategies then come into play, involving tone matching to resonate with the audience, cultural sensitivity in language use, and employing emotional intelligence for deeper connection. A crucial aspect of this model is the Feedback Loop, where active listening and attention to non-verbal cues are used to gauge audience reactions and adjust communication in real time. Reflective Adaptation follows, involving self-assessment and feedback incorporation to refine future interactions. Ethical Considerations are central, emphasizing authenticity and maintaining respect and integrity in the message. Finally, Continuous Learning and Growth are encouraged, advocating for ongoing expansion of knowledge about different cultures and communities, and developing skills in cross-cultural communication, emotional intelligence, and conflict resolution. This approach ensures effective, respectful, and adaptive communication across diverse settings.


2. Do Your Homework: Time to put on those glasses and dig into the archives. Understanding the historical, psychological and cultural context of a theme can be the difference between an insightful comment and an accidental insult.


3. Empathy is Key: Imagine walking a mile in someone else's shoes - even if they're a size too small. Understanding different perspectives is crucial, especially when discussing sensitive themes. I have a section in my free writing guide book (you can get it here) on empathy and why empathy is an important skill for writers.


In my humble opinion, it is a cornerstone for writers, serving as a powerful tool to create deeper, more authentic narratives. It allows you to step into the shoes of their characters, understanding their emotions, motivations, and experiences from the inside. This deeper understanding enriches storytelling, making characters and their journeys more relatable and engaging to readers. Empathy also plays a crucial role in addressing sensitive themes, ensuring that the portrayal of different perspectives is done with respect and authenticity.


4. Language Matters: Choose your words like you're picking out avocados in the supermarket - with care and attention. The right words can soothe; the wrong ones can sting.


5. Humor: A well-timed joke can be a breath of fresh air, but remember, what's funny to you might be a facepalm for someone else.


6. Openness to Learn: You're not always going to get it right, and that's okay. Be open to learning and growing from the conversations you have.


Navigating the Storm: When Things Get Choppy

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, things might go south. What do you do when you accidentally step on a controversy landmine?

  • If you've made a mistake, own up to it. A sincere apology goes a long way. (However, you don't need to apologize for every little things others may feel offended by, Their problem isn't yours. There are cases in which you really made a mistake that's unforgivable. In such case, well, you need to suck it up, and apologize.

  • Sometimes, the best thing you can do is listen. Understand why your words might have caused discomfort or harm.

  • Don't be afraid to ask for advice from those more knowledgeable on the subject.


Conclusion: The Graceful Exit

Handling sensitive themes is a bit like being a chef in a kitchen full of exotic ingredients. With the right recipe, you can create a dish that's both delicious and thought-provoking. Remember, it's about balance, respect, and a willingness to learn. So go forth, stir that pot, but remember to taste your creation before you serve it. Bon appétit!



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