By Posted in - On Writing on September 4th, 2009 9 Comments

By pulling our punches as writers for fear of upsetting a censorious minority we are crippling one of teenagers’ most powerful conduits to growth. Don’t do it. Ignore the naysayers. Laugh at those who don’t recognize the words you’ve chosen. Be prepared to fight for the right word in the right place at the right time. Inform through context and clarity of expression. Tell a story so powerful, that tells the truth and packs such an emotional punch, that editors have to publish it in spite of its intellectual rigor.

These are the books that last.

Which of the books you’ve read celebrate the power of story to stretch our intellectual capacities without causing you to throw the book against the wall in frustration?

Which books have made you glad you gave up hours of your life to read them?

Which ones managed to entertain you whilst also leaving you feeling smarter for having read them?

I’ll start the ball rolling by declaring Philip Pullman’s HIS DARK MATERIALS to be one such read. What’s your favorite?

(9) awesome folk have had something to say...

  • PJ Hoover - Reply

    September 4, 2009 at 6:12 am

    When asked about this, one of my author friends said she never dumbs down for the reader. And her writing is beautiful and very popular.So I'm all for it!

  • The Crazy Baby Mama - Reply

    September 4, 2009 at 6:51 am

    absolutely !!! i really agree with this post. (by the way, i stumbled on your blog via networked blogs on facebook…) good stuff.

  • Lia Keyes - Reply

    September 4, 2009 at 6:55 am

    Delighted you found me, Crazy Baby Mama! Congratulations on getting knocked up again!

  • Shelley Souza - Reply

    September 4, 2009 at 7:47 am

    I'm not afraid. I feel very inspired by the story that's coming out of me right now. It's the antithesis of what teenagers appear to be interested in. But I care about the future; so I'm writing what I believe is important, and remembering writers whose books shaped my values and inspired me to transform as I was growing up.

  • Lia Keyes - Reply

    September 4, 2009 at 7:50 am

    Good for you, Shelley! I'm delighted to hear it. But when you get to the submission and editing stage I would imagine it's hard to decipher which editorial advice would truly help the story, and which smacks of intellectual timidity on the part of the editor requesting the change.

  • Shelley Souza - Reply

    September 4, 2009 at 8:01 am

    That's the moment when one has to trust in something deeper than an individual opinion. The creative impulse is BOLD and inspiring. The real question is, are *we* intrepid enough to put our hearts and souls behind its power?

  • Nancy L. - Reply

    September 15, 2009 at 3:25 am

    Excellent post, Lia. I grew up reading Madeleine L'Engle's books, and she definitely challenged me. A while back, I read an article in which she and Phillip Pullman were quoted as having said (at different times) that they never dumbed down their writing.I agree that we should follow their example!

  • Conda V. Douglas - Reply

    October 1, 2009 at 2:25 am

    Great post, Lia. And so true. I need to add that the young adults, some of them quite young, are bright and educated and will read the "tough" stuff and love it! Timidity is foolish these days and denies the YA's their just due, that they can handle the intellectual stuff and the hard issues.By the way, I came across your blog via graduates of Maass' workshops and I too am writing YA fantasy. Yours sounds fascinating!

  • nancy Lamb - Reply

    June 21, 2010 at 10:31 pm

    I’m with you, Lia.
    Never dumb it down.
    Never pull your punches.
    And never give up.

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