Self-censorship . . . Maybe You Shouldn’t

What would have happened if Rowling had held Harry Potter back?

How often do you self-censor a story?  Self-censorship is when you stop yourself from taking a story, or character, where it needs to go so that you don’t offend someone.

I’ve been guilty of doing this at least once.  Two of my characters needed to fight it out.  As in hand to hand, or actually sword to sword.  But my upbringing kept getting in the way.  It took me multiple tries to write this scene because they kept almost getting into a fight but then they would get interrupted or otherwise not do it.  But none of these scenes rang true.  It wasn’t until one of them took as serious poke at the other that the scene came together.

As children’s writers especially,  we sometimes hold our characters back.  We don’t let them say the things that a teenager would say — they are unnaturally civil even in the worst of circumstances.  Or we don’t let them do what a preschooler would naturally do because it is simply too naughty or perhaps it isn’t safe.

That’s the problem with my current WIP.  My character does something majorly irresponsible.  I know its irresponsible.  On a good day, my teen son would probably know that too.  But it is something a twelve year old boy would do.  Or at least would really want to do.

So, do I pull him back or do I let him be irresponsible?  My husband is pushing for irresponsible.  “Boys are like that and Harry Potter was completely irresponsible about 200 times per book.”

True.  But I’m not Rowling and my character isn’t Harry Potter.  Obviously, this is something I’m still noodling over.  Maybe I’ll have an answer next week…


PS.  As I finished writing this post, it hit me.  Why not reread the article I wrote, How to Avoid Parenting Your Characters?  Excellent question.  And another question — why did it take me so long to think of that!