6 Tips for Writing About Sensitive Topics
Talking about people with an incurable disease or who have lost everything is not just for charitable foundations and specialized media. Everyone can write such stories, and not necessarily in order to raise money. However, these are sensitive topics to talk about and require special attention to ethical standards and presentation. How to choose the key and choose the right words?
1. Tell the truth
The principles of writing texts on such painful topics are no different from the principles of writing any text: you need to tell the truth and try to reveal the situation from all sides. The texts can be without heroes, in the format “how everything works”: for example, the material on hematological resuscitation was discussed a lot in social networks with the main message “I had no idea how resuscitation works, thanks for telling me”.
2. Think about the safety of the hero
When writing a text about unprotected people, you must adhere to certain argumentative safety rules. First of all, the characters must be aware that they are talking with a journalist and are ready to share something. There are features of working with people who made abortion or are held in closed institutions, for example, in neuropsychiatric boarding schools, orphanages. In this case, the hero cannot independently understand whether the publication will harm him. And the author should think for him what can be reported and what cannot be, whether it is a specific indication of the institution, or geographic location, or real names, orreal faces in photographs.
3. Avoid “Alarmism”
In a social essay, texts, and research paper examples, on the one hand, it is important not to speculate on the feelings of the reader. On the other hand, you are telling a story where you knowingly feel sorry for the hero, but, by the standards of journalism, you should write detached and avoid sensational presentation.
4. Choose intonation
You have to write according to the rules of classical reporting. But this is not a dogma. There are excellent samples of texts on sensitive issues, for example, argumentative abortion essay at https://eduzaurus.com/free-essay-samples/abortion/. Here you can see how to properly form such texts.
If you have your own style – use it. Do not talk about illnesses and troubles, talk about a person, and what happens to him. If you focus on misfortunes, it will turn out badly: you will not see a person behind them. Keep your intonation and tell the story as you would like to be told about you in such a case. This is the simplest ethical filter. A person must be respected, the intonation “about the poor and the wretched” always degrades.
5. Pick words
Words (especially in introduction and titles) change a lot. Therefore, you have to create your own dictionary “I do not say that.” It includes, among other things, an ethical justification why you need to think about words, why you should not say “down” or “homeless”.
Words are important for self-identification. For example, some do not use feminitives in speech and do not call themselves feminitives, but they do not see the problem and violations of the norms of the language in applying them if it is important for someone.
Suppose in a direct speech someone is called a homeless person, then leave everything as it is. Firstly, it is indicative, and secondly, there is a rule not to distort direct speech. If a person calls himself a homeless person, he has a right to it. But you have no right to call him homeless.
Words become overgrown with connotations over time. Medical diagnoses, which initially had no negative connotations, were overgrown with them so that today they sound insulting. For example, the words “oligophrenic” and “moron” were removed from the ICD (International Classification of Diseases). If a document such as the ICD has changed, we see no reason why not change everything else.
6. Do not rush to call the disease deadly
One must write about death in the same way as about everything else. There is nothing outstanding or special in death compared to life. But there is a rule: you cannot assume diagnoses. For example, you will never hear from the doctor a direct answer to the question of how much is left for you. It is impossible to write in the text that a person dies if he does not speak about himself like that.
Sometimes it is difficult to find words when you write on sensitive subjects and pro life. The rules from this article will help you better understand how to properly format your text. It is always worth remembering that you write about people, not just about problems, so always stay human.