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How to Write About Controversial Subjects

Updated on September 10, 2012
FaithDream profile image

I'm an inspirational writer working in interior design, planning commercial offices where I found my niche, but with a passion for writing.

Certainly debate is healthy for the reader as well as the writer.

Opening a larger image of the subject at hand, a person may be able to reflect on another’s point of view.

Personal experience is very helpful when it comes to writing about topics that are controversial.

Thought provoking articles are popular, and timely articles are crucial to get the audience.

How does one write about controversial topics effectively? Number one answer in writing about contentious subjects is to be sensitive.

Controversy is complex in nature. Being objective and keeping a broad view of the subject is also important.

“When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself.” - Dr. Wayne Dyer

Seeing both sides of the story are key, however one may be swayed towards one direction or another.

In writing about controversy it is imperative to keep it focused. Going off in another direction will only confuse the reader.


Subjects of Controversy

There are many subjects that are considered off-limits. These are some of the highest forms of controversies.

Talking about things like abortion or pro-life can bring out the extremists. Sparking the radicals and activists who have a lot to say about this or may have a huge stake in the outcomes can be pretty harsh.

Supporters of one over the other have been largely debated for years.

Picketing outside of abortion centers is common. Many of these protestors want to get their message out and will do almost anything to get the attention of the media. This may be one of the highest controversial subjects in society today.

To write about this matter, knowledge is important. Understanding both sides of the matter and then writing with clear sensitivity towards this subject is crucial. A writer may get caught up in the middle of huge controversy if their article is hugely favored in one area or another.

This is a personal decision on many counts so a writer cannot let unbiased opinions get in the way.

It is also important to remember that controversy of this nature is subjective so a writer should not take the comments personally.


Religion and Politics

It has been said to stay away from religion and politics.

Probably the largest areas of controversy, these two subject matters have the most highly opinionated and biased viewpoints.

In politics, there are the left wing individuals, the democrats, the republicans, and those who don’t really care at all. All of these groups have a lot to say when it comes to the politicians.

There is little respect when it comes to political bashing. Writing about politics can bring out the nasty comments. Those hateful speeches and rants about a person in office can cause defamation of character.

Everyone has an opinion when it comes to politics. Sensitivity and awareness is the essential ingredient in talking about this subject matter.

Timely articles and opinionated articles will bring out the most views but may also bring in some heated discussions.

Praying hands at Resthaven Memorial Park in Lubbock,TX
Praying hands at Resthaven Memorial Park in Lubbock,TX | Source

Bashing religions such as Christianity has become commonplace in today’s world religions.

There are so many religions today and everyone believes their religion is the right one.

Writing about religion is a take-it-or-leave-it kind of subject.

For the reader, if the writing is about a faith they don’t believe in, they may choose not to read it at all. On the other hand, a reader may want to comment on another faith in order to spark some controversy.

The religion topics bring out all sorts of individuals from the radicals to the insufferable.

The Muslim religion is another faith that gets attacked in so many ways. What a terrorist group did on September 11, 2001 was horrendous. To use that incident as a way to voice their faith was atrocious. These were extremists and terrorists, that’s it. Today Muslims now have been categorized unfairly and that causes extreme hatred.

Writing about religion requires a levelheaded aspect of personal opinion. Caution is a key element because at the end of the day, faith is a personal choice.

Do not be too quick to condemn the man who no longer believes in God: for it is perhaps your own coldness and avarice and mediocrity and materialism and selfishness that have chilled his faith.” – Thomas Merton

Whatever a writer says or doesn’t say may not make a bit of difference to the reader.

Every person alive today has some sort of belief in something. They may either believe in God or they don’t, they may choose to ignore religion or have many questions. Others may just be sitting on the fence wondering what it’s all about.

The pendulum of faith sways in either direction on this highly controversial subject matter.

10 Points to consider when writing about controversy

There are no step by step instructions of writing scandalous topics here, only viewpoints.

Subjective matter and observations in writing about articles that create controversy is all relative.

Here are 10 points to consider.

  1. Identify the type of article to write (opinion piece or personal essays, persuasive article, news report)
  2. Be sensitive to the reader. Know your audience.
  3. Create timely articles presenting the details.
  4. Present an accurate observation of the facts.
  5. Be creative and explain theories.
  6. Stay focused on the subject matter.
  7. Have knowledge, do the research.
  8. Be objective and autonomous. Be willing to take a stand and/or be corrected.
  9. Stay neutral, unless it is a personal piece or opinion then say that.
  10. Offensive behavior should not be tolerated.

Pointing Finger
Pointing Finger

Personal Opinion

To write unbiased articles, personal viewpoints have to be put to the wayside.

If a writer wants controversy, they may choose a subject matter like those mentioned and bring in personal opinions.

It is best if a writer stays on topic when righting about controversy.

Keeping the reader’s attention and focusing on the results, such as what is the writer’s objective? Is the article a personal piece, a timely news report, or a persuasion article? Keep this in mind when writing and be prepared.

Know your subject matter and understand the controversy.

A reader may choose to skip the article, comment on it, or ignore it all together. That is their choice. However no writer is to be abused. Hateful bashing and extreme prejudicial comments should be in restraint. Malicious behavior is not acceptable and no reader or writer has a right to hurt or injure another.

The View Controversy & Bill O'Reilly

Readers may be offended or upset with a controversial topic written but this does not constitute offensive language or abusive behavior in any way or form. In this case, the writer has the right to denounce or deny the comments.

Whatever a writer decides in writing about controversy, this subject matter will cause serious debates.

Extreme sensitivity to the issues is needed because personal opinions are subjective.

That is the joy in freedom of speech.

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and 5 minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” – Warren Buffett


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    • Tolovaj profile image

      Tolovaj 3 years ago

      You are right - controversy sells. Unfortunately many writers use it just to provoke and get attention, not to inspire, encourage, activate the forces which may change the world. Good writer can't be neutral. Neutral can only be pure fact, the news which, at least in theory can be covered by a machine.

      Thanks for putting this together.

    • FaithDream profile image

      FaithDream 6 years ago from (Midwest) USA

      Thank you samsons1 for sharing your story here. It is encouraging to know that my article is making a difference for someone... and I am humbled by your praise.

      I hope you found a way to rewrite your article in some way or took a different approach.

      Thank you again for sharing your comments.

    • samsons1 profile image

      Sam 6 years ago from Tennessee

      Let me start by saying 'thank you'. I just found this hub and you lifted my spirits immensely. Last evening I had an article that I had just written, denied(not by HubPages) because I had taken a biased view in the article. I even had to look up the word 'diatribe'. Of course I was crushed, but accept the fact that I'm still learning and don't know everything about writing. When I searched google about writing in an un-biased way I came across your hub and I'm so glad I did. I want people to like what I write so I must consider that and not just slap down a few words and expect the readers to leave positive comments.

      Voted up and beautiful! Thanks again and I will follow for more good advice.


    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 6 years ago

      ...well after reading this most awesome and definitive hub - I must say I certainly have 'faith' in your 'dream' - and you educate and enlighten us so well, dear writer that you are, and something this grand should be posted in every virtual classroom in the entire cyber universe ... and beyond - in one word and a new one at that: hubsuperlative !!!!!

    • Fluffy77 profile image

      Fluffy77 6 years ago from Enterprise, OR

      I just love this hub! I really think this is the best way to open up some stubborn minds to more enlightened points of view. Perhaps to even end a long standing dislike of some things, we seem to need to be made very uncomfortable even angry before we stop to consider others situations too. I don't write much on these things, but I do write on some things people could certainly find debatable. I believe we must do this at some times or we will never fully grow or develop as writers here together. I thank you for sharing your words of wisdom and enlightenment here.

    • FaithDream profile image

      FaithDream 6 years ago from (Midwest) USA

      Thanks Fossillady, always appreciate your words of encouragement.

    • Fossillady profile image

      Kathi 6 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan

      I don't usually write on controversial subjects, but if I ever do, I'll know where to come for good advice. Always a big thank you for sharing!

    • FaithDream profile image

      FaithDream 6 years ago from (Midwest) USA

      Thanks Simone.. That's good. I guess this would be controversial in itself. ;-)

      I figured some writers wouldn't agree with my way of thinking but that is what makes us all so diversified, right!

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts..always appreciated.

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 6 years ago from San Francisco

      I've never seen a guide on this subject before - hahaa, those who are comfortable writing on controversial subjects usually have to ignore the advice of others! Great Hub.