How To Write About Serious Topics: 7 Tips For Success

Sarah Rexford
April 01, 2023 | 6 mins

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Deciding to write about serious topics can open many doors you may not have expected. Public speaking, one-on-one coaching sessions, and establishing yourself as a thought leader are just a few of different opportunities that can come. 

However, learning how to write a book about serious topics is quite a feat. It’s never easy to put thoughts on paper that will be edited, critiqued, and eventually published, unable to be taken back.

When deciding that you want to write about serious topics, it’s important to consider why you’re choosing to do so. Do you have a story that would be helpful for your readership? Are you a professional in an area where others could benefit from your expertise?

In this article, I discuss seven methods to use when you decide to write about serious topics.  While success can never be an ultimate guarantee, getting the words on paper and creating the potential to even publish your book is a success in itself. 

Publishing a book on a hefty topic takes your writing prowess to an entirely new level. These methods can help you on your way.

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Why Write About Serious Topics?  

There are many reasons you may want to write about serious topics, but before setting out, it’s imperative to identify why you want to write on a particular area. Consider the following questions as you begin to identify why you want to write on your particular topic:

  • Has failure led the way to your success and your story could inspire? 
  • Have you overcome a physcial or mental health struggle and have advice?
  • Are you passionate about bringing awareness to tough topics? 
  • Are you a thought leader in a field that needs more written on it?

Identify what you bring to the table and why you are the right person to write about this particular topic. While this will help you for marketing purposes later on, understanding what you personally bring will enable you to write in a more authentic way.

7 Methods For Success 

So how do you write about serious topics in a way that doesn’t plunge you into a pit of despair? How do you craft your topic in a way that brings awareness to the topic but also provides hope, redemption, or some form of positive ending?

At the same time, how do you bring depth to the seriousness of the topic and not negate how difficult the issue is? 

#1 – Acquaint Yourself With Your Audience

Knowing how to write about serious topics starts with understanding your audience. Just as the way you confront a friend about an issue in your relationship depends on your friendship, how you write your book depends on your audience.

There are many ways to acquaint yourself with your audience:

  • Browse social media accounts
  • Look through blogs
  • Find books they have read and read them
  • Ask questions and get their input online 

While these are just a few of the ways you can begin to understand your audience, following these four steps can provide a solid foundation.

#2 – Immerse Yourself In The Genre

Once you have a general understanding of your audience it’s important to read as many books as you can on the topic. But keep in mind that learning doesn’t stop here. 

For instance, if you want to bring awareness to human trafficking, an extremely serious topic, your research should not stop with your book list. There are many films about trafficking, articles on trafficking, and documentaries of perpetrators who were found out. 

This aspect of the writing will be difficult but provide you with much needed information for your own writing.

#3 – Remember The Power Of Humor 

On the other side of the coin, remember that we all need emotional breaks. If you write about serious topics and never let your readers come up for air, they may not be able to draw the benefits they otherwise would.

Just as fiction has rising and falling action, if and when appropriate, consider providing your readers with a little bit of light-heartedness. This could be as simple as a humorous, personal example that builds up your theme.

#4 – Set Disney Aside

Who doesn’t love a Disney ending? The princess finds her prince, Aladdin finds his true love, and all the other happy fairytale endings keep us coming back for more. When you choose to write about serious topics you may have to come to terms with the fact that your book cannot have a happy ending. 

While you can provide action steps or a helpful perspective, don’t create a falsely happy ending just for the sake of it.

#5 – Do Your Research

Particularly if you write on a topic where you have access to eyewitness accounts or those associated with the topic are willing to provide interviews, it’s crucial to do your research. No matter what topic you write on, presenting your work from an educated perspective is crucial to the dignity of the topic. 

#6 – Write Deeply, Edit Later

One of the most freeing aspects of writing is that, until your book goes to print, you can always delete later what you write today. Resist the urge to keep topics light and dive as deep as you can.

Of course, the caveat must be mentioned that you need to keep your target audience in mind when writing. When writing on serious topics for younger readers, be aware of their emotional development and what is appropriate for their reading level.

#7 – Make Use Of Beta Readers 

Beta readers can be extremely beneficial in providing feedback early in your writing process. If you want to present your topic in a way that shares both depth and a deep knowledge base, listening to your readers’ experience will help you determine if you are succeeding.

Early readers are an integral part. While it can feel vulnerable to write on serious topics, let alone present your unfinished work to a reader, the benefits are worth it. 

Not only will you receive invaluable feedback early on, but feedback from actual readers will help you know how to best write to your target audience. 

Refuse To Pigeonhole Yourself 

Just as actors often work to diversify their roles and keep their prospective casting options open, the same is true for writers. 

If you have only written historical fiction but want to write about serious topics, consider reading The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah. This is a fictional example of how to cover an extremely serious part of American history. 

If you want to learn how to classics do it, read To Kill A Mockingbird. This is another great example of how to cover serious topics with a touch of humor, not to mention, it’s a classic well-worth reading.

And last but not least, if you’re worried about writing an entire manuscript on a particular topic, never underestimate the power of starting small. Write a short story, start a blog, or simply have a conversation with a fellow writer. Every step forward is a step in the right direction.

Learning how to write about serious topics is not for the faint of heart—but I know you’ve got this! 


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