How do you handle writing about sensitive issues in your fiction? I suppose that would depend on the genre. I imagine that Jodi Picoult would handle rape in a very different way than Stephen King would. I personally could not describe rape or abortion or anything like that in any kind of graphic detail — I would have to make it as subtle as possible and not even mention the word “rape” or “abortion” at all. A lot of the time, it is the word itself that brings all the feelings and biases associated with it.
Also, how do you write about a sensitive topic with objectivity? I think if a heavy issue like global warming or stem cell research appeared in my writing, I’d find it hard to keep my own opinion out of it. That might be easily worked around by writing from the character’s side of the issue, but even that might cause readers to think that there is a bias in the book that you did not intend to put there.
Or you could keep those topics out of your fiction altogether. I personally wouldn’t want to read something where the main character kept expounding on his position on stem cell research. But something like rape or abusive relationships are fairly common plot devices in a lot of genres, especially young adult literature. Most of the authors whose books I’ve read have handled it well, but there are some others who don’t make it realistic or who don’t discuss it with gravity.
I think it would all depend upon the characters, their points of view, and how they might see the world. In fiction, you are creating a world for the reader and the reader is not supposed to “see” the author’s hand in it.