Writing Guide Part 2
Names, Places, and Events
As promised, we are publishing the second of our six-part writing guide series designed to help you write your story to share in our next book. If this is the first guide you are reading, we highly recommend going back one month and starting the series from the beginning. In the first guide, we gave you some starting places and posed some important questions to answer in your story. This month, we are focusing on some parameters for content to help you avoid putting yourself at risk personally and professionally.
Throughout your writing experience, it is most important to keep in mind the audience who will be reading your story. We know from experience that our audience includes young teens, LGBT people who are closeted, LGBT people who are out, straight allies, your own colleagues, and your own mother! With all of this in mind, please do not use profanity in your story and do not include detailed descriptions of your sexual encounters. Humor is usually always good especially if you can make the reader laugh out loud as they read. If you use jargon, codes, or slang, be sure to explain the meaning of those terms. Our intent is always to preserve your voice in your own story and we will not edit out content other than what we’ve just mentioned.
For our readers, the real names of people, places, and law enforcement agencies are not as important as the story itself. In fact, you don’t even have to use your own real name in the story or as the contributor of your story. We recommend against the use of any last names for any of the people in your story and to use only the first names of people you talk about in a positive way. If you include negative experiences, avoid using any real names or setting yourself up in any way for an accusation of slander or defamation of character. Before using any agency names, be sure to check your department’s policies and get permission from the agency head. Again, always think of the reader and how the use of names relates to your story.
Since this is a book targeted for law enforcement audiences, including those currently working in the field as well as for those prospective applicants, consider including all of the events in your life that connect to your work in law enforcement. Here are some questions to think about:
How did you get interested in law enforcement?
Did you ever fear being LGB or T would prevent you from getting in?
What was your recruitment and hiring process like?
Were you “out” during the background process? How did you handle it?
What was your academy experience like? Were you out?
What was your experience in the field training program?
Did you bring your partner to any department activities or events?
What challenges did you face along the way?
Did you ever experience any discrimination? How did you handle it?
What other life events happened that influenced your decision to come out or not during this time? How did you handle them?
Are you “out” as work now? If so, how did you come out?
The answers to these questions are really central to the purpose of the book. As you write about these experiences, think about what would be important for your chief executive to know in order to make your agency more LGBT accepting. What would help a straight ally be better for future LGBT employees? Don’t be afraid to share humorous or awkward situations. Making readers laugh with you is a good thing.
Next month, we will focus on other aspects of your life that are important for our readers.