CROSSING BOUNDARIES: How often does this theme appear in fiction?

When I began the rough draft “Boundaries,” I didn’t know that it would be about just that – crossing boundaries. Only when this occurred to me in later drafts did I come up with the title. It’s an example of what can happen when a writer follows his nose. He discovers what he didn’t know: what his story is about on the deepest levels.

Now I wonder how many other serious works of fiction – both novels and short stories – are about people crossing boundaries they shouldn’t and those they probably should. In my story one of the two POV characters withholds his identity from a client and begins and affair with her before she knows he is to be her attorney – a transgression for which redemption becomes his challenge. Later, after his client retains him as her attorney because she has no other realistic choice, they become so passionately involved in her very difficult child custody case that they begin a pattern of violating legal boundaries together. My struggle as a writer (even before I knew it) was to encourage my readers to follow their story without judgment and even to find compassion for flawed human beings. The story also finds them struggling to cross personal boundaries that are important to cross – the resistance to sincere intimacy as a consequence of difficult past experiences.

I’d like to hear from readers about novels and short stories that have this theme or similar ones. I’d like to hear from writers about their work as well.

Happy reading and writing to all of you.


2 thoughts on “CROSSING BOUNDARIES: How often does this theme appear in fiction?

  1. Adam and Eve are the original boundary crossers. Then there is Guinevere to consider….Seriously! We are all drawn to this theme. Good for you to impress it upon a modern couple, Jim

    Sent from my iPhone



    • Larry,

      Crossing boundaries is certainly an eternal theme in human history. In my new novel project, “Third Floor,” I want to push readers’ tolerance all the way to the taboo of incest. I don’t want to give away whether the twins complete an engagement in it. It will be up to the reader to decide whether they actually do, just as their parents must.

      What I’m looking for, to use Karen Armstrong’s term, is for readers to become interested in giving the twins and their parents, each of whom is flawed in some way, “unconditional positive regard” for what might shock the conscious. It requires readers to take a serious look at the circumstances and how the characters and their families created the situation and deal with it.

      I hope it gets your attention. If I’m lucky, it will be “out” late this year or early next. You may see chapters of it serialized here but not real soon!

      Happy reading,


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