Writing About a Controversial Topic
Authors break new ground in their books to generate sales and interest, but almost every plot concept/type has been explored, so it is hard to stand out. One method authors use to rise above their peers is to write about a controversial topic. This push outside the norm generates buzz and excites readers. It also benefits society by bringing exposure to unspoken topics.
An example of an old controversial topic is scary monsters. When Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein got published, the reaction was explosive. People were afraid to sleep because scientists might steal their body parts to make monsters. This concept was over-the-top terrifying, generating a huge amount of interest. Now, sewing a monster together out of random body parts is a timid concept and evokes little interest. Unfortunately, exposure to a controversial topic makes readers uninterested, and authors must keep thinking expansively. That is both the power of the press and its curse.
Authors are constantly looking for new topics that upset people. They also recycle old ones. A mean criminal who rebels against society? Writers never tire of that. How about a cannibal? People will always despise them. I think the future of controversy lies in privacy, AI, personal security, strange surgical alterations, business ethics, online creations, and restricting the freedom we now have.
I avoid controversial topics because I am not a big enough author to weather the storm. My most prominent attempt to push a boundary occurred in my second book, Kim and Gabe Survive. The story is about a 17-year-old female and a 34-year-old male surviving a tragic event. They have a minor romance, but my romantic scenes were more intimate when I first released the book. The feedback was immediate and horrific. Did I bow to the pressure and make a second edition? I folded faster than Superman on laundry day!
My conservative personality has always steered me clear of controversy. I'm not too fond of criticism and take every step to avoid it. However, some writers live for stirring up trouble. Is that an excellent tactic for an upcoming writer? A writer needs to be bold to make an impression. Prominent writers have figured out how to write about a controversial topic so that they get positive reviews. For example, the well-received book 50 Shades of Grey was controversial. They even got a movie deal.
So where does my lack of controversial topics ultimately leave me? I will always avoid controversy in my writings (and my life). This intentional choice of avoiding controversy was present from a very early age. Does this mean my books will never be bold, take risks, or push the envelope? Tragically, yes. I am okay with this choice because I can sleep knowing my work is not intentionally upsetting people.
You’re the best -Bill
June 20, 2018 Updated June 06, 2023
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