Dangerous Fiction: Grabbing your Reader’s Attention
What the hell is dangerous fiction? Well, there’s truth, and there’s lies. Then there’s showing people what they thought was the truth is all lies. Or what they thought was all lies, is the truth.
What else is dangerous? Breaking taboos. But surely they’re all gone by now? Aren’t we all sophisticated internet peeps now?
So here the challenge is in finding taboos that are still edgy. We’ve had taboos broken, then turned inside out so many times there’s probably not much left, except for Nazi hippies wanting to die.
And even that’s been done. Or has it? Late night occult anyone? Do you remember that movie about the man who taught the hippies how to get stoned, and what he was up to in Germany in the 1930’s? And then he met Charles Manson. Mr Hippy himself.
But dangerous isn’t just about taboos and truth telling. It’s also about fiction that explodes all over your face, like an eye ball eating squid popping out of your Kindle as you hold it up close.
For me it doesn’t matter how well you write, if you’re not a bit dangerous you’re boring. If your story is about an afternoon in an apartment, as your hero argues with himself about whether to make dinner for his partner, I’m just not that interested.
Ok, I’ll read two pages if your prose totally sparkles, but I’ll soon put you down. Shiny, glistening literary baubles lack substance for me. I want something dangerous. I want my big D fix.
Which brings us to the central point of danger, it’s all about choice. Your D fix, I may hate. And danger is affected by genre too. Crime fiction, thrillers, erotic fiction, romance, fantasy, science fiction, they all embody danger at their core. Characters fall into danger and some of them die, horribly. And some of them get tortured, in ways that involve balls and whips. And let’s not even talk about the erotica.
Danger makes a book more commercial. If you write and extend one of the popular modern genres listed above, have a great story and danger at the core you are more likely to excite a publisher. Publishers want to publish books that people are more likely to buy. And they have found out, over many years, that books written with dangerous themes - about love, loss, betrayal, and triumphing over the odds, about lies and greed and very personal threats, sell well and then some more again.
So make a bold statement. Introduce your big D fast. Hook the reader. And get a good title.
Getting personal is my final piece of advice for writing dangerously. Whether that means telling people what a rotten mother you had, what a time waster you used to be and how you used to steal food to eat is up to you, but keep this in mind. Everything you ever did was all research for great plot twists.
You couldn’t decide to pick a different childhood, but you can decide now that it’s all research. Telling stories, whether true or imagined, allows us an entrance to dangerous worlds we could never otherwise experience. Let people see yours. I wish you all the best. And I hope, in the end, we can all do some good with what we create to make the world a little less dangerous. Because we’re doing it all vicariously.
Laurence O’Bryan’s novels have been translated into ten languages, but you’ve never heard of him.
And he should be dead, many of his friends are. And you should read his new novel, The Manhattan Puzzle, out Oct 10 2013 all over the world. It’s a knife on the artery of corruption. The Da Vinci Code on crack. Catch it before this Irish writer become too popular. Then you can say you read him first.
Thank you, Laurence, for a fantastic article that contains many useful tips for writers of all genres.
Eric @ www.ericjgates.com