1. Adamson93
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    Adamson93 New Member

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    Controversial subjects, a good or bad thing?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Adamson93, Jun 7, 2012.

    I ask this question because for someone like myself who is young and aspires to be a writer, I would just like to know if writing controversial subjects is a good or bad thing, or can it be either way. Because I know that sometimes having a controversial subject can cause publicity to that novel, but than again it can become bad publicity if it is not done right. So I'm just wondering do you think I should lay off trying to make something purposely controversial, and also has any of your writing caused any controversy?
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, it is.

    It is good or bad.


    If you are controversial for the sake of being controversial, it will probably be bad. But ifr you are writing about something you are passionate about, and it happens to be controversial. Make no apologies.

    Of course, it your book offends an extremist sect, your career could be short and bloody. Better use a pen name, and cover your tracks well.

    Seriously, though, writers are often on the leading edge of change. It's not a calling for the timid. There will be those who hate you for your opinions, so grow a thick skin.
     
  3. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    Anything and everything has the potential to be controversial. Odds are, if you succeed in creating something that arouses a passionate response, you'll also piss off others as well. Maybe if you write something totally lifeless, haters won't care, but you won't have any fans either. Controversy comes with good writing, I think. (And I think it also comes with recognition.) You shouldn't go out seeking controversy, cause that will probably backfire. But don't let controversy scare you away either. Just don't let it have too much space on your radar. Work on telling a good story and if it attracts controversy, at least people are reading it and responding passionately to it. ;) Sex, death, love, betrayal... anything social, religious, or political... Gosh, if we shunned anything that can be viewed as controversial, what would we have to write about?
     
  4. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Exactly, and continue to rub salt on the wounds of the haters that hate you for what you write by...writing more of the same thing! 8D
     
  5. Show
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    ^^^^^lol Yeah! A lot of the most controversial books of recent years went on to sell pretty well. Our modern culture doesn't seem to realize that calling attention to books/movies/shows that offend you only seem to make these things stick around longer. That's not to say you should go out of your way to piss people off in your writing. But you can't be a slave to haters.
     
  6. louis1
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    louis1 Contributing Member

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    there's no bad publicity.
     
  7. Program
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    Program Member

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    It will be a good thing for your writing because readers will find your responses interesting, because there is no "real" answer yet. It would beat writing about good beating evil because it's basically always good vs. evil in everything I read.

    However, the bad part is some people are not really readers and they will slander you just because your views didn't agree with theirs. Unfortunately, there are people like that out there. They are just trolls and flamers, but they can get annoying.

    It's really easy to avoid those trolls though. Most of them are probably bad readers (as in they can only read things literally and can never read between the lines), so you just have to make things subtle enough (which is what a lot of good writing deals with!) and they won't see a thing! I doubt there are many skilled readers that also like to flame good writers.

    In the end, if you want to directly discuss a controversial topic, write a straightforward non-fiction book (and you might get a bunch of trolls on you). But, (I find this more attractive) If you want to playfully discuss a controversial topic, write a fictional short story - or a collection of short stories - that subtlely addresses the topic with clever details, choices of word phrasings, puns, etc.
     
  8. Mr.
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    Mr. Member

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    Don't shy away from such subjects for fear of causing offense, but at the same time don't soapbox. If a new character waltzes in and one-ups everyone with his superb logic on the controversial subject, there's a good chance he'll look like an author stand-in. Whether he actually is or not, he'll probably sound like the author writing himself into the story to drop some truth bombs on the subject. Make sure the characters serve a purpose and are taking part in the story, and that you aren't just voicing your personal opinion in fiction form.
     
  9. Egor
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    Egor Member

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    Really Controversial books:

    The Turner Diaries (1978 and then ...ahem...an explosion in popularity after Timothy McVeigh blew up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in 1995 )

    Go Ask Alice (1971)

    The Exorcist (1971)

    If you can write a truly controversial book--the world will never forget it. I say go for it. :cool:
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I wouldn't say The Exorcist was all that controversial, but my memory may be less than accurate on that. I remember everyone thought it was very scary, but I never did. Maybe it's because I'm an atheist, so the fundamental basis of the story didn't hit home for me even on a visceral level.

    Fifty Shades of Grey is controversial because it flies in the face of accepted sexual morality. Soul on Ice was controversial because it was written by Black Panther Eldridge Cleaver, and touched some very raw nerves about racism in America at the time. The Harry Potter books were controversial for the ridiculous reason that they portrayed magic and witchcraft in a positive light to impressionable young people, offending certain Christian conservatives.

    As the third example shows, controversy can come as a complete surprise to the author, after the fact.
     
  11. killbill
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    killbill Contributing Member

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    If you are intentionally going for a controversial or potentially controversial topic then apart from passion, which is a must as already pointed, you should approach it with understanding and care. In some cases you may have to research to understand the different views. This holds true for both fiction and non-fiction.
     
  12. Egor
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    Egor Member

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    Yeah, I hear you but if one is going to write controversy, I don't think one should get too soft. Consider the movie, American History X. That movie was not at all controversial because it was absolutely perfectly balanced (a very good film, by the way). But (and I'm assuming you've seen the movie), imagine if the MC (played by Edward Norton) had reverted to his racist leanings--more powerful than ever--after the death of his brother, and then the movie ended there? We never would have seen it. It never would have even been made in Hollywood. That kind of controversy could only be disseminated to the public by way of a novel.

    I'm not saying one should write racist novels, but controversy is not, by definition, a balanced approach. Do it right, and you can go down in history.
     
  13. Egor
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    Egor Member

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    I know a lot of people who've read that novel (or short story collection, whatever it is); I myself have not. I'm perfectly fine with all manner of horror and ultra-violence, but mention the word sex, and I don't know...

    Anyway, in today's society, the only way Fifty Shades of Grey is controversial is if it's promoting the health benefits of pedophilia.

    ...what? :cool:
     
  14. Cassiopeia Phoenix
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    Cassiopeia Phoenix Contributing Member

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    I heard it started as a Twilight fanfiction. The controversy starts there.

    And for the OP, it depends in the way you use them, I guess. Food for thought is always good in books and stories alike but taking a radical standpoint and not -- as someone already said -- taking care to listen to the other point of views will make things difficult for your work. I personally would use the story to explore where the different point of views come from and let the reader decide to believe in whatever he/she wants to believe...
     
  15. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    It's good and bad. Yes writing about something controversial is likely to arouse passions. Some will like what you write, some will hate it. But you were never going to sell to everyone anyway, so its really just a question of at least writing well and passionately about what you believe in, and hope that you aren't writing in favour of something that absolutely no one else could support, fur seal clubbing for example.

    Its also usually better to write in support of something than against it in my view. So I would not write a book about the evils of abortion for example. If I was so inclined I'd write about the positive side of a woman's right to choose. I wouldn't write about fur seal clubbing, I'd write about the life and struggles of the tribes who live by hunting fur seals.

    Hope that helps.

    Cheers, Greg.
     

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