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Bulletin Board > Would You Write About Controversy?

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message 1: by Justin (new)

Justin (justinbienvenue) | 2165 comments We all have come across those books and articles of touchy subjects. You all know them. Their the ones that while they are juicy and interesting to read they are also borderline controversial and the metaphorical red flags come out in your mind. It then becomes a choice rather then a go ahead read, should I continue reading this and write my review or opinion? Or should I just back away and watch the hoopla entwine with others? Some people are no stranger to controversy while some find it as fuel to get a rush for themselves and a reaction out of others. When it comes to controversial articles everyone tends to come out with an opinion which always gets a good fire going. Goodreads is a perfect example of this. However I have yet to come across a book that was deemed too much and too controversial to be considered a quality product. I don’t mean all those classic banned books back in the day I’m talking about modern day books both traditional and self-published. Are they out there? Of course they are. I myself have not looked but I am sure there are authors out there who have written about things that are very outrageous and while the book may make for a good read afterwards you tend to wonder if publicity wise this book should be censored.

A risky article can be both good and bad as I am sure we have all seen on here. An author posts advice or makes an opinion and it gets a lot of views, hits and then the comments start piling on. Examples don’t need to be given because If I were to list an example some may not find it controversial so let’s all be in agreement of the ones that are obvious. Articles of a hot nature will tend to clearly get their point across and get a good amount of feedback. However at the same time they will start fueds with some people with high opinions clashing with others. Does this mean your article is controversial? No. It just means that everyone has a different opinion. Now for an example, if the article is on Nazis and treatments on the Jews then chances are opinions wont only be high but your going to question the articles writer and ask him what gives him the right. It may not be like this but chances are an article of such nature tends to bring out the over raised eyebrows in everyone who reads it and asking the writer where they get of. Yes, it can make for a good read. Yes, it can get a lot of good solid discussions out of people and yes it can also make things ugly, turn sour or whatever other expression you want to use. If the article starts a roaring fire does it mean it’s bad? What is the reasoning behind the writers idea to write it in the first place? These are questions that one can ask themselves but onto books.

A controversial book of today. Right away I think to myself clearly the author who arote it must not think it’s controversial or they would not have written it in the first place. On the other hand I think the author does not care what people think and believes in his work whether it’s fact based or fiction but still has the controversial intent. Or even the possible hey I’m going to write a book about something highly questionable and people are going to point the finger at me but I just want to see what people will think about it. Have you ever come across such a book? Unfortunately as many may think, Twilight and 50 Shades of Gray are not controversial books, they just have their own fan base and those of us who aren’t fans will usually say the authors of both can’t write. This would be a clear example of a controversial topic but not a Oh my god this book should be burned in the deepest regions of hell because it’s not okay! I myself don’t go looking for such books though I recently read one of violent and sexual nature, very strong at that. Reading it at times I felt it to be very inappropriate but at the same time it was still a really good read. So what does this make me? It shows that I find something alarming but at the same time enjoyable because I know the authors intent was to be enjoyed. I know the author didn’t intend for it to be like this he wrote it as he wanted it not to be questioned but to be enjoyed. Perhaps it comes to books it comes down to more of the authors intent. If you write about something high questionable and controversial then you better know full well that you may get a lot of criticism for it going forward. You better realize that not everyone is going to like it and while you may or may not have intended to do it to get such reactions out of people you do believe in it.

message 2: by Arabella (new)

Arabella Thorne (arabella_thornejunocom) | 354 comments For me it is fundamental freedom of speech.If it is may learn something about your own feelings on the subject.If it offends...then go to something else. But I believe in the writers right to voice their opinion right wrong and indifferent.
I can always read something else

message 3: by Scott (last edited Aug 30, 2013 03:36PM) (new)

Scott Skipper | 49 comments I can't seem to make myself write something that isn't controversial. I covered interracial marriage, polygamy, harboring fugitive Nazis, and probably my most incendiary:
The Hundred Years Farce by Scott Skipper
Lampoons the debacle of the immigration crisis.

message 4: by Leigh (new)

Leigh Lane (leighmlane) | 152 comments I believe one should write with a purpose--at least most of the time. Simple entertainment is good for the soul every once in a while, but smart, purposeful literature is food for the mind.

Most of my novels are political and/or social commentaries. As such, they have evoked some very strong opinions. My most serious works have been called everything from powerful, thought-provoking works that would "go nicely on a shelf with 1984 and Fahrenheit 451" to anti-American propaganda. Such a wide range of responses comes with the territory. As far as I'm concerned, if my books spur strong enough emotions to prompt readers to write reviews--positive and negative alike--with such passion, I'm doing something right.

message 5: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) When it comes to controversy, I'm a walking contradiction. I love voicing unpopular opinions, but I hate being caught up in the shit storm that follows. I wish I could have taken this advice years ago during an argument I had on DeviantART, but when the heat gets too hot, I think it's best to walk away from the computer and cut myself off from the online community for a few days until things cool off. Or if I do use the computer, it'll be purely in a writing or music capacity.

message 6: by Vanessa Eden (new)

Vanessa  Eden Patton (vanessaeden) | 509 comments I would it's a free country and I will say what I want

message 7: by Philip (last edited Aug 31, 2013 01:59AM) (new)

Philip (phenweb) | 158 comments One of my favourite discussion subjects along with censorship. Freedom of speech in the UK is not as formally protected as it is in the USA, but it is protected. There are always controversial subjects although the USA arguments of religion and politics are not as ribald, neither is abortion.

One of the most interesting controversies, over the years, has been Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses. Irrespective of political viewpoint it is a work of fiction, but look what it led to and that was mostly in a pre-Internet Social Media age. Did this book sell more copies because its opponents were so vociferous in denouncing it and the author? Has Salmon Rushdie sold more of his other books as a result or has he changed writing subjects to avoid further death threats?

In my own work, controversial decisions and some politics are backdrops to my stories. In my first attempt it was the creation of the dossiers to support the war in Iraq. With Syria going on, the recent UK decision to not support military action can be traced to the Iraq dossier debacle. In my second, I deal with several controversial subjects like rape and summary execution hidden in a story about survivors. My third, has insider trading to generate huge wealth and the misbehaviour of big business. Who knows what I might write next as news stories often provide a creative spark.

At the front of all of my books is a disclaimer. This is a work of Fiction, in other words I made it up, it's just a story, I don't necessarily share my characters opinions, although I like to have a basis of fact behind all my stories.

I can feel another blog coming on!

message 8: by Vanessa Eden (new)

Vanessa  Eden Patton (vanessaeden) | 509 comments the satanic versus was amazing

message 9: by Philip (new)

Philip (phenweb) | 158 comments Philip wrote: "One of my favourite discussion subjects along with censorship. Freedom of speech in the UK is not as formally protected as it is in the USA, but it is protected. There are always controversial su..."

Now I have blogged

message 10: by L.F. (new)

L.F. Falconer | 92 comments In a world of such variable beliefs and standards, it's almost impossible NOT to strike up controversy in any writing that dares to speak out on certain truths. Controversy is a good thing--it keeps us from getting complacent. Before he retired, the editor of my local newspaper was always pleased to publish my articles because they were controversial to the majority of his readership. It therefore sparked up excitement, letters to the editor, etc. Currently, I have one novel of a quite controversial nature written--so controversial even to me, that at times I nearly quit writing it. It contains deviant sexual and incestuous scenes, murder, and madness. To many people, those things made the book unreadable in their opinions, while others found it to be an exhilarating read. It was extremely difficult to write, but the underlying issue of the novel is the point of the story's existence. Authors cannot be afraid of controversy.

message 11: by Sharon (new)

Sharon (fiona64) I don't shy away from it, to be honest. If the story is something that needs to be told, tell it. If it's controversial, it will also be thought-provoking. I wrote His Beloved Infidel after reading a memoir of a woman who lived under three different regimes in Iran. It got me thinking about how ordinary people are often impacted by extraordinary events of which they want no part (e.g., the Iranian Revolution) and off I went. Has it annoyed some people that my male protagonist is a Persian Muslim? Yes. But those annoyed people are probably not my real, best readers as they are unlikely to want to learn more about the matter. I was fortunate not only to have a variety of books to choose from in my research but also to have Persian friends whom I could ask about things first-hand.

message 12: by F.F. (new)

F.F. McCulligan | 64 comments Part of the reason I have a pen name is so I may detach my identity from my work. It seems that the consensus on this thread is: "If you're a writer, controversy is your job."

I'm a fantasy writer though, so what do I know? Closest I get to controversy is a queer protagonist, a dragon named Pete, and an anti-development undertone, that few even know about.

message 13: by Justin (new)

Justin (justinbienvenue) | 2165 comments Philip- Good point. Your right about the fiction part. We all mostly clearly confirm the work to be fiction in the copyright yet that doesn't stop some people from finding it controversial.

Sharon- Another good point. Some writers despite writing controversial topics stick by their work. Yes, not everyone is going to find it okay but the author believes in it and had a lot to say about the topic so they went ahead and wrote about it.

Also, I didn't mention too many examples up top because I figured we all know them but three big topics some of you mentioned were Satanism, Rape and supporting of certain countries or war. They all can mean for some really interesting reads but at the same time they easily get red flagged. Kind of the way we tend to view things.

message 14: by Ed (new)

Ed Morawski | 228 comments I think very few (if any) authors write things they don't already know are controversial. I think that is their whole point: they purposely write about controversial subjects. I know I do. When I write about politics, sex, or religion I know damn well they are going to upset some people, again that's the point isn't it?

E L James surely knew bondage was controversial just as Salmon Rushdie surely knew he was headed into big trouble territory.

To me the real heroes today are writing about Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning and taking risks up to and including going to jail.

message 15: by William (new)

William | 7 comments Ive written about racism and immigration...I guess you write what moves you

message 16: by Justin (new)

Justin (justinbienvenue) | 2165 comments Ed you mean Chelsea Manning right? lol

message 17: by Ed (new)

Ed Morawski | 228 comments :) of course!

Only the US Army would let a wanna-be transgender private have access to all that highly classified data. They kind of deserve what they got.
(X) NSA check here to mark this thread.

message 18: by Ed (new)

Ed Morawski | 228 comments Not that there's anything wrong with transgenders (!) - it's that he had the rank of private that was really ludicrous.

See? Already controversial without even trying.

message 19: by Philip (new)

Philip (phenweb) | 158 comments The Snowden story remain a huge ongoing issue in the UK after the Guardian journalist's partner was detained at Heathrow. It's now the subject of a Court Action, with lots of briefing in the media from both sides. Something I object to on principal. Evidence presented in court is not what gets told or reported. The problem with controversial subjects like National Security is that governments (all governments) have a habit of misleading their supporters and opponents alike. For all we know real lives could have been put at risk by Snowden's leaks or it could be the embarrassment of Manning's leaks of diplomatic tittle tattle. We don't know until long after a court case - if there ever is one. Maybe I need to be more controversial as a writer. There was a thread on another group about an author getting attacked about two gay minor characters in a story. I was concerned gay and lesbian characters in my second book would attract similar attention. So far in reviews they have not even been mentioned. Maybe therefore I was not controversial enough!

message 20: by Joe (new)

Joe Pfeiler | 9 comments I enjoy reading controversial material, but I avoided writing it as much as possible in my first book on the grounds that "less offensive" might mean more readers.

Would love to hear other thoughts on that.

message 21: by Justin (new)

Justin (justinbienvenue) | 2165 comments Theres one thing bout writing about controversy. If your going to write about it you better be ready for the possible backlash and critics afterwards.

Not totally familiar with the whole Snowden and Manning issues. I know the just of it but yeah..probably not a good idea to push the governments buttons then youll really end up in hot water.

message 22: by John (new)

John Dizon | 108 comments Here's an excerpt from my interview segment on Richard A. Lester's blog:

Q: Do you feel that your material is different than traditionally published authors?

A: Most certainly. For one thing, I deal with issues that most authors or publishers won't touch with a ten-foot pole. Tiara is about the UDA kidnapping a Princess Diana knockoff to stop the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland. Most people don't even know there's a UDA, and I haven't seen anyone fictionalize Di's life yet. Cyclops is about a dysfunctional 21st century KKK group being framed for a string of serial killings. Wolfsangel is an action/adventure story about the Das Reich Division en route to the D-Day battle at Normandy. Penny Flame is about a military investigation into war crimes of a decorated Cavalry unit during the Indian Wars.

Keeping in sync, the major issue that comes up in The Standard is how far society would go in preventing a mini-nuke attack on American soil. Jack Gawain has no compunction in exceeding the moral standard in preventing a holocaust, while the crisis destroys William Shanahan's world view about what liberty and justice are really about. I think most readers are going to try and find a safe middle ground.

Q: Do you deal with issues that traditional publishers don't normally touch?

A: Along with the forementioned, I've got Generations coming up with a study of Irish history and heritage the like of which I don't think we've seen since Roots. Stxeamtown is a YA steampunk novel that has a deep discussion of Judeo-Christian tradition and its resurrection in a post-apocalyptic society. The Fury takes a hard look at the voodoo culture of the Caribbean and its origins in the brutal slave trade system. Wolf Man skims the surface of the international human organ black market. If I'm not including a controversial issue or world event in a novel, then I may well be wasting the opportunity of the writing platform.

message 23: by Leonardo (new)

Leonardo Noto (leonardonoto) | 38 comments All of my books are controversial! My medical blog is somewhat less so.

Dr. Leonardo Noto

message 24: by Justin (new)

Justin (justinbienvenue) | 2165 comments Another good reason to perhaps write about controversy is you get a lot of peoples blood boiling. It raises good discussion and it means your issue is really something people can relate or all share an opinion on.

message 25: by Crissy (new)

Crissy Moss (crissymoss) | 69 comments I'm going to say yes.

In my first short novel I touched on religion, money, the role of women in society, war... so many things.

Several of my short stories revolve around abuse, and one even has rape in it.

I have to write what's in my head. If it is controversial, I still have to write it. Writing, for me, isn't entirely about making money (though I'd like to live off my writing like anyone else) it's about getting onto the page what is building up inside me. Taking what I see and feel around me, and putting it in context that anyone else can see.

It might be less offensive to see war between a race of trolls and menaids, and magic instead of chemical weapons, but it's the same thing.

message 26: by Sophia (new)

Sophia Martin | 13 comments Ed wrote: "I think very few (if any) authors write things they don't already know are controversial. I think that is their whole point: they purposely write about controversial subjects. I know I do. When I w..."

It's funny, Ed, because when I first read this I was like, "No way! I don't choose to write about controversial topics!" And then I thought about it, and the second book in my Veronica series deals with the difficulties a gay teenager faces as well as the harsh tribal law of a group of Iraqi immigrants. My third book deals with bioterrorism and a church very much based on Westboro Baptist. So uh... yeah. I do write about controversial stuff, and I do it because I'll hear about something that pisses me off, and in my novel I get to control the outcome of those sorts of things. :P

message 27: by Leigh (new)

Leigh Lane (leighmlane) | 152 comments Crissy wrote: "It might be less offensive to see war between a race of trolls and menaids, and magic instead of chemical weapons, but it's the same thing."

I agree, and often it's the best route if you really want to get people thinking. I chose to create my own religion for Myths of Gods (although it is, in fact, an amalgamation of several known religions) because my point wasn't to offend anyone, but to raise important questions about religious influences on political power and the corruption that often ensues.

message 28: by Ed (new)

Ed Morawski | 228 comments Authors have something to say, that's why we write. If it's not controversial to some extent then it's probably boring. And as you both stated something made you angry or upset enough to write so it feeds upon itself to some degree.

message 29: by Justin (new)

Justin (justinbienvenue) | 2165 comments Leigh,
When it comes to writing about religion or policital views I think it's going to be deemed controversial by someone regardless of whether or not its the authors intent to do so. When it comes to those two topics it always seems to fire someone up and find it wrong.

message 30: by [deleted user] (new)

I think controversial subjects make good books. It is conflict, in this case pros and cons of a contoversial subject, and how those conflicts are resolved that keeps the reader turning the pages.
Richard Brawer

message 31: by Philip (new)

Philip (phenweb) | 158 comments A serial killer anti-hero in the midst of the controversy over the Iraqi Dossiers

Rape, young sex, death, suicide, ex-judicial murder

Insider trading, corruption, greed excessive wealth

That's books 1-3 covered, now I have forced ethnic cleansing, revolution terrorism and I'm sure I can get through some more in in my current writing. Maybe if I was more controversial I might sell more!

message 32: by Justin (new)

Justin (justinbienvenue) | 2165 comments I don't know Philip that sounds like some pretty juicy controversy! Thats top notch and while may turn heads sounds interesting.

message 33: by Lee (last edited Sep 15, 2013 02:04PM) (new)

Lee Cushing | 81 comments I've done a werewolf book that has the female werewolves start going into heat at a young age (as an comparison to the mating cycle of real wolves) Also football sex groupies, a con man preacher that convinced people the world was about to end, abuse of a Muslim teenage girl and a gay football player.

message 34: by Wayne (new)

Wayne Smallman (waynesmallman) | 35 comments L.F. wrote: "In a world of such variable beliefs and standards, it's almost impossible NOT to strike up controversy in any writing that dares to speak out on certain truths..."
Which I wholly agree with. However, Arabella's comment — while laudable — is almost unworkable, given how deeply balkanised and polarised many people are, with respect to their ideological beliefs.

In the words of Stephan Six, a character from a novel of mine, A Darkening of Fortune:

"I'm sure you think my ideas are extreme, but that's only because you, like so many others, are inured by decades of extreme liberalisms."

I often attract criticisms for my own perspectives, because people often assume I'm a liberal or a conservative, but them become confused when I mix "policies" from either side.

But the fact is, I choose those ideas that are most aligned with common sense and the realities of the world we live in — a controversy in its own right.

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