Challenges and opportunities – writing righteous fiction

romance book, author, writing

It’s OK. No one is forbidding you to write the fiction you want to write. No one’s forbidding other people to write the fiction you want to read, either. Billions of people are writing billions of books, all the time. Not all of them suddenly have to be righteous in any way.

righteous, book, writerThere’s a bit of talk going on at the moment, unsurprisingly, about the type of stories that are told, and about who tells them, and who is written about, and how. Film-makers appear to have got the wind up first and, predictably (given the general male-dominated set up of the industry) are wailing in a way which shows they really struggle to tell the difference between sex and sexism.

What’s a bit more interesting, to authors anyway, is the Staunch Prize, for thrillers free of violence against women. It’s not had the greatest reception. Yeah, it’s understandable that many of those objecting to the idea are great female crime writers who explore and make comprehensible some of the worst things human beings can do (and, often, the worst things that men can do to women, because so much violent crime in real life is perpetrated by men against women).

But this prize, this request – to authors and publishers – isn’t actually stopping books which don’t fit the criteria from existing. People righteous, book, author, writingwill go on writing them, reading them, publishing them, buying them. It’s an attempt to encourage something different. As such, it’s an entertaining challenge to any writer with an interest in crime and thrillers. Most of us thrive on the occasional challenge, or at least a set of rules we can push, twist, bend, break… or comply with. Sometimes, your writing can get just a little bit lazy and obvious, if you always default to the same themes and the same type of character.

Erotica anthologies, in general, are often good at making you think again about a particular subject, sex act or personality trait: one of the more interesting concepts in recent years was Sexy Little Pages’ underrated Silence Is Golden collection, which focussed on BDSM where one partner can’t speak, or can’t hear. Another publisher, SinCyr Publishing, insists on emphatic consent in all erotica. The existence of one type of story doesn’t mean that no other type is ‘allowed’ any more. You can explore ways of making a story compelling, introducing challenge and conflict, without falling back on the tired old ‘overcoming the resistance of the person who really wanted it anyway’.book, righteous, creative, story

It’s also nonsense that putting restrictions on what someone can write (eg in a call for anthology submissions, or competition entries) is stifling their creativity. If the call is out for stories about sex in space and you hate sci-fi, just stroll on by and find something more to your taste to have a go at. But don’t forget that the opportunity to write about something different to your normal work might actually inspire you to do something that really takes off.

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