Shock and Awe
Our previous talk about offending Rita judges has me wondering, should one of our main goals as writers be to offend people? I would say yes.
Since I write sex, and I write humor, I've always taken it for granted that I'm setting out to offend a large segment of my readership. I often don't succeed, because the middle ground is seductive and hard to veer off of. It's just so safe, so comfortable, so easy compared to the unexplored fringes...
If you write about sex or you write something that's supposed to be humorous, are you ever doing it right if at least half the people who read it don't want to hurl your book across the room? Aren't sex and humor by nature controversial?
The middle ground is the most traveled ground. It's where most people feel comfortable, so when you start exploring the fringes, that's where you either excite people or turn them off. That where you either make them laugh or piss them off.
One of the interesting things about writing within a genre like romance is trying to meet reader expectations while also pushing boundaries or trying something different. I think I don't nearly push enough boundaries, but I try to be conscious of the need for it--the need to keep the genre from dying by way of stagnation. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I fail, but I'm always secretly pleased when I get some hint that I've actually offended someone (for instance that Rita judge who said my book wasn't a romance).