#navbar-iframe { display: none !important;} The Naked Page: Shock and Awe

The Naked Page

Author Jamie Sobrato's Diary

4.29.2006

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).

11 Comments:

At 11:50 AM, Anonymous bethany said...

Well, if you were me, you would be super-secretly pleased. I have offended my own mother. After reading my current manuscript, she told me that I don't promote good morals.

 
At 7:06 PM, Anonymous Cindy Procter-King said...

Good post, Jamie. In fact, it's so good, I have nothing to add. Would make a good premise for an RWR article.

Cindy

 
At 12:16 AM, Anonymous Theresa said...

If you manage to offend someone you are doing something right.

Seriously. If your writing is good enough to provoke a reaction, even a negative one, then the reader became involved with the story. You can't be a bad writer if you've engaged the reader to that extent in my opinion.

 
At 3:46 PM, Blogger Jordan Summers said...

I think that's pretty easy to do without even trying. *ggg* I do have a question for you though. I'm curious, are Rita entries allowed to be reprints?

 
At 10:31 PM, Blogger Maura said...

I think that if you write only safe little stories and no one is every offended or challenged, you become just another piece of hay in the haystack.

My goal has been to be true to my characters and their story and to draw my readers into their emotional journey. Since I'm not a very... mainstream... person, my characters are not either. And I happen to be a proud writer of smut - I like to read it, I like to write it.

I'm not trying to write another "See Jane Run" story. I don't want the emotion the reader feels to be malaise or boredom...

But I'm at a disadvantage. My mother wants an autographed copy of my first romance and "It better have good sex." LOL

She's one tough customer!

(came here from Alison Kent's blog, by the way. Bookmarked yours - I like what you have to say)

 
At 3:34 PM, Blogger Jamie said...

Bethany, that should probably be another rule of writing--you're not pushing the boundaries enough unless you make your mom (or other nearest living offendable relative) purse her lips.

 
At 3:35 PM, Blogger Jamie said...

Jordan, Rita entries go by the first year of publication, so reprints aren't allowed.

 
At 3:37 PM, Blogger Jamie said...

Thanks for checking out my blog, Maura! I read Alison's blog a lot too.

 
At 9:05 AM, Blogger Tim said...

If you don't write romance, Jamie... then what, pray tell, DO you write?! Hmmmm? :-D

 
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