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writingislife
11-02-2007, 08:23 PM
School shootings. Is it something that one would NOT want to write about? I have an idea for a story that will be sort of a horror stroy. It will start out with this kid being picked on and tormented so much in school that he comes and takes revenge on a student.

Is this something that is too taboo to write about these days? I dont want to commit to it unless I know it wont be something that is taboo.

scarletpeaches
11-02-2007, 08:24 PM
Nothing is taboo in novel writing, if indeed it's a novel you're talking about. Novella, short story, whatever, it doesn't really matter.

As a matter of fact you posted this question on the anniversary of a school shooting which happened in Dundee 40 years ago, so it's very topical.

larocca
11-02-2007, 08:24 PM
Nothing is taboo. If that's what your heart tells you to write, that's what you write. Anyone who doesn't like it can just go read something else.

kellytijer
11-02-2007, 08:26 PM
i agree. write about whatever your heart desires.

writingislife
11-02-2007, 08:27 PM
Wait, now. I have read that there are things that you just dont write about...child rape and stuff of that nature. Is this not the case?

scarletpeaches
11-02-2007, 08:28 PM
Anything's fair game for novel-writing. ANYTHING.

writingislife
11-02-2007, 08:29 PM
Ill just be damned. I let several idea go because I thought that they would be considered "too, out there". Just damn!

scarletpeaches
11-02-2007, 08:31 PM
Think of all the novels out there that feature child abuse, torture, rape, killing, incest, you name it...if it serves the story and is written well, you can get away with putting anything in a book.

kellytijer
11-02-2007, 08:34 PM
i've picked up a lot of books because they're taboo. it piques my interest.

ghost
11-02-2007, 08:37 PM
Douglas Coupland - Hey Nostradamus!
Koushun Takami - Battle Royale

Both deal with school children and shootings. I'm sure there are a ton more out there too.

Just be sure to make sure someone blames Marilyn Manson :)

wordmonkey
11-02-2007, 08:38 PM
Wouldn't even be treading new ground.

This (http://www.amazon.com/School-Days-Spenser-Robert-Parker/dp/0399153233) from a couple of years ago.

Will Lavender
11-02-2007, 08:39 PM
Another novel that deals with a school shooting: Richard Russo's Pulitzer-winning Empire Falls.

scarletpeaches
11-02-2007, 08:39 PM
And of course, Lionel Shriver's brilliant We Need to Talk About Kevin (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Need-Talk-About-Kevin-Paperback/dp/1852424672/ref=sr_1_1/202-5371111-5350268?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1194021651&sr=1-1).

Maryn
11-02-2007, 08:40 PM
Nothing's off-limits, that's true, but if you write about something sensitive, like school shootings or 9-11 or child abuse, you will be closing certain doors in terms of a sale.

Of course, my mindset says I wouldn't have submitted to those goody-two-shoes places anyway, since I don't read butterflies and sweet old ladies any more than I write them, and of course I always read a magazine before submitting.

Maryn, who picks up controversial stuff over "nice" stuff in the bookstore

scarletpeaches
11-02-2007, 08:41 PM
I can't say I've ever heard of a book losing sales because of 'sensitive' subject matter.

I've heard of shedloads gaining sales because of it, though.

Toothpaste
11-02-2007, 09:05 PM
Even before clicking on this thread I knew what my answer would be.

No.

As long as it serves the story, nothing is taboo.

PeeDee
11-02-2007, 09:07 PM
And so what if you write taboo ideas? What's going to happen? There are no literary police coming to take you way.

Do justice to your taboo subjects as you would to your characters and all your other stories, and that's all you need to worry about.

AnneMarble
11-02-2007, 09:11 PM
I've actually seen plenty of young adult novels about school shootings. For example, Shooter by Walter Dean Myers; Endgame by Nancy Garden; Quad by Carrie Gordon Watson; The Last Domino by Adam Meyer; Todd Strasser's Give a Boy a Gun. Those have been pbulished over the past several years. There are others as well. In fact, I think this subgenre may have become more acceptable as the years passed.

Also, in mainstream, Jodi Picoult's recent hardcover Nineteen Minutes: A Novel is about a school shooting. This one had a major push from is publisher.

Now if you were writing a picture book on a school shooting, you might have a problem getting a publisher interested. ;)

IceCreamEmpress
11-03-2007, 12:10 AM
Wait, now. I have read that there are things that you just dont write about...child rape and stuff of that nature. Is this not the case?

The Lovely Bones was a giant best-seller, and it was about child rape. A. M. Homes's The End of Alice did well critically, if not a blockbuster like TLB.

I wouldn't expect, say, Zondervan to publish a book about child rape, but there's plenty of serious fiction about it out there.

KTC
11-03-2007, 12:12 AM
There are no taboos, only tabooers. Write what you want to write and don't listen to the naysayers. If it's good writing, it will find a home...whatever the topic.

WittyandorIronic
11-03-2007, 01:31 AM
Stephan King wrote a short story about a school shooting in the Bachman Books (is that right? it has been a looong time). There are no taboos...caveat.
There are times and places it is not acceptable to write such things. If you are a high school student and writing about your school and classmates, expect there to be problems.
That being said, I still think there are no taboos, just ideas that you will have to be prepared to vigorously defend. You would have to show it wasn't a fantasy or a plan, but simply fiction.

ghost
11-03-2007, 02:09 AM
Stephan King wrote a short story about a school shooting in the Bachman Books (is that right? it has been a looong time). There are no taboos...caveat.
There are times and places it is not acceptable to write such things. If you are a high school student and writing about your school and classmates, expect there to be problems.
That being said, I still think there are no taboos, just ideas that you will have to be prepared to vigorously defend. You would have to show it wasn't a fantasy or a plan, but simply fiction.

Yes, he did! I'd forgotten about that one. It wasn't really a school shooting, it was a hostage situation. Although, now that King is on my mind, I know he had a short story about a college guy who shot a bunch of people from his dorm.

veinglory
11-03-2007, 02:16 AM
You write about it in a new context, just like if you write about planes hitting buildings or princesses dying in car crashes.

Wraith
11-03-2007, 06:33 PM
Stuff like that does happen. What's the point of it being taboo? Literature is meant to be honest - in its own fictional way.

I'm sorry you gave up ideas because of that. Sensitive topics only become cheap and bad-taste when they're used for shock value only. But they're important as anything else, can be explored as themes and have their place in a story. It's the controversial-for-the-sake-of-it books I avoid (Dan Brown, anyone?). But books often need to reveal the ugliest of things. Literature isn't just escapism and as the others have said, there are no taboos.

You know, I recently had a dream, or better said a dream in a dream: first a story was being played in my head, like a movie, and it was the most unpleasant thing, and then the dream went back to my normal self and I knew I had to write the story. I was telling myself in the dream, "I don't wanna write this, it's uncomfortable, it's not a nice subject, but I've got to, that's the idea that came to me, and it was so vivid, I've got to write it down". Needless to say I woke up with a grim determination that I had to write the bloody thing NOW... That's not entirely tied to your topic, sorry, it's just so strange to see this thread days after this dream. :)

maestrowork
11-03-2007, 06:53 PM
Nothing is taboo. However, do consider your potential market.