Does controversy make for a good story?

Who doesn’t like a juicy sex scandal, messy Hollywood break-up, or a political witch hunt? It makes for good theater and a good story. There have been books, movies, and TV shows based around any one of those themes. The question is, does it add or take away from a story?

I think most authors will say “it depends on how it progresses the story,” which I tend to agree with. But, to be honest, I didnt always think that way.

When I wrote my first book, Forever Avalon, I wanted to stay away from controversial issues. I just focused on a fantasy story, nothing for shock value or out there for a fantasy story. I had teenagers at the time and I wanted them to be able to read my novel.

Now, 10 years later, I’m working on my fifth book, and I am looking at more adult themes. I’m adding a little more sex into my stories, some controversial issues (rape, murder, etc.) and I don’t feel bad about it. I thought I would. I question myself with every chapter I write, but I’m sticking with it.

Currently, I’m almost done with the first book of a new fantasy series called The Last Magus about a man who discovers his magical power and the journey he goes on, from apprentice to adventurer. I have plenty of things going on, including a beating and attempted rape of a young woman. I didn’t know how to write that. I was afraid I was being sexist and a misogynist as I wrote that scene, but it was an important part of the story. More recently, I wrote a group sex scene between a male and female magic caster and three Naiads, not for shock value but to fill a hole in the story. In the end, it all worked for my storytelling.

I think watching anime has affected my rationale a little bit. One of the new anime’s I’m watching, Goblin Slayer, started off its first episode with a rape and murder of two female adventurers, and was quite graphic and controversial. It shocked me a bit too, but it did seem more real to me than other anime I’ve watched previously. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve watched some pretty vivid anime (Tokyo Ghoul, Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress) in my time. It’s just, Goblin Slayer started out like a regular adventuring-style anime and went to left field. But in doing so, I understood the story and the characters a lot more.

Does that make me a bad person? Am I a pervert deep down inside and venting that through my own stories. Well… maybe that last one a bit, but to be honest, you wouldn’t know it if you met me. I’m quite “old fashion” in many ways, but I love to tell stories. Sometimes, you have to be a little naughty, a little gritty, and sometimes controversial to make it real for the reader. Is that so bad?

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverse publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon from Austin Macauley Publishing.

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