One of the most distinctive identifying characteristics of transgressive fiction has to do with how it treats descriptions of the human body, specifically the processes and functions that are not often discussed in polite society. Sometimes this treatment is exaggerated and hilarious, as is the case with much of Chuck Palahniuk’s work, and sometimes it’s chillingly precise and realistic, as with Bret Easton Ellis. Either way, it’s almost always just plain gross. The willingness of the author to test the reader’s limits by being what I would call “exquisitely disgusting” is how you can tell that the writer is purposefully exploring the territory of the transgressive. In other words, it doesn’t happen by accident.
Different strains of transgressive fiction experiment with how to ignite the greatest level of recoil in the reader in different ways. Transgressive fiction that falls into the genre of crime/thriller/suspense will most often detail the gory reality of what it takes to dismember and dispose of a human body, while transgressive fiction that is more fantastical or experimental might describe murder or massacre with vivid beauty, painting it as an artistic scene. What I have noticed though, is that most transgressive fiction explores the theme of violence when the author begins to experiment with the power of repulsion and what it can do to a brave reader.
Most transgressive fiction, it should also be noted, is written by men.
Every year around NaNoWriMo time, I see writers become more focused on their style of writing. Are they plotters? Or are they pantsers? The distinction between the two seems obvious. Plotters plot. And pantsers fly by the seat of their pants. In other words, they don’t plan anything. They make it up as they go along.
However, once we begin to look more deeply at what it means to be a pantser, the issue becomes a bit more complicated. Because the truth is, “making it up as you go along” doesn’t really explain what’s happening during the creative process for pantsers.
I just opened up registration for the Creative Commitment Challenge, my new live class in November. You can find the sign-up page here:
CLICK HERE TO REGISTER FOR THE CREATIVE COMMITMENT CHALLENGE
I’m still answering questions about the class too, so if you have any, please contact me HERE.
(P.S. Registration will be open until Saturday October 31, but after that it’s closed and I can’t let in any late-comers, so if you know you want in, register now!)
I work with a lot of writers who have a big problem. They have a million ideas for stories and lots of different characters running through their head at any given moment, and they start so many different projects with the wildest of hopes and a fiery burst of enthusiasm. But they never finish anything. These writers have a drawerful of unfinished stories (or a folder on their laptop) and every time they think about all the stories they’ve started—or thought about starting—and never finished, it instantly triggers a tidal wave of shame and self-loathing.
Almost all of these writers have assumptions and theories about why they are this way. They get bored too easily, they’re too “ADD” with projects, they can’t follow through, they’re spacey or flaky or scattered. And the very worst: they just aren’t cut out to be writers.
Every November I get tons of emails from INFJ and INFP writers asking if NaNoWriMo is a good fit for them. And the answer is always yes and no. No, because intuitive writers tend to write slowly. We need time to go into the deepest depths with our characters and our stories, and 30 days isn’t much time. There’s also the issue of feeling pressured, which doesn’t work well for many introverts, and aiming to write 50k words in one month is definitely a fair amount of pressure.
However, NaNoWriMo can also be beneficial to intuitive writers because it pushes us to actually get going, and we intuitive writers tend to spend a lot of time up in our heads, planning and thinking and dreaming, but not actually DOING. It’s the doing part that can be the most difficult for us. So, with something like NaNoWriMo, we’re kind of forced to jump into the cold water, get used to it, and start swimming.