Today’s guest post comes from the satirical G.C. McKay, author of the anthology Sauced up, Scarred and at Sleaze and his recently released novel, Fubar. G.C. is one of my favorite writer friends because he always pushes limits and questions the status quo. Plus, he manages to be totally irreverent and profound at the same time. The following is his take on the writing “rules” for transgressive fiction authors.
Transgressive fiction gets a pretty raw deal. In fact, it gets the same treatment by the world we live in as its characters often do inside their stories. This is probably to be expected, as the themes it explores are normally on the, shall we say, darker side of the human spectrum. Whilst we can argue till our faces turn blue (sexual-innuendo obviously implied) about what actually defines transgressive fiction, I’d venture to guess that we can all agree that it… unnerves us, as Lauren Sapala so adequately put it in her post Why are so Many Writers Afraid of Transgressive Fiction?
On that note, here are seven sin-ridden writing tips to keep in mind when your gunk-filled fingernails sit poised over the keyboard:
1. Never Masturbate before a Scene Climax.
We’ve all been there. Penning down all that dirty shit and imagining just how uncomfortable and disgusted your readers are going to be is enough to make anyone horny. However, it can be a slippery ordeal during the writing phase itself. Many a time have I been in the middle of jotting down my sickest, most illicit fantasies, only to have my genitals get all confused and think it’s time to get down. Whilst this is probably the only real reason us transgressive fiction authors write, it’s important to get things in order. Otherwise, the climax of your scene will most likely feel premature, warming us up but not quite getting us off. If you can, try to make your friend downstairs your accountabilibuddy. That way, once a scene has reached a satisfying conclusion, you can reward yourself with one too.
2. Be Disgusting, but Never for the Sake of Just Being Disgusting.
We all love being shocked. Sensationalism proves it. If Rupert Murdock hadn’t figured that out there’s a slim chance we wouldn’t be able to dumb ourselves down with vacuous tabloids. Good for him. But for us, it’s imperative to remember that the grimmer side of our stories actually serves a purpose. As you might have figured out already, I personally love to make my characters whack off. But reading about jacking it, as beautiful as it may be in its own right, doesn’t make for such good reading, so it needs to connect. Ask yourself, does my character really need to jack off at this point? What purpose does it serve? Is he enjoying it? Or are you, the writer, just thinking about breaking rule number one already?
3. Do Not Worry about Coming Across as a Freak.
Of course, writing about bodily fluids, mental breakdowns, drugs, identity disorders and disenfranchised youth might make some of your readers believe that you’re something of a freak. Let them. You’re a writer, my friend, so that boat set to sail and capsized a hell of a long time ago. It’s part of you now, deep in the abyss of your core. Accept it. Embrace it even. Nobody is normal and normal is nobody. We’re making shit up, just like humanity has been doing from day dot. It’s people who don’t create anything who are the real freaks.
4. Do Not Try to Find the Meaning of Your Existence through Your Writing.
Speaking from experience, I set out to discover the meaning of existence with my first novel Fubar and failed fucking miserably. In fact, I failed so hard that I’m not sure whether my characters went insane, or I did. Writing, or any form of art for that matter, is not a form of therapy, but it will expose you for what you are, with no exceptions. Before you know it, all you’ll be able to see splattered across the pages will be workings of your twisted subconscious. It’s horrifying and traumatic enough in itself to traumatize you all over again… but try not to take it all so seriously. You are not your art, no matter how often the mass media of today want you to believe that. If you are horrified by your work (which you should be) but think it could be a sign of a bigger problem in your life, seek either professional help or a different outlet for your pain. Those who romanticize such things are idiots. Or Hamlet.
5. Just Fucking Write.
With the litany of writers out there comes a whole kit and caboodle of writing advice, from the YouTubes to the blogs (ironic much?) and not to mention, the thousands upon thousands of books about writing that are published each year. Of course, a lot of these will be useful along the way, but never take any piece of advice as golden. There are no rules when it comes to artistic expression. And, if we’re honest, speaking or reading about how to write is a lot fucking easier than it is to actually write (often more pleasurable too, sadly). This comes down to our childish need to be guided and taught how to do things in order to gain confidence in doing them, which is fine, but really, the only way to get better at writing is to write. No book or blog or marketing expert posing as a writer or tweet is gonna change that, so hop to it already. But please, if you have writer’s block, do not write about writer’s block or a writer writing a writing book about how hard he finds writing, especially when he’s got writer’s block. No one cares.
6. Humiliate Yourself.
Getting over yourself is probably the most important rule of them all. Take each memory of feeling humiliated and scribble them all down. For example, if you’ve ever had your arse beaten, found yourself unable to achieve an erection or just got yourself into some dumb shit, write about it. It’s gold. You’ll soon be writing about how you can only achieve an erection if you’ve just gotten your arse beat after getting yourself into some dumb shit. It’s called evolution.
7. Forget Everything You’ve Learnt Every Once Upon A Time.
Be unpredictable! Sure, plot points, natural transitions and character development all work fine for Disney (thanks to the Brothers Grimm) but we are here to make you squeal and squirm. Sure, we could make exposing the dirtiest side of humanity our sole aim, but sometimes it’s better to just be plain weird. Think about how we communicate these days. We’ve got text reflected inside our eyes from multiple screens on a daily basis. Guy Portman stuck emoji’s in his latest piece and Douglas Coupland once filled page-after-page with code. Not to mention House of Leaves. If it feels right and serves the story, have some fun and play around. The nonsensical just makes perfect sense. Sometimes. Everything in moderation, of course.
Written by the satirical G.C. McKay, author of the anthology Sauced up, Scarred and at Sleaze and his recently released novel, Fubar. He also reviews books on his YouTube channel. To find out more visit: gcmckay.com.