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The Art of Writing What No One Wants To Hear
Mainstream fiction and non-fiction remains as ever, extremely popular, but outside of the mainstream lays another form of writing that is not popular: renegade fiction and renegade non-fiction. It is bold, it is in your face, it twists your stomach and mangles your brain, it is often the last thing you ever want to hear, publishers refuse to touch it, and not surprisingly is can be quite hard to find. And yet though sales of these often self-published works are next to nothing, people continue to write it. Why? Let's find out.
Contents at a Glance
Does your story have reader appeal? If you are just writing for yourself, than reader appeal isn't of any concern to you at all. However, if you want to write a story to sell to the public, than you need to have at least a vague idea of what it is that the public wants. Most readers enjoy reading stories that they can relate to. Teenagers want to read about teenagers. Rural farm wives enjoy reading about other farm wives. Women tend to prefer strong females as the main character, while men prefer a male character instead. Often times the reader is looking for a character similar to themselves, but one who can do the things, which they could never do, or go places they can only dream of. The reader has hopes, desires, and dreams, which they know are out of their reach, but they want to live those dreams, so they well seek out a fictional character through whom they can fulfill their fantasies. So what you as the writer have to do, is determine, who your readers are, and what it is they want to read.
There in lays the difference between a regular writer and a renegade writer. The regular writer will take great care to see to it that their readers get what they want. The renegade writer writes what they want to write, to hell with the reader. The renegade writer is going to speak their mind and they do not care who is listening.
What Is a Renegade Writer?
First we shall look at what the word renegade means, because I think it is often being used wrong.
There you have it. A renegade is someone who once believed very strongly for a conventional belief system, but something happened, something changed their mind, something turned them, and it turned them so strongly, that they became a rebel. Today, the word rebel is one of the most misused words in society. It is thrown around left and right to describe every body, mostly by parents who are frustrated with their teenagers. Fact is, if they knew what a rebel was, they would realize that teens are rarely rebels. Let's See what the dictionary has to say about rebels.
To rebel is to revolt against something and start a rebellion, thus declaring war on the higher authority. Renegades are rebels, because renegades start rebellions. Renegade writers are also referred to as grass-roots writers, activist writers, protest writers, green writers, or 'by the title of their cause' writers (animal rights writer; world peace writer, etc.). A renegade writer is at war with society. They are outraged by some form of injustice in the world and they write to spread awareness of that injustice.
Renegade writers are not always authors or journalists, sometimes they are poets, sometimes they are scientists, sometimes they are politicians, a lot of them are musicians. I think the most notible (or notorious?) renegade song writer/musician is human rights activist Serj Tankian:
Becoming a Renegade Writer
How does one become a renegade writer? It's easy, actually. Just find a cause you feel very strongly for and write about it. Some renegade writers write non-fiction, others write fiction, some go back and forth between the two. Whether you write fiction or non-fiction about your cause is up to you. Usually renegade writers are strictly non-fiction writers because they are not certain how to spread a message through fiction. It's easier than it sounds.
Got an issue that you want to spread across the world? Fiction may be your best vent. Through fiction, you can not only "preach" your message, but you can show the dire consequences of what well happen if people do not listen and heed your warning. And even if you are not a renegade writer, this is a wonderful way to kill writer's block as well, because often you will find that you can write pages and pages went venting your outrage at the world.
Wondering what you could possibly have to be outraged about? Maybe you do not think you have anything to vent. No? A good way to start, is to think about things that you vote on during the yearly elections. When you vote for politicians, you vote for the men and women who share your same belief systems. You vote to pass laws or abolish laws that fit with your belief systems. So maybe the question should be not what outrages you, but rather: what is it that you believe? What issues do you feel strongly about? What causes do you support? Which foundations do you send donations too? Where do you do your volunteer work? These are all indications that you should be writing about these issues, because these issues are the one near and dear to your heart.
Think about it.
When your state voted to let a casino be built in your town, did you vote for it or against it? Why did you vote the way you did? Did you try to sway others to vote the same as you? Did you put up campaign signs? Did you ask people to sign a petition?
When you voted for your governor, how did the candidates' views on abortion affect your vote? Where you swayed by the pro-choice candidate or the pro-life candidate? Why? What caused you to choose one side over the other? How did you justify or rationalize your choice? How did you try to convince others that your choice in the matter was the best choice?
Do you rally to put an end to animal testing? What is your stance on gun control? Where do you stand on the bill to ban gas powered cars in the US? How do you feel about the mandatory microchip tracking of livestock and pets? Did you vote for or against the proposed US law to require all church and religious buildings to post armed guards at their doors? Should the elderly be executed to stop overpopulation? (Did you know that there are some USA leaders actually pushing to get that law passed, due to fear of global overpopulation?) How do you feel about coma victims being used to create cyborgs? Are you in support of cryogenics? What do you think about the DNA splicing test which resulted in glow in the dark kittens and bunnies that grow green fur? What about cloning? Where do you stand on the recently passed law to round up and slaughter every pit bull dog, in an attempt to completely wipe out the breed? Are you aware that in the past five years, each of things was put up as a bill to be voted on in the USA, some on a state level, some on a national level? If you did not, then maybe you do not pay enough attention to issues in the news. If you are someone who was not even aware of these issues, than you are not likely to make it very far as a renegade writer, because a renegade writer is someone who keeps very up to date on the news, on the laws, and on the petitions, and a renegade writer never misses any opportunity to vote.
Spread Your Outrage and Get Your Book Written
Not sure how you could use your outrage at political issues to write a story? Here's a story idea for you:
Think about what would happen if in the future the world was so overpopulated that all countries passed a law that made the abortion of all babies mandatory, while at the same time another law, made it mandatory to execute everyone on their 65th birthday. In this same future earth, animal testing went so far, out of control that now, there are no animals left, all are extinct. There are so many people that there is no land left to grow food on. The only source of food now is each other, and so everyone eagerly awaits the 65th birthday of those around them, because that is where the food supply comes from. You are the main character of this story. Tomorrow is your 65th birthday and you plan to stay alive, but how?
Do you see how you can take a few political issues and turn them into a story idea? Of course, the story idea I came up with for this example leans heavily towards science fiction due partially because I prefer sci-fi in my own writing, but you can turn any issue into a story idea for any genre, all you need is a little imagination and the desire to voice your views about an issue to the entire world.
Not Just Politics
Politics are not the only things renegade writers write. If Fox Mulder were a writer, he would make a prime example of what is the second most popular topic among renegade writers: UFO sightings and alien abductions. While a few UFO books are written for the mass media, most are first hand accounts, self published by the abductees themselves.
Cryptozoology is another hot topic with renegade writers: bigfoot theories, Nessie sightings, and the like, all come under the classification of renegade writings.
Paranormal, things such as ghosts, angels, haunted houses, and demons are all written by renegade writers.
Scientists are often renegade writers. The scientists behind projects like SETI are considered renegade writers, when they write about their findings, because mainstream scientists point and laugh at them. A few years ago, the technical writings of cryogenic scientists, DNA scientists, and cloning scientists were considered to be renegade writings not worth being read by mainstream science; today those once renegade theories are being taught in textbooks.
Religious texts, are often renegade writings. The Bible is by far the most famous of these. Once upon a time you could be burned at the stake or feed to the lions for owning a copy of these radical scrolls. Today, millions of people carry it around without fear, because a few renegades who dared die for it to be written.
And finally the most famous piece of renegade writing ever, came from one of our Presidents: The Declaration of Independence; which goes to show how big of an impact one renegade writer can have on the face of the world.
Getting published, as a renegade writer, is a problem. Some stories may be only mildly whispering in protests, and thus may slip past the editor and become published at a traditional publishing house, with no problems at all. However, most renegade writers find that their manuscripts are quickly rejected no matter where they send them.
There are a few small presses out there which publish off the wall out of the main stream renegade writings, but they are hard to find and often only publish 2 or 3 titles per year. The trick is to find the, and the only way to do that is through a lot of heavy searching. Start with Google and then go from there.
For many renegade writers chap books have long been the answer. Small, short run, often staple bound, hand made, self published books, usually handed out free on college campuses. Chapbooks were at their height of popularity during the anti-Vietnam War protests of the 1960's. They remained popular throughout the 1970's and into the 1980's, but by the 1990's they all but disappeared, in favor of blogs. Most renegade writers found blogs to be a better way to spread their outrage at the world and so in the blink of an eye, chapbooks almost ceased to exist.
Today renegade writers have found a new outlet for publication and many have already jumped the bandwagon: POD. Print On Demand or POD publishing is perfect for most of the renegade writers, and it has given rise to the revival of the chap book. LuLu.com being the ring leader of the POD movement. Chap books of today, bear little resemblance to the chap books of the 1970's. In the early days, chap books were printed out by the author, via a printing press sitting on their kitchen table. The covers were made out of bright colored construction paper. Today, chap books printed up by LuLu bear glossy, full color cover art, and are made the same way as traditional perfect bound paperback books. The bonus, is that through LuLu you can apply for ISBNs which means no more handing out free books to college students, now bookstores can sell your chap books along side of the mass produced fiction novels, and Amazon.com will sell them for you online.
And as an added note here, I should point out that, most renegade writers see little if any money from their writing. Being a renegade writer is bigger than writing for an income, it's writing to change the world. If you want to write for money, than you may want to reconsider a career as a renegade writer, because there is no money to be had in this career.
Dear Author: I Hate You and I Hate Your Book!
To be a renegade writer, you will need a strong will, and the ability to stand, unmoved no matter what the main stream throws your way. Most think they can take it, few are aware of just exactly what it is, they will have to take. Most run away and hide at the first round of attack. Few ever write again. Have you got what it takes to be a renegade? If you want to be loved by your fans, than you may want to reconsider a career as a renegade writer. First and foremost, people will hate you.
People will set up scheduled book burnings to burn your books. (My relatives are the ones who lead the local book burning in my case.)
People will paintball you, your car, and your home.
People will leave pictures of guns on your door step. (As they often do on mine.)
People will mail you religious tracts which *prove* you are going to *burn in hell*. (I get these sent to me every day.)
Your closest friends will become you worst enemies. You own relatives will turn on you, disown you, and consider you to be dead. (Mine did.)
People will go to great lengths to try to force you to leave town. (Vandals burnt my house to the ground on October 21, 2006.)
Some people will do this like this to you: Vandals (Members of the LDS Saco Ward/Mormon Church) Do $50,000 in Damage to The Goldeneagle Yes, as seen in those photos, that is all that is left of my car after my hate filled "adoring fans" got done trashing it. The Goldeneagle, for those who don't know, is a very famous car that has been featured in over 30 books.
If you want to be a renegade writer, than you had better be ready to plant your feet firmly in the ground and become a strong old oak tree, because if you don't you and your cause will fall asunder to the onslaught of hate which the main stream public will have for you. Once you become a renegade writer there is no turning back, and this, could be your life:
What do you want to become?
What did you do today to step closer to that goal?
Whatever you do, be your best at it!
And remember to have yourself a great and wonderfully glorious day!