The recent shooting in Las Vegas has got me, like everyone else, thinking. Of course the events there are horrendous. I don’t think for a moment that anybody thinks it was exciting or cool. Why then, do sales of thriller type novels outpace all others?
We all seem to crave the action based books and movies. When is the last time you read a book that didn’t have a gunfight or murder of some kind in it? I have to admit, my first novel is a murder mystery. I didn’t even set out to make it about murder. I just started writing, without much of a plan. When I ran out of plot, I had to make something happen. So I killed off one of the characters.
I didn’t try to make it about the murder as much as about the main character’s adventure. But then I got started describing things, one thing leads to another, and there it was. I had written about something awful. I don’t even like that kind of book, but I went ahead and used sensationalism to make my novel work.
A friend of mine told me about a great vacation where they had an authentic Wild West adventure. They went on a chuck wagon ride but were ambushed by “bad guys” with guns. There was a shootout and lots of guys “died”. Really? That’s what you want your kids to experience?
So is it bad to write about such stuff? Probably not. When we read or watch movies it makes us think. We work out what we think about certain issues. We take sides on legislation. We get insight into what the other side’s point of view is. Hopefully, we make decisions about ways to prevent bad things from happening.
What my point is here, I think, is pay attention to what you are consuming. If you have to have a steady diet of violence, you may want to think about what you read and watch. does it make you numb to things like gunfire? Do violent games make kids more prone to violence?
I think it does. There have been studies done on that sort of thing. While no, it can’t be proven, I think it has an effect. Do I condone censorship? No. But I think we all have to think about what we use to entertain ourselves. Explore other genres.
I’m going to try to make it a point not to write any more murders. Frankly, it creeped me out to know I had the capability to write about it. Especially when I had to get into the mind of the criminal. I kept trying to make him an okay sort of guy. I think we have to be careful when we try to make the criminal a misunderstood victim. Some thrillers have the “good guys” shooting people who needed to be dealt with because they were in the way. Sheesh.