How to Write a Banned Book

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It’s no mystery why people love things that are banned. The theory behind it has been called psychological reactance, which simply stated means that people’s desire for freedom kicks into gear when a restriction is put on them. We all know it happens – whether it’s the hot girl in high school who was dating someone else, the brownies that we’ve sworn off of during the current iteration of a diet or that 55″ HDTV hanging right about the 46″ that your wife told you fits in the budget. If we can’t have it – we want it more.

This week, we (authors and everyone else) celebrate National Banned Books Week (Sept. 30 – Oct. 6). When you look at samples of books that have been banned for various reasons over the years, you can’t help but be relieved that the good guys have provided effective and sustained opposition to censorship throughout American History. Where would American literature be without CATCHER IN THE RYE, THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN or THE GRAPES OF WRATH?

Huffington Post has a good graphic detailing the Top 10 Challenged Books of 2011. Who does the challenging? Banned-books.com outlines a pretty comprehensive list of people and organizations with their finger on the trigger. But THE HUNGER GAMES? What’s wrong with a group of teenagers locked into an arena to fight each other to the- Oh, okay. I see where someone could go that direction. Funny – BRAVE NEW WORLD, which is also on the list, was actually assigned to us to read in high school. That’s the opposite of banned, isn’t it?

But with human nature wanting to have access to taboo, to the logical mind it would seem that writing a book that is ultimately banned would be a worthwhile strategy. Which would make the categories of book banning basically a recipe for publishing success. The Huffington Post page lays out very succinctly what book banners are looking for – what will spark them to shoot off an angry press release demanding your book to be removed from school libraries and bookshelves. Push it far enough and maybe you can get a protest demonstration with hand-made signs! All an aspiring author needs to do is craft a well thought-out story that is anti-ethnic, anti-family, includes drugs, promotes insensitivity, contains nudity, forwards occult/Satanic practices, uses offensive language, advances both racism and religious viewpoints, crosses the line on sex education with sexually explicit language, is unsuited to the target age group, and with lots of violence. Just to be safe, covering all the bases should ensure the appropriate amount of scrutiny from the appropriate entities.

Throw in some sexy vampires and a red-headed girl with a bow and arrow, and we’re smelling the top of the bestseller list! Couple YouTube videos with a celebrity or two opposing the ban, a Twitter hashtag #endtheban. Stick it to the man!

Just need to get a wildly open-minded house to publish it!

Do you fall prey to psychological reactance? Does knowing a book has been banned give it any cache?