All writers know that conflict is at the center of a good story. The greater the conflict, the better the story. The badder the bad guy, the greater the conflict, the better the story.
Well, maybe it’s time to change that. Maybe it’s time for a new paradigm in storytelling, where the better the good guy, the better the story.
My new novel has violence in it. Gun violence. The bad guys are pretty bad, and now I’m questioning the entire premise of our reading culture and my role in it. Are those of us who write thrillers perpetuating all the wrong values, even if these books have happy endings, even if the bad guys get their comeuppance? Or is seeing the bad guys get what’s coming to them the part of the story that readers really want to read? Is that the part that validates our stand against violence, against bad guys? Is that part the light at the end of the tunnel, the glory that Truth and Justice will eventually win out?
My new book will come out, because it’s already in the process. Spoiler alert: Really bad bad guys, satisfying ending. But in the wake of the horrific events in Connecticut, I think I’ve lost my taste for writing such things. I think I’ve lost my taste for reading such things.
There are other stories to be told that don’t include the kind of violence that has been a staple of our collective body of literature, and I think it’s time for them to have their day in the sun.