First up, the ever present and for some why required, obligatory caveat warning up front for the extra sensitive reader: I share my opinion here with respect to my own work and am not trying or intending to dis, denigrate, or put down any other author or story teller, TV show, book, music, or movie. This is me sharing why I have chosen not to use certain words and themes in my writing. There, let's get on with it already.
When I started out on my book writing journey, nine years and one month ago, I had no idea what I was doing. But I did have a couple of ideas as to what I did not want. And one of those not-wants was to avoid using certain words in my book title or sub title and to avoid certain similar or related themes.
Now, I know you’ll be thinking this goes against what might otherwise be popular and therefor profitable key words and buzz words to take advantage of. You’re probably correct.
However, I have never been one to embrace the normal. To follow the herd. Or to settle for the contemporary. I find that way of thinking boring and stupid and I don’t like crowds.
Not only that, but I think that words, themes, ideas, have an impact on people that can be the difference between life and death. Okay, perhaps not literally life or death, but certainly the quality of life and one's behavior, decisions, and mental stability.
I don’t know of any research regarding my perceptions so this is just a feeling based on observation and anecdotal evidence. Very similar to the popular belief that violent TV shows, movies, and video games is a contributing cause to abnormal behavior in people.
An example I’ve noticed with myself comes from the daily news. I used to watch several news channels every day. Everything from cable TV, to websites, radio, to social media. And I recall always feeling angry, filled with anxiety, and becoming hostile toward anything or anyone with a different or the opposite point of view. So I tried an experiment. I stopped watching or reading or listening to the news for a couple of weeks. Guess what happened. I felt better, happier, and less angry at the world. Wow. You should try it.
I put some thought into how the media delivers the news. They do it intentionally. They purposefully pitch their voices, their facial expression, their gestures, and their dialogue in such a way that riles the viewer or listener up. In addition, the media cares less about facts and context than it does about their personal opinion. So, try it. Live your life without the news for a week or two and I’ll bet you feel better.
But this example only reinforces my decision to not use certain terms and words in my book titles and story themes. Here is the list:
war, fight, blood, hate, revenge, kill, murder, dark, black, death, ugly, dead, attack, battle, combat, etc....
Now, you might be thinking that these are just words. But words are not like stick or stones. I can avoid the stick, deflect or catch the rock and throw it back. Words are tangible and they do have impact. What we should be acutely aware of is that with freedom of speech comes the utmost responsibility. Especially if we want to live in a safe, respectful, and civilized society.
I think these kinds of words and the way the news presents itself is harmful to our human society. Remember the TV shows from the sixties? Many had themes of hope, of traditional morals and values and presented examples of these to learn from. Science-fiction books also often highlighted positive themes of technology and the future. Granted, not all did, but compared to today, it was much less gloomy and threatening. Most sci-fi books today mostly revolve around war or some sort of apocalypse. Does this mean that all these authors and their readers think life is a bust and we’re headed straight for the apocalypse, no matter its form?
I sure hope not. How depressing is that? Life has enough crap built into without fiction adding to the sinking feeling spewed by the media, both social and news sources.
Well, I’m not going there. If I miss out on some sales because I avoid the above list of words and anything similar, well, so be it. Like Gene’s Star Trek, I prefer to focus on the positive for the titles and themes in my novels and short stories. Let me know what you think by leaving a thoughtful comment.