How to Write Transgressive Fiction: Don't Try
The best piece of writing advice comes from none other than Charles Bukowski.
It is especially great advice when it comes to transgressive fiction as well as even dirty realism. One of the best things about the genre is that it reads effortlessly and the writing never feels as though the author was trying too hard. It's simple writing, an enviable style of writing at that, and incredibly blunt realism.
How do you write transgressive fiction? And more importantly, great transgressive fiction ...
You don't try to.
Clearing Up Confusion
I know what you're thinking: but if you don't try to write a great story won't you end up writing a shit story because you didn't try to write a good one?
Obviously writing a story - whether that be a novel, a short story, or a poem - is a craft. And like any craft it takes some level of skill and finesse to perfect it.
But here's the thing ...
The idea isn't to not try at all and to say fuck it, here's some words thrown together.
The idea is to not try too hard to make great fiction.
The idea is for the piece to read effortlessly despite the effort that goes into it.
When we don't force a story and when we let the story develop organically it makes for better transgressive fiction because we didn't try to make it anything ...
it just became something.
This is achievable simply by doing away with the anxiety of writing a great story and also by allowing the story to morph into what it will. Let the story have a mind of its own and see where it takes you.
No one knows what exactly is going to happen tomorrow. Neither should you or your characters until you get there.
The Blunt Realism
Another thing about the don't try advice is that it also applies to the realism aspect of transgressive fiction.
Transgressive Fiction isn't just realism, it is gritty realism - meaning that nothing is exaggerated to meet an conceived image. A lot of life is fairly mediocre without the thought that goes behind it. Transgressive fiction doesn't try to change the mediocrity, it defines the thought or lack thereof that goes with it.
What transgressive fiction does with realism is smack readers in the face with more reality than they expected or that they are used to.
You can only write realism for transgressive fiction when you rip off the rose colored glasses. Don't turn realism into romanticism. Transgressive Fiction doesn't want you to try and misshapen real life.
You don't try to write reality ... you witness it and translate it onto a page for what it is and not for what it would, could, or should be. That is Transgressive Fiction. When you stop trying to turn reality into something than it is: gray.
About the Author
Natalie Nider is the author of her upcoming short story collection
For My Amusement and creator of
She has turned her love of Transgressive Fiction and Dirty Realism into a passion.
She lives in Pennsylvania with her family where she can often be found writing or staring into an eggshell wall thinking about it.