#BannedBooksWeek: How to write a book that gets banned

Banned Books Week: How to write a book that gets banned

Warning: This post contains material that may be offensive to people who hate books.

That’s because Banned Books Week is September 27-October 3, which means it’s time to celebrate all the nefarious, diabolical and dangerous literature that has threatened to poison minds everywhere since the dawn of the printing press.

It may seem silly now to think that classics like The Catcher in the Rye and To Kill a Mockingbird were banned from many schools, libraries and even bookstores, but times have changed. People don’t ban books for being blasphemous, suggestive or “too radical” anymore, right?

Wrong. Did you know that the Harry Potter series was banned in many schools for promoting “anti-family” values and black magic? Or that the Captain Underpants series for children was also banned, presumably because it has the word “underpants” in the title? Or that the freaking dictionary has been banned from several schools for including the definitions of dirty words like “genitalia”?

It’s all so ridiculous that it makes me aspire to write a book that gets banned. You, too? Great.

Here are 4 foolproof tips for writing a book that gets banned or, if you’re lucky, burned:

1. Write a book for children or teens.

While plenty of books for adults have been banned, your odds of successfully having your book banned will drastically increase if you write for the overly scrutinized genres of children’s or young adult books. Young, impressionable minds! Purity! Innocence! All qualities that are threatened any time a kid cracks open a book.

2. Make your protagonist have feelings and opinions that question authority or the status quo.

Bonus points for a female character with opinions. Your silencers will hate that. Think The AwakeningLittle Women (especially Jo’s character) or even Hunger Games—all books that have been banned or censored.

3. Include—or even just reference—sex.

Sex scenes, internal dialogue hinting at sexual feelings, masturbation or even a good, old-fashioned Spin-the-Bottle scene should do the trick. Because in the eyes of your critics, sex is inherently bad. And unnatural. Young people don’t know what sex is, and we should prevent them from knowing about it until they’re at least 40. Or never.

4. For that matter, throw in a few of the following:

Strong language, violence, drugs, alcohol, homosexuality, witchcraft, political views of any kind, satire, etc. You know, all things one might reasonably expect to encounter or learn about at some point in their lives. Here’s a handy chart you can easily reference when trying to come up with the most ban-able book possible.

 

Banned Books Infographic

Cool? Now get out there and plot your next communist propaganda masterpiece. Write a book using the guide above, and everyone book censors are trying to “protect” from your book will want to read it. As for me, I’m working on a manuscript about a rebellious girl who takes psychedelics and talks to animals. Although now that I think about it, that sounds a lot like Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

What would your banned book be about? And what’s your favorite banned book?

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Comments

  1. Ah, yes. The typical answer for my Favorite Banned book is The Catcher in the Rye. Even the Lorax was banned. I have always wanted to start writing a YA fiction around abortion. One day!

    • Cassie Paton says:

      Do it! I want to write a feminist novel one day, too. There need to be more books like that out there.

  2. I just read The Awakening for my American Women Writers class and I had no idea that it was a banned book! I can see why people would have wanted it banned – God forbid a story have a lady protagonist who disobeys the men in her life and has a will of her own. I did think it was a good read, but my favorite banned book is a tie between Carrie and A Wrinkle In Time.

    I’m gonna say my current writing project would be likely banned for mixing violence, LGBT themes, and witchcraft, but the people who have been reading it seem to enjoy it nonetheless.

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