With everything going on in the world and reading historical novels have made me think about human nature and how to not only convey it in novels, but what makes a person fall into a mob mentality.
In the case of humans, it boils down to fear. Fear of being different. Fear of being ostracized. Fear of retribution for not following popular opinion.
Between the books I’ve been reading, following the Scottish referendum vote, and a tour on our recent vacation, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I would do if ever faced with a mob mentality situation. The Revolutionary period is what comes to mind when I think of it. We’re over 200 years removed from the situation and think it would be easy to say we would choose being a Patriot. A Rebel. Would I have been able to go against the Loyalists and fought for independence from England? Could I have risked my family’s security? If I’d been married, would my husband have risked his life, and the family’s livelihood, to fight for a cause in which he believed?
Then I started thinking about mob mentality and human nature. As a member of the romance genre, I’ve had numerous writers, agents, and editors tell me that I needed to write a certain way or include certain things in order to sell. Now, they’re probably right. To a degree. But in a naturally over-saturated market, why would I want to write what everyone else does? I’ve heard tons of readers say they’re looking for a new spin on the old story or something completely unexpected. I know I’ve got work to do, but I’m trying to write something different, bring a new spin to the story, and still enjoy what I’m writing. If I hate what I’m writing, how could I expect the reader to fall in love with the story?
I know I’m on a role here lately. I’ve been thinking about how to make my stories better. In doing that, I’ve been thinking about human nature. Mob mentality is one of those things that we tend to think of as something that only happens in extreme situations. But it’s there in smaller situations. A group of bystanders who see an accident, yet no one comes forward to help. Hearing a person yell for help, yet continuing to walk by. Going with the general consensus because voicing a true opinion would make us unpopular with coworkers, friends, or even family.
I think that’s why we’re seeing such a surge in genre bending stories and people willing to be different. It’s time for a revolution. People going against the grain because it’s the right thing to do, not because it’s “cool” or will force a reaction from people. It’s time to break away from the mob. Difficult as it might be. It’s taken me a long time to get to this point. I’m still not completely comfortable with it, but usually the right thing to do rarely makes us comfortable.