Jonathan Kellerman (the bestselling author of the Alex Delaware series) summarized Rubinstein’s book as “one of the most compelling books . . . about the realities of mental health treatment . . . a page-turning collection of forensic and clinical adventures evocative of The Fifty Minute Hour and the works of Oliver Sacks.”
The May 2017 issue of Writer’s Digest carried Rubinstein’s article, Writing Fiction: A Good Story Must Be Disturbing. The word “disturbing” caught my attention—it’s a thought-provoking word when used by a specialist in mental illness.
He wrote: “An engaging novel is disturbing. It presents chaos and upheaval—either within the characters’ minds or in their lives. These clashing interactions and relationships between people are at its core. As readers, we crave disturbance and uncertainty. We live vicariously through the anguish, turmoil, and trouble the characters must endure in an attempt to reorder the chaos propelling the story . . . When writing my own novels, I keep conflict center stage. And, with surgical precision, I use my expertise as a forensic psychiatrist to bolster that chaos.”
Rubinstein echoed some points in my previous blog (Writing Lesson # 1) in which I suggest that fiction offers outlets of emotion for readers; otherwise, they’d turn to nonfiction books of facts and opinions. He wrote: “We read novels to . . . to be titillated, frightened, angered, overjoyed, heartbroken or moved in some kinetic way as we turn the pages . . . If we want to immerse ourselves in a field of study, there are many non-fiction books available to provide such information . . . Write to tell a story that captures the imagination and makes a human connection with the reader.”
Do you agree that the most engaging novels center upon conflict?