What You May be Missing about “50 Shades of Grey”

It’s all about the “story physics.”  In this case, 100 million examples of how and why story physics are the most important consideration in the crafting of a story.

Maybe it is.  But that’s not the right question… at least here.

Did you see the film Unbroken, which documents some of the most heinous human suffering and cruelty ever shown in a mainstream film?  Is that porn?

But it’s a true story, you could truthfully say.  But so is what happens, thematically, in “50 Shades of Grey.”  It’s real, folks, deal with it.  It happens.   I will never understand the moral license to show human torture and death in heinous ways in comparison to showing the expression of human passion in ways that don’t happen to float your boat.

And it’s not domestic abuse, either, when both parties lock the door behind them and sign up for whatever happens.

Besides, if you didn’t like the book or movie, there are 100 million people who disagree with you, and another 1oo million who couldn’t care less.  Which puts you in a very loud, rather inexplicable minority of people who don’t really know what they’re talking about.

Bad writing?  Maybe.  That’s why we have book and movie reviews.  But morally reprehensible?  It’s no more heinous than many of the tax returns and court records of half the people who are bitching about it.

Check your own closet before you proclaim yourself the voice of the so-called (and self-anointed) moral majority.

But that’s not really today’s question, either. 

Learning from the novel itself… there’s no debate about the upside of that.

The novel, 50 Shades of Grey, and it’s two series successors, have sold 100 million copies, and now the movie version has added t0 the legend by grossing a quarter of a billion dollars in its opening week alone.  Much like The Davinci Code – which sold 80 million hardcovers – it is widely dissed by writers who seem to believe they could do better.

That’s funny, actually.  Or pitiful, not sure which.  Because if you’re not paying attention to what is working out there, you’re not really engaging in the business of writing publishable fiction at a professional level.

You may be one of them.  Read on, because there’s another way to look at it that might ignite a light bulb or two in your career.

Everyone who has access to an online venue seems to be dumping on this story, if not for the writing itself, then for the subject matter.  “Outrage” is the theme of many reviews and op-eds, people who call it “domestic abuse” and downright perverse.  The actors themselves are being quoted out of context to support this point of view.

I saw the movie with my wife, and as we left the theater a guy behind us said, “Can you believe there’s actually people who do that stuff, like, in real life?”

Welcome to the rock under which a great many people live their lives, with blinders on.  Welcome to the seat of judgment, which holds that everyone should think as they do, spoken with the hubris-riddled security of knowing that your listener has no idea what you are doing in the shadows of your own domain.

There are orders of magnitude more instances of true non-consensual abuse, both physical and emotional (that has nothing at all to do with kinky sex) among domestic partners than there are homes with handcuffs and riding crops hidden in the back of a closet.  And there are literally millions of those, some of them right in your neighborhood, and if you ask those people if they’re happy with their sex lives, odds are they’d look you in the eye and say, “Yes, and probably a lot happier than you are with yours.”

And in many cases, they’d be right.  That’s why we have books about romance and intimacy, so we can have a vicarious experience that takes us out of our “normal” for a while.

So let’s clear the air.  Let’s get outside the moral debate and create a context for writers to understand why this story works to the massive extent that it does.

And leave the non-literary judgment to the clueless and the naive, in the hope they’re not abusing their spouses in truly non-consensual ways.

As for the literary conversation… hey, I hear you.  The writing was… fine.  That’s not why it works.  But it’s fine enough.  Other aspects of the story, though, get better the closer you look at them.

First of all, E.L. James has proven, with statistical validity, that interest in this love story arena (BDSM) is not the sole province of the debauched and the twisted.  Or of lonely romance novel aficionados who seem to populate the bell curve of the story’s target demographic.

People love this stuff.  They fantasize about this stuff.  A great many more than you might image either dabble in, or practice outright, this stuff.

Here’s how to shut up your stuffy, outraged, holier-than-though neighbor who thinks this is all just sick and wrong and outrageous.

You have two closing arguments on that front.

First, the story is not about how true BDSM relationships work.  In the novel and the film, Christian Grey is into it, Anastasia Steele isn’t.  She’s curious, perhaps, intrigued at first, and then realizes his tastes and preferences are not her own.  Despite all those swooning orgasms that emerged while she was making up her mind.  He doesn’t force it on her – that is the province of rape fantasies, which 50 Shades absolutely is not – nor does she push back until she clarifies her preferences.

In the story, Anastasia is far less outraged than these blushing bloggers are.

In the real world this flavor of sexual encounter is consensual.  Which takes it off the table to either debate or judgment.  It is no more sick and wrong than your righteous outraged neighbor’s habit of turning off the lights and hiding under the covers with her eyes clamped tightly closed until her grunting golfer husband finishes two minutes after he begins.

She consents to that form of abuse, far more than anyone in 5o Shades is consenting to something inherently more immoral by comparison.

Not for us to judge.  Not for them to judge, either… when the relationship is trulyconsensual.  Which in reality, it always is.  And which, in that movie, it wasn’t, even though it certainly was at first.

What is was, actually, was an exact model of what happens in every intimate relationship.  Two people get together, bringing a past with them along with certain tastes and preferences and hopes and fears and fantasies.  And so they play, they experiment, they negotiate, and after a time they decide if they are compatible.

You did that.  I did that.  We all do that.  And then we settle in for the long haul.  The contract is there, it is verbal, if it is even spoken at all.

E.L. James wrote about that, and exactly that.  It was never a story about the arena of S&M relationships in either a condoning or a judgmental context – which the high and mighty are judging from behind their pulpits of ignorance and fear – it is a story about two people trying to see if they work together.

In that sense, the story is classically romantic.  No more so than a scullery maid being taken at night by the handsome king while his wife consorts with prisoners held in the castle dungeon.

That book is out there, by the way.

The other answer is to put this story alongside stories that have people murdering their lovers for pleasure and profit, or simply out of rage or insanity.  That’s far more perverse as well as far more frequently the stuff of bestsellers, nobody is ringing the moral outrage bell at those stories.  Occasionally there are even BDSM elements in play (click HERE for the Top 25 films in this regard, you’ve heard of and seen most of them), and yet, your opinionated neighbor (who probably owns some of those DVDs) is mum on the subject.

No, the non-literary judgment of this story stems from ignorance and fear as much as anything else. It’s classic bullying – I can’t have what you have (bliss, however you define it), so I’ll put it down as wrong.  Review the movie as harshly as you please, but focus on the true issues at hand – its dramatic and artistic execution, rather than anymoral ambiguity of its themes, which pale in comparison to much of what fills the genre shelves and movie theaters today.

As for the actual literary reviews… well, just ask James Patterson and a host of other authors who are “writing down” to a pedestrian reading level, ask them about how strategic and effective this strategy is.  Just as many people are quietly panning books from Jonathan Franzen and Charles Frazer and that Melville guy who wrote Moby Dick as virtually unreadable, so there you go.

Part of me says this to writers who put this short-sighted moral criticism in print: shut up and write.  Who appointed you the arbiter of what works and what doesn’t, especially in the face of numbers that prove you thoroughly, irretrievably, embarrassingly in a minority?

You probably didn’t like The Davinci Code, either, for the shots it took at your belief system.  Thematic controversy is a genius narrative strategy, live with it.  Your outrage says nothing about the dramatic execution of that book, which is the largest selling commercial novel of all time.

It is the dramatic execution where we should look to find answers as to what works, what doesn’t, and why.

So what makes “50 Shades” work so well, based on results?

The answer is, pure and simple, story physics.

Story physics are the intellectual, emotional and instinctual forces and factors within a story that cause a reader to respond at a core level.  To care.  To fear.  To wonder.  To stick around to see what happens.

There are six basic realms of story physics:

1. A compelling dramatic premise with a conceptual core.

2. Dramatic tension arising from conflict facing a hero facing a quest.

3. Strategic pacing within the exposition that meters the degree of tension, clarity and hope.

4. Providing something for the reader to root for, and against (fear).

5. The delivery of a vivid vicarious experience.

6. A narrative strategy that lifts the story to a higher level of intimacy, accessibility and effectiveness.

Most writers do some this instinctually, even involuntarily.  But when a story doesn’t work – you don’t read those, because they don’t get published or talked about… but I see them all the time in my story coaching work – it is because these factors of story physics are underplayed, misplayed or missing entirely.

The very essence of fiction – all fiction, in any genre – is conflict.

Conflict leads to dramatic tension.  Which fuels the story’s forward motion through the solving and resolution of conflict, and stokes the reader’s emotional engagement, which stems from the stakes of the confrontation between the hero and whatever antagonistic force (usually a villain) blocks the path toward the goal.

In “50 Shades,” the BDSM itself is that antagonistic force.  It is personified by Christian Grey, who is inflexible in his demands and his parameters, and perhaps inexplicable and indefensible (for some) in this preferences (just as any villain cannot truly justify some combination of their needs and their means).  Anastasia must play by his rules, tolerate and accept what he desires and relishes… or it won’t work out between them.

That is conflict, pure and simple. The stakes being love itself.  It is a story about love having to conquer obstacles, which is an eternal, universal theme.

Anastasia’s experience is not abuse, it is character arc.

The BDSM context is what is conceptual about the story, setting it apart from other romances and love stories by virtue of how it shows up in the premise.  It polarizes, it frightens, for many it intrigues, it pushes deeply held secret buttons of desire and curiosity.  It’s what you signed up for when you bought the book or a movie ticket, and you knew what you were getting before you laid your money down.

The story could have been about Christian’s love of mountain climbing, to which (in such a version) he devotes his life, and the need for Anastasia to strap on some climbing boots and head with him to the Himalayas to win his affection.

That comparison illustrates the genius in James’ conceptual choice.  The premise is intriguing (that guy coming out the theater?  He was there for a reason… either he or his partner/friend were, by virtue of having bought a ticket, intrigued).  It makes a promise of something we haven’t seen a lot of, or even, something forbidden yet as old as massage oil within the sensual proposition.

Something you’ve already kicked around in your head, if you’re honest about it.

It is a genius concept.  It is one of two explanations as to why this story works… because it is played against the themes of love overcoming obstacles, posing a universal core dramatic question: will they make it?  Will he compromise.  Will she accept and begin to enjoy what he’s asking of her?

The other reason it works… that’s easy.  Once the reader/viewer is taken into that world, it all becomes astoundingly VICARIOUS.  It takes us somewhere we haven’t been before, to which will (for some) never go, or (for some) you desire to go, and for others, are afraid to go yet curious about, and and when you get there it is a literal, visceral, passionate experience, as shown the story’s “red room of pain” scenes.

Cut those and the story doesn’t work.  That’s a fact.  The story soars because of the vicarious experience they deliver – one of the six realms of story physics – and the romantic context of it, as well.

Abuse?  Isn’t any story about a lover who is cold and cruel a story about abuse and neglect?  Isn’t a story about a cheating lover actually about abuse?  Shouldn’t there be there more valid moral outrage in a story about a lover who rapes and mains and kills in a moment of passionate rage, and then tries to cover it up?

How many times has that story been told, without a single whimper of outrage?

If you’re writing a story about love in the face of obstacles, take a page from E.L. James and get outside yourself.  Go to the deep well of concept and see what might make your story sizzle.  Give us a vicarious experience with vivid, pulsating detail.  Adopt a narrative strategy – in her case, creating multiple contexts of forbidden appeal, including the lifestyle of a billionaire and the promise of vast riches, which are also eternal themes – and you’ll have a provocative, perhaps controversial, richly contextualized story landscape on your hands.

Real life is never all that vicarious, at least in ways that sell books.

Or, you can write that story about mountain climbers in love, perhaps having sex in their muk-lucks, and take your chances.

I’m not suggesting you write the next S&M thriller (I’ve tried that myself – my USA Today bestseller, “Darkness Bound,” went deep into that dark little corner of seduction, and sold over 200,000 copies in the process… clearly, there are people out there who get it).  I’m not suggesting you try it out for yourself, or even shed your disapproval, if not your judgment.

Just keep it to yourself.  Ignorance is always embarrassing.

And while you’re keeping it yourself, be a professional and strive to notice what makes the story work, just as you notice what makes a great character like Hannibal Lector cause you to lose sleep and recommend Silence of the Lambs to all your friends.

Vests made of human flesh?  You freaking loved that story.  How sick and wrong is that?

Better that we notice what is happening in “5o Shades of Grey“… why it works, why it pushes buttons, why it is vividly vicarious, and how the forces behind it (the forces of story physics) are available to you, as well.


Want more on Story Physics?  Please consider my craft book from Writers Digest Books, “Story Physics: Harnessing the Underlying Forces of Storytelling.”

It explains why bestsellers are just that, and how you can apply those same forces to your own stories… by design, rather than backing into them by chance.



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23 Responses to What You May be Missing about “50 Shades of Grey”

  1. Ive Anderson

    1st. I agree with you. But the real terms are: Master & Submisive. He’s a master, but Anastasia, curious, never ever is a submisive. The type of Master he’s will never be apart will his desires. It’s a romantic soft, could change because James was the writer. Apart from that I like the books. What concerns me is people is mis-informed & will be an accident!

  2. As a Christian author, I have not read “50 Shades”, probably never will. No surprise there. However, it’s good to see why it worked since all other articles seem to claim it’s nothing but junk. Something had to have worked or it wouldn’t have stood apart from all the other erotic books out there.

    BTW, I can’t help but laugh when Christians put the book down. It makes me wonder how many of them have actually read it. After all, “50 Shades” would not have been the best seller it was if people who claimed to be Christian didn’t read it.

  3. What a great analysis of the issues. I think a lot of people focus on their pet peeve issue, with the goal to criticize (the morals, the writing, the correlation to abuse) that they don’t look at what works about the book. To sell that many copies of a book, something has to work. So, thank you for pointing out the key story elements that make readers love books.

  4. Martha Miller

    What an intriguing post, Larry. And I must say, you have a point.
    I never read the book, but I did take advantage of Amazon’s ‘look inside’ feature and read the first few pages. I’m not critical of the subject matter (I’ve read worse) but as an aspiring novelist stretching myself painfully to write readable prose, my beef is the inept prose in the book. Let’s face it: it’s LAME. It’s awful.
    But hey, you can’t argue with success. And I understand a little better why it was successful after reading what you have to say about it. Still . . . I just can’t get past how it ‘hurts my ears’.

  5. Dianne Matich

    I follow your blog because you can simplify story structure so the bones of the story shine. This novel is no different. But I want to argue that sales should not be used as the gauge to determine if any particular book is well written. The more sales, the better the craft? Are best sellers always the best-written books? As writers lets not sink to using only marketing and sales to qualify our success in writing.

  6. Great post. I haven’t read 50 Shades, but that isn’t because I have an issue with what consenting adults do in private. I don’t read romance either, finding it repetitive drivel after the first few I read as a teen. I’m more interested in the truly fantastic and prefer fantasy, sci-fi, and enticing thrillers. But I just might get around to checking 50 Shades out as a study in story physics. It ought to be easier since the perfect writing and topic won’t carry me away, making me forget my task!

  7. <blockquote I’m not suggesting you try it out for yourself, or even shed your disapproval, if not your judgment.

    Just keep it to yourself.

    You lost me there, Larry. It’s OK to write and publish the book, to make the movie, but those who disapprove are supposed to be quiet? I don’t think so. It’s still a free country, so why can’t those who disapprove speak out just as you have in your approval?

    I think it’s sketchy to say that this Twilight fan fic actually is so popular because it is an example of good story structure. No, it crossed some literary lines and is controversial as a result. Controversy always sells. It has nothing to do with story structure. Sad that you let your own personal experience get in the way of seeing that.

  8. Andrea

    I’ll start by stating I haven’t read the books or seen the movie and the themes don’t bother me in the slightest. I might get around to them eventually, but as of yet haven’t felt compelled to do either.

    You admit the writing is fine enough and not why the book is a success but it is a success nonetheless. So I’m curious what your opinion is on her method of writing. This story began as a Twilight fanfiction – Christian was Edward and Anastasia was Bella. The story was well loved by the Twilight community which is how it got pulled, the names and some details were changed, and the novel was born. Is this a good way to develop characters and plot points? Would you recommend this method to other writers?

    • @Andrea – sorry to delay in responding, had an unexpected life interruption of a medical nature.

      You ask if I would recommend “fan faction” as a process and a means toward publication. Good question, since there is a lot of that going on lately, it seems.

      I don’t think it changes the odds much, in one respect. The likelihood of anything – fan fiction or self-published fiction with original characters – going viral is up there with winning the lottery, and often quality has no bearing on (though”story physics” certainly do). The criteria is the same for all of it, as is the need for “a break.”

      This route (fan fiction), however, has more daunting odds because of several factors: no legit publisher will ever touch it until it morphs into something that is not fan fiction (not using another author’s characters), so that outcome goes off the table; you are not the author of the central concept and conceit of the book, you’re piling on someone else’s ideas, which is a sticky wicket… but one you can navigate.

      Fan fiction is its one genre, open to anyone. It’s small, and it will always be small. The Jane Austin novels are an example of a story that has a bundle of prequels and sequels by other/contemporary fans-turned-authors, and they get rid. But notice none of them are making the bestseller lists or taken seriously outside of the fan fiction clubhouse.

      But let’s be clear, 50 Shades is NOT fan fiction. It simply BEGAN as fan fiction. That’s the differentiation that legitimizes it. It was “inspired by” another story. To take someone else’s concept, twist it into your own by making it contemporary, strip it of its paranormal context, rename everyone and substitute BDSM for blood lust – this being the relationship between Twilight and 50 Shades – is an available process that can (and did) yield a viable story. It happens all the time… I’m guessing that if James hadn’t admitted to or couldn’t hide from the Twilight-inspired roots, nobody would ever know it or judge the story because of it.

      That said, Twilight and 50 Shades are merely using a “trope” of the romance genre (they are both romances, by the way), on that is not unique to either title. Boy meets girl. Boy is different, has a thing, a need, a desire, and he’s ridiculously not. Girl is innocent, knows nothing of his world, but smitten to the degree she’ll consider it.

      That’s a universal trope. James is no different – no better, no worse 0- than any genre author who does the same in creating their own story (she just wrote actual fan fiction to “find her story”). In mysteries, virtually every heart-of-gold loner detective with a substance abuse problem and an ex-wife and a dark past and a grouchy boss, out to solve a murder and find justice (we root for that, suddenly this gumshoe is a “hero”), is jumping on a bandwagon. They’re using a trope. They’re borrowing from someone else, in this case Marlowe and Chandler and even Michael Connelly (who didn’t invent the genre, either).

      So there’s the gold. If a trope inspires you, doesn’t matter if you play with it before you try it for yourself.

      Another example. Every stand up comedian working today is, to a great extent, and under the banner of “inspired by,” doing an homage for the comedians that inspired them in the beginning… James’ road to publication is no different.

      Learn how you must learn, get inspired in ways that inspire you. Unless you’re outright stealing someone else’s story, you’re using the tropes of your genre, whatever kind of fiction you call it. And if it’s still fan fiction, your upside is limited until you make it your own, which is precisely what James did.

      Hope this helps. L.

  9. Robert Jones

    I’ve never read the book either–but that’s not important. I’ve heard all the criticism. Still, none of that touches on the sort of things Larry teaches. Please don’t miss the message because you’re blinded by what you consider lousy prose or subject matter that offends your personal sensibilities.

    When I first began taking writing seriously…meaning the desire to learn craft became a terribly important journey…I was fortunate enough to fall into a student/apprentice relationship with a literary author. His methods and approach differed from Larry’s on certain levels, but he essentially taught me much of the same precepts. More to the point, though he was a very serious craftsman in terms of language, he also said that language was not always what made a best-seller. Sometimes it’s marketing, sometimes it isn’t so much what you’re doing wrong, but the degree of proficiency in what you’re doing correctly…craft-wise.

    He started me off with a reading list of novels ranging from past to present works. And I extended the quest by buying anything with the words “Best Seller” stamped on it and attempting to compare what it was that made these literary hits stand apart. Many were not exceptionally well-written. Many were not even good stories. What many had in common was a darn good opening chapter with the sort of beautiful imagery my mentor savored. However, that wonderful imagery was often not repeated beyond the first chapter, which ended with an important inciting incident that would pose a question designed to lift the reader’s interests and float them along the strong current that began the story and keep them reading until they discovered the answers.

    At first I blamed the writers for slacking off and not being consistent. Then I learned it was usually the editor who made writers who made the hot list come across with that dazzling first chapter–even if the rest of the novel fell short. And with a little marketing push, everyone looking at such a grand opening would buy the book. Non-writers can’t tell the difference. If a review says a writer might be the next literary genius, people read a few pretty pages and buy the book. Literary readers are an interesting breed. But is it any different than opening a mystery novel with a crime so stunning you have to keep reading?

    More importantly, is that a reason to neglect craft, not care about solid prose, or allow your book to flail after a brilliant first chapter? I hope not. But the underlying message is that those who are very good at craft have a wide range of ways to hook readers–even if you aren’t a master wordsmith.

    I believe that spells hope for the rest of us. And it underlines what Larry has so often said, “Neglect craft at your own peril.” Because understanding craft is the key that unlocks hope and makes it float. Otherwise, no matter how good your idea, you’re just throwing stones into a large ocean, watching them sink very rapidly to the bottom. You can still hope, but you have no leverage, no life raft.

  10. Rebecca,
    Perhaps you’re now aware, but 50 Shades is far from the first book on BDSM to be published. Although personally I’m not into it, there is a HUGE crowd out there that is deeply into it, and a ton more that got interested because it was billed as a mainstream novel.

    The point that Larry makes is the same.

    Is Harry Potter brilliantly written?

    No. But she still managed to become the author of the most bought book in history. If the bones of a book are good, you’ll keep reading. Take it from a person who reads over 360 books a year – you can forgive blah writing if there is something to pull you into the story, and keep you there…that something being story structure.

  11. Ivy

    I’m going to echo a little of what Marlene said – I was surprised by the popularity of Fifty Shades because I found it really boring. It made me think of that essay by LeGuin where she talks about how people want to buy into the success of a product and the buzz they’ve heard about, without really being into it. Curious like Anastasia, I guess. I’m neither curious, nor shocked – I have an academic friend who is really into BDSM and publishes more exciting stuff in journals. As for DaVinci Code, it seemed to me like a sloppy version of Eco’a ‘Foucault’s Pendulum’ – one of my most beloved books, ever. So not really a matter of content. I don’t take offence at the things people like – something out there for every person and taste.

  12. Pingback: 50 Shades of Red | COW PASTURE CHRONICLES

  13. Well, to quote Oscar Wilde: “There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.”

  14. Brenda

    Larry, thank you so much for this review. I read Fifty Shades and I couldn’t really make out what made it so popular. I have nothing against BDSM, in fact I’m quite interested in it, might even try it one day, but the book was so boring. The prose wasn’t great and Anastasia is so dumb. (And the first chapter just went on forever, while I was waiting for the sexy stuff.)
    At that time, I really wondered what you would have to say about it. I worked out the concept vicarious ride, though I’d preferred a bit more BDSM, but I really missed the ‘love in spite of obstacles’. Probably I’m not really a romance person. Maybe a BDSM thriller is more for me, Darkness Bound perhaps. 🙂

  15. Robert Jones

    @Elizabeth Parker–In a literary sense, Oscar Wilde…and probably a great many others…may be turning over in their graves at the amount of badly written books that are available in the current market. Quality is often iffy with the masses concerning almost anything. But it’s like this in every market when there is a boom. Once the dust settles, there are a whole lot of current writers who will either have to reinvent themselves or get thrown out with the bath water. That’s usually the other side of the boom.

    Meantime, I think we can all learn from the good and the bad writing currently available. As one writer once told me, if someone is published–even if you hate their style–they are still doing something right. As a rule, we humans always focus on the differences rather than similarities; the incorrect rather than the correct. In this case, it may just be the subject matter and the folks balking at it that put this book over the top. However, there’s still a reason why this one succeeded more than so many other books written on the same subject. And that’s always worth looking for because the keys to success are not disimilar things when taken for what they are. They can usually be applied universally. Studying success and its effect on the polulace is always and interesting study.

    I’ll stand on craft priniples. You could take a hundred low budget films and those who followed craft will still hold an audiences attention more than the rest because there’s a psychological factor involved. Craft enegages emotions. The same might be said of standardized porn. Much of it is just about sex. But add a plot that actually follows craft dynamics and suddenly it becomes a classic within its genre. Why? Because most writers who think about craft want to suceed in more legit formats. So it’s kind of a rarity when a story breaks out of that genre, plus becomes a major movie on top of it.

    One lesson from this book might just be to ask ourselves what it is that’s successful in other genres that hasn’t been attempted before within the genre we are writing.

    Looking on the positive side 😉

  16. Thanks Larry. This is one of the few articles out there (actually the first I have come across) that is not just attacking the whole concept of 50 Shades. I thought you raised some interesting points about the story, some of which I (like some of those above) missed in my attempt at reading this series.
    I stopped part way through book 1 becuase I found it boring. The writing wasn’t great but it was the lack a connection between the characters that led to me putting it down. I hope I am a better writer, and quite possibly I am not, but I couldn’t grasp the forming of a relationship between them, whether good or bad. I found Anastasia quite dull . Every time she chewed her lip I wanted to smack her myself.
    There are so many books out there and each one will appeal to a different audience. This did not appeal to me and so I didn’t read on.
    I did force myself through Da Vinci Code. I wanted to enjoy it, the idea was great and there were times later in the story that I got carried away with it. But overall I found it over descriptive which distracted me from the plot (hence my struggle) and I worked out who she was early on. So a little disappointed that it was predictable.
    Several people, in various articles around 50 Shades, have mentioned that it is Twilight fan fiction. I read and enjoyed the Twilight series. I could not see the connection. Perhaps I didn’t read enough of it.
    Thanks again for a different (and more sensible) point of view.

  17. I’ll admit it. I really liked the book and I went on to read its sequel too, but I haven’t seen the movie yet. Sometimes you want fast food and sometimes you want fine dining. I found nothing about it objectionable, however, I read that the BDSM community found that there were some inaccuracies in it.
    I think that Jamie Dornan’s character in The Fall (must check it out – it’s awesome) is probably more horrifying to me that his portrayal of Christian Grey in 50 Shades. That being said, I think that Christian is a flawed character, but many bloggers and readers of the book were more offended not by the BDSM, but because they perceived that Christian was a psychopath. I never got that. It’s clearly explained in the book why he is the way he is.
    I’ve been having a real problem lately to readers objecting to plots or characters that they find morally objectionable or morally ambiguous. I like these kind of characters. Examples of this of late have been about Jaime spanking Claire in Outlander or the two anal rape scenes in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.
    I think there are things in real life that are much more morally objectionable.

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  20. Brilliant analysis. I often wondered what was the thing that made 50 Shades so damn popular. 🙂

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