Chuck Palahniuk isn't generally the kind of writer I gravitate to. Not sure why, but I suppose this is an abject lesson in the fickle nature of readers. We write our best and they make decisions based on, you know, whatever.
Anyway, he is a successful and good writer who's written more than a couple book, not the least of which is Fight Club. I was reading through a list of his top (some number) suggestions for writers. Generally, I glance through these things and move on, but I liked what he said below because it represents something I believe in: Take chances with your writing.
There are huge numbers of rules, they are there because most of the time they work, but they are there to be broken. Be risky in your writing and do so with a sense of fun and desire to catch the reader.
So here's his advice:
"Your audience is smarter than you imagine. Don’t be afraid to experiment with story forms and time shifts. My personal theory is that younger readers disdain most books – not because those readers are dumber than past readers, but because today’s reader is smarter. Movies have made us very sophisticated about storytelling. And your audience is much harder to shock than you can ever imagine."
The last part of the quote is important to emphasize. You may come up with the most horrible experience a person could go through, but that's not enough to catch a reader's emotions and play with them. Readers have seen it all and for those of us born before probably 1995, we remember the horror of 9/11.
Violence and tragedy are never far from us and on a constant loop on the Internet.
What is further from us is the ability to feel the effect of the violence and tragedy as the person experiencing it, or as a unique and idiosyncratic person would experience it. Think of it this way, how would someone with Asperger's experience the loss of their mother? How do you bring a reader into that experience?
One answer, is you get creative and daring with how you tell the story and keep working on it until you get it right.