Support for Indie Authors discussion

89 views
Archived Author Help > Am I a Wuss?

Comments Showing 1-50 of 76 (76 new)    post a comment »
« previous 1

message 1: by Bruce (new)

Bruce Carroll (BruceCarroll) | 26 comments I have been reading (and reading and reading) and I have observed a trend which disturbs me.

While I enjoy books with action and thrills, I have noticed a lot of authors include extremely graphic depictions of torture and violence. It is often so egregious I can't even bring myself to finish the book.

Now I fully understand that conflict is at the very heart of storytelling. And violence is a form of conflict. On the other hand, I have found most readers have vivid imaginations. Is it really necessary to spell out each and every gory, tortuous (dare I say, psychotic) detail?

I'm sure I could argue that violence is an easy way to have conflict in a story, but that is not what I am ranting about. I am talking about the kind of over-the-top descriptions that leave nothing to the imagination.

I won't mention names or titles, but one such book has a scene in which a character is severely beaten with a baseball bat. The author described each blow, every crunch of bone, each tooth that was knocked out. I actually stuck with this book until another scene in which a different character was bound, a garden hose forced down his throat and...I couldn't tell you, I stopped reading.

As a writer, I feel the author could have gotten more mileage out of these scenes by being more vague. After all, telling me someone is being tortured with a garden hose, then cutting away to another scene leaves a lot to the imagination. And although as a reader I may imagine the most vile abuses, I won't be able to confirm them.

Another such book described, in detail, the torture of a twelve-year-old. A twelve-year-old! In. Graphic. Detail. And it wasn't the only one: Yet another book opened with a group of naked children being severely beaten.

I had agreed to read that last one in order to provide a pre-release review. When I contacted the author and told him why I could not, in good conscience, recommend the book his response was, "It gets better." I'm sure that will look great on the back cover: "A gripping tale that is ultimately better than the brutal abuse of children."

In some of these books, I wonder about the story itself. It doesn't seem as if the violence is moving the story along. Rather, it seems as if the plot is just a vehicle to get from one ultra-violent scene to another.

So, what do you think? Has literature changed? Or am I just a wuss? Every book has an audience, but what are your feelings? Can things like torture, assault and rape be depicted too graphically? Do you prefer the author to leave some details to your imagination? Or do you want every lurid detail in hi-def surround sound?


message 2: by G.G. (new)

G.G. (ggatcheson) | 2491 comments I am a wuss. ;). I don't mind it, but like you, I prefer when not too graphic. In movies when such scenes happen I get up and disappear for a bit until I think it'll be over with. With books, I can't do that...


message 3: by Riley, Viking Extraordinaire (new)

Riley Amos Westbrook (sonshinegreene) | 1511 comments Mod
Literature has changed. Could you imagine someone releasing Game of Thrones 50 years ago? There would have been riots in the street! Or maybe I stayed away from the dirty part of the "Forbidden" section.
I do get what you mean, and I think it's an unintended consequence of seeing these violent acts on television and in other media. I personally don't see anything wrong with it, as it's in a fiction environment, though I do perfectly understand not being able to read something because of a scene that is disturbing.
I kind of notice the same trend with sex in books, just look at the aforementioned Game of Thrones. There were times reading those books I felt I needed to take a shower, and there were other parts that I just couldn't keep myself from just skimming for plot points.


message 4: by Ken (new)

Ken Doggett (kendoggett) I think some people like to read that kind of stuff, some don't. I'm with you on that one--I don't. But there's no accounting for taste.


message 5: by Dwayne, Ay-yi-yi (new)

Dwayne Fry | 3904 comments Mod
Bruce wrote: "Has literature changed?"

It has and it should continue. The world is not a stagnant place, other art form evolve with culture and societies morals. Literature should be no different.

As for violence, I sometimes get a little graphic in my stories. I know it's not for everyone, but some people seek that kind of thing out. I do it if I feel it somehow serves the story, not just to be gross.


message 6: by Bruce (new)

Bruce Carroll (BruceCarroll) | 26 comments Riley: I tried reading one of the "Game of Thrones" books and nearly fell asleep before I had finished the first chapter. It was overly wordy, at least for me.

BB: Not splatter so much as the malicious torture, especially of minors. I have wondered if such authors were on an FBI watch list, and if, perhaps, they wanted to be.


message 7: by Kay (new)

Kay Botha | 31 comments As a fan of a Song of Ice and Fire (only the first book is called A Game of Thrones) I love Martin's style. If you want something lighter in details, there are many other fantasy novels that cater to your interests. I dont mind graphic details, so long as it fits the overall tone. For example, if Living Dead Girl had been profanity-free, sex-free and violence-free I would have shut it and walked away. But the author chose to write a dark novel, and embraced a graphic tone, and that suited the book. Like I said, the great thing about literature today is that there are so many novels out there to fit your preferences.


message 8: by Ken (last edited May 03, 2015 09:49AM) (new)

Ken Doggett (kendoggett) For my part, I'm not interested in sick individuals who perpetrate that kind of violence (and I'm not talking about those who write it), nor in their stories. There's a place for it; as I said, some do like to read it. I'd rather write and read stories about otherwise normal people caught up in extraordinary circumstances. Any sickness I portray generally takes directions other than torture or killing and maiming for the "fun" of it.


message 9: by Riley, Viking Extraordinaire (new)

Riley Amos Westbrook (sonshinegreene) | 1511 comments Mod
Ken wrote: "For my part, I'm not interested in sick individuals who perpetrate that kind of violence (and I'm not talking about those who write it), nor in their stories. There's a place for it; as I said, so..."

I know what you mean, I tend to want to focus on a normal person in extraordinary situations as well. I believe the writing can, and will, portray the violence inherent in the story all on its own.

Kay wrote: "As a fan of a Song of Ice and Fire (only the first book is called A Game of Thrones) I love Martin's style. If you want something lighter in details, there are many other fantasy novels that cater ..."

Exactly. If it fits the novel, and the tone of the book, then it fits. I'm just the guy who can't help but look at sex scenes in books as porn. It happens when you're a very visual thinker.


message 10: by Dianne (new)

Dianne Bunnell | 61 comments I had a hard time even reading your abbreviated description of these torture scenes.

No, you are not a wuss. As a high school teacher, I have watched over time as my students went from being shocked and repulsed by violence to laughing about it. It's a shame in my mind that so many (not all, but many) have evolved to such callous creatures when it comes to the suffering of our fellow human beings.


message 11: by G.G. (new)

G.G. (ggatcheson) | 2491 comments Dwayne wrote: "As for violence, I sometimes get a little graphic in my stories. I know it's not for everyone, but some people seek that kind of thing out. I do it if I feel it somehow serves the story, not just to be gross. ...."

Again, I'm with you on that. I can tolerate it when it serves a purpose. For example, you need to paint how cruel an antagonist is. One might say you're showing the reader instead of telling them.

But now that you've done your job and the readers have a clear picture, then maybe it's time to ease on the descriptions. Have them happen, but to take Bruce example, stop at the hose. I'm sure the readers will get it.


message 12: by Bruce (new)

Bruce Carroll (BruceCarroll) | 26 comments Strangely, I have no problem with true stories of violence. More accurately, I find them disturbing, but I read them. So far, I have never felt the violence in true accounts is condoned. But I do feel some fictional accounts are trying to make the violence "cool." I also don't have as big of a problem with violence in movies, probably because it is a visual, rather than visceral, medium.


message 13: by G.G. (last edited May 03, 2015 10:36AM) (new)

G.G. (ggatcheson) | 2491 comments BB. wrote: "A close friend of mine was taken as a child, imprisoned, tortured and starved for nearly a decade. He is working on writing a story of those years, so that others can know what happened to him and his story isn't forgotten. It is certainly a very hard story to read, but it is of great importance to him that it is written, especially as a survivor...."


That's totally different. It's HIS story, and HIS story to tell. I don't think he should write it any other way. In these cases, it needs to be accurate and well...graphic.

I would say the same about historical movies/books about world wars and holocausts. You can't hide what really happened. It would be like shutting your eyes on it.


message 14: by Christina (last edited May 03, 2015 10:39AM) (new)

Christina McMullen (cmcmullen) I think I'm echoing what many have already said, but for me, it's context. If the scene where someone is being beaten with a bat is done to show the abuse and trauma the character had endured and survived to become the person they are today, that's fine. If the tourture is being performed by a serial killer in a horror and we already know the character is the proverbial 'red shirt' then it's going to depend on the tone and whether the author is clearly going for cheap shock or not.

There came a point for me when senseless violence in movies became more depressing than shocking. I tend to look at books a little more objectively because even the most graphic description isn't as in-your-face gross as the visual would be, but if the tone is meant to disturb without any redemption, I will admit to casting my own judgments and prejudices on the author without knowing a thing about them.


message 15: by Dwayne, Ay-yi-yi (new)

Dwayne Fry | 3904 comments Mod
G.G. wrote: "Again, I'm with you on that. I can tolerate it when it serves a purpose. For example, you need to paint how cruel an antagonist is. One might say you're showing the reader instead of telling them.

But now that you've done your job and the readers have a clear picture, then maybe it's time to ease on the descriptions. Have them happen, but to take Bruce example, stop at the hose. I'm sure the readers will get it."


That's exactly how I feel about it with my own writing. Some stories don't call for any violence at all, so there is none. Sometimes my general lit. stuff needs a little violence, but not often. My novel has a bit to do with bullying, so there is some violence, but it's fairly mild. Just teenage boys shoving teenaged boys kind of stuff. I let the violence get a little out of hand in some of the horror pieces, because horror fans seem to want that more, but still, I hold back until it's necessary for the story.


message 16: by Ken (new)

Ken Doggett (kendoggett) Christina wrote: "There came a point for me when senseless violence in movies became more depressing than shocking...."

Me, too. We know that the real world contains such people, but I read for escapism, and look for refuge from the real world at times. I can't get that if I read the same stuff I see in the news.


message 17: by Charles (last edited May 03, 2015 10:43AM) (new)

Charles Hash | 1054 comments I'm not sure I could write something without violence in it. :\

But I don't write it just to be writing it.

And sometimes there are things that are worse than violence.


message 18: by Ken (new)

Ken Doggett (kendoggett) Violence is not really the issue. My stories have violence. I think it's the extreme, graphic violence many readers have a problem with.


message 19: by Dwayne, Ay-yi-yi (new)

Dwayne Fry | 3904 comments Mod
Charles wrote: "I'm not sure I could write something without violence in it."

Your work is violent, to be sure, but it's not misplaced violence. It's not there just for shock value. It serves the purpose to move the story along. There is a place for violent stories, just like there is a place for any kind of story. (Turn, Turn, Turn) But, like any other kind of story, it needs to be handled correctly. Handled correctly, romance can be uplifting and exciting, incorrectly and it's sappy and stupid. Handled correctly, humor can be entertaining and surprising, incorrectly it can be predictable and boring. Violence can add excitement and can put the reader in point blank range of the conflict in the story. Handled incorrectly and it is just gross and gratuitous. You handle it correctly.


message 20: by Riley, Viking Extraordinaire (new)

Riley Amos Westbrook (sonshinegreene) | 1511 comments Mod
Ken wrote: "Violence is not really the issue. My stories have violence. I think it's the extreme, graphic violence many readers have a problem with."

I.E. saying he was decapitated vs. Describing the way the sword slid through the back of the neck, and needing the extra swing to penetrate through the vertebrae.
Both have their own merits and context in which they should be use, but both are not for everyone.


message 21: by Charles (last edited May 03, 2015 10:55AM) (new)

Charles Hash | 1054 comments Dwayne wrote: "Charles wrote: "I'm not sure I could write something without violence in it."

Your work is violent, to be sure, but it's not misplaced violence. It's not there just for shock value. It serves the ..."


I try to walk the edge between shock and awe. :D

I don't think Game of Thrones is wordy at all. I think its a very clean prose. It is very dry and boring at first though, and I didn't think I would make it through the first 30% of book 1, but I'm glad I did.


message 22: by Micah (new)

Micah Sisk (micahrsisk) | 1019 comments Bruce...just what the heck are you reading? I can't even tell what genre you're talking about. I read SF almost exclusively and though there is a lot of violence in some of it, it rarely reaches the excessive levels you talk about. I've heard some people complain about Iain M. Banks's overuse of torture...but except for one story where the subject is largely around virtual reality Hell realms, I can't really think of anything too explicit in his books...aside from some short action sequences.

Personally I think those kinds of scenes should be treated the same as sex scenes: only represented in detail when it is story-important. Otherwise it's seems to just become titillation.

In my own work I struggled over one novelette in particular, which involved a woman who had been subjected to sexual slavery for an extended time. The story is about how she finally overcomes that, eventually turning the tide on her captors. So it seemed important at the start to include one particularly visceral scene (which also explored a technology that became central to the plot, and which shows up in some of my other writing in the same universe).

Writing it wasn't so bad. Going back to edit it became...uncomfortable. I had to edit out a lot of detail, and it still ended up way more graphic than anything else I've written (and made me give the story collection it's included in an Adult rating on Smashwords, which probably hurt my sales).

But I digress...if you keep finding objectionable material, you might want to reevaluate the type of books you're reading.


message 23: by Bruce (new)

Bruce Carroll (BruceCarroll) | 26 comments I am not talking about censorship. Please, write what you want to write. But consider that you may be alienating a broader audience by going in a certain direction.


message 24: by Bruce (new)

Bruce Carroll (BruceCarroll) | 26 comments I dunno, Michah, the description of your novelette sounds pretty over-the-top to me. I am primarily reading things other authors have asked me to read, either to give a review or as a beta read. I do like that I can point out the parts I question in a beta read. I try not to post reviews lower than three stars.


message 25: by Bruce (new)

Bruce Carroll (BruceCarroll) | 26 comments That seems like a reasonable speculation, BB.


message 26: by G.G. (new)

G.G. (ggatcheson) | 2491 comments Like someone said, extreme violence is like erotica. It has its place because some people like it. But just like erotica, there should be a warning, not a censure.


message 27: by Ken (new)

Ken Doggett (kendoggett) G.G. wrote: "Like someone said, extreme violence is like erotica. It has its place because some people like it. But just like erotica, there should be a warning, not a censure."

Agreed on that.


message 28: by Bruce (new)

Bruce Carroll (BruceCarroll) | 26 comments Again, I am not advocating censure.


message 29: by Micah (new)

Micah Sisk (micahrsisk) | 1019 comments Bruce wrote: "I am not talking about censorship. Please, write what you want to write. But consider that you may be alienating a broader audience by going in a certain direction."

I understood you weren't talking about censorship.

I never worry about alienating a broader audience because...well, you've got to have an audience first before you can alienate them ;P

Also, I simply write books I want to read. How others react to them, though of interest to me, is not the driving force of my work. It's also their own concern really.


message 30: by Micah (last edited May 03, 2015 05:01PM) (new)

Micah Sisk (micahrsisk) | 1019 comments Bruce wrote: "I dunno, Michah, the description of your novelette sounds pretty over-the-top to me."

It is the darkest story I've written. But it was important to me to write it because the main character will show up in later works as a prime villain. This is kind of the tale of the creation of a (hopefully complex) villain. Also, the most extreme part of the story is one scene early in the work. It not only sets up the "this is what she's been through" part of the story, but also demonstrates the bio-technology that plays a huge role in the story's resolution.

So, yes, it's a harsh story at first, verging upon horror I suppose, but I don't feel any of it was done gratuitously or for the shock/titillation value.


message 31: by Jenycka (new)

Jenycka Wolfe (jenyckawolfe) | 301 comments Count me as a member of the wuss brigade. There are things I just cannot read.

There is one series I absolutely love but had to stop reading because the author had this bizarre tendency to include descriptions of house pets being brutally killed. And these are romance novels! The scenes certainly pack an emotional punch but I can't handle it.


message 32: by Bruce (new)

Bruce Carroll (BruceCarroll) | 26 comments Nothing says "I love you" like a butchered pet.


message 33: by Dwayne, Ay-yi-yi (new)

Dwayne Fry | 3904 comments Mod
G.G. wrote: "Like someone said, extreme violence is like erotica. It has its place because some people like it. But just like erotica, there should be a warning, not a censure."

I've never been a fan of the idea of warning labels for various reasons.

1. On music and movies, I think often they work to draw attention from children instead of warning them away.
2. I know some things that may or may not offend people, but there are so many different things that may offend someone, I am not keen on warning against all of it.
3. While it isn't censorship, I do feel like I'm apologizing for writing something that may be offensive to some.
4. Sometimes warning against the things that may offend would mean giving spoilers.

That said, I am strongly considering adding a warning on "We Fear The Living". It is the story that is most likely to offend some and it is one I put out for free once in a while.

If authors want to put a warning on their stories, I have no issue with that. I would, however, have a problem with some kind of universally imposed warning on books.


message 34: by Charles (new)

Charles Hash | 1054 comments I've thought about putting a parental warning label on the cover of some of my work.


message 35: by Iffix (new)

Iffix Santaph | 324 comments I write middle-grade fiction, so I try to avoid being overly violent in scenes. Even in scenes where a character is shot down, I generally strive for more of a superheroic vibe more akin to Marvel and less to the actual world in which we live. But I do worry that presenting this sort of thing to young ones can lead to a desire to read about baseball bats and garden hoses down the road.

The world is a dark place and some authors feel a strong urge to keep up in order to shock their readers. I don't look at writing that way. A good story has very little to deal with graphic violence. (There is a large group of the population who skip fight scenes however violent because that's not what they read for, so I try to make each scene mean something more than a jab to the jugular.)

One of my favorite authors wrote a feel-good story about people being burned alive, murdered in horrendous pagan rites, and beheaded. (But seriously, I read it for the feel-good and I still thought it was an amazing book, even in spite of the scenes I had to skip.)


message 36: by Owen (new)

Owen O'Neill (owen_r_oneill) | 1509 comments I don't read enough fiction to comment on trends. I do suspect there has been a change, and (outside extremes -- I'm not big on extremes and yes, they are relative) I welcome change. As Dwayne said, nothing is stagnant and things evolve. Things are also a product of their time. My parents were both WWII vets (my dad got a bronze star for valor, although I didn't learn that until after his death), and they were not against violence in movies or books, nor did they try to shield us from it. But depictions of violence meant something different to them because they'd seen what happens when the gun goes off and they didn't need to imagine it. I think enough of the population then had that experience, or absorbed those attitude from those who did, to strongly affect how violence was depicted.

That has changed. I to think about the "desensitizing" effect of graphic depictions of violence of people (not just kids), but I also think there is more heat than light in that issue at this present time.

Like many have said above, I do object to clumsy and/or gratuitous depictions of violence. I have read authors (none of them indie) who I thought just didn't have the skill to write an effective scene, so they larded it up the details. They seem to be in some sort of contest with themselves as they go along in an attempt to be "extra-horrific". And I think they should be schooled to write better. If they want to be "horrific," they ought to learn how to do it in a meaningful way.

Philosophically, I do believe that if an author is going to write about awful things, they should be awful, and the reader should feel awful reading it. To decide to introduce those elements and then "fuzz" them up to avoid turning off readers suggests to me that those elements should be rethought. I am not in favor of "atrocity with training wheels." But there are still limits.

The series we write has violence in it, which can be quite unpleasant at times. There is one scene we wrote together that turned my stomach when we wrote it, and it still does. (My co-author feel the same.) It is not "graphic" in the way the scenes Bruce described in the first post are -- I actually think it's worse. (I can generally handle graphic -- I tend to find it eye-rolling more that anything.) We continue to debate including this scene when we publish. We do feel it is quite important. It is the complement to another, also unpleasant (and probably more controversial) scene, and those two scenes are, in a way, the anchors of the whole series (not just this book).

But we still worry they cross the line. It is, of course, a judgement call, and when dealing with some topics it's just not easy to say where the line is. I have a lot of sympathy for authors who face the decision in their work.

And I completely with Dwayne about content labels and I think they generally serve little purpose, and should not be mandated. But this book is going to get an one because we don't want people getting blindsided.


message 37: by Rachael (new)

Rachael Eyre (rachaeleyre) | 192 comments A little late to the debate. This probably sounds odd, because most of my stories have at least one murder in them, but I'm very squeamish when it comes to descriptions of violence, particularly against women, children and animals.

Violence against women is horribly fetishised - do we really need to see every detail of a woman's brutal rape, for example? As for violence against animals, there seems to be a feeling that it "doesn't count." I had to stop reading The Wasp Factory because I was so sickened by the animal torture scenes.

Even stranger is when bloody violence is thrown in for the hell of it. Evelyn Waugh's Decline and Fall obviously isn't a "modern" novel, but the *spoiler alert* decapitation of one of the main characters, possibly the only one who could be described as halfway nice, really shocked and saddened me. And this in what's supposed to be a light hearted comedy!

So no, you're not a wuss. I find violence in books worse because at least you can think, "It's okay, it's only makeup" when you're watching a movie. With a book it's happening in real time.


message 38: by Owen (new)

Owen O'Neill (owen_r_oneill) | 1509 comments Rachael wrote: "Violence against women is horribly fetishised..."

In my reading about reading -- and in other forms of entertainment -- I have noted a trend I don't much like: the tendency to treat rape as a sort of literary/cinematic shorthand. By depicting it, the author often (it seems to me) seeks to accomplish two things at once: show that the perpetrator is evil evil evil for committing it, and the woman is strong for surviving it. As a bonus, there may be a motivation provided that moves the narrative forward.

And having thus established that the perp is evil and the woman is strong at minimal cost, pretty soon the narrative goes along as if not much has happened. While I'm not sure if this counts as "fetishising" the topic, I wish people were not so quick to employ this trope as they seem to be. (I speak under correction to those who've actually read more than I.)

I put this in the same basket as the tendency to "off the cute chick" to prove a work is "gritty" and "unromantic" (or something), while grabbing "sympathy" points. I've seen this become so prevalent in some place that it comes across as downright misogynous, although I think it may be just habitual in some cases. (I'm not sure which is worse.)

In both cases, I tend to feel the creator is losing control of their narrative, more than anything.


message 39: by Ben (last edited May 04, 2015 05:39AM) (new)

Ben Wise | 4 comments I wouldn't consider myself a wuss, I don't mind graphic violence and I've written my share. But what's the point if it's gratuitous? It adds nothing and just slows the work down. Violence, as anything else, either adds something to the story or it belongs on the cutting room floor.


message 40: by A. (new)

A. (anitalouiserobertsonyahoocom) | 50 comments This turned into a HOT topic Ben! I'm with you - as far as not enjoying this kind of story, HOWEVER, just because it's not my cup of tea, I can't say it shouldn't exist. Whether or not the violence is gratuitous, it has an audience and I suppose I'd rather be aware that someone is reading about this type of behavior instead of participating in in. I'm not so sure this is a NEW trend however, there have always been books with graphic violence, looking back in literary history. The Marquis de Sade shocked the 18th Century and enjoyed every minute of it. Personally, I was unable to read or watch the Hannibal Lecter books or movies but I have friends who thought that stuff was great. To each his own, I am thankful that there's room in the literary world for all of us.


message 41: by Micah (new)

Micah Sisk (micahrsisk) | 1019 comments Bruce wrote: "Nothing says "I love you" like a butchered pet."

AKA "you don't want to come back from Sorrento to a dead cat."


message 42: by Bruce (new)

Bruce Carroll (BruceCarroll) | 26 comments Thanks to everyone for sharing.


message 43: by Hayden (new)

Hayden Linder (haydendlinder) | 85 comments Hey Bruce, My book is about a ninja set in a land based on feudal Japan. AND yes, there IS a torture scene in it. And the reason it's there is because immediately after that scene our mc looks at the torturer and says "I did not want to know how to do that." And the torturer replies, "that makes two of us."
The reason the scene is there is the reader will instantly feel a connection for this side character. A person they just met and assumed was evil, suddenly has depth.
While reading your post I was able to easily explain why I wrote it that way. It was a tool. It fit into the story and added human qualities to the new side character. So I have to question the quality of story where when the author was asked about a scene involving the abuse of children, his answer was "It gets better?"


message 44: by Melanie (new)

Melanie (cuttywren) | 2 comments However much of a wuss you are - or are not -Bruce, I think i can out wuss you. I once fainted while reading a book. It wasn't even particularly violent, (Keri Hulme's The Bone People), but something about the scene of a beating and the suspense got to me. I was feeling a little queasy and the next moment I found myself on the floor!


message 45: by Steve (new)

Steve Salter | 6 comments I don't think there is a need to go into graphic detail when it comes to things like rape or similar. You can paint the picture without the detail. Sometimes that's a better way to deal with it as it then leaves the reader to imagine the situation. I'm in the middle of writing a new book which has a rape scene in it. It's about a volunteer who has gone to work in northern Nigeria leaving her fiance and family behind for two years. It all goes wrong when she can't escape from the village where she works as islamic militants start to run riot and take over the area where she lives. The rape scene is horific but I'm still undecided as to how far I need to push it so the reader can see the horrors of civil conflict and the treatment of women. I'll sleep on it.


message 46: by Ken (new)

Ken Doggett (kendoggett) Steve wrote: "I don't think there is a need to go into graphic detail when it comes to things like rape or similar. You can paint the picture without the detail. Sometimes that's a better way to deal with it as ..."

I think in a case like that you have to consider who your audience is. Would they stop reading at that point, no matter how vital the scene is to the story, and throw the book away? Or would your audience not be bothered by the graphic nature of the scene as long as it's part of the context of the story? All of that has to be considered.


message 47: by Steve (new)

Steve Salter | 6 comments Cheers Ken I'll certainly think about it and perhaps concentrate more on the emotional damage caused more than the brutality of the action although I can describe it I don't think I need to go into every gross detail second by second.


message 48: by Owen (new)

Owen O'Neill (owen_r_oneill) | 1509 comments Ken wrote: "I think in a case like that you have to consider who your audience is..."

That's true, but it's also a very tough call. Typically, one only gets feedback (reviews and such) from a small sliver of the readership, which may be be representative. What the rest think -- especially on a topic like this -- is basically unknowable. Even if there was a way to ask, the terms used to describe such a scene have such a wide range of meaning to different people as to be almost useless as a gauge.

Beta readers can help, to an extent, but the author is pretty much on his/her own, I think. It's pretty futile to try to second guess decisions like this when reliable data can't be obtained.


message 49: by Owen (new)

Owen O'Neill (owen_r_oneill) | 1509 comments Steve wrote: "Cheers Ken I'll certainly think about it and perhaps concentrate more on the emotional damage caused more than the brutality of the action although I can describe it ..."

Steve, for what it's worth (and knowing no more than what you said), that's the path we tend to take, because we feel that's what matters as far as the story goes. Obviously one can do both, but it's the consequences that matter in our narrative. I also think it can be more effective and powerful (and sometimes more disturbing).


message 50: by Hayden (new)

Hayden Linder (haydendlinder) | 85 comments Steve wrote: "I don't think there is a need to go into graphic detail when it comes to things like rape or similar. You can paint the picture without the detail. Sometimes that's a better way to deal with it as ..."

Tough call actually. Rape is so overused in place of sex in our society's entertainment that I tend to be standoffish with it in my book.


« previous 1
back to top