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  1. Sapphire
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    Sapphire Senior Member

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    A scene from my story (question)

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Sapphire, Sep 2, 2007.

    Alright, there is a scene that I'm going to do in my novel where the protagonists reach this town where all the inhabitants are dead. However, the townspeople are hanging from trees, poles, etc. with their throats cut open and blood draining into pots. (for a certain reason)

    I discussed this with a friend of mine from school and she said that it would be too much for a first book and it was over the top. I gave an example of Stephen King and how gruesome he was in his own books, and she said it was nothing like that.

    What do you think about this?
     
  2. Scavenger
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    Scavenger Senior Member

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    There's nothing wrong with gruesome at all, first book or otherwise. In my novel, a person is attacked (vividly) by a bear in the first chapter, and about five people die in the second. Then someone is kidnapped and tortured...etc.

    If the scene is relevant to the plot and, most importantly, well-written, then there is absolutely no problem with writing a scene where a bunch of dead people are dangling from trees. You can tell your friend she's wrong.
     
  3. Sapphire
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    Sapphire Senior Member

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    Thank you. She also told me that it would destroy any chances of anybody reading my books if that was published and thousands of people read that scene...so I was kind of worried about that.

    The scene has relevance and it has a symbolic meaning to the characters and the progression of the plot, but she said "forget the pots and make it more tame", but I am a type of person to go all out and not hold back, despite how bad it seems, because life in general is bad. Does that make it a bad thing?
     
  4. randomray
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    randomray New Member

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    go for it, i would read a book that opened like that, and i think there should be no limits on what the first book should be like, afterall, if the first book was tame and the second wild it would leave the readers wondering what happened, and as a first chapter that would really draw the reader in if you know what i mean, your friends wrong, write what you want to write, i would read it, it sounds really cool :)
     
  5. Scavenger
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    Scavenger Senior Member

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    On the contrary, if people started talking about how violent the book is, chances ar your sails will go up. Even those who refuse to read the book might buy it; I know of a couple churches that ordered copies of the Harry Potter books for the sole purpose of burning them. I don't think that should be your goal necessarily, but it is amusing.

    And you should never forget your plot in favor of making the story "more tame." Tame is silly. If you're writing, write all-out, and say what you meant to say. Tame has nothing to do with it.
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It isn't so much a quetion of what you write, but rather how you write it. You cqan write the scene in different ways. You could write it to emphasize the lurid qualities of the scene, going into nauseating detail about congealing gelatinous blood, and dangling bits of flesh, with birds pecking at the eyeballs and insects and rats swarming over the remains - you get the idea. Or you can show the most salient details, and describe the reactions of the first people to arrive on the scene, and let the reader fill in the details in their imaginations.

    You say that there is a reason for the manner of the deaths, so I must accept that certain of the details can be crucial to the plot. Yet all the details need not be revealed in the opening scene, either.

    Save some details for the investigators on the scene to put into a report examined later by a protagonist. Or cut away from the scene and have details discussed later among the protagonists or told to someone who was not present.

    Always reveal a small number of details at a time. That allows time for the reader to absorb them and to begin to wonder what else there is, and to eagerly wait for more.
     
  7. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sapphire,

    I pretty much agree with what Cogito wrote/suggested.

    The skill and manner in which you describe/present scenes and events (especially the opening one) will go a long way toward determining if your novel will be accepted for publication. And if published, your novel won't be for or please everybody.

    After you've completed the novel, you may end up going back and altering the first scene anyway in revision.

    Good luck and keep pressing forward with writing it.

    Terry
     
  8. bluejt2000
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    bluejt2000 Member

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    It depends on what sort of story you're writing. It would be too gruesome for a kid's fairy story, for instance, but not for a horror novel. (You'll come across far more gore in a Clive Barker book!)

    It also depends where in your novel the scene appears. If it's near the beginning then it might be difficult to top it later, when you need to increase the levels of danger and excitement, etc. In that case you might want to start with just one gore-dripping body.

    John
     
  9. Weaselword
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    Weaselword Banned

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    The great thing about writing a novel is, you don't have to decide. :) You can rewrite it again and again and again until it's right.

    Write the scene, put it in, and see if you like where it takes you. You can always remove it later.

    If I were writing that scene, I'd be aiming for (a) making it really chilling and (b) not squicking out my readers. So I wouldn't be describing the corpses so much as focusing on the consequences.

    In other words, my protagonist might catch a glimpse of a corpse hanging on the tree, almost completely obscured by flies. Then I'd describe the flies rather than the corpse.

    Then I'd show the protagonist going into a building. The former occupants are suspended from the rafters, their blood draining into a pot. Then I'd describe the pot very matter-of-factly... if there are three occupants, that's about ten litres of blood, so it has to be quite a big one. Maybe our weird vampire (or whatever it is) had to use the household washing pot or bathtub to contain all of it.

    If I did describe a corpse, it would be a dog or something, not a human one.
     
  10. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thinking about this question, a thought that came to mind is that a reader's imagination is far more powerful and can picture much more than any worded description ever could. Some description coupled with suggestive hints, including effective use of similies and other literary devices may be the better route.

    That way, in the end, the reader will develop the picture that seems most appropriate to them. If their mind's eye pictures blood and oozing contents dripping from dangling intestines strung across pine trees like Christmas garland, that's what they will come away with. If they picture a more tame scene, but get the point you the author is trying to make, it works just as well.

    Terry
     
  11. Skipdonahue
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    Skipdonahue Member

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    You're creating a world. If that is what happened in that world, then you owe it to your reader to tell it exactly as it happened. Nothing is over the top in literature when you respect your reader enough to handle the information as you tell it in your style.

    Have a little bit of faith in yourself and tell the story :)
     

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