1. wolferz
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    wolferz Member

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    Amount of Detail in Uncomfortable Scenes

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by wolferz, Dec 23, 2008.

    My question is: How much detail is necessary when writing a scene regarding an uncomfortable or unusual topic? For example, if I were writing a scene where the character had to urinate badly and eventually did urinate, is it acceptable to keep the scene short or long?

    Sometimes I am personally more interested in writing a lot of detail with "pee" scenes, but I realize other readers might not want to read about this. And when I ask how 'much' detail, can someone give me a quick sample?

    Would people get offended or grossed out with this?
     
  2. SonnehLee
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    SonnehLee Contributing Member Contributor

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    How important is it that your character pees? How necessary is it to the story? If it has no relevance to the story, then there shouldn't be much detail given.
     
  3. Sylvester
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    Sylvester Member

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    I would have to say...

    ...it Depends:D (Get it.)

    One, how important it is to the scene? If it deals with finding something wrong to tip off a health issue, it would warrant a more detailed explaination.

    Two, consider your target audience. No matter how much somebody loves James Bond, they probably won't want to read a two page narative of him using the throne.
     
  4. BitPoet
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    BitPoet Member

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    Maybe you can steal a bit from Steven King in that regard. He avoids to scare away the reader by inventing a strong metaphor for the uncomfortable part. Instead of focusing on the need to urinate itself, use the stomach cramps to illustrate your character's suffering, make the muscles ripple and churn, sting and contract, whatever resembles the feeling you need.

    Apart from that, make the scene as long as the story needs it to progress, and as short as neccessary to not bore the reader. As long as the plot's going and the main conflict is still tangible, everything is fine.
     
  5. Show
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    I guess it depends for what your going for and what kind of story it is. I did this kind of scene only once, and mainly as filler in a serial. It was a little more detailed than I would've liked.

    Anyway, is this done for comedic effect? If some, then maybe an extended scene wouldn't be so bad if that's the effect your going for. It all depends on what kind of story it is, how relevant is the scene to the story, and what kind of effect you want to go for.


    What I find much more difficult to discern is how detailed to make other uncomfortable scenes such as molestation and rape. Such scenes, obviously, are relevant to the story. The benefits of detail is that the reader can feel the pain of the character and see what the extent of their horrors. The downsides are that it sometimes can be a big turnoff and disturb the readers too much. So I find these scenes require a lot more thought when you try to think of just how detailed to go.
     
  6. cwpcreator
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    cwpcreator Member

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    Usually with rape scenes and the like, I make it clear what the characters' intention is and then end it. I honestly don't see any reason we need to get detail about it. Unless you're writing erotica of course...
     
  7. Shadow Dragon
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    Shadow Dragon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Like others have said, the amount of detail should directly depend of how important the scene is. If the scene is very important, go all out all long as you don't bore the reader.
     
  8. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    You're probably going to gross out some readers at the mere mention of it, especially if they have an active imagination. This is one of those things that I would say to go with your gut first, but if enough people tell you to tone it down, you should.
     
  9. othman
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    othman Member

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    Yeah but surely it matters mostly about who your audience is? As if you were writing a picture book for five year olds I would try to advoid that scene altogether, but if you're writing a 500+ page adult book then nobody is going to get grossed out or anything (aside from for the author who has to deal with those troublesome thoughts that wonder away...). So really you just got to decide how important it is, and whether it merits a mere paragraph or a page or two.
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    it's not really a matter of how important the 'scene' is, but of how important [if at all] the details are...if it's the classic antarctic dilemma of having to pee on your hand to unstick it from a piece of metal, then the details can add to the suspense/drama of the event... but if it's just a guy watering a rosebush, why would the details be needed?
     
  11. Harry Greene
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    Harry Greene Member

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    Pee'ing is not needed in a novel. Nor is defecating in a bush.
     
  12. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    It may seem nasty, but it could be essential to the plot. E.g. in the film 'The Green Mile', it is necessary that Tom Hanks' character has an embarrassing complaint which affects his peeing. It's handled tastefully, I think this is the key.
    Same with writing.
     
  13. garmar69
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    garmar69 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I know this has been said, but if it is just some guys needing to relieve himself and it is necessary to the story, then keep it toned down. Everyone has needed to pee badly at some time and knows the relief of finally, well you know... I don't need to strain to hard to picture it.

    Now if the guy, or gal is making a urine sculpture out in the back yard on a freezing day, and you are adding depth to his/her character, or just plain trying to tickle your reader, then the more visuals the better I say.

    Don't be afraid to offend or gross out your reader, that is one the most crippling diseases a writer can develop, fear.

    Now as far as rape scenes or molestation, *shudders* you should tread very, very carefully, imo. These scenes benefit very little from becoming too 'visual.' This is a personal opinion of course because I have little tolerance for these sort of scenes. Same goes with a child dying in a movie, or book, like Pet Cemetery--can't hack it.

    A little goes a long way, and that concept should always be in any decision made when adding to a story. Just don't be afraid to venture into these areas to avoid offending anyone.
     
  14. Show
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    I tend to go towards the slightly more detailed direction, mainly cause I often try to put people in the scene and so they can feel exactly what the characters are feeling. If I can make the audience feel sad at such a sad, I guess that is a sign of success since it is what I was going for.

    So I do get fairly detailed sometimes, and not so much details on the injuries as much as details on the emotions of the characters involved.
     
  15. garmar69
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    garmar69 Contributing Member Contributor

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    This makes good sense to me. It is always good to convey the emotions. But when it comes to detailing the act itself...
     
  16. Show
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    Well, the only time a rape situation crawled up was in my serial. I did it in flashback format so those who are uncomfortable with it can just skip over it, and those looking to feel the horror a bit more can venture in.

    Now with me, I rarely do gruesome deaths. Nobody gets torn apart, or crushed under a pile of houses. Usually the death is a single bullet, or a stab wound. Fairly conventional yes, but seeing as it's not a fantasy, I think that's fine.

    An example would be the death of one of my child characters in the serial. There is details on the wounds, but not much. I mainly try to convey the emotions of the loved ones around him, and most importantly, his own emotions as he feels his body shutting down.

    An example of something quicker is the end to my novel which features a fairly quick death with more emphasis on the aftermath than on the actual death itself. (If it were done in a movie with no slowmotion, total time would be about 5 seconds for the actual deaths, lol)

    So anyway, I think rape/molestation, and death scenes do need to be handled discreetly. I just think that sometimes you gotta focus on the unpleasant to convey the emotion and show what the characters are feeling, rather than just be told "He felt sad that his friend was dying." I think doing my best to paint the reader in as an observer in the room, at least as much as possible, is the goal I want to go for. And if they are in the room, they'd see everything so there is only so discreet I can be without losing that effect
     
  17. Leaka
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    Leaka Creative Mettle

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    Personally I like the uncomfortable and disturbing feeling I get when I write myself a good rape scene.
    Most of my stories are written from either an insane person perspective or a just a freaks perspective.
    All my MCs are the bad guys, for some reason that I am not clear on.
    I prefer the gruesome over a gun. Anyone can guess a gun, they never can guess a deli slicer.
    [Well that's cause all of my stuff is dark horror stuff]

    So I guess what I am trying to say detail for me in gripping the reader into the action and the scene what is happening, but still keeping the reader on an emotional stand point as well.
    I like to make my detail disturbing and emotional, like the ham and cheese of a sandwich.

    For a peeing scene, if its important or you just want to give a comedy break have some fun with the wizz.
    If it isn't that important and its just something thrown out there, you better cancel the pit stop.
    [Sorry couldn't stop myself]
     
  18. Harry Greene
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    Harry Greene Member

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    Great example. Perhaps it does have its place, but it's not a direction I would take my writing.


    Merry christmas
     
  19. Show
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    Well, I'm not into the dark horror as much. My serial is meant to be at least semi-realistic. So I don't find it necessary to find gruesome ways to kill people since in real life, people usually go for the straight forward knife or gun. I don't feel a need to make it too extravagant. My rape scene(really only one) was a bit different than usual due to who was involved. So I had to tread extra cautiously.

    I like to do it disturbing and emotional sometimes too. It all depends on the scene and who is involved. I do put a limit on it because I don't want the disturbing aspect to overshadow the emotional impact and horror of what is going on.

    lol Funny, lol. Wizz stops usually are for comedy effect. Unless of course it is a plot point to get somebody into a public restroom to overhear an important conversation or witness a murder. ;)
     
  20. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    I would agree too

    Because if you read the Chapter 42 posting in my blog, a lot of it's about Ferini's raping Kate again...I stopped with the sound of a zipper going down. There was no need to go further..let the reader imagine what was happening-and how past events of this nature (and this one) helped shape the white-hot hatred she has for her former Master (as in slave-master).
     
  21. TwinPanther13
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    TwinPanther13 Contributing Member

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    I see this and have to say unless the detail is showing how much an animal someone is by peeing or pooping in a bush then it is not needed. If it is a neccessary action or important device for the story put it in. As I have learned keep the story moving.
     
  22. Cestralisk
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    Cestralisk New Member

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    Determine the relevance and balance it carefully, yes? I think that would apply to all scenes, not just the uncomfortable ones.

    I can imagine a pee scene in several ways.
    Examples could be to cause humiliation to someone or to that character or even to destroy property (especially effective and vulgar way for silently ruining electronics).
    It’s hard for me to imagine that a pee scene would not prompt emotions from readers. They just might not be the emotions you want to prompt.

    I don’t understand animosity for uncomfortable scenes as a rule. So I don’t believe a sex scene is 100% a turn off if something important happens. The clock usually ticks even when people have sex or whatnot so there is a lot that could happen. Of course, sex sells…but it’s a cheap trick to just add sex for that purpose alone.
     

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