1. TheSerpantofNar
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    TheSerpantofNar Active Member

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    Dark fantasy and violence

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by TheSerpantofNar, Apr 29, 2012.

    Im new here but I have been writing short stories based in a dark medevil fantasy world I created and I was thinking on terms of violence in the world. Its a brutal world where war and death are very common its realistic in a lot of ways but it has many magical elements and monsters however they are seldom seen. Ive actually drawn a map actually two map's of two massive continent's with another still in development right now right that is still a just a blank land mass. Anyway I think Violence in dark fantasy can be used to move the story forward however I wonder how brutal it should be. I have head several death's in my short stories one particular death or death's having a character and his family burned to death in their castle by one of the world's many many races some violence has been implied though. So my question should the violence just be used to drive home the point and as well to move the story or stories forward.
     
  2. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    I have to admit right off that I'm not a big a fan of it. When I use violence it's to reprove the idea in society.

    In fact, I often wonder if the guys who really on it like a crutch actually know what fear and brutality are all about. I would do research. A cowboy bar we often refer to as "honky tonks" would be a good place to pick a fight and then "write what you know."
     
  3. TheSerpantofNar
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    TheSerpantofNar Active Member

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    I think it can become a crutch as I admit to just wanting to throw it in there but that doesn't always work it has be a consequence to me of a action or actions. In dark fantasy I think its very common though for violence to be used for shock value which makes the violence lose its impact to me which more or less short changes the story.
     
  4. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    Then why use it? Would you rather read a book of substance, or a book that's simply a string of common epithets, fad ideology and snips of Katniss film-takes that hit the director's cutting room floor?

    If you don't want to read one like that, then don't write one.
     
  5. TheSerpantofNar
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    TheSerpantofNar Active Member

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    Actually my short stories have only sudden bursts of it as I said it would lesson the impact of a death or other dark elements. When I use it im unapologetic about it and blunt about it but some is implied. However they are story driven my last short story in the fantasy world had violence only at the start and that was due to a consequence of the actions of one character in the last short story.
     
  6. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    That shows you're growing as an author.

    Let me tell you about getting your bell rung. Not much romantic about the evening. ER facilities have lousy vending machines and cops ask a zillion questions.

    Find a good plot idea, develop characters of substance, throw in a little romance (Superpsycho knows a lot about girls--have him tell you about the first one he built in his dad's garage) and leave the tinsel to the fanboys.
     
  7. TheSerpantofNar
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    TheSerpantofNar Active Member

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    Well I have been working on the dark fantasy world for well a long time well over a year I would say the map is still in development. However im kind of fleshing out what I do have so that to work with its a pretty barbaric place as ive pictured in my head and written. Not much in the way of streight good or bad guys there are consequences however I have a BETA name for the realm but its subject to change. Im also a big fan of atmosphere as it where also my name on this site has to do with a event that happend in the fantasy world's history.
     
  8. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Serpant,
    When I think of the dark ages, after stupidity and feudalism, the FIRST thing I think of is death. That time period makes me shudder because people died at 30. There was plague, starvation, rape, murder, war, etc. No one was safe (or at least that's the impression I have).

    I don't see anything wrong with including death in your story. If characters die right and left, it certainly instills a tone and if done right could leave your reader enthralled.

    As far as the violence itself, I think like anything that will come down to how you want the story to be and your writing. I've certainly seen books pull off killing without being too grisly. Hell, Homer talks about killing nonstop and I consider his stuff classy.

    Bar fights are not going to tell you anything, unless you're trying to write about frustrated men. Short of going to war, the only way to really get down this sort of stuff effectively is to see how others do it.

    Personally, I like your idea of a family being burnt alive in their castle. That tells a LOT about your world. You don't even have to describe the actual event if you don't want to. It just has to be one of those stories that gets passed around at the local pub.
     
  9. WriterDude
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    WriterDude Contributing Member Contributor

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    I see death and violence the same way I see everything else in the story. If the story needs it, include it. If the story doesn't need it, don't include it. And as for how graphic, dark, scary, disturbing you put it, does it really matter? The main character in my current story has no problem burning down a kindergarden and killing everyone (even the children) by hand if they try to escape. It might sound brutal, and it is. She's by far the worst character I've ever written about (in a good way, of course; I really love her). But at the same time, there is very little violence in the story at all. It's enough that the reader knows what she's capable of and why she does what she does. It's not interesting to actually show it, as it won't drive the story forward in any way.
     
  10. The Tourist
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    Short of going to war and then suffering from PTSD, I think a barroom brawl is as close to being scared silly as most people get. And that dovetails into my pet peeve. I call most of these guys "lint trap technicians."

    By that I mean a pimply faced guy who made a bedroom out of his mom's laundry room, eats nothing but pizza rolls, and spends most of his time playing video games. Oh, once a day he does his job, cleaning out the lint trap on his mom's dryer.

    Then he writes a book about war.

    Gotta be honest with you, I don't respect these guys. Fighting always scared me, and I broke a bone in every serious fight I was in. Biker bars and honky tonks might not be Tikrit, but fear is fear and pain is pain.

    My guess is that all of this violence is Walter Mitty on Red Bull, and nothing more.
     
  11. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah, I think it's offensive to write about war if you have no experience in it.

    The argument about violence itself in novels is a big subject and probably beyond the scope of this thread.

    I am not sure that street fighting, in general, emulates the experiences of war or any kind of life and death skirmish. I say 'not sure' because I have not been to war. But I can only imagine that the atmosphere is very, very different from a common fight at a bar. For one, if you're with some punk in a room you're not thinking about death. In fact you're not thinking at all. You're just angry. Your adrenaline is up. I have no idea how one would feel on a battlefield.

    In regards to the OP's story, I don't think he's writing about war. However, I imagine his violent events run beyond a fist exchange. Probably the OP's best bet is to go to south Chicago at night alone, with his wallet out, if he wants to experience that kind of life and death fear.

    Now to the heart of the argument. Dark fantasy is never going to reach the highest calibre of literature. If you want a serious, literary novel, with realistic experiences and realistic interpretations, you're picking the wrong genre. Let those who want fantasy fantasize about violence.

    That's one reason why I stopped reading fantasy as I got older. It's all air to me.

    Edit** I also want to add that a good story teller should be able to convince anyone of anything. If you can enthrall someone with a violent scene, having never experienced violence yourself, you've done your job. Don't forget, people don't become writers to prove how badass they are, they become writers to create experiences.
     
  12. Cogito
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    Is it offensive to write about elves if you don't have pointed ears?

    Sorry, but I don't buy into the "if you aren't a member of group X, you have no right talking about it." That is narrow minded, compartmentalized thinking. Research it, communicate, where possible, with someone in group X. Learn, and accept there will be some things you get wrong.

    Understanding comes not from stying in the familiar places, but in taking risks, by stepping out of your comfort zone.
     
  13. TheSerpantofNar
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    I don't write elves I think that was tolkien's area and ive read a lot of history ive read about the infomous people in the dark ages and such. The burning alive in their own castle was something I came up that would drive home a point. Its a crual dark world its not sun shine and roses its brutal and cut throat however its also rather complex and sometimes characters don't die but sometimes the action or inaction they took results in violence.
     
  14. The Tourist
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    Oh, you're right. Ivanhoe was a great story. So was Robin Hood. Richard the Lionhearted. Joan of Arc. Camelot even had music.
     
  15. 123456789
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    Some things, like elves, require imagination. Other things, like serving in war, require experience. That's not to say I couldn't write a fantasized version of war, and for all I know it might come out pretty good. However, depiction of war in the realest sense requires feelings and experiences I do not have.

    You're right. Research on the subject will obviously help. I can see how a book based on interviews with fifteen different people who have all experienced war might be better than a book written by just one of those men.

    I don't personally find it offensive for someone to write abut war if they have not participated in it. However, I think it could be offensive to those who have because I hear it is a traumatizing experience.

    I hate to say it, but there are certain experiences, if probed deeply enough, that I would feel silly reading from people who have not experienced them. Drugs, love, loss, and religious experiences are a few of them. It's a matter of penetration in that case. If you just say, John shot Josh, OK. If you explore all the feelings John has from shooting Josh, I might accept it but I might also have some reservations.
     
  16. The Tourist
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    I think the missing component here is just what information is being conveyed for the purpose of telling a story.

    We all have some concept of unknown commodities or individuals by stereotypes. Men don't cry. All soldiers are born killers. Harleys leak.

    The problem is selling off the idea of rumors to make a cogent story. I don't think your prowess with Bing research or playing video games is a thorough foundation for some more serious themes.

    Oh, I'll give you leeway on fantasy. My Aunt Clara is a whizz at telling funny Sicilian shaggy-dog stories. But at some level there's a tipping point.
     
  17. superpsycho
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    The thing that makes a great story whether medieval, or anything other setting, is the fact the focus is on the story. You can have a whole bunch of violence, that's easy. Telling a good story isn't. The violence can be just an aspect of the story or it can be part of the story, even as a character component of its own. no matter how its used, it doesn't replace the story as the focus.

    In medieval times violence and death was a fact of life. Look at the cultures today who reflect the middle ages. Yes they mourn the deaths of loved ones but it's often just a fact of their existence and they move on. Burning someone alive in their castle wouldn't be considered outrageous or even unusual. It's just what you did to get the attention of others.
     
  18. TheSerpantofNar
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    Looking over the history of the dark ages there where some awful acts of violence done by all sorts of people and rulers. I mean some stories I had a hard time reading because they where so full of needless violence. Blood Meridian was very hard to read given the sadism and some of the depravity that was in it was pretty hard to read really even for me and i have a strong stomach.
     
  19. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    Well, S-O-N, I will admit to using violence to make a point. I did it this week. I gave a young Hunger Games fan a set of real-deal survivalist arrowheads to hold in her hand. I think such object lessons have great power in our stories.

    Blood for the sake of blood is just not good writing.
     
  20. CrimsonReaper
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    The reaction to violence would be less pronounced in a low-tech society such as what seems to have been described in the opening post. In modern first-world nations we tend to insulate ourselves from death and suffering. In earlier times people often quite literally had to step over corpses on the way to work. And fewer people complained about public executions (though simple fear of joining those bastards on the gallows helped) because LIFE WAS HARDER. If your wife and son had died of plague two seasons back, how many tears are you going to shed for some cut-purse that got caught and is about to lose a hand? Or some funny-sounding foreign soldiers about to be drawn-and-quartered. Not like those are real people anyway.

    That is not to say your characters would be completely heartless about it. They might very well see a body and wonder WHO that had been once. Had they possessed dreams and loved ones like me. Or not, if they were just some filthy peasant placed on earth by the gods to serve us nobles. I say go for the violence, if only to use it to expose the reader to the character's upbringing and view of the world.

    As for describing violence, bar fights don't really prep you. That's about proving how tough you are and maybe impressing that hot skanky chick. War is about crushing the enemy to acquire whatever resources you need. Or to eliminate his ability to take your stuff. The accepted levels of violence in a society will reflect as such. Ancient Rome is a good example of conditioning people. The gladiatorial games were not simply about bloodlust. They were about entertaining the masses, punishing criminals/dissidents, glorifying Rome's past conquests, displaying wealth (individuals would often fund events), and other reasons. They were often incredibly violent and one-sided (starved unarmed/sick slaves/cultists versus hungry lions....hmmmm.....). But there no denying they were glorious. That was part of the point. You make a spectacle of such things. A king wants his subjects to see what happens to criminals/rebels. The empire wants the masses to see how weak and savage those funny foreign devils are.

    The way the military is viewed will also be important. Soldiers throughout history were often paid very little. This was not because they were undervalued or comprised of whatever dregs could be pulled out of hicksville or local prisons (though that happened to). It was because most societies knew soldiers in foreign (or rebellious) lands would supplement their income with the time honored tradition of looting the hell out of everything they could. Many of the first Crusaders were second, third, or fourth sons of nobles who would not inherit wealth so they decided to go take it from those dirty unbelievers. One of the Crusades did not even make it to the Holy Land. They got bogged down raping and pillaging Jews and the wrong type of Christians on the way. Probably should have planned that one a little better...
     
  21. TheSerpantofNar
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    I don't know my view on the crusades is kind of mixed I read stuff about it in history books but looking back on that it was pretty bias and more politically correct. I think everyone did bad things in the crusades just not those dirty christians people where raped and killed on both sides. So to me they where all at fault not just one religion or group to me so thats how I think violence should be portayed actions caused it and its a consequence of said actions.
     
  22. The Tourist
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    S-O-N, may I ask you a question? If you feel so conflicted about the brutal violence of the time, and most of it was founded in just the abuses of power, why do you fixate on the genre?

    Why not write mysteries or cowboy novels?

    Currently I am reading a book on Mushashi. Tens of thousands of samurai, soldiers and mercenaries would clash, and most would die. The descriptions are horrific. In fact, Musashi and his best friend were shot by the new firearms of that period, and survived a 'cull' after the battle simply because so many dead had fallen on top of them. It's amazing that Musashi lived to 61.

    I am currently polishing a real samurai sword now. Folded steel. Hold it up, it's a tad heavy. Take it into a "ready" position and it's light as a feather. It's hard to imagine something this beautiful was forged simply to maim and kill.

    You hold an implement, your opinion changes.
     
  23. TheSerpantofNar
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    I actually read a book on Vlad the impaler once he used often brutal violence as a way to make people act a certain way and it worked although it was grisly stuff. To answer the question its rather complicated some of the funnist writing has been writing characters talking to eachother actually however when the violence does happen it is often a result of a misunderstanding or a way to get a character to get another out of the way. To be frank I am into horror stories however I found in dark fantasy you can incorperate both although I guess you could say my atmosphere tends to dark to gothic or gritty. There are times though I think where people can be tempted to write dark violent things for the sake of it. However given how long ive been working on the fantasy world its more a part of the everyday living and politics of the world then a needless throw in some violence for filler. Also one of my races takes inspiration from a well known group of barbaric people so its not really filler so much as it can be their nature at times.
     
  24. The Tourist
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    Could you be a bit more specific on why that has meaning for you. Is it the history? The life lessons?
     
  25. TheSerpantofNar
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    Well to me that showed some people will commit acts of violence for violence sake from what I read. I mean he did not have to do those things but I bet during those times that was often the only choice he felt he had or to make the point. I just like history and I read a lot of history and I like to read about historical battles and i like to also read about the culture and the way of living back in the dark ages.
     

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