1. Albirich
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    Albirich Active Member

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    Graphic content or not?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Albirich, Nov 25, 2013.

    The Tale of the Winter King has the ability to be told in either a very graphic way, or in the sense of way that it could appeal to younger audiences.

    Think Harry Potter vs A Song of Ice and Fire. (In terms of violence)

    Which ought I choose? I like the graphic a great deal, but would not chances be better if it weren't that graphic? aka HP

    An example is a scene, where this huntsman / assassin guy of mine catches the man he hunted. He then interrogates him as he drives the dagger in his thigh then shoulder. After he is unwilling to cooperate-- the huntsman recklessly begins carving off the other guys head (as he is alive) and well I detailed to the point that the man getting his head carved off is gagging and coughing on his own blood, and that the dagger this huntsman uses cuts through his pink flesh and bone all the same as blood squirts a meter away, dying the snow in crimson red.

    (I'm very very very tired, so I'm sorry for idiotic english, and or silly grammar mistakes, I'm just tryin to stay awake till lasagna!!)


    The other way I would do it is that the huntsman simply stabs him in thigh and shoulder. Then cuts his throat after being unwilling to cooperate, then we get him searching the body for loot, and THEN we get to know that he simply cuts of the head and puts it in a brown linen pouch.

    (He needs the head as proof, so it is going off no matter what.)

    So I'll assume that I would have the chance of a bigger audience if I chose the less graphic version. (I think?) But then again I'm not sure, which is why I ask you guys / ladies.
     
  2. Fitzroy Zeph
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    Fitzroy Zeph Contributing Member Contributor

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    For me, if the story is really good, I don't mind the graphic details, but if the story is the graphic details, like so many movies I've watched, and have been disappointed with, then no to the graphic content. I'd side on just keeping it milder.
     
  3. Laze
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    Laze Active Member

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    It's all personal preference. Some people love it—myself included—others, not so much. I prefer stories with combat involved in them, and I like the combat to feel real. If you slash someone's arm off, there will a lot of blood, and you will look at it. Who wouldn't? I mean some guy just got his entire arm sliced off! Even if your main character is squirmish, they'd still glance over at this shocking imagery. Human curiosity. Or, maybe it was someone they cared about.

    Even so, gore can be written awfully. Much like how romance can written awfully. So it depends how you pull it off, like any aspect of writing I suppose. I personally will not be shying away from gore in my novel. Like I don't shy away from explicit language. Grown ups swear, fact.

    :c
     
  4. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    I think, if you prefer graphic, go more graphic.
    The kids will grow up someday and read it too once their parents decide their old enough for some blood and gore.
    Assuming parents even pay that much attention.

    Seriously, if an 8 year old can play CoD or MoH, he should be allowed to read a few bloody scenes in a book without getting nightmares...
     
  5. DeathandGrim
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    DeathandGrim Contributing Member

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    I'm a fan of the graphic personally. It makes me cringe but that's kinda why I like it, it gives me a sense of feel for the story. But as in terms of writing I'm more tuned into poetic graphic violence. Certainly some nasty things happen but I describe them in ways that would lure the reader away from the squeamish to the realm of imaginative thinking.

    Off topic.

    I say go for graphic if it's for the sake of detailing the world and works with the theme of the story. Or else it's just unnecessary and can be done in the latter way just as effectively.
     
  6. Burlbird
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    Burlbird Contributing Member Contributor

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    @Albirich frankly, throat-cutting is a graphic detail even if you don't mention gallons of blood etc. And I wouldn't put it in a Harry Potter book anyways. Think about it.

    btw: I notice how writing about slithing throats (and filming scenes like that) is so popular these days. Makes me wish for authors to have experienced some real violence in their lives. Including having a family member raped, throat-cutted and hanged in their living rooms or something. Possibly, children find the body and are scarred for life. That sort of stuff. Real shit, you know. Non-entertaining shit.

    btw 2: he needs and ax to cut the head. Hard to do it with a pocket knife. Or to do it alone. There's the spine to crack, you know. :)
     
  7. DeathandGrim
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    DeathandGrim Contributing Member

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    That's a terrible thing to wish there guy
     
  8. Burlbird
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    Burlbird Contributing Member Contributor

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    @DeathandGrim why? I mean, the question was not about stylization of "graphic details" or what purpose should/could violence play in the narrative, but "should we describe the throat-cutting or should we just mention it". The man suffocating in his own blood, that's cool.

    I see most people here find the purpose of storytelling to be "to entertain the reader". Which means that readers read for "entertainment". And also, people insist that they want to feel like a part of the story's world: meta-textuality is dismissed with "we don't want to be reminded that we are reading fiction".

    So the logic is simple: you want to read about realistic throat-cutting. You enjoy "being there" with the protagonist. Thus, you, as the reader, find throat-cutting entertaining. I just think that, in order to present this in the most realistic possible fashion the writer could use some real experience in the field.
     
  9. MLM
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    MLM Banned for trolling

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    There's plenty of survivors of war out there. They write about blood and guts all the time. Syrians, Serbians, Eritreans...
     
  10. Burlbird
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    Burlbird Contributing Member Contributor

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    @MLM that kind of writing (from actual victims or witnesses, or just people familiar with problems) are rarely if ever graphic, and is almost never entertaining...
     
  11. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Obviously both sell, so you kind of have to do what you feel works the best, what serves your story the best. I'd personally write it as it is, and with that I mean the scene won't be about revelling in the gory details. I've been reading Chris Ryan's novels lately. He's ex-SAS and the way he writes violence... it's just not fun. Things happen fast. One sentence -- you're dead -- moving on. Then why would I read his books? Because I want to know how his character survives all the violence, all the bad shit he goes through, and see how justice finally prevails (or not, but, hey, at least he tried).

    T.Trian and I are working on a pretty action-packed story and if we didn't show the stuff that really goes down, it'd be like doing a disservice to people who've been in such situations.

    Not sure what would work best for your book, but you can always experiment and then post it to Workshop. I don't think I'd be concerned with what sells. If I was, I'd be writing zombie romance or something.
     
  12. Robert_S
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    Robert_S Contributing Member

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    Just my $0.02 on it. I really liked the way Hemingway handled graphic content in "For Whom the Bell Tolls." Both in sex and violence, he didn't detail it, but you had a sense of it. However, that may not be in the best interest in your novel, yet there may be a compromise.
     
  13. Siena
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    Siena Active Member

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    I would get the story out the way it feels right.

    And adjust to market later.
     
  14. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Actually, you can cut off a head with a regular hunting knife. There's even a video floating around the net where Russian skinheads decapitate a guy with a knife (for real). Takes a while though, the victim stays alive quite long, and it's gory.


    I agree with the last sentence. It's not necessary to kill anyone to be able to write a realistic portrayal of killing someone, but usually irl experience of thing X helps with a realistic portrayal of thing X. You can always go as close as you can. For example, if you want to improve your skills at writing a fight scene, start training some realistic self-defense style or combat sport, that ought to give you some ideas.

    To me, depicting violence (or sex or any other activity) in detail isn't about entertainment. It's about showing the reader a world they may not be familiar with in as realistic a way as possible, i.e. I try to make the reader feel as if they were really there, observing the situation from a couple of feet away. Most "normal" people would probably be more likely to be scared / disgusted if they witnessed a murder than to think "oh, that's fun."

    Another reason is to show camaraderie with people who have gone through similar experiences. In a way, I feel I owe it to them. At least I have felt something akin to relief when I've read a realistic portrayal of some shitty experience that I've gone through, feeling like I'm not the only one out there who's experienced something like that. I've discussed this with a few people and most of them have shared the sentiment, at least if the author has treated the subject realistically and with due respect.
     
  15. TheSerpantofNar
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    TheSerpantofNar Active Member

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    Graphic violence has its uses but you can over do it easily I think. I prefer implied but a book like Blood Meridian is violence so it has to be grusome and graphic.
     
  16. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Expanding on what Fitzroy said my only issue with graphic violence is when the writer's vision is so skewered the only thing he/she is willing to get graphic about is the violence. Meaning he doesn't show that much care to describe the mc's feelings, the setting, or the mood but suddenly he gets all googly over bloodshed. Then it gets creepy... but not in a good way.
     

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