1. FirstTimeNovelist91
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    FirstTimeNovelist91 Senior Member

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    Rape scene

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by FirstTimeNovelist91, Aug 24, 2012.

    I have a rape scene in one of my novels. It is pivotal to my plot and main character's actions. However....how should I deal with this rape scene? It has already been written, but I'm wondering would this rape scene hurt my chances in the publishing world? For what it is worth, it isn't too graphic (in my opinion) and is a grand total of four pages with the actual rape being two pages.

    Because it is a such an important part of my plot, I feel that maybe I should expand on it, but I'm afraid that a rape scene will be too touchy. Any advice?
     
  2. DanesDarkLand
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    DanesDarkLand Senior Member

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    While movies tend to focus on the effects of rape, the exceptions being "I Spit on Your Grave", and monster/alien movies that use it for titillation, I would find it hard to write a rape scene. the imagery would have to be grotesque, the emotions would be too beyond what I've ever experienced to think about writing it that I fear I would make it either too sexy or unbelievable. Rape is not sexy, and its very much a grotesque act of violence. I might do it in flashbacks, and the after effects, rather then the documenting the act.

    I Spit on Your Grave has a woman who's raped, and ends up hunting down the men who did it to her and killing them all one at a time. Its your piece, and if you are finding yourself jumpy for having it in, maybe you might want to think of another way to make the point, rather then including the act.
     
  3. Cynglen
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    Cynglen Senior Member

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    It's really up to you. My high school library had books which just said the victim woke up after the event, while another described pretty-much the whole thing in detail worthy of erotica (and yet never seen it on a banned-book list). I don't think your publishing chances will get hurt too severely, you just might need to talk with a little more confidence when you are selling your story to the publisher. Just be proud of what you've written, regardless of what two or four pages might say.
     
  4. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    Trust your instincts for now and see if the scene needs tweaking for later. I do think it's prudent to avoid going into too much unnecessarily graphic detail, but sometimes (not always) a scene might call for readers to be unnerved a bit. The last thing, I imagine, you'd want a rape scene to be is comfortable.
     
  5. Still Life
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    Still Life Active Member

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    I can recall reading an equivalent of two – yep, only two – rape scenes my entire life. One was in Tess of the D’urbervilles by Thomas Hardy and the other was in The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, the latter being more graphic (albeit more reserved than what you'd get nowadays) in detail. Both are different, but both were written very well.

    Without being able to read your actual scene, I can only say that it depends on how it's handled. Just keep in mind what your objective for that particular scene is and go from there. If you’re not looking to give people por – err, erotica -, then you must be really discreet in wording this particular scene, because, really, it is such a sensitive issue.

    I honestly feel that less is better, but I’m not you. You said yourself that you want to expand on the scene. I think you should go with your gut feeling. If there’s any chance that the publisher will publish it but asks that you rewrite the scene, then you can worry about whether to walk away from the deal or to edit. At least, that’s what I would do.
     
  6. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was pretty graphic with the rape scenes and it did well enough. I think if it actually serves a purpose, then keep it in there - a publisher won't dump your MS only cus of one scene, they might tell you to cut it or edit it or rewrite it or whatever, but if they like everything about your MS except one scene, they're still gonna sign with you.

    Btw I really hope the rapist gets his comeuppence.
     
  7. TheSerpantofNar
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    TheSerpantofNar Active Member

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    Rape is a subject im even afraid to tackle and sex is something I haven't written about in my work I find them both hard to write about. For some reason violence and depravity are easier to write about but involving rape or that kind of humiliation is difficult to write let alone visualize its rather disturbing really. Ive only implied pedophilia which was hard to do even when it wasn't shown :( Treat it with respect I say its a really tough subject to write about
     
  8. E. C. Scrubb
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    E. C. Scrubb Active Member

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    I can't speak from a writer's perspective on this... I've only written one attempted one where the women gets rescued in time.

    However, as a reader, I personally would find the end of the scene, and flip there, then start reading again becaues it's not something that I want to read about. The shorter the scene, the more chance there is that I'll peruse it to find anything else important to the plot.

    This isn't advice, just one anecdotal story.
     
  9. FirstTimeNovelist91
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    FirstTimeNovelist91 Senior Member

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    I guess I should have clarified. By expanding, I don't mean lengthening the actual rape, but fleshing out what she is feeling and the emotional trauma she is going through. Right now, it is just a step-by-step as to what happens, but I do show the after effects of the attack.

    But I'm trying to stay away from erotica in this story and I don't want the scene to come of as gratuitous.
     
  10. BBBurke
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    BBBurke Member

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    It really depends on how you want to handle it and what is necessary for the story. I think Girl w/Dragon Tatoo is a good example where the graphic nature fits with the overall book and is important to get a true understanding of that character. The book and story are quite graphic in general, so if they skipped over something it wouldn't fit.

    I do have a rape scene in one of my books. It's one paragraph with no detail. Even that was hard to write. But the lack of detail fits with the rest of the book. The aftermath is what's important and the specifics of the rape aren't needed for the story.

    I would suggest you write it how you think is best, but be willing to take feedback from readers/editors on how it comes across.
     
  11. ArtWander
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    ArtWander Contributing Member

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    This might be a bit closed minded, but I wouldn't touch writing a rape scene with a ten foot pole. If you have the eloquence to write one out, more power to you.

    That being said, here is my advice. I've seen way too many movies/books use rape as a shock-factor attention grabber. If it is a valid plot device, leave it in. If it is a contrived event just to grab the reader's attention, leave it out.
     
  12. J♥Star
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    J♥Star Member

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    I think you should keep expanding on it, if thats how you really feel. I think that self-censorship could end up hurting your project. Here are some words from my favorite author (Bret Easton Ellis) on self-censorship: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UD1gb4NXszA
     
  13. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    You can make it sound a little erotic depending on how much graphic details you want to add in it. Show how your character doesn't enjoy it; make it like a painful torture scene in a dark romantic way.
     
  14. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Romantic? No, no, no. Also, definitely no.
     
  15. prettyprettyprettygood
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    prettyprettyprettygood Active Member

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    Like ArtWander, this isn't something I'd attempt. One of my fears would be misunderstanding or misrepresenting the motivations for and effects of such an attack, so if it's needed for the plot I would recommend carefully researching those things- maybe read some books that deal with the subject well.

    And goodness grief, no romance!
     
  16. Vsevolod
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    Vsevolod Member

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    Depends by what fame you want to get.
     
  17. Dryriver
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    Dryriver Senior Member

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    You should read the novella "Big Driver" by Stephen King. It has a Main Character who gets raped, then plots revenge...

    "Big Driver" is in the story collection "Full Dark, No Stars" by King.

    Hope that helps...
     
  18. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    Okay I was wrong on that one.
     
  19. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Yowsers. a lot of scattered views about how to address rape. First of all - rape is rape.
    It's degrading, humiliating, an issue of control and abuse. It's a crime!

    Don't let fantasies, or crack-pot film imagery creep in and wreck your scene.

    And actually, I believe in self-censuring,.... to a point.
    If not, we might all sound like puerile, whining, dirtbags - ruining our credibility.
    Emotional baggage should be there to draw from - not
    to barge in and disrupt your story.
     
  20. Pheonix
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    Pheonix A Singer of Space Operas and The Fourth Mod of RP Staff Contributor

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    This is something that, unfortunately, happens. For people who've experienced it, it can be like a bomb, just destroying their emotional stability and ability to form relationships, causing depression, anger, self esteem issues, and any number of other crippling emotional problems. Its not something to take lightly, and definitely not to be approached in a 'romantic' way. It is an abjectly evil thing. If you feel your story can't exist without it, use it, but never treat it lightly, or as something that is just shaken off. I don't think that there should ever be a reason to write a long drawn out scene either, unless you focus on the thoughts of the person it's happening to, and the emotional toll its taking on them, without going into detail about the physical aspect.
     
  21. The Hollow
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    The Hollow Member

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    Right. It depends on who your target audience is. It depends on whether you're writing for the general populace, or a niche of people who practice BDSM every other day. You didn't explain enough about your plot, genre, etc., and that's why the advice is all over the place.

    Some authors can get away with painting it in a romantic light because they're writing for people who like that kind of stuff. Some people could never get away with putting that out to their audience. Depends.
     
  22. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    With rape scenes in a novel, I prefer to address it by showing the emotional turmoil of the rape victim, as she/he realises she is trapped, can't escape. To move the scene from seemingly ok to dreadfully sinister, and to hint at the mechanism, but leave it to the reader to fill in the detail. I find that, this is the most effective in terms of rattling the readers, and most respectful towards the victims.
    There are several types of rapists, each have specific way of inflicting torture on their victims, and the mechanics of the crime will often dictate victim experience (gun to the head vs drugging vs sexual torture, for example). After the rape, the responses are much more uniform. All rape survivors go through more or less the same thing, post-traumatoc stress symptoms which never go away and most certainly can easily ruin their lives.
     
  23. Michelle Stone
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    Michelle Stone Member

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    I'm working on a rape scene in my current project. I really don't want to get into too much detail but there are many things going on in a rape. Look into the psychological aspects of the characters. Look to the violence. You can write pages about rape and never discuss the forced sexual act. That is just a minor piece of this heinous act. I've passed my piece to ten of my critique friends. Two of them didn't get it but found it deeply disturbing. The others did get it and found it even more disturbing. That's exactly the mood I wanted to present. Since I want to revisit the topic, I have other facets to examine. I'll never have to talk about body parts. None of it is sexual. All of it is painful and creepy.
     

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