1. yuedarkangel
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    yuedarkangel New Member

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    sexual assult in fiction

    Discussion in 'Research' started by yuedarkangel, Sep 14, 2013.

    Ok thinking of writing a scene early in a book where the protagonist (a girl aged around 9-10) would be raped by an orc. Is this just suicide for a book these days, killing any interest a publisher might have in it?
     
  2. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Wow - heavy stuff. I think it depends on your target audience. If you're aiming at mature readers, it's probably okay. It wouldn't surprise me a bit, though, if editors object to that in a YA novel.
     
  3. BUDDY GORGEOUS
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    BUDDY GORGEOUS Active Member

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    Not every publisher is going to have the same opinion. Obviously, don't send it to publishers for YA and children's books. A pop up picture version of that particularly nasty scene would be in bad taste, I feel :p

    But some publishers won't like it and some will, pfffffft!! who is to say? You could very well find a publisher first time round and bang! you've succeeded.

    I remember reading 'Knockemstiff' by Donald Ray Pollock, and there is a short story in there where, literally, the first page is a young lad having sex with his sister.
    And to top it all off, both are no older than ten years old. It is an amazing book of powerful writing. I'm sure there are books out there with worse content.

    I read a fantasy novel (forget the name) a few months ago where the MC was raped by some barbarians she had joined after journeying the roads after her tribe had been slaughtered, thinking the gathering of barbarians would save and keep her safe. It was in the first page or two.

    I'm no authority on writing and publishing but as a voracious reader I've read some pretty fucked up shit that has been published and the author's have done well for themselves.

    Hmmm. As long as it's not gratuitous I can't see any problem with it happening. Write on. But your protagonist might disagree though....
     
  4. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    IMO, there needs to be a serious story element in such a scene. I personally do not enjoy reading pain and torture scenes. I have no interest in the gazillion serial murder stories that are common. But clearly there is an audience for such works.

    And there are exceptions like, "Silence of the Lambs", so if done right, such a scene could be interesting which is the key consideration besides target audience.
     
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  5. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    I would imagine it depends on how graphic your scene was. If the Orc followed your girl down a lane and came out alone to sounds of a screaming girl wiping blood from his midfrft then we'd get the situation.
     
  6. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    One of the more recent books in The People Of The... series by the Gears has a rape scene between a girl about the same age as your protag and it's quite graphic. Because it's illustrating a point, and is necessary to the story line to portray that point, I found that though it made me a little nauseous, it didn't offend me because it wasn't at all gratuitous. That book was published by Tor Books, as all of the series is, and there are some really traumatic situations in those books.
     
  7. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Kill interest? Maybe. With some. Aim your manuscript correctly. There's always going to be those who wrinkle their nose. There are some things people are kinda' trained "don't belong" in a novel, like sex or, for some strange reason, eating, to which I personally say poppycock, but that's just me and I can only speak for me. I'm reading the second of Richard K. Morgan's A Land Fit For Heroes fantasy series, the first of which, The Steel Remains, is a book either people love or hate. The haters almost unanimously hate it because of the graphic gay sex written by an author not known for LGBT content and published by a very mainstream publisher, Del Rey. *shrug* Whatcha'gonna'do?
     
  8. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    As @Wreybies said, it is going to depend on the publisher.

    And keep in mind as well, when people talk about such a scene being gratuitous or having a "point," it's going to come down largely to a subjective analysis. You'll find differing views on something like American Psycho, for example. Is the violence gratuitous, or not? And if the point is to illustrate something with seemingly gratuitous violence, then is it still gratuitous? And so on.

    Ultimately, you have to trust your own instincts and vision on something like this. Even if you give it to beta readers, you have to have enough sense of the story and yourself as a writer to decide when to ignore them. No matter how you approach a scene like this, it will offend someone. That's not a useful barometer in my opinion.
     
  9. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    This, as any other scene, would need to be plot-advancing. Will this event give rise to revenge later, or a protagonist struggling with after-effects? Or is the orc one of the main characters so it illustrates what kind of a creature he is etc. Because if it has no significant bearing on the plot, it'll stick out like a sore thumb.
     
  10. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Well, it will grab the reader's interest for sure, perhaps turn a few away, but if that's the way your story must begin, so it begins.
    When you have it test-read, you'll know better how it works, and after you've sent it to publisher, you'll know better how they react to it.

    I read it a long time ago, but remember liking The Steel Remains, and really don't get the hateful reactions. Big whoop, there were good characters and a gripping story, and I felt the author, despite being a straight family man, gave depth to all his characters, not marginalizing the marginalized even more or using them to garner attention. I had no idea about this novel when T and I started our WIP Solus which has a rather similar (though not nearly as well-written yet, hell, Morgan is published, we're not!) take on a gay action hero and rather graphic portrayals of his relationship-- and it's supposed to be mainstream fic, but at least ours is military-ish-sci-fi-something, and it's not that unique anyway, of course, everything's been done already. At least it hasn't scared off our masculine, straight male betas yet :D
     
  11. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    Kill? No. But I think it would maim it, and their interest would probably loose a lot of blood, or at worst a limb.
     
  12. Morgan Willows
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    Morgan Willows Member

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    Personally, I'd advise against it unless there's a point to it. If you're just putting it in there for Rape As Drama, I'd say it's a definite no (it's overdone and comes across as very amateurish). If you're putting something that serious and severe into the story then it really should be something that without which the character's needs, thoughts, and motivations would be completely different.
    From a publishing perspective, printing something like that is risky and you may be asked to thoroughly justify the scene's existence for them to leave it in. So, again, putting it in there just to have it is going to kneecap your publishing chances.
    (Related note: if you decide to leave it in and need help with a survivor's perspective, I might be able to help)
     
  13. Uberwatch
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    Uberwatch Active Member

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    For some reason, this whole orc thing with rape feels a bit forced. You need to add some story into that if you want people to take it so seriously. Otherwise, your readers might consider you a sicko.
     
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  14. BillC
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    BillC Member

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    I have a flash-back scene in my current WIP which is a major chunk of personal history for the protagonist. It stops before actual sex (so attempted sexual assault), but the intent is there. I've fishing around for the best way to approach it in order to make it visceral and descriptive from her POV, but without being graphic/gratuitous.

    I think I've managed it by describing her recollections of the physical sensations of anything other than sex; the rotten smell of the assailant's breath, the cold glass of the window she's backed up against, rough bitten-off fingernails scratching against her skin, the sound of the rain outside, etc. Those things that would be etched in her mind as part of the trauma - I remember what the air smelled of and what my mouth tasted like as I watched the 3/11 tsunami live on TV swamping a town I lived in.

    There's a real danger in some fiction, particularly fantasy stuff, of crossing the line from being descriptive in a way that serves the story and mood to writing about rape in a way that seems like the author is secretly living out some rapist fantasy on paper, and barely concealing their personal arousal while doing so.

    Of course, it could be that I've read far too many $0.99 fantasy eBooks and $2 table paperbacks in my time. Actually, there's an alternative fuel source to firewood for this thread: crap pulp paperbacks!
     
  15. KeriLynn
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    KeriLynn Member

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    I don't think it'd be a book killer. The book I'm currently reading the main character was raped from the time she was 7 until she was 16 and it was very graphic. I just wouldn't expect it to target teenagers or kids. I would market it for adults.
     
  16. jonahmann
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    jonahmann Active Member

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    I think a bigger factor is how well written it is.
     
  17. KeriLynn
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    KeriLynn Member

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    If it is something you want to write about I would check out the book Believe Like a Child by Paige Dearth
     
  18. Stephen Paden
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    Stephen Paden Member

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    If you are going to rape a 9-10 year old girl with an Orc, I would expect some backlash. Why? Not because of the rape, but because the people who are going to be reading this are males aged 14-35 who will never look at their WoW character in the same light.

    Rape is a hard thing to write. It is the main theme of my first novel, Rosalind. My advice on doing this: do not EVER think that any topic is off limits. If you can't write about certain topics, then hey, you can't write about it, and I respect you for it. But do not censor yourself and wonder if your family will stop talking to you on Facebook and watch them unfriend in real time while trying to explain to them that you just achieved a life-goal of writing a novel. Sorry, reliving the past. ;)

    Here is how I approached it. In my novel, there are two scenes where this happens. The first is by her father. He enters the room. Rosalind goes somewhere else in her mind. Next scene, he gets up, walks out, and Rosalind looks out of her window, wishing she could be a star in the sky. There was no need to get graphic (although for some, the very fact that I wrote about it IS graphic). The second scene, it is by another man, and other than him feeling her up, there is no description. I instead focus on Rosalind's feelings before, during, and after.

    The horrible thing about this type of writing is you have to be the hunter and the prey at the same time. And to this day, I don't know which made me feel worse.

    And to answer your question about the backlash from this kind of material, my book has been downloaded over 14000 times (free promotions + sales). 95% of my reviews (90) are women. And most of them loved it.

     

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