1. JJ_Maxx
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    JJ_Maxx Banned

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    Violence and Sexuality in Short Stories...

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by JJ_Maxx, Dec 2, 2012.

    So my most recent story I am working on includes, in my opinion, 'mild' sexuality. But I want to get some opinions. My latest story contains a short description of an assault and rape of a young woman. I do not get into details and I go from the initial attack to the hospital room when she wakes up. This is integral to the story.

    It's almost like a fill-in-the-blank type of thing. The reader can assume what happens next and I don't want to go into any sort of detail.

    He attacks her, some dialogue is exchanged, I describe her feelings of fear and helplessness and then BOOM, cut to the hospital.

    I am trying to include this incident in my story but I don't want to cross 'the line'. This is a difficult balance. Granted, it's nothing more than you would see on any episode of Law & Order, but I don't use explicit language and I leave some things to the readers imagination.

    Also, do you think that someone getting shot and killed is as bad as it used to be? It seems you can't turn on the TV without seeing someone die or get shot.

    I mean, the description is just going to be, 'A shot rang out, he slumped to the floor.' Etc..

    Just want to get opinions; personal, professional or otherwise.

    ~ J. J.
     
  2. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Leaving somethings to the readers imagination is definitely good. I've always felt that graphic sex & violence
    is nothing more than a sign that the writer is too impatient or an amatuer to build a mood.

    I think this depends on it's surrounding content. Certainly in shows like 24 , movies with Jason Stratham
    the body pile up seems natural because the reality is so off. How can death have an impact in those situatuions?
    Plus with all the zombie and vampire movies/shows glamorizing death - the whole view or murder, killing, death
    has been in general perverted.
     
  3. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    How far you go depends on your intended audience, I think. It sounds like you're an adult writing adult fiction for adults, so the issue really isn't one of morality, but rather one of taste. What I'm saying is, you're not going to shock anybody with a rape scene. If you describe it in pages of lascivious detail, you'll look like a sick person, but it doesn't sound like that's your plan. I think you're safe.

    And someone getting shot and killed is definitely not as bad as it used to be. Nowadays you can see movies - even PG-13 movies - in which extreme violence is depicted in lovingly gruesome slow motion high-definition closeups. Carnage raised (lowered?) to the level of pornography. Nobody seems to mind.
     
  4. JJ_Maxx
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    JJ_Maxx Banned

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    Yes, taste is a good word. I still want to maintain good taste when writing about these events. The story is not about the events, but they are key elements that drive the plot.

    I hate pigeon-holing any story, but yes, I think this story would be okay for high-school age on up.
     
  5. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    I don't want to live in a PG world. Write it. Violence and darkness are real and we can't pretend they don't exist by censoring our text. But remember to make it as brutal as it needs to be and it really would be, to drive home a message that the action is deplorable. It can't appear trivial or glorified. 'A shot rang out, he slumped to the floor' sounds trivial.
     
  6. JJ_Maxx
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    JJ_Maxx Banned

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    Well, that was just an example. I was being obtuse. The obvious opposite is:

    'The bullet ripped through his chest, spraying blood across the room and embedding bones into the drywall.'

    I'm less concerned about the fact that he was shot and killed, and more concerned about what the emotional reaction is from the other characters in the scene. It's the human reaction that I'm looking to tell, regardless of how gruesome or real his death was.
     
  7. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    We'll understand their reaction more if we have a similar reaction.
     
  8. JJ_Maxx
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    JJ_Maxx Banned

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    I didn't need to see Jaws tearing people to bits to be scared out of my 16-year-old shorts.
     
  9. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    Neither did most of the characters there who feared the shark. You saw what they saw, and shared the same fear they did.
     
  10. marco.buschini
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    marco.buschini Member

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    If you want to make it part of the story without going into too much detail you could confront yourself with the psychological implications of a rape: Don't describe the rape into detail, just tell it happened, but describe the feelings of the victim. Maybe starting to describe them just before the rape starts.
     
  11. pyrosama
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    pyrosama Member

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    I think some of the more compelling parts of a scene are brought out through sensory descriptions.

    A burning sensation, then a warm leak from between her legs spilled out onto her pants. She wondered if it was blood or semen.

    You don't have to say she was raped or anything. You don't even have to describe any violence. Her sensory descriptions alone will tell the reader what happened, and in turn it will make your character more 3 dimensional and less flat.

    The bullet entered somewhere in his midsection, but he couldn't be sure. He felt the impact on bone, or some other structure stopping it from exiting. Seconds passed before blood seeped from the hole and it felt like hot wax pouring out from behind his hand when he covered the wound to stop the bleeding."

    Use the senses to describe feeling, smell, taste, etc. It will always put the reader in the scene when you do this, or at least get the reader closer to your characters.
     
  12. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    According to my fiction professor, I handled the rape in my short story very well. (And another teacher thinks my descriptions of how a dead boy was beaten to death were too extreme. haha) I think you should just write it how you think it should go and then get some feedback. There are no general rules that will really help you. My professor said that there's always going to be a line in regards to these things and it's going to be in a different place for everybody. I think you should write it and then see how it turns out. Feedback is the best way you'll know if what you actually have works as I can't really say if it does or not based on just being loosely told about it.
     
  13. EyezForYou
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    EyezForYou Active Member

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    The unspoken resonates louder than graphically describing the rape happening. It is what happens between the lines that can fill the readers with horrible imaginations. Laying it thick will desensitize the emotional impact of your story.
     

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