1. Killer300
    Offline

    Killer300 Active Member

    Joined:
    May 1, 2011
    Messages:
    1,064
    Likes Received:
    37

    Violence in Writing

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Killer300, Aug 15, 2011.

    There is probably already a thread on this, but I haven't seen it anywhere, so I would like to start it now. I just got done reading a thread about sexuality in writing, so I'm curious what people think about violence in writing.

    Mainly, how much do you show? Now, obviously, gore alone isn't ever going to attract someone to a book, for that there are sixty million slasher movies out there for that crowd. However, there are books within the same genre that have wildly different gore levels like in horror, and so my question is, how do you all decide that? I myself figure it's a atmospheric thing, to help set the mood. If you want a dark story, and it's a violent one, get those details. Thoughts?
     
  2. Lightman
    Offline

    Lightman Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2011
    Messages:
    234
    Likes Received:
    8
    In the story I'm polishing up now, which is probably the most violent story I've written, I think I focus more on the buildup to the act than the act itself. This is partially an artistic choice and partially because I don't really know how to describe a firefight. Though, on that subject, Malcolm Gladwell's Blink (a terrible lying pop-psych book, but whatever) has a very interesting account of a police officer being under fire, which I think could be valuable to writers.
     
  3. cruciFICTION
    Offline

    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 18, 2011
    Messages:
    1,236
    Likes Received:
    49
    Location:
    Brisbane, Australia
    Violence is a part of human nature, and I personally love to embrace it in fiction, given that it's kind of illegal for me to embrace anywhere else. Then again, I look at eating meat as violent (and I love eating meat), and all sorts of other things.
    I mean, physical violence barely even scratches the surface of how beautifully you can show violence in writing.

    You'd probably be more interested to know, then, that the human brain prefers "build-ups". For example, people are happier when they're anticipating vacations, and so on, because their brain releases more chemicals in the anticipation than when the actual goal comes.
    The brain essentially sees the goal as just part of a series of "hills", and then it begins looking at the next hill.
    I assume the same goes for when you're building up to anything else. The brain rewards you more for that than the thing you're building up TO.
     
  4. Cerrus
    Offline

    Cerrus Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2011
    Messages:
    150
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    Right Behind You
    It really depends, in my opinion.

    If you're writing a horror/dark novel then usually you want to get into the disturbingly gory descriptions of a... "werewolf tearing its prey to shreds". It fits with the story, and without it a horror won't be horrifying. Of course, in a horror you have your suspense and page turning "What's gonna happen next?" scenes, but it also would usually have gore.

    If you're writing a action adventure/fantasy novel then it's usually medium. It won't be all out gore flying from the pages, but it won't be hugs and kisses either.

    If you're writing a kids book, then...I suggest that the only amount of violence would be a teddy bear losing its stuffing.
     
  5. Leah
    Offline

    Leah Member

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2011
    Messages:
    53
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    The great white north..
    I'm not comfortable with violence - in person, print or film, but that is a personal thing. Like everything, if it's done right, then it has a place, imo.

    I do prefer a lead up to something negative happening, with innuendos and creepy thoughts or situations, rather than flesh eating, eye popping, hit over the head, shoot in the guts kind of violence....

    But then again, that might explain why I write romance (and general fiction) and erotica...lol ;)
     
  6. BFGuru
    Offline

    BFGuru Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2011
    Messages:
    510
    Likes Received:
    25
    Location:
    Somewhere in insomiaville
    I dunno Leah, I've seen some pretty violent erotica as well. Haha.
     
  7. proserpine
    Offline

    proserpine Member

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2011
    Messages:
    69
    Likes Received:
    2
    I feel the same way about violence in writing as I do about violence in movies- if it is neccessary and well-done, okay, but if it is gratuitous, cliche, or fake, forget it.

    My current story involves abduction and murder. I don't plan on sharing a lot of the murder itself, just more of the aftermath.

    I am a strong believer that a little goes a long way. A few well-chosen words can leave much more of an impact on a reader than a graphic violent scene.
     
  8. Leah
    Offline

    Leah Member

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2011
    Messages:
    53
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    The great white north..
    Ok. Point taken. LOL :p
     
  9. Gallowglass
    Offline

    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 2, 2009
    Messages:
    1,617
    Likes Received:
    88
    Location:
    Loch na Seilg, Alba
    It depends what genre you're writing. I'm doing historical fiction set in the Hebrides. Swordfights, raids, and naval battles abound. You can't do historical fiction without any violence, in my opinion, unless you're exceptionally good at writing drama or romance.

    Gore and description in this genre is fine, I think, but only if it's to do with the environment. No-one wants to read the details of precisely what a sword cut through. But no-one wants a battlefield that doesn't smell of intestinal gasses, either.
     
  10. walshy12238
    Offline

    walshy12238 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2011
    Messages:
    117
    Likes Received:
    3
    Seeing as I write a lot of Action/Thriller novels (well, I try to at least :) ) violence is kind of necessary. The way I go about it depends on what type of violence it is.
    The way you'd describe a fist-fight, martial arts fight or pub brawl is going to be different to the way you describe a shootout or gun-fight. Gun violence doesn't necessarily need that much description in terms of gore, because chances are that your character is a fair distance away. They're clearly not going to notice the intricate details of blood and flesh, are they? A fist-fight is going to be different though. The character is going to be close to the person/people they're fighting, so they're going to notice more. When it comes to a scene like that, I usually add in a little more detail in terms of gore and level of violence.

    I hope that helps :D
     
  11. Killer300
    Offline

    Killer300 Active Member

    Joined:
    May 1, 2011
    Messages:
    1,064
    Likes Received:
    37
    So far, it appears to be a situational and personal taste thing, which makes sense.
    To add further, I ask this. Why is it that people frequently have far more trouble with erotica than violence? Wouldn't it make more sense for it to be the other way around? I find it odd that blood and guts most don't mind, but show a single breast, and BAM! Controversy abound.
    I already have started a thread on the censorship part, but still, it would be interesting to examine why we find one thing more disturbing than the other.
     
  12. StrangerWithNoName
    Offline

    StrangerWithNoName Longobard duke

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2009
    Messages:
    352
    Likes Received:
    8
    Location:
    the waste lands, somewhere in Europe
    "We're a violent country. We always have been. We embrace our individuality and our violence."

    John Carpenter. And I agree not just with the statement about the country, it's the human nature which is naturally violent; if we don't embrace it and supress it pretending that everything is fine bad things happen.
     
  13. Sundae
    Offline

    Sundae Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2011
    Messages:
    362
    Likes Received:
    23
    Location:
    Astral Weeks
    THAT is hilarious. I read the title of the thread and immediately thought, violence in books is handled just like sex in my opinion, and then I see that you got the idea of starting this thread from reading a sexuality thread. Seriously, too funny.

    Violence to me has a lot of facets and what I really love about it is that it's such an abstract element to work with. There is violence simply by words, by actions, by history that to me, how you handle it has to do with the intent of the violence, what you want to show by it, and what kind of message you want to send.

    Mood and tone can easily create a violent atmosphere even though a characters words and actions are seemingly nice.

    Really, there is no way to answer this other that identifying the core message of what your scenes should be. Violence isn't simply the blood-gushing imagery that is so easily tacked on too, but it's also the power and energy behind the emotions your readers experience while reading a scene. One minute, you're calm, next minute, you're crying etc etc.
     
  14. DBock
    Offline

    DBock Member

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2011
    Messages:
    74
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    Chicago
    Depends on your audience. People who watch Kill Bill are different than those that watch the Gummy Bears. At the end of the day though --- write what makes you happy. If it involves carnage, so be it! :)
     
  15. J.P.Clyde
    Offline

    J.P.Clyde Prince of Melancholy Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2011
    Messages:
    979
    Likes Received:
    44
    Location:
    Underground
    Sex only helps a species reproduce itself. It doesn't assure living. It just assures living on in the next generation.

    Violence keeps us from the paranoia of our enemies, keeps us alive, allows us to express our anger, allows us to express our frustration, violence is how we exact our revenge or vengeance, violence is what creates human...animal nature.

    Why does the scared dog bite someone?

    Why does the lion protect it's territory by killing passerby?

    We don't need sex as often as we need violence. Violence is the ultimate expression of our anger.

    My horror tends to be in the perspective of the killer. It's why one of my horror novels is so violent, so disturbing. Some people will have to stop reading it and others will continue. But his mind is idle. Raging. Itching. The violence, the hard core violence in this book expresses these desires. Sexual and violent.

    At some point humans suppress their violent nature. It's probably why they are more comfortable with violence in books because there is an attachment to a more violent ancestral link.

    For me violence is always situational in a book.

    Though I do love my Gargoyle fantasy magic book. Limb ripping action. And blood bathed streets. tee hee.
     
  16. Show
    Offline

    Show Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2008
    Messages:
    1,495
    Likes Received:
    30
    I typically go with the build-up and atmosphere. Often enough, my violent deaths are fairly straightforward kills. But there's a few scenes where the details are drawn out (ie boy hacked to death). And sometimes the acts happen offscreen and I just details the bloody results when somebody finds 'em.
     
  17. SeverinR
    Offline

    SeverinR Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2011
    Messages:
    477
    Likes Received:
    7
    Location:
    New Madison Ohio
    ahhh, now I'm gonna have nightmares.:eek:
     
  18. IUPapabear
    Offline

    IUPapabear New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2011
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    0
    This topic really pertains to a story I am working on. Two best friends from Texas who go to Iraq and the story weaves between the two locations. One thing I am trying NOT to do is make this a "war" story, so of course it has some violence, but I do not want to go over board.

    1. Like I said I don't want it to be a war story, and 2. I think when you can reach a balance (story & violence) it makes each part more powerful.

    So my opinion would be you need as much violence as is needed for the story. Same with sex, cursing, etc.
     
  19. Sharklol
    Offline

    Sharklol Member

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2011
    Messages:
    22
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Norway
    The more violent, the merrier!
     
  20. KinkyCousin
    Offline

    KinkyCousin Member

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2011
    Messages:
    44
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Copenhagen
    I've been wondering about this too, I write mainly supernatural horror so violence is a huge part. I like a mixture of psychological horror and gore but I just worry where the line is before it just puts people off. The plot doesn't consist of tons of pointless torture & death scenes but when I get to them they are pretty nasty. I just don't really want to tone it down because it wouldn't feel right to me, it is horror after all.
     
  21. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Conflict is essential to fiction, and some forms of conflict are inherently violent.

    I don't care much for violence for the sake of violence. I do read a lot of mystery novels, but I favor the ones where the protagonist doesn't use lethal force if at all possible. I also don't favor excessively graphic descriptions of violent acts.

    I particularly shun the type of horror that depends on gore to thrill the reader. Gore is not the essence of horror. Anticipation is.
     
  22. Mikeyface
    Offline

    Mikeyface Member

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2011
    Messages:
    65
    Likes Received:
    4
    Location:
    Plano, TX
    It obviously goes quite a few different ways depending on tone of scene, relationship of the character to the audience, etc.

    In the novel I'm currently writing, I killed off a character that was perfectly normal and never did anything wrong. There's a lot of action, and a fair bit of violence given the severity of the conflict-- but with that particular character I described in detail what another character saw, and how hard it was to deal with. I found that simply describing through analytical flatness was the most surprising and difficult to deal with. It puts the reader in the moment and (hopefully) puts strong emotions into their take away.

    It all comes down to what you want the audience to feel, and then think about what would put you in that mindset.
     
  23. diluvian
    Offline

    diluvian New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2011
    Messages:
    9
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Boston
    In the project that I'm re-writing one of my main characters does do some pretty violent things, and horrible things happen to other people, but I don't really dwell on gory descriptions or violent acts. More than not, I show the evidence of violence-- burn marks, scars, people remembering terrible things-- than the actual act of violence itself.

    As a writer, I'm more interested in the results of trauma than the actual hack and slash gore part. As a reader, I'm usually pretty bored during the fight scenes. I tend to skip ahead to the part when they're done because I couldn't care less what an awesome sword fight it was. I just want to know who wins and how many fingers and toes they've got left.
     
  24. walshy12238
    Offline

    walshy12238 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2011
    Messages:
    117
    Likes Received:
    3
    I agree quite a bit with this. Even though I do like describing scenes that involve violence, I also like writing about the outcome, almost even more so than the actual action scenes.
     
  25. Thanshin
    Offline

    Thanshin Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2010
    Messages:
    564
    Likes Received:
    13
    Location:
    Spain
    If I need it, a whole lot.

    For me, it's part of the base questions when deciding a mood. Do I want it real? Harsh? Violent?

    Deciding the degree of violence, for me, is as important as the degree of humour, of sexual depiction or of realism.
     

Share This Page