Violence and Gore -Show it?


So today I was flicking through the May/ June issue of Poets and Writers when I spotted an article penned by Benjamin Percy (author of The Wilding) and Aaron Gwyn ( author of The World Beneath). The article was titled Spilling Blood, and it focused on the age-old argument of showing not telling. They tell us that Greeks often used telling instead of showing during many theatrical shows; that many modern writers show the scenes of their novels, not leaving the reader to use their minds for interpretation.

Often Horror fiction is looked down upon by religeous groups and other groups who try to depress profanity and obscene scenes of violence in fiction. I’m not saying they do go without merit, but this article brings up a valid point of writers all falling into the show don’t tell. I too fall victim to showing too much (if there was ever such a thing)Some scenes in a piece of fiction may not need to be narrated to ease the flow of the piece, or to cencor (yuck) a distasteful scene.

I think everyone should give this article a read. 

So readers, do you think excessive gore should be narrated? Or swept behind the scenes? I’d appreciate your input.

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About Damian Rucci

D.F. Rucci is a writer, blogger, and a musician from a small town in New Jersey. View all posts by Damian Rucci

7 responses to “Violence and Gore -Show it?

  • Deborah the Closet Monster

    I think there’s a time and a place for nearly everything. If you’re writing a book for third graders, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is pretty much the right detail of gore. If you’re writing a horror novel for adults and try leaving too much to the imagination, you might just be leaving a muddle of “why am I reading this again?” in the reader’s brain.

    In short, I suppose I’d fall with my rabbi on this one. As he always says, about virtually everything: “It depends!”

  • Damian Rucci

    I agree! I guess it all depends on the writer and the sort of story containing the inherent gore.

  • mapelba

    Yes, it depends. I’ll try to get a copy of the article to read for myself, but in the meantime… It depends on your audience and what you goal is. Are you writing something awful for shock value? A short lived goal in my opinion. For example–though it isn’t about violence–when I was young, Madonna was considered shocking. Such a fuss. Now? I imagine young people these days just think, yeah, whatev. Now we have Lady Gaga to send religious groups and parents into a panic. So, shock value doesn’t last. Heaven only knows what it will take to shock us in 20 years.

    But are you avoiding certain scenes out of fear? Fear to put on the page the truth or the dark places. So, there’s violence that is scary to write about. And there’s sex that can be scary to write about. And then there’s the great and terrifying combo sexual violence. How specific should you be? Too graphic, you’ll lose some readers. And I don’t mean just the extreme religious, but perhaps people you want to reach. Imagine a survivor of violence reading what you’ve written? Daunting!

    So, you can’t not write because you’re afraid. But you’ve got to write the world the way you see it and you’ve got to serve the story.

    I’ve had someone tell me a scene I wrote went too far. It’s given me something to think about, and I can’t decide if she was right or not. And then that leads to the question–if I write something over the top or gratuitous or exploitive, what does that say about me?

    How much do you feel comfortable?

  • Damian Rucci

    Wow amazing comment Marta! It’s not that I’m afraid to write the subject matter, I just read this article and was intrigued; so I figured I would ask the rest of the writing community.I feel comfortable when I depict graphic scene; I do fall into the side of showing more than telling of certain scenes unless it pertains to the rest of the story in a different way. Perhaps a character tells another character of a terrible malicious crime, instead of me actually narrating the scene.

    Just looking for insight from others on their particular style.
    Thanks for the comment Martha, and I too agree about especiously gory scenes (sometimes that skeevs me out as well)>

  • geezergirl1

    I really have nothing much to add to the already amazing comments left here. I’m in agreement with them all. Great question Damiian.. I’m going to try to read that article if I can still find it. is it on line?
    I have not written anything that required that kind of graphic sexual violence. It doesn’t really ‘roll’ with what I write and it’s very important to be mindful of the reader and all the stuff Mapelba spoke to.
    good luck.

  • processor

    I couldn’t think you are more right

  • Tart cherry juice benefits

    You’r unquestionably right with this blog.

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