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Mayhem!

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Anders Ämting, Jan 1, 2013.

  1. My new story basically starts with my heroine going totally berserk. I was planning to have her rip the bad guy's arm off with her bare hands, but now I wonder if that's a bit too grousome, so I'm considering having her cut it off with a discarded weapon instead. Either way the arm is coming off.

    So, how do you guys feel about dismemberments? Is it something one should be careful with, or is a lost arm or leg here and there not such a big deal?
     
  2. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

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    For my writing & reading tastes it's nothing at all. I like very visceral & traumatic scenes, as long as those scenes aren't just gratuitous. If they add to, or have meaning in the story, then in my view, nothing is off limits.
     
  3. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    I'd say do it, but make sure it ties into someone's character development, whether the berserker or the victim (if he survives). A character in my vampire novel loses both his eyes to the villain, and about half of his character arc involves coming to terms with the trauma. (The other half is potentially falling for the hero. XD) The villain in question is quite insane, and deals out punishment according to a specialized deck of cards, adapted from a drinking game developed by the vampires he rules over. The options include various types of dismemberment cards, one death card, and one mercy card.
     
  4. Kit

    Kit Maester

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    Another day, another dismemberment. :smile: It's all good.
     
  5. Sheriff Woody

    Sheriff Woody Troubadour

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    If you have to ask, it's not.
     
  6. Graylorne

    Graylorne Archmage

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    I've no problems with it.
     
  7. Shockley

    Shockley Maester

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    The only problem I'd have with the scene is if made violence into a caricature. Outside of that, you're good with me.
     
  8. It's actually so that the villain will have a personal reason to want to fight the heroine. He's basically this serial killer who strikes at random, but then he nearly murders the MC's friend, so she loses it and takes his arm off. After that they kinda don't get along very well.

    I'm not quite sure I understand what you mean by that. Do elaborate.
     
  9. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

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    I have no problem with the act as long as it's for a character or plot point and not just to be needlessly graphic.
    but one question [and not one you can really Google without ending up on a list somewhere...] can someone actually rip an arm off with their bare hands?
    I've done some wild butchery and even removing a deer's leg was hard work with a knife.
     
  10. wordwalker

    wordwalker Auror

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    No caricatures here, I think. You're making it an extreme moment, as if most of your murders aren't quite so drastic (or if the killer mutilates people it might not be shown on the page). Caricatures start more when the carnage looks too easy and has no consequences, such as the movies that take a moment to linger whichever body part each thug loses when the MC slashes him out of the way.

    A point. Then again, car-lifting levels of adrenaline...

    Still, since it's your first scene, you may want to stick to that blade. Even after seeing her friend in peril, ripping off an arm barehanded is one savage first impression to make on the reader before the first curtain drops. (Though it might be interesting to do it if she spent the next five chapters working through "My God, did I really have that in me?")
     
  11. Actually, she's going through a ríastrad, or warp-spasm. (As in, the celtic version of going berserk.) Basically, her magic is going haywire, giving her superhuman strenght at the risk of destroying her body.

    She also throws a cement mixer at him. :)
     
  12. Shockley

    Shockley Maester

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    I just mean that some people depict violence in a way that's so over the top, ridiculous, etc. that it loses the core idea of 'violence.' It can make it acceptable, or comedic, or what have you.
     
  13. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    For film versions, see Evil Dead 2 or Kill Bill Vol. 1.
     
  14. Addison

    Addison Auror

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    As a person, an innocent bystanding reader, I would have this to say about reading a dismembermant first thing in a book; "Blaaagh!"

    Secondly, as a fellow writer, I would say it depends on the story and just how fast you want to throw your readers in. And into what. If the story is about a young lady suffering an identity crisis or something, then the dismemberment is a stretch. If that's the first thing some one reads they'll be expecting blood and guts and flying appendages.

    So look ahead in the story. Are you planning for blood and gore and violence? Is your character going to become more psychotic through the story? If not then the young lady relieving this person of their limb could be a turning point. Just a suggestion.
     
  15. Shockley

    Shockley Maester

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    I wouldn't say that. I know enough about Raimi and Tarantino to know that they are not trying to make light of or profit from violence.

    The film equivalent of what I'm talking about is probably Cannibal Holocaust.
     
  16. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    Ah, I thought you were talking about violence that was so over-the-top as to be more stylized and no longer 'horrific' in any real sense. I don't think either of those movies make light of violence, they just use it in such an over-the-top fashion that it can't be considered any commentary on real violence or violent acts. Evil Dead 2, for example, gets pretty brutal if you break the violence down to its component parts and just think about it, but the effect in context of the movie, and how Raimi deals with it, is that you're basically laughing at things and not at all overwhelmed by it.

    I've never heard of Cannibal Holocaust. Not sure I want to know.
     
  17. Shockley

    Shockley Maester

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    Well, here's where I view Tarantino - he has a very clear line between what he considers cinematic violence and real violence, and he takes his violence just to the point where it's horrifying (Reservoir Dogs) or clearly unbelievable (Kill Bill). Raimi is making a horror film, so I give him more leeway.

    No, you don't want to know Cannibal Holocaust.

    My problem comes when you have a story that is not violent or has no real need of violence, and violence is just used as a short hand for problem solving. I don't know what is happening with the story of the topic, so I just wanted to broadly express my concerns.
     
  18. Well, it's not exactly the first thing that happens. I meant, it happens at the end of the first chapter, more or less, so it's more like it's the first really dramatic thing that happens. I'm still going to take some time actually introducing the characters.

    It's basically an urban fantasy about a young lady coming to terms with her own magical abilities. (Also, falling in love with a guy.) It will involve more fighting, most notable a final showdown with Mr Slot Machine, but she'll get the berserker rage thing under control eventually.
     
  19. Chime85

    Chime85 Sage

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    Well the first thing to consider is does it fit with your story? If you're trying to convey a point to the reader or to illustrate something important to the character or plot, is this the best way to portray it? If yes, then why not?

    Secondly, yes you have a gruesome scene in mind. With that, do it justice and make it gruesome. After all, it IS gruesome, someone is depriving another of limbs and life. I Personally believe that if writers censor their work through fear of being overly gruesome, overly sexual etc they are doing themselves and the reader a great disservice.
     
  20. Addison

    Addison Auror

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    Not too gruesome. Unless the beginning of the chapter pulls us into the character, really caring and rooting, then the minute the reader gets halfway through the spray of blood as the arms tore from the joint with a pop, then the book will be slammed shut. I've actually done that to a book.
     
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