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Opinions on graphic portrayal, combat violence. pt 1. Pls read post before polling.

1-10 graphic portrayal of violence where you don't want to read anymore? Read post.

  • 1: Very general discription. pg rating in movies

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • 2: discription is a little more detailed, maybe involving blood.

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • 3: Use of blood, general discriptions of wounds, etc.

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • 4. more discription of wounds, blood, etc.

    Votes: 1 3.3%
  • 5: More detailed discription, more realistic. pg 13

    Votes: 1 3.3%
  • 6: More adult discriptions and realistic, yet still geared towards YA

    Votes: 1 3.3%
  • 7: Mild R rating violence, More realistic

    Votes: 2 6.7%
  • 8: Much more graphic, R rating movies.

    Votes: 9 30.0%
  • 9: Even more graphic, R rating, movies like Django etc.

    Votes: 6 20.0%
  • 10: very graphic minutae on pain, wounds, and death of character X (not satire though)

    Votes: 10 33.3%

  • Total voters


I can't comment on what others are talking about, but I have read an interview with GRRM where he pointedly says that he kills off major characters for the shock value. And I would assume that "shock value" means that the value in the action is for the shock it produces in readers more than anything else.

I think the key point here is Kills of MAJOR characters. Yes there is shock value but is it because of the violence or because we as readers are taken from the typical world where major characters suffer no permanent death to one where the reaper shows no obedience, save duty? If we look at GoT the first shocking death of a major character isn't actually that violent compared to it's peers. I say GoT because I don't remember exactly how it was portrayed in ASoFI.

Hey Ascanius.

You can view it this way: A story coated in Gore and Grit is just as bad as a story that is coated in honey and cuteness everywhere. Some serious violence is fine as long as the storyteller does not abuse it, and it's a good idea to use those scenes as a necessary part of the narrative instead of doing it just to have a creepier setting.

Shock value is a scene that is designed to scare or shock the readers. Good shock value has a purpose in the story, but cheap shock value is there just to make a story or a setting darker or (in the opinion of some people) more adult. However, a story does not need all the violence and torture and deaths in order to be serious and adult.

I have to disagree. Like many have said in this thread, it depends on the story. As an example: I really like chick flicks, they make me feel warm and fuzzy on the inside, that is the point. Now there are limits if suddenly there is a graphic evisceration than it becomes....I don't know what. The point is some stories are about themes that involve honey and cuteness while others involve gore and grit, some even have a mix. I don't see how they are bad because they include those things, they are different and that is where I am trying to go with these questions. Let me be clear on one thing though, I never intended for violence to be something so over the top as to become comedy or something akin to saw where the entire purpose is graphic violence for it's own sake when I asked these questions. Something I should have clarified at the start. One reason why I hate horror movies.
Random question why do you keep capitalizing gore grit?

Talking about the famous and infamous GoT again:

When all the Gore and Grittiness everywhere is taken to the extreme and glorified like that, soon what could be good shock value degrades into cheap stuff. The shock is not shock anymore, it simply becomes disgusting. Judging from all that I have seen of the TV series so far it's just disgusting, and I mean disgusting in the same sense that a very dirty toilet is disgusting.

I mean, after watching the endless Gore in that series I am starting to think that I could just write stories about characters that endlessly flay people alive after raping everyone and sacking entire cities, and probably it would be a success...

See these are the questions I want answered by people. What is the extreme? This is something that can only be answered at a personal level. When I watched GoT I never reached the same conclusions as you, why? I don't think anything was taken to an extreme, nor glorified which I'll be honest I don't understand where you came up with that. Lets say it's extreme, but is it more extreme than reading the news? we know terrible violence exists so why is it so shocking that we encounter it while reading a book. *If you want to read something with those themes or something like a chick flick that is a different matter and no relevant, we have moods that influence what we feel like reading. I'm not saying violence isn't disgusting, I hope; I really do hope that violence is disgusting to everyone here, however where do You draw that metaphorical line where it is just too much. Is it because it is shocking, unexpected, or is it because the intensity of said violence in its portrayal?

For me the idea that people don't like violence because it is shocking is a weak argument. It's like saying I don't like birthdays because I walked into my room and was surprised with a birthday party, that really depends on who is in their birthday suit though. So that leaves the idea of Intensity (Thanks, Nerdycavegirl intensity is a great way of putting it) of said violence that is the cause of such "disgust." Seeing my entire family and all my friends show up in their birthday suits would make me loath birthday parties.

On that thought I don't really see people being surprised by the violence so much as the graphic portrayal of said violence being the reason why individuals feel a certain way about it. This is why I'm having trouble understanding what is shocking which regards to violence. To me it seems irrelevant to the questions at hand.

Your Thread and Poll are great, because they provide us with a good opportunity to discuss these issues and determine what is good and what is bad for a Story. I am against the elimination of all Gore from our beloved Fantasy genre, but I do think that the current trend to be super gritty is wrong for us.

I have already lost count of how many threads we have had with questions about gore, torture, rape, tremendous injuries and all those things, and it's all thanks to GoT.

Thank you, I'll be honest that I wasn't sure if I should even ask, and I"m still uncertain if I should ask the follow up questions I had planned simply because the subject matter doesn't get any easier to answer. I really hate the 0-10 scale, ideally I would have 50, double blind questions with multiple choice answeres but....
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Queen of Titania
Hi Ascanius.

I did not vote in your thread because, for me, there is not really a level of violence and bloodshed that would cause me to stop reading a story.

There are some seriously gory scenes in some of my own stories, after all. For me the problem and the I don't want to read or watch this anymore moment comes from the abuse of Grit in general, when I realize that it's there just to try and scare me instead of being a legitimate part of the story.

I am okay with a Fantasy world tainted by gritty elements. In case that your setting is dark and gritty that would be fine to me, unless you have torture and gory deaths and rape everywhere like GoT. In answer to your question, it's just a curious habit of mine to capitalize certain words that other people would not capitalize.

I like fictional violence, a lot. I am addicted to playing the original (and considerably gritty) Assassin's Creed game, in which killing loads of guards and even civilians is like a drug to me. I explained recently, in a different thread, what would make me dislike the game: I would hate the MC in case he was a torturer and a rapist, but because Altair is simply a killer then I tolerate and even love him.

Maybe that's where a lot of other people would draw the line, too.

I am not shocked by the GoT series. I know very well what world I live in, and I have heard stories about events in this country that would scare the hell out of any GoT fan if they went through them in the real world. GoT just disgusts me with its endless emphasis on gore, torture, painful deaths, rape and constant displays of naked women, it's just... disgusting and cheap.

Loads of people think the same, GoT is getting more and more criticism because of this as time passes.

If you are worried that people will stop reading your story because of random violence, forget it because that is not going to happen. They would stop reading only if you go ultra gritty, and even in that case you would have certain audience anyway because there are people that love that no matter how crazily gritty it gets.

Good luck with your stories.
I tend to skip the sexual content in TV shows. True Blood is a great example. I probably skipped half of each episode because of the lame soap opera sex content.

I don't need to waste my time on that when the real thing is readily available online if I so choose to view it.

I don't mind the combat violence. I loved the first 300 movie and it was pretty damn bloody. The torture scenes I can stand up to a certain point. They definitely went overboard with Theon. Not to mention the "hunts" Ramsay goes on.

The sex and violence certainly doesn't provide some kind of extra thrill for me.
I consider myself a 10, but more lightly so. I hate movies like Saw and those movies with outrageous amounts off violence. Those movies contain the type off violence I can't stomache. I have no problem with watching people have their heads cut in half or have their skulls smashed. But when it comes to violence, or implied violence against people who are unable to defend themselves I get incredibly disturbed and angered. Especially harming children and women, in any way graphic I find incredibly repulsive. The one exception being Joffrey, probably. I would say my limit goes at graphic portrayals off sexual violence, overt torture or forms of dismemberment.

if you don't like graphic portrayals, what is it that you don't like about graphic portrayals of violence?

It depends. If you're aiming to be realistic, having one or a few battles, filled with nasty violence, like people having their guts spilling or their heads cut in half. Saving Private Ryan's battles, in particular the first, really instills a feeling off despair and terror. Bookwise, I have no comparable examples. However, this type off violence only works in limited doses. The times your characters are not fighting, you have to carry an extremely, realistic tone in order for the suspense of disbelief to not break. In these cases however, having torture to kick the dog or develop characters should really not be done.

The great irony is that I'm an avid reader of the Manga Berserk. Which has absurd amounts off explicit violence, which continously makes me mad or disgust me. When the creator does anything that goes beyond ''Guts swing big sword, lots off people die'', he very often simply agitate me. The story is still sufficient to keep me invested, but this feels like a very stupid risk. Sometimes the creator is 1 chapter away from scaring his whole fanbase. And that is setting the bar very high. Had Berserk been a fantasy novel, I would have despised it.

Does age or sex have any impact on your displeasure?

Definetly. I haven't tested my emotional reaction with innocent, unarmed man and innocent, unarmed women being killed. But in both cases I am very agitated. But adding the other factors, age and length, I would easily be more disturbed by it being a women who's abused. Age is almost definetly the most disrupting factor. Anyone younger than the age off 10 being killed is unacceptable from my point off view, unless it is handled EXTRAORDINARILY well. Bringing up Guts from Berserk again, there is a moment where he is sent off to kill a guy. Sure enough, he kills him, but in the process of escaping, kills the guyl's son without knowing. This moment, where the boy is killed and witnessing the despair in the eyes off the character, made the moment truly heartwrenching and really effective. But this is a very, very rare occurance, so if you're an author and you imply this is going on, don't do it more than once. And if you ever would, you better have had a really strong build up and manage to make every second count.

Does the length of time spent on the discription?

Yes, I have not watched long sessions off continous torture or any off the such and neither would I ever, ever do that. When it comes to knowing how long it will take until somebody will die. Well, as long as I don't have to read a very vivid discription off a leg being sawed off.... I think you can write pretty much how much detail you want. But keep focus on the narrative first and foremost. Ask yourself how much it matters that said character is bleeding slowly.

Does the type of character (main, secondary, tertiary) have any impact?

Yes, less known characters can of course, impact the shit out off you. Having said that, a main character it is considerably worse to deal with.


When depravity and violence are the object of your story (or that specific part of your story), by all means go overboard. There are plenty of meaningful stories that explore how low humans will go. Just remember that violence polarizes, negatively and positively. You have to think not only about the people who will be thrown off your story because they're shocked, but also about the ones who will be thrown off your story because they like the violence to the detriment of anything else you're trying to say.

When you put a magnifying lens on violent acts just because they're there, it runs the risk of distracting the public away from whatever story you were trying to tell at the moment. Have you asked yourself why every time some piece of media successfully uses violence to make a point, it generates a string of me-toos that emulate the violence without the point?

There are some stories that ask for some violence by the very nature of what they're trying to depict. Let's say you're writing barbarian pulp-like fantasy set in a world based on the aesthetics of heavy metal - violent imagery is pretty much required in that case. It wouldn't fit the tone to not have some graphic gore here and there at least.

When there is nothing behind the gore, when you're just making things violent to hide the lack of substance of what you're writing, then it ceases being a story and becomes wankery.