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What's your opinion of torture, gore and depravity in your writings?

Might I suggest that we as authors aim for a sufficient suspension of belief? That isn't the same as believability. Some of the descriptions of torture in Joe Abercrombie's books are very graphic, but the reason he gets away with them is because they're not believable. That makes those books enough of a fantasy to enable the reader to suspend their belief and enjoy the story.
I’ve read books that have had graphic detail in them I suppose but like you say they’re not exactly completely believable - always exaggerated, or you know magic saves the day or makes it more intense - it detaches the reader I think from making it less difficult to endure reading it from an emotional perspective but you still get that same reaction that makes your mind think that so many crazy things have happened.
 

pmmg

Vala
Sufficient suspension of disbelief is the minimum. I don't think that is the best measure.

I can understand why some would write this and other wont. But its a big world. We get to choose what we like.

Being detached I think may just be a condition of fiction. I know its not real. It would take a really good job at immersion to break that for me. The good news is, its much harder to be detached when its real.
 

BearBear

Inkling
There have been stories where I was so immersed in the character's situation that it felt like I was dependent on a good outcome. In some rare instances there wasn't one. That's where I originally started writing. I rewrote the ending to several short stories to make them something I could live with. I want that level of reader involvement, as of their own mental state was at risk.

So I think "Harry needs to be eaten by Hagrid's dragon in excruciating detail" isn't good enough because knowing them they'll wave a wand and Harry's back good as new, so magic can't be the failsafe. I need to metaphorically remove the failsafes on the holodeck. I need to write a story that'll break someone and then guide them back from the brink of depression. I'm not saying it'll be easy. No published work has done this for me but some really rough independent ones did, so I know it can be done, and I want to take it a step further and immersion is key. So I can't say "then bad stuff happened and now Joe doesn't have any fingernails."
 

pmmg

Vala
Just need to lose your virginity on the rough stuff. Go write a torture scene for the dare mini-challenge. 250 words.
 

IsaiahF

Dreamer
Yeah, as a few have already said - as long as it has a purpose. Put a bit differently: as long as it fits the overall genre, sub-genre and tone you've committed to. It wouldn't work in a Brandon Sanderson novel, for instance; but obviously in other authors like Abercrombie it would. Put a bit differently again: in order to know how much torture to put in your book, maybe ask yourself how realistic your novel is. How many other realistic things are left out? Do we see them, I dunno, eating their breakfast? Or is it paced like a thriller where everything has a purpose and moves the plot forward in concise a manner as possible?
 

Queshire

Auror
Anyways, on the actual topic of the thread, I once had one of my heroes cut off someone's balls. Of course it wasn't just for shock value and it's not my character's first choice of tactic.
 

pmmg

Vala
I think Isiah makes a good point. You do set a tone in your writing that readers come to trust. Break it, and you risk losing something you've build up. I dont think they are arbitrary. They are built on what you have constructed for yourself. Since this whole thread is about trying to break your own mold, and get out of one's comfort zone, it speaks to something that has already been built, and might become jarring if it seemed to come out of now where.

Along those lines...Sometimes we are our own worst enemies. Really, no one is going to write those scenes but you. You mentioned that you feel they are needed because the story lacks a degree of realism if they are not there. If your story loses credibility, there will be a cost for that. Not all stories need the same degree of realism, but some degree is to be expected-- until its not. I have to take your word for it that you are sensing the credibility is at stake for lack of these scenes, so...what are you gonna do? Change the story? Change the characters? What does the story need?

I'd like to bring in another direction, which is the value of torture (or any scene really). Torture has a powerful impact, both on the one tortured, and the ones torturing. As Nietzsche is often quoted, what doesn't kill us, makes us stronger. Some one who suffers such an ordeal will almost certainly come away with some type of change, and possibly growth and inner strength from it. Which for characters, and story, is good material. And if the focus is on the torturer, how might they change? How might they have gotten there? Again change within them should follow. As an author, that should be something that gets one eager to show.

Actual details of blood and gore and broken bones...Meh, as many have said already, only enough to do its job. More will seem like too much. Course that is true for every scene, not just the torture ones.
 

BearBear

Inkling
As Nietzsche is often quoted, what doesn't kill us, makes us stronger.

This is the whole reason and point. I want to make the reader stronger having read this. The story and the character are irrelevant and I wouldn't change them to avoid it, I want it to happen.

The result is the purpose; immersion, credibility, realism are just techniques.

Rules are irrelevant, quality is irrelevant, I'm only shooting for a niche subset and the number one reader is me.
 

pmmg

Vala
Well, I hope you dont mind I speak in a way that would be of benefit to writers who do not find those things irrelevant. Cause the thread after all is just a topic, that many may benefit from beyond just yourself.

How can I help one reach their niche, and they are so resistant to anything that might help them? Nothing is stopping you from writing your scene but yourself. Your question is not for me, it is one you need to answer.
 

Mad Swede

Maester
This is the whole reason and point. I want to make the reader stronger having read this. The story and the character are irrelevant and I wouldn't change them to avoid it, I want it to happen.

The result is the purpose; immersion, credibility, realism are just techniques.

Rules are irrelevant, quality is irrelevant, I'm only shooting for a niche subset and the number one reader is me.
Except that isn't quite what Nietzsche meant. What he actually wrote was "Aus der Kriegsschule des Lebens — Was mich nicht umbringt, macht mich stärker", which in English is "from the war that is the school of life, what does not kill us makes us stronger." Nietzsche was arguing against nihilism (as he does in several of his works), in the sense that life is not meaningless and it is instead we ourselves who through our experiences create our own values and paradigms which help us grow as individuals.

I'm not sure you could write a book which makes your readers stronger without it being something of a polemic. Yes, you can write books which make people think (Nabokov's Lolita is one, as is Golding's The Lord of the Flies) but that isn't quite the same thing in my view.
 

BearBear

Inkling
How can I help one reach their niche, and they are so resistant to anything that might help them?

I certainly appreciate all the ideas and help here. It's interesting and helpful to get the best result.

Just don't get so hopped up on your fancy ideals that you lose sight of actually writing a good story.

Noted, this is a goal of mine surely but I expect only that half of readers will hate it and half will barely tolerate it to the end. If I can manage that then I've done my job. Honestly, it's a pretty high bar for me.

in the sense that life is not meaningless and it is instead we ourselves who through our experiences create our own values and paradigms which help us grow as individuals.

Indeed and he made some brilliant points that I myself learned along the way before I ever knew about him. I believe a strong mind can be forged through extreme duress and overcoming that completely. At least that's one way. I wish to write something so tedious that the reader will actually be challenged to survive it intact. I don't know if this is possible for me but I've experienced this before so I know it's possible.

I'm not sure you could write a book which makes your readers stronger without it being something of a polemic.

I have suspected the same thing. If done correctly this book would be contentious, polarizing and likely immediately banned from many publishing avenues. I expect it to be released for free and anonymously to avoid litigation. I want it to be good, but also terrible and tragic. I want readers to experience something as uncomfortable as a creepypasta and as grey as the dark web, eye opening, devastating, but give them a real appreciation and wider perspective on their life. I want a book that will basically cause awakening to certain individuals who read it seriously.

It's a real challenge for sure, to make something that will only affect those who are willing to let it lead them and powerful enough to bring them there and back again. I am finding it hard to explain but anyway if I can't then that's okay but I'm going to try if I am able.
 

Nighty_Knight

Troubadour
I certainly appreciate all the ideas and help here. It's interesting and helpful to get the best result.



Noted, this is a goal of mine surely but I expect only that half of readers will hate it and half will barely tolerate it to the end. If I can manage that then I've done my job. Honestly, it's a pretty high bar for me.



Indeed and he made some brilliant points that I myself learned along the way before I ever knew about him. I believe a strong mind can be forged through extreme duress and overcoming that completely. At least that's one way. I wish to write something so tedious that the reader will actually be challenged to survive it intact. I don't know if this is possible for me but I've experienced this before so I know it's possible.



I have suspected the same thing. If done correctly this book would be contentious, polarizing and likely immediately banned from many publishing avenues. I expect it to be released for free and anonymously to avoid litigation. I want it to be good, but also terrible and tragic. I want readers to experience something as uncomfortable as a creepypasta and as grey as the dark web, eye opening, devastating, but give them a real appreciation and wider perspective on their life. I want a book that will basically cause awakening to certain individuals who read it seriously.

It's a real challenge for sure, to make something that will only affect those who are willing to let it lead them and powerful enough to bring them there and back again. I am finding it hard to explain but anyway if I can't then that's okay but I'm going to try if I am able.
What? lol I am now really confused. Most readers will just stop reading if it's that tedious. That sounds more like a challenge to read rather than a story someone would want to read. Reminds me of the episode of South Park where the kids wrote the story called "The Poop that Peed" just to make it as gross and shocking as possible.
 

BearBear

Inkling
What? lol I am now really confused.

No no, don't be. I'm just exploring alternative art in the form of a novel. I have a dozen conventional and very PG novels (unreleased) and I have two dozen published non-fiction works but I want something crazy that would do something crazy and unconventional.

That sounds more like a challenge to read

Yes, such is life when done correctly.

Reminds me of the episode of South Park where the kids wrote the story called "The Poop that Peed" just to make it as gross and shocking as possible.

I'm going only for something as mind-blowing as the time you first saw this:

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A. E. Lowan

Forum Mom
Leadership
I want something a reader wouldn't be comfortable with and get away with it for half of them. I want this book to be out of my comfort zone, I just don't know if I can stand it myself.
It also may be that you aren't ready for some truths about yourself, and that's okay. Nothing wrong with waiting until you can bring all of you to the party.
 
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