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Worlds, Why the Violence?

Discussion in 'World Building' started by intipablo, Mar 6, 2014.

  1. Dragev

    Dragev Scribe

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    As several have said before, it helps making a story. You don't need violence as such, but it's easier. A story without any kind of conflict would be like "The Hobbit" if Gandalf didn't show up.

    Also, many fantasy stories (not to say most) are set in an alternative medieval age, a time where most european countries barely went through a few years at a time whithout some form of war; I guess it stuck. And most of us would probably rather read about Conan the Barbarian than Baldrick the Bloody Peasant :p
     
  2. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    The best answer I can give is: write one without violence.

    Seriously, let other authors write what they please. If you think there should be more stories with less violence, the best way to deal with that is to write more stories with less violence. It's not a matter of who's right and who's wrong; it's a matter of who writes and who doesn't.
     
  3. Feo Takahari

    Feo Takahari Auror

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    I think there's a big difference between violence and action. I'll let George R. R. Martin make the case:

    Speaking personally, I use violence when the thing I want to talk about feels violent to me. For instance, Eternal is about sin, and I think the concept of sin is inextricable from violence and hatred, so I wrote stomach-churning violence. Extraordinary is about the creation of hero myths, and I think those are linked to bloodless, weightless action, so I started with action that broke down into bloody violence as the myth fell apart. On the other hand, "In the Cosmic Waiting Room" is about lack of agency, so I didn't write any violence more serious than a cat scratch, because it didn't really need it.
     
  4. kayd_mon

    kayd_mon Sage

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    One reason is that most writers want readers, and readers tend to like action.

    Violence easily leads to suspense and creates the opportunity for lasting stakes. That glues readers in.

    You don't need violence to create suspense and tension (see the old movie 12 Angry Men) and you don't need war to have a good fantasy (see Lord Dunsany's The Charwoman's Shadow, the recent bestseller The Night Circus). But since many readers look for action, war, duels, etc. in fantasy novels, authors will keep supplying it. As I said, you can create conflict without violence, and you can still entertain.
     
  5. Malik

    Malik Auror

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    My series deals with the increasing obsolescence of the warrior caste in our society. My MC is a man who, had he been born a thousand years ago, would have been a hero and conqueror, but who in our society is an outcast and a failure specifically because of his aptitude for violence.

    Violence is a four-letter word in our modern world because we have lost perspective on the utility of force. I take particular offense to this; but then, I'm a professional soldier. Violence is my stock in trade. Controlled, professionally applied violence toward a specific end is one of the most effective tools of civilization and the single defining constant throughout history.

    We no longer understand violence. It's alien and scary to most of us. This leads to two trains of thought: overindulgence in mindless, Jason Statham-esque glorified Hollywood nonsense (or, in fantasy, a weird sort of sanitized, consequence-free cartoon violence, which I find even more disturbing); or the naive and ridiculous idea that we have evolved - or will ever evolve - to the point where violence is unnecessary and 'behind us' somehow. That's a beautiful sentiment, but I beg to differ.

    The idea that violence never solves anything is ridiculous and patently false. Violence has solved - or to some degree, determined - damned near everything since time immemorial.

    I use violence in my series because the inhabitants of the world where it happens still understand and respect violence enough to use it constructively.
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2014
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  6. Jabrosky

    Jabrosky Banned

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    I don't necessarily disagree with you that violence will always have its place, but I would argue that modern civilization made it a four-letter word has partly to do with recent advocacy for a more inclusive society. In bygone days, people accepted violence as long as it targeted whatever out-groups their culture or leadership declared inferior. Nowadays we're more sensitive to those out-groups' humanity and have less tolerance for their victimization. We (or rather some of us) have grown ashamed of violence in general because of its historical connotations of alienating the Other. At least that could explain why we frown upon warlike tendencies these days.
     
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  7. Feo Takahari

    Feo Takahari Auror

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    I'd go one further than Jabrosky: violence becomes less palatable when you are the Other. When a character in a fantasy novel talks about how it's okay to slaughter orcs because they're evil savages, I have a hard time not comparing that to when characters in old frontier novels say it's okay to slaughter "Indians" because they're evil savages.

    I'm willing to write about humans and orcs slaughtering each other, since people still slaughter each other in real life. I tend to portray the soldiers in such conflicts as good people, too. But I don't write war as a heroic or beneficial thing, because as much as I like to pretend that I don't care about race, I do feel some responsibility to respect my ancestry.

    (And yes, I am well aware that there were wars between Native American tribes.)
     
  8. Jabrosky

    Jabrosky Banned

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    For my part, I'm more comfortable writing about war if my protagonists are on the defending team. Military aggressors usually register as the bad guys in my imagination.
     
  9. Gurkhal

    Gurkhal Auror

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    For my sake I don't have any particular problems to write about violence in general although some forms of it are reprehensible to me such as men's violence towards women. And like said there are few sharper conflicts that violence and violence does solve and determine alot of things.
     
  10. Nagash

    Nagash Sage

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    C.F. Things fall apart, from Chinua Achebe.
     
  11. Malik

    Malik Auror

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    "Aggressor" is in the eye of the beholder. It's never, ever, as cut and dried as it appears from either side's position. Keep in mind what the world was like without the internet, without multiple news sources, without people raised to think critically and see things from another point of view (okay, we're still working on that last one). Before any kind of military action, there is a lot of what amounts to raised middle fingers and playground shoving on both sides. Historically, the man in the street -- who wasn't around when the shoving started -- never sees that; they just see the banners and the dust coming up the road and immediately assume, "Ah! Aggressors!"
     
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  12. Amanita

    Amanita Maester

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    One of the main reasons to use violence from a story-building perspective probably is the fact that it raises the stakes considerably. If the protagonist is going to be killed if he loses, there's more suspense than there would be if the story was about a sports contest, reaching his career goal or similar.
    The common motive of an evil threat that needs to be defeated wouldn't work without violence either. I'm not very interested in stories featuring various groups of people fighting a bloody war over a medieval throne or similar but there seem to be plenty of others who do. ;)
    I'm somewhat hypocritical in this aspect myself. I tend to complain (mentally) about overly brutal stories but my own ones happen to be not too much lighter if viewed from an objective perspective. No idea why that is.

    I know the forums aren't supposed to be about real-world discussions but I would like you to elaborate somewhat, Malik. At the moment, I'm not quite sure as to what you're arguing in favour.
    Do you think that there should be more respect for the military and more understanding for police officers' need to use force in conflict?
    Do you think it would be preferrable if citizens would use more violence to solve their own troubles rather than turn to the police and to courts?
    Do you think war should be used to achieve political goals more often?
    All of the above or something completely different?
    Becoming a military leader has only been an option for a very limited number of men in the past where such positions were restricted to members of the nobility as well or are you mainly talking about tribal cultures?
     
  13. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    Most fantasy works seem to center around violence of one kind or another, but there are plenty that do not. You just need to look beyond the usual to find them. One place to start, for example, might be with Ellen Kushner's Riverside series.
     
  14. intipablo

    intipablo Scribe

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    That is true but that is not what i was saying. Why do we have so many types of the violence books and not many of the others?
     
  15. intipablo

    intipablo Scribe

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    This is true but again that was not my question. It does help making a story but why are most stories these days based on violence! they don't have to be!
     
  16. intipablo

    intipablo Scribe

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    Remember, this was just an opinion and that was what i planned on doing but at the time i couldn't enter the showcase.
     
  17. intipablo

    intipablo Scribe

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    That is what i said before. And i know that. But why is it that most readers want violence! WHY?
     
  18. intipablo

    intipablo Scribe

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    Very true! reading your book right now, very fascinating! :) keep up the good work!
     
  19. intipablo

    intipablo Scribe

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    very helpful! :)
     
  20. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    I am on The Fall of the Kings, which is part of the series. Mostly it has been the characters debating the history of the fall of kings and disappearance of the wizards and which historical sources to be believed. They're all in academia. Very well done, and as usually Kushner keeps the pace moving and the story engaging. Not an ounce of violence yet.
     
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