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Worlds, Why the Violence?

TrustMeImRudy

Troubadour
Theres also the idea of realism. The world is, honestly, a violent place. No matter what we wish and hope and no matter hard how we close our eyes, there's violence all over the place everywhere in the world, often on large scales. And it has been that way all of history.
If someone writes a piece of fiction with no or little violence, it's gonna get some flak for being unrealistic. It'll be labelled simplistic, unrealistic, for children or something like that. Why? Because any conflict that starts tends to escalate, and the endpoint is always violence.
 

intipablo

Scribe
Ok, this has been touched on here and there in this thread, but let me try to condense it and break it down.

People have, for centuries, even millennia, found contained violence to be exciting and entertaining. Examples that come to mind are the gladiatorial fights of the Roman Empire, chariot races (much like car races of today, they were most exciting when crashes happened), football/rugby/name-your-extreme-sport-of-choice, martial arts as sport (or not), action movies, video games, and action-oriented fiction (be it the thriller, the fantasy novel, or alien adventure). This sort of contained violence lets the audience indulge in the experience vicariously, and they can have the adrenaline high, the excitement of the intensity, without risking their own health, pain, or possibly their life. Excitement is addictive, and audiences keep coming back for more.

We are entertainers. We entertain ourselves, and we hope to entertain our readers. I hope this makes things clearer.

Yes, this makes sense. I am just saying why do we have to entertain our readers with violence! why not things peaceful.
 

intipablo

Scribe
At risk of being unnecessarily combative, I'm not sure how much of an answer this really is. In writing erotica, I've been faced with a lot of situations where the scene that would be most likely to entertain my readers would be shallow, simplistic, or wouldn't fit the story I wanted to tell. Entertainment is my primary goal, but it's not my only goal, and I do back away from it sometimes.

Most genres aren't faced with the entertaining/artistic chasm quite as much as erotica is, but I do think most writers reach a point where there's something they want to do as well as entertain. They make a line somewhere, and they usually don't cross it.

From what I've seen of how readers respond to stories of sexual violence, I'm not entirely convinced that it's healthy to package violence neatly and put a nice little bow on it. That's a claim I'm willing to stake, and while Intipablo is being overly pushy, I do think American culture might be a little less screwed up if more American writers staked it.

I did not mean to get pushy. I was just trying to prove a point, and showing my opinion.
 

Nagash

Sage
Yes, this makes sense. I am just saying why do we have to entertain our readers with violence! why not things peaceful.

Alright, lets just wrap this up, because i'm getting the feeling we're simply going over well-known grounds here. A) violence isn't the exclusive way writers entertain their readers; you can fin a number of well-written books which focus on very different aspects of human behavior in order to captivate the eye of the reader. Beside, if violence is a fascination for most, other things such as the cliché love story or other complex illustrations of human nature are good ways to grab the reader's attention. B) violence is indeed used abundantly for the simple reason that we, humans, tend to get excited by intense action-driven plots, merely because, as i stated previously, "as the deepest abyss, we're all inhabited by unsettling and gruesome monstrosities". It's as x said in GOT last season's pilot - "There's a beast in every man; and it stirs when you put a sword in their hand...". Like it or not, human beings are driven by exhilarating violence; it exalts them. And while other means can and are being used in order to trigger such enthusiasm amid the fandom community, violence will always be an instant classic. Simply because we nourish such fascination for unbridled passion, it can hardly be matched by anything else...
 

intipablo

Scribe
Alright, lets just wrap this up, because i'm getting the feeling we're simply going over well-known grounds here. A) violence isn't the exclusive way writers entertain their readers; you can fin a number of well-written books which focus on very different aspects of human behavior in order to captivate the eye of the reader. Beside, if violence is a fascination for most, other things such as the cliché love story or other complex illustrations of human nature are good ways to grab the reader's attention. B) violence is indeed used abundantly for the simple reason that we, humans, tend to get excited by intense action-driven plots, merely because, as i stated previously, "as the deepest abyss, we're all inhabited by unsettling and gruesome monstrosities". It's as x said in GOT last season's pilot - "There's a beast in every man; and it stirs when you put a sword in their hand...". Like it or not, human beings are driven by exhilarating violence; it exalts them. And while other means can and are being used in order to trigger such enthusiasm amid the fandom community, violence will always be an instant classic. Simply because we nourish such fascination for unbridled passion, it can hardly be matched by anything else...

Ok, i am getting tired of saying the same things over and over so i am just going to say that this is very true. Although i still hold my same opinion as before.
 

Guy

Inkling
Yes, this makes sense. I am just saying why do we have to entertain our readers with violence!
Well, we don't have to. One reason it's so common, I think, is because story involves conflict and struggle. This is most clearly and starkly expressed through violence. The thrill of the story is tied to the stakes, and life or death struggle is the ultimate high stakes. Violence is a medium through which to study human nature - what are people willing to kill for? What are they willing to die for? Violence in story telling isn't a new phenomenon. It's been around as long as story telling itself. Folklore from cultures all over the world have stories of warriors battling mighty foes, personifying humanity's struggle against life's difficulties. It resonates with everyone because, as Hemingway said, the world eventually breaks everybody. We all know what it is like to face daunting odds. We all know what it's like to get our asses kicked by life/the world. We all know the fear of facing the things the world throws at us. Now, you could also portray this through the story of a peasant trying to get his crops grown, but it's not nearly as exciting as the warrior's struggle. Therefore, you don't typically see stories like that. What you'll see are peasant heroes thrust from their life of drudgery into a situation where they have to face violence, for the reasons stated. A story in which the protagonist defeats his foe through a letter writing campaign just isn't going to be as exciting (Quick! To the bat fax!). Classical myths, epic poems, Arthurian romances, Shakespearean tragedies, fairy tales, all employ violence in their stories.
why not things peaceful.
Go for it.
 
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intipablo

Scribe
Well, we don't have to. One reason it's so common, I think, is because story involves conflict and struggle. This is most clearly and starkly expressed through violence. The thrill of the story is tied to the stakes, and life or death struggle is the ultimate high stakes. Violence is a medium through which to study human nature - what are people willing to kill for? What are they willing to die for? Violence in story telling isn't a new phenomenon. It's been around as long as story telling itself. Folklore from cultures all over the world have stories of warriors battling mighty foes, personifying humanity's struggle against life's difficulties. It resonates with everyone because, as Hemingway said, the world eventually breaks everybody. We all know what it is like to face daunting odds. We all know what it's like to get our asses kicked by life/the world. We all know the fear of facing the things the world throws at us. Now, you could also portray this through the story of a peasant trying to get his crops grown, but it's not nearly as exciting as the warrior's struggle. Therefore, you don't typically see stories like that. What you'll see are peasant heroes thrust from their life of drudgery into a situation where they have to face violence, for the reasons stated. A story in which the protagonist defeats his foe through a letter writing campaign just isn't going to be as exciting (Quick! To the bat fax!). Classical myths, epic poems, Arthurian romances, Shakespearean tragedies, fairy tales, all employ violence in their stories.

Go for it.

Very true. I am working on a new story right now! :)
 
In all honesty, it would be unrealistic to design a setting where violence or conflict isn't a factor. Ever since men learned to use tools, we've used them to kill each other. Even before then, animals kill other animals for food and sport. Violence is just a facet of life, and conflict is something that drives nearly every plot. In my stories, I focus more on the philosophical nature of wars and violence: Why are these nations at war? Who has what to gain from winning? What is there to lose? Which side, if any, is morally correct? Is violence even possible to be considered morally correct, even if it is for a seemingly just cause?

Posing these moral questions in the text will turn a violent, mind-numbing blood feud into a philosophical problem. And sometimes, that's the best way to get a message across: By contrasting the message that "Violence is wrong" against a warlike backdrop, I now have a powerful image to accompany my message. The person who reads the details of the battle with the message in mind will now be even more emotionally compelled, as they are comparing and contrasting the message and the image in their head, making both all the more powerful. That is my ideal use of violence in writing.
 

Steerpike

Felis amatus
Moderator
I don't think it would be unrealistic, at least to the extent you're dealing with a world not our own. There is no reason a fantasy world couldn't develop differently from our own, or that the cultures therein couldn't develop differently.
 
Logically though, conflict would still be an issue. That's just how competition works, which is something that's universal. The only logical way to get rid of conflict and violence entirely would be to design a world in which competition is not a concept. It would be possible, however it would require designing a culture so alien to us that it would be hard to grasp.

Perhaps by designing a culture in which problems are solved without the need for violence would be a good start. However, there would have to be an alternative that would have the same, conflict resolving effect.
 

Noma Galway

Archmage
McBeardstache, you have a point about the animals killing other animals. That would develop the same in pretty much every world, unless it was a world full of herbivores. That would call for a messed up ecosystem, and, yeah...let's just leave it at "you have a point," okay? :)

For a story to be a story, IMO, it has to have conflict. In fantasy writing, conflict usually falls into violence because fantasy tends to have a lot of external conflict as a backdrop for internal conflict. A Song of Ice and Fire is known for its violence (among other things), but I enjoy it because of the politics and family struggles, which are not necessarily violent. I would argue that most external conflict (except maybe the major war) in that series is just a physical manifestation of the internal conflicts in the characters.

What would that alternative be? I can't think of anything that has the same conflict-resolving effect as violence does.
 
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