After posting yesterday’s blog, it got me thinking—violence in writing. Or on TV, in the movies, whatever. I read Publisher Weekly, which includes the books-to-be-published reviews. These are reviewed by publishing industry professionals. And as I read these reviews, it’s amazing how truly nasty some of this stuff is! And I mean in terms of content…and the heinous things that can happen to someone woven into fictional stories that so-called “niece people” want to read!
Now, I’m not stupid. Really, I’m not—I understand the plotting and creation of books. Understand that books and movies and TV have to have something interesting going on, usually framed as “conflict,” to get a reader’s/watcher’s interest. You need something of interest going on, some conflict involved in said, and a [usually] satisfying ending. Attention-grabbing characters are a huge plus (this makes the work “character driven”). Action. Love. Intrigue.
But, geesh, some of these plots are really intricate and gnarly, putting the old and now-quaint Chinatown plot to shame (and I, having seen this in college as part of a class I took years ago, remember the interest and confusion I experienced while watching it—had I heard that right?! Wait, stop, rewind that reel!). Truth may be stranger than fiction, but I think fiction is really starting to blur that line!
All I’m saying is that there seems to be so much of it. And I’m no angel. I started out writing horror. Even in my current stable of efforts I’ve employed violence…but in my current efforts I’ve tried to frame it in a way as to explain it’s existence in some way. To present an understanding of it. To not use it as a means to its own end. Perhaps not totally successful, but that has been my attempt.
In Sleepwalkers, I used it as a way to express the emotional content of what was going on at the time in the “mechanism” I employed (don’t want to give it away) in the novel. In another manuscript I used it to show how violence could be a product of certain past-life issues. In another I used it more as a live-by-sword-die-by-the-sword employment. But I always tried to frame its (limited!) use in a way to try to understand what violence is and how it emerges into our lives. But when I read these reviews of all these books to be, it just makes me cringe at what the reading public is buying! If elements of our lives are so filled with war and crime and the like (and we’re all complaining about it), then to be reading about the same in our “down time,” our “fun” time…well, it disturbs me. Instead of using so much graphic violence, the better way, IMHO, is to find more inventive ways to plot. To write. And I mean no disservice to the writers employing current methods. They obviously did a great enough job to land a publisher, but in having to focus so much time on such nasty and graphic details has to have an effect upon one’s life, if nothing else, in the outlook of one’s life. How you interact and relate to people. And that is at the heart of my concern.