Wednesday, February 25, 2009

How Much Violence is Too Much?



In the early 1990s I found some 25 books in the “Edge” series of westerns at a used book sale. They cost a little over a buck all together so I bought them. All but the first had a subtitle of “The Most Violent Westerns in Print” on the cover. Well now, I was already writing horror fiction in those days so I felt like I knew something about violence. These sounded right up my alley. They weren’t. I read the first one, The Loner, and it was definitely violent. But to use an overworked term, the violence seemed gratuitous. I didn’t read anymore, but I kept the rest of the books anyway.

Flash forward to 2009. Someone mentions the Edge books on a blog and I pull out my old collection and give book #2, Ten Grand, a go. I seemed to remember from the first book that the violence seldom had a point, and this book reinforced that in spades. Edge is a brutal psychopath. He is a true anti-hero, amoral, vicious, and bent only on using others for his own ends. He beats and mistreats women whose only fault is to mistakenly link their lives to his. The only saving grace is that he usually doesn’t go ‘out of his way’ to mistreat folks. He prefers to be alone, but woe to anyone who ends up associating with him.

I was hoping for Edge to get gut shot within the first twenty pages of Ten Grand, but since I knew the series ran on for something like fifty books that wasn’t going to happen. After finishing book #2, and knowing I wanted to do a blog post about violence in books, I started book #3, Apache Death to see if it was any different. It was equally violent, but at least this time Edge didn’t beat up or kill any women so I found it a bit more tolerable.

I must also admit that there are some redeeming features about the series. They are fast paced, easy reads, all coming in at around 140 to 160 pages. The prose style is readable and even has a bit of poetry here and there, although the grammar is sometimes atrocious. They also have quite a bit of black humor about them, which softens the brutality a bit. You can see, I believe, a spaghetti western influence. Still, they are not my type of books and I simply don’t like the character of Edge. And the endings seem mostly of the type I’d call “convenience.” Edge is about to find a treasure but something happens and he loses it. Then it’s on to the next volume.

I prefer to be careful slapping the gratuitous violence label on anything. Cold in the Light was accused by one agent of being gratuitously violent. I believe she misinterpreted the book. The Warkind in that book are a warrior caste of a non-human species. Violence in defense and attack is essentially the reason why the Warkind exist. So, although they are violent, the violence is part of their very biology and not gratuitous. Or so I argued to myself.

On the other hand, I’m going to label the Edge books as indeed gratuitously violent. Over and over again we see violence that is not directly necessary to the scene. In Apache Death, for example, we see several women killed during an Indian attack on a fort because, for reasons unknown, they run from their hiding places into the open. It looks like they ran out from hiding just so they could die hideously. We also see in books #2 and #3 various women who have their breasts hacked off. I wonder if the breast hacking theme continues through other books in the series.

Like with sex, it’s always an open question as to how much violence is too much. The issue is complicated for me because most of the books I read certainly contain violence, while relatively few contain graphic sex. I’m inclined to think much the same way about the two issues, though. Violence, or sex, becomes too much when they are no longer integral to the plot of the story, when they appear to be there just for their own sake and not because the story demands them.

What do you think? How much violence is too much? And are there any violent books where you think the violence is absolutely gratuitous? I wanna know.
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49 comments:

SILVER said...

that leaves plenty to think about!

I like your writings. I will be coming back to visit and dig deeper.

smiles,

~Silver
(from Reflection)

the walking man said...

Abbie Hoffman one of the Yippee founders and anarchist of the 60's youth revolution said:

"You only use enough violence to prove your point."

Seems like a good rule to me.

SzélsőFa said...

Suppose that I had this series, I don't think I would want to read any further.
Unjustified violence, unnecessary actions and bad grammar, too, repel me.

Yet, I admire your patience and scientific approach you treat this series with.

Also you got me thinking about an off-topic: how much the character need to be likeable, one the reader can sympathise with...

Greg Schwartz said...

i can't think of any stories i've read recently with gratiutous violence, but i definitely agree with you. i recently read Brian Keene's The Rising & City of the Dead, and while both books were violent, it was a necessary violence, like Cold in the Light: it was a post-apocalyptic world with the military battling intelligent zombies. it didn't detract from the story at all.

BernardL said...

Breast hacking is psychopathic serial killer type stuff. To carry the theme from the second book into the third is pretty weird.

I like your comparison of gratuitous violence and gratuitous sex. When either shows up in a book, it pops you right out of whatever plot-line you're following.

Robert E. Howard used to introduce Conan into a new story with a violent episode not always connected with the plot - but very good reading. It served the purpose of making sure the reader knew Conan was the meanest SOB in the valley. :)

Charles Gramlich said...

Silver, thanks for visiting. I appreciate it.

Mark, sounds reasonable. The point is important.

Szelsofa, there's definitely no identity or sympathy with the "hero" in this series, not for me at least.

Greg Schwartz, since I like action and adventure and conflict, there is often going to be violence, and it can enhance the book if deftly handled and important to the story.

Bernardl, I actually was thinking of Conan when I worked on that post. He sometimes showed brutality but it was directed, and there was almost always some cause behind it that made sense. Conan is often called an anti-hero but I don't think I can agree. He is a hero.

Gabby said...

I'm actually reading Lawhead's Merlin, which has a scene of savage "Saxons" (he types it differently) that apparently like to hack women's breasts off too. While I believe the savagery and the violence, he does seem to resort to it a little too often to conveniently get his hero to ... become more than he was, to grow up, mature, gain some new power, etc. Maybe it was true for that time, but he does it quite often (the people who die of old age usually die off-page). It's interesting....

Randy Johnson said...

I too read the Edge series back then and equated it with the spaghetti westerns that were in vogue at the time. Yes, they were a bit violent, but I enjoyed them. A few years back I came across a website that had six later Edge novels posted.
I knew the writer had continued the series in England after the US publisher stopped for another dozen books or so.
I thought that these were some of those. Turns out, Gilman(Terry Harknett) wrote these recently, at the time, and they featured an older, less violent, and sightly more honest Edge. They were still violent, but not to the degree of the originals.

MarmiteToasty said...

Martini Cole's bookd can be a bit violent, except they are sorta true to life, so I think maybe thats a tad different..... I dont like to much violence.... Im a lover not a fighter lol

x

laughingwolf said...

i recall that series, charles, but don't think i read more than one or two

yeah, if neither the sex nor the violence integrally move the story forward, they become gratuitous

i like mark's quote...

Georgie B said...

Sounds like this book series was a precursor to the "splatterpunk" genre of writing.

For me, the only time I probably wouldn't mind reading that level of violence that you described, would be if I was reading something in the true crime genre.

Otherwise, that level of what I call "sick puppy dog" violence is just a major turn off to me.

Charles Gramlich said...

Gabby, sex and violence sell I guess, and I’ve certainly been guilty of putting violence in my stories. I haven’t read this one yet, though.

Randy Johnson, probably if I’d read the Edge books when I was younger I might not have paid any attention to the excessive violence. They are certainly readable. To, I think about these things as a writer. I thought Wings over Talera and Witch of Talera were pretty damn violent, so maybe I have no room to talk.

MarmiteToasty, I haven’t read Cole’s stuff. I know some horrible violence does occur in real life, for sure.

Angie said...

I’m inclined to think much the same way about the two issues, though. Violence, or sex, becomes too much when they are no longer integral to the plot of the story, when they appear to be there just for their own sake and not because the story demands them.

I agree. [nod] I think it's the exact same issue -- if a scene pulls its weight in the story, then it's not gratuitous. If it doesn't, then it is, whether it's sex or violence or anything else. I don't care if it's six pages of little kids playing with puppies; if it doesn't serve some actual function within the stories then it's a gratuitous puppy scene. People just don't seem to complain about those for some reason. [wry smile]

Angie

Shauna Roberts said...

For me, there's a difference between sex and violence. If they serve a function in the story, fine. If they're in there just to titillate, I'll keep reading the book with sex, but I'll stop reading the book with violence. Some people get a thrill from mutilation, torture, etc., but I'm not one of them. Also, violence seems disproportionately directed in fiction against women (whereas in real life, I believe men are more often the victims), so it seems put in only as a power trip or thinly veiled rape fantasy for the male author and male readers.

Crushed said...

I read an author once called Shaun Hutson.

I found him to be just a little too sick to my taste. It was an uneasy mix odf sex and violence and frankly, I found it exceeedingly distatesful. And I'm no prude.

Lisa said...

This is partially a matter of personal taste, but I think one could make a fair judgment that excessive violence is no longer just fiction, it's something else that's the written equivalent to a snuff film.

Personally, I don't read much with a lot of violence or sex and where it's there, it's generally pretty implied. The most violent book I can remember reading recently was DISGRACE, by J.M. Coetzee. There is a scene where a woman is gang raped and her father is incapacitated and locked in another room. It all takes place from the father's perspective, so all you know if what he hears and then sees in the aftermath. Even at that, it was brutal.

Scott said...

Charles,

I'm not squeamish at all, and most of the media(books, film, etc.) I enjoy portray some level of violence , but I suppose that at times it's definately possible to cross the line to where it doesn't serve the story.

For the record, I didn't find Cold In The Light to be gratuitously violent...but I guess that is subjective.

SQT said...

Oddly I can handle more violence than sex in fiction. I don't know why. I tried to read Laurell K. Hamilton's Merry Gentry series and the sex was just over-the-top. Porn really. My only gripe is that it wasn't in the erotica aisle. And I guess that's the point as far as I'm concerned. If a book is full of sex-- say so. I'm sure there are people out there who will buy it just for that reason. I think the disclaimer that the "Edge" series is "The Most Violent Westerns in Print" takes away any objections I would have. I mean, they tell you what to expect before you pick it up. You know, you read it at your own peril at that point.

Cath said...

I agree that violence for the sake of it is too much. To me, it is similar to sex scenes - if you see them go to bed together and cuddle I don't need to see a full blown sex act to know what their intentions are.
Similarly, I do not need to "see" (make that read but the writer makes me see, or should) more violence than is absolutely necessary to get the point across. If violence is in a character's nature, I do not need to see every one of his violent acts to know what he would do after I am aware of his nature. A good writer will always be able to suggest things and persuade me without actually pointing it out and underlining it. Does that make sense to you? Hope so.

Chris Gruber said...

Hi Charles,
Do me a favor and look up the Fort Dearborn Massacre. Men, women, and children tortured in a manner that is beyond shocking, mutilated in death in ghastly ways that make no sense to us now- but nevertheless a sad historical occurrence, and only one example of the cruelty evident upon both sides of the cultural conflict. Unfortunately, in order to accurately capture the essence of a time period where the primary focus of the story would be the conflict tension points that define an era (such as the westerns you read and talk about) you're forced as a writer to incorporate the violence of the time, in whatever manner it manifested itself, or risk your credibility precisely because it was no shocking, so seemingly random, appearing to us now as "gratuitous."
The backdrop of those westerns have to be gritty, violent, and morosely pessimistic if their intention is to highlight the dangerous world in which the hero (or anti-hero) lives and conquers in, else what's the point of the story? What would make it compelling?
Again, check out the massacre and then do some real investigation and you'll find that many things the native Americans warriors did were indeed horrible to the settlers but were more often than not either culturally acceptable to them or had some significant meaning attached to the violent act. A good example I think would be Howard's story, The Black Stone. Remember the baby scene...? Just my two cents worth.

Chris Gruber

Lana Gramlich said...

I've had enough of violence in real life to have it shoved in my face in my hobbies. I'm trying to relax from all of that junk, y'know?

Sidney said...

I read the Edge books as a teenager and remember them most as you note, short, easy reads at a time when I didn't have a great deal of discernment. Guess they were forerunners to the adult Westerns.

I read the ones that were on the stands when I started first and got The Loner and Ten Grand later. I remember some of the books in the teens more fondly, Tiger's Gold, Vengeance Valley and maybe a few others.

Later ones got a little more goofy, I believe. I'm not sure that the original British author kept writing, but there would be little tongue in cheek touches like three Pinkerton men named Lou Archer, Phil Marlowe and Samuel Spade and things like that.

Not what I'm reading these days, but they were a diversion in their time.

cs harris said...

I avoid excessive violence in both films and books. I've never been able to understand the appeal of slasher flicks, and I've always been a tad suspicious of people who love them. I can understand a story needing something violent to happen, but when the writer dwells on it in loving detail, something else is going on there, and it reminds me of porn.

Erik Donald France said...

Right on about some tinges of spaghetti westerns. Violence is often exploted for shock value to no real point, it seems. On the other hand, it fits the story and chracter development things like Robocop or, well, some of the better spaghetti westerns.

The Hoffman line works for me. I prefer realistic and purposeful sex scenes to gratuitous violence any day.

Cloudia said...

When it is integral and fuels great story-making sex & (esp) violence are worthy tools of the artist. In the hands of an adolescent mentality it veers too close to pathology for my taste.
Aloha, Charles

Charles Gramlich said...

Angie, good point about the gratuitous puppy scene. That’s exactly right, although I never really thought of it that way.

Shauna Roberts, I definitely see violence that I think is meant to titillate a certain type of male reader. I suppose it happens from the female side too, although I think those books are much less mainstream. I find it much easier to write violence that affects males than any that affects females. But such violence does happen in real life so it’s sometimes a hard line to figure.

Crushed, I haven’t read anything by Hutson. I’m going to have to look him up.

Lisa, I’ve only written one story that featured a rapist engaging in sexual violence against a female. It was called “Razor White” and was one of the biggest selling stories I ever had. I’ve still not returned to that subject matter, even though I made sure the rapist got his in the end.
Scott, well when you watch Italian horror films, my friend, you probably would think Cold in the Light was a light hearted romp. Lol.
SQT, actually, I can too. Not sure why that should be. You’re right, the subtitle on those westerns surely does give a clear statement as to what you’re about to get. Well said.

Cath, suggestion is often more powerful than showing, for sure.

Chris Gruber, that’s why it’s a delicate line. I’ve read enough history to know of terrible massacres, terrible tortures. If you look at almost any army in history you’ll find absolute horror done against fellow human beings. But there seems to me a line between showing the truth of what horror might have happened, and lingering on that horror gloatingly. Trouble is, I’m not sure exactly where that line is myself, and it shifts based upon all kinds of subtle factors in the writing.

Lana Gramlich, nothing wrong with that. I go through very different moods myself as to what I’ll tolerate or not tolerate.

Sidney, I’ve not read any of the later Edge ones but I’ve heard from another reader that the tone changed. Even the earlier ones did have some tongue in cheek elements, certainly some black humor.

cs harris, I never liked slasher flicks either. I like a good scary movie and don’t mind gore, but just going repeatedly for shock value loses its power with me pretty quickly.

Erik Donald France, The Spaghetti westerns seemed to do it right, to me. They were very violent, and some times there were sadistic elements, but the violence worked with the movie as a whole.

Charles Gramlich said...

Cloudia, it's like porn I guess. We all know it when we see it, although we don't all have the same definitions of it.

X. Dell said...

Like you, I think the term 'gratuitous' is somewhat overused. To be honest, violence of this nature strikes me more as masturbatory. In other words, it's there for the sake of getting the reader off. Kinda like what we nowadays call 'war porn.'

I was watching a show on cable a few days back where they measured the sexual response of killers and rapists to two different sets of stimuli: (1) purely sexual, and (2) graphically violent. According to this study, violent men exhibited a far greater sexual response to the violence.

Of course, you know far more about this stuff than I and the TV show did. But I can only think of one reason to put in that much violence--like the sex in a stag film, it's its own end. The story is simply the means by which to get to the end. True, the books in this series are probably read by a wider segment of the population than simply murderers and rapists. But the thing is that people don't necessarily act on impulse, compulsion or fantasy. In fact, I would suspect that the vast majority of this target audience aren't fellons, and wouldn't conceive of harming another person. At the same time, that wouldn't necessarily stop them from getting excited over violence.

Barbara Martin said...

My viewpoint follows those of Shauna and CS Harris. Repeated violence in a book tends to make me toss it in the garbage, while making a mental note never to read another book of that 'sick puppy' again. As to gratuitous sex, if I'm planning on reading erotica that's one thing, but to find it in a novel can be disconcerting. It would be better for authors to infer violence and/or sex and move on with the story.

Charles Gramlich said...

X. Dell, I'm sure that 99 percent of the folks who read reams of graphic violence are probably safe to be around, as you say. Just like most people who read porn aren't going to rape someone. I'm a firm believer in being able to do your own thing as long as you don't hurt anyone else, so I have no real moral problem with ultraviolence or porn. It's more of a personal distaste. A well thought out comment, for sure.

Barbara Martin, I can actually handle violence better than sex in general reading, I think. The reason for me is that in genre fiction there usually needs to be some violence, although it can be implied rather than described. But often times the sex really does seem more gratutious. It's a fine line, of course.

jennifer said...

I know before I even write this I am going to stumble all over the place with this comment.

Violence for the sake of intrigue is cool (to me). But not in your face graphic violence. Hints that make me think "Does that mean what I think it means?" works best for me as a reader. I don't have to have every gory detail to be satisfied with the story. I like stories about people and relationships and personalities. So if something violent happened that made the characters stronger, or more dysfunctional, or bitter, or even more interesting - I get it.

But I am like Lana in that the real world offers enough violence. Books are a perfect form of escapism - a place to feel without being touched personally. A vehicle to make me think without demanding action.

And speaking of making me think... your blog certainly has a way of doing just that.

J. L. Krueger said...

The violence depends upon the context and its relationship to the story. It has to help move the story. In some cases it helps the reader understand why certain characters are the way they are. However, I don't think the violence needs to always be graphic. In many fantasy novels the worlds in which the story is set are violent places, so violence usually must be part of the story.

ARCHAVIST said...

Charles - I know where you're coming from. I even agree to a point and I'm an Edge nut. I wince sometimes when I read the violent passages, but most of it is punctuated with a sick humour. In fact George Gilman, AKA Terry Harknett said he winced himself at the amount of violence the publishers wanted him to put in and the only way he could do it was the use the humour.

I don't know if you've seen the western Django but I liken the Edge series too that - the violence is so extereme that it becomes almost comedy.

Mind you Terry is a fine writer and some of the Edge books show a depth of character that increased as the books went on.

Try Apache Death - it's just as violent but the story moves at supersonic speed. Aother Gilman series Adam Steele is slightly less violent and may appeal more to your tastes.

ARCHAVIST said...

RE CRUSHED - Shaun Hutson makes the Gilman books look like child's play. Now that's violent - anyone ever read Slugs?

pattinase (abbott) said...

I have a pretty low threshold. I walked out of Lethal Weapon 1 when Danny Glover's daughter is in jeopardy and I certainly closed my eyes during The Wrestler a lot. I can't stand torture; can't stand sadism; can't stand children in jeorpardy. So I guess even a little is too much for me.

Sidney said...

Hey, Apparently George G. Gillman was a pseudonym of Terry Harknett http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/h/terry-harknett/

I had a couple of the Fox novels he wrote under the name Adam Hardy. That series was Edge at sea.

Lover of Life said...

Hi - Just noticed your blog reply on majority of two. I, too, am interested in writing and love to talk about it. As for violence, I am less and less apt to read violent books as I get older. Hacking of women's breasts would have me put the book down and move on to something else. My husband and I do, however, like sci fi movies, which do have violence. But it's not the same, for me, with monsters vs. breast hackers. Breast hackers are real and they are really really scary.

David Cranmer said...

If it's part of the plot and moves the story forward then I'm ok with it.

Charles Gramlich said...

jennifer, violence as a trope is certainly interesting. Once I started reading horror fiction in my early 20s I really became interested in its use in fiction. I do think it’s possible to go too far, but there are times for me when the gore is not only OK but seems to be needed to properly produce an effect.

J. L. Krueger, yes, if you’re doing good against evil, as often occurs in fantasy, you definitely need to show that the evil can be evil and not just a pest. You’re right, though, the violence doesn’t necessarily have to be graphic.

ARCHAVIST, Yes, there is definitely a lot of black humor, some of which works and some of which doesn’t. I definitely think that takes some of the ‘edge’ off so to speak. I’ve never seen Django. I haven’t read Huston either but I think I’m going to look at one of his books.

pattinase (abbott), there are certain places, like child in danger, that I don’t want to go to either. On the other hand, I don’t mind violence perpetrated against adults, especially adult males that much. I thought the violence in Alien and Aliens for example added to the story.

Sidney, I’ve actually tried to pick up some of those Fox novels but have only gotten one. Some were also written by Ken Bulmer, a writer I collect.

Lover of Life, thanks for dropping by. I hope you found something interesting. I’ve gotten to where I enjoy more happier endings as I’ve gotten older. The breast hacking thing bothered me, but it particularly bothered me when it happened in two books in a row.

David Cranmer, I think that’s the key. When I was younger I enjoyed watching graphic horror movies sometimes for what I called the “coolness” factor. It was just an appreciation of a certain visualization that I found interesting or that tweaked my imagination. Now that I’ve seen a lot of such movies I’m less enamored of that, and experience it less, of course.

Shauna Roberts said...

When I was younger I enjoyed watching graphic horror movies sometimes for what I called the “coolness” factor.....Now that I’ve seen a lot of such movies I’m less enamored of that.....

The other thing about being older is that the violence feels more personal. We've lived through 9-11, Katrina, friends or relatives getting butchered as part of their cancer treatment, friends or relatives being raped, friends or relatives dying in car crashes, etc. Violence on the screen or page too easily conjures up memories of these terrible events.

steve on the slow train said...

I'm with Shauna. I'd stop reading a book with excessive violence, but probably not one with too much sex, unless that sex is exploitative.

Chris Gruber makes a point about historical fiction, though the Fort Dearborn Massacre has a lot of conflicting accounts. From what I've read, about 50 people were killed, while those captured were sold to the British, who released them. But the details, such as whether the Miami participated in the killing, are not always clear. If you're writing about it, you've got to compare the various accounts, and make a considered judgment about what to put into your account.

I've run into the same problem writing about Chicago during the last week of August, 1968, when there were scores of reporters and cameras. I have to write about violence, though I do it from the point of view either of the victim or a sympathetic bystander.

I have to pick and choose facts--were bags of feces thrown from the Conrad Hilton onto the police? They don't show up on film, so I'm not including that allegation in my narrative. But I can't write a novel set in Chicago '68 without writing violence. I don't want it to become a celebration of violence.

And speaking of Chicago, '68, Walking Man, do you happen to have a source for that Hoffman quote? It's a good one, but a lot of the best quotes are ones that have been modified over the years.

ARCHAVIST said...

Charles - Hutson will really gross you out.

benjibopper said...

i happen to be reading a book right now (endgame by derrick jensen) that dedicates a lot of print to defending violence - not its portrayal but its use in defense of the land and life, against civilization itself, which is destroying the land and life, including people. that i can stomach. but the hacking off of women's breasts for entertainment truly disgusts me. i don't think violence, or its portrayal, is inherently wrong. it depends i guess on its purpose. i think most people would resort to violence in defense of what they hold dear. its the violence that's used to shock, terrorize, and control that really disgusts me.

writtenwyrdd said...

Geez, I comment and it gets lost in cyberspace.

To rehash, I'm not a big violence fan despite my addiction to paranormal urban fantasies and vampire fiction. I particularly dislike the splattering of blood graphically all over the silver screen a la Saw, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and the like.

In fiction, I still dislike the bloody stuff if it's normal bloody stuff like a serial killer thriller that's constantly in old blood-and-gut's head.

Charles Gramlich said...

Shauna Roberts, yes, it’s probably that too. For many of us when we’re young, violence is an abstract sort of thing, but as we age it touches us and we find it much less abstract, and therefore it hits closer to home.

steve on the slow train, most of the violence imagined in fiction has probably happened in real life before. And certainly if you’re going to show a war, or a riot, then you have to have enough violence to indicate what the situation was really like. You can’t make it seem like choir practice.

ARCHAVIST, I ordered one of his books through Book Mooch. I’ll comment here once I get to read it. I see he writes horror fiction, though, which can generally sustain a higher level of violence than westerns. At least to me. I see that his books are most available in England.

benjibopper, I agree, and I also worry somewhat about the Desensitization affect as well.

writtenwyrdd, I have that happen more than I’d like. Frustrating. I never cared much for gore splatter movies. I realize that I like suspense very much. The first Saw movie was certainly graphic, but I have to say I liked that movie very much because the violence fit the story. The later ones in that series are not as strong as stories, I don’t think.

Mary Witzl said...

If there is violence in a book, it had damn well better be written really well, or I won't read it. I find graphic depictions of horrible violence just depress me no end. I never feel titillated or invigorated or in any way entertained.

My daughter babysat for a 6-year-old the other day who clamored to see Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Her mother said it was okay for her to see it. I was thrilled that my daughter was shocked and upset by this.

JR's Thumbprints said...

It seems to me that a book can have enough violence to fill page 1 through the ending; the key issue (which you've already made) is that it HAS TO BE RELEVANT to the story, or at least relevant to the character's make-up. To have women running into the open for the sake of getting savagely beaten doesn't work for me either, unless of course, the writer gets inside their heads and makes it feel like they should run.

Mimi Lenox said...

I prefer not to read books that I know will be violent laced, or movies for that matter...leaves my movie-watching at a standstill in this day and age....but I agree that violence or sex in print just for shock value (??) is worthless. If it doesn't advance the plot or have a point then what is the point?

Charles Gramlich said...

Mary Witzl, that's ridiculous for a six year old to see Texas Chainsaw massacre. I don't mind a fair amount of violence in fiction. It's when I hear about it in real life that I get depressed.

JR, yes, in the Edge series there seems a fair amount of having characters do what they seemingly wouldn't do in order to show violence. That particularly bothers me.

Mimi Lenox, Even movies that I don't think will have a lot of violence in them end up having a lot. I watched The Changeling the other night. It was a very good movie but the violence was hard to take.