The trend toward graphic stuff in modern fantasy writing

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by S.J. Faerlind, Feb 22, 2013.

  1. S.J. Faerlind

    S.J. Faerlind Flashlight Shadowhunter

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    I read an entire thread on another forum about modern fantasy tending to include far more graphic descriptions of violence and sex in the stories these days compared to bygone eras. The discussion was interesting so I thought I'd post it here. Do you include graphic descriptions in your writing? Do you like them included in what you read?
     
  2. Stormborn

    Stormborn Well-Known Member

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    I used to dislike it in everything, not just in fantasy book. But then I got tumblr (lol) and I'm getting kind of numb when it comes to graphic stuff, so I don't really care a lot anymore.

    However if a writer puts graphic "stuff" in a book, I think it should contribute to the story otherwise it's just unnecessary, but that applies to everything - I don't like "filler pages".
    Don't add graphic things to books only because it sells. It need to make sense, have a meaning, fit the story and the writing otherwise it gets weird.
     
  3. Overread

    Overread Wolfing it up! Staff Member

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    I think that its important to remember that books never carry age ratings on them and yet specific niche markets are often focused to an age group. Fantasy as whole was generally aimed at the young adults - your Tolkien and Dungeons and Dragons inspired stories of mighty heroes etc were nearly always aimed into this market. Indeed removing sexual and graphic violence descriptions from the stories increases the potential market for a story and fantasy has always had that "its for younger people" vibe in common peoples (and publishers) views.

    So I think that contributed to the reason why we see whole swathes of fantasy which lack these descriptions in the published world - because of an influence (either intended or not) to focus upon the wider younger market.

    I think also a lot of fantasy has also tried to focus upon the glory the good and the challenge rather than the gritty nuts and bolts of things. Heroes were godlike beings whilst the darkness was just darkness and is often never fully explored (even today many "DARK" factions often get very little actual exploration, instead being just an ambiguous darkness that does lots of evil things).


    This current "Wave" of violent descriptions I think reflects the fact that publishers and authors are now more realising and feeding the adult fantasy market. I also think that the niche of fantasy has broadened, there is more willingness to explore fantasy stories that are not always that happy or which fail or which don't have quests in them! The market has broadened out and some have risen to the foreground; of course many will follow after them so with the runaway success that is something like A Game of Ice and Fire I suspect we will see more that use a similar level of violence and sexual description as part of the story itself.



    I do very much agree with Storm that content in a book should fit the book itself. Descriptions of event should fit into the story rather than just being there for there's sake. A single token event of graphic violence or sexual events or torture should fit into the stories structure and have a meaning otherwise it can be jarring.
     
  4. Sparrow

    Sparrow Well-Known Member

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    Yes, I like graphic and realistic depictions of violence and sex in the fiction I read, and then some.

    I read The Steel Remains by Richard Morgan and oh my, homosexual sex and a whole lot more, at times the blood flows like wine and the narrative is balls out nasty... but the writing is so literate and creative that it just works. How far has the fantasy genre come in the last little while?.. judging by this book and others I've recently read it has come a long way indeed.
     
  5. Emelie

    Emelie Queen of darkness

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    Well I think it certainly shows how the modern world has progressed all in all. Back in the days, sex was something done quietly, missionary style, in the bedroom, between a man and a wife. Now, both sex and violence is so common, we see it on tv, commercials etc. Maybe we'd think it was too modest and boring if the books didn't keep up the pace?

    I kind of like the graphic stuff, as long as its well done. Not in there just cause the author feels like he/she needs to put it in there cause it sells or that everyone else does it.
     
  6. Sparrow

    Sparrow Well-Known Member

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    I think it's sort of odd that most people are totally fine with gay woman appearing in fantasy literature, it doesn't even rate these days... but a flawed hero male protagonist who is unashamedly homosexual is still a big deal. As you say though, as long as the writing is good and the sex and violence are integral to the plot I have no problem with it.

    I read The Steel Remains because the writer is well known in Science Fiction circles, his book Altered Carbon is something of a classic and I really enjoyed it, so I thought what the hell and gave his first fantasy novel a try. I actually think Richard Morgan wrote the protagonist in Steel Remains as a gay man to raise eyebrows, sort of like giving the fantasy genre a good kick in the ass. I'm certain some readers got to the first gay sex scene and stopped dead in their tracks and put the book down... I mean really, what did they expect intimate relations between two men to be like?.. it involves blowjobs and anal sex, and the storytelling is quite vivid.
     
  7. S.J. Faerlind

    S.J. Faerlind Flashlight Shadowhunter

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    I think the whole "integral to the plot" thing is crucial. I read and see so much graphic stuff that seems to be only thrown in for shock value and in many cases it actually puts me off the story.

    I also hate it when authors beat readers over the head with how evil their "dark" characters are by writing about them committing unspeakable acts of atrocity.... like torturing kids to wring information out of their parents. I don't enjoy reading that stuff at all. I knew the villain was a bad guy already. :p