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A question of morals.
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Oliverbritten



Joined: 01 Mar 2008
Posts: 119
A question of morals.  Reply with quote  

I am writing a story where a part of the story involves kids being killed and harmed in various ways. One scene in particular I am having trouble writing is a rape scene. I am usually not a fan of writing that kind of material, but in this case the rape serves a purpose. It happens to a 12 year old girl, and it happens because in the story the main character is so dedicated to protecting a group of kids who also happen to be vampires, but I will get that later, that whenever one of them gets hurt it makes him feel like crap since his kids died.
The rape is there to drive this guy over the edge, make him make a few quick decisions based just on revenge and rage over what happened to this girl. I think I should just hint that the rape happens, but then show the after effects to show what happened. How do you write more disturbing scenes like that? Is it usual to feel uncomfortable writing it? I don't want to kill kids in the story if I don't have to, but if I do I don't want to look too heartless.


Last edited by Oliverbritten on Mon Dec 29, 2008 11:41 pm; edited 1 time in total

Post Sun Dec 28, 2008 10:20 pm   View user's profile Send private message
Taco Bob



Joined: 12 Apr 2004
Posts: 1201
Location: Palm Falls, Florida
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At the last Mystery Florida conference someone touched on this, perhaps Michael Connelly. Everyone seemed to agree that you could whack carloads of adults in graphic detail and be just fine, but harming kids could also do a lot of harm to the popularity of your book. They mentioned a recent book by a big time writer that went nowhere because the story dealt with someone harming/killing kids. I'd say to stay away from getting too descriptive and tread lightly...
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Post Mon Dec 29, 2008 6:00 am   View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
18Rabbit



Joined: 21 May 2008
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Location: WTF is wrong with you?
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Implied violence can have a greater impact on the reader than an actual description of the act. I would leave it as an implied act and have your protagonist react to that implication.

Post Mon Dec 29, 2008 7:49 am   View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
knikkki



Joined: 13 Jun 2005
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Location: Davis, CA
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If I knew a book was about violence to children, I'd skip it. If I got to a part about violence to children, I might put it down ... but that's just me.
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Post Mon Dec 29, 2008 8:49 am   View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
chris
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Joined: 02 Mar 2004
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Location: People Republic of Northern California
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I'd agree with everyone here. Gloss over the detail.

We were watchng an Acadamey screener of Slumdog Millionaire the other night, and despite everyone's testimonials as to what a great movie it is, about a half-hour in, when they started hurting a kid, I got up and turned it off.

If you need it to happen, you can say that it happened, but don't show it happening.

Post Mon Dec 29, 2008 8:57 am   View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Watching The Wheels



Joined: 22 Dec 2007
Posts: 3412
Location: DC
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Go implied.

Side note: check out Martin McDonagh's play "Pillowman." It's a fantastic play about a writer who's being interrogated for a string of murdered children that eerily/suspiciously mirror the gruesome ways children are murdered in his stories.
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Post Mon Dec 29, 2008 9:48 am   View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website AIM Address
Sephonae



Joined: 10 Jun 2007
Posts: 5218
Location: New York
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knikkki wrote:
If I knew a book was about violence to children, I'd skip it. If I got to a part about violence to children, I might put it down ... but that's just me.

It's not just you. Ever since I had my son, I can't bear to see or read violence against children.

Y'all know that book, "Fall on Your Knees?" There's one scene in it that made me want to vomit--and it wasn't even gory or particularly "violent." I put the book down for a couple of days. But the book was so compelling, I did finish it. Can't say I "enjoyed" it or that I would read it again, but it's good work.

If hinting at what happened fits your work, do that. But if a detailed scene (or scenes) feels right, write that. You know best how your story can be served.
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Post Mon Dec 29, 2008 12:27 pm   View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
mllefifi



Joined: 28 Jan 2006
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Location: Deleoware
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The authors of the bible weren't squeamish at all:

2 Kings, Chapter 2:

2:22 So the waters were healed unto this day, according to the saying of Elisha which he spake.
2:23 And he went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head.
2:24 And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the LORD. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them.
2:25 And he went from thence to mount Carmel, and from thence he returned to Samaria.
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Post Mon Dec 29, 2008 2:45 pm   View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website AIM Address
Oliverbritten



Joined: 01 Mar 2008
Posts: 119
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chris wrote:
I'd agree with everyone here. Gloss over the detail.

We were watchng an Acadamey screener of Slumdog Millionaire the other night, and despite everyone's testimonials as to what a great movie it is, about a half-hour in, when they started hurting a kid, I got up and turned it off.

If you need it to happen, you can say that it happened, but don't show it happening.


I remember that scene in Slumdog Millionaire, I went to a screening of it and met the director too. That scene was really tough to watch, especially considering why it was done and how painful it looked. The rest of the film however is less brutal so if you can get past that scene I recommend seeing the rest. i think describing too much detail would either ruin the point of the scene or just turn people away from the story. The only reason the violence towards kids would happen would be if it was important to the plot. A big part of the plot is showing how both the hero and the villain are morally messed up in their own ways.

Post Mon Dec 29, 2008 4:00 pm   View user's profile Send private message
Oliverbritten



Joined: 01 Mar 2008
Posts: 119
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Watching The Wheels wrote:
Go implied.

Side note: check out Martin McDonagh's play "Pillowman." It's a fantastic play about a writer who's being interrogated for a string of murdered children that eerily/suspiciously mirror the gruesome ways children are murdered in his stories.


I have never read any of his plays, but they have interested me ever since I saw the great film he did In Bruges.

Post Mon Dec 29, 2008 4:03 pm   View user's profile Send private message
Oliverbritten



Joined: 01 Mar 2008
Posts: 119
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knikkki wrote:
If I knew a book was about violence to children, I'd skip it. If I got to a part about violence to children, I might put it down ... but that's just me.


Its not like I will go out of my way to abuse the kids in the story, but I agree with what you all said about how implying what happened is usually more effective. I have to be especially careful with how I write the rape scene. The last thing I want to do is to write a detailed rape scene, I have read books that do that already and I never enjoy reading them. The main reason the rape scene happens is to drive the main character to make a decision based only on revenge and rage, so I will only write about the after effects. I should probably go into a bit more detail on the story though, wont make it too long since I haven't written enough of it yet. I just thought I would ask what people here thought before I make any hasty mistakes.

This is a vampire story, but not in a sparking twilight way. If anyone here has read or seen Let the right one in then you will get a basic idea of what I am aiming for. The story is not so much about vampires, it is more about the fear of death and growing old. The story takes place at a boarding school in England where the principal finds out he has a deadly disease which many people are getting throughout the country. He already takes care of some vampire kids with ages ranging from 10-18, and he realizes that he might be able to use their vampire condition to make him look young forever, and it might even cure his disease. First he wants to get rid of the blood craving drawback that the vampire condition comes with.
The grounds keeper Nathan finds out what experiments the principal is doing, and since his kids were killed in an accident a few years ago he feels that it is his duty to help them. So a friend of his, and a student from the school break the kids out of the school and take them somewhere to get cured of their vampire condition.

I want this story to be a drama, but with some dark comedy mixed in. The moral choices aspect comes in when Nathan realizes that he might be able to use the vampire blood and like the principal he could live forever too. Unlike the principal though he wants to help people while the principal just wants himself to stay young and live forever. There is a par of Nathan who wants to live forever too, but he realizes that he has to protect these kids and doing any experiments might risk hurting them. The only killing of kids that would occur in the story is later on when the principal convinces many people that they can live forever if they use the vampire blood. The story is more about how easily corrupted people can be and the relationship the kids share and the bonds they have as they are under threat from seemingly everywhere.

Post Mon Dec 29, 2008 4:20 pm   View user's profile Send private message
sgt_steve



Joined: 18 Jan 2005
Posts: 5197
Location: Michissippi
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I'm an inveterate horror reader, and with few exceptions can read most scenes with a degree of detachment. But the scene near the beginning of "The Stand" where the kids die of superflu affected me incredibly. And there was no malice in those deaths. I can't imagine what a direct scene would have been like.

Go with indirection.

Post Mon Dec 29, 2008 4:59 pm   View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Oliverbritten



Joined: 01 Mar 2008
Posts: 119
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sgt_steve wrote:
I'm an inveterate horror reader, and with few exceptions can read most scenes with a degree of detachment. But the scene near the beginning of "The Stand" where the kids die of superflu affected me incredibly. And there was no malice in those deaths. I can't imagine what a direct scene would have been like.

Go with indirection.


I remember reading the stand a few years ago, I agree that part was pretty graphic. Even though the book only described the after effect and what the kid looks like it was still a very disturbing scene. If I was to have one of the kid characters die in the story it would be better to not describe it, it would not only turn people off but it wouldn't serve a purpose other than to shock people.

Post Mon Dec 29, 2008 5:05 pm   View user's profile Send private message
leprrkan



Joined: 29 Jul 2007
Posts: 5089
Location: In the home stretch...
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In "The Lovely Bones" the narrator of the story is a 12 y.o. (or so) girl who has been raped and murdered and the plot of the story is the effort to bring the killer to justice. I don't remember the actual rape/murder being done in detail (BUT I could be wrong, it's been a couple years since I read it)... but I do know that the book itself was HUGE, so depending on how you do handle it it can work for you.
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Post Tue Dec 30, 2008 6:00 am   View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website Yahoo Messenger MSN Messenger
Oliverbritten



Joined: 01 Mar 2008
Posts: 119
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leprrkan wrote:
In "The Lovely Bones" the narrator of the story is a 12 y.o. (or so) girl who has been raped and murdered and the plot of the story is the effort to bring the killer to justice. I don't remember the actual rape/murder being done in detail (BUT I could be wrong, it's been a couple years since I read it)... but I do know that the book itself was HUGE, so depending on how you do handle it it can work for you.


I dont think I will actually say she was raped in my story, but there will be various hints. I could not write a graphic rape scene, I would find it too uncomfortable to write. It would not really serve a purpose other than shock value anyway.

Post Tue Dec 30, 2008 11:36 am   View user's profile Send private message
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