If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

Check out our February author interviews: 2/7-debut author Keenan Powell (Alaskan lawyer), 2/14-Leslie Wheeler (Rattlesnake Hill), 2/21-bestselling author Krista Davis, who unveils a new series, 2/28-Diane Vallere answers my questions about Pajama Frame. Please join us in welcoming these authors to WWK.

Our February Saturday Guest Blogger Schedule: 2/3-Saralyn Richard, 2/10-Kathryn Lane. WWK's Margaret H. Hamilton will blog on 2/17, and Kait Carson on 2/24.

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

In addition, our prolific KM has had the following shorts published as well: "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017 and "Turkey Underfoot," appears in the anthology The Killer Wore Cranberry: a Fifth Course of Chaos.


Saturday, July 18, 2015

Blurred Lines

“A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.”—Dwight Eisenhower

I have just finished reading a fantastic manuscript, a work in progress written by my friend and fellow WWK blogger Carla Damron. In this masterful work, Carla delves into the shadowy world of human trafficking and follows the brutal journey of a twelve-year-old victim.

In my latest attempt at a novel, trafficking, and killing the trafficker, act as the major motivational tools for my protagonist’s actions. One of my favorite authors, Daniel Silva writes about the international fight against terrorism. To do that, he, naturally, needs terrorists as characters. I’d need a calculator to keep up with the number of people shot or blown up in Silva’s books. 

It seems, in order for us to write, to entertain our readers, we must continue to push the bar. But how far is too far? Is there even such a thing?

Humanity has always been a graphic-loving race. Public executions were de rigueur in all of history. As soon as cars hit the highways, rubbernecking became a word and a past time. We can click on the internet today and get instantaneous access to violent girl fights, gang fights, the knock out game, and horrific displays of terrorists killing their captives.

Rule number one as a writer is to, ”Show, don’t tell.” But there is a nuance Carla and Silva have perfected I’ve yet to master. In Carla’s manuscript, my gut wrenched every time the young girl got a “customer.” My heart raced when her pimp beat her senseless for trying to escape. Yet Carla never wrote a single sex scene nor did she depict a single punch getting thrown. Her scenes were beautifully crafted.

Similarly, Silva writes about the aftermath, the families torn apart, the lives forever affected by physical injury or emotional trauma.

I remember shortly after the space shuttle Challenger broke apart and exploded there were a sprinkling of jokes in extremely poor taste. I recall reading a newspaper article about the jokes. The article quoted a psychologist who theorized the reason these terrible quips existed was to demonstrate there is a line of decency people should not cross. That people were indignant was a good sign.

Most of us know the rules of writing. Rule number one of show business is, “Always leave them wanting more.” Sometimes seeing the action played out in shadow behind a sheer curtain is more enticing than seeing the action itself.

What about you as a reader or writer? How far is too far?


James Montgomery Jackson said...

I prefer relying on the reader's imagination to fill in blanks in violent or sexual (or both) contexts. But I do not personally enjoy horror stories or movies, so that preference may say more about my reading choices than how any writer should engage with readers.

~ Jim

Grace Topping said...

Good article, Sam. I'm the first one to admit that I can't read or view content that is violent or abusive.

Warren Bull said...

Sometimes a good storyteller can be more effective without graphic scenes. Alfred Hitchcock's famous shower scene in Psycho feels terrifying but the knife never touches the victim.

KM Rockwood said...

When I write, I like to "stop at the bedroom door" for sex. Everybody knows what's going on.

I've written a few things with somewhat graphic violence, but I'm not really into that. I do understand the "watching a train wreck" mentality--sometimes I suffer from it--but I usually skirt around it myself.

When I think about it, maybe that's why my fight scenes are so difficult to write reasonably. I don't write them often, but maybe I do need more blood & guts.

The area of sex trafficing is a hot button. In Maryland right now, there has been an arrest in a 30 year old cold case where two young sisters were abducted for the purpose of sexual exploitation. I don't know that money was the motive, but the whole thing is very scarey.

Kara Cerise said...

This may sound horrible but I think continual violence in a book or movie can actually be boring. What I like is tension and suspense. The threat of what can happen is what keeps me reading.