Friday, 20 June 2014

Violence In Stories

On Fridays, I think I will try to make a short post on a subject that I think needs covering. Today, I will cover violence in narrative.

Chances are, most stories will have a violent confrontation of some kind.

Well, it happens sometimes in life.

Chances are, someone will either be injured or worse.

Sadly, it also happens in life.

Chances are, some stories will go a bit too far in describing the confrontation or the result in a sickening detail.

... That's when I feel we have a problem.

Growing up, I've been exposed to much violence in the media I've experienced, but I've found that there's a tasteful way to handle this touchy subject without catering to the lowest common denominator of slasher violence.

A fight scene, a death scene, a war scene . . . whatever it's called. The point of such a scene is not to celebrate carnage and blood, but to show how ugly such a confrontation can be and how shameful that the confrontation had to (or did not have to) occur in the first place. The violence has to tie into the main narrative and relate to the characters' situations otherwise there is no point for it to happen at all.

I don't find joy in seeing a character cut apart or brutally maimed, no. I find more joy when a character conquers an impossible situation and rises to become a better individual. If they should happen to die or get injured along the way, then it is a shame, but it does happen in life and it would be a bad idea to lie and say otherwise.

What I don't need is to see the character's pain graphically for extended periods of time as if it will somehow enhance the narrative. It doesn't.

The point of violence is to show ugliness, but it's to show the ugliness of the character's (which character that is is up to the story) failure and not the ugliness of the character's wounds. It has to have a purpose outside of itself. The story has to be about more than mindlessly spilling blood, or else what's the point of it?

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