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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I’ve been accused of sometimes using too much gore in my book, The Kult. I don’t actually think it is that gory (I mean it is a book about a serial killer, and so there will be some blood along the way). Perhaps I’m just too desensitised to see it. So what do other people think? Can you go too far? One reviewer also couldn’t read it because some of the story is written from the killer’s point of view, which put them off. But is it so wrong if you want to get inside the killer’s head to actually write some of it from their perspective? Would that put you off reading?
 

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No it wouldn't put me off, there's been many good books written from a killer's (or other undesirable person's) point of view. That's not a reason for someone to give your book a bad review; that's a reason for someone to say that, subjectively, your type of book doesn't appeal to them, regardless of quality.

I'd concentrate on reviews by people who like the type of book you write, and have good/bad points to say within that framework.
 

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So far as the gore is relevant to the story, there's no such thing as "too far."

I believe Chuck Palahniuk proved that with his short story "Guts."

If you have not read that story, I highly suggest you do.  He has it available to read on his website, I believe.
 

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No matter how much gore you put in, there are going to be people who think it's too much.

Just as there will be people who think there's not enough.

Some will think it has to be relevant to the story.  Others will enjoy the gore for its own sake.

Even asking for opinions here is meaningless, because you're just getting those opinions from the people who happen to be here.

I've seen the same type of reactions to the amount of sex in my books.  No matter how hard you try, you're not going to please everyone.

The best thing to do is write what you feel comfortable writing, and then attempt to communicate the level of gore in your blurb. (Understanding that even if you do, there will be those who read it anyway and will be offended.)

In other words, there WILL be people upset with what you write.  Just get used to it.
 

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I did a censor of myself before the release of Dead Living because of violence and  gore.

I wonder how the readers would have felt if I left the original scene in.

It's a zombie book, so gore is to be expected.  But I went in detail in a hospital nursery during a zombie outbreak.  I felt myself it went too far, and quieted it down some.  :)
 

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The only time I've ever felt dubious about the amount of gore in a book is if there was not enough character or story development behind it to be justified.

Jack Ketchum's OFF SEASON comes to mind. That book has zero characterisation and just revels in its gory excesses, yet it is now considered a classic.

For me, someone like Richard Laymon, though hardly a literary master, always married well-drawn characters and intriguing concepts to some pretty extreme violence, often of a sexual nature.
 

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I've had a few complaints recently about the level of violence in my books and I'm afraid to say I made a conscious effort in my third book for it not to be so gruesome.

I think sometimes people forget what a violent world we live in.  ;)
 

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I think there would be a problem if the cover art and blurb didn't hint at gore as well. If the book has a 'zombies' title and a freaking looking dude on the cover, then the reader should expect gore.
 

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I self-censored two scenes in Sex Zombies.  One was toned down, and the other removed completely.

Both instances had nothing to do with what readers would think.  Instead, I was concerned about getting the book past Amazon's censors.
 

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It's your book, your vision, and only you know how much is too much.  Don't let anyone censor you.  If they don't like it, it just means they are not your target audience. 
 

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For me, there's no such thing as 'too far' except when it comes to personally offending people (and I don't acknowledge anybody's right to proclaim that they're "offended" at a broad comment that I might have made that has nothing to do with him or her.  I hate that.) 

In Snodgrass Vacation I made a tongue in cheek comparison of Mickey mouse to Jesus Christ, and I often get nastygrams about that.  I don't really care and I rarely reply in any way.  I thought it was funny and still do.  It belonged there.  Nobody except Jesus or Mickey has a right to be "offended" in my view. 

As far as violence and gore goes, I trust the author to know what to do, and readers can close a book whenever they choose to...

 

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Shaun, you write adult horror, right? Go as far as your story needs. If you are writing a YA Horror story, that's when you have to worry about going too far. But for adults? No way.

Vicky Foxx said:
Whenever you think "you've gone too far"....it's a sign you haven''t gone far enough. ;D
This.
 

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swolf said:
No matter how much gore you put in, there are going to be people who think it's too much.

Just as there will be people who think there's not enough.

Some will think it has to be relevant to the story. Others will enjoy the gore for its own sake.

Even asking for opinions here is meaningless, because you're just getting those opinions from the people who happen to be here.

I've seen the same type of reactions to the amount of sex in my books. No matter how hard you try, you're not going to please everyone.

The best thing to do is write what you feel comfortable writing, and then attempt to communicate the level of gore in your blurb. (Understanding that even if you do, there will be those who read it anyway and will be offended.)

In other words, there WILL be people upset with what you write. Just get used to it.
Ditto this
 
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As a horror writer, I still hold to the Hitchcock school of horror. The human mind will ALWAYS come up with something worse than whatever you show it. The more you can actually leave to the imagination, the more personalized the horror becomes because the reader will fill in the blanks with what scares him.

I don't believe there is such a thing as "too far." But there is such a thing as "lazy." Gore is easy. And because it is easy, I find it boring. I am less likely to be offended by excessive gore than bored by it. Gore is like special effects in movies. When the special effects are done right, they blend into the background and are part of the story. When the special effects are excessive, they are generally hiding a bad plot and thin writing.

If one or two people are saying the book is too gorier, they may just be overly sensitive. If a lot of readers are saying the same thing, you may want to reexamine your use of gore and see whether you are using it because it is needed to move the plot forward or are using it as a crutch because you didn't know how else to fill the scene.

I have a scene in A Game of Blood where the detectives find the vampire's secret torture chamber. It would have been easy to get into the gory details of the victim's condition and what was found in the room. Instead, I focused on the detectives' reactions to what they found. Gore would have been easy to get the gag reflex going, but instead I focused on the human response.

Unless the killer has something going on in his head besides "Oh, I'm a killer. I love torture. Watch me kill" it becomes the same thing. There is no point being inside his head unless it produces something engaging. Otherwise, again, it gets boring.

The other issue, of course, is to make sure you understand the expectations of the market you are targeting. If your book is a slasher novel, (high body count, minimal plot, and low characterization) then you want to make sure it is marketed as such. If it is a psychological horror (low body count, intricate plot, and high characterization) then make sure it is marketed as such. Both have their own audiences with their own expectations. If you have a psychological horror, slasher fans will whine there is not enough gore. If it is a slasher, psych readers will whine there is too much.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Interesting responses. Thanks.

Julie, I don't know what you class as high or low body counts, but my killer doesn't go into double figures.

I like to think that even though it may have gory elements, the story is so much more than that. Thankfully, most of the reviews so far agree.
 
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Shaun Jeffrey said:
I like to think that even though it may have gory elements, the story is so much more than that. Thankfully, most of the reviews so far agree.
THAT ultimately is the key point. As I noted, if it is only one or two people commenting on the gore, then it isn't something worth discussing. If the majority of people leaving reviews say it is too much, then you need to consider it further.
 
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