View Full Version : Body parts and all

04-25-2005, 03:09 PM
In the thriller aspect:I was reading the book 'Battle Royale' the other day to get an idea of how a writer would go around describing the way a person is violently and (often) disturbingly killed. I'm not exactly a great fan of this however why should it be allowed in movies and not in books?

More to the point, how you can go around writing a scene like this, in 'Battle Royale' they refer to Brain Matter but this seems slightly too scientific and blunt for me. Any tips?

04-25-2005, 04:03 PM
If you care about the victim, you'll care about what happens to them. Choice of terminology depends on viewpoint. Who's seeing the slaying? What's their emotional engagement? What's their moral position?

04-25-2005, 06:24 PM
It's each author's own decision how graphic the death/murder of the characters will be. zornhau is right that the POV of the witness (who might, of course, be the killer) should affect what details the reader gets and how they're given.

While some mystery and thriller readers like gore at movie levels, it's certainly not a genre requirement. Do what feels right for your WIP, from almost nothing to clinical to brutal and thuggish.

Maryn, who would not say 'brain matter' but would describe what it looks like to a lay person

05-08-2005, 06:34 PM
In my 2 mystery novels I have several highly graphic scenes of murder or crime violence.

I'd be happy to share them with you except they are definitely R-rated and I don't know whether I can post such on this forum, even if I give adequate warning. If I can, I will, in the section for mystery excerpt postings.

Then you can let me know if my descriptions are somewhat interesting or believable.


05-08-2005, 07:03 PM
I posted an excerpt of my graphic crime description for your reading.

It's in the "Share your work" section, under "Mystery" (duh) and it's "Mitch King mystery"

Lemme know your thoughts on this excerpt.

07-31-2005, 05:18 AM
I think it's up to you as the author... and what you think your readers will tolerate. I haven't written a murder scene per se, but certainly I've had to write about dead bodies...

I try not to go into gruesome detail, but do try to be realistic. I've met with a forensic scientist, done a lot of book research, and even looked at some pretty horrible websites... once I get a realistic perspective of what the scene would look like, I then write what I think my readers (and I) can handle!:hi:

Cathy C
07-31-2005, 08:13 PM
In one of our books, we had a young man beaten to death with an axe handle. The hero comes upon him and notices that his hair is dark with blood and "thicker matter that should never see the light of day." That's not horribly graphic, but the disturbing image still gets through to the reader.

Hope that helps!

08-01-2005, 07:35 AM
From a reader's perspective, gore doesn't really affect me. If the death is brutal, that's fine, but I find deaths especially hard-hitting or emotional depending on how other characters react, feel, and what they do afterward.

08-01-2005, 07:32 PM
I think what you have to beware of is gratuitous gore....(sex, violence, etc) Is it intrinsic to your plot? Murder scenes usually are and so gore is tolerated. I also think that the characters reaction to it is going to set the reader in a frame of mind one way or the other. Does he go outside and vomit? Have nightmares for a week? Or does he unwrap his sandwich and have lunch...

08-02-2005, 03:01 AM
As a reader, I personally tend to shy away from things that are particularly gory, as they have the uncanny ability to trigger nightmares of real life gory scenes that I have encountered. I also avoid graphic movies for the same reason.

That said, a lot of it will depend on what your plot calls for. I agree with the poster who said it would really depend on the POV of the person who is looking at the scene.

The police officer or firefighter/emt will view a dead body in a very different light than a lay person would. So the description would vary depending on who was looking at it.

All of the above, of course, is just my opinion and subject to change at any time and without advance notice.

Brady H.

08-03-2005, 08:01 AM
There is a line between horror and thriller...but there's nothing that says you can't cross it. It all depends on what you want to evoke in the reader. Do you want readers stomachs to trun, do you want them shell-shocked, having nightmares? Maybe you do...than go for graphic. If you want to evoke more empathy, sadness, vengance, and whatnot, you might not want to make it too brutal, but attention to detail is up to you. It's largely dependant on POV and your ultimate goal...basically, go with your gut (no pun intended).

08-24-2005, 03:59 AM
In one of my stories, I have a teenage girl witness her mother's murder. I think I handled it by having the gun aimed at her and the trigger pulled, then the mother touching her stomach and pulling her hand away covered in blood. The daughter was so affected by watching it that she didn't speak for several days afterwards, and even when she began to talk again she couldn't tell the authorities what had happened-- she was too traumatized. I tried to imagine how someone would react in that situation, and that's what I came up with. I don't think it would gross anyone out, but it gets the point across.

I try to handle other 'gory' subjects tactifully but powerfully. For instance, in another story, the main character is kidnapped and raped (apparently for no reason; you learn later that her kidnapper was reluctant to do either), and the story centers around how the incident makes her stronger and how she eventually is able to forgive him.

Hopefully I've contributed something meaningful to the conversation...