View Full Version : Have murder scenes become more explicit?

Kate Thornton
10-02-2006, 09:41 PM
I just finished 3 Tami Hoag books - in one, the attention to detail in describing a mutilated & burnt corpse was more than I needed. In another, the descriptions of the victims were likewise minute and detailed.

No more "body on the library floor" - these were forensic forays into gruesome death.

Have descriptions become more detailed with the advent of forensic television shows?

Or am I just reading some grisly stuff this week?

10-02-2006, 10:11 PM
I think the line keeps getting pushed further and further from what was once considered acceptable and I do believe it has a lot to do with the "CSI" and "Nip/Tuck" type shows that leave nothing to the imagination.

Oddly enough, I don't mind reading that stuff, because ultimately, it's still my imagination filling things in. I don't like WATCHING those shows.

10-02-2006, 10:34 PM
Oddly enough, I don't mind reading that stuff, because ultimately, it's still my imagination filling things in. I don't like WATCHING those shows.

I stumbled across one of those shows ("The Closer"?) at the gym -- it was horrible. I didn't have my headphones on and the other option was to stare at the screen playing Flava-of-Love. Next thing I know, the camera is square on a charred corpse... and then lingers. Bleh. The next week was the same deal (I'd forgotten what it was or I wouldn't have looked) only with a badly decomposed body.

I'm usually all right with it in fiction, as long as I'm given some warning. I don't want to pick up a cozy and be slapped with gore, but I can see how fans of procedurals and forensic novels (do they have a sub-genre? "Medical thriller" doesn't seem to fit exactly) would be disappointed if the clinical details were left out.

I think it's also part of the reader-author contract. When I read a series, I become comfortable with that author and know what to expect, in general terms, as far as gore, violence, and sex go. A radical departure from what I'm expecting can be either eye-opening or, more likely than not, cause me to put the book down and never trust the author again.

To answer the original question, then, I dunno. :D I haven't read much in the way of thrillers recently -- I've been snuggled up with cozies lately.

10-02-2006, 11:05 PM
I hope it's not a trend of the future in books! I hate when they do it on television, it's not necessary. They just use it for the shock value, and to explain all the wrong science in those CSI shows. blech.

I haven't found nasty murder scenes in books yet. Disgusting sex occasionally - filthy language used for the same "shock" value, which in my opinion holds no value.

10-02-2006, 11:11 PM
I haven't found nasty murder scenes in books yet.

You haven't read my WIP which has this demon who likes to eat and dismember people on occassion. ;)

But still, for the genre I think it's mild.

10-02-2006, 11:25 PM
In general, yes, very much. I do think there is a gratuitous element to some. I don't necessarily mean that in a negative way--people find violence interesting. But most would be embarrassed to be seen in publich with a Harlequin romance, but fine on the bus with 'Wire in the Blood'; or some such. It makes me wonder.

Anthony Ravenscroft
10-03-2006, 01:24 AM
It's cheap horror, nothing more.

I don't think it's become more "explicit" (a tainted word, btw) -- I do think it's become more salacious and voyeuristic.

A medical text is explicit. A snuff film is salacious.

A lovingly reenacted snuff film is about as "family friendly" as two naked people pretending to have violent sex so long as we don't hear any naughty words or see any "naughty bits" -- in other words, it's in some ways far worse than the real thing, because it's been made more disgusting by "sanitizing" it; the viscerally disgusting aspects can be polished off with some sort of fake high-mindedness. (Think of all the pervs caught with kiddie porn who say, "I was just doing research for my book!")

I've been a "procedural" fan for 30 years, & can probably teach you half the field-&-lab stuff you see on "CSI." Us "advanced fans" have taken to referring to this sort of thing as CSI pornography.

Show an exploded skull, push everyone's "eewww!" buttons. It beats the heck out of having to actually write dialogue that'd create the same degree of visceral reaction.

Tell me what I need to know in order to "participate" in the scene. That's it -- everything else is masturbation-bait.

Erotica's much more difficult to write than porn.