This applies to readers, writers, movie-viewers, etc.: What's your limit on sex, violence, and profanity in a story?

How much does the content of the story affect how quickly you reach your limit?

What's worst-- sex or violence or crude language?

I'm one of those people who tolerates just about anything so long as it works in the story. But, if the story doesn't work, I nitpick like crazy. (Probably because I'm bored. =)

What about you?

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You want real life? But I thought we'd settled the fact that people don't read books because they want reality. They want a different world, albeit one that resembles their own enough so that they can believe it could be possible. Something better, fairer, safer, more exciting, a place where you can get away with anything?
I don't think agents think alike anymore than editors, reviewers or readers.
I wonder if that's a good thing? Maybe it is?
If it is, perhaps it is less restrictive as to a "type" of book they only want within in the respective genres?
Having said that I.J. I know you'll hit me with some DISMAL thought on the subject!
Only kidding!!!
Actually your comments are always based on far more experience (and success) than I've had so I defer to you!
The hard knocks of life. All I'm trying to suggest is that the agent may be wrong about someone's book. Or the agent may be looking for a specific kind of book a certain publisher is interested in. A rejection does not mean the book is bad or that someone else might not think it is exactly the right thing.
true I.J. I see what you mean now.
But (not ready for some months yet) when I would be ready say to try to find an Agent--is it possible to target those who will be most open to a particular kind of book?
Agent listings and their web sites frequently give that information. Good luck!
General question that, I.J.--sorry--if you thought I wanted you to mention specific Agents. I honestly didn't. And I certainly know that the web has great sites, very informative!
Also, a very good friend of mine who is working on her second series of successful crime fiction novels has given me such hope! She just called cold various Agents and got one immediately. Granted this was a few years ago, but still it is hopeful. Her Agent is here in the U.K. but they are affliated over in the States too--so that's good. Not too certain though if my noir thing is right for that AGency. So I'll still have my own list, which btw I have already started.
Thanks so much for your reply.
No need to apologize. I didn't misunderstand. My own agent, U.S.-based, is no secret; she is Jean Naggar. I honestly couldn't tell you what sort of thing she's looking for at the moment. She handles fiction, genre, and non-fiction, and there are a number of other agents in her office.
You can e-mail some agents. Not sure about the cold-calling. I went the traditional route of the mailed query.
thanks for that I.J.
Cold calling takes nerves of steel! Don't think I would either--she was just gung ho and impatient to get rolling I think!
Traditional route sounds good to me!
I did intend to try U.K. agents first--one with U.S. connections--
but I might just go for U.S. ones--I'll see.
thanks so much for your reply--it is really helpful.
my less rambling comment:
I think the characters make the story. And I think that people who are violent or overtly sexual shape what is written. But naturally there is a guiding hand (the author), and to a great extent that author's own morality and judgment come into the equation.
I find myself going back and forth a little on these issues--but I guess that's a good thing.
Our personal opinions will probably be challenged from time to time, and I think they should be.
I had thought differently about this only a few days ago--that's why I deleted what I wrote then.
Since in reconsidering various points made by others, I came to question my beliefs I thought were quite
entrenched. Hopefully that's a positive thing.
So, it seems to me that folks think the purpose is the most important factor in their tolerance of sex, violence, and profanity.

Then, how far can one go? I mean, I realize that some people would never pick up a book titled "Sex and Violence" (my nearly finished novel) just on title alone. But what about using sex as a tool? Or a weapon? Is this acceptable or not?

Or is sex preferrable when it's two happy, in love (or lust, but we'll pretend it's love) people?
For me, I always relate it back to my own experiences and people I have known. I've known a few people who used sex as a weapon and as a tool, so for me, it's perfectly fine in a book. In fact, I often wonder why I don't see it more often.

Of course, people will say that what happens in books is the exceptional - that's why it's worthy of a book, and I can see that, too.

But, to be honest, I think books - especially genre books - have slipped behind the leadership position they once had in the arts. I mean, stuff like the first interracial kiss on American television was in Star Trek, of course, it was sci fi, it wasn't real. A lot of pulp fiction pushed limits that literary books only followed later, but now crime and sci fi seems to be staunchly middle-brow. It's the literture like Michel Houllebeq and his novel Platform that's leading. Maybe I'm just reading the wrong books, but the only limit I ever see pushed in genre these days is violence.

I'm looking forward to seeing what Bo Fexler does in a whole novel.


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