Is Graphic violence becoming a modern day trend in thriller and mystery writing?

I read Writing Mysteries, A handbook by the mystery writers of America and I would like to have opinions on Jeremiah Healy's rules of violence in a private investigator stories. Though my books are not private investigator types nor are they hard boiled mysteries, I believe  most of the advice in that book pertains to mysteries and thrillers as well.


What do you think that "...there must be some violence but no graphic scenes of child abuse, rape and animal cruelty." Even though these things exist in real life and mystey and thriller writting emulates reality.


As of late, I've read plenty of stories that violate this rule and quite frankly, thought they were more realistic and I disagree with Jessica Mann and Jeremiah Healy.


My novel INSTANT MESSENGER for instance is a fiction based on real life serial killers, and I believe I owe it to my audience, the true crime lovers, to give them a front row seat of what happens to victims of serial murder, violence and rape behind closed doors.


I quote one article bellow.


·  Amelia Hill

·  The Observer, Sunday 25 October 2009

·  Article history

"Jessica Mann, an award-winning author who reviews crime fiction for the Literary Review, has said that an increasing proportion of the books she is sent to review feature male perpetrators and female victims in situations of "sadistic misogyny". "Each psychopath is more sadistic than the last and his victims' sufferings are described in detail that becomes ever more explicit, as young women are imprisoned, bound, gagged, strung up or tied down, raped, sliced, burned, blinded, beaten, eaten, starved, suffocated, stabbed, boiled or buried alive," she said."


What do you think? Is mystery becoming more realistic and the meek should either cope with it or, exercise their right to freedom and simply not read what is quickly becoming a trend—realism?


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Thanks, Caroline. But I think I'll always keep an eye on this. It's quite easy to get carried away.
Actually, given that violent crime over the last half-century has decreased dramatically, I question the assertion that books giving graphic descriptions of it are 'realism.' I think, in fact, that the opposite is true -- people who are bored with their real lives want 'front row seats' (shudder) to violence as a form of escapism. There will always be a lowest common denominator of this kind, and 'torture porn' is just the newest thing to appeal to it. There are more books out there that meet the definition because there are more books out there, period -- it's not necessarily a trend. Personally, I don't care for the genre, and certainly don't want to write it.
Though violence has decreased in the kast half century, there has been a rise in the discovery of serial murder, and an increase in the ways predators find their victims.(primarilly due to the advances in technology) Stuff like ganga violence and domestic violence has been on the decline but serial murder, child molestation, and so on has been on the rise.

Some reserch actually shows that certain types of violent crime is on the low because of the easy access to violent porn etc.

Some people abhore violence and death. Would you drive your car if you were told a boom crushed someone while it was being manufactured? Would you eat your orange if you know a driver delivering it to the store crashed and died?

The deviants among you depend on the fact that you want to think the world is a safe place and they do not exist. It makes their hunting easier. People who read some types of realistic violence are 90% less likely to become victims because they are educated.
How do we know violence has decreased? Seems a bit stange, given news coverage and the ready availability of weapons.

As for people's attraction to violence: horrid wrecks attract an instant audience, public executions used to be major crowd pleasers, the French revolution had great attendance for the guillotinings, the ancient Romans loved the entertainment in the collosseums all over the Roman world, and most of those involved human slaughter. And in our time in Iran, they want to stone a woman to death for adultery.

Is it right? No, of course not. But people aren't by nature good. That's where the Romantics went wrong. People are by nature flawed and capable of repulsive behavior.
I think that humans are interested in death. After all, it's one of the most important things in our lives -- we're the only critter that forsees our own demise, and greater minds than me have theorized that that knowledge underlies almost every human endeavor. I don't think that interest in death is repulsive in and of itself, but I think that people become mesmerized by their own fears about death and that's what leads to the consumption of things like torture porn. It's like kids playing 'chicken' in a car -- "see how close I can get to the scary thing?"
"I think that humans are interested in death. After all, it's one of the most important things in our lives . . .people become mesmerized by their own fears about death and that's what leads to the consumption of things like torture porn . . . "see how close I can get to the scary thing?""

Hence, the good horror or thriller writer is one who can capitalize on his/her audience’s fears and curiosities. A good romance writer is one who can capitalize on his/her audience’s vicarious romantic needs and identities.
By honing and tuning the writing into the target societies taboos and fears, one can justify the violence by concentrating the description around those fears and taboos. Again, as long as it moves the plot forward.
Rape, cannibalism, torture, loss of a child, loved one or self in the most atrocious ways. Our fear of the living dead has been over done to a romantic point. From the days of flesh eating Zombies and Nosferatu, to Twilit and so on. Fear in spiritual evil in the Exorcist caught fire at one point and the Damien / Omen saga took off. Our fascination with super intelligent and cannibalistic serial killers in Ted Bundy brought along the Silence of the Lambs. The SAW series and Wrong Turn movies all capitalized on our fears with sometimes overly descriptive violence and flesh eating plagues.
The romantics of fiction want to stick their heads in the sand and pretend there is no audience for these things, but the bookshelves and box offices prove otherwise—We are a violent loving people.

I will continue to write about the abject violence and evil that roams amongst us—Sexual sadists and deviant Serial killers who freely walk our streets and share our roofs, watch our children and work in our hospitals.

I consider myself a sort of SOCIAL GRIOT in that the realism of my story is not only entertainment, but I hope to educate my audience as well. I give the reader a front row seat to the methods and madness of these deviant human predators, this comes hand in hand with a front row seat to the violence as well. The readers walk away with some knowledge and more aware of their seroundings.
But people aren't by nature good.

Anne Frank thought they were. At least at the end of her diary, before she was taken to Auschwitz.
But Kurt Vonnegurt didn't. He said, "Man is a terrible animal!"
We are the only one that kills for anything other than food, to survive.
It's in our genetic makeup. We ARE interested in death--we can't help it, yet we go to some great lengths to deny it. And those of us who are not violent by nature--- who have suppressed our violent impulses---perhaps experience it vicariously through fictions as a kind of catharsis.
We know because the DoJ keeps excellent stats. From a recent high of 758 violent crimes per 100,000 residents in 1991, the violent crime rate fell to as few as 473/100,000 in 2006, the most recent year for which there's a comparative chart ( decline of over 37%. The homicide rate is down even more--around 41%.

From its all-time peak in the '70s to the present, if I recall correctly, violent crime is down something like 50%.
For me, this is a more practical than philosophical question. It takes me most of a year to write a book--what do I want in my head for that amount of time? Not sex torture, I'll tell you that. As a matter of fact, I don't even want it for the four hours it takes me to read most mysteries. So I'm selective Call me a weenie, whatever. I dumped one author who I'd loved for years because she dropped the rape of a 13 year old into the middle of the story. Yuck.

I don't seem to need gore and torture to write a yarn. The fact my publisher won't take violent, sexual stories makes it even easier.

Do writers who produce "sadistic misogyny" know what their readers are like and how the books affect them? That would be interesting to take a look at.
Oh! Trust me, there is a huge audience for anything. And there is a growing audience for realistic violence. Notice that TV shows like Criminal Minds, Numbers, CSI, Most Evil, American Justice, just to name a few that have more gritty details and realistic forensic facts are gaining popularity. My readers appreciate the realism. As a matter of fact, the audience is well versed in such matters as profiling and police proceedures that you can't make stuff up. If the vilence is not real or lacking, they will take notice.
It takes me most of a year to write a book--what do I want in my head for that amount of time? Not sex torture,

Ann, you raise an interesting question indeed. (But I think it is also philosophical)! We're all talking about what readers might find upsetting or offensive, but not much about how the writer herself (or himself) feels about her material. During the creative process---no matter whether you are a writer, a painter or anything else---your "material" ---images, events, characters DOES fill your mind. (I live with the images for and of my paintings---they inhabit me, so to speak, while I am working on them). If I were writing a novel, crime novel or whatever, it wouldn't be any different. I'd be living with my characters and their actions.

In spite of the necessity of some violence in mysteries, I'd rather have more of my thoughts taken up by interesting characters---even if they are "bad,"---and settings rather than gory details.
Many writers try to "get inside" the mind of a killer---that's an exercise in human psychology, and very different from "torture porn."

Do writers who produce "sadistic misogyny" know what their readers are like and how the books affect them?

I think every writer should know his or her audience, and have some idea about the what THEY might feel is "crossing the line." Many writers say they write first of all for themselves, and don't care what others think---but they still want their books to sell! :) So they SHOULD care!k).
"Do writers who produce "sadistic misogyny" know what their readers are like and how the books affect them? That would be interesting to take a look at."

The answer to this question would be in the writing process. Research your target audience. If you fail to do so, you’ve failed the modern cardinal rule of commercial fiction writing. Marketing starts before you write the first words of the book.
Failure to know the needs of your audience is like inventing something and hoping that people will find the need for it after you’ve vested time and effort into creating it.
As for what the writer wants in his/her head during the process of writing a book, well, that depends on who they are. Fortunately, in my case, my hobby is to understand Aberrancy, Criminal behavior, deviancy and the dark mind. I dream in bloody color, that’s all I read and all I watch on the tube. If you do not take pleasure in what you write and you overly compartmentalize your thoughts, then you are restrictive for each book you write. I think that limits the creative process.
I believe the successful writer for a given genre should be consummated by his/her general subject matter. A true professional is completely submerged in what they do. Not momentarily until the job is done, but it should be their life topic, their job and hobby all in one.
This does not mean I am not a living person, I am like everyone else, I love doing many things and enjoy family and friends. I just have a hobby that many do not—the dark realms of the human mind.


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