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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And that may be my own foolishness, but if I'm going to devote the rest of my life to something, I'd like to enjoy it.

I.J., that makes perfect sense to me. Not every writer wants to crank out best-sellers. (Poets, for instance, never think that way! :) Your audience may be smaller than some who do devote more thought to marketing, but you write very well , you are published by a respectable press, get good reviews, and you will have an audience. Smaller, perhaps than someone like Dan Brown....for example....but very likely appreciative and discerning.
Considering your day to day enjoyment is hardly foolish! We would hope that even the writer who delves into the grittier side of life is enjoying it---for the discoveries he makes about his subject and about himself.

Anyway, I thought marketing was what your agent or publisher was supposed to do for you when they take you on! You are the creator, and perhaps in the back of your mind you did have an "invisible" (or target) audience---I think subconsciously at least anyone who creates has some idea of the sort of person they expect to appreciate their work. It may or may not be accurate---you can't always predict such things.
that makes perfect sense to me. Not every writer wants to crank out best-sellers. (Poets, for instance, never think that way! :)

Best laugh I've had all day, Caroline.
Thank you, Caroline. I'm very lucky in that there are people who really like my books and who, having read one, will buy the rest and beg for more. In theory, this sort of thing should balloon on its own, or turn a snowball into an avalanche, but for this you need more than word-of-mouth. You need publicity.
"I thought marketing was what your agent or publisher was supposed to do for you when they take you on! You are the creator . . ."

Yes, I made this argument to my friends a lot, know what they always said?

"You the talent, are the creator, and what the talent creates is the brand we are selling, and no one can sell a brand better than the creator, we create opportunities for tthe creator who ultimateley does all the finishing and the sealing of the deal. . .hence why we prefer marketable talent . . "
If it's really about selling

Of course it's about selling. It's fun, and there's artistry involved, and I have a lot invested in the final product's aesthetic and technical success, but it's also hellishly hard work that I would not do if there wasn't the reasonable expectation of a paycheck down the road--or preferably up front. If I want to write for free, I'll write poetry. As Dr. Johnson said, "No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money."

But of course if one reader doesn't care for what you write, another will.

Exactly. And this is something I can't control. I suppose I could go out of my way to be inoffensive to everyone, but I'd have to write a completely different series with completely different characters and themes, set in a completely different town--and even then it wouldn't work because I'm an iconoclast by nature, and a lot of what I think is interesting and/or funny is likely to offend people who are inclined to be offended by writing that doesn't confirm their assumptions. If I was able to write an entirely inoffensive book, my guess is that I'd have to do it under a pseudonym, because I wouldn't want to be associated with anything that bland.
And I agree
Of course it's about selling.

Yes, and of course I do think most writers (except maybe poets) would like to sell 'some" books. But how many sales (or how much $$) would be enough for you to think of yourself as successful ? (I'm asking because, as a reader I really don't know!) (Poets would like success too (the ones I know) and there is a furious amount of competition amongst them these days, but many consider that just getting a book published by a respectable literary press is success, or getting a good review, or winning an award). Most of the reading public doesn't give a hoo ha 'bout "porritry."
Everyone has their own definition of success, probably. In some ways I feel that I've already succeeded as a crime writer--the books have gotten a lot of good reviews, people seem to like them, I've outsold my publisher's expectations, both published books have earned out and paid royalties, the (modest) advance for the new one allowed me to reduce my teaching load a bit last semester, and so on. That said, I'd obviously like the next one to hit the NYT bestseller list and trigger the movie deal: it's pretty unlikely, but a boy can dream. Financial independence would be nice--a villa on Lake Como would be a big bonus--but I'd settle for a paid-off minivan and a garage that isn't about to fall down.

For poets I think there's a similar escalation of expectations: success to me means you're five or six books in, you're at least in the running for the big prizes, you've got an endowed chair at a big R1 or an Ivy, and you get paid $3-5k for a reading. It also means aesthetic success--and that means you're either a master or an inventor, as Pound said. There aren't many of those around in a given generation.
Everyone has their own definition of success, probably. In some ways I feel that I've already succeeded as a crime writer--the books have gotten a lot of good reviews, people seem to like them, I've outsold my publisher's expectations, both published books have earned out and paid royalties, the (modest) advance for the new one allowed me to reduce my teaching load a bit last semester, and so on. That said, I'd obviously like the next one to hit the NYT bestseller list and trigger the movie deal: it's pretty unlikely, but a boy can dream. Financial independence would be nice--a villa on Lake Como would be a big bonus--but I'd settle for a paid-off minivan and a garage that isn't about to fall down.

That is sweet and I think most authors have that dream.
Best seller and a Movie is not too far fetched, a little out there but not far fetched.
It also means aesthetic success
success to me means you're five or six books in,


Well, this is sort of off the track but a long-time friend of mine (she's been a poet for over 40 years) has 7 books with a very reputable university press, has won a number of prestigious awards including a Guggenheim, taught for the Warren Wilson Low Res Program, been a poet in residence at a local college, \published in many journals and at least one anthology. She is a fine poet, a true poet----but even she feels sometimes that she is a "dying breed" of poet, as the MFA programs churn out more and more young and ambitious poets and poet wannabees. She does give readings, but she doesn't earn a living from her books---she laughed about how little she's actually made over the years from poetry). Still, I would like to think that after the wheat has been sorted from the chaff, she'll still be a recognized name---when the few people who do read poetry weary of incomprehensible word play! To my way of thinking, she's as successful as any poet could hope to be. She knows it, of course....but in a way, fears for the art/craft of poetry itself. I better stop talking about poetry now or they'll kick me out! :)

You have, what, two books? That ain't bad, though! Don't stop!
"...a long-time friend of mine (she's been a poet for over 40 years) has 7 books with a very reputable university press, has won a number of prestigious awards including a Guggenheim, taught for the Warren Wilson Low Res Program, been a poet in residence at a local college, \published in many journals and at least one anthology. She is a fine poet, a true poet----"

Relative success; every individual must measure personal success to the extent of their capacity and ability. To measure personal success to another, is kin to the pinky expecting to one day be longer than the middle finger—over time it will only result in self deceit, frustration, despair, discouragement, hopelessness and sometimes humiliation.

Herein lies the problem; how does one measure their own capacity and ability in a capitalist society that teaches that for each individual the sky is the limit, rags to riches, and that the Oprah Winfrey story is potentially for everyone?

Some say, find your niche and hope for your star to adorn the skies.
If I was able to write an entirely inoffensive book, my guess is that I'd have to do it under a pseudonym, because I wouldn't want to be associated with anything that bland.

But, Jon--- does "entirely inoffensive" always have to mean bland? And does that mean that if something is "offensive" to someone that it cannot also be bland?

Most children's books, for instance are "inoffensive," according to the standard definition, and the best ones are anything but bland. There are many great books that do not contain "offensive" material, and they are not "bland." Or are we still only talking about crime fiction or murder mysteries or noir or whatever the proper term is. Disturbing, discomfiting....doesn't always mean "offensive" either. I don't recall ever finding anything really "offensive" (to my way of thinking) in Raymond Chandler's novels, but he wasn't bland!

writing that doesn't confirm their assumptions.

Which assumptions? :)

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