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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Caroline Trippe
Actually, for ME, bad writing is the most offensive thing in any book. Now, there's a fun thread. Just what constitutes BAD WRITING! If anyone wants to go there..."



I'd say bad writing is
Poor plot, one that is everywhere and nowhere--does not flow or move the story forward. Or simply no arc.
Speaking of dramatic or climatic arc, good writing follows a sinusoid pattern where each chapter has a its own climatic arc and in the case of thrillers, the amplitude of the arcs increase as the story moves forward. Bad writing is like a flatlined electrocardiogram in everyway, dead, dead, dead in a room with white walls.
Poor use of dialect or creating bad patterns of speech
Poor dialogue is always a sign of poor writing
Poor voice, where you read the writer and not the characters' opinions where inappropriate.
All characters have the same pattern of speech
Inappropriate use of flashbacks, prologue, epilogue, flash-forwards
Show, show, show or tell, tell, tell
Laundry list descriptions and events.
In fiction, stating opinions that could be grossly debated as fact—Kills the reader in his/her tracks

Many things constitute bad writing and anyone of them can be enough to kill the reader’s drive depending on the reader. I've read elements of bad writing in almost everybook to date.

My worst fear is when a fellow writer picks up my book. Fellow writers are merciless and nit-pick. Most of us are always better than the next person unless they are acclaimed and famous. From my experience, fellow writers, unless they know the author on some level, are least likely to recommend a book within their own genre.
From my experience, fellow writers, unless they know the author on some level, are least likely to recommend a book within their own genre.

Okay, now that's a pretty bold statement. I'm recommending other authors in my genre fairly regularly. If I enjoy an author's works, I'll recommend them, whether I know them personally or not.
Okay, now that's a pretty bold statement.

I said From my experience, definetaly not a generalization. Just From my experience,
Caroline likes a logic problem.

Hm. Though I was never that good at math, except for plane geometry, and I'm not sure that's actually math. And I wouldn't want to take a test on it....

Now I'm trying to think of an example of something that's both offensive AND bland....:) This could take awhile. :)

Would Charlotte's Web, with its numerous references to slaughtering animals, be offensive to people who were animal-rights activists?

In today's world, possibly. Although the whole point of the story was to "save" Wilbur from such a fate. And I suppose people with a fear and loathing of spiders might not care that much for Charlotte....
The biggest problem I have with overly descriptive violence as a reading writer is that

It.

Stops.

The.

Story.

Nothing progresses until you've finished reading the intimate description of the violence and its consequences. After that the story can move on. I don't like books (or movies) that gloss over violence so that it seems inconsequential, but give us enough to make the point and move on. A writer wouldn't spend a page detailing the "hello, how are you?" "I'm fine. How's your wife?" "She's fine. How's yours?" part of a conversation; he'd jump to the part of the dialog where something moves things along. A page describing the wounds or decompositional state of a dead body is no different.
Nothing progresses until you've finished reading the intimate description of the violence and its consequences.

Right. And that goes for bad writing too! :)
I think that the article bellow addresses a fundamental question about book critiquing. Shouldn’t critiquing be objective?


• 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."

If a prominent critique cannot cope with current trends, is it time they stepped down. Also, by voicing such preferential subjective opinion , she raises many other questions about her past critiques. Has she ever given an objective critique? Has she always voiced how “she would write what” instead of “to the benefit of would be readers”?
I think the critiques job is to advice the would-be reader to the literary/entertainment merits of a book and not become a self indulging gatekeeper. What do you think?
A fellow Crimespacer, wiser than I (that doesn't narrow it down much, but I think it was Eric Christopherson) once taught me the reviewer's job was to see if the book passed the $25 test: Would the reader get her money's worth if she paid for the book? I always made a point to provide caveats in my reviews, even telling readers they might want to add a point to the rating if they were into this type of book. I also took pains to explain why I knocked a book for something, and not just say, "It stinks."

Still, it is not the reviewer's job to provide a perfectly objective, rational, binary review of a book, because it can't be done. Fiction is by its nature subjective. The reviewer must be fair and impartial; that is not the same as objective. The reviewer also has no obligation to "cope" with current trends if she finds them objectionable.

I remember when this first surfaced, and read the article. Ms. Mann of offended by this "torture porn," and her response is to refuse to review it, which is exactly what she should have done. She acknowledges the strong dislike she has acquired for these books, and appears to have decided she can no longer be a fair and impartial reviewer. (She may also have decided she just doesn't want to have to read this kind of thing, which is also her right.) Her criticism of these kinds of books is the legitimate domain of a critic, whose job it is to move the discussion along.

I won't read a serial slasher book. I don't like them, and have some of them to be in objectionable taste. With that prejudice, I won't review one unless persuaded, and I would preface the review by stating my distaste for the sub-genre. The reader may then move on, or may continue reading to see if I was pleasantly surprised by this one. It would not be fair for me to pillory a specific book just because of its subject matter and style, though it would be perfectly legitimate for me to write an essay lambasting the entire sub-genre, so long as I provided insights as to why I felt that way.
Well stated. Your response is right on and inline with my opinion.
The reviewer must be fair and impartial; that is not the same as objective. The reviewer also has no obligation to "cope" with current trends if she finds them objectionable.

Well said.
And as for any art form that is "cutting edge" today.....here's my answer: "Today's cutting edge is tomorrow's dull blade."
And let's not forget...."What goes around comes around." That's what trends are all about. The fashion world is a prime example.
Who thought the ghastly styles of the 70s would ever re-emerge?
One day, everyone wants a forensic mystery. Tomorrow....who knows. When we're all living on space stations in population controlled bubbles, the cozy school mystery (closed environment) will make a comeback. :)
I have a great deal of respect for the fairness of reviewers. On the whole, I think the important ones review only books they feel deserve the attention, either because they think they are good, or because they will be of interest to their readers. Reviewers, unlike, ordinary readers or, say Amazon reviewers, tend to have a wider reading background and therefore greater distance and objectivity than other people. That is not to say that some subjectivity doesn't enter into this also.
I will have to admit that I've been on many a forum and discussion boards, this one is the only one yet lacking the typical vainglorious attitude of the participants. Also, I have not received spam or people trying to sell me books. This is great!

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