The official blog of Jane Domagala

ADULT CONTENT – Part I Violence.

I'm am both a reader and writer of epic fantasy fiction, with an emphasis on adult fiction. In recent times I've read several novels that have claimed to be adult, and while I've enjoyed the plots liked the characters, I feel there has been something missing. Something that keeps it from being a truly adult novel.

At the risk of sounding sadistically perverse, for me, the missing pieces are sex and violence. In this post I shall talk of violence and save sex for my next post. Now I do not condone violence in every day society, nor do I want to read/write a gore fest for the sake of shock value. However, we are talking books and we are talking fantasy worlds. Authors do not always need to spell out every bloody detail. There are creative ways to show that someone is being killed, maimed, raped, or brutalised without having to make the reader physically ill (but that's a whole other post). That concept of less is more can be a powerful thing. My point is that violence is a part of nature, even today, and should not be avoided for fear of offending the readership.

I myself have cut of hands, slit throats, sacrificed deer (and humans alike) and thrust swords into the bellies of good men. Most of these acts of cruelty I've agonised over, while the rest I've licked my lips and taken great pleasure in. Did I say I was trying not to be sadistic?

Many fantasy writers base their stories on past or primitive cultures where violence and death were/are part of society. The Aztecs had their sacrificial altars, the Romans had their colosseum, the French had their guillotine, the Japanese are known for ritual suicide. In medieval times people were rarely sent to prison for crimes committed. Instead, they were tortured, or executed depending on the severity of the crime. The death penalty is still in existence today.

In my opinion, violence can be attributed to a number of things; a need for power/dominance over the individual, community, or both; territorial control; the right to mate (love); or just plain insanity. All of these things can add depth to your story, as long as it is appropriate and in line with the way your character(s) behaves, or the rules of the society you have created.

Violence can be a catalyst for change, or be an obstacle for your protagonist. It adds grit and realism to your world and creates a platform from which your protagonist can leap off of to discover themselves, or your antagonist to plummet in defeat (or vise versa). It doesn't have to consume your story, but remember that not all problems can be solved through negotiation; not everyone is content to be led away in shackles; not everyone has a conscience. In conclusion, don't be afraid to get a little dark at times.

My next post will be on Sex in fantasy fiction and how frustrating it is when there is none...
All comments welcome. Would love suggestion on other adult writing topics. The kind of issues that young adult books can't tackle.
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