A couple years ago at RT, I visited with a horror writer who introduced me to the term "gorn." It was his word for "Gore Porn" -- gratuitous gore that just goes for the gross out and isn't intrinsic to the plot. Sort of like gratuitous sex that doesn't advance the plot or deepen the characters. IMHO, it needs to be cut.
Today, my friend Elisabeth Naughton is talking about how she differentiates between mindless blood and violence and B & V that is important for the story. My blog is now yours, Elisabeth.
Thanks so much to Emily for having me here today!
The other night The Saw was on TV. I’m not a fan of gore, so this movie holds no appeal for me. My husband, on the other hand, has watched every Saw movie out there and always wants to “share” what he’s seen when the movie is over. He asked me recently – “Why don’t you want to watch it? I’ve read the stuff you write. Remember, RT called your last book ‘bloody and violent’”. Okay, that’s true. RT did call ENTWINED “bloody and violent” but they also gave it 4 ½ stars so the reviewer obviously didn’t have a problem with the battle scenes in the book. Of course, my husband’s comment got me thinking – what is the difference? Isn’t violence and bloodshed, well, simply violence and bloodshed?
The answer is probably dependent on your personal violence threshold. Yes, there’s a lot of action, suspense, and yeah, quite a bit of bloodshed in my recent Eternal Guardians book, ENTWINED. But it’s not gore for shock-value sake. It serves a purpose, as does every scene in my book. And in the end, readers walk away with an impression of a great love story amidst an ongoing war – NOT the specific violent scenes within the book.
I love movies that have graphic battle scenes – Gladiator, Braveheart, Lord of the Rings, Saving Private Ryan – so long as the characters are fighting for a cause. Violence and gore that holds no purpose – only to show the twisted mind of the villain – isn’t entertainment in my opinion. For me it’s all in how it’s presented and what the characters are after that keeps me riveted to my seat. And that’s not to say I don’t like psychological thrillers. Just a few nights ago we watched an old 90’s movie, The Copycat Killer, with Holly Hunter and Sigorney Weaver. The killer was gruesome and ruthless, and from the psychological aspect, it rivaled The Saw. But the film maker didn’t have to show the gore to get the suspense across to the viewer, and I had no problem re-watching that movie beginning to end.
For me, bloody and violent isn’t a bad thing. It just depends on how that blood and violence is presented. It also depends what else is going on in the story and what I’ll remember when it’s all over. How about you? How do you feel about violence in books and movies? I’ve got a copy of ENTWINED, book 2 in my Eternal Guardians Series to give away to one winner today! And for those of you who didn’t hear, MARKED, book one in the series, is a free book download from Barnes and Noble right now, so pop over and pick up a free copy of this book!
Thanks so much, Elisabeth. And thanks for letting us know about the free read! Here's the link for the free download of MARKED. You don't need a pricey e-reader. This'll work with your computer.
Be sure to leave a comment or question for a chance to win a copy of Elisabeth's ENTWINED!
MARKED has been on my Wish List since I first read the book blurb and reviews. Now all I need to do is figure out how best to store it when it is downloaded.
As for violence, it has a place in stories. You can't tell a story about war or murder without it. However it is important how it is done. I have never understood the appeal of slasher films. The main point seems to be how many people can be killed and how gory a mess you can make of it. I think the end result is a desensitizing of the population.
Even though I know it is necessary for the story, I find it hard to take. I made it through Saving Private Ryan, but don't know if I will ever be able to watch it again. In Private Ryan, it was the sheer numbers of those killed in such a short time that made the biggest impression, not how gruesome the scene was.
In a book, it is much the same. Tension and a brief description can be more effective than a detailed paragraph. The one scene from a book that gave me nightmares for weeks didn't have a drop of blood in it. It is in Kellerman's book MONSTER. They are revisiting the scene of a family's murder that took place years ago 12 years earlier. The Dr. is walked through the old scene of the crime and it is described. They talk about finding a large pot cooking on the stove. Inside they found the baby's sleeper. That is it. No further description of the pots contents. It still gives me the chills to think of it.
We are back to one of Emily's favorite sayings - Less is more.
Best of luck with the release of ENTWINED. I look forward to reading both books.
The thing that bugs me about slasher pics (of course, I haven't seen one since I was a teen myself) is how stupid the characters are. They know someone's trying to kill them and they still go down into the creepy basement. Sheesh!
I remember The Copycat Killer. Now that you reminded me of it, I want to see it again. And I don't like gore porn, either. The Copycat Killer has a great story behind it, and so do your books.
I prefer suspense to gore. The hint of something awful (like Pat's cooking pot with the baby's sleeper in it--shudder!) is more powerful to me than all the fake blood and hacking in say . . . Braveheart's devastatingly realistic melees. I loved the story and it certainly doesn't call for "Disney-fication" , but multiple battlescenes are wearing after a while.
I totally dig your movie choices, Elisabeth! Gladiator is one of my ultra favs. Russel Crowe= YUM!
I really enjoyed the Starz series Spartacus that aired thsi last spring. It was really violent and gory at times, but was a show hubs and I could agree upon. LOL It had enough love story involved to keep me watching so it was a good balance. *wink wink*
So glad I found Emily's blog! Looks to be a great hang out. :)
And Emily, Braveheart is another of my favs! It has war but also a very beauty love story. :)
Thanks for talking about this subject Elisabeth. I think men and women have different thresholds for gorn. The men in my house laugh when heads fly over the wall in Lord of the Rings, and I think it's gross.
I don't mind bloodshed or violence when it fits the story or adds impact. Needless violence--I'm closing the book or looking away! I'm ready to try Entwined!
Sarah--Glad you found your way here. I was just over at your blog. Very encouraging. Your enthusiasm is infectious.
Barbara--I think it may depend on the person. My friend the nurse can deal with any level of blood and guts. She always says she can sling poop with one hand and eat her lunch with the other.
My tough-guy dad, not so much. CSI is beyond him.
I turn away when there is too much gorn in a movie, but in a book it doesn't effect me the same way.
That being said, I have some descriptive gorn in my recently printed book.
I agree completely! As long as there is a REASON for the blood and gore, its okay to have. Though I may still close my eyes if its to gross LOL
Sandy--Good point. Because a book is a conversation between the author and the reader, the visuals are up to the reader. We can do some mental editing to make the level of gore less objectionable.
Chelsea--Thanks for dropping by today. Agreed. Everything in a story needs a reason.
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