by Michelle Griep
Not too long ago, Athol Dickson proposed the dilemma of how much sex to put in a ‘Christian’ novel. An interesting post that raised some viable questions about deciding how much leg to expose in a story that’s marketed to churchgoers…or at least put out by ‘Christian’ publishers. I would like to pose a similar dilemma, albeit more modestly dressed, which is every bit as cage-rattling—
Case in point, my latest release, UNDERCURRENT, is a period piece set in the Viking age. I’m talking pillaging barbarians here, not purple people eaters tossing around a pigskin. These ruffians wouldn’t think twice about bagging up your guts and sending them off as a warning to a neighboring village. And I won’t even mention what a Blood Eagle is. Oops. Did I say that out loud?
The point is…how does an author accurately portray documented atrocities? I’m not advocating gore for the sake of shock and awe, but vital plot scenes that show the evil side of human nature. Does one need to flufficise the bloody bits for the sake of the squeamish and demure?
My opinion: write it like it is, keeping balance in mind. Not too popular of a stance, but at least allow me to explain how I drew this conclusion.
The Bible. Ever read it? It’s pretty graphic. Remember the chick who skewered a fella’s brains with a tent peg in Judges 4:21? The account didn’t go on for pages and pages of unadulterated carnage, but neither did it gloss over her act of violence.
And what about the whole crucifixion? It’s mentioned in more than one book of the gospels, down to the detail of poking a spear into Jesus’ side and spilling out his body fluids. Where are the censors that should’ve edited out that section or at least slapped on a PG-13 rating? Dare we allow our children to read about such nasty bloodletting?
The bottom line is that violence can be and should be rendered appropriately when necessary. It’s a part of life. This might be a newsflash, but not everything is rainbows and butterflies.
Will this limit your potential audience? Or put boundaries on your prospective market share? You bet it will, and you should know that up front. But here’s the deal…anything you choose to write about prevents some conceivable reader from picking up your book. Not everyone’s going to want to read about battle-axe wielding Vikings. But neither does everyone want to read about bonnet-brandishing Amish girls.
Michelle’s been writing since she first discovered Crayolas and blank wall space. She resides in the frozen tundra of Minnesota with 5 other mammals (both human and canine). And don’t forget to check out her debut novel, GALLIMORE…a Wizard of Oz tale with a Medieval Twist, available at Amazon or Black Lyon Publishing.