Thresholds for Violence in Urban Fantasy Books
Greetings to you all from Authors After Dark 2013: Savannah Nights! I am having a wonderful time connecting and reconnecting with authors, publishers, readers and bloggers. Although the weather hasn’t been great, we’ve been living it up here at the hotel.
On Friday, I attended a fabulous panel discussion titled KICK ASS, TAKE NAMES, featuring Amanda Bonilla, Jeri Smith-Ready, Kendall Grey, Kait Ballenger, Amanda Carlson and Dianna Love. The panel focused on having a “kick-ass” heroine, and they discussed questions like “Do you enjoy writing fight scenes?” and discussed what aspects of their characters, other than physical strength, make them strong women. But there was one question that piqued my interest more than the others… “Do you (the author) have a limit or threshold for violence in your book?”
I found it interesting, with answers ranging from “My editor told me I had to tone it down and cut back on some of the violence,” to “My vampire hunter didn’t pick up a weapon until the third book.” Some authors love putting their heroines through hell, while others prefer keeping it less violent.
This got me thinking… do I have a violence limit to what I’ll take in my reading? And I realized – yes, yes I do. While I don’t mind gritty, dirty and bloody, I don’t really care for violence just for the sake of fighting. If the scene calls for self-defense, saving another, or protecting someone… I am so into kicking ass. I love a great fight scene, and I don’t need the heroine to win in order for me to enjoy it. Details are good because it helps me visualize the scene, like a moving playing in my mind. However, if the heroine, or someone close to her, is being tortured… I have a tough time. I have had to put down a couple books during or after a rough torture scene. I have DNF’d a book because I felt the main character was subject to too much torture. I have limits in violence when it comes to torture.
However, as a few of the authors pointed out, and I completely agree with, torture of a character is usually used for and needed to develop a storyline emotionally. Books that have “successful” torture scenes are ones that create an emotional investment in the heroine. They also deal with the outfall from the violence. It doesn’t just go away, and the character is transformed in some way. I will tolerate torture if it isn’t overly graphic or contain gratuitous violence AND if there is emotional growth and character development.
What about you? Do you have limits to how much violence you will take in an urban fantasy story? Is there a difference between active participation fighting and character torture? Have you ever stopped reading a book because of the violence?
Thank you for stopping by to chat! Happy Reading!