Violent writing

**Dear Brothers and Sisters in the SACRED HEART

I love to write when I get the chance. I wanted to “pen” a story of mine. However, my concern is if it is sinful or not to make my story graphic. I will want to have the passion come through at times, and for this, I will make the violence rather descrpitive, thus rendering it more graphic. I can make the passion come through without violence, but, I just feel that it is more appropriate for my story.

Any thoughts?

By the way, the story is not one big horror or killing affair. However there will be some deaths. **

As a writer, I find no value at all in graphic scenes of violence or sex. This is because the mind of the reader will supply a scene more real to each of them them than anything I can say. To get to the “event horizon” of the act evokes the images, and is actually a more powerful technique. You also gain a wider readership, as some will simply not read your work if it is too graphic.

That’s my professional opinion. My personal and Christian opinion is: there is enough ugly in the world without making any more. If you have a talent, it is a gift. You use gifts to bring people to God, to Light, not to create more darkness.

Ever read the accounts of the martyrdom of SS. Isaac Jogues, Jean de Brebeuf, and the other North American Jesuit Martyrs? Or any of the first-century martyrs? Clearly brutal accounts, and with good reason. Sometimes spiritual writing can take on an allegorical character which uses seemingly brutal imagery to make a point about, say, spiritual combat or what is going on in the soul. Even the authors of Scripture chose to depict violence–whether as some sort of allegory or symbol or even just flat-out historical depiction. There’s a difference, of course, between telling a violent story that makes a point and using violence gratuitously, just to inflame the passions. But I’d say there’s nothing wrong with violence in art or writing that serves to make a point, and that serves to bear the truth. Look at Flannery O’Connor, for instance–her writing is often very gritty, very up-front about the harsh realities of the world. And it is fully informed by her Catholic faith.


I’m a writer too.

Violence for its own sake is generally best to avoid, but when it exists to support the story, then of course it should be there. You’ve said the story works much better with it than without, so by all means, leave it there.

You could try not to glorify it.

I am a writer too, and I think Christianus Dei is right in saying “you should not glorify it”. Certain topics and levels of description are necessary for a story to move along, especially if the story deals with Christian themes like forgiveness and redemption. I mean, redemption is difficult to portray if a problematic situation is not present, and if that situation is full of violence, I think depicting the violence is not wrong in that context. Just avoid overkill on the topic, but only you can pray and decide in your heart what God wants you to write about that.

My current novel is centered around a girl’s psychological breakdown after a rape and her regrets relating to a violent manner in which she attempted to get revenge for the rape. I have chosen to write the story as an “after the fact” scenario so reflections on the act are withheld from the reader until the climax (actually, the reader will not know it was a rape that had happened until the last third of the book so the girl’s emotional breakdown can be more objectively observed). I still have no reached the part where I am describing that the event was actually a rape, but I have already decided to be vague about the actions, but descriptive about the emotional impact, and I don’t think I will actually write the word “rape”. The story is about forgiveness, so discussing it at all is definitely necessary. Not all stories with good moral lessons can be all sunshine and rainbows…

**Thank You everyone!!

I will take these considerations into my writing and ensure that unless the situation justifies it or calls for it, I will try to over-glorify or over dramatize the violence. I guess it will depend on the situation. My story will take in the 17th or 18th century (Think of a R.L Stevenson story mixed with the French revolution, although it won’t be the French Revolution) and the plot will involve some killing. However, if I can avoid dramatizing the scence and keep the killing “no frills”, then I will.

Thank you everyone once again!!**

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