Poll about violence and gore (in fights)


#1

Ok, I also asked this question in my WIP (the 6th legion), but the reactions have been a little underwhelming. So I thought, lets make a poll for my question.

So far my game has been reasonable innocent, but at some point that will change as it is hard to fight a war without talking about voilence etc.

I was wondering how far I should (could) go, so I have written 5 examples of the same thing. Ignore the spelling if possible. Could you please either choose an option or give your opinion (or do both). Thank you in advance. (also, I know that writing a hosted game which means I can write whatever I want, but I still want to get it published at some point.)

.1. The man rushes towards you, almost like he doesn’t expect you to use your weapon. But you training is good. You have practised stabbing so many times that you counter without thinking about it. All it takes is a single trust into the man, ending his life.

.2. The man rushes towards you, almost like he doesn’t expect you to use your weapon. But you training is good. You have practised stabbing so many times that you counter without thinking about it. But unlike the training your blade isn’t stopped by armour or the wooden post. Instead you smoothly push your blade through the man’s clothing into his body, staining his clothing red. And with that the man drops to the ground, dead or dying.

.3. The man rushes towards you, almost like he doesn’t expect you to use your weapon. But you training is good. You have practised stabbing so many times that you counter without thinking about it. But unlike the training your blade isn’t stopped by armour or a wooden post. Instead you feel your weapon cut through flesh and muscle. As you have been taught you twist the blade, causing a nasty wound to become a repulsive one. As the man fall down you wonder if he was already dead before he hit the ground.

.4. The man rushes towards you, almost like he doesn’t expect you to use your weapon. But you training is good. You have practised stabbing so many times that you counter without thinking about it. But unlike the training your blade isn’t stopped by armour or a wooden post. The man lets out a scream, but all you can focus on is the blade sinking into his soft flesh. The ease with which it sinks into him. How warm blood is starting to spill from the wound, straining both his clothing and your hand red. As you pull your blade back you see that the colour is already fading from the man’s face. Unable to fight he falls down on the ground, clutching the wound although it won’t do him much good. Meanwhile the battle line is still advancing, meaning that you have to step over the dying man, who will most likely be killed in a few seconds by a legionary behind you.

.5. The man rushes towards you, almost like he doesn’t expect you to use your weapon. But you training is good. You have practised stabbing so many times that you counter without thinking about it. But unlike the training your blade isn’t stopped by armour or a wooden post. The man lets out a scream, but all you can focus on is the blade sinking
into his soft flesh. The ease with which it sinks into him. How warm the blood is that starts to spill from the wound, straining both his clothing and your hand red. As you pull your blade back you almost feel like throwing up. It is not just the blade that returns. You must have cut through the muscle tendons holding his gut inside. As the man falls on his knees it is as if he no longer sees the world around him. All he does is try to keep his gut inside his body, but it is no use. The ground meanwhile turns red in a sicking pace. It would be best if he met a quick end. But you can’t give it to him right now. The battle line needs to keep advancing and so you step past him, almost losing your footing on the now wet ground. At least his suffering will be ended when the legionaries behind will finish him of.

  • Option 1
  • Option 2
  • Option 3
  • Option 4
  • Option 5

0 voters


How dark is too dark for a game?
#2

None of those are over the top. The nice thing about written text is that even the first example can be made gory by the right imagination and the last although detailed barely touches the surface of gore seen in TV and films without an imagination to build it upon.

In example 5 you could go into far worse detail before it became an issue but even then it would be acceptable to most, the only issue is the amount of writing becoming unnessasary to convey your point. Writing should always convey a scene with the minimal words required. Why write more if you can achieve the same in a shorter text:

Example 6:
The man rushes towards you, as if not expecting you to fight back. But your training was thorough and you’ve have practised so much you counter without thinking. This time though your blade isn’t stopped by armour or a wooden post.

The man lets out a scream as the blade sinks into his soft flesh and you begin to feel the warm gush of blood cover your hands. You twist sharply and pull back but instead there’s a sickening crunch as the blade hits bone.

You pull again but the blade is stuck and with each jerk the mans eyes widen further, twisting his face into pictures of pain beyond anything you could imagine. Finally you free yourself from him but it’s not just the blade that slides free. From the gaping wound guts begin to spill like meat from a butchers table, long strings of blood soaked viscera.

You watch in horror as he falls to the ground, scrabbling to hold himself together and screaming all the while. You wish you could help end his suffering but the line moves on and you step forward, ready to face the next…


#3

As Max said, a little goes a long way. Unless you’re doing a story where gore is a trope (zombies, gladiators etc.), detailing excessive gore in standard terms for every single fight will become boring.

One way to mix it up is to give the reader something familiar to equate to the unfamiliar, such as having a character break a finger and equate it to the sensation of snapping a No. 2 pencil.


#4

Personally I think after the third option the other two are intentionally going into gore in detail. If that is your intention and according to @Maxmansung then they are what you want. Although I would like to bring to your attention that as far as I have read, which is probably way less than most people who will comment, no other stories have gone much farther than 1. BUT again if your goal in your story or at least this scene is to be as gory as possible then idk because all the stories I have read have not been based on gore.

I voted one because I believe what @Maxmansung said,


#5

He is doing Roman legionaries which is a pretty gory time, although all melee combat is in my opinion.


#6

You say that roman legionaries are a gory time but the examples 1 and 2 make the killing seem almost machine like and example 4 and 5 continue this with the idea of the legionary behind.

I understand that roman warfare was almost a precision event at times and if the violence is meant to be a contrast of machine like killing mixed with the loss of human life then there’s no reason for gore at all.

You could achieve the same experience of your first battle with a much shorter text

Example 0.5:
As the first of their army rushes towards the lines your training takes over. With a quick parry you thrust your blade forwards and the man stops in his tracks.

The light fades from his eyes and you suddenly feel a pang of sorrow, but the line moves on. Without even realising you’ve already stepped over the fallen body and prepare to repeat the process.


#7

Personally, I find Option Three the best, if only because Option Four and Option Five are a bit melodramatic. Option Three had just about the same amount of impact as the last two without trying as hard.

When writing violence during a battle, it’s often better to be blunt with the details and refrain from going into overly long, flowerly descriptions. You can mention that hey, that dude’s guts are hanging out, and if you do it bluntly, it will feel more realistic, I think. Battles are quick, nasty, and brutal, and I think it’s best if your writing during those scenes mirrors that.

Now, if your protagonist is, say, killing a loved one while they sleep, you can be much more melodramatic. Your protagonist is probably going to be hypersensitive to the color draining from their loved one’s face, their blood being warm against their hands, etc.

I probably did a poor job explaining what I meant, but I hope you understand the point I was trying to make. :slightly_smiling:


#8

Do you mean “no” here? I keep reading “no” then going back and catching myself. It changes the sentence pretty drastically.

Also gory doesn’t mean savage. The butcher’s house could be considered gory and that is machines.


#9

@Maxmansung
Well, I could go lot further, but this is mostly to find out what people still like. So far it would be 3 or 4. Also, your example 6 is only 33 words shorter then my five. Sorry, had to write that. I do like that you took the trouble of writing it out two example for me. The worse thing I read was about the siege of carthago, where roman prisoners would be castrated, skinned and then thrown of the citywall. Apparently they still lived when the hit the ground.

@Hanon_Ondricek
Well, it’s about romans (well, roman like) legionaries. Anyway, if I just say you stab a person and he is dead the fights are going to get boring real quick too. But a scene like the examples is more for the first time you have to fight in a life or death situation.

Also, the proper way to kill someone was to stab him in the stomach and then try to reach the heart or lungs. That way you didn’t hit any bones as they might deflect the stab or get your weapon stuck. But there was a good chance you would gut him.


#10

Well spotted @Kelvin , i’ll add a “no” in there.

I guess your right, im probably using the wrong word. I think @Fawkes summed it up a lot better with the word “Melodramatic”.

The killing is machine like and the writing should reflect that. Keep it simple and regimented and use the details to add in spots of humanity when required to show the protagonists feelings between moments of regimented killing.

The more emotionally involved the protagonist becomes the more details you can put reflecting their own awareness of the death and destruction around them.

@mrwolf2
Lol yea I noticed it wasn’t much shorted than your examples, I got hung up trying to embellish the details to make it more gory than example 5 at the same time. My example 0.5 is a lot shorter though…


#11

@Maxmansung
hehe, I had the same thing when writing the examples but I wanted to be clear about the differences of the examples so I needed to (over)emphasize. And your example 0.5 is great. Short but very strong.

Anyway, I agree with pretty much everyone here that there don’t need to be large amount of detail normally speaking. Of course, this was the first time you killed someone (in the example, in the game you might have done that before) so I needed to make the point that you are a human, but at the same time part of a killing “machine” that needs to keep moving.


#12

Truth be told, I think all of these can have their place based upon what you are trying to accomplish.

In the case of this scene, your goal seems to be to capture the spirit of a man in a large scale battle. If that’s the case I think #2-3 are best because they provide enough detail to imagine the event, but quickly move focus to the rest of the story just like how a soldier’s mind might work in battle.

If your goal however is to make the reader/MC reel at the horrors of war, then options 4, 5, and (6) are much better. In these cases, the tragedy of death is the focus of the paragraph.

That being said, that only applies to large scale battles. In a smaller more personal fight I would lean more towards 3-6. In a fight like that the MC has much more time to look over their actions and take in the consequences.

“But that’s just how it is, because one man is always the dead - and two million is always just a statistic.”


#13

@mrwolf2 i feel like this is good along with the rest of this post but some people’s characters might be more emotional. I’m thinking this would be a great place for a fake_choice depending on the reader’s choosing if that is possible.


#14

On the subject of blood and gore overall in a historically based setting, what you wrote could be far worse.
As for answering your poll qustion, I’d say option #4 is the best for a “first kill” situation. Option #3 seems the best for anything after that aside from very personal or story-driven kills.


#15

I know you don’t like me saying this but all can work or all can fail. Violence is not in a vacuum it is context and everything fitting together.

I still can’t chose one or another. Sorry.

I’ll give you a situation and you tell me which belongs…

  1. The Illiad

  2. Caesar’s histories

  3. Virgil

  4. Hercules’ epic

Your story has the potential to be any of these or something entirely your own. So far, you are shaping things your own way and that is what makes your story good. I’m frustrated I can’t communicate but this is a turning point for your WiP.


#16

@Zolataya
Wow, that are some high expectations there, although I do apreciate them (a lot).

As for the turning point, I’m not yet there. But I wanted to know what people think is acceptable before I got to that point.
Which is pretty much “it depends on the situation”. But at least no one has said that I shouldn’t use any of them, which means I have all the freedom I need to write further.


#17

If I were you I would assume you have the freedom to use any of those and anything more or less extreme as much as you want.

Not only is your WIP your own creation but to be published through hosted games they only ask that you meet a few basic criteria. Due to this you can be as creative as you want and make the story your own which is the most important thing. There will always be people who hate what you’ve written because it’s too gory or not gory enough to convey what they feel is happening. As long as the writing tells the story you are trying for that should be enough.

Just make sure the grammar and spelling mistakes are to a minimum, the story flows and the story tells what you want it to tell.


#18

At this point, I don’t think it’s really “how much gore” as opposed to “how much is there to read”.


#19

@UmbraLamia Pretty much, but at least I know what I can do writing wise, which was the point of this topic for me. Besides, it’s still fun to see the bell curve emerging from the poll (with a deviation towards option 5).


#20

Second @Umbralamia and @Maxmansung’s suggestion that the real question is about how much detail you want.

I think that’s a pretty easy question: employ as little detail as possible, as much as it takes to tell the story and no more. One of my favorite lines is the opening to a chapter in Neil Gaiman’s American Gods:

“There was a girl, and her uncle sold her,” wrote Mr. Ibis in his perfect copperplate handwriting.

“That is the tale; the rest is detail.”

Some information is simply more important than the rest.

Among your options there are two stories. There is a story about a soldier who is entering a battle against an army that is poorly trained. Then there is another story about a soldier who kills a man for the first time. These are not the same story. If you want to tell the first story, option 1 is almost certainly the best choice, and the others contain details that will simply muck up the narrative. (Who cares what color the man’s face is turning? I’m well trained. I beat him. We’re advancing. Get on with it!)

If you want to tell the second story, then other factors come into play, and the right details depend on the emotional effect that you are aiming for, as well as the context of the battle (e.g. the MC’s experiences leading up to it), and any stylistic precedents you have already set.