I’m scheduling this in late December and praying that I’m not doing something important on the day this goes live. Sex and violence in fiction is such a hot button topic that it would be wiser to avoid them entirely. Sadly, I can’t because Crossing Bedlam has a lot of violence and nudity.
Keep in mind that I said nudity and not sex because nobody actually does anything. This isn’t a spoiler because I’ve constantly stated that I don’t have it in me to write a sex scene beyond making out and after glow. The most erotic body part that I’ll name is breast with butt coming in second. The main event parts are only in the mind of the reader because I don’t see the point in bringing them up if they aren’t going to be used. Now there’s nudity of both genders in Crossing Bedlam and I think Lloyd’s butt gets mentioned a few times. Nothing more than stating it so people know that the character might be cold or can’t pull anything out of a pocket that doesn’t exist. This isn’t a video game where naked characters can have immense inventories and you don’t want to think too much about where they’re keeping stuff. (Obviously the answer is a backpack, which isn’t an article of clothing.)
As for violence, there’s a lot of blood and death considering it’s a very cutthroat culture that’s taken over. Yup.
Strange thing is that all I really have to do is leave it at that. One thing I learned with Legends of Windemere is that many people have a low tolerance for anything sexual and a high tolerance for violence. Implied coitus gets complaints. The Lich devouring a person in bone-crunching detail is overlooked. Things might be different with Crossing Bedlam though. The violence will be more reality-based since guns, cars, and explosives will be involved. For some reason, we can see somebody get killed by a sword in a fantasy setting and shrug it off quicker than someone taking a bullet to the nose. Maybe it’s because the latter is something that we can believe is possible and doesn’t require as much suspension of disbelief. Still people seem to freak out when you imply that a nipple is showing.
This is something I struggled with when writing Crossing Bedlam because I’ve seen the argument happen so often. Do I up the violence and sex to go along with my desire to make a Rated-R story? Am I even capable of doing it? The answer ended up being that I had the violence part down already and I couldn’t do more than pointing out when characters are naked. Kind of impossible since I have one character who uses sex appeal as a weapon and another who simply doesn’t care for clothing. Yet I do think I pulled myself back a bit and might do it more when I do the edit. Then again, part of me simply wants to make sure the nudity playing field is even.
Here’s one thing that I know for a fact in this arena: If you think a scene goes too far with the sex and violence then you’re right. You’re also wrong.
What disgusts one person is barely a blip on another person’s radar. We all have our own definitions of what’s too much. For some, Legends of Windemere went too far. Other people were confused that there was a complaint about ‘too much’ of something. These are all personal preferences, which we can argue about until the next Grand Theft Auto game comes out. I’m betting I’ll have a few headaches in regards to the nudity, violence, and cursing. Yet I did write a book that I would personally want to read.
The more I think about it, the more I see this as a very convoluted topic that depends almost entirely on what the individual thinks and prefers. That’s something we can’t really control, so maybe all I can do is hope for the best here.