After finishing the Raven Series, I’m left thinking about gore. I do a little of this in my other stories, but I always tried to go as far as I could muster here. Well, Bedlam and War of Nytefall definitely have their fair share of exposed innards and gore-filled demises. So, what are some lessons to be learned?
- Decide from the start how realistic you want to be. You can’t have real blood spurts combined with geysers. Either it’s normal or every person in the story is a walking Gusher for vampires. Most times, you will have to go for realistic though unless you work with aliens or other dimensions or certain anime genres.
- Read up on anatomy if you want to eviscerate a character in detail. You can’t tear their chest open and then write that their intestines are dangling. Not only with the organs and blood, but get an understanding of how hard it is to get through bones. Creatures have rib cages for more than BBQ’s and comedic xylophone scenes.
- Unless they live in a very violent world and have already become accustomed to such scenes, characters should react in horror to the gore. A liberal arts major from the suburbs will probably freak out when his girlfriend is torn in half. There should be screams, vomiting, fainting, or whatever else you think would work. Otherwise, the gore falls flat for the audience.
- Keep in mind that gore tends to be more useful in a visual medium like television and movies. To utilize it for stories, you need to go into detail while leaving just enough up to the imagination. Paint enough of a bloody picture that guides the audience and helps them form the whole scene in their head. This can go back to #2 because you can easily run into someone who loses interest because you don’t know a femur from a ulna.
- Try not to repeat the same gory event in the same story. This can cause a problem if the monster/killer only has one way to kill, but you need to be creative. Some characters can die due to accidents while trying to escape. For example, a girl is running away from the killer and ends up tripping while on a walkway. She slips over the railing and partially falls into a vat of quick-acting acid. It’s elaborate, but sometimes you have to really work for your gore.
- Don’t be afraid to use adjectives to describe what is happening. You’re painting a very visceral picture here, so lay on the gusto.
- If you’ve grossed yourself out then you’re probably on the right track. Prepare for this by keeping a bucket nearby. Also, think twice before eating ribs while writing these scenes. Might not make you sick, but you could end up fixated on the chest, which can get boring. I mean, the heart and lungs are popular targets, but there are so many other innards to reveal.