I’ve had a few posts on gore thanks to War of Nytefall. It’s not surprising since we’re talking about vampires here. Limbs and heads have been removed. Bodies cut into various pieces with the mention of blood. A few mentions of guts when an organ gets removed or damaged then regenerates. In my opinion, it’s been fairly tame, but you never now how people will react. I had people dislike the violence and gore in Bedlam, so it’s best to cover bases.
So, why would I be bringing this up again? Well, Ravenous has a gore-dependency in it, but not in the way you would think. There aren’t bodies getting shredded every few pages or blood getting splattered around for shock value. It all revolves around Desirae Duvall’s main power, which is at the core of the story. This isn’t a neat and tidy ability, so having her use it requires a lot of yuck. I try to minimize it as much as I can, but there is only so much that I can do. Honestly, it’s probably milder than I realize, but we’re back in that ‘you never know’ category. Since there’s no way for me to have this character and story without the gore, it has to stay.
Of course, this brings up a question. Over the years, gore has been used primarily for shock value and gross outs. There hasn’t been any real story use to it when you look at mainstream. It can be done to create a rather visceral reaction of hate, anger, fear, or disgust. For example, a TV series where characters are routinely killed in grotesque fashion can get fans to react in certain ways thanks to the gore. Yet, this is still shock value and loses its impact after a while. Not only for that series, but for everyone else because the audience goes ‘seen one intestine lasso battle, seen them all’. This means gore in general loses its ability and only those who are easily flustered by it will be having a real reaction. So, is there another use for gore besides the commonly used shock value?
My personal opinion is that you can use it for story if done in a certain way. Anything that deals with cutting people open either legally or illegally will have a level of gore. If you’re going to write a story from the perspective of a doctor or a serial killer then you may need to point out some gross parts. It doesn’t have to be extremely detailed, but the blood and guts can be seen as a necessary aspect. Maybe the gore is what drives a character to act or think a certain way. Using it sparingly will increase its effectiveness in the story, but you still have to be careful about utilizing it solely for shocking people. It’s easy to prepare someone for what they’re about to see here. With Desirae, I made it a shock once or twice when she used her powers early on, but after that was at least one action that warned people what was coming. You can point out that a surgeon is putting his scalpel against the skin, which acts as a warning. The serial killer can brandish the knife and get closer, so a reader prepares for it. These help move the story along, establish parts of a character/world, and doesn’t rely on shock.
Now, gore isn’t for everyone and you can find ways around it. Heck, I do that when it comes to sex scenes. You know it happens and see the aftermath, so you can always go the route of a character describing what they saw. So, I can’t really say that gore is a necessity in anything.
So, what do you think about gore and if it has any uses beyond shocking people?