Friday, December 2, 2011

Indie Sex & Violence (Sometimes Rock 'n Roll)

Some indie authors/publishers feel the need to put a "warning" in their book blurb if their book has sex or violence in it.  I find that puzzling.  To me, it makes them look like they are not taking their authorship seriously.  Or maybe too seriously? 

It sounds like they are apologizing for writing the story how they felt it was best told.  Kind of like  "Oh, gee, I try to be a good puppy, but look what I have done!  I have peed on the carpet!"
The reason I say this is that the playing field needs to be even in regard to writing freedom for both indie authors and traditionally published authors.  When you walk into a bookstore and browse the backs of book covers, do you EVER see a warning? 

Of course not.  Yet, major authors write steaming, graphic sex scenes and such graphic violence that some of it makes me ill.  People are cut up, burned, sawed apart, eaten...but no warning.

Nor should there be.  Look, if you are buying a book that is not in the children's, teen, Christian, light, or cozy category you have to assume that the story might have sex and violence.  Sometimes a lot of sex and violence.  Sometimes a lot of very graphic sex and violence.

I am not saying graphic sex and violence are good or bad.  What I AM saying is that, if you choose a murder mystery or horror story, you should be prepared that it may gross you out or scare you in parts.  If you pick a romance or literary fiction, the sex may (or may not) burn the fingerprints off your fingers.  There may be violent scenes that are graphically written to show the horror of what happened. Characters may use crude language or curse.

Some authors never write sex or violence and that is fine.  They usually put their work in the genres I mentioned. But to say sex and violence is gratuitous, or needs to come with a warning, is just plain crazy.

First of all, you can read part of the book to find out the authors style. Even online, you can read a sample.  It won't tell the full story, but it gives you a hint.  Still, if you decline a book because there is crude language or someone has hot sex, you may miss out on a truly great story.

People have sex and people are violent. When writing about the head of the mob, for instance, wouldn't it be more gratuitous to have him say "Gee whiz, you have kind of upset me.  I feel like raising my voice to you!"  Some characters have crude facets to them.  Writing them differently makes them hard to find believable.  Saying "he swore".  sixty times in a novel is redundant. 

Nor should people assume that an author is like their characters!  Some filthy mouthed people write clean stories.  Some who never cuss write characters who cuss like, well, hell!  I have to tell you that if I had sex as often as my main character in Gastien did, I would not have time to sit here and blog.  Do not confuse a character with the author.

Indies, don't feel the need to apologize or "warn" people about your work.  We ALL have the freedom of speech.  No matter how you write, some people will love you and others will not.  None of us can get every reader as a fan.  I guarantee you, though, that writing honest, real characters and not acting apologetic about it will garner more respect than not.

Like John Mellencamp said: "This is serious business; sex & violence & rock & roll."  Use it when the character or scene calls for it to make it real.  Don't look back.  Life is sexual; life is, at times, violent.  Just tell it, baby, and make no apologies. Life sure doesn't.

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