I hope you brought a strong stomach for the last edition of Dicey December, because it might get a little grody. And you may want to wash your hands when it's over.
Violence holds a broad place in history and literature. Some of the earliest fiction is incredibly grisly and real life entertainment often included watching people fight to the death. It can be as subtle as a paper cut or as blatant as falling into a meat grinder, but violence is ever present in books and our writing. It is, after all, a common way to increase tension and suspense.
Like I said in my posts on sex and sensuality and language, violence has its place in fiction. You won't see much more than punches or bullying in children's books and you can easily lose track of the body count in anything adult. And sometimes not. It all has to do with your audience and its place in the story. While violence is not condoned (understandably so) in our real life society, some can't seem to get enough of it in fiction.
Some even laugh.
And sometimes, it's downright silly.
In romance, you might have two love interests duke it out. In mystery, expect a little cloak and dagger. If there's a war going on ... you get the idea.
Personally, I'm not a fan of gratuity. Sure, I can handle a war movie or the final installment of The Inheritance Cycle, but constant blood and guts lies on the other side of the blood-lust gate, a place which I'm not all that interested in entering. And while I do have a soft spot for zombies (as gruesome as the genre implies), most zombie stories are a turn off for me. Mostly because of poor plot and over-the-top gore.
(The Walking Dead does not have this problem)
Some authors have no problem describing an accurate decapitation. Others would rather get that message across with as little detail as possible. What matters most is how you use violence. Many books and movies lately have taken a creative approach to the issue.
Take The Dark Knight for example. Personally, it's a great film. There are plenty, however, who have shied away from it because it "looks so violent." I respect that, but what they don't know is how tame the violence really is. The film is quite clean. Very little language. Very little blood. Most of the violence is implied. It's the portrayal of an anarchist that gets to you.
(No act of violence here, but disturbingly effective)
Have I written violence? You bet. In some cases, in very creative ways. I haven't written every act of violence imaginable yet (and I may never get around to it) and my YA is fairly clean when it comes to violence (minus an occasional stabbing). When I do write violence, it's not for shock value's sake. There is a purpose, to reveal character or to heighten the danger of a situation.
This is not the rule, just my thoughts on the matter. Writing violence of one form or another is common and expected among authors (debatable), but it's the direction you take will make or break your story. Pick your inflictions carefully. Smite your foes thoughtfully.
Figuratively, of course.
Have something to add? How violent does your writing get? What's the worst thing you've done to a character?
I'm David, and we'll call it a draw.