Booking Through Thursday is a weekly meme which poses a question or a thought for participants to discuss centering on the subject of books or reading.
Today’s question is:
How do you feel about explicit detail in your reading? Whether language, sex, violence, situations and so on … does it bother you? Faze you at all? Or do you just read everything without it bothering you?
I do not like explicit detail in my reading and try to avoid it.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand there has to be a “bad guy” or something wrong in order to have a plot. I know there is adultery and violence in the real world. But we don’t need explicit detail.
Any war story is going to have some degree of violence, but I don’t need details about eyes bulging out or blood spattering or whatever that are there just to titillate or disgust or increase the gore factor. Ditto for sexuality. As one friend once said, sex is not a spectator sport.
Since I am a Christian, I take my cues from the Bible. The story of David and Bathsheba tells us all we need to know of their tryst, but there is nothing in the description that would cause arousal in the reader.
Language is a bit harder. For the most part I avoid profanity or taking God’s name in my reading because I don’t want to fill my mind with it and increase the chances that those words are going to filter into my thoughts and possibly come out of my mouth in an unguarded moment. But if I were going to try to eliminate them completely, I’d have to unfriend some of my relatives on Facebook. 🙂 There are a few “damns” even in some of the classics (like The Brothers Karamazov, which I am reading, or rather listening to now). I think sometimes a story can transcend those elements (like Unbroken), but I’d still rather they weren’t there. A character can be shown to be a profane character without giving us the full brunt of his profane mouth.
In fact, I think it takes much more talented writing to show a profane character or a violent or sexual scene without explicit detail. In one of the most violent scenes I have seen on film, nothing was shown but the victim’s feet. A bit of restraint and leaving some details up to the reader’s imagination are far more effective.
To weigh in on this week’s question or read other responses, go here.