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      Something Wicked This Way Comes...   10/09/2019

      The Autumn Supporter Giveaway!       Welcome to the very first of the seasonal BCF supporter giveaways! This month also marks one year since I took on the forum, so I want to say an extra huge thank you to all of you for keeping this place going. I have a little bit more to say about that later but, for now, let's get to the giveaway!     The Autumn Giveaway winner will be getting two Penguin Little Black Classics, The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe and To Be Read At Dusk by Charles Dickens. Both of these little books contain three atmospheric short stories, perfect for autumnal evenings. The winner will also get Mary Shelley tea (a lavender and vanilla black tea) from Rosie Lea Tea's Literary Tea Collection (https://www.rosieleatea.co.uk/collections/literary-tea-collection) and a chocolate skull, to really get that spooky atmosphere .   and...   A special treat for a special month. The winner will choose one of the following recent paperback releases from the independent bookshop Big Green Bookshop:       The Wych Elm by Tana French A House of Ghosts by W.C. Ryan Melmoth by Sarah Perry The Familiars by Stacey Halls  The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White   The winner will be chosen via the usual random selection process in one week. Patreon supporters are entered automatically. If you aren't a patreon supporter but you'd like to join in with this giveaway, you can support here: https://www.patreon.com/bookclubforum.   I really hope you're all going to like this introduction to the seasonal giveaways. It's been a lot of fun to put together. Other chocolate skulls may have been harmed during the selection process…     
Michelle

How descriptive do you want your books to be?

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I'm thinking more about serial killer type thrillers - do you like all the gory details, or do you prefer that part kept minimal? And what about crime books, do you like all the details of the crime itself, or is it the crime solving process which you prefer?

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Personally I prefer not too many gory details, I don't do too well with that. I'm most interested in the crime solving process and the characters but would like to know details of the crime as long as it's not too gory or bloody or anything.

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If it's a serial killer type then I like to have the gory details. I really like Chris Carter for that reason. However if it's more of a who dunnit I don't mind if the details are there or not.

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I write British serial killer thrillers, my favourite genre, and I don't shy away from describing the gore of a crime scene because I believe the effects of violence should be shown. However, I DO shrink from live on-the-page violence or torture. The majority of my gore is crime-scene discovered. :)

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For me it's the skill of the writing that matters over the kind of details and description that might be included.  I have a vivid imagination I don't need detail, although I am not adverse to it either.

 

There is the likes of Karin Slaughter where the injuries and scenes are described in graphic physical detail, and although they may make me wince at times, they as yet have not felt gratuitous. Whereas an early James Patterson where the detail of the sexual abuse of a group of women by a pair of psychos felt more so.

 

In these two examples, I think it's the combination of how well drawn the scene in which these details are given is, and how we feel about the characters involved. In the case of Ms Slaughter, the victims are dealt with respectfully and with compassion, whereas the Patterson felt more as if the details were included to clumsily express  "Oo look, these two are proper sexual psychos ~ see what depravities they are into!".

 

Mans inhumanity to man is pretty much the mainstay of crime killers, so some must at least be alluded to. For me it is that the pitch of the piece is right. Don't make  me feel as though the author enjoyed writing it too much.

 

I read classic crime as well as more contemporary novels, it will always be the quality of the writing combined with a great plot that will keep me coming back for more, not the  body count of the detailed broken and tortured.

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I have to agree with Chrissy; there is a fine line between description of a scene and unnecessary, gratuitous detail. I would struggle to quantify where one begins and the other ends - and it would be different for every person of course. The skill of a good writer is to convinve me that the description of the gory details I'm reading isn't gratuitous.

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It depends on the writing. I hate it when it's written corny, then I prefer it if they lost the details. A skillful writer can write details and make it more thrilling to read. Sometimes it's more creepy not to read how the murder happened, but only get to read how the body looked afterwards. Leaving it up to my imagination how the killer tortured the poor victim. 

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I agree with Cookie

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I applaud your scruples and share them. I still teach from time to time so I'm loth to include material that an inquisitive pupil might come across on the internet. It's all in the writing. My first publisher compared me to a famous Scottish writer so I read one of his books. When a character cut off someone's fingers and made the victim eat them I stopped reading and told Harper Collins that my books were nothing like the author they wished to couple me with.

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^^^^^^^^^Good for you! ^^^^^^^^^

 

I have to say, I don't like to read truly gory stuff.  Allusions are far more effective, and scarier to the individual's imagination.

It's a bit like nudity, a small amount of clothing strategically placed is a lot sexier than complete nudity.  Same diff. :)

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I have to say, I don't like to read truly gory stuff.  Allusions are far more effective, and scarier to the individual's imagination.

It's a bit like nudity, a small amount of clothing strategically placed is a lot sexier than complete nudity.  Same diff. :)

 

I agree with 'less is more'. When writing, I like to trust in my readers' imagination. Showing a little gore is fine, but I don't feel the need to write pages and pages about it. I think the readers' own thoughts carried off on the back of my words are going to be far scarier than setting it all out in black and white. Everyone is calibrated to fear differenty. And impending fear or danger is often much more frightening than seeing a graphically-described body. Not that I don't have a bit of blood here and there!

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Back in the 90s I read quite a few Patricia Cornwell novels and although I think she lost the plot, err, plot wise in her later books I always felt she was very good at describing the forensic side of pathology without sensationalising it.

In contrast, I read the first few pages of a Karin Slaughter novel - that had been recommended to me by a friend - and I put the book down before the end of the first chapter because of the [i felt] completely unnecessary level of detail in the murder being described.

I think a lot of authors tend to get around the true horror of a murder by describing the detail of it over the course of the novel, as clues come to light and the detective finds things out, and this approach tends to lessen the brutality of the act that has been committed, but I don't see the necessity for describing a murder blow-by-blow (or cut-by-cut, as it was in Slaughter's case) just because you can. 

 

It sometimes feels like the author is going more for the shock value than anything else and it undermines what could otherwise be a very good story.

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Raven, I had the same experience with Cornwell.  Gruesome on top of gruesome, finally.  I haven't read any of Slaughter, but I think I have one on the shelf somewhere. 

 

Now, someone like Henning Mankell can be gruesome in a few descriptions, but not over the top so, and it's over soon.  :)  I've kind of backed out of reading Jo Nesbo however, some of the original crimes he has portrayed have just been too much for me.  It's like he has to "top" himself. 

 

SamHayes wrote:  And impending fear or danger is often much more frightening than seeing a graphically-described body.

 

 

Yes! Absolutely true. :)

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Raven, I had the same experience with Cornwell.  Gruesome on top of gruesome, finally. 

 

I think Black Notice was the last Scarpetta novel I read. 

 

I don't remember them for being gruesome at that point, I just got fed up with stories that had gone from good novels in their own right to stories that were obviously being aimed at the film rights (the completely out of context helicopter chase at the end of Point of Origin being a point in case).

 

I've heard that Cornwell has changed the perspective the books are told in now, as well, which makes me even less inclined to go back and pick up the series again.

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For me it's definitely in the skill of the writer.  I read very differing books, some can be quite gory and graphic, others give you just enough to get the picture and let your imagination do the rest.  I couldn't say for sure that I prefer one over the other as I continue to read both styles.  I suppose that a lot of the time, if the author finds it unnecessary to add in that level of detail, it probably doesn't need to be there in the first place and I'm happy to go with that.

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I'm not really the target audience for crime, as that last thing I want from my crime fiction is reality!  I prefer the gentler side of life, and I don't find any enjoyment in reading descriptions of violence whether that is a description of the act of violence, or the results of it, and when contemporary crime fiction comes up in my book group, I often either don't even attempt it, or will stop reading as soon as I come across any brutality or gory details.

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