Sunday, 22 December 2013

War and Violence

I’m now well into my second WW1 novel, ‘In Line of Fire’. Writing about war must lead to descriptions of physical violence. You just can’t get away from it on a battlefield, but that doesn’t mean you have to describe every violent action in blood-soaked detail. A better way of doing it is to describe just enough to allow the reader’s imagination to take over. And then, very often, that imagination will work wonders in ways you might never achieve with words on the page. It’s all a matter of balance.

Using that technique shouldn’t be limited to scenes on a battlefield. In my novel, ‘The Long Road to Sunrise’, a girl from an Amazonian tribe is caught and raped by fierce warriors from another village. I didn’t sink to describing the rape in detail. That would have been gratuitous. Instead, I chose to describe just enough for the reader to appreciate the horror of the situation and left the rest to the imagination. Once again, it was a matter of balance. The way I chose to set about it was to describe in detail the run-up to the rape, highlighting the girl's fears and her sense of extreme horror. Then, at the moment of attack, I stopped and let the reader imagine what came next. I think it worked.

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