Sex, violence and saying naughty words

Posted: June 6, 2012 in Uncategorized
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This will be a bit interactive-I hope-so what follows will make more sense. If you would, click on the link and then click on the look inside to the left of the web page and read the first couple of chapters of BWK.

I’m not going to ask you to buy it, hopefully that bit whetted your appetite to find out more of the story-I want to talk about those first two chapters. Originally, The book opened with Chapter two. The very first line I wrote was “Eddie’s god was dead.”  The entire second chapter was written, and then the  first chapter came right after. As I revised, I switched them for a couple of reasons. 1) Starting a story in the middle of action is always a great way to get a reader involved. 2) I was thinking of David Cronenberg’s movie Scanners, and how shortly into it, a man’s head explodes. I know I spent the rest of the movie wondering how he would top that, and the tension of not knowing what to expect enhanced the terror. I had hopes, my opening chapter would do the same.

It’s certainly the most violent, profane and disgusting bit I ever wrote. I’m not sure if I would have written it that way if I had to do it all over again, but nonetheless I’m glad I did. I wanted something so over the top, so gruesome and nauseating that you would have no doubt that that these two would deserve whatever may come their way. I let myself go unfiltered, and I think I did a decent job of creating a scene of such violence and grotesque behavior you’d want to know what makes them tick.  And as with my Scanners experience, I wanted that sense of dread to permeate the rest of the book, make the reader how I would top the opening.

Of course, along with that comes the language I use. I will admit I have a propensity for gutter language when appropriate, but also know when to keep it out of a conversation (like a job interview). 

But how much is too much? BWK is dark, profane, violent and hopefully disturbing. In the context of the story I had in mind, each curse had its place. And yet, even as I revised and edited, I did find some of it excessive and cut a bit. for some it may still be too much, for others it may not even register. I think some of the excessive swearing suited the story. These are uneducated people, they spoke the language of the rough and wild. But they were words, without the stigma attached to them that we have today. In that sense there’s almost a purity to them. If you’ve seen the HBO series Deadwood, or done some research, then you know what I’ve written was very much in the vernacular of the time. People used cocksucker as freely as we use the word, dude, or bro. 

Did I have to do that? Wouldn’t a “good” writer be able to get his ideas across without resorting to cursing? Perhaps, but it wouldn’t be nearly as flavorful, or true to the time period, and I really wanted to make BWK as authentic as possible (given some of the supernatural elements later on in the book).

There’s a fine line between authentic and gratuitous, few do it successfully (though David Milch makes it pure poetry in Deadwood) and I hope I did it well enough that people don’t see it as excessive or gratuitous, but as the seasoning for a very spicy chile. 


In my next post I’ll talk about the origins of some of the characters. 


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