I have issues with the way violence and gore is often dealt with in books. It’s not because I’m squeamish about it, I just dislike the way authors sometimes approach it.
Often you come across a scene that is just overflowing with detailed descriptions of blood and guts and sinew and bone. Flesh tears, arteries spurt, and everyone is generally having an unpleasant time. Except for the author. The author is clearly having SO much fun writing about the gore that the actual details become overshadowed the the author’s own enjoyment.
At my day job, I have to edit countless medical reports about people getting injured and the details I have read in these reports have made me squirm much more than anything in fiction. And it’s not because it’s graphic, it’s because it’s so cold and clinical.
You could describe the flesh and skin being torn from a person’s body, the blood spurting through the air, the screams of terror as the muscles and bone are exposed.
Or you could just use the medical term: degloved.
Let’s just take a moment to dwell on that word.
It is exactly how it sounds – the skin being peeled away as if removing a glove. Does that not send a chill down your spine? And it’s not isolated to the glove region either. You can be degloved on any part of the body. I don’t suggest you google images of it, especially if you are male. (You just googled it, didn’t you? I warned you!)
Iain Bank’s “The Wasp Factory” is a good example of effective gore. There is some pretty disturbing stuff in that book, but the protagonist narrates it all very calmly, devoid of emotion. It’s the coldness that makes it so creepy. Bank’s didn’t need to go all flowery and over-the-top in the prose – he let the violence speak for itself.
So those are my thoughts on gore. I just prefer it when I’m free to feel my own repulsion, rather than have an author force it down my throat. Next time you want to shed some blood, why not consider a little degloving? Or maybe an avulsion? Or perhaps a little traumatic amputation?
Seriously, don’t google it.