Saturday, July 21, 2018

Danger and Somtimes Violence in Writing

I want to begin with definitions of danger and violence because I've noticed people often understand a word from different perspectives.

My definition of danger, based on Merriam Webster’s Online, is being within the jurisdiction, reach, or range of someone powerful, or deranged, or holding evil intent, and/or someone holding the control, desire, influence, and intent to harm someone else. Another aspect of the definition is being near or immersed in something liable to cause injury, pain, harm or loss. Danger implies fear, worry, and sudden change.

Danger can lead to violence, which is the use of physical force to injure, abuse, damage, or destroy someone or something or to cause injury by verbal actions using distortion, interference, or opposition. It can also be the intense, turbulent, furious or destructive actions or forces such as accidents or storms. Intense feelings expressed in a vicious display of physical or verbal behaviors can qualify as violent even if no one is physically injured. Violence implies a cost, perhaps in esteem, physical loss, or trauma.

In my writing, these definitions show a wide range of situations able to become dangerous or violent, which sometimes comes from or leads to depravity on a character's part and often trauma for another character.

All stories need drama, and emotion and physical tension create this between characters or the situations they will endure. These are often both psychological and physiological. Emotional reactions to any number of situations can add drama to a story. Tension also develops when the reader knows a character's actions will lead to danger. The character attempting to avoid violence can also lead to intense suspense. 

Have I used danger and violence within my stories? Yes, and the scenarios are often based on the types of violence done by humans in different eras of history. Most of our most esteemed eras of history have had very gruesome practices in war and in punishment of criminals, opponents, and slaves. I’ve used these in some stories; some graphically described and some only implied. It all depends on the character, the situation, its time and the location.

The reader's reaction, often based on their personal emotions, morals, and experiences, determines if the type of violence in the story hooks them into reading more or stops them from reading altogether.

Please check these authors' view on this topic:

Dr. Bob Rich
Victoria Chatham
Connie Vines
Anne Stenhouse  
A.J. Maguire 
Marci Baun 
Skye Taylor
Fiona McGier
Anne de Gruchy
Judith Copek


  1. The reader's reaction, often based on their personal emotions, morals and experiences, determines if the type of violence in the story hooks them into reading more or stops them reading all together. Rhobin, I found your post very informative. I do not write graphic violence because it would give me nightmares.

  2. I often find myself using violence to see how far a character can be pushed. In my current WIP, there's violence but to outright kill someone has dire consequences, so the fabric of society itself is altered to follow suit. Laws are in place to try and ward this sort of thing off, and those who are meant to guard against it have different protections. It has been an interesting thing to write.

  3. Good to be encouraged to think more widely about the definition of violence and danger, Rhobin - your post really made me think. Thank you.

  4. I've been having trouble with the hero and heroine in my current Regency work in progress because they are just so nice. I've been working on themes to throw a spanner in their works for months and this month's Round Robin subject has given me some ideas. Thanks, Rhobin!

  5. Hi Rhobin, this has been an interesting topic and thank you for that. I notice you point out that actions that might lead to danger heightens the reader's tension. I just hate the cosy crime novels where the heroine thinks, 'I should wait for back-up, but...' I usually give up at that point. Being too stupid to appreciate the danger is not the same as being aware of the danger and having to bravely take a risk. Anne

  6. I usually try to avoid violence. In real life, when other kids would be yelling "fight, fight!" on the playground and running towards it, I'd be running in the opposite direction. Violence scares and sickens me.

    But in the context of my stories, bland and boring is the kiss of death. There needs to be conflict, and some conflicts are violent by their nature.

    Yes, thanks for a great topic for this month's questions!