This will be a quick post, since I've been doing a bit of editing of my writing tonight, and it's late so I really ought to go to bed.
But I wanted to comment quickly on the concept of what's acceptable and what isn't in a book - as a writer.
And by that I mean that something happens in a book which is abhorrent or just deeply unpleasant, but it is something that you have to write, describe, imagine and - in a sense - savour. You need to be able to feel the texture of the thing, imagine the feeling of the perpetrator as well as the horror of the victim (assuming of course that it is something that has both a perpetrator and a victim, but stay with me on this).
It occurred to me when I was thinking about a particularly distasteful event (which I've decided to remove from my book for entirely different reasons) that happened "offscreen" as it were. It was never
described graphically, but it was there and in order to write that it happened, you have to imagine it and everyone's reaction to it.
As I said, I've decided to remove that event for character reasons, but the general theory is that it is still a weird circumstance to put yourself in.
Obviously if it is a part of the plot and is true to the characters, the event has to be described - and I've done this before in short stories, and to a small extent in the book so far - but how far can an author go in describing it without crossing into an area where it becomes gratuitous?
I think it's easier to do it and not care if you know you have a wide audience of people you don't know who will read it. If you are writing for yourself and people you know, there's always the chance that they'll look at you different afterwards, wondering if you're a psychopath or a deviant.
I'm not sure if this is a particularly coherent post, and I know that the idea is only partly formed, but it popped into my head, so I thought I'd put it out there.