Violence of writing

Yet again, more time has passed since my last post than I intended.

I recently wrote a story called “The Collection,” inspired by the song “A Collection,” by favorite group, Marillion. It’s a disturbing song by the band’s own admission, and when you hear the music and the lyrics together, it’s far creepier than “Every Breath You Take.” The music is light and lilting, the lyrics not so much (No one lives inside/my collection).

This is not a violent story; I don’t like to write violence, and especially sexual violence. However, when I submitted it to LushStories.com, it was rejected for violating their site guidelines (which I admit I didn’t read closely) on violence.

I have to tell you, I was shocked. Anyone who’s read my stuff knows that any violence in my stories is not sexual in nature, and in fact is mostly in my nonhuman stories, so it’s what the movies might call “fantasy violence.” That is, it might be a fight between a vampire and a weretiger, or a werewolf and another werewolf. “The Collection” is more in the Twilight Zone vein. There’s no actual violence — no one is hit, or physically assaulted — and it comes down to the supernatural. This isn’t the most original idea, I know, but I hope I put together a good story and entertained the readers.

Another story, “Facing the Past,” was rejected on violence grounds as well. Once more I was shocked. This story is about a woman, Annabeth, who escaped her abusive family. She returns to the town she left when she gets word her dying (and malevolent) grandmother wants to see her. While in town she meets with the boy, Chris, now a man, who helped her through the difficult times. The scene in question was a flashback, where Annabeth’s brother accosts her in their high school’s hallway. He shoves her into a locker, but Chris intervenes, and again there is no sexual violence.

Now, I will say and do believe that a privately-owned website can make its own rules. I did have a back and forth with a moderator at LushStories, but didn’t protest. I admit to some confusion, though — they have story categories for BDSM, Spanking and even one called “Reluctance.” Yet one fairly realistic, non-sexual, violent encounter is enough to reject the story? What about a murder mystery, I asked. What about the violence that’s fairly inherent in stories involving werewolves, vampires and other fantasy creatures? The answer I got, and it’s valid, is that it would be a case-by-case basis.

So I guess I wonder about violence in stories. Violence does not do much for me when it comes to sex. I have little interest in reading BDSM stories, and even less in non-consent or reluctance. Now, I’m all for a good action flick (and occasionally even a bad one), or action “books,” like spy thrillers and such (love the original Bourne trilogy by Robert Ludlum. But my experience with Lush made me wonder about who draws what lines.

Let me repeat, or make clear, I am not complaining about freedom of speech or anything like that. That’d be nuts. Lush, Literotica, etc., are privately-owned and if I don’t want to follow their rules, I can post elsewhere.

It’s the seeming inconsistency that bugs me, and perhaps there’s no real solution to that. It may be that the only way to be consistent is to be like StoriesOnline, and allow anything. I’d say that perhaps the issue (on LushStories) is consent but then I’d point to the Reluctance category, which implies lack of consent, or at least coercion. You could, I suppose, allow no violence at all, but that would severely limit your story pool.

An interesting outcome of all this, for me, is that I find myself wondering if I’d tailor future stories to fit Lush’s guidelines. I mean, I had something of an option to take out the scenes in question from “Facing the Past.” And the moderators at Lush were kind enough to direct me to their sister site, StoriesSpace, to see about posting the story there. However, as I understand it, SS is for non-erotic stories. I have hesitated to submit there because I don’t want to go to the trouble of dividing the story into small enough chapters to fit their requirements, then submit, then have it rejected. I have decided I will not remove the scene Lush objected to, and although I may decide to submit to SS, if it is rejected, I will not adjust it for that site, either.

I doubt this will be much of an issue for me, generally speaking. I do not write a lot of violence, as I said, and if I do, I like to think it fits the story and has some context, and it’s more than likely going to be in a fantasy story of some type. However, it is the first time I’ve wondered if I’d adjust to fit. I don’t think I would. I write what I think needs to be in a story, and then after some re-reads and input by beta readers, I make adjustments — but only those that I think/hope keep to my vision for the story, and not because I think it will be rejected somewhere.

(“The Collection” will be available soon from Yellow Silk Dreams.)

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5 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by blue on November 12, 2011 at 4:30 am

    i think there is bias here….it might be you struck a nerve or something…personally though, i didn’t find anything objectionable with either stories…the “violent” scenes were integral to the story and i don’t even think they’d be considered “violent”…well, the one in “Facing the Past” might but again, it was integral to the story…well, it’s their loss…i found both stories to be well-written…

    Reply

    • I don’t actually think there was bias, I just think LushStories has a low tolerance of violence, and of course, that’s their prerogative. For “The Collection,” the objection was that the women were essentially kidnapped and held against their will.

      it did raise the question of whether I could delete or otherwise amend that scene, but I decided not to.

      Reply

  2. I hope you don’t restrict your writing to fit a particular site’s guidelines. Write what you want to write. If it doesn’t get posted on every site, so be it.

    Reply

    • Posted by Lady Falcon on November 12, 2011 at 9:23 pm

      Hear, hear! or Here, here! Not sure which is right, LL, but I second your comment.

      It sounds to me like Blue is right…your story must have struck a personal note with the reviewer. Which may be a good thing for them (the reviewer) to help them work through their issues.

      It’s good for you because you know your story evoked emotion and I would imagine that is a plus for any artist. 🙂 I’ve read “Facing the Past” and thought it was very good and nothing stood out as being superfluous. I have not read the other story, yet.

      Reply

  3. The interesting thing is that initially, having had “The Collection” rejected, I emailed one of the moderators (or as Lush calls them, verifiers) to ask beforehand about “Facing the Past.” He suggested I submit the story and he would watch for it and read it. He did, and thought the scene was all right, but he asked other verifiers, and they said no. So obviously there is some difference of opinion there. He also said that, double standard though it may be, if it had been violence directed against another man, it might have “passed.”

    So there’s another interesting thought point.

    I do like knowing my stories evoke emotion (an early one that got interesting feedback was “Guilt”), although I don’t think that’s quite the case here. I did appreciate the quick responses, and the Lush verifier who suggested I post on their sister site, as she felt the story should be seen. In this case, I think it’s just a matter of following the rules, but then you start to think about what you might change, or not, in order to abide by those rules.

    Reply

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