Context :

I'm starting a story with supernatural creatures and trying to make it both gory and funny.

Some creatures I use are really gross. For example, one of my characters is an akaname, a toilet-licking spirit, and an other is a wendigo, a forest cannibal.

I have no problem with "regular" blood and violence but have difficulties with this project.

The problem :

I'm afraid too much gore and gross stuff might pass as some kind of fetish.

How can I write this sort of story without sounding like a creep?

I'm looking for advice on how to decide if I should include a scene or make it told/remembered by a character and how much detailed the descriptions should be, to keep funny and disgusting balanced.

5 Answers 5


Are you a creep for writing about a toilet-licking monster? I doubt it. I don’t think Nabokov was a creep for writing Lolita, nor was Thomas Pynchon a creep for writing the extremely detailed scene in Gravity’s Rainbow in which a man eats excrement. True, people have had visceral reactions to both the authors and their subject matter, but that’s to be expected. As a fiction writer, you do your job primarily by telling compelling stories using images, characters, and motivations that give your readers something new and delicious.

In the long run, your reputation as a writer will likely hinge on several things: quality prose, excellent storytelling, memorable characters, unforgettable scenes, and consistency. You might consider approaching your concern from the consumer's point of view: readers desire a “certain something” from a genre work, and they gravitate towards the writers most likely to provide that certain something. They are looking for something general, rather than something specific, i.e. they want to be terrified or grossed out, but they aren’t specifically looking for toilet-licking monsters. You’re pretty safe on that count. If you can add humor into the mix, even better.

That being said, and more specific to your question, certain aspects of your writing can become “trademarks”, so to speak. David Cronenberg (director) writes/directs films “about" body horror; Shirley Jackson writes psychological horror (and I doubt either of them would appreciate being labeled this way). However, I suspect that “trademarks" of writing only become trademarks over time. Perhaps a counter-arguement is Bret Easton Ellis, whose American Psycho was so shocking that he himself came under scrutiny (this NYTImes article from 1991 is a fun place to start).

Ultimately, I suspect that many readers have a maturity level that can handle the gross out details. On the other hand, if your primary readers are presently friends and family, be prepared to get some questioning glances at Thanksgiving.


I'm afraid too much gore and gross stuff might pass as some kind of fetish.

If you have a fetish, you shouldn't be ashamed of it.

Okay, just kidding.

I experienced a similar problem while writing a novel called Animal Suicide, a romance/comedy about human/animal suicide.

Here's the good news.

It's very easy and effective to turn gory and serious subjects into humor. In fact, that's the reason black comedy exists. Apparently, humans find these stuff funnier because it helps them to channel out the fear/embarrassment they have tramped inside (think sex jokes).

So I say, go with it. Make it funny. And with this rule in mind: what makes you laugh is likely to make your audience laugh (as long as the scene isn't offensive or excessive).


Okay, some practical advice: watch George Carlin, Bill Hicks, or Louis CK's clips on YouTube.


I think the fact that you are concerned about overdoing it is a good sign.

Here are my thoughts:

  • Don't include grossness and gore for the sake of being gross and gory – make sure your characters have more depth than that. If your story offers little more than akanames licking commodes and wendigos eating each other in the forest, you probably won't get rave reviews. But if you can somehow weave the unique traits of these characters into the story somehow, most readers will appreciate your efforts.

  • When in doubt, lean toward the subtle and the humorous rather than the obscene and the profane. Try to make the most memorable parts of your story your clever ones, not your graphic ones.

  • Imagine a broad readership when you're polishing your story. Imagine your daughter reading it when she's in ninth grade. Imagine your wife's grandmother picking it for her summer read. This doesn't mean you need to strike the edgy characters from your plot and write something you think would get past the prudes, the censors, and the book-burners, but it might help you achieve that degree of balanced moderation that you're striving for.


I think you won't come across as creepy if there are reasons the gross characters are in the story. The reasons don't even need to be deep. For example, I think it could be quite funny for someone to wonder who has been cleaning his toilet, making a minor mystery out of it that is answered by revealing the existence of the creature.


In my opinion, there's no such thing as "too much gore and gross stuff" when you are writing about gore and gross stuff.

  • Only problem that you are facing is in the details. For example -> "bloody Mary" and "bloody virgin Mary" are two different sets of data and when you write about gore, you just need to figure out (while writing) which way does it sound best for current situation you imagined.

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