So I was trying to write about creatures that would vomit maggots, and then a different creature would lick it back up and vomit it out again to keep the meal going around. There was loads of maggots everywhere, and these huge flying beasts, these weird tentacle creatures. It was gross.

I could barely write that synopsis without retching. Earlier, while actually trying to write about that, I had to rush to the toilet because I knew I would vomit, and I actually did.

If I'm vomiting and retching as I write about this, does that mean my reader will too? Is it even a good idea to write about something which is going to make me spew sick all over my toilet seat? Are there any tactics to help me get through these 2 chapters which are really gross?

  • This question does not seem to be about writing, but rather about why you write what you write. As such, it is not on topic on this site.
    – user5645
    Commented Sep 3, 2016 at 9:01
  • if your writing can really make you physically sick then I think you should be happy with that. The extreme emotion in writing is really good , but too much of it may put off the reader. Only keep the most nauseating bits Commented Sep 3, 2016 at 9:26
  • Is this a horror book\story?
    – Numi
    Commented Sep 3, 2016 at 9:40
  • @Edmund Frost, very good point.
    – Numi
    Commented Sep 3, 2016 at 9:41
  • I was thinking about someone answering how far I should go with this. Am I going too far? This isn't even a horror story, which is why I asked the question. @Numi Commented Sep 3, 2016 at 10:31

2 Answers 2


What is your aim in writing?

If you want your book to be a bestselling success, then you better delete that scene. The majority of people (as far as I can tell) prefer not to be sickened by their entertainment. Writing content like that will forever damn your book to a minority readership.

If, on the other hand, you write to indulge in your vomit fetish (for apparently you enjoy both the description and the actual throwing up, or you would stop writing it), that is, if you write for yourself, then by all means go ahead. There certainly is some interest in such material, as can be seen, for example, from the prevalence of porn that features vomiting (don't do a Google image search on that after a meal).

On a more general level, I don't think that the question is about courage, but about story. As a writer, you are not working on overcoming your disgust, but telling a story. Everything in your writing must submit to that goal.

Does it forward the story? Then it needs to be told.

Does it not forward the story? Then it needs to be deleted.

Courage can be found when a writer has a chance to educate the public by telling a truth the telling or publication of which will be painful to him or her.

What I guess I am seeing here, is a writer who lets himself get carried away. That's okay. Some of us like to write pages of steamy sex into our young adult romances, others go crazy with worldbuilding. But in the end it must all go. The porn sex becomes a chaste kiss, and the elaborate world is condensed to some hints here and there.

What I recommend is that you write whatever you like at the moment. Then, when you are finished, put your story in a drawer and let it rest for a few weeks or months. And then read it. You will have a clear feeling of whether this scene blends into your novel harmoniously or whether it sticks our like acne and needs to be healed.


Your question, I gather, is generally whether or not you should be writing gross content if you think readers will be liable to throw up, no? Well, not every reader is going to be as sickened by your story as you were. Take me for example: reading that synopsis didn't even make me cringe. Yes, it's repulsive, but if I was reading your book, that scenario you described would be a mere "ew" moment, and not something I would be hit very hard by. In short, you should base your decision on the continuation of this story wholly on whether or not you are physically and mentally capable of bringing it into the world, instead on the chance that the content will make readers vomit- yes, certain ones will actually be running for the toilet, but others will just cringe and continue. Readers of even the same genre still greatly vary.
Also, bear in mind that there are many fans of things like your story- whatever the genre - and gory horror that are such hardcore fans that they'll still read\watch\play it even if it makes them- literally- sick. Best wishes!

  • "Wretching" at a work of Art let alone fiction is usually a pejorative term. Commented Sep 3, 2016 at 18:08
  • @ user14394 I believe the OP meant it literally.
    – Numi
    Commented Sep 4, 2016 at 1:47
  • So do I. "Your writing is so bad it made me wretch." The author can take that any way he pleases of course...now if you were to get on the radio station and (with known falsity) claim "the aliens have arrived!" causing people to run about in crazed and freakish ways that's an entirely different matter. Commented Sep 4, 2016 at 2:11
  • @user14394 He didn't mention anything about poor quality writing, he means gross content.
    – Numi
    Commented Sep 4, 2016 at 2:37

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