0

I am writing a Harry Potter-like DnD fantasy story, but for readers of ages 18+.

I have a description in my mind of the MC having lost his mother and his magic:

The feeling is like a hand being severed by a chainsaw.

Like a Chainsaw, cutting through the hand, Slowly and methodical.

First You see the Chainsaw.

Then You hear it being pulled into motion, with the manual starter.

The Chainsaw is raped a little.

Then it move down to your arm.

..

First the wind from the chainsaws blades, touches the hairs on your arm.

Then the first blade touches Your skin, and start to cut into your arm.

Pain from the heat and the blade on the chainsaw....

Then the blood starts to spray all over the place.

..

Somewhere in the background a phone start to ring.

I wake up and finds, that I still have both my hands.

This is the start of the book, to capture the readers' attention, but I'm concerned that I might be being too graphic. Am I?

(The book is 99% finished, so I just need a little extra.)

2
  • 1
    1. You have randomly capitalized words. There are rules that you should follow. 2. How do you "rape" a chainsaw? 3. Possesives require apostrophes in English. 4. More grammar errors than I can shake a stick at.
    – JRE
    Dec 10, 2021 at 11:05
  • Readers will tell you something is wrong, but they won't tell you what is wrong correctly. Most often it's not that you broke some rule of writing, it's that you did not do what you were trying to do well
    – Andrey
    Dec 10, 2021 at 20:54

2 Answers 2

5

I am critiquing this, I am not trying to insult you.

This is not too graphic; it is just too long, without adding anything, and I find the simile implausible.

I've lost people very unexpectedly, three siblings younger than me, my father, a cousin I grew up with struck and killed by a car. That shock and grief is not anything like being slowly dismembered with a chainsaw; it is not immediate pain, it is an emotional ache with a weight that takes months to fade, even years.

You are not describing either pain or grief; you're entire description is about dread and horror.

When it comes time to describe pain, you say "Pain". From "heat". From being cut.

That is like describing ice cream as tasting like ice cream.

Even then, your description is generic. Blood sprays all over the place. You need to be more specific, to pick out details, and to use relatable metaphors.

Google "Stages of Grief And Loss", it will help orient you. The first stage is shock and denial; if somebody lost their magic they'd believe it was coming back, they just had to do something to get it back.

You should not be trying to create dread at all; but on a technical point, readers understand that in general, moving down the page implies a sequence of events. You don't have to say "Then X happened," "Then Y happens." This does not add suspense for any predictable steps, it is just irritating.

And your victim is too passive; they just lie there and watch. They don't get angry, or beg, or scream, or struggle, or call for help, or cry. They don't feel anything upon seeing the chainsaw, or hearing it start. You only describe a physical feeling of the blade moving hairs, which in truth nobody in that situation would even note. And then they dispassionately observe their hand being removed.

Hm. That happened.

You need to describe emotions, and feelings. The job of the writer is to guide the imagination of the reader, not just visually, but emotionally. Stories are about how people feel. A horror movie is not scary because of the blood and guts, it is scary because the actors are good at conveying their terror and pain.

Perhaps reading a few best selling horror authors will help. Do NOT get lost in their story, instead read and bookmark passages for study, to see how they convey character emotion and sensation. It doesn't take much to get the gist of what you need to do.

As for "Harry Potter 18+", I'd be careful about ripping off JK Rowling. If you are obviously ripping off Hogwarts, Quidditch, etc, no publisher will touch you; and if you tried to self-publish, JK Rowling's attorneys would be happy to discuss a few things with you concerning intellectual property.

JK Rowling is a billionaire, and guards the entirety of the Harry Potter universe very jealously. Even if you are making $0, she is legally obliged to shut you down hard to protect her property.

Good luck.

6
  • 1
    Thanks. I am not ripping off, HP, but just the genre. Kids learning magic in a present day world. Maybe I will just keep my book as it is, and then think about adding blood and gore to the next series I will write. Dec 11, 2021 at 6:31
  • @AuthorJesperSB The genre is fine, even a magic school is fine. A perfect example of your 18+ goal is the TV Series en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Magicians_(American_TV_series) in which most of the protagonists are 18-25. It is about a Magic University (Brakebill's) with some very adult themes, including explicit (not hinted at, actually portrayed) rape, sex, homosexuality, murder, etc. One of the girls gains the magical power she needs by drinking the semen of a god. It ran 5 seasons on SyFy, 2016-2020, and was based on a 2011 book.
    – Amadeus
    Dec 11, 2021 at 11:25
  • Mine is about three kids being around 13 years, when it start. Then they live in a normal English city, and only two of them can magic, and the last is a fighter/alchemist. Like a basic DnD party. Dec 11, 2021 at 14:17
  • @AuthorJesperSB Oh, that is a DnD Dungeon Master description. Sorry, that does not translate well to written fiction; the emotions, gestures and expectations of players count for too much. On paper, it falls flat. In other words, what is going on in your imagination is not translating well to the written page. The author's job is, like a dungeon master, to assist the imagination, but the expectations of fiction readers far exceed the expectations of the DnD player culture. My advice is just study, analytically, one or two bestsellers in the Fantasy genre, that is really all it takes.
    – Amadeus
    Dec 12, 2021 at 12:49
  • @Amadeus I wouldn't classify homosexuality as an "adult theme". I understand that LGBT+ relationships are often depicted in sexualised ways, but the idea that any and all depictions of LGBT+ relationships are inherently inappropriate for children is often considered to be homophobic. I'm not accusing you of homophobia, merely suggesting that you could have chosen that list a little more carefully. If what you mean is that The Magicians contains depictions of gay sex, you can just file that under "sex" and leave out the "gay" part entirely.
    – F1Krazy
    Dec 14, 2021 at 14:08
2

Umm, no. The Jurassic Park novel has descriptions of the death scenes that are incredibly graphic and dark. He describes Nedry as 'grabbing his stomach in pain only to feel his own intestines instead' which is pretty darn graphic if you ask me.

(The single quotes were used because I don't remember the exact quote.)

But I must say that Amadeus' answer is definitely very true as well. I'm just adding in a general sense.

1
  • Good to know, talking about Jurassic Park is a cheat to getting upvotes.
    – Murphy L.
    Dec 13, 2021 at 14:27

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.