How much violence in a story is "too much" in your opinion?

#1
I've written two stories on RR so far, both with very different levels of violence. One is a more lighthearted isekai with some action and one standout gory moment about halfway through (think Star Wars: Episode V.) Though there is violence and some death, most of it is against the bad guys, and there's not a lot of visceral gore or bloodshed. My other story is admittedly more violent and more realistic in its graphic depictions of violence. I strive never to have violence for its own sake and try to use it either to advance the plot or show characterization. I do find it to be a useful tool for storytelling, though, and it can heighten tension and make plot points more impactful than nonviolent scenes.

My question is, in your personal, subjective opinion, how much is too much? I try to think of the most gruesome, gory media I've consumed over the years. The Walking Dead comes to mind. Game of Thrones. I've been exposed to scenes from Berserk as well, though I never really read the whole story. In today's day and age, how much is too much? And is it the violence itself that turns you off or only if it's not used well?

Re: How much violence in a story is "too much" in your opinion?

#2
To me, it pretends on the genre and the audience you are aiming for. If I get someone being ripped apart in a middle-grade novel with a slice-of-life focus, I would say that's an extreme amount of violence. People who read that type of story are going to probably be commenting on how insane it is to insert that into the story's plot. However, if the same thing happens in a grimdark, high fantasy story, I would call it quite tame for what other authors in the genre have done. 

Also, the way the author has built up the violence matters. If you write a story with minimal violence being fist fights for 100 or so chapters and suddenly on a new arc, people are getting raped to "make it darker and grittier" I would say it's distasteful and too much. This has happened a few times on royal road where an author will have no violence, little cursing, or just slapstick type battles for a few chapters then suddenly through in a bunch of violence to the dismay of their audience. 

For my own taste, I never have had a limit. I have watched game of thrones read the 'torture porn' manga dead tube since 6th grade, etc. I just want it to make sense plotwise and entertain me. 

Re: How much violence in a story is "too much" in your opinion?

#5
It depends on the promises you make about the fiction. Starting out as a light-hearted novel about growing up, likely won't turn into a gore-fest horror story where the protag goes murderhobo unless you make the right promises in the cover/description/and the first few chapters.

If you were to do that sort of story, and want to take it in that direction, you want to show that it's coming early on in the story.

Is there a thing such as too much gore/violence? No. Not really. It's just about setting the right expectations so you don't alienate the audience that bought in for something different. But you do pay off to the audience that bought in because they wanted that experience. 

Re: How much violence in a story is "too much" in your opinion?

#7
Ahemm...
I might get myself censored by RR for this...lol

Lets talk about any form of censor-able violence.
A debate between Gratuitous violence vs Purposeful violence. Both could cross the line and it is not something one could simply say...

* Coz they killed John Wick's dog, now John can kill all the men!

Let me give you an example of why sometimes PURPOSEFUL violence can cross the line but GRATUITOUS violence actually can be harmless at all. 

Please take note that I do not encourage gratuitous violence and i assume every reader here are mature, in good mental health condition and is concious. If you are not, please refrain yourself from reading the following spoiler.

🔞🔞🔞🔞🔞
Spoiler :
Artistic expression on the "burn down church" statement:

Gratituious Expression:

Quote:Let's light it up
First I urinate on the altar of your king
Pile up the hymnals, hear hell's choir sing
Candles all around, I burn the pews for me
Lumber through the aisles to the sacristy

As I masturbate on the holy religious vestment
I reflect in my mind why I was sent
To burn and scorch the pestilence of the holy land
Your sacred vessels are crushed within my hands

Light the fucking fire, burn it to the sky
Crucifix in flames, let's all fucking die
Crosses to the left, in front of me the light
Burn the fucking church, feeling Satan's might

A normal adult human being who read the above, simply know it is an artistic expression. And shall not be persuade to burn churches.

But if you read the other statement Purposeful expression:

Quote:Churches no longer home the homeless, no longer house the helpless, no longer attend those who seek refuge.

It is merely an cold extravagant building which called to be sacred but filled with evil, and injustice.

Why spend states money to conserve a piece of unglorious history? While it should be spent on greater good of humanity? Burn the Notre Dame! Make it an accident! Collect that insurance and donations and hire people to do the renovations, creating real jobs, and that's the way it should be!

Yeah, the above statement will convince any people of power with sanity to do the thing... therefore, way more controversial than the above ones...

Re: How much violence in a story is "too much" in your opinion?

#10
Personally, I'm pretty much immune to violence but can't stand gore without purpose. A lot of amateur writers use excessively detailed gore as a crude means to manipulate the reader's mindset or illustrate how twisted a villain is. I don't like when writers do this because it wastes my time having to read through paragraph upon paragraph of slippery, foul-smelling viscera when I get zero enjoyment out of it, and there are briefer and more nuanced ways of getting the reader into a mindset or characterizing a dastardly villain. It's just wasted words.

In my opinion, profound violence and intense gore is best used as the exception rather than the rule. If every single chapter has a gory or very violent scene, then it lacks emotional impact. Even if you're just trying to gross out your readers, too many gore scenes or too much senseless violence will just desensitize us to it. Instead, it can very effectively be used as a tool to shock the reader or jolt them out of complacency. This is done when the seemingly mundane or boring is suddenly interrupted by violence - the contrast makes the effect much more pronounced.

As a side-note, sometimes you *want* your reader to be desensitized to the violence in your story because your characters have become desensitized - think a soldier who's been at war for too long and has grown used to the banality of violence. I think the key to this is repetitive violence, where the same sort of violence repeats, but it is less detailed and related with less emotional register each time. This way, it becomes almost a shell of its former self, just like the characters responding to the violence.

My take-home message is:
-Violence is fine, but nonstop violence is usually poor authorship
-Violence and gore have almost no emotional impact if used too much

Obviously, that's just my opinion.