8.11.2005

The "ick" factor

I've read three manuscripts from the Snark Stack in the last two days. My eyes are rolling around in the back of my head.

Two were no, sadly.
One is the second novel of a client who has a three book deal.

Each had some serious flaws, but each also had some event that made me put down the pages as I sat on the Snark Sofa and say "ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwww". Not gross out like eating raw eyeballs or anything (in unison now: ewwww).

but other just sort of weird stuff.
Wearing a dead guys clothes...
Eating cat...
moms yelling at scared little kids...

One Snark's ewww is another reader's Stephen King.

What makes you ewwwww?

21 comments:

kitty said...

I stop reading as soon as children are hurt/molested/scared shitless. The only exception was Mario Puzo's The Godfather. But in all honesty, I was too young to realize what the passage meant at the time (the movie studio head who ... when the mother escourted her made-uo little daughter into his bedroom upstairs, witnessed by Tom Hagen downstairs).

Books/stories about stupid women (the I-can't-live-without-the-shithead-types) cause my eyes to seriously roll.

Christine said...

Kitty said what I was going to - violence against children makes me ewwww. It didn't used to, so much anyway, but once you have one of your own, all that stuff...
Eating cat/dog/other animals commolny kept as pets/ also makes me ewww.

Lynn Raye Harris said...

Nineteen year old romance heroines paired with 30-something romance heroes---and I ain't talking historical romance! Not a dynamic you see much anymore, but in my local writers' group, we have someone who still writes this way. Any argument as to why that doesn't work is met with the evil eye. We've pretty much decided to just let this person do it this way.

I'm sure I have more ewww-inducers, but that's the one that springs to mind at the moment.

Anonymous said...

What do you mean it "doesn't work?"

Anonymous said...

I agree with the above and I'll add rape to the list of ewwwws - any rape, just pulls me out of the book.

Miss Snark said...

It doesn't work cause it looks artificial. Any 19 year old dating outside her age group is gonna go for a guy with serious money--50's and up. Those are the guys trolling for trophinias.

Otherwise, they TEND to stay +/- four years...the range from high school.

And for every example you bring me from real life to counter that, I'll say...this is fiction, you have to write what people THINK is true, not what they think isn't.

Rene said...

Sexual violence against women turns me off right away. I guess violence against children as well, but if the book has a kid in it, I'm likely to skip it anyway. I don't like kids and I've got 3 of them.

Lynn Raye Harris said...

I had an answer about why it doesn't work but my wireless went offline and I lost the whole thing. So then I come back for a new post, and voila, Miss Snark's answer is better than mine anyway.

Finch said...

That scene from Un Chien Andalou (sp?) in which an eyeball is sliced in half, and pretty much any written or visual depiction of ocular injury. They all make me cringe.

kitty said...

Oh, this is so rich. I was barely 18 when I married and my husband was 32 ... and poor :-))

Miss Snark said...

See comments above about "real life exceptions" to the fiction rule.

kitty said...

My poor mother. I was such a wild child that the only reason she agreed to my marrying him was because he had a steady white collar job and wore a suit the first time she met him. I saved the fact that he had a 10-yr-old daughter for later.

Molly said...

Ditto on violence done to children/animals. I am that classic reader that writers refer to when they intone, "Whatever you do, don't kill the cat." I won't write letters of protest, but I will put down the book and not return to it or the author.

One shudder-inducing scene which has stayed with me for years, perhaps because I had never encountered its like, so read with deep absorption, was one from a Margaret Atwood book where the girl peels skin from the bottom of her feet.

Ack. Ick. I am squirming as I write this. *shudder*

Kira said...

Scared kids don't bother me--kids should be scared once in awhile.

Animal violence will make me throw a book against the wall as soon as I read it. As soon as I begin to read it, actually. If two words into a paragraph, I know you're about to kill the dog, that's where I stop.

Rape scenes bother me too, but not nearly as much.

Anonymous said...

I'm with you, kira.
They kill the dog, that's it.
One thing I really loved about the movie, Independence Day, was that the dog made it.Same with books.

Anonymous said...

Violence to animals. I can read the most utterly gory, violent scene if done to a person but someone kicks a dog and I burn the book and never buy that author again.

I also won't read rape scenes and avoid books that I know deal with the topic. Murder's fine, but I just can't read rape.

Anonymous said...

New Orleans and the bayous. Sorry but for some reason I cannot stand that location for suspense novels. I am so sick of Mama [insert cajun name here] and voodoo magic. It's more of a roll-of-the-eyes and toss the book than an ew.

Anonymous said...

I've noticed a recent trend in many authors of literary fiction to sensationalize their work by breaking taboos or resorting to the grotesque. One example (there are several that come to mind): a female novelist who wrote two rollicking, funny, original books; and then in her third and fourth books she took on really "tough" subjects and treated them in what I thought was a horrifying and repellent (not reflective or truly provoking) manner. Was she being macho and "brave" or relying on sensationalism rather than storytelling? It's too bad because I think she's a graceful and magical writer. Maybe it's just me, maybe people love the grisly stuff. But I think that freaking out your reader or writing about the "unwriteable" isn't the same thing as bringing a story alive.

Anonymous said...

Shoot-up scenes in books. I couldn't read Naked Lunch or Trainspotting because of the drugs.

Kristin said...

Anything with needles. *shudder*

Laraqua said...

I wonder how many of you folks are horror readers ... especially you animal lovers.

Hmm, the biggest ewww would have to be paedophilia. It's too much of a hard topic for me to read and hard to write sensitively. One big-named author wrote a tale where a girl (she was even 10 or 12) was having sex with this thirty-year-old (priest or teacher, can't remember). She was treated as the instigator and proud sex partner. I can't remember exactly what happened because within fifteen pages I put it down and blanked it out.