Salt Lake Community College’s John Steiner participated in a panel discussion about violence and media at the Salt Lake Comic Con 2013 (SL Comic Con). The panel also included Aaron Johnston, Sam Knight and David Farland.
The authors discussed the use of violence in various media with a focus on books.
“Suggested violence is more interesting because your own mind will fill in the blanks,” says Steiner.
Steiner says that if the violence is not more violent than the news, he figures that it’s okay. He uses the violence in his books to illustrate what people who are sent to war experience.
For young adult fiction, it is important to know what publishers are looking for. If it is too graphic, the book will not be picked up.
“We don’t really kill them (the bad guys). We knock them out,” says Farland. However, “emotional trauma can be every bit as disturbing as physical trauma.”
Violence in young adult literature is not necessarily a bad thing depending what effect you are trying to achieve.
“There are times when you have to confront reality,” says Farland, who lived next to a serial killer when he was young.
Steiner says that it is important to provide a context for the violence.
For writers who are affected by the violence that they put their characters through, they may be writing in too much detail. They may need to dial back the violence a little.
Knight says that a cry can be therapeutic and that a hug from his six year old helps him deal with his emotions.
Steiner suggests crying it out and then watching something comical like Christopher Titus.