Monday, May 9, 2011

Should books come with warnings?

I had a peek inside a free ebook the other day and it actually came with a warning that it contained violence and sex. I've never seen that in a book before. I thought it was a bit weird. I would never think of including something like that in one of my books. I've never heard of books being labelled like movies. I have read some news articles of people that think they should be though.

I just finished reading LET THE RIGHT ONE IN and one of the characters was a paedophile. The scenes with him were some of the most fascinating, well written, disturbing writing I have ever read. The author did not just get into this guy's head. He cracked open his skull and pranced around in there. He was able to explain how this guy's sexuality worked, as disturbing as that sounds, and even showed him receiving sex from child sex workers and jacking off in a swimming pool change room while watching some young boys get changed.

If there ever was a book that should come with a classification on it to warn people of it's content it's that one. I was real shocked with how graphic it was but at the same time I really enjoyed it. It made it a fantastic, thrilling, disturbing read. I actually really liked it that the author dared to write about such a taboo subject. I've read so many posts on message boards from authors worrying themselves to death about including swear words in their books. I always roll my eyes when I read things like that. I mean, seriously, you're worrying about turning readers away because your Mary Sue says the word fuck? News flash: most adults can handle a bit of swearing.

I never worry about disturbing my readers with scenes of violence or sex. I don't even really write with an audiance in mind. I just let my characters do what they want and then when I'm done I will try and figure out where my book fits in. I don't think I would like it if someone put a big label on my book to describe its audiance. I think it would distract from sales. For example, in Australia, if something is deemed acceptable for all audiances it is given a G rating. If it is more adult it can be an M for mature, an M15plus for people above 15years, all the way up to an R. I would hate it if my book got labelled an R or an M or M15plus. It would have a huge impact on where and how it could be sold and who could purchase it. This is probably the reason why books still do not have these probably.

So many writers these days worry about including graphic sex and violence in their books. They think it will turn readers away and will lessen their chances of getting published. They actually think they need to warn their readers with warnings like the one I saw in that ebook.

We really do live in a nanny state, don't we? People want to protect not just children, but grown adults, from sex, swearing, violence, and every other naughty thing under the sun. Here's an idea: how about we let adults be adults? LET THE RIGHT ONE IN has been hugely successful, despite its graphic content, which just proves that when an author is unafraid to shock their audiance, instead of shielding them from nasty stuff, they might just win the respect of their readers.

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