The Wince Factor

By Hannah Krynicki

Have you ever experienced the Wince Factor?

It goes like this: One evening you are enjoying a new “family” movie with younger friends or siblings, chuckling at the jokes and sobbing at the tragic moments (and, as a writer, probably analyzing every element of the story). All at once, a jarring image flashes before you and the younger children. Mortified, you snatch the controller, but it’s too late. The kids around you have already witnessed that gratuitous bit of evil, and as the oldest person present, you feel responsible. For the next week, you shudder every time you think of it. I call this infamous image “the Wince Factor.” wincepinterest

Now here is a pretty puzzle: not all Wince Factors are bad. You’ve seen the good ones. A well-placed Wince Factor can bring a sense of credibility to your story and keep your readers on the edge, wondering just how the characters will deal with this. The bad Wince Factors, however, have the biggest reputation. Most are so dreadful because the guardians, especially parents, are trusted with the job of protecting young hearts. When the bad Wince Factors turn up, they feel as if they have failed.

Director Peter Jackson once joked that while working out fantasy action sequences, “You actually turn into a psychopath.” That’s probably the great fear of every Christian writer. No one wants to be remembered as the psychopath who wrote junky gore and wrapped it up with a bow labeled “Young Adult.” All of us must come to grips and to terms with  questions about darkness and gore.

How much is too much? Should I use the Wince Factor or not? [Read more…]

Focused Hues: How Graphic is Too Graphic?

How graphic should one be when writing a battle scene?

When forming a beating or torture scene?

When describing the dark rituals of some fantasy druid?

These, and hundreds of related queries are valid questions. And yet, to answer inquiry with inquiry, there’s one question which can help clear up this confusion. And the answering question is this: where does your focus lie?

As Christians, when we write a story, what are we trying to focus on and portray?focusedhuespinterest

Philippians 4:8 reminds us to think on things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, and are of virtue and praise. This would include what we watch, listen to, read, and, of course, what we write. There’s trouble in every story, as well as darkness, danger, and perhaps violence, but what is your focus on? The good or the bad? The golden hope and light, or black despair and darkness? As Christians, our point shouldn’t be to get a story as dark and gory as we can without stepping over the line. The point is to glorify God though our writing, and as we take up the pen or sit down to type, we need to keep that in mind. Darkness and violence may (and, quite often, do) have their own place, but don’t write dark and gory scenes simply for their own sake or to add shock value to the story.

“Still, as every painter knows, it takes the dark shades to bring out the vividness of the light. Which brings us back to the original question of how much darkness a Christian writer should put in their story.” 

The most common question, and also the broadest, involves how much blood, gore, and violence should be shown in a book or story. Like many things which aren’t really a ‘sin issue’, different writers will have different convictions on this topic, and unfortunately there isn’t a hard line of ‘over here, everything is acceptable and good, but on this side everything is bad and wrong’. Somethings are obviously good, some are obviously unnecessary and over the top, and yet the majority of these red colored queries are tinted with gray and depend on the circumstances. It can make things a pain to figure out sometimes, but here are a few guidelines which will hopefully help.

First, don’t write something that you’d be uncomfortable reading yourself.

[Read more…]

Profile photo of Hope Ann
Hope Ann is a speculative fiction writer who lives on a small farm in northern Indiana. She has self-published three Legend of Light novellas and is the Kingdom Pen Writing Team Captain. Reading since the age of five, and introducing herself to writing at age eight, she never had a question that the author’s life was the life for her. Her goal is to write thrilling Christian fantasy and futuristic fiction — stories she longed for while growing up. After graduating from homeschool, Hope now teaches writing to several of her eight younger siblings. She loves climbing trees, archery, photography, Lord of the Rings, chocolate, and collecting shiny things she claims are useful for story inspiration. You can find out more about her at: http://writinginthelightpublishing.com/