Friday, 30 March 2012

Going too far by Bryony Pearce

I’m writing my new book, it’s called Wavefunction and no, I don’t yet have a publisher for it.  But I’m still writing.  Hope springs eternal.
The thing is, it’s getting dark (and I’m not talking about the weather).  I hadn’t quite realised how dark the book was going to get when I set out (I’m a plotter, but do allow things to get away from me on occasion).  This book makes Angel’s Fury look like a Rainbow Magic story. 
So far I’ve got burglary, slavery, sex and cannibalism and I’m only on chapter thirteen.  Edgy?  Well, yes, but at the moment edgy is also how I’d describe my mood. 
I’m excited about this book. It’s really, really fun to write (and yes, that probably does raise concerns about my mental health) and I think it raises some wonderful questions about freedom and justice and man’s place in the world.  But I’m starting to ask myself, what is the point in writing it, if my agent is just going to wing it back to me covered in red pen?  Or worse, tell me to scrap it altogether because it’s just too dark.
My main character witnesses teenage sex, eats a man-burger, then fails to stop his girlfriend being sent off to be eaten … have I gone too far?
Is a book going too far if it leaves you thinking?  If it stays with you?
But then again, maybe this won’t leave the reader thinking.  If all they can focus on is the man-burger, does my message get lost?

I don’t think I’m writing to be gratuitous, I think I’m writing what I’m writing to get my point across, but am I having too much fun?
Am I going too far?
We’ve talked about how rubbish writers can be about knowing what the boundaries are.  How things in Angel’s Fury I thought would be fine, turned out to be problems and vice versa, so I am clearly a poor judge. 
Maybe the man-burger will slide by my agent’s red pen.  Maybe not. 
The question is, do I stop writing while I’m at 30,000 words and reign it in; save myself the heartache of a total rewrite when it comes straight back to me?  Or do I keep writing and enjoying myself? 
Maybe I should embrace the darkness and hope (is that oxymoronic, or just moronic?).
I’m getting edgy about going too far.
Anyone else have that feeling ... or any advice?


  1. All I can say is that I'd be interested in reading it! My suggestion is write the first draft. Allow yourself to explore and go where the story takes you and then when you have a first draft -- disect and analyze and see if you've gone one 'man burger' too far. Sometimes you answer your own questions by the end of the draft.

  2. In the end Bryony none of this will matter if we are committed to you characters from the outset and want to follow their journey. I am also writing my next speculative novel about such a controversial area that I have no idea is anyone will want it. But its been a passion of mine for years, I've done the research and now I just have to write it. Good luck with your first draft.