I destroyed Canada

And that's not all. I'm starting to get to the world building phase of my story. My taste in reading tends toward the dark or grim and like most of the writers here, I'm writing something I'd want to read. Or at least, trying to. That said, if I didn't want someone else to read it I'd just be doing this on Microsoft word instead of messing with wordpress. I'm a little concerned that, as I get into the stuff that some people find messed up, I'll turn off those readers.

I'm not terribly worried that anyone will actually be offended by the retroactive, offscreen disasters. I do think that some of what I have planned might hit a bit harder.

I don't want to just leave out the harsh stuff. I do want to make sure my readers enjoy it.

Any advice on easing them into it or other techniques?

I think it's a mistake to consider reader reactions in too much detail. If you start trying to write things FOR other people, you fall into several traps: second-guessing yourself, undercutting your passion, guessing at what people want, trying to balance irreconcilable expectations.

You had the right of it in just writing something you'd want to read. You are just plain never going to get everybody as a fan, and that's something all of us in creative fields have to face. Write where you passion takes you. Write the story that flows, the one that wants to be written. The people who want it will find it, and follow you.

I was thinking (this is not literal) that if a character is going to be raped, it may not need to be graphic. It's necessary to the story that it happen but not that it happen on screen. Hoping for tips on leading up to or implying the horrible things so as not to needlessly squick people. Maybe some guidelines on surprise triggers that people have run across. Very little bothers me when I'm reading but I have been surprised what offends others at times.

I've been trying to think about this, because there have been some things I've quit reading because they were so grim, and yet others I've stuck with, and what is the difference? I think what turns me off is when it feels like violence porn, like the grim stuff is not just part of the plot,but it is the plot. I can much more easily accept, and emotionally react to, a grim scene told in detail, if it is a meaningful plot point happening to an important character and the whole story is not one grim scene after another.

But what if the story is about surviving some horrible disaster, wouldn't grim scene after grim scene be the only realistic way to tell the story? I thought of the movie Hotel Rwanda, which has as dire a topic as you can imagine, a genocide. It's not as hard to watch as you might think, and it achieves this not by sugarcoating what happens, but letting a lot of the violence happen offscreen and the viewer feels the horror by seeing the aftermath, which is horrific in itself, and peoples' reactions. Then the movie has room to be about more than just the horror, but also about the way the people in the hotel interacted and tried to help each other. But it's necessary that the horror be there and not glossed over.

I think Fiona hits the nail on the head when she talks about grim scenes working when they are an important plot point happening to an important character. Otherwise they are kind of throw-away scenes, there for shock value and otherwise unnecessary. And the grim event doesn't necessarily have to happen TO the character, they can also witness something horrific. What matterrs is what it DOES to their development. If there's no impact on a character than there isn't likely to be one on the audience.

Leaving things off camera can be great for suspense, when handled properly - as then the audience gets to imagine how bad it was for themselves. That ambiguity can be scarier than gore. Schindler's List scares me more than horror movies because of things like seeing the girl in the red coat's coat in a pile of corpses, or seeing a little boy sign a throat being slit to the Jews on the train to Auschwitz because he knows what happens there. When people die in that movie on camera it is abrupt and frightening because it is so rarely shown directly. By contrast, I find Nightmare on Elm Street hilarious during death scenes, because they're unrealistic and over the top.

The only thing I've really enjoyed about the latest Amazing Spiderman film series has been the performances of Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone. The plots haven't been as strong as the first two Maguire films. But in the first of the Amazings Peter's English teacher says all stories can be summed up under the theme of "who am I?" Because characters are changed by the events of their story. A disaster story for the sake of diaster is impersonal - but people care about how Rose survived the Titanic, or who Schindler became by knowing the Jews that worked in his factory. Make a story personal and it will affect people. What isn't personal to the main characters can be hinted at, mentioned, left off screen.

I'll have to track that movie down. I think that's probably what I'm looking for, or something close to it. I've no interest in writing porn, the violent sort or otherwise, but teasing it would work very well I think.