On Writing Rape…

Ugly, ugly subject. Unfortunately it’s necessary to the plot at the moment. I’d like to think I redeem it some because it’s not actually occurring. It’s more of a dream, and it happens at a point in the story where the reader would probably figure that out, even if the heroine hasn’t. The hero certainly does, anyway.

But then, I have to wonder, does it need to be there at all? Is the act cheapened, in a way, *because* it’s a dream? Or really more of a nightmare. It’s a bit complicated to explain – it’s not quite a dream, not quite reality, but in either case it’s not actually happening except in her own mind. Although, does that lessen the impact for her? Should it?

The hero isn’t a rapist, after all. In her heart of hearts, the heroine knows this as well, but still, I needed something to drive them apart for a bit, and this has certainly done it. I hadn’t really planned it out this way- it just sort of happened. And the hero isn’t pulling any punches about it. It’s not who he is and he’s picking up his ball and going home, so to speak. He is gravely hurt, in fact, that the heroine’s perception of him should be so base, given everything he’s given up for her. Hopefully I haven’t screwed things up too badly by putting it in here…and hopefully it won’t all wrap up too nice and neatly either. Life is messy. Romance is messy. The truth is somewhere in between, I suppose.

And let me be perfectly honest here – this is not a “bodice-ripper” rape/love scene of old, where no means yes. (And that’s not to excuse those either…as a friend and I talked about the other night, there really is no way to make a rape gentle…and there shouldn’t be.) It’s blunt and vicious and ugly and I can only hope I’ve done it justice.

Given the people I’ve talked to that have actually been raped, I don’t think I could do any less.

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3 Responses to On Writing Rape…

  1. Darchala says:

    Whether the impact is lessened or not is going to have a lot to do with how well she can distance herself from the dream, but the damage it does to their relationship is going to count for a lot as well (and that’s probably going to take a lot longer to heal). From the way you’ve described it, the shockwaves are dire enough that you don’t have to worry too much about it being cheapened in the grand scale of things.

    If it’s set toward the end of the story, though, they may not have enough time to work it out to a manageable level and build up trust again, and rushing that might kill some of the impact.

  2. mynfel says:

    I agree…and the truth of it is that the whole scene comes after some “Very Bad Stuff” – i.e. the whole climax of the book, I suppose. Once they realize that a lot of it could be attributed to shock on her part, among other things, it might make a bit of difference…

    I’m not big on the happily ever after thing, honestly – which may kill the romance aspect, but I was planning on fast forwarding to a few months later, so by then she’ll have had a little time to think about it. I don’t think I’ll wrap it super nice and neat, but I’m hoping that they’ll be able to at least continue the relationship, or at worst, sort of start over.

    *shrugs*

    It might not be that bad a thing, honestly…

  3. Jeffe Kennedy says:

    I think there’s nothing wrong with a postponed HEA. The romanceys use it all the time. Three months later he’s had time to be sorry and miss all they had. That’s when he has to go to Herculean efforts to find her at that isolated beach house she took refuge in. Then, when she sees him walking towards her on the beach… you know the drill

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