I’ve noticed a trend lately. I don’t know if it’s me or if it’s coincidence, but I’ve read quite a few stories recently that are just plain revolting. I have no other words for it.
Some people seem to think that whatever is disgusting in real life somehow isn’t in a story. It’s what I call the overly-visceral syndrome. Yeah, OK, humans sometimes vomit, have the shits or piss themselves, and I think everyone goes through a stage where it feels liberating that you can actually write about this stuff. At the time, it feels like: hey, look at this, this is a real-life gritty story.
Sometimes, there is a point to all this revolting mess. If you’re going to have a vomit scene, by all means, make it realistic, but, and there is a big but. Real-life vomiting is quite rare. Like sex scenes, it is something that loses a bit of its power every time you use it. Also, you need to have been familiar with the character for a bit to feel any sympathy for him/her. If not, the scene comes across the same way as you would feel seeing a stranger vomit on a city footpath as you were walking past. In other words: revolting.
So what is it with all the stories that start off with a vomit, shit or piss scene? Seriously. Don’t. Please.