Grown up fiction with no sex and very little violence

msstice

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Hi Friends,

I'm not a fan of the level of sex and violence that I often read/see in science fiction these days. In my writing there is no sex and very little violence, and especially no graphic/sadistic violence. I do see the success of things like Game of Thrones and The Expanse where graphic violence seems to be a key element. Does fiction without these elements not sell any in the adult market any more? I'd say my preferred level of both is at the YA level (or even milder) but I'm not writing a YA story. Will this become an issue with market fit?

Thanks!
 

BookAddict

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I'm not sure about market appeal, but I (36F) read tons of sci-fi books without all the sex and hardcore violence.
 

Don Coyote

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Game Of Thrones was boring. I quit after listening to the sixth book and returned them all to Audible.

You don't need sex & violence to be entertaining.
 

Wayne Mack

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It is probably a matter of degree, but a plot without conflict is not a plot. Romantic tension can be provided without getting the characters in bed. Fight scenes do not require gory description. Set your personal levels and as long as you tell a good tale, excessive sex and violence are not needed.
 

Don

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A story absolutely needs conflict. Lester Dent arguably champions violence to achieve the requisite conflict. Although Dr. Robert Sweetland and others break conflict down into four categories, high school teacher Ms. Engram, says it best:

Man vs. Man (physical)
Man vs. Circumstances (classical)
Man vs. Society (social)
Man vs. Himself/Herself (psychological)

Flowers for Algernon for instance, fits the Man vs. Himself template. And there's little, if any, violence in the story.
 

Abernovo

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I'm a fan of Becky Chambers (I may have occasionally mentioned this in the past). Her fiction has some sex, but mainly of the "it's not shameful, just a part of life, it happens, and we're not going to shy away from it, but we're not going to go into great detail because we don't need to" variety. So, it comes across as quite wholesome, even when the sex lives of the alien community being visited has to be explained for presumed delicate human sensibilities! :ROFLMAO:

Likewise, there is very little violence, mostly off-page, and concentrating on the ripple effects on people.

So, as Jo points out, there is plenty of market for it. And, as Alex mentions, a lot of magazines put out content warning for stories, so you can filter, or at least prepare yourself.
 

Astro Pen

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I think one of the problems with sci-fi is characters behaving like sterile drones. A lack of sexuality is dehumanising and makes for unconvincing characters that are not well rounded.
My characters are definitely sexual animals but what I do not do is graphic sex scenes. However sexual interaction, romance, and becoming lovers does happen and of course it delivers some excellent additional plot dimensions.
 

tinkerdan

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Everyone loves Sax and Violins.
It helps to spread it out with intermittent Piano and Cello and thee occasional Harp.
Don't get me started on Horns.

If it's a romance, you might not be able to avoid sex--however you could try limiting the play by play. Much like using the restroom--you can have the character heading that way; however what goes on behind closed doors....

Any action, thriller, war--these might need violence--I would definitely try to keep the blood levels down.

In fact, you should read my Hot Electric--I think the level of graphic violence is low.
 

Toby Frost

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Tad Williams' Dragonbone Chair books have quite a lot of "light" violence and no sex, so they might work. Have you tried older SF? Clarke and Asimov (at least before 1980 or so) had no sex and little violence in their stories. Likewise, some of the older fantasy might suit.
 

msstice

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Tad Williams' Dragonbone Chair books have quite a lot of "light" violence and no sex, so they might work. Have you tried older SF? Clarke and Asimov (at least before 1980 or so) had no sex and little violence in their stories. Likewise, some of the older fantasy might suit.

This is what worried me. I grew up with this kind of fiction and I would like to write this kind of fiction (Sorry the original question was not clear). I am worried that tastes have moved on, which would be sad for me. I actually will not change my writing style, but I'm trying to understand if I need to be careful that my fiction will fall into a no-mans land: not YA and not Adult.
 

Jo Zebedee

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blah - flags. So many flags.
This is what worried me. I grew up with this kind of fiction and I would like to write this kind of fiction (Sorry the original question was not clear). I am worried that tastes have moved on, which would be sad for me. I actually will not change my writing style, but I'm trying to understand if I need to be careful that my fiction will fall into a no-mans land: not YA and not Adult.
Crossover is always trickier to sell, but there is a market and most readers, in my experience, are more open to it than we think. :)
 

The Big Peat

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This is what worried me. I grew up with this kind of fiction and I would like to write this kind of fiction (Sorry the original question was not clear). I am worried that tastes have moved on, which would be sad for me. I actually will not change my writing style, but I'm trying to understand if I need to be careful that my fiction will fall into a no-mans land: not YA and not Adult.

It could also leave it in the sweet spot where it appeals to both markets (although obviously it will be primarily marketed to one).

I can think of modern adult fantasies that this sounds like. Turning Darkness Into Light. The Golem and the Djinni. Even some grittier works like Hollow Empire or Lies of Locke Lamora are are relatively light on violence, and have little plot critical sex.

I think you're good here. If it's good enough, it will have a market.

I think one of the problems with sci-fi is characters behaving like sterile drones. A lack of sexuality is dehumanising and makes for unconvincing characters that are not well rounded.
My characters are definitely sexual animals but what I do not do is graphic sex scenes. However sexual interaction, romance, and becoming lovers does happen and of course it delivers some excellent additional plot dimensions.

While getting what you mean, this isn't a good universal statement given how many people identify as asexual these days.
 

Toby Frost

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That's interesting, as I remember Locke Lamora as being quite violent, in part because it was about criminals and felt generally seedy. Which makes me wonder if we're looking at books that feel wholesome in atmosphere: ones where the hero might be a scientist or explorer, say, rather than a hacker or a mercenary.
 

Laura R Hepworth

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Hi Friends,

I'm not a fan of the level of sex and violence that I often read/see in science fiction these days. In my writing there is no sex and very little violence, and especially no graphic/sadistic violence. I do see the success of things like Game of Thrones and The Expanse where graphic violence seems to be a key element. Does fiction without these elements not sell any in the adult market any more? I'd say my preferred level of both is at the YA level (or even milder) but I'm not writing a YA story. Will this become an issue with market fit?

Thanks!

I used to work at a library and you are by no means alone in this reading preference. It was one of the most common complaints I heard from our adult patrons and why many of them found they preferred to read YA books. So, no, I don't think it will be a marketing fit issue. Will it suit everyone? No, but, obviously, neither does having all that graphic content in them. I say write what you'd want to read and don't worry about the market.
 

The Big Peat

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That's interesting, as I remember Locke Lamora as being quite violent, in part because it was about criminals and felt generally seedy. Which makes me wonder if we're looking at books that feel wholesome in atmosphere: ones where the hero might be a scientist or explorer, say, rather than a hacker or a mercenary.

It's definitely seedy and dark, but if you search the story for the word attack, you get the following physical altercations:

A shark hunt for entertainment (doesn't really have to be there) - p82

A quick fight over a woman p263

A mage is tested with crossbow bolts p279 (doesn't really have to be there, and it's mostly a talk)

Locke fights a boy p293

Big fight p414

Another big fight p452

I may have missed a couple, but not so many that I think I'm wrong about it being relatively low on violence. The world is violent, but little of it happens on the page until the last page.

And you could certainly run a lighter hearted heist story, like Aaron's Eli Monpress, along a similar narrative with less violence no worries. Not that I think that's what OP wants, but I think it's a good example of what can be done with relatively little violence.
 

Toby Frost

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There's not much physical combat - although I remember it being fairly brutal - but a lot of torture, which I'd count as pretty strong violence.

I remember a reviewer describing Where Eagles Dare as having an incredible body count. It probably does, but it's all done very quickly and there's no moral ambiguity. I wouldn't count that as a particularly violent film, although technically speaking the second half is one long shootout.
 

Wayne Mack

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I remember a reviewer describing Where Eagles Dare as having an incredible body count.
As I recall when reading the book, the main character went to great lengths not to kill enemy soldiers -- choking them to unconsciousness and dragging their bodies into hiding. The movie adaption probably used more violent (and probably more realistic) means in silencing enemy soldiers.
 

msstice

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Where Eagles Dare

Was that the one where one of the soldiers was tortured by a Nazi putting pressure on a gangrenous leg? Or was that Guns of Navarrone? In any case that scene haunted me _for years_! For years I was afraid of getting gangrene.
 

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