Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Your Own Personal Censor

How far is too far in writing?

I've read some pretty disturbing books. Horror writers Ed Lee and Jack Ketchum are known for not pulling punches, and their prose is often gag-inducing.

Bret Easton Ellis gained notoriety for American Psycho, and for good reason--it was revolting. Samuel Delaney almost destroyed his award-winning sci-fi career writing about the reprehensible anti-hero Hogg.

Books about racism (The Turner Diaries), illegal information (Anarchist's Cookbook, How to be a Hitman), and sadism (Justine, still as disturbing as it was a hundred years ago) push and then step over the boundaries of what is considered acceptable.

Yet there is something attractive about being a literary bad boy. About being able to shock using words.

Have you ever gone too far in your own writing? Is there a such thing as too far? What are things that shouldn't ever be written about? Are there any?

I'm bringing it up because the new issue of the wonderful online magazine Hardluck Stories is now available. The editor of this issue approached me, asking for a horrific crime story.

How horrific? I asked.

As horrific as you can make it.

So I gave him one.

I'm not a fan of purple prose, especially when describing blood and guts. So I tried to write a disturbing story without any description at all.

THE CONFESSION has no exposition, no speaker attribution, no description. It's all dialog.

But don't let that fool you. This isn't for the faint of heart. You've been warned.

Check it out for free at

And then ask yourself---how far would you take your own writing?

Added Disclaimer: I'm serious about the warning! This isn't like my other stuff. It's really ugly. If words have the power to offend you, don't read it!