A portrait of Martin Forbisher,
Cornelius Ketel, 1577.
What follows is the rough draft opening of another Lillie St. Claire story -- short or long, I don't know yet.
He'd been castrated.
His dismembered penis lay like a little pallid sausage in the grass a foot from the drawn-up knees.
The body of a muscular man in his late thirties, wearing a brown t-shirt and dusty Wellington boots, lay hunched in a semi-fetal position, toppled on its side and facing away from a picnic table at the edge of the park. He'd been in the habit of shaving his head but the heavy eyebrows, dark against the pale, pocked face, provided the necessary descriptor. Below one staring eye an old scar stretched from cheekbone to his right ear.
Above bloody brown chinos, his bloody tattooed hands still clutched ineffectually at his groin.
The size of the blood pool -- skimming over now but glistening in the bright sun of this cool June morning -- indicated he'd bled out. The dead don't bleed.
He'd been gelded while he was still alive.
I knew now why the constable who escorted me here and the men at the crime scene all walked with a stiff, knee-locked, tight-assed gait. And why, presumeably, PC Bert Wiggins was puking up his breakfast all over a bush about ten feet behind me.
What I didn't know was why I had been called in.
I think it may be risky to begin a story with visual violence. There's the obvious risk of inducing an instant and emphatic wall-banger. So it may be better to produce any necessary noir scenes later in a narrative.
A writer also runs the risk that the rest of a story may seem anti-climatic, so an immediate and delicately functioning suspense factor is particularly critical.
Of course, for some readers, any graphic, gritty scene -- even a short one -- can be too much. They prefer corpses and death off camera, not in their face, so their imagination can select the degree of horror they want to assimilate or ignore it altogether.
So my question is: do you include violent visuals in your stories and where do you place them?