Okay, so despite the recognition that I am now writing this in a fishbowl, which just serves my already-prevalent paranoia and chronic though sometimes well-masked shyness, I have to ask my fellow Goats how you deal with the problems of writing real, honest-to-God violence into your fiction--instances of people being horrible to each other, and not by accident. I've noticed that many of the stories I admire tend to handle the violence off-stage: it's related by someone who wasn't there, for instance, but who heard about it secondhand. I like this because it tends to dampen the effect a bit, but sometimes it can also seem dishonest.
Where have you seen on-stage violence done really well in fiction, by the narrator, and without flinching? I'm suddenly thinking I have to read Denis Johnson again because of the Shepard talk, but where else? What elements are necessary to keep violence from sliding into melodrama, for example?
I seem to be having a good deal of difficulty with this issue at the moment, even though the violence in my current project seems to be necessary, even cathartic. The hurdle is coming at a most inconvenient moment and I need to get over it in a hurry. Therefore I turn to you, O sages, and ask humbly for what advice you may have to offer. Lurkers are also welcome to weigh in if they have thoughts on the subject.
Thanks in advance.