How do you feel about explicit detail in your reading? Whether language, sex, violence, situations and so on … does it bother you? Faze you at all? Or do you just read everything without it bothering you?
As long as the explicit details in question are adding to my understanding of the characters or the advancement of the plot, I don’t necessarily mind such scenes or moments on the printed page. It’s when such scenes are gratuitous that I start to question if or why they’re included and may end up skimming or skipping certain passages in a book.
There’s also the theory that less is more. I don’t need every single detail put on the printed page (necessarily). Some details are good, but don’t go for the overkill. Allow my imagination to fill in the gaps. This is where I feel horror writers like Stephen King or Richard Matheson are at their most effective (in terms of offering up scares to readers). They include just enough details to give you an idea of what is happening but so many that it starts to feel over the top. This could be one of the many reasons that I feel like there are so few really good adaptations for the screen of these two writers’ works.
It’s interesting that this question should come up this week, since I’m reading the new Dresden Files novel, Skin Game. The first quarter of the book features a scene between Harry and Karrin Murphy that, at first, felt like it would be more at home on the pages of a bodice-ripper romance novel than it does in an urban fantasy novel. I know that Jim Butcher hasn’t shied away from allowing Harry to have intimate moments in the past, but this one felt a bit out of place — at least at first. Once I finished the chapter in question and saw how and why Butcher included the detail he did, it made a lot more sense. It also revealed a bit about Harry’s character and where he is at that moment in not only the book but his character arc.