Bro, So You Want to Write a Rape Scene? - 8/9/15
Youíre a badass, boundary pushing writer. You know that good story comes from drama, from bad shit happening to good people. Or to bad people. Mostly, just to people. Whatever the reason, you decided what your piece really needs is a rape scene. Here are a few helpful hints to make sure you get it right.


1. DONíT
No, seriously, just donít. Unless the entire story hinges on that particular scene, that particular moment, find another way. When done poorly, a rape scene screams ďIím a total hack.Ē It also makes the writer look like an insensitive asshole and supports rape culture. Youíre not a rape loving asshole, hack are you?


If youíre going to ignore the golden rule above and absolutely have to write this rape sceneÖ

2. Consider Why This MUST be written
Are you trying to explain why your female protagonist turned into an ass-kicking badass? Are you trying to demonstrate how bad your bad guy is? Congratulations, youíre a hack. Go back to step one and learn to write. Write stories about kittens climbing trees or something. If you canít figure out how to milk drama from that, you have no business writing grownup stories.

3. Consider Point of View
Where do you put the camera? How do you lay out the panel? Whoís head is your reader in? If you changed the victims cries of horror to cries of joy, would this be sexy? If so, you are writing rape porn. Unless the point of the scene is how sexy the act is, youíve already failed. Delete and start over. And if you are trying to make rape sexy, stop. Go away.

There may be compelling reasons for being in the point of view of the rapist. Is the story about how they come to terms with doing something horrible? If you absolutely must be in their POV, tread lightly.

4. Consider Your Audience
OK, youíre going to trigger people. This is a triggering subject. The statistics being what they are, if you have more women than you can count on the fingers of one hand exposed to this work, one of them experience some form of sexual violence. And some of your guy audience may have as well. Itís up to you to make sure that this absolutely essential moment doesnít cause more distress than is absolutely necessary. This is a case where less is more. (See rule #1)


So youíve written the scene, thoughtfully aimed the point of view and cut it down to the bare essentials just to convey the absolutely critical pieces of story and then get out before youíve caused too much distress to your audience. Youíre done, right? Wrong.

5. Find a Reader Who Wonít Pull Any Punches
Mom isnít going to cut it for this. You need someone who is vocally opposed to rape culture. Someone whoís going to punch you in the dick if you ham-fisted your way through. Explain what you wrote and why you are asking them to read it. Feel free to send them here if that helps. Odds are, you fucked up somewhere. Youíll know for sure when they smash a beer bottle over your head.

6. Listen
When your reader tells you what you did wrong, donít defend your work. Donít protect your ego. It's not that they didn't get it. Listen and try to understand. Ask questions. Learn. Hopefully it will help you grow as a writer and a human being.

Take what they tell you and start again from rule #1 and work your way down this list. If you get to this point again with a different reader (and the same one, assuming theyíll ever speak to you again) and everyone thinks the scene works, is essential, isnít gratuitous, congratulations, your scene may be ready to subject the rest of the world to. Expect that youíre going to upset people and when you do, remember step #6. Try and do better next time. Possibly by not going there.

Honestly, bro, just donít.

© 1997-2015 Mike Townsend