I’m talking gore today. I’m going for yuck, gross and gag me with a spoon. This isn’t about obscenity or shock, it’s about making your reader vomit. Yes, I really said that. Gore is often used to identify the villain. Today I’ll talk about layering gore, like layers of paint.
First lay down the primer, a sentence which prepares the reader.
Her stomach threatened to spill its lunch at the smell of the thing.
Apply the first top coat. The description is still general only a few details are added.
The witch was no more than four feet tall and nearly bald. What little hair she had was filled with sticks and clumps of seaweed.
Now for the finish coat. Note the added details, the adjectives stacked up one after another.
Two weak, watery eyes peered out of a face covered with pus-spewing sores. A rat sat her shoulder, her belt was a live snake, her clothes made from the skin of a deer to which pieces of green, maggot-laden rotting meat still clung. She had no shoes.
Later this story returns to the gory witch. This time she’s attempting to get home. The same pattern emerges. First the primer: sentences which prepare the reader, which set the stage for what is to come.
The witch’s breath came in ragged gasps. Lying on her belly, she clawed up clumps of soil, her fingers relentlessly searching the ground. Yes! Warm air touched the skin of her middle finger. Following the vent of air, she pushed her finger into the ground.
With the first top coat, details are added; the reader feels nauseous.
Her eyes rolled back in her head. She reached for the change, sticking out her tongue so far she gagged herself. Tongue first, then teeth, nose and eyes, she dissolved, the warm goo oozing down her arm, following her finger, dripping into the vent, into the pit below the soil. Head and neck followed. Feet, ankles, knees and thighs liquefied, rushing up her middle and down her arm. The hand which had not found the vent and its arm also turned to mush and dripped into the earth. Her core dissolved and with it the rat, which had sat on her shoulder, and the snake she'd fashioned into a belt. These also dribbled into the vent. Finally, the arm, hand and finger trickled away. All that remained were a few bits of seaweed and a poorly scraped deer hide.
Now for the finish coat. But wait, how can we possibly improve on all that core. Yes, but of course, we reveal the depths of her villainy, she’s not a witch at all. She’s something much worse.
Two hundred feet, seeping through cracks, dripping from rock to rock, she drained into the hot bowels of the Earth, and the bubbling pit of lava which lay directly below dragon's keep. Around the pit, the antenna of lava beetles shot up, awakened by the scent of a dragon. The witch goo, now floating on the lava's surface congealed first into a shapeless glob. Within minutes, the dragon's large backbone formed. Weakened of magic, it was a mere 20 feet long. Over the next two days the head formed, the energy required to reconstitute its immense brain, cooling the lava more than a hundred degrees. As the belly, limbs and wings grew the lava beetles began their work, scraping off and eating ill-formed scales--of which there were many--allowing the dragon to regrow newer stronger ones. At last the claws formed, only one made of obsidian. Whole again, the dragon slept, drawing energy from the heat of the pit, dreaming, tasting the young girl and her magic which would soon fill its aching belly.
All that gore has accomplished its goal. It has prepared the reader. The villain is coming—and she’s a dragon.
Happy writing. I love gore, it’s addictive.