The biggest complaint I’ve had from readers is not about the sacrifice scene in Mistborn. It’s not the noble society in Mistborn, nor is it the dark edge Kelsier has. It’s the fact that my characters occasionally curse. This has really bothered some readers, which I’ll admit, kind of dumbfounds me. I use only the most tame of curses (the Biblical swear words, you might call them). The other things readers have mentioned above are far more worrisome to me. It bothers me that people email me with outcries when a character says “damn,” yet don’t bat an eye at the fact that that same character just murdered someone in cold blood.
I don’t want to give the impression here that my books are incredibly dark. They are, however, sometimes a little violent. I’ve thought a lot about this issue. What do I want to do, how much do I want to show? Can I have a brutal oppressive empire without acknowledging the kinds of things that empire would do?
My books are about hope, in my opinion. Hope, struggle, and victory. I’ve tried very hard to keep graphic descriptions out of my books where I can, but I can’t always do so without undermining the story.
A wise friend (an LDS writer) once explained that in his opinion, glorifying violence or sexuality comes when consequences are removed. The scriptures themselves don’t shy away from graphic content or descriptions (scalps on swords, anyone?) The important issue, however, is that the scriptures show the destructive effect that these things can have, even on the good people who are forced to engage in them.
So, I consider that my charge. I don’t sugar-coat my stories; I show cause and effect. A person cannot kill, in my opinion, even for good reasons without it leaving them scarred.