1. jazz_sue
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    jazz_sue Member

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    Caution or curses?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by jazz_sue, Sep 3, 2008.

    Can I have your ideas on the use of swear words in these forums? I notice a lot of writers use stars to 'bleep out' what they're saying, which makes me cringe. It breaks up the flow of the piece, for me - I'd rather not see them swearing at all. That being said, I know there are a lot of younger readers on this site and people have to be careful - then again, I've read submissions with plenty of sex and violence in them, definitely 15 if not 18 certificate, so I'm confused!

    I subscribe to Writers Forum magazine, which takes submissions from all ages. Quite often, the 'f' word is used (although not gratuitously - just here and there, to spice up the text a bit) and it's always printed in full. And you'll never see bleep stars in published literature - it just isn't allowable. Some magazines (especially womens' weeklies) substitute milder cursing for the bad stuff (although 'flamin' and flippin' are just as cringeworthy as bleep stars, in my opinion) I haven't seen any bad swearing on this site, so I was just wondering - what goes? Would 'bloody' be acceptable, for example? Or the full version of 'p****d'? (Ouch!)

    NB Terry Pratchett uses every swear word EXCEPT the most vulgar ('f' and 'c') ones in his books - it doesn't upset the narrative or our secondary school librarians!
     
  2. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    The stars are automatic. The site has a filter which replaces any bad word with stars when you post. Swear words are fine by me as long as they are used appropriately and sparingly. Too many swear words just turns me off.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    A very small number of words are automatically filtered. As for the rest, swearing is permitted, as long as it is not excessive. The same is trrue of violence - some violent content is acceptable, but excessively graphic violence is not.

    Racism or ethnic slurs are not permitted at all.

    The general guideline used is an approximate PG-13 (USA) film rating. The site rules give a little bit more detail, but they are deliberately not intended to be all-inclusive. If, in the judgement of the moderators and the site owner, a piece of writing is deemed offensive, it will be removed regardless of whether a specific rule has been written to cover the exact content in question.

    If you feel that a piece of writing does exceed acceptable content, by all means use the Report Post icon [​IMG] to notify the moderators. We will look it over and make a decision whether action is needed.
     
  4. jazz_sue
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    jazz_sue Member

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    Thanks for your help, guys - I thought it was something like that. I think the posters on this site are too intelligent to submit anything that is out-and-out offensive, myself included. I'm proud of the fact I can write good literature with 'adult' themes, without straying into forbidden territory too much (I've managed to start a pretty exciting sci-fi thriller where I don't go there at all!) My own feeling is, cursing works in moderation - the odd word here and there is much more effective than a stream of them in the 3rd to 6th letter range. I shall simply avoid posting anything that involves my hero jazz man getting in a strop, because then he swears like a trouper, eff words and all. It's part of the, er, 'charm' of his character (and heavily based on someone I know)!

    The race thing raises a query, though. What if the piece you are writing isn't racist, but a character you are writing about is? If, for example, I was posting the penultimate passage in my book, where the whole crux of the bad guy doing what he does is because he's a racist with a big chip on his shoulder: he comes out with a pretty offensive comment about the female character's dead husband before doing a runner (don't worry, he gets his comeuppance at the end!) Would it be up to the moderators to realise this is a comment against racism rather than pro it, or would the BSBB (Bleep Star Big Brother) automatically ban me from the forum? Just asking!
     
  5. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    It depends. In narration, I think it's bad, lazy, and shows a real lack of imagination. If you can't think of another word to express what you're trying to say, perhaps you shouldn't be writing.

    However, if it is used in dialogue, I don't see any problem with it. Some people use curse words, and having a big, muscle-bound, hairy biker exclaim "Oh pish! I seem to have stubbed my fiddling toe!" simply doesn't fit. But even there, I'd say moderate the frequency of cursing. You can always imply it with the narration.
     
  6. jazz_sue
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    jazz_sue Member

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    Thanks Banzai. I NEVER use cursing in my narratives, only in dialogue or where the character is thinking in the same way they would speak aloud (and I hope it didn't come across as otherwise!) I moderate it anyway. I'm not a foul mouthed chav and usually restrict my bluest speech moments to either male motorists or TV politicians, thus it takes real fortitude to introduce swearing into my scripts. I hate it when I hear mothers sweraring in front of their kids in the street; it sounds common, ignorant and yes, downright lazy. But when your heat is up you do tend to go a bit Edwina Currie-ish however well bred you are! (I know this woman - I was in the same branch of Mothercare she was though I wasn't working there, thank God) Myself? I've got quite good at saying "Ohhh, so ..... sages," when I'm with the kids. It's a stock phrase I've used to good comic effect in a character I've created!

    I love the idea of a big hairy biker going "Oh, f... er, fiddle it," by the way. I feel another creative moment coming on.
     

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