1. Psychotrshman
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    Psychotrshman Member

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    Finding The Right Voice

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Psychotrshman, Oct 5, 2012.

    So, here's my dilemma: In my story, the MC is a hard nosed punk from the streets. The kind that most rappers pretend to be. I'm having problems making this characters voice seem authentic without using large amounts of expletives. Does anyone have suggestions on how to fix this issue? The character is the kind who would drop the f-bomb every other word, but I would prefer to not have large amounts of cursing in the book. Any help is greatly appreciated.
     
  2. Nicholas C.
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    Nicholas C. Active Member

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    That's definitely a bit of a quandary. I would personally either change the character or let up on my reluctance to use expletives. But please, for the love of God, don't write things like "I'll beat that mother-lover's behind!"... Nothing will sabotage your work faster than characters who are flat-out unrealistic.
     
  3. Fivvle
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    Fivvle Contributing Member

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    You could just make it so that he doesn't talk all that often, so that when vulgar words do come out of his mouth, he's not sounding like a broken record. Maybe he's trying to come off as the strong, silent type?
     
  4. Psychotrshman
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    Psychotrshman Member

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    He mainly curses when his attitude gets the best of him, which is more frequent in the beginning. As the story progresses his anger control improves as he is knocked off his high horse and humbled. I'm not squeamish about the use of curse words, I'm just concerned about the reader being turned off by the frequent usage early on. Right now their in the story in all their "glory", but I'm unsure if they should stay.

    To some people, that language would stop them from seeing the story through to the end and they'd never see his progression. Should I just "forget those readers" they will or won't like it. Their problem not mine?
     
  5. Still Life
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    Still Life Active Member

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    Between a rock and a hard place.
    You win some, you lose some. You can’t cater to everyone, and in the end it really is your story. Be true to your character and stick to your guns about it. I remembered reading William Kotzwinkle’s The Fan Man, in which Horse Badorties' every other word is “man”, but that was all him and it gelled with his character, so I was resigned to it.

    As for the “F” word...sad to say, but it’s not just the hard-nosed punks that drop it like every second. Even professional people I know here in LA use it often, especially when they get comfortable with you. It’s appalling, but real.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    what market are you targeting?... adult, or YA?

    as noted above, you'll have to either change your character's character, or let him speak the way one of his ilk would... otherwise, you'd have a character who's completely out of character...
     
  7. Fivvle
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    Fivvle Contributing Member

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    That's my mindset. It's not like you're the person going around cursing at everything; you're just writing about someone who does.
     
  8. DefinitelyMaybe
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    DefinitelyMaybe Contributing Member Contributor

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    Would modern day hard-core punks still be using the f-bomb that much these days? Have they moved on to other words? With the safety of the internet, would it be possible to email some hard-core punks to ask?
     
  9. Roger Morris
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    Roger Morris New Member

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    Since you are the author of the story, why not remove the cursing part of the story and replace it with a more calm word, that way the story is not to vulgar...
     
  10. Psychotrshman
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    Psychotrshman Member

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    I have thought hard about changing the words, but I don't want it to be a "I'll beat that mother-lover's behind!" Like Nicholas C. said, That's a pretty unrealistic character. My thought right now is that the audience is probably more adult, but as young as 15-16 yrs old could enjoy it, that's why I'm concerned about language. As for whether people still speak that way, the ones I have ran into at the mall and the ones I pass by are talking in that manner. Any thoughts on conveying that quick to snap temper with out the use of strong language? That's what I'm really trying to convey with the use of these words is his attitude, dislike, and contempt for those he *thinks* look down on him and act as though they are better.
     
  11. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    if you don't have your characters speaking like real people, readers will consider it a comedy/farce... so unless you want to see your writing laughed at, when it's not meant to be funny, better leave in all those f-bombs, et al....
     
  12. Psychotrshman
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    Psychotrshman Member

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    Alright. I think I'm going to leave it in there and in my rewrite I'll look for instances that can be cut out or changed around to where the swear words aren't needed. Maybe his attitude can come across less harsh in some places. :) Thanks for the help.
     
  13. JJ_Maxx
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    JJ_Maxx Banned

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    I find that overuse of expletives can put a reader off. They can be peppered in, but I would be very careful not to overdo it. I think it would be easy to begin using expletives to describe your character, but there are other ways to do it. Describe his demeanor, his actions, his attitudes. Small things can create a cold street life thug. Remember that the f word should be used sparingly, like a strong spice, while other spices, like ass, sh*t, etc... can be used more and readers won't be bothered by it. Follow that guideline and you'll be fine. Overdo it and you will slide into the 'Urban Fiction' genre, which features mass amounts of profanity, sex and violence and may lose the target audience you're looking for. I wish you the best of luck and remember, show us how he's a hard-nosed gangsta, don't tell us!
     
  14. Motley
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    Motley Active Member

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    Dialogue is not what a person says. It is what give the impression of what a character would say with enough left out or put in to get the characterization and information across appropriately.

    In other words, it shouldn't be realistic, but it has to be real.

    Confused? lol Sorry! Just like there's no small talk in fiction, very few umms or ahhs, and no rambling speech that doesn't pertain to anything (you know people do that stuff all the time in the real world!), your gangsta's dialogue doesn't have to be a verbatim report of what a real life one would say word by word.

    If you don't want to write the f-word, a quick mention of something like "swear words punctuated his speech" and then just get on with what he has to say.
     

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