1. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    Forbidden Words

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Garball, Jun 24, 2014.

    There are some words that carry such a negative stigma, we often do everything we can to avoid using them at all. One of these words that readily comes to mind is the infamous "N" word.
    Even if you disagree with the word, some people use it as part of their vernacular. For instance, if a redneck has a run-in with a Black person, they are more than likely to utilize that word.
    What do you do as an author with these verbotenen wörter? Avoid using them, or write reality?
     
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  2. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Write reality.
     
  3. TDFuhringer
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    TDFuhringer Contributing Member Contributor

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    There's a passage in Stephen King's "On Writing" that discusses this. Worth checking out. Bottom line is, always write what's true, to you, to the world your story takes place in, but most of all to your characters. Use the language that is most true to the story.
     
  4. Mike Kobernus
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    Mike Kobernus Contributing Member

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    That seems right, TDF.

    I must say I find myself a bit squeamish at times.
     
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  5. sunsplash
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    sunsplash Bona fide beach bum

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    I agree with @thirdwind & @TDFuhringer...keep it real. I'm not going to be offended at an author or novel when a character uses an antisemitic word or goes on a rant. It's poor taste to say certain things IRL but the fact is prejudice, racism, and discrimination exist...fiction should reflect that when necessary.
     
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  6. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    I think you should write everything very PG because the world is no longer tolerant of the truth in the world and what really happens. The only way to fight the negatives that take place is to censure yourself and hope that others follow your lead. :whistle:
     
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  7. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    I get your sarcasm, but there is a lot of truth in your post. It is becoming ingrained in my brain that my demographic is the last on earth that can say words like fag, nigger, cunt, etc. without it being a major faux pas even if I'm simply relating a story or even quoting somebody else
     
  8. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I agree with this, too, especially the bolded bit.

    I can see there's pressure to go PC, but for example there're some white supremacist asshole characters in the WIP @T.Trian and I are working on who use the N word, and I don't want to censor that and make those racists seem nicer than they'd really be. To me that just feels wrong. The same principle goes with 'dyke' and 'fag.' Now if someone decided that because of those words I or T.Trian were bigots/racists/general assholes then I can't but shake my head. It should be pretty damn clear that even if some characters are idiots, the authors are not the same as those characters -- not in our case anyway.
     
  9. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    My only consideration in using such words is what the likely reaction of the reader is to be, and if that reaction is consistent with how I want the reader to feel. That doesn't just mean bad words=bad feeling toward character. It might mean the character is a sympathetic one who has been pushed beyond his/her limits, or it could be that (s)he is using it to shock his/her listeners. So, it isn't just the words, it's the writing that surrounds them.
     
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  10. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    I use any word that seems fit. Swearwords are quite strong, so you don't want to overuse them, but if the occasion demands it, I don't bat an eyelid.
     
  11. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Depends on my goals & what I'm writing. I've seen too many writer's do it wrong to take the concept lightly.
    One thing I hate is the straddle - the writer who sets up the bad guy as the bigot or big mouth and the hero as paragon - like for contrast, the hero has adopted African American twins or works at an Aids hospice. To show not only doesn't he not use those words but he's helpful to those being verbally maligned. It's all very cloy and manufactured. A writer who wants to show 'realism' and be pc at the same time.

    Realism is kinda subjective not every bad guys uses vulgar words, not every nice guy guards his mouth. But there are some definite no-brainers when you're picking a story based on location and or a type of people - Prison/prisoners, Abbey/Nuns.

    I'm in the minority here, but that's okay, I do have a few swear/vulgar words I won't use. I've made up my mind about them. I know people use them but I don't care - my character's, even the rotten ones, won't. There are too many words and phrases I can use in exchange for them so I've never felt I'm shortchanging the story, voice, or character. In fact, I feel I'm pushing myself creatively.

    And as for some iffy ones, I always ask myself do I need this word? Can I use it properly? Am I showing realism or am I caving to the masses conception of realism - i.e. every action hero must use the f-bomb half a dozen times in every sentence? It's difficult to always know what to go with, so sometimes I let fly in the first draft and start cutting back in the second.
     
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  12. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Not being realistic can make your piece unintentionally comical. For example, when Kobe misses a free throw, how often do you say, "Gosh darn it, that African American missed a free throw?"
     
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  13. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    If Kobe misses a free throw, I cheer. Unless it's against Miami.
     
  14. Bryan Romer
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    Bryan Romer Contributing Member Contributor

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    If the word suits the character and story, I will use it. It never even crosses my mind to consider PC. If people are offended, so be it. On the other hand I also do not deliberately flout PC rules simply for the shock factor. That is juvenile.
     
  15. Burlbird
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    Burlbird Contributing Member Contributor

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    If your character goes to Nigeria I guess there is going to be at least a few thousand illiterates who would think it offensive :D
     
  16. Burlbird
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    Burlbird Contributing Member Contributor

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    If your character goes to Nigeria I guess there is going to be at least a few thousand illiterates who would think it offensive :D
     
  17. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    Using actiosn and words that are not particularly approved of in a book is similar to comedic license.
    There is a right way and a wrong way to do it.

    As long as what you're writing isn't met to be offensive is fine, some people will always be offended because they're overly sensitive but most peoople will understand it. Unless you fill your writing with nothing but racist ßwhite people all in white where the main obstacle is an escaped foreigner and the plot revolves around them showing how non-whites ruin the modern world... good luck selling that.

    If it's real, honest, and in good taste then it's fine.
     
  18. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    This thread reminded me



     
  19. ddavidv
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    ddavidv Contributing Member

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    Generally, the foul words are uttered or 'thought' by the characters. Language is tremendously important to make characters believable.

    I've got a villain that treats women (and my MC) as just a piece of meat. He can kill a woman and toss her body in Lake Michigan and think nothing of it. For him to use words like c*nt and tw*t and bitch is clearly showing the kind of guy he is. I want him to be vulgar, because I want the reader to despise him for being such a murderous pig.

    My MC comes from a rough background, and she drops F-bombs pretty regularly. Again, it's true to her character. Something I've done (unplanned) is the male protagonist harasses her about it, and it becomes a running joke throughout the story. So while she cusses like a sailor (makes her realistic and interesting) I've found a way to remove the sting from the barrage of cursing and turn it into something else. Hopefully the reader will look forward to the next expletive to find out how the male protag will neg her over it.

    The current book has a fair amount of cussing (along with sex and violence). My prior book has one curse word: bullshit. The rest of the story is very PG and it fits the characters who come from a much 'cleaner' background. The language must ring true to the character(s).
     
  20. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    I'm offended by those videos.









    ...because I don't like Chris Rock. :rolleyes:
     
  21. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Write reality. Case in point:

     

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