1. CH878
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    CH878 Active Member

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    How far can you go?

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by CH878, Feb 9, 2012.

    My question is this: what can you actually print? If you're aiming at a certain age group (young adult in my case) are there restrictions set as to what novels can include, so far as language, sex, drugs and violence. I have heard of publishers changing sections in novels they consider inappropriate, but is this just the personal choice of the publisher or is it governed by regulations, like film is?

    I'm aware there's no rating system like you get with films and games, but is there something behind the scenes?

    Obviously you can't publish stuff that is against national laws, such as inciting racism, but what about the areas I've stated above?

    Also, does the possibility of having to alter sections before publication generally put agents off, or, assuming the required changes are not drastic and fundamental, will they take on an author even if changes are required?
     
  2. Anniexo
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    Anniexo Member

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    As far as I know, no there are no restrictions in what a person can write in a book as long as it has something to do with the plot, I have read a book called 'No safe place' where a women was sexually abused by her grandfather from a young age and when she was old, she did do drugs (if I remember correctly) but of course this was a 'Real life book' things might be a little different in fiction, but like I said, as long as it's linked to the plot, and it's aimed at the right age group (I would say books like these should be aim at 'older' young adults if that makes any sense) to get a feel of what may be accepted in books, I would said buy a few Real life books and see what people have written and how much they have allowed people to know what has happened to them to make them write such books.
     
  3. CH878
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    CH878 Active Member

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    Thank you

    When you say 'real life book', do you mean true stories, i.e. non fiction, or do you just mean fiction based in the real world (so not fantasy, basically)?

    I have read plenty of books with strong violence especially, but my main worry is that these were aimed at adults and the stuff I write is aimed at a 'older' young adult audience.
     
  4. Anniexo
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    Anniexo Member

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    I mean true stories, I call them real life because that's what they are, even though one book (well 3) I've read people have turned around and said he made it all up
     
  5. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    It'd depend on what audience you're writing for. Obviously, you can't write a book about genocide, famine, slavery, etc to a kid, but for adults? Anything goes.
     
  6. joanna
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    joanna Active Member

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    Couldn't you, depending on whether the language is appropriate and it's informative?

    I swear I remember reading a story about a kid during the holocaust when I was young (not Anne Frank's Diary -- something else -- though I think I did read Anne Frank at a young age, too).
     
  7. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    ^ Yeah, there are plenty of children's books on all kinds of issues.

    Made 'kid-friendly' perhaps, but still... those were some of my favourites to read.
     
  8. Kallithrix
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    Kallithrix Banned

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    Of course you can! You just need to keep your audience in mind when it comes to language and graphic imagery, but you can write children's books on almost any subject. I've read children's books about nuclear holocaust, slavery, Jews being sent to concentration camps, child abuse - most things except the very adult themes around sex, which is one of the last taboos in children's literature. Just be sensitive in your treatment of distressing subjects and be aware that kids get upset easily. After all, if you're writing a young adult book you want it to be enjoyed by children, not to mentally traumatise them!
     
  9. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    Actually, most countries have anti-censorship laws for that. Pretty much anything can be published (but there are books that have been run out of print by the American government because of their connection to explosive devices and stuff like that, and this was FICTION), so long as there's a publisher willing to take it.

    I'm personally of the opinion that if you have a story idea, you should just write it and worry about who you want to read it after. I think the only time you need to actively write for an audience is for kid's books. YA fiction and other fiction can just come naturally from the same space. The difference is that YA fiction has less swearing.
     
  10. Kallithrix
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    Kallithrix Banned

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    And less porn :D
     
  11. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    True.

    I just now remembered that I saw some books in the children's library that I work in that talked about that kind of stuff. They just explained it gently while leaving all the scary details out.
     
  12. Earlychop
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    Earlychop Member

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    YA lit is an odd category for deciding whats appropriate. Don't underestimate the severity of what topics they read though. I think swearing for swearing's sake is poor writing anyway. If it's appropriate to the scene then crack on with the softer swear words. All and any subjects are appropriate if the language is toned down. I would say the trick is to cover a most hideous of subjects with implied language rather than outright gratuitousness.

    OMG is gratuitousness a word?
     
  13. Anniexo
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    Anniexo Member

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    Even though I put OMG in text a lot, the one time I would want to read it in a book is if it was an abbreviation which wasn't Oh my god/goodness, like a company name, or if the book was based in todays word and it was graffitied on a wall and it was described what a character can see. Is that made any sense.
     
  14. Kallithrix
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    Kallithrix Banned

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    LOL <----- more gratuitous text language ;)

    I think earlychop was asking whether 'gratuitousness' is a word, not OMG, but you raise a good point.

    Is there a place for txt spk in published novels? I guess when you're quoting a text ;)
     
  15. Earlychop
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    Earlychop Member

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    I was Kallithrix lol.
     
  16. EVLuoNero
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    EVLuoNero New Member

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    Based on some publishing stories I've read, it really depends on who you send it to, and who you work with. I've seen some ridiculous adult books, and absolutley grisly children books. Also, there's that whole 'issue of morality' that gets in the way.....
     
  17. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    When I was a really little kid I read books about things like slavery, racism, disabilities, etc. They were informative, and all the details were focused on the positives - the Rosa Parks and Harriet Tubman types, and people who were able to combat diversity and live happy lives. The bad parts were told in a tame way, like "they were treated badly and forced to do other people's work." The messages were things like be kind, don't judge, etc. but they still touched on serious issues.

    When I was elementary and middle-school age, I read books like "Speak" (deals with rape) and books dealing with child abuse, drugs, etc. In 10th grace my class read "Night," which was extremely disturbing and graphic, but it was fitting -- the author actually told the blunt and gritty truth about the Holocaust, so it wasn't like it was "torture porn" just for the hell of it.

    Don't use graphic, R-rated detail in a children's book, but don't dumb everything down, either. Kids can "handle" things that aren't roses and butterflies. I think the biggest thing is to write the story in a way that shows that that stuff (Holocaust, racism, whichever issue you use) is wrong. And you don't need to be super preachy about that: morals and themes should be shown rather than spelled out.
     
  18. GoldenGhost
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    GoldenGhost Contributing Member

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    I read Elie Wiesel's Night as a freshman in highschool.
     
  19. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    The greatest part of children is their ability to adapt to anything, and to adapt even to swears. My nephew, age 12, is in his first year of high school this year. Last year, he already knew the c-bomb (I laughed at him when I convinced him to say it). Kids swear and live to what heights of fuckery that they can reach because that's what kids can do. Parents can try and stamp it out because when you're responsible for another life, there's not as much fuckery to live up to. I think that's why adults get so much more in fiction, to fill that little bit of a gap that they can't fill themselves, because what if something goes wrong? You can't climb trees at the risk of breaking a limb, because there's people depending on you. As a kid, you can risk things.
    And kids adapt, and they swear, and they know about sex, and I don't think they're as grossed out by it as we might think they are. So yeah, you're not going to describe the subtleties of a woman's curves to your son - that's something he has to earn, damnit! - and you're not going to let your daughter know that it's really nice to get some lovin' when the lovin's good to get, but you can trust kids to know.

    Clearly you've never read Looking for Alaska. Maybe it doesn't count as porn, but I'll be damned if it didn't come out of NOWHERE.
     
  20. Earlychop
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    Earlychop Member

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    Speak is one of my favourite books. And I'm a 28 year old guy, so thats kinda weird. I love the use of kid language in it and the snappy inner monologues.

    Hair woman was a wonderful character.
     
  21. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    You are 100% correct, and a lot braver than I am. I tend to walk on eggshells when it comes to children's stories; but you're right. Just explain things in a nice, gentle way without all the grisly detail, in a way they'll understand and it'll be okay.
     

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