1. mbinks89
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    mbinks89 Active Member

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    Traditional How much will these two things impact publishing?

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by mbinks89, Jun 8, 2013.

    I have a number of stories I wish to have published. Two present their own unique "problems."

    1. I have a story in which the dialogue (and there really isn't much, and what there is, it isn't important, is written in French. The main problem I have though is that this story revolves around a pedophile. There are no rape scenes, but there are oblique references to past sex crimes he's committed, sexual overtones, and in the end he drags a girl into an alleyway (but she is not raped -- a gargoyle kills the pedophile). It's like my Paris-set rendition of Nabokov's Lolita, if you will.

    2. I have a story in which I am more experimental with punctuation. I don't use quotation marks, and leave a space after commas. An example, not from the story, is:
    Up ahead : the tank.
    There it is, he said. I can see it now.
    Another monkeywrench is that the main characters are Muslims guerrillas. They aren't on a "jihad," and their Islamic identity is not actually important to the story. They aren't racist, or terrorists. There is an offhand mention to a joke, and the passage reads something like this (paraphrased):
    How did it go? Oh yeah, the one about the hooker and the rabbi.

    Are these too politically correct, and is the formatting too strange for them to be published by mainstream publishers? Thanks.
     
  2. J♥Star
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    J♥Star Member

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    1. If the story works, the story works. What would happen if they took the pedophilia out of Lolita?
    2. I'm not really sure. But honestly i'm not a fan of the experimental form.
     
  3. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    not sure about the rest, but regarding the punctuation - eg. the lack of quotation marks - you'll be fine. Cormac McCarthy writes all his dialogue without quotation marks, and he's huge. Not sure if he's mainstream but he's successful with books adapted into movies, so you know - no practical difference really whatever label you give him.
     
  4. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I take it that you are not writing for a French-speaking market. If so, you need to think about the purpose your dialogue serves. Just yesterday, there was another thread dealing with this. Too much foreign language dialogue that the readership can't understand will be off-putting, even with translation. If the main character does not speak French, then small snippets can be used to put the reader into the MC's position of not being able to understand. Otherwise, you can use occasional words in French - names of things, or terms of endearment, for example - to give the reader that the world you are describing is French and leave the dialogue in English. You also say that the dialogue isn't important, in which case, you need to think about whether it is needed at all. At the very least, it should be a means for getting to know your characters better.

    Assuming you have something to say other than what Nabakov did, I see no problem with this. Good writing takes on cutting-edge material all the time.

    Unless you are writing specifically for an avante garde publication that seeks out this kind of thing, you should use normal punctuation. Otherwise your "experiment" will be seen as a collection of SPaG errors and your work will be dismissed as too amateurish.

    Muslim guerillas who aren't terrorists? Sounds like the basis for a comedy.

    My suggestion is: work on making your story the best it can be. Don't worry about whom you might offend, because if the story is good enough, that won't matter. But the worst thing you could do would be to water down your story so that it's "inoffensive", and then muck it up with experiments in punctuation to be "cutting edge". What really makes a story "cutting edge" is to grab the reader by the throat, pull her/him in and don't let go until the tale is told.

    Good luck.
     
  5. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    James Michener had a quirk with quotation marks, in that he used single marks - 'you know, like this' - for quotes and double quotation marks "for quotes within quotes", which is exactly the opposite of proper usage. In his memoirs, he was quite emphatic about it. However, he didn't do that in his first novel, Tales of the South Pacific. There, he followed the rules.

    Being experimental is fine once you've established yourself as a published writer, when you have an editor you can work with. Until then, if your goal is to get published, you should make sure you don't do anything that will give them a reason to knock you out of the box.
     
  6. ithestargazer
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    ithestargazer Active Member

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    I agree. You don't want your audience to become so preoccupied with translating the dialogue that they're pulled out of the story. If you make your references to places (e.g. Rue), titles (e.g. Madame, Mademoiselle) and common phrases/words (e.g. Je t'aime, Merci) then your audience will recognise the setting. This is commonplace in many English-language books and movies based in Francophone countries.

    I don't see any problems with the pedophilia references in the story. They exist and there are stories to be written. What you choose to include is dependent on where you're submitting your work. Some places may be more conservative in what they might publish but that doesn't mean you shouldn't write it, just that you might need to find a more appropriate market. If I were you, I'd write the story as is. You can't please everyone.

    With the punctuation choice, there are lots of very well-known literary works that experiment with form like this. I remember reading Trainspotting a few years ago and this is written in slang without proper grammar and punctuation. These books that do well, however, are usually very well written by developed writers. It's a big task to take on and I agree with EdFromNY on this. You might have to find place that looks for experimental writing (of which I'd think there are quite a few).

    And finally, if your characters being Muslim isn't really part of the story-line then why are they Muslim? It must serve some purpose?
     
  7. mbinks89
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    mbinks89 Active Member

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    Thanks for all the advice guys.
     

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