1. MarchOfMephisto
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    MarchOfMephisto Member

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    Mentioning drugs in book?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by MarchOfMephisto, Dec 15, 2011.

    Hi everyone,

    Just wondering. How much can you mention drugs in your novel? And what detail can you go into without getting into trouble or sued or something?

    Thanks in advance,

    Phoebe.
     
  2. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Why would you get sued or in trouble over mentioning drugs? Are you talking about mentioning brand name drugs?
     
  3. sithkittie
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    sithkittie New Member

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    I don't think there are regulations on mentioning drugs. Sure, you might offend some people, but unless you're saying "so-and-so (real person) is on heroine" or something like that, I don't think you can get sued. Check out Basketball Diaries if you're looking for an example.

    That said, I personally would avoid it unless it was necessary to the plot or environment, and, as with alcohol and being drunk, I wouldn't go into much detail about how the character feels or what the character is doing unless you have experience or some access to someone with experience. No I'm not encouraging drug use, but I'm sure everyone's read some description where you just go "This author has no clue what he/she's even talking about," then it kills the believability of the entire book.

    My two cents anyway. :)
     
  4. MarchOfMephisto
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    MarchOfMephisto Member

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    Stuff like cannabis and cocaine. How far can you go in describing the effects, the creation of a joint or a line, the whole intake of it?
     
  5. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    As far as you want to, at least in the U.S. I don't imagine the UK is that much more restrictive, if at all.
     
  6. MarchOfMephisto
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    MarchOfMephisto Member

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    I know people with experience of many drugs, so that's not a problem. I can get them to explain to me the effects and things like that so it should be believable.

    And thanks Steerpike, I've tried Googling it but I can't find anything. If it's okay in the US then it should be okay in the UK, they're not that different.
     
  7. Prophetsnake
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    Prophetsnake Contributing Member

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    You're safe saying just about anything you like. Your publisher may have a more difficult time though, and they know it.
    As far as I know england have dropped their blasphemy law, but there was a publisher done for a piece about Jesus being homosexual. That nutbag Mary Whitehouse pressed the Thatcher gov't into the prosecution. the author was not prosecuted, because he was within the law in expressing a thought. The publisher, on the other hand, was done to the max, I can;t remember what his penalty was, but i seem to remember it was pretty harsh. it was around 1982 if you want to look it up.
    I think that law has been replaced by some sort of incitement to hatred law in order that even more people can take umbrage in hearing things that are probably true and upset their tiny little delusions.
    So, if you were to say that say, a prophet that someone is particularly fond of smoked crack, you could be done. Otherwise, you''re grand.
     
  8. AmsterdamAssassin
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    AmsterdamAssassin Contributing Member

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    How far do you want to go? People know, from watching television, about snorting lines of cocaine from a mirror, and rolling a joint is not all that difficult. The problem is, for someone who uses regularly, these are normal activities, like lighting a cigarette. So, if you wax lyrically about the creation of lines of coke on a mirror, you run the risk of setting up a character as anal retentively obsessed with details, or as if you're somehow gloryfying drug use.

    There are some books, like Basketball Diaries, that skirt the line. You might want to check them out before you write 'too much'
     
  9. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    There's this awesome thing called anti-censorship laws which allows you to write whatever you'd like to write to most extents.

    In Fight Club (the novel), it details the actual way to create dynamite, which had to be removed from the film, but that didn't stop them from teaching us different methods of creating napalm with equal parts frozen orange juice concentrate and gasoline. In fact, I'm brainstorming a plot at the moment which involves homemade explosives and such which means I get to spend a lot of time on YouTube looking up homemade tasers and bombs and thermite and such.

    Drugs are much along the same line. Considering how much of a staple they are in popular culture (thanks, musicians!), there's no way anybody's going to have a go at you about rolling a literary joint (that actually sounds amazing) or knowing the precise recipe for marijuana butter or how to make the perfect crystal meth or the method of making heroin. Good luck, I say!
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    it's done all the time!... ever read/heard of 'valley of the dolls'?

    brand names are also mentioned in fiction all the time... and fyi, the copyright laws in the us and uk are virtually the same, as they are in most [if not all] countries that are also signatories to the berne convention...

    anyone wanting to be a writer should bone up on the basics:
    www.copyright.gov
    www.uspto.gov
     
  11. Alex W
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    There are no laws whatsoever on preventing you doing so. I suspect the only problem you'd have is glamourising them, and even then the book would merely be frowned upon rather than anything serious.

    Write what you like, and read up on some other books suggested by people here. If you think Cocaine and Weed would be 'too much' to write about, I suspect you need to learn about other literature that've written far darker stories about far worse drugs.
     
  12. Shifty
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    I wouldn't imagine you'd get in any trouble(with the law) at all for including drug use in your novel.
    The only problem I would imagine you encountering is with critics and publishers.
    Freedom of speech must cover creative-writing, I have never heard of anyone getting into serious trouble over their writings, except Charles Manson.

    Edit: Most of the Romantics were on opiates when they wrote their poetry anyway and look how popular they are, so one could argue that drug use and creativity go hand in hand anyway :)
     
  13. Felipe
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    Felipe Active Member

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    I mentioned drugs in all four of my novels, even the ones written in the 1600's. One of my characters is a shaman who has other characters ingest peyote, datura and other psychotropic plants to see event to come. In the novel written in the present day, drugs are also mentioned and used. As long as it is key to the plot, there is no problem.
     
  14. Nicholas C.
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    Nicholas C. Active Member

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    Be glad you don't live in the States.. you'd be on a FBI watch list at best, and possibly detained at worst.
     
  15. Ettina
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    Ettina Active Member

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    If the book is aimed at kids, you might have a problem. Even then, you might get by if you make sure your plot shows that drug abuse is a bad idea.

    But if it's for adults, I really doubt anyone will get upset about it.
     
  16. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    Oh, Americans. You're so cute, trying to detain writers. :love:
     
  17. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Can anyone think of an instance of a writer in the U.S. being detained for researching these topics?
     
  18. Alex W
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    Two British lads were released from Guantanamo Bay (spelling?) after I think two years of detention just for knowing terror suspects. I wouldn't be entirely surprised if they'd been researching it thoroughly, but surely not briefly skimming through info?
     
  19. Froggy
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    As long as your novel doesn't boil down to "(how to) use drugs to your best advantage" you should be fine.
    Writing it is no problem, getting it published is another matter...
     

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