1. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Offensive Writing?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by GuardianWynn, Jul 24, 2016.

    In a sense, I am just curious on your thoughts on that all facets that could imply.

    But to be more precise, I am personally referencing when your writing may imply things you don't want it too or when you don't really want to research a topic more deeply and as a result could accidenly be offensive. Like, how far would you go to avoid being offensive?

    I have come to realize, that I worry too much. So the other half of this topic is mainly just me ranting about my wory and seeing if anyone else worries. lol.

    Like, recent topic that have come to mind.

    1. my work takes place in the future and many places kept their name. Many also do not. And I felt an increasing pressure that some people might be mad to hear in my universe, some places don't become that nice.

    Like, America has become the land of bigots, Asia had become a warrior naion with a high poverty and my friends nickname South America the land of hippies! lol.

    Which the above case is what prompted me to write this thread. I am about to write a chapter about a girl going home and on the plane ride home she has a layover in Russia. Where she descibes the city she is in as pretty much a non stop party. The idea being that it is almost like the key airport of the state. Being a city that never sleeps to occupy the people having a layover there with tons of entertaining stuff.

    And my thoughts wonder. Is someone gonna hate that? I find it especially funny in the context that I am not trying to angry people. I just think it is a neat idea for the universe.

    2. Making it a plot point that a girl is on her period. Well sort of.

    The girl in question was stressed for multiple reasons. And there are other reasons for her being on her period. I had the idea that by adding that she is on her period, it spreads the blame. Like, no 1 specific thing made her mad. Rather ten little things. One of which being the stress of her period. I think it adds to the book in that spreading the blame concept. I think it is also neat to not shy away from the idea of her cycle.

    Yet I can already practicaly read the hate mail of people that think I am trying to blame her stressed outness solely on her period.

    3. A massacre happens on a church. I personally find this scene funny. lol. But not why I decided on it artistically. It makes tons of sense in the scope of plot and I do make a point of saying the person in question is no hero. I just again, already see people like writing papers on how I am some sort of church hating terrorist for even thining of the scene! lol


    So, what do you think? Not just about my 3 situations but about situations in general like this? Do you have your own that you want to share or get feedback on?
     
  2. izzybot
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    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

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    Not wanting to do research? Nope, you lost me :p

    Eh, apart from the fact that I honestly do love reading way too much about every little thing, one of the basic tenets I've set for my writing is to try to be as conscientious and kind as possible. For me that means scrapping the question "is this offensive?" and substituting "would this hurt people?" - because sure, people might be 'offended' at a mention that a character's on her period, and religious types might be 'offended' at the fact that I have lgbt+ characters portrayed in a positive light, but are they hurt? Nah.

    If the question is "how far would I go to avoid hurting someone on a personal level" - pretty far, I guess? I'm not averse to changing a character or plot if I learn that it feeds into some nasty baseless stereotype, because it's more important to me to not be part of that kind of thing than it is to cling to whatever silly shit I dreamed up. I'm not under the delusion that my writing is golden and god-sent - it can be bad and it can need to change. If the question is "how far would I go to avoid being called offensive" - not an inch. The word barely means anything anymore. Still, if I was told something in my writing was ~offensive, I would look into it, because it's not like I know everything, and it's not like we all have the same personal definition of 'offensive'.

    You just have to decide what you're okay with. Apart from the large lgbt+ presence in my stories, I tend to be rather disparaging about religion when it comes up, and virtually all of my characters are atheists if not admitted antitheists, so yeah, my writing likely wouldn't sit well with a vocal segment of religious people. I'm okay with that. But I wouldn't be okay with knowing my writing didn't sit well with a majority of lgbt+ people. I guess it's ultimately just a know-your-audience thing, really.

    As far as your examples go, my immediate reaction to the "America is a land of bigots" concept was more or less "hahah, true" so there's that, at least.
     
  3. Spencer1990
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    Spencer1990 Contributing Member

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    Sometimes I see these threads and really feel like I want to comment.

    Then I see that @izzybot has given a really poignant response that says everything I wanted to say and more.

    So for my response, I will wholeheartedly agree with the above poster. o_O
     
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  4. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Oh by land of the bigot, I meant like, had established laws that stated that being of the specific criteria was a captial offense worry of immiedate execution without a trial. So, mean, a bit worse that modern day America I think. lol. And yeah, I worry too much. lol

    Funny enough my own critera is a bit different. See, well yeah for one I do like the idea of pleasing people. I want people to enjoy the book. And yeah, I would never want to spread a message that actually hurts people. But for me, the question becomes, is the plot concept valid? Like, are people reading too much into it? Or is it really just a chepa shot joke at an group that isn't as funny as I think it is?

    But yeah, I tend to hate research. lol. In particular it usually just feels worthless. I am writing fantasy, not a documentary. I mean, like, if I studied Russian History for this scene? How would it help? My Russian is two hundred years in the future! It seems like a lot of work. I mean, I can't just google search Russia for 20 minutes. Plus it is only one scene in this book.

    And if I tried researching things I write about, I would never get any writing done! lol.

    To be fair, I am so not against randomly chatting with smeone that knows Russian history. I find a friendly conversaion a lot nicer way to learn at least a little bit. Maybe I am just wierd.

    Perhaps a good place to start would be your own work? Like, have you ever felt nervous about a scene, if so, why?
     
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  5. Spencer1990
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    Spencer1990 Contributing Member

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    I was mostly kidding. But sure, I sometimes feel nervous about specific parts of my own writing. The thought I usually come back to is that, as writers, we can't make everyone happy. Should you go out of your way to make sure you're offending as few people as possible? I think izzybot hit the nail on the head in saying that it's what you think you can live with.

    In my recently finished novel, the protagonist is a heroin addict. There's foul language, violence, and questionable motives. Will it offend some people? Absolutely. Did I write the novel to stick my nose up at people and say "fuck you" to anyone who doesn't like it? No. I wrote the novel because I wanted to write it. If it sells someday, great. If lots of people like it, even better. But I expect that as a writer, you'll get hate mail from just about anything you put out there. I think it's just part of the process.

    All of that being said, I think motives are a good place to look to find out whether or not you need to work on the offensiveness factor. If you're writing the novel to be nasty, you might want to check your motives (which does not sound even slightly like the case here). If you're writing it because it is a story you want to tell, then my humble opinion is to write it. Don't stress about what may or may not offend people. That's akin to borrowing trouble when we all know writing is enough trouble on its own. :D
     
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  6. deadrats
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    deadrats Active Member

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    Why would you base your fiction in Russia if you don't know anything about Russia? I don't get it. Of course, you can do whatever you want, but there are other writers drawing inspiration and choosing settings they actually know something about. And it sure is competitive out there. It doesn't matter if your story takes place 200 years ago or 200 years from now. If you are choosing a real-world setting, you should have a reason for picking that location or at the very least have it make sense. I think saying you find a massacre in a church funny might be an indication that you are not being as sensitive as you could be to your subject matter.
     
  7. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, the Russia scene is just one chapter. Or like, half a chapter. As in the character spends one night in Russia as her flight layed over there.

    And, hey. lol. I also did specifically say I made a point of calling the person in the situation bad. lol. Some of my friends like the character and are not that bothered by her doing this. lol.
     
  8. LinnyV
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    LinnyV Contributing Member

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    @GuardianWynn - I feel I've known you for a while-ish and I must admit, I always have felt you were a little too worried about what others thought. That is just a personal opinion and nothing you need to take on board at all. I also have never understood it when people come online seeking justification for writing whatever it is that they are writing. If anything, I struggle to read such threads and I generally don't, because it would be an exercise of frustration for me.

    The world would be a very boring place as far as stories if everyone spent so much time trying to cater to everyone else's sensibilities. We all have different boundaries and they are forever changing. It's nonsensical to me to even try to adjust your goal post to suit others. I also dislike trying the appease the majority, I'm here ONLY to write what makes me happy. It comes down to knowing what you like. So the question is, do you know what you like to read and write about? Maybe it's better to spend time thinking on that rather than asking people what you think you should write.

    If anything, I am fascinated when an author writes stories that have elements I find offensive and some how... through some mastery of writing, I've really no idea what, they write an engaging story that draws me in and ponder about the foreign landscape and ideas.

    As for your worry about the 'period'. I can tell you I am a woman who is totally hormonal when I get PMS. Every month, I spit the dummy at some point online and I've since realized it coincides with my monthly cycle. Actually, hubby pointed that out. lol Seriously, I could give a shit about women giving me shit for saying so. The point is, it's not unrealistic. I've lost friends at a moment of irrational rage thanks to my monthly insanity. I've bought weird and ugly things in the past because of it... I'm clearly not myself when this happens. If anything, I find it funny.
     
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  9. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    In first draft - the mind spins out all this filth, total filth, dirty music and rotten limbs all fornicating down the abattoir, maybe an opera? - in first person..

    Second draft, make it third person or second person if you're having your experimental.

    That way a writer protects himself.
     
  10. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Go for it. If you spend your time trying to ensure no one got offended, that book ain't gonna be written. Trust me, I've spent years trying to figure this out.

    Lemme try and offend everyone now. :p

    America is the land of fat, nationalistic, hypocritical bigots. (Personal note: Call this hypocrisy but I find it kind of odd that when Americans diss the country, I'm inclined to agree but if non-Americans do it? It's all "AW HELL NAW!!" This could be an interesting character study, yes? ;) Hmm...)
    The UK is the land of posh tea-lovers (My God, Brits. :p Did I miss something in your history where tea saved the land or something?)
    China and Japan are the lands of martial artists who prattle on about spiritual enlightenment (hides from the ninjas)
    Russia is the land of angry, thick-browed men who hate anything not cold, drab, boring and RED! Oh, and they probably like abusing Polish women and children. And they sing like growling silverback gorillas. (And now I have hilarious images of those gorillas in Soviet-era military uniform doing their damned best to sing Russian.)
    The Catholic Church hates gays, women, and non-Catholic people, but they loooooooove little kids. (is damned to Hell)
    All disabled people aspire to inspire the non-disabled people because the latter are moronic, selfish hicks who need to be taught that basic lesson. (is killed by Toph and DareDevil)

    See? I just pissed everyone off. :p Hell, there are entire franchises dedicated to just that: pissing people off. Now granted, you probably aren't trying to write deliberate offensive humor but you see what I'm trying to say? You're not gonna please everyone even if you honest to God/Yahweh/Allah/The Nine Divines/All The Other Gods and Goddesses weren't trying to. Rather than worry about if this or that will offend someone, worry about how this or that will affect the story's plot and characters.

    People will be offended. Guess what? Unless they are in a police state where they're forced to read material that offends them, they are more than free to put the book down and never read it again. It's a free-
    [​IMG]
    WORLD! FREE WORLD! That's what I meant. Unless, of course, you live in a police state/oppressive nation in which case I am very, very sorry you're going through that Hell. :(
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2016
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  11. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Oh, I agree. :) Defintely not a thread asking for fixes or if I am wrong. More curious on how others deal or think of such situations. :)

    hence me using my own just as references to how I think.

    Though, I think goal amkes a big difference. I mean, in my case I do hope to sell it to a publisher. Might hurt my cause if my wwork is too insenstive. Ya know?
     
  12. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    I think so long as your work isn't something like Mein Kampf where you are actively preaching for the extermination of entire groups of people, you should be fine. :)
     
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  13. LinnyV
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    LinnyV Contributing Member

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    I'm not sure I agree. You have to assume you would buy your own writing? Have faith in your taste. I will write what I will buy. Do not assume the opinions of this forum are reflective of the general population. It would be naive to believe that.
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2016
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  14. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Look at George R.R. Martin. A lot of people don't like his work because they find it offensive in one way or another. Does he give two Tyrion fucks? Nope. All the Westeros wine in the world wouldn't make him give two Tyrion fucks what they think. :p
     
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  15. Mumble Bee
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    Mumble Bee The writer formerly known as Chained. Contributor

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    "Offended" is what people are when they're mad, but not smart enough to understand why.
     
  16. BWriter
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    BWriter Member

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    As long as it has a point to the story anything goes as far as I'm concerned. At the end of the day if you can read your work and feel good about it, thats all that matters. You can write the most racist, sexist and any other ist piece of trash you want as long as you can hold your head up afterwards. Of course nobody would read it and you would be , rightly, slated but if its what you believe you are entitled to do it.
     
  17. LinnyV
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    LinnyV Contributing Member

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    And you would be the knower of what everybody thinks? That's pretty impressive.

    There's are a whole genre of dark erotica the sells in bucket loads. I've got a strong tolerance of most things and I have seen some godawful shit that sells. I finally caved in and bought one that keeps coming up out of curiosity as to why it had a following. I could not finish it because it was that disgusting. The level of degradation to the female lead was revolting to me. But people are buying it.

    I guess there is a population of people with specialized kinks and strange fantasies, imagine that. I mean, you have to assume racists, sexists and other 'ist's read books too, that they would be literate? I would have to think the human population will be quite severely reduced if it was suddenly attacked by a deadly wave of political correctness.
     
  18. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    That's if you're honest to God doing everything in your power to piss everyone off. I think Wynn is talking about accidentally offending people when she doesn't mean to (ie: have a black guy like rap just because that's what he's into, or have a character poke fun of 9/11, the Holocaust, or the Troubles of Northern Ireland.) That sort of thing.
     
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  19. LinnyV
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    LinnyV Contributing Member

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    You're missing my point. I was addressing the statement that people would not read/buy stuff that comes across racist, sexist and etc. I seriously doubt that a homogenous group of angels buy books and only look for books that don't offend.

    And I would also direct the same statement back to you. You're presuming 'everyone' will be pissed off. You're speaking for everyone too?
     
  20. Mumble Bee
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    Mumble Bee The writer formerly known as Chained. Contributor

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    The reason we created societies was to protect us from horrible people who would do terrible things. Those people didn't disappear, they're still here, and they feel the need...
    The need, to read.
     
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  21. LinnyV
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    LinnyV Contributing Member

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    But I would further argue, who are we to judge someone as horrible without knowing their background, culture, history or the fact they may have some weird interest or fixations due to some mysterious chemical reaction in their brain. It doesn't mean they would inflict anti-social behavior in society. Being horrible (self interested) is part of the human condition, so you'll never be rid of it if you want a society. Unless you want a society of hermits. And hermits will read too, or they'll be bored...

    I find some of the statements intolerant and really do not reflect that humans are inflicted with a morbid fascination of what is 'horrible' and what is 'weird'.

    Reading novels with unpleasant, unconventional topics is a way for people to explore ideas, thoughts and issues in an imaginary world and think of the 'what ifs'.

    It's ridiculous to assume we all would feel pressured to write to a certain social standard for fear of offending. If that is the case, maybe there should be one committee to write for all of us. In time there would be a black market of bad writing because everyone is bored out of their brains.

    You have to assume by the time you think to write something, you have a developed moral compass that will guide you. It disturbs me that people will forego writing ideas of their own original thought or interest because of fear it would offend, unintentional or deliberate. And then to have statements online 'You will piss everyone off, you will be shunned!!!!' as affirmation.

    Writing, at least for me, is a form of self exploration between the darkness and light within myself.
     
  22. BWriter
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    BWriter Member

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    Obviously anything could find some sort of audience because there are all sorts of people out there. You can go ahead and assume that anything I say will be my own opinion. And if I say everyone, I don't literally mean everyone on the planet, just the majority of people. Thought that was ovvious.
     
  23. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    What is happening today could certainly be quite significant to 200 years from now. What happened in the U.S. 200 years ago has a direct impact on us now. Older events than that are still rippling through various parts of the world.
     
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  24. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Yes. Yes, I am. :p

    But seriously, someone, somewhere will be pissed. That's just human nature, you can't please everyone. Look no further than my sig where I put in Wrey's quote.
     
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  25. LinnyV
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    LinnyV Contributing Member

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    So you now speak for the majority... I suggest you open a consultancy right here on WF and start charging. And since you had put in such a sweeping statement, you needed the obvious pointed out to you.
     
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