Wednesday, October 12, 2011

writing inspiration - do i dare go there?

I am so happy with all the feed back from yesterday. Writing has been on my mind a lot lately because I'm getting my current work in progress (WIP) ready for submission. I was so amazed with your answers and quite inspired. Thank you so much!

In short, my current WIP is a little edgier than other books I've written. People die. And not just by the (duh, duh, dun...) bad guy, but by lots of main characters. Basically my book is killer. (ha ha, sorry I had to put that one in).

So in real life I'm not a killer. And my biggest sin is my frequent use of the "D" word. I'd like to blame my hubby for that, but I'm sure if you met him you'd know I was a big, fat liar. Though I've written a kill-all book, I'm not in any way advocating being an assassin. When my character uses the "D" word, it doesn't mean I use the "D" word in everyday life. (Alright, so not a good example).

What I'm wondering is, when and where do you draw the line?

What if what you really want to write is a bit darker and scarier than your personal morals or religious beliefs?

"D" Word or the "B" Word . . . or the "Sh" word . . . or the (duh, duh, duh . . .) "F" word?

Holy mother, did I just ask that question? Yes I did. 

Please, for the love of all things, let me know. Or I'll be a sad "D"word-dropping girl for the rest of the day.


Brekke said...

I am also guilty of dropping the D word. I try not to let my kids hear. But that's where I draw the line. I don't like having the other words in my head and I am a firm believer of "you can get your point across without cussing" though "the world" might disagree with me, I think some of the greatest movies made, weren't the ones rated "R" and I would think the same goes for books. It can be done.

Lacy said...

I'm a bad one to ask on this because I cuss like a sailor. Working in the oilfield for the majority of the past 10 years can do that to a lady ;). my opinion, write what you want to write. I'm afraid if you don't, you might regret not telling the story the way it sits in your mind. Don't let someone else's expectations of what you SHOULD write hinder your story.

Katie Dodge said...

That's a hard one. I think it just comes down to what you're comfortable with. I always think about my kids reading my stuff and thinking if I would want them reading it one day. And I also think, if it's all over the place in your book, it loses it's effectiveness. Well placed swears mean more. You feel me? ;)

Jenny S. Morris said...

I'm with Katie. I think, one day my child is going to read this. But, I also know that I can talk to them, and let them know why I wrote something darker. That is difference for me, there would have to be a big reason that I wrote it.

I would love writing a mystery someday, and totally kill everyone off!!

Aubrey said...

My personal opinion is that if it is an extreme situation it is unrealistic to never use extreme language if that fits your character.

the only one I don't like at all and would never ever use is the F word. It just rubs me the wrong way. I don't like it at all, and some of the lesser cuss words can convey just as much frustration and anger without being so harsh or shocking to the reader.

But also, use very sparingly. One cuss word goes a long long way.

Jolene Perry said...

Okay. So, NORMALLY I'm a little careful. But I just finished a book, and I wanted it to have the crowd that I hung out with in high school.
There is a lot of language in it, the main thing I've been asking people - is it too much? is it enough? Does it come across as genuine? Because not one of these characters would come off as genuine without it.

I don't take the Lord's name in vain, and I really don't use damn - though, not on purpose. Pretty much everything else makes it into the book, though.

Again - I think it depends on the story, the characters. It needs to flow with who they are. Nothing irks me more than the bigass tough guy saying, OH shoot!

Jessie Humphries said...

You better effin' believe that I use the B-word! And D-straight, I am down with the killing sprees. Wait, I didnt mean all that. My real opinion is like Aubry's...if it fits the extreme situation, some language needs to match. Never the F bomb though.

BJ Forsgren said...

I think if you want to write a book and use those words, I have no problem with it. It all comes down to character development. Your characters are going to be just like people we meet every day. Some cuss, some don't.

Peggy Eddleman said...

It's all about finding the harmony between writing the story the way it needs to be written, and writing what you're still comfortable having people read. But never the f word. It gains you nothing, yet costs you a lot. Oh, and your most frequently used expression of late... Um... you might not want to use that one either, because then more than just your own kids might start using it. ;)

i'm erin. said...

Lacy, I know that's my issue also. I have a bad bad bad mouth.

Katie, I think I totally agree with you.

Jenny, do it!

Aubrey, I love you. I can't wait to see that baby of yours.

Jolene, I'm super intrigued! I totally want to read your book. Need a beta?

Jessie, I know you're down with the f bomb. ha ha.

Peggy, snort.

Iain said...

gawd, I must have led a sheltered life. D-word?
Death? Doo-doo? Dilbert?
Maybe it's not made it across the Altantic yet.
Whatever the word is, if it gives the character more realism, then go with your instint :o)

Rachel said...

Erin, I thought I should let you know that I'm stalking you via your blog. And now that I have told you, it isn't stalking...right? Anyway, I curse a ton as well...and most of the books I read do also.I think if you are using swear words to add edge to the story and it works, go for it. If you are using swear words to try and be edgy, readers can tell. Save em' up and use them when you need them. I mean, when your character needs them.

Stacy Henrie said...

I heard once of a writer who drafted and didn't restrict anything - language, etc. Then when they [I know this isn't grammatically correct, but I can't remember if it was a man or a woman writer :)] went back to edit, they would tone it down.

Like Katie said above, you have to determine what you're comfortable having your name associated with - and that's different for everybody.

Jennie Bennett said...

I dropped the D-word in my current work as well even though I never say that. But then again the girl's father just died so I think it was justified. As long as the swearing isn't so random - like the character swear about everything i.e. "this f'in cheese is delicious!" then I think it's okay, but there has to be a reason. and I really don't like the F word in YA at all.

i'm erin. said...

JA, I always make comments like that about my cheese. ha ha... no I don't. Only some times...ha ha...ok, not at all.

Stacey, I should try that. It sounds crazy, but maybe it might help you get into your character's mind faster.

RAchel!!! I'm so happy you stalk too. I'm kind of a sidler, creeper, lurker...say what you will, I find myself always stalking others.

Charlie N. Holmberg said...

Wow, lots of comments.

I admit right up front I rarely hesitate before dropping a damn or a hell. (Yes, I said it.) And bastard. That one I didn't even know was a curse until I was a teenager.

The other ones, which I think of as "hard" curse words, I avoid. I will NEVER drop an F-bomb in my writing; I think it's tasteless and crude.

But then comes the question, "What if my character is crude?" What if you have a foul-mouthed druggie bad boy as a character, and these words are completely normal to him?

Sometimes, since I write fantasy, I can use a made-up curse, but they're frequently very fake sounding (though its easier to get away with it right now, since my protagonist curses in his native tongue). Or, as my sister does, I just say "He cursed," maybe followed by a "she cringed." If I can do that, I will. I don't like reading curses; I don't like writing them.

Granted, there have been a few times where I sit frozen over the keyboard because my protagonist wants to say this word, he has to say this word, he's screaming it in my brain and I'm fighting him and boom, it comes out of the page and I stare. And erase it. And then rewrite it because nothing else works.

Anyway, my philosophy comes down to this: it's the character's language, not mine, but it's my responsibility to keep it clean. AKA I'll do what I see fit, but keep in mind that if it gets published, my bishop will likely read it. ;) And that applies to all novel content, not just the dirty words.

Elizabeth said...

Beautiful Blog.



A. said...

I debated on commenting since I'm certainly not a writer, but I thought I'd give my 2 cents anyways. I'm going to say this from a career standpoint and not just hobby (even if writing is not your career that pays the bills, it's the perspective I have for what I'm going to say).

For our home, Tim has chosen not to compromise his faith for his work. For instance, one of his peices was to draw a scene of the characters having a seance. he wouldn't do it. Sure it wasn't HIM doing the seance, but by being a part of promoting it he's by association saying it's ok, which for our family is not.

So that's my opinion. If your religious beliefs would keep you from using that language then writing it for pleasure reading doesn't seem any different. The only time I'd see it differently is if it were based on a true person, like writing someones biography. Editing their real words would be like editing history. Then again, I'm not a writer and have not been faced with this. :)

i'm erin. said...

Charlie, you crack me up! But great thoughts. Yes, I've felt the same. Like the character just has to say it.

Amy, I love that Tim is so strong. You guys are great examples and I seriously have so much respect for you.

And Elizabeth, welcome to the chaos!

Elizabeth said...

THANKS...looks like a lot of fun chaos. :)

Honey and Hotstuff said...

Be true to your inner author! When in Rome... that's all the cliche's I got. But I am serious, be true to your inner artist. Just because you can't paint Jesus pictures doesn't me that you shouldn't paint (if that makes sense). But I have a rule for myself- Don't write something I wouldn't want my kids to read. (even if they were of age)

DEZMOND said...

I'd personally never cross my moral and ethical values and principles in writing, since writers are the teachers of society and can influence readers in a good and in a bad way.
I'm not a puritan, but I don't like bad language in books, unless it's really necessary for the character. But most usually, writers will put swearing and unethical things in their books only to shock and to attract attention. I have zero respect for such people :)

Precy Larkins said...

I sometimes have this dilemma. I write darker stuff too, especially with my short stories. Sometimes they come off as a bit sensual. But honestly, I'm a goody-goody and a boring person in real life. I may have the D-word and the Sh-word in my MS, but it doesn't mean I say those words. I've tried using tamer swear words to substitute, but they just didn't ring true for my character (who does not have my religious beliefs...I should convert her. LOL!)

Rule of thumb for me is to never use those words for the purpose of shocking the reader. It has to be true for your character. And overdoing it is not good either.

i'm erin. said...

Cherie, you crack me up. I swear we could be soul sistas'

Heidi W said...

I learned something here...there is a "d" word. I honestly didn't know that damn is considered a curse word--it was really common in my house growing up, and I never give it a second thought.

I do use cursing (not usually the "d" word, just because I don't think about it) depending on the narrator. Some novels contain a substantial amount--and some don't have any.

Gail Shepherd said...

I'm writing something really dark now, and I'm loving it.

i'm erin. said...

Heidi, you made me laugh out loud. said...

Banned complain !! Complaining only causes life and mind become more severe. Enjoy the rhythm of the problems faced. No matter ga life, not a problem not learn, so enjoy it :)

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