Wednesday, October 6, 2021

IWSG: Keeping it clean for Mom

 


The IWSG is a fantastic group of writers and bloggers who share posts the first Wednesday of each  month.

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

The awesome co-hosts for the September 1 posting of the IWSG are:
 
Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say. 

Remember, the question is optional! 
 
October 6 question - In your writing, where do you draw the line, with either topics or language?
 
I'm a lucky writer. As a shorthand answer to this question, I tell people that I write nothing I'd be embarrassed to have my mother read--because my mother reads all my books and stories, even the ones that aren't in her favorite genres! That's why I'm lucky--because my mom is that supportive! That's partly why my writing has no explicit sex, no serious cussing, and no explicit violence.
 
There's another reason for that as well: I don't like to read explicit sex and violence, and I'm even less comfortable writing them. I prefer sex scenes left to the reader's imagination, and as for violence, there's enough of it in the world without me adding to it. Granted, I write murder mysteries, but I leave the killing, and the gore, off stage. Again, I trust the reader to imagine whatever level of violence they feel is appropriate.
 
Language is a bit more challenging. In my genres (so far, cozy mysteries and children's books), the industry standard to not to have swearing. Since obviously people cuss--some of them cuss a lot--my choice has been to let the reader know that the person is, without writing out the exact words. If my sleuth is talking to a foul-mouthed jerk in a bar, for example, she might report something like, "Once I sorted substance from cussing, he told me that he'd never been anywhere near the victim since she took out the restraining order." Sometimes coming up with the work-arounds is great fun!
 
How about you? What's your measure for "forbidden" topics and/or language? 

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Watch this space for news about the great blog shift--coming soon, my new and improved author web site!

 ©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2021
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27 comments:

  1. I never realised you did those work-arounds in your scenes. But it's a great way of bringing realism without having to read it.

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    1. Well, my example here was pretty heavy-handed. I try to keep it natural in the books—and it sounds like it’s worked!

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  2. I don't tend to censor myself much in my writing, but my mother reads most of my work. We just don't talk about the extreme stuff. :-)

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    1. Your mother is a patient and long-suffering woman.

      Which isn’t to say mine isn’t. I just try her patience in other ways :D

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    1. Thanks! I learned some of it from Tamora Pierce’s books, which have to stay middle-grade clean while dealing with characters like regular-army sorts and teens.

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  4. I agree that too much swearing is not good when writing for kids or teens. That's awesome how supportive your mom is of your writing and that she always reads what you write.

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    1. I know! Mom’s the best (and even though she’s probably reading this, too, I’m not just saying that, Mom!).

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  5. Love that work-around! Most things are better left off page and to the reader's imagination.

    Ronel visiting for IWSG day as co-host The IWSG Goodreads Book Club

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    1. My imagination is adequate, for the most part. I don’t usually want someone else’s version.

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  6. I love your work-around. My mom read my books, too. She was so supportive. My sisters and daughter read my books, too. Best wishes.

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    1. Thanks, Diane. And I’m sorry you don’t have your mom any longer :(

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  7. My mom has read some of my books, but none of those ones have had any sex in them. I just don't point out my books that do have them so I don't have to tell her no she can't read that one and the reason why. LOL

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  8. I am the same as you, not liking details of sex or violence in the books I read. I love how you find workarounds for foul language.

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    1. Thanks! Some of those work-arounds aren’t completely original, but I try to make them fit well in my stories.

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  9. I agree that coming up with the work arounds is a lot of fun. Since I write for kids, I often have the character think, "My mom would kill me if I said something like that" or something similar.
    I love reading mysteries, even though I don't like a lot of gore or violence. It sounds like you write my kind of book. I'd rather leave the sex and violence off stage as a reader and a writer.

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    1. Yes, that's it exactly! Since JJ, in my PTA mysteries, is a mom, she can be explicit about the issues around language, and they have a "swear jar" at their house.

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  10. Hi Rebecca - great idea for working round those questionable language inclusions - makes perfect sense and I quite understand re your mother - mine would have agreed. Cheers Hilary

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  11. How great that your mom is a fan of your writing!

    You should make her into one of your characters.;)

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  12. Haha! I love how you portrayed the cussing without cussing. So clever.

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  13. I like the workaround approach! It acknowledges that many people cuss without actually including the colorful language. I've used that technique a few times, but more often, I let my characters swear like sailors. I probably should tone it down a bit.

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    1. It really depends on audience. My audience expects clean, thrillers have a different set of expectations.

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  14. Great idea on the cussing workarounds!

    I agree with what you said about violence. I don't want to write gory stuff.

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