Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Keepin' it real - fo shizzle

Okay I really have no idea what my title of this post actually says. LOL. But today we're going to be talking about keeping it real in our stories - as in, believability vs. rules of genre/publisher.

But probably not in the way you might assume! When you read the above statement, did you think I meant believability as in contrived writing/forced writing/unbelievable solutions to a character's problem, etc. ?

Nope. :)

I mean keeping your characters real - as in, letting you bad guys be bad guys without cussing or doing other graphic things on the page.

That's the key element, really. On the page.

Whether you write suspense or happy ever after romance or young adult or even historical, you will struggle with this, especially in internal dialogue. How can you write believable bad guys when you aren't allowed to use curse words (and for majority of Christian authors, would feel somewhat convicted about including them even if allowed)? It's a tricky balance - you don't want to offend your readers, but you also don't want them rolling your eyes when your mass-murderer-villain says "Fiddlesticks."  ;)

One way around this is very acceptable from both camps - you don't show the language. You imply it. For example:

Red and blue lights flashed in his rearview mirror. Baddy McBadster cursed as he debated his choices. Risk a high speed chase? Or risk the blue-suit discovering what was stashed in the trunk?

See what I mean?

You can say "he cursed" or "let out an expletive" or any variety of expressions that will be true to their character without disappointing your grandma, your editor, or your readers :)

(I'm choosing NOT to get into the debate here on what actually constitutes as a curse word or not. That's for you and God to decide, and you and your editor! lol)

This can be particularly tricky to carry out in YA - when the teens might not necessarily cuss but would definitely use slang or crude language, especially older teens in party crowds when peer pressure is high. Again, I encourage you to use your imagination and get creative with the expression. Remember, in this case, it's okay to TELL and not show! (yay, permission!!)

How else have you found your way around these type roadblocks in writing?

1 comment:

  1. I had to do this countless times in my Roman novel. It was tough to get across how evil Roman slave masters were without creating actual immoral scenes and keeping it Christ-honoring. The same for their drinking, swearing, and more. I think it always boils down to being discreet. And praying. I often prayed and allowed God to lead me about how much detail and such. Good post!