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Cursing and Sexual Situations in WOTF Stories?

 
Kizer
(@kizer)
Advanced Member
Posts: 38

Hello fellow writers, I am new to the forum, but am part of Dave Wolverton's Apex Writing Group and am working on my first submittal to the contest in the 2nd quarter.

I've read quite a few stories in the previous anthologies, though not all. I have a quick question, I don't see any guidelines regarding curse words, or sexual situations in the contest rules (more PG-13 than R!) but wanted to know if a story would have a harder time placing with a more adult audience in mind.

The reason I ask is I saw Wulf Moon post on our Facebook group that the WOTF anthology has a large YA audience.

thank you for any suggestions!

Kizer Nix

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Topic starter Posted : January 22, 2020 10:30 am
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
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Posts: 2084

The raciest story I've seen published was in Volume 34, I believe. Rock band protestors sleeping together. Can't recall the title, but I was surprised it made it in, in view of comments about the WotF audience Dave has made. Even had some cursing. So there's your comp.

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Posted : January 22, 2020 11:52 am
Dustin Adams
(@axeminister)
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Posts: 972

Nudity is fine, I have found, if necessary(ish) to the story. It has enough history in SF and Fantasy so as to be part of the story, not gratuitous. Sex, however, is mentioned only in passing - enough to get the point across. "They entered the bedroom, and shut off the lights." No more than a paragraph, I recommend... Because for the most part it doesn't generally forward the plot. If it matures character, then the words are few enough that the point gets across.

Dave's own winning story was fascinating. I recommend it for this question. I was a little surprised...

In one of his old Kicks, he said don't pull punches. Don't be milquetoast. So I use his story as my max as my guideline. And gather a general sense from the other antho's stories.

Grats on Apex btw!

2x Finalist
2x Semi
5x Silver
9x HM
1 of 5 SilverHM. 1 of 3 DSF: Short Stories. My Finalist #1 Finalist #2 coming soon in 4th & Starlight

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Posted : January 22, 2020 9:00 pm
Kizer
(@kizer)
Advanced Member
Posts: 38

Wulf, Dustin - Thanks for your thoughtful responses. Both helped me decide how to edit this particular story.

Curious about which story Dave won with, do you happen to remember the story or volume?

Best!

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Topic starter Posted : January 23, 2020 12:05 am
chuckt
(@chuckt)
Silver Member
Posts: 417

Hey! I did a thread where I actually did a number count on such things. The contest is increasingly allowing these things but I bet the experienced guys will tell you it's probably still a bit risky. [url] viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7635&p=89723&hilit=shit#p89723/url]

Here is part of what I wrote (this is based on a Read of Vol. 34):

SPOILER ALERT

A Bitter Thing and Flee, My Pretty One both have the characters engaging in sex. Heck, it is the central plot point of A Bitter Thing because the alien making her "come" is a drug to him.

There were "shit"s (3), "hell"s (20), "crap's" (7), and "damn"s (14) and one "god damned." Couple of "piss," but no F-bombs. I am using George Carlin's curse word list by the way. There were no "tits," or "MF"s. No "C_nt." No "cock sucker" but "Suck his own Cock" appeared in A Smokeless and Scorching Fire (a 1st place winner)!

HOWEVER-The sex was only in third place stories. "Shit" appeared once in a second place story (the other two appearances were in the two sex stories). "Crap" did appear in Mara's Shadow (Wow, what a story!) and both sex stories. And "suck his own cock" was in a first-place story. Lots of "Damns" and the one GD was in Flee (surprised that one got through).

I note in the introduction that Dave wrote he doesn't like sex in the stories. Interesting.

36: R, R, R, SHM
37: R, HM, R, HM
38 ?

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Posted : January 23, 2020 1:24 am
Kizer
(@kizer)
Advanced Member
Posts: 38

LOL! Thanks Chuckt I love that 'suck his own cock' was in a first place story. That's pretty hardcore. (I did love Mara's Shadow also)

I had a test pilot in my upcoming submission that says 'fuck' in one scene, I will probably edit that out based on the Forum's advice. But, its hard for me to self-sensor. I started as an artist before becoming a writer and in that world it's all about pushing boundaries.

Thanks for sharing your research, this helped!

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Topic starter Posted : January 23, 2020 6:16 am
KD Julicher
(@kd-julicher)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 119

Hi fellow Apex Writer!

I recommend cutting out the sex and cursing. Consider it an editing exercise - figure out a way to make your story stronger while removing the possible stumbling blocks.

I recently submitted a piece that made Finalist at WOTF over to Deep Magic (I published over there last summer with a former HM story, love those guys) and had to remove a few WOTF-appropriate swears from the piece because I wasn't sure how "hells" and "damns" would fly. But I left in a "hellspawned" because it was a technical term. Know your market! Don't self-eliminate by writing something grossly inappropriate. If I were contributing to a special call about Climate Change, I wouldn't include sections about how tree-huggers are ruining society or make a coal-roller my hero. I'm working on a piece for the Jim Baen Memorial Contest right now: having my heroes spout anti-space-travel rhetoric would make it a no-go there. Know your audience.

WOTF: HM x 16, SHMx2, SF x 1, F V31 Q3, V32 Q2, V32 Q4, V34 Q3, V36 Q1
Baen Fantasy Award Winner 2014
V32 Published Finalist
3rd place V37 Q1!

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Posted : January 23, 2020 10:11 am
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2084

What KD Julicher said. Just because someone got away with it doesn't mean you will. Don't push this envelope. And a note to all: please refrain from using vulgar terms on future Forum posts. I understand we're adults, and we are trying to figure out what is acceptable, but we do keep clean halls in this establishment. Smile

All the beast,

Wulf Moon
Forum Moderator

JOIN THE WULF PACK! http://the super secrets.com
"Super-Duper Moongirl and the Amazing Moon Dawdler" wins WRITERS OF THE FUTURE VOL. 35 & BEST SF&F STORY OF 2019. Order WotF Volume 35 HERE!
“Muzik Man" wins BEST SF&F STORY of 2020
NEW! Don't miss "Shaken, Not Stirred" & "Behind the Scenes" & "Nail Your Opening" in DreamForge Anvil Magazine!
JUST RELEASED! BEST OF DEEP MAGIC ANTHOLOGY TWO! Three Super Secrets Workshop members made it into this best of the best anthology! KD Julicher, Brittany Rainsdon, and some guy named Wulf Moon.Click HERE to get yours!

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Posted : January 23, 2020 11:40 am
Retropianoplayer
(@retropianoplayer)
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Posts: 224

I remember reading Dave Farland in one of the introductions to an anthology state they sell their product to ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS.

Enough said.

Best,

Retro

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Posted : January 23, 2020 1:35 pm
chuckt
(@chuckt)
Silver Member
Posts: 417

What KD Julicher said. Just because someone got away with it doesn't mean you will. Don't push this envelope. And a note to all: please refrain from using vulgar terms on future Forum posts.

Sorry about that. I'm used to using such terms in a clinical sense for clarity sake. (Except the F and C words. I won't type them or say them even as part of a clinical discussion). I would never use them in a "conversational" manner in any post, even though, literally, they appear in the WotF anthology. If it comes up again, I'll do the asterisk thing for all such words in the future if that's okay?

36: R, R, R, SHM
37: R, HM, R, HM
38 ?

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Posted : January 24, 2020 2:25 am
AlexH
(@alexh)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 247

"Any story that you submit that is not fit to be read by a high school student is, in my opinion, fatally flawed and will be rejected. Profanity may be edited out, but if vile content is what the story is about, then you need to be submitting to someone else."

Ten Reasons Why I’ll Quickly Reject Your Story
https://mystorydoctor.com/ten-reasons-w ... our-story/

35: - R R R | 36: R HM R R | 37: HM HM HM SHM | 38: HM

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Posted : January 24, 2020 6:21 am
chuckt
(@chuckt)
Silver Member
Posts: 417

"Any story that you submit that is not fit to be read by a high school student is, in my opinion, fatally flawed and will be rejected. Profanity may be edited out, but if vile content is what the story is about, then you need to be submitting to someone else."

Ten Reasons Why I’ll Quickly Reject Your Story
https://mystorydoctor.com/ten-reasons-w ... our-story/

That is an interesting quote. A story can certainly be vile without using any cursing or sexual content. And, as Volume 34 proves, the opposite is true as well. A BItter Thing has to be on the cutting edge of what is allowable. I was surprised it was in there. Beautifully written for sure but the central premise is quite racy.

36: R, R, R, SHM
37: R, HM, R, HM
38 ?

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Posted : January 24, 2020 9:28 am
babooher
(@babooher)
Bronze Member
Posts: 87

Not sure if this is the write place to ask this, but here goes. What about works set in time periods where current socially acceptable terms would be anachronistic, but the terms of the day are now considered unacceptable?

2012 Q4: R
2016 Q3: SHM
2019 Q2: HM, Q3: HM
2020 Q2: HM, Q4: SHM
2021 Q1: HM, Q2: WAITING, Q3: WIP

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Posted : July 11, 2020 9:12 am
Disgruntled Peony
(@disgruntledpeony)
Gold Star Member
Posts: 1055

Not sure if this is the write place to ask this, but here goes. What about works set in time periods where current socially acceptable terms would be anachronistic, but the terms of the day are now considered unacceptable?

I would definitely tread lightly in such cases, especially if the terms in question are associated with some form of bigotry.

If you are in difficulties with a book, try the element of surprise: attack it at an hour when it isn't expecting it. ~ H.G. Wells
R, SF, SHM, SHM, SHM, F, R, HM, SHM, R, HM, R, F, SHM, SHM, SHM, SF, SHM, ?, ?
Ticknor Tales

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Posted : July 11, 2020 9:45 am
Dustin Adams
(@axeminister)
Gold Member
Posts: 972

Not sure if this is the write place to ask this, but here goes. What about works set in time periods where current socially acceptable terms would be anachronistic, but the terms of the day are now considered unacceptable?

I do not recommend this at all. Not for big buzzwords, anyway. Words like Wench are OK.

Seeing what my wife goes through with her books...
They've been banned for some of the words inside - despite being time-piece books...
She had to remove the word Gypsy from one novel because it was considered insensitive.

I know there's a lot of political friction for this stuff at the moment, but that aside, it's still up to the publisher if they use it.

2x Finalist
2x Semi
5x Silver
9x HM
1 of 5 SilverHM. 1 of 3 DSF: Short Stories. My Finalist #1 Finalist #2 coming soon in 4th & Starlight

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Posted : July 13, 2020 2:00 am
chuckt
(@chuckt)
Silver Member
Posts: 417

I was just re-watching Django last night and wondering how in the world Tarentino gets away with it. I guess if you are portraying past events as they might have happened, it's acceptable. If you used some of those words as current-speak, you'd get some severe reactions.

36: R, R, R, SHM
37: R, HM, R, HM
38 ?

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Posted : July 13, 2020 4:54 am
RETreasure
(@rschibler)
Silver Star Member
Posts: 696

It also helps if you're Tarentino, frankly. I would be very cautious using any terms that are currently taboo, particularly racist or sexist terms, unless there is a very compelling story reason to do so.

V34: R,HM,R
V35: HM,R,R,HM
V36: R,HM,HM,SHM
V37: HM,SF,SHM,SHM
V38: F, P
Available for critiques - PM for availability.
www.rebeccaetreasure.com

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Posted : July 13, 2020 5:18 am
babooher
(@babooher)
Bronze Member
Posts: 87

I don't need to use the breadth of Tarantino's language. I'm looking at language such as that found in MLK's "I Have a Dream" speech.

2012 Q4: R
2016 Q3: SHM
2019 Q2: HM, Q3: HM
2020 Q2: HM, Q4: SHM
2021 Q1: HM, Q2: WAITING, Q3: WIP

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Posted : July 13, 2020 8:05 am
Retropianoplayer
(@retropianoplayer)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 224

I don't ever use terms which are racist or hurtful. Ever. Even in historical timepieces. It's not a matter of political correctness; it's a matter of one reader, any reader, being emotionally hurt over choice of words you chose to put into a manuscript. Your reader, or fan, isn't going to peruse the verbiage and say, "Well, that's historically accurate." They're going to be hurt; maybe, it sparks a memory of some past injustice they've experienced, maybe a parent or grandparent acts a certain way at Thanksgiving Dinner. Who knows? I classify it as "VERBOTEN."

And in a contest which judges thousands of entries, it's not a good idea to "test the waters."

That's all I have to say about that.

Best,

Retro

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Posted : July 13, 2020 8:13 am
Dustin Adams
(@axeminister)
Gold Member
Posts: 972

I don't ever use terms which are racist or hurtful. Ever. Even in historical timepieces. It's not a matter of political correctness; it's a matter of one reader, any reader, being emotionally hurt over choice of words you chose to put into a manuscript. Your reader, or fan, isn't going to peruse the verbiage and say, "Well, that's historically accurate." They're going to be hurt; maybe, it sparks a memory of some past injustice they've experienced, maybe a parent or grandparent acts a certain way at Thanksgiving Dinner. Who knows? I classify it as "VERBOTEN."

And in a contest which judges thousands of entries, it's not a good idea to "test the waters."

That's all I have to say about that.

Best,

Retro

One woman who raged against my wife's book, successfully got it banned from a few elementary schools,(because of one word) was asked if she'd read it. She said no. Context was irrelevant.

2x Finalist
2x Semi
5x Silver
9x HM
1 of 5 SilverHM. 1 of 3 DSF: Short Stories. My Finalist #1 Finalist #2 coming soon in 4th & Starlight

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Posted : July 13, 2020 8:24 am
storysinger
(@storysinger)
Gold Member
Posts: 808

As writers, sometimes we tend to back up and repeat the sentence just written. Something about it just doesn't feel right. If the problem is about bad or questionable grammar, you're wasting time and energy.

Basically we're all learning to achieve a level-up moment. Don't take a chance on adding a point toward getting a rejection.
Each writer has a chance to choose their path, some are harder to travel than others, IMHO.

If you haven't already, read Dave's lesson for today. He talks about long stories and world-building.

Today's science fiction is tomorrow's reality-D.R.Sweeney
HM-V32/Q3
HM-V36/Q4
HM-V38/Q1

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Posted : July 13, 2020 11:20 am
RusticBohemian
(@rusticbohemian)
Advanced Member
Posts: 36

There's a female "otherworldly being" that's killed several of my main character's friends over the course of the story. 

At one point the character is thinking to himself and refers to this being as a "hag." I don't find this to be harsh language. If you look the word up in the dictionary it can be used to refer to a witch. But would this be considered offensive and/or sexist? 

 

 

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Posted : March 30, 2021 7:00 pm
Disgruntled Peony
(@disgruntledpeony)
Gold Star Member
Posts: 1055

@rusticbohemian Depends on how literal or figurative the term is, I suppose, and what the character's intention is in using it. (Is he using it because she is literally a hag-like being or as a method of disparaging her?)

If you are in difficulties with a book, try the element of surprise: attack it at an hour when it isn't expecting it. ~ H.G. Wells
R, SF, SHM, SHM, SHM, F, R, HM, SHM, R, HM, R, F, SHM, SHM, SHM, SF, SHM, ?, ?
Ticknor Tales

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Posted : March 30, 2021 10:07 pm
RusticBohemian
(@rusticbohemian)
Advanced Member
Posts: 36
Posted by: @disgruntledpeony

@rusticbohemian Depends on how literal or figurative the term is, I suppose, and what the character's intention is in using it. (Is he using it because she is literally a hag-like being or as a method of disparaging her?)

She fits into the first category, but he's using it in a fit of anger as disparagement. 

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Posted : March 31, 2021 6:29 am
Reuben
(@reuben)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 216

@rusticbohemian

I wouldn't worry about it, personally. It's not like there's a specific people that it targets. 

Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm ~ Winston Churchill
V37: R, R, R, HM
V38: SHM

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Posted : March 31, 2021 9:37 am
Sarah-Jane Moldenhauer
(@roastiebean)
Active Member
Posts: 6

I read a lot of books in my younger years. Personally, unless someone is reading a romance novel where the sexual scenes is supposed to progress the plot between the two main characters, I do not find it is necessary. If it is purely sci-fi, I have to admit... I haven't read many sexual encounters in normal sci-fi books. If however, it is fantasy in nature, then sex as a form of intrigue, manipulation, or even raw desire can progress the story between two characters, but it has to be relevant. Still...most sci-fi books I read, and fantasy, and even the occasional strange/weird/horror, did not have sex. I never saw it as weird. But there again, I grew up in an environment where sex was just not discussed on seen on a day to day basis. Perhaps that is why it doesn't interest me as much. That does not mean I am against sex, and fully believe sexual encounters teaches an individual about a ton of things, including behaviour, boundaries and a bunch of other relevant information. I feel that in the end, if you have lived life the correct way, you end up viewing sex as a way to create children and a form of connection with another being that goes beyond mere sex, more than raw desire that exists between two individuals- which theoretically, lasts all of 6 months- the soft infatuation humans have with each other. After that, it is a gradual decline of sex. It can be argued that there are different stages of sex, and long-lasting relationships fall into routine eventually, where you are in 'essence' living with your best friend for the rest of your life. Unfortunately, after a period of 3-5 years between a couple, there is usually a doubt stage, and if they have not conceived children by then, one party or the other, may indeed find greener pastures. Smile   Here again, having children should be seen as the correct course of action for two people if that is what they want to achieve, but it should not be expected, or a given that people have to leave a legacy. Some people progress in life without having children, and people may disagree here with me, but sometimes, enlightenment cannot be attained by the material world. If it is legacy a character needs in a book, then passion, sex and children is a natural progression. If the person is more concerned about power, then children might a form of hindrance, or even seen as a form of enslavement to an individual like that. Something to consider.

 

This post was modified 2 months ago by Sarah-Jane Moldenhauer
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Posted : April 21, 2021 5:00 pm
RusticBohemian
(@rusticbohemian)
Advanced Member
Posts: 36

I'm trying to find non-corny terms of derision an angry character could use to refer to a group he hates without running up against the contest's vulgarity filter. 

Brainstorm with me here: 

"Prigs," works pretty well, but I feel like "Jackasses," sounds pretty corny. 

I assume "assholes" is off-limits?

How about "bastards"?

Any other suggestions?

 

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Posted : May 6, 2021 7:16 am
storysinger
(@storysinger)
Gold Member
Posts: 808

Dimwits is low-key and covers a wide spectrum. I haven't used it, but I never say never.

Today's science fiction is tomorrow's reality-D.R.Sweeney
HM-V32/Q3
HM-V36/Q4
HM-V38/Q1

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Posted : May 6, 2021 10:53 am
DoctorJest
(@doctorjest)
Silver Member
Posts: 285

I'd say look to the setting--find something that is an insult for the world or circle they're moving in. When I lived in the north of England, southerners was an insult--in Sunderland and Newcastle, cities with rival soccer teams, insults linking someone to the other's town (Geordies and Macems, respectively) could be very strong in the right circles. In the mountains where I live, the term flatlanders is often used as an insult, specifically describing people who travel up and treat the mountain like a paid resort where they can litter and be rude to the folks who live here (which is not most of them--but the term is definitely derogatory). I've also seen racial insults work in fantasy fiction, provided that the races themselves are fictional, as that can highlight both an in-world racial conflict and an individual character's prejudices very quickly.

(Note: these are pretty universally of the in-group, out-group form.)

Rather than looking just for an insult, if it's important to the character and the scene, see if you can find something that is more than just an avoid the censors word. Chances are, you can do more with it. 

R: 0 / HM: 8 / SHM: 3 / SF: 0 / F: 1
Currently in for Q2.V38 / Q3.V38 in final revisions / Q4.V38 in flux (3 possibles, all complete)
Revised SHM ('Ashwright') at PodCastle
Revised HM ('The Winds of the Mind') forthcoming at Abyss and Apex, ~October 2023

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Posted : May 6, 2021 11:46 am
AlexH, Reuben, PenMark and 2 people liked
RusticBohemian
(@rusticbohemian)
Advanced Member
Posts: 36
Posted by: @doctorjest

I'd say look to the setting--find something that is an insult for the world or circle they're moving in. When I lived in the north of England, southerners was an insult--in Sunderland and Newcastle, cities with rival soccer teams, insults linking someone to the other's town (Geordies and Macems, respectively) could be very strong in the right circles. In the mountains where I live, the term flatlanders is often used as an insult, specifically describing people who travel up and treat the mountain like a paid resort where they can litter and be rude to the folks who live here (which is not most of them--but the term is definitely derogatory). I've also seen racial insults work in fantasy fiction, provided that the races themselves are fictional, as that can highlight both an in-world racial conflict and an individual character's prejudices very quickly.

(Note: these are pretty universally of the in-group, out-group form.)

Rather than looking just for an insult, if it's important to the character and the scene, see if you can find something that is more than just an avoid the censors word. Chances are, you can do more with it. 

Good ideas. Thanks

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Posted : May 6, 2021 11:54 am
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