Cursing and Sexual Situations in WOTF Stories?

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kizernix
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Cursing and Sexual Situations in WOTF Stories?

Postby kizernix » Wed Jan 22, 2020 4:30 pm

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!

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Re: Cursing and Sexual Situations in WOTF Stories?

Postby Wulf Moon » Wed Jan 22, 2020 5:52 pm

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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Re: Cursing and Sexual Situations in WOTF Stories?

Postby Dustin Adams » Thu Jan 23, 2020 3:00 am

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!
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Re: Cursing and Sexual Situations in WOTF Stories?

Postby kizernix » Thu Jan 23, 2020 6:05 am

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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Re: Cursing and Sexual Situations in WOTF Stories?

Postby chuckt » Thu Jan 23, 2020 7:24 am

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.
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Re: Cursing and Sexual Situations in WOTF Stories?

Postby kizernix » Thu Jan 23, 2020 12:16 pm

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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Re: Cursing and Sexual Situations in WOTF Stories?

Postby KD Julicher » Thu Jan 23, 2020 4:11 pm

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.
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Re: Cursing and Sexual Situations in WOTF Stories?

Postby Wulf Moon » Thu Jan 23, 2020 5:40 pm

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. :)

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Re: Cursing and Sexual Situations in WOTF Stories?

Postby Retropianoplayer » Thu Jan 23, 2020 7:35 pm

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

Enough said.

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Re: Cursing and Sexual Situations in WOTF Stories?

Postby chuckt » Fri Jan 24, 2020 8:25 am

Wulf Moon wrote: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?
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Re: Cursing and Sexual Situations in WOTF Stories?

Postby AlexH » Fri Jan 24, 2020 12:21 pm

"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."

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Re: Cursing and Sexual Situations in WOTF Stories?

Postby chuckt » Fri Jan 24, 2020 3:28 pm

AlexH wrote:"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.
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Re: Cursing and Sexual Situations in WOTF Stories?

Postby babooher » Sat Jul 11, 2020 1:12 pm

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?

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Re: Cursing and Sexual Situations in WOTF Stories?

Postby disgruntledpeony » Sat Jul 11, 2020 1:45 pm

babooher wrote: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.
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Re: Cursing and Sexual Situations in WOTF Stories?

Postby Dustin Adams » Mon Jul 13, 2020 6:00 am

babooher wrote: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.
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Re: Cursing and Sexual Situations in WOTF Stories?

Postby chuckt » Mon Jul 13, 2020 8:54 am

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.
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Re: Cursing and Sexual Situations in WOTF Stories?

Postby RSchibler » Mon Jul 13, 2020 9:18 am

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.
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Re: Cursing and Sexual Situations in WOTF Stories?

Postby babooher » Mon Jul 13, 2020 12:05 pm

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.

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Re: Cursing and Sexual Situations in WOTF Stories?

Postby Retropianoplayer » Mon Jul 13, 2020 12:13 pm

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.

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Re: Cursing and Sexual Situations in WOTF Stories?

Postby Dustin Adams » Mon Jul 13, 2020 12:24 pm

Retropianoplayer wrote: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.
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Re: Cursing and Sexual Situations in WOTF Stories?

Postby storysinger » Mon Jul 13, 2020 3:20 pm

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.
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