Saturday, July 10, 2010

Interesting discussion with Nike Chillemi ~ Crime Fictionista: The F-Bomb and Two Camps In Christian Fiction Writing

Funny thing--right after I read Nike's post, my husband came into my office to share with me the exciting items he saw sell at a local farm auction this afternoon. First he told me about an old grain truck which sold for $21,000 ("It was cute, cute, kee-ute!") Then he told me about a tractor. About the time my eyes were glazing over, my hubby-dear mentioned the hydraulic apparatus on the front of the tractor, comparing it to the bucket on his tractor, "Scoopy." (Remember, this is Iowa, folks. Where name our tractors and eat our hand-raised cows.) What brought me back to a state of full consciousness, however, was when, in his auction-frenzied state, Dave accidentally mispronounced the word "bucket" -- replacing the "b" with an "f".

I laughed, and laughed.

Oh, come on! It was funny.

And because he was in a teasing mood and, apparently trying to get me to pee my pants, my sweet husband kept going on and on about the awesomeness of said (bucket with an "f") and how well it would perform in the field.

Oh, man. I laughed a lot. And I was extra-especially glad the kids were at the pool and no one else could hear our banter. But... there it is.

So the question is upon us: was it profane of me to laugh? for him to tease? or was it good, clean fun?

It's a point I've argued before concerning profanity in fiction (and in life): what is the author's (or speaker's) motive behind using a particular word, phrase, or action which may be considered, by some audiences, to be profane? Has the author looked at other options? Is the use of the item justifiable or gratuitous? Does it fit the character, the context of the work/conversation? Would the Voice of this author be able to portray the usage of this item in a believable fashion?

Nike's post and the attached comments concern the "F-Bomb". In my opinion however, any word or phrase, spoken in violence, can become profane. Even the words I LOVE YOU can be profane when used falsely or used to manipulate another person. To me, such blasphemy aimed toward something which is true--is way more profane than the casual (or not-so-casual) dropping of an occasional F-Bomb.

But it's important to note that, while I may laugh at its utterance when made in a comical error of pronunciation, I still hate hearing the F-Bomb dropping like penny candy on the Wal-Mart floor.

And I don't like to see it abused upon the page, either.

As writers and readers we should look at profanity from a certain distance while keeping our suspension of disbelief firmly in... limbo. (Yes, I know. But can you truly keep a "suspension" firmly in place? I didn't think so.) A writer's authentic voice must remain true as she brings her characters and scenes to life.

Before those critical cards and letters start pouring in, before someone thinks us "edgy" authors are too flip and free with our use of things they may consider profane (a certain scene from Braveheart just popped into my mind. I'll let you wonder which one. Hint: The moon was full that day.), I will let you know that we do not (usually) write with the intent to offend.

But, I digress.

After the writer has ascertained her own motives and has weighed usage against context, character, and voice, she may choose a different way to express a certain emotion or action in order to stay true to the story and its intended audience... and to make the vocabulary and description of action appropriate to both. That's how fiction mirrors truth. And it ain't an easy wire to balance upon when the red pen hits the page.

So, if you haven't had enough of this subject after reading my two cents, visit Nike Chillemi's blog by clicking on the link in the next sentence. You'll find a fresh "Bucket" list of comments, spoken in the words of Nike Chillemi ~ Crime Fictionista: The F-Bomb and Two Camps In Christian Fiction Writing and other brave souls. As always, I welcome your comments. And I'm sure Nike will, as well.

What a fun ECFL Summer Blog Tour Eve. I hope I don't forget to set out the milk and cookies for Joy Tamsin David!

Make sure to check out Joy's blog tomorrow--the first stop on the Edgy Christian Fiction Lovers Summer Blog Tour. Joy will be blogging about Edgy Christian Romance. Date and Link below!
Sun, July 11: Joy Tamsin David, Edgy Christian Romance


Joy Tamsin David said...

Thanks for the shout out Shawna! Awesome post, as always.

I think I'll substitute iced tea for the milk though, unsweetened please.

See you tomorrow!

Nike Chillemi said...

You have a funny husband.

Well, I don't know if your banter was good clean fun or not, but I'd stake a lot on it that it wasn't a sin. It was between a husband and wife. Think you're covered. Can get as sexy as you want. Nope, not a sin.

Such a good question!!! What is profanity? What exactly is profane?

I'd heard you were in the eagle program at Camp Terninally Stupid, and now I believe it.

BTW...I also attended Foot In Mouth Junior College. Was in the debate club there.

Tracy Krauss said...

Well said, as always. It's hard to go against the status quo, but .... some of us just can't help it. And guess what? GOD LOVES ME ANYWAY!! (And I thinkHe was probably also laughing :)