BOU 043 – Where Should Writers Draw the Line?

This week we kicked things off talking about how neither Johnny nor Dave’s friends and family care that they’re writers, whereas everyone in Sean’s life practically worships the ground he walks on.

For What’s Up Dave’s Butt, Dave talked about a comment from a Christian who was offended by a gay sex scene in WhiteSpace.

The guys then talked about where writers should draw the line and whether authors should censor themselves.

Check out the video at YouTube.

What do you think? Where should writers draw the line? Or should there be no lines?

5 Comments

  1. Hello guys,

    I wrote briefly on the YouTube channel but with the limited characters, I feel that my perspective wasn’t detailed enough.

    I’m a Black female who is currently writing an erotic romance with a White male and Afro-Brazilian/White female.

    With romance, readers are very particular about their heroes and heroines, particularly their ethnic backgrounds. I have heard stories from other Black romance writers who submitted their work to publishers, had the publishers agree to publish their work, but they made a request that the lead characters be switched from Black to White. I have received advice that if I want my books to sell to a mainstream audience then I had better have a ‘minority’ character who is half-whatever and half-White.

    Because I want readers, I have to develop characters that the readers will find appealing. Women (and men) want to desire the hero and dream they were the heroine. As a Black reader, I have frequently switched the ethnicity (in my mind) of the characters in books that I read. Then again, as a Black professional, I have had to modify my hair, scale back my assertive personality, and adapt the way that I speak when I am not around a predominately Black audience.

    I mention this because I value authors who try to be authentic over those authors who would rather just ignore people like me to begin with. When I turn on the tv, open a book, or listen to a radio program, I am going to assume that the producer, author, or host is White. I’m used to reading books written by White authors. I’m used to seeing television shows depict the stories of Black characters, and I will know that the writer is likely to be someone who does not look like me. It’s just how it is.

    So, to address your concern – I am assuming you are wondering about the use of ‘nigga’ by a Black character in your novel? I know many Black folk (myself included) who chose not to use that word; however, I understand that many, many younger members of the Black community do use that word. I am sure that there are many young people who don’t use that word, but I think it is much more authentic to say that a Black male between the ages of 15-30, who grew up in an urban environment, is likely to be using that term to describe himself and his friends. Do all Black people speak like that? No. But is it common enough that it is believable? Yes.

    Consider ‘Django Unchained’. It was written and directed by a White man who grew up around Black people. Some Black folk were disturbed by the frequency of the n-word but others understood that it fit within the context of that time. My 100 year old grandmother was born in the South and was the granddaughter of slaves. When describing herself and other Black folk, she has used the n-word. The non-acceptance of this word is rather recent. For a very long time, it was part of the common vernacular across this country.

    Saying it to my face is one thing, but writing it out as part of a character’s speech pattern is another. I’m not White nor am I male. I don’t know what it means to be a White man but I’m still including that character in my book.

    I hope that adds some perspective. Sorry for the length!

    Reply
    • No apologies for the length, that was all well-worded, wonderful perspective!

      Reply
    • This is fantastic, and thanks so much for giving your thoughts on this. I think authenticity is always better. The idea of switching something around to try to “play nice” (like having a very urban character speak like a news anchor or having a racist character say, “look at them African Americans”) seems to me like pandering. It’s hard to say for sure since I’m so mainstream, but I think that if I were in a situation where I was in the minority, I’d think that someone doing that toward me would actually feel somehow more insulting… going around something obvious — in a way that is totally obvious — points out differences and speaks louder than simply being honest about how things would actually happen would.

      Thanks again. Loved reading this!

      Reply
      • I’m finding myself working through my own conflict. My first series of erotic fiction deals with fat girls and the men who love them. Thus, I was going to label it the “Chubby Chasers Series”. I know a few men who identify as Chubby Chasers and I know a few people who object to the term. Personally, as a chubby girl, I think the series title conveys the right message in a succinct manner. But, I could run the risk of alienating a group of people who find the term offensive.

        Personally, I’m inclined to go with the term. I don’t want to bother with trying to identify the right words that are fine with everybody.

        Reply
        • I think it depends on the handling. I ran into this with Fat Vampire, so, not being very chubby myself, I ran it by a few hefty friends and asked what they thought. Because my “fat guy” is the hero and isn’t being mocked by me as the author, I’ve gotten ZERO feedback from people who found “fat” offensive.

          Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CAPTCHA Image

*