Monday, February 15, 2010

Politically Correct

When I was thinking what I would blog about today, I tried to remember some of the things I see in contests and comment on. Since I judge at least four contests a year, (not always the same genre) I see a lot of different writing styles. It's my way of getting even for all the crappy scores I've received.

Just kidding - about the getting even, not the less-than-genius scores I've received. In my case, I usually got at least one judge who thought I was the next Evanovich and one who advised me to keep my day job. I've been told it was because I had a strong voice - a politically correct way of saying some love me, some would rather see me back in a nurse's uniform.

So, I try to really be tolerant when I judge an entry. There's a way of pointing out an error and giving a suggestion on how to fix it without shattering the person's self esteem in the process. Sometimes, the only good thing I could say about the writing is that they handled POV well, but at least, it's something positive. In today's economy, people are entering fewer contests, so I try to give them the best bang for their buck

But there's one thing I never let go unnoticed when I see it in an entry.

Nothing gets my blood boiling faster when I'm watching TV or reading a story than having a person with access to the public putting out their political and/or religious views like it was bible (pun intended.) I don't care if you're a Democrat, a Republican or like me, somewhere in between, or if you practice Buddhism or Catholicism. I gave up my time and money to be entertained - so entertain me. If I wanted politics, I'd watch one of the news channels.

Stereo-typing is something else I see sometimes in contests - another no no. I try to remind the writer as gently as I can how many people their words may offend on so many difference levels. And in my opinion, (it's my post, you have to listen. Your opinions will come in the comments.) if even one person refuses to buy your book because of something you wrote, that's one too many. And what we may not realize is that there are readers as well as other writers who buy a lot of books out there reading our Facebook entries and Tweets. I can think of one really big name author, a favorite of mine, who will no longer get the price of her next novel out of me because of exactly what I'm talking about. A certain recording artist also got nixed from my "have to have" list. I know I'm only one person, but I have to think if it made me mad, chances are it affected a few others the same way.

So, every one of us needs to be more aware of making sure there is nothing in our stories that could offend anyone. I use a lot of "Bubbas" as villains. Usually, they're comic relief. I think I'm okay with that because nobody really thinks he's a "Bubba", or as Jeff Foxworthy says - "You're a redneck IF...."

Enough serious stuff. It's time to add a little humor to the subject. I confess to receiving these over the Internet and have no idea whom to credit.

To be politically correct, remember:

She isn't a BABE or a CHICK. She's a breasted American.
She isn't EASY. She's horizontally accessible.
She's not a DUMB BLOND - She's a light-haired detour off the Information Superhighway.

And my personal favorite:

That's not his Line of Demarcation hanging out of the back of his pants. It's rear cleavage.

Come on, people, you know you're smiling. Now comment on being politically correct in general or any good ones to add to my list.


Carol Kilgore said...

I so agree with you. These are great. I needed that laugh on a Monday morning.

Liz Lipperman said...

Carol, thanks for the comment. This is a subject that's been bothering me for a long time.

And glad you enjoyed it.

Anita Clenney said...

So funny, Liz! I sometimes worry about political correctness. I'll have a character say something that I probably wouldn't say, but it fits the character. I think about it, don't want to offend anyone so I pull it out, then I put it back in, and usually leave it, because it does fit the character.

I think it can be difficult to write authentic characters, allowing their flaws and prejudices because that's who they are. It makes me feel guilty, like it's me who's doing or saying it, not the character. I probably hold back too much, and that can leave the writer with a flat, boring character.

I don't like stereotypes, in real life or in books. I like to see diversity and characters that surprise me, but I think it's very easy to fall into the stereotypical trap.

Cassy Pickard said...

Liz: Great topic! In our writing, I wonder if we create an "edge" when we are actually NOT politically correct. There have been times when I write a scene that I wonder if it is stronger with my breaking the "correct" rules. We all know what is "right" to say. What happens when we are "wrong?"

You are too funny, as usual.

Liz Lipperman said...

Anita, trust me, none of your characters are flat!!

And I hear you about the putting in something, taking it out, then eventually leaving it. We writers are such a self-doubting breed.

Thanks for commenting.

Liz Lipperman said...

Cassy, now you've really got me thinking. Can you explain your comment a little better - with maybe an example? Are you saying sometimes being politically incorrect works better?

Mary Martinez said...

Great Blog! I have had the same experience with contests. I hate them because I spend my money and never have a chance to win because of the one judge who thinks I have the worst grammar ever. Yet the other judge thought I had stellar grammar, or the story line was too unbelievable. We'll if it's predictable do you want to read it?

There's a fine line between believable and predictable and as writers we have to balance it to keep our readers. It's hard.

And on top of that politically correct? Man, I have such a hard time knowing what's correct, you know it can change day to day, how are my characters to know?

Liz very fun!

Lindsay said...

Another thing to remember when writing is-if it's politically correct now, when the book comes out what you wrote might not be. That, in and of itself, make it hard what to write.
If you write that someone is 'old' now it might be correct, didn't check, don't really want to know since I'm old. But when your book comes out the reference to someone being 'old' might not be correct so what should you use now for something time in the future. If someone says 'I'm aged' or any variation personally I'd be insulted. Makes it sound like I'm a bottle of wine. I'm old and (explitive deleted) proud of it. Notice I didn't use the other word since it might not be politically correct.
The rule I usually follow is-if I think it's insulting to a person or group of people then I find another way to say it.
And by the way-Bubba. George Strait has a son with that name and 'bubba in the family tree' is a line in a Blake Shelton song. So I see no problem in using that name.

Kris Yankee said...

I try very hard to be pc when I write. I am very aware of my own views and issues, and I don't use my characters as a soapbox. My characters have enough of their own issues, that imposing mine on them will only make them grouchier! Still though, I won't write about certain topics (rape, child abuse, drug abuse, etc.) because if I don't want to write about it, why would anyone want to read it. Great post!

Lindsay said...

I agree with you on your no write topics. I don't read it/don't write it either. There's enough of that in the real world.

Kari Lee Townsend said...

I laughed so hard on those examples, Liz. Very funny. Great post as usual! Gee, how will I top that one tomorrow :-)

Liz Lipperman said...

Okay, I'm back from running errands.

Mary, you and I must have entered the same contests! I always get tagged for not enough descriptive writing. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, one judge wanted to know if a van in a high speed race with the cops had windows.

I think ridiculous things like that have made me a better judge. But oh, I have to tel you , really bad grammar drives me crazy. Not that I always use it correctly myself. I'm talking about really BAD grammar.

I hope i never judged one of yours, and if I did, please forgive me!~!!! You never got one that said you handled POV well, did ya?

Just kidding. LOL If you're a client of Christine's, I know you must be a great writer.

Thanks for commenting.

Liz Lipperman said...

Lindsay, good to know about Bubba Strait. Here in the South, a "Bubba" is another name for Redneck. My favorite Jeff Foxworthy Redneck line is "You know you're a redneck if you go to family reunions to pick up women!"

Hey, thanks for commenting. And about being old...I'm right there with ya.

Liz Lipperman said...

Kris, I agree 100% with you. there are some subjects to taboo to write about. I worried my story about stealing sperm was too racy. (It was really about saving a child's life.)

But then, I like to think the story line is present day medical stuff. We'll see. It's still waiting on a buyer!!

Thanks for commenting. When I'm finished here, I'm going to hop over and see what you've written about today.

Liz Lipperman said...

Kari, you always write funny stuff, so you never have to worry about that.

I just noticed how many errors I'm making with these comments. Thank heavens, this isn't a contest that I'm judging!!

Thanks for commenting.