Editing for Grammarphobes: Killing Granny


“Every woman artist has to kill her own grandmother. She perches on our shoulder whispering, ‘Don’t embarrass the family.’” 

— Erica Jong, in Writers on Writing
eds. Robert Pack and Jay Parini

Writers hear voices. That is a given.

Whether it is a heated argument between your protagonist and her husband or a secondary character and his landlord, we all have our consciousness invaded by those we create.

But, have you ever imagined your mother’s potential shock when she reads a certain chapter? Did the thought of that disapproval cause you to rewrite it and take it down a notch?

Say you are writing a scene in which your main character is severely displeased, no, really angry, no, totally pissed off, no, so infuriated she wants to scream (INSERT YOUR FAVORITE EXPLETIVE HERE). Did you pause, even for a scant second, before dropping the F-bomb, wondering what your grandfather would say?

How about sex scenes? Are you comfortable writing them, or does the notion make your squirm and giggle?

Creation demands freedom — the freedom to communicate whatever you, as the author, deem necessary to properly convey the story. This freedom threshold varies from writer to writer, which is perfectly acceptable, as long as you are the one in control of your parameters.

Not a family member.
Not a religious advisor.
Not your readers.

Writers have a responsibility to be true to their stories. Period.

I think women, especially, need to be reminded of this. So many things were considered unladylike when I was growing up.

Do not offend anyone.
Smile, dear.
Be a good little girl.

F**k that.


Kelly Hashway said…
I do worry about this sometimes. In my YA WIP, my MC is very feisty and she says things that sometimes make me think twice. Will she offend readers? But in the end I stay true to my MC and allow her to be herself.
I LOVE THIS POST!!! You are so on point. And you may not believe this, but I started to write something around this area, too;-)

Oh my goodness, I have to add you to my blogroll...

But still, and note;-) though I went ahead and wrote Pleasure, one of my books where I just let it rip, I, HOWEVER, tell my family NOT to read. LOL!!!
...sorry about the typo on the last line. That should be I, HOWEVER, did tell my family NOT to read it.
Janel said…
My solution to this has not been even letting my more conservative family members know I write fiction. And if anything is ever said, I'll just tell them all they don't have to read it!!
Beverly Diehl said…
I used to have hangups about this. Because, of course, once I finished my first novel it would be so f--king brilliant it would be published within months, nay, weeks, right?

(Have you stopped howling with laughter yet?) Yes, well, even if we write something scandalous, there's no guarantee it will be published (unless we self-publish) and chances are your grandmother, like mine, will be long dead of old age by then.

We have to write the story and characters that are in us. Not everything in life is clean and neat and wears a nice hat to church. (And wouldn't it be dead boring if it was?)
Kelly: I agree, we must stay true to our characters.

RYCJ OEBooks Publisher: Welcome. So glad you liked the post. I checked out your blog, too.

Janel: That is a good way to do it.

Beverly: Amen! You crack me up.
Kris said…
I can really relate to this post and I agree; sure, my parents will freak out how much shocking content I will write but they will need to suck it up. It's for me, and it's for the readers. So f*&k morality and happy, cheery themes with whole some characters!
Raymund Hensley said…
"Writers have a responsibility to be true to their stories. Period."

So true! ^_^
Kris and Raymond, thank you for your comments. Glad you stopped by.

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