Black Static 17
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Author:  Andy [ Fri Jun 25, 2010 3:57 pm ]
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Any offence is my fault Suzanne, not yours. I took and used the quote in exactly that context but obviously should've given it a bit more thought.

Author:  Stephen Volk [ Fri Jun 25, 2010 4:04 pm ]
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Hi Suzanne. Thanks for your response and reassurance. I realised it might have a different usage in the USA. I was "almost" certain it wasn't deliberate: I was mainly curious if anybody shared my concern over it. I'm looking forward to reading your story, by the way.

Author:  sennydreadful [ Fri Jun 25, 2010 4:20 pm ]
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Stephen Volk wrote:
It all makes sense now. The idea of sacrifice, the child. Oh how dumb I was not to get it. It was all there. I apologise. I don't think there was anything wrong with your story - my head just wasn't in gear. Now I do feel really stupid. I should have shut up. I should just have said, well done!

Honestly, no problem at all! One of my beta readers commented that it was the sort of story you had to read more than once to get, so no doubt I was probably veering a wee too much on the vague side :wink:

Author:  Stephen Volk [ Fri Jun 25, 2010 4:35 pm ]
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You are right not to spell things out to the reader!

"Always give the audience 2 and 2 and they will make 5" - Billy Wilder

Author:  Tony [ Fri Jun 25, 2010 5:36 pm ]
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Stephen Volk wrote:
..I was disarmed and disappointed to read the word "spaz" in the pages of this edition of BS (and not even in a story - see p11).


Ali_L wrote:
I must admit it made me cringe too.


What makes me really cringe is 'political correctness' in writers' usage of words, whether it's strong language or something that may be considered 'offensive' to some. If we self-censor certain words, what's the point in running a Campaign for Real Fear?
Fear of causing offence could easily stifle creativity, too.

Author:  suzanne [ Fri Jun 25, 2010 6:01 pm ]
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Well, if I'm going to offend someone I want to do it on purpose, and I would want to do it in such a way that they are absolutely certain beyond a shadow of a doubt that I did it on purpose. I like to be unambiguous that way. (-:

This particular area, however, is one I am inclined to try to be sensitive about, as one of my own children had substantial physical delays early on, and while she's pretty much up to speed now it was a difficult enough experience that I'd be loathe to trivialize it in any way.


Author:  Pete [ Fri Jun 25, 2010 7:43 pm ]
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Tony wrote:-
What makes me really cringe is 'political correctness' in writers' usage of words, whether it's strong language or something that may be considered 'offensive' to some. If we self-censor certain words, what's the point in running a Campaign for Real Fear?
Fear of causing offence could easily stifle creativity, too.

I think the political correctness label is just a red herring. What we're really talking about here is not disparaging or dehumanising people on the basis of one aspect of their identity, be it colour, gender, disability, sexual orientation. That's nothing to do with politics and little about being correct, but it is about showing consideration and basic courtesy to others.

As to stifling creativity, writers are perfectly free to take un-PC stances in their work, and we can judge that work on the basis of how such things are portrayed. Steve pointed out in his initial post, that the problem was the offending usage wasn't part of a work of fiction, but in the writer's bio, and why should he self-censor his own feelings that this was wrong? By raising the matter he's enabled Suzanne to address it and clear things up.

Author:  Stephen Volk [ Fri Jun 25, 2010 11:25 pm ]
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Thanks, Pete, I agree with everything you say: I was going to point out, again, it wasn't the word's usage in a story that concerned me. Incidentally, when I talk to writers (as I did at a workshop at alt.fiction recently) - I always leave them with the directive: "Above all, don't self-censor." Other than making that point, I think Suzanne says it perfectly.

Author:  Alan Morgan [ Sat Jun 26, 2010 3:39 pm ]
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Cheers for the kind words regarding Nice One, Stephen :)

On the subject of 'spaz' or similar, context. If you had a story set in a 70s playground you could hardly not have the word. From dim memory it was even what was hurled out in classrooms if you made an idiot of yourself. There will and ever are still unpleasant people. Mind you in horror especially it can seem a bit odd to censor yourself:

'Oh we didn't mind that he cut the neighbour's eyes out with a spoon, constable. It was his reference to his victim's appearance that made us call you. I mean, you have to draw the line somewhere.'

Author:  Stephen Volk [ Sat Jun 26, 2010 3:55 pm ]
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Hi Alan. My pleasure on your first point! Need I say (yet again), the word "spaz" wasn't used in a STORY - but in an author's BIO? In the context of a story, it might be absolutely correct - (even a story set in modern-day USA it seems, from what Suzanne says).

Of course Horror is the one genre, yes, where self-censorship seems most odd and I warn against it for that reason. That, and "second guessing" of what the publishers or TV companies want - which is the worst kind of self-censorship of all. Above all you must give them the stories YOU want to - have to - tell.

Also, of course, abandoning self-censorship is not the same as abandoning careful and considered use of language. Those who seek to outrage and shock need to be more discerning/responsible in their choice of words (or images) than other writers, not less.

Author:  Stephen Volk [ Sat Jun 26, 2010 4:02 pm ]
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Incidentally, a PS to the above - I have just written a story called IN THE COLOSSEUM for an anthology called THE END OF THE LINE, coming out in November from Solaris. It's the most horrific and unpleasant thing I've ever written, I think, and the language in places really goes to the limit... but I deliberated a lot about each of those extreme words and their individual and cumulative effect. The process of writing it made me feel squeasy but I didn't rein myself in because that was the nature and integrity of the story and had to be done for the emotional effect on the reader.

I hope it works. You will have to let me know! :)

Author:  Ali_L [ Sat Jun 26, 2010 5:43 pm ]
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I agree - there is some confusion here, I think, on what constitutes being overly PC and what is merely a lack of understanding of the word being used.

Surely it's a writer's business to know what words mean and to weild them accordingly.

I can see there might be every need within a story to use the word 'spaz' - I would use it myself in the right context - but it would suggest a thoughtless, perhaps brutish or nasty character, or indeed a child who doesn't know any better.

There's a difference between that and throwing the word around thoughtlessly without considering what it means.

Suzanne has taken just the right approach to this - and yes, it is more difficult, when usage differs in the States.

Author:  Pete [ Mon Jun 28, 2010 1:48 pm ]
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First review in. Colin Harvey at Suite 101:- ... s-reviewed

Author:  Stephen Volk [ Mon Jun 28, 2010 1:59 pm ]
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I loved all the fiction in this issue. The Keysen and Shirley were remarkable. Well done to Suzanne and everybody. Keep up the good work.

Author:  Paul Woodward [ Mon Jun 28, 2010 9:27 pm ]
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I'm glad I've spent this weekend sleeping, listening to music and watching the football (sometimes all three at the same time) and not got into this Spaz thing.

I read the Cabana story Sunday evening just before the Argentine game as a paliative to having been traumatised by the sight of hundreds and thousands of small boys and girls in tears after the abject failure of the latest golden generation of England Football to even pretend to be interested in playing football.

I had a sausage sandwich and I quite enjoyed that story. The excessive sex made me wince, but I liked the retribution at the end.

I thought describing yourself as spaz in a biography is a bit sloppy but I didn't think much of it. :wink:

Anyway next I'm going to try reading as well as listeing to music watching the football and sleeping!

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