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May 4th, 2003, 04:40 PM
After hearing the comments to a story of mine called The Horseman I started thinking "What is Taboo in Writing?"
Is There anything off limits from writing?
What do you steer away from?
Are there somethings that should never be written about?
If so, why are they so bad?

Just a thought

Kilroy Was Here

May 4th, 2003, 05:10 PM
I see that you like controversy Kilroy :)

I'd say writing a story about a superhero who is also a pedophile would be off limits--but who knows. I havent checked the stacks lately.

I doubt a novel about a Roman era vampire who bites Jesus Christ right before the crucifixion would find a publisher quickly.Wait! I forgot about Towing Jehovah! :)

Then again--if you read classical works--you can find about every subject under the sun. In the Satyricon for example, they have a scene of children being made to engage in sexual relations. They talk about beastiality in the Bible...

I wrote an arabian nights novel-- standard fantasy fare--but it was deemed not marketable by the last publisher I tried. Never given a detailed explanation of why (it wasnt because of the writing quality :) but Dreamworks studios is releasing a sinbad animated movie this year--and from what I see--the adventures take place in Syracuse and Thrace---pretty far from the Arab world that Sindibad inhabits(a live action movie was also planned--set in China--but scrapped). I guess its because they wanted to remove any references to mosques or "Allah" so people dont get queasy thinking of Osama Bin Laden or the WTC. Writing a story about an Islamic superhero who wants to liberate Palestine would probably be off limits. Or maybe an Islamic version of Harry Potter..I would call it Haroud Pottwar and the Goblet of the Taliban. :rolleyes:

May 4th, 2003, 07:24 PM
The taboo subject can also be one which we regard as actually criminal to write about.

When I read your post, the first thing that sprung to my mind is legislation dealing with written materials likely to incite racial hatred. This would be an example of something which is taboo socially and also illegal. People who write and print racist crap go down for it, if it can be established as likely to incite hate crimes.

This legislation was necessarily introduced in order to prevent british and euoropean right-wing extremist groups printing their materials in Irelad, which they did in the past due to gaps in our laws.

The other thing that sprung to my mind is writings dealing with various criminally sexual acts involving minors etc. If the purpose of the writer is to titillate other perverts, then to my mind freedom of speech does not protect him.

May 4th, 2003, 09:46 PM
As far as I can see the three main categories are Religion Sex and Politics. People usually feel very strongly about those things so itís easier to offend someone. Nothing is really stopping you from writing about those things, just expect some abusive comments if your ideology conflicts with someone elseís.

Here's a guideline if you want to avoid stepping on toes.
As a guideline for Religion, don't retell any religious stories with your own changes, don't belittle or mock any religion directly or indirectly, and don't invent a religion that is "obviously" a warped version of an existing one.

For Sex, stay away from too graphical descriptions, don't mention minors or animals. Most people accept gay and lesbian elements as long as you don't harp about it.

Politics is far too complicated and varies all over all the world. Also it changes all the time. You just have to look at the news to figure out what things to avoid.

I think excessive horror and cruelty also offends some people. Some people donít like reading that kind of prose and you may cut some flak if you donít properly warn the readers that it's a horror story beforehand. Finally I noticed you shouldnít make graphical descriptions of things in toilets. I had a friend tell a joke about public toilets that was a little bit too graphical. Please donít ask. I donít want to remember.

You can write about just about anything, just know that your reading audience will shrink and number of critics will grow accordingly. If you're not after publishing, just ignore what others think. I may be wrong on some points, but I hope this helps.


May 4th, 2003, 11:00 PM
As a guideline for Religion, don't retell any religious stories with your own changes, don't belittle or mock any religion directly or indirectly, and don't invent a religion that is "obviously" a warped version of an existing one.

he he... was that another comment about The Horsemen?

I editted it cause I realized it wasn't specific enough.

Kilroy Was Here

May 4th, 2003, 11:16 PM
Which post might that be?


Grr sorry misread your last post somehow.

Umm no it's just something I noticed in general. Some people take their holy writing very seriously. Any kind of deviation is sacrilege. Personally Iím not very religious and donít mind people drawing ideas from religious fields as long as itís fiction, which yours was.

There are certain things I dislike seeing in relation to religion in story writing. I donít like people preaching to me through their writing. Iím a semi-atheist. However, I also dislike people that belittle any religion. I believe that religion sometimes defines people and hence attacking someoneís religion is attacking them. Religion can be one of those things that is a integral part of who a person is. So even if you donít share someoneís beliefs you should still respect what they believe.



heh oh thanks :P

I just realised I didn't misread it you edited it.


May 5th, 2003, 01:57 AM
Personally I think it is not they writing about a taboo subject that is the problem. It is the reason why and how you use it.

If it is to"spice" up the work or "shock" to make folks go out and buy the book then....

If it is for the purpose of adding something to the story or the driving force of the plot, say a rape, which would have an dire affect on all. Then use it. But think very hard about the manner in which you do.

You can suggest something has happened with out the gory details, you can suggest a religion without mapping it out.

You are a writer, use every tool you have in your box, but use them carefully with meaning.

Like a film.. all the gore in the world is not as frightening as something happening in the shadows that you can't quite see.

Make your reader use their mind.

May 5th, 2003, 02:22 AM

Kilroy wrote his story and made his decisions for all the right reasons. Unfortunately, someone took offence as he didn't like where the story came from. I believe the reason why the person was so unusually harsh in his critisim was because the original story, that Kilroy drew from, had special meaning to that person.


May 5th, 2003, 02:25 AM
Well, nothing is really taboo. We have freedom of speech.

However, generally taboo is defined as "Anything which won't sell copies."

I bet a horrendous, pedophile, rapist, islamic terrorist, blasphemous book about klu klux klan nazi women beaters could get published if they thought they would sell a zillion copies. Fortunately for the good of society, a book like that will never get published because most people have the decency not to buy something like that.:)

May 5th, 2003, 02:29 AM

Is it possible to have an islamic nazi?