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"It sucks." okay to use?

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Hi,

Was just wondering about the expression I hear lots...."It sucks."  Is this okay to use in MG (upper)? Or, is this only a trendy thing that will not be around very long?  Aslo, I am forever hearing..."I totally get it." etc.  What about that expression?  And, whenever you overhear kids and young adults, as well, talking these days, they add "like" before almost every sentence/phrase.  Should we be writing this way since I know the "voice" needs to be authentic? To hear it used over and over bothers me.  I'm "like" puzzled.

Thanks!
#1 - August 21, 2010, 08:32 AM

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I think "it sucks" is okay to use in upper MG as far as appropriateness is concerned. Whether it will stand the test of time -- thinking back, I know the expression is at least ten years old, so maybe it will. Tough to say.

I think overuse of "like" has been around a long time, though lately it's more over the top. With something like this, you want only the FLAVOR rather than to try to reproduce the way people really talk. You could drop an occasional "like" in the sense of, "I am, like, SO bored," but you wouldn't want to use it to the extent real people do. You might want to choose one character who speaks this way and let that be part of his or her unique voice. Same could apply with totally.
#2 - August 21, 2010, 09:14 AM
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Thanks. I "like" totally agree with you.
#3 - August 21, 2010, 11:08 AM

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I hope so, because think I use it at least once a book. The one I'm writing now has the word 'craptastic' in it.  :ha
#4 - August 23, 2010, 11:03 AM
Christine Norris

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Christine,

I LOVE the word craptastic!  Did you make it up....haven't heard that one before. :smile
#5 - August 23, 2010, 11:38 AM

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Nope, I didn't make it up, but it IS a nice word. I can't remember where I heard it first. Enjoy!
#6 - August 24, 2010, 05:56 PM
Christine Norris

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I think it's fine to use "it sucks" in an upper MG.  I've been hearing it since I was in junior high (early 90s) so I know it's been around awhile.  "Like" and "totally" are also longstanding, frequently used words that I think are fine as long as they're not overused in the manuscript.

And yes, craptastic is a great word.  I've heard that and many other variations of it using assorted swear words in place of "crap". ;)

Laura :)
#7 - August 24, 2010, 07:52 PM
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Well, personally I don't mine "it sucks" but some parents teachers might not like it. Remember where the expression comes from...it's a short for of "it sucks d**k."

As for like, that's a hesitation device similar to "um" or "uh" so I'd use it sparingly.
#8 - August 24, 2010, 08:03 PM

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Quote
Remember where the expression comes from...it's a short for of "it sucks d**k."

Oops, totally didn't know that!  :embarrassed2
#9 - August 24, 2010, 09:38 PM
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Yeah, perhaps I'm a bit of a prude, but I would hesitate to use sucks in a MG novel (though I use it in my YA novel).  Most people over 40 that I know think the word is highly vulgar.
#10 - August 25, 2010, 01:12 AM
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I don't use it (I'm over 40-LOL!), but many writers do in MG. I use something like 'It stinks!' or some variation of that. If it feels right for the character, go ahead. At a later point an editor or agent may ask you to change it, but don't worry about it until then.
#11 - August 25, 2010, 10:45 AM

My 14 and 11 year olds say "that sucks" at home and I wince. They're good at not using it at school or in public, however, so I don't get too bent out of shape. I grew up with a rough speaking dad who told me "Do as I say, not as I do," when it came to swearing. Still, by 7th grade mild swearing didn't get me into too much trouble. Being a man of the WWII generation, he probably would have gotten madder at my sisters if they used such language at that age.

I've sold my kids on the idea that swearing shows a lack of imagination and intelligence. I think that helps them speak better in public more than any rules I might set in place. They often make up words on the spot instead of swearing.

I'm sorry... what was the question again? I seem to be rambling.
#12 - August 25, 2010, 10:58 AM
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Thanks to everyone for your opinions on this.....I really don't like to hear the term "It sucks."... and I don't think I'll use it.  However, I know it is commonly used these days.  When I grew up, in the 50's/60's,( gosh, I just told my age!!) if I had used something like it, I would have gotten my mouth washed out with soap.....no kidding. 

As far as "like" be used every other breath.....This also bothers me....I wonder who started it.  It seems to be addictive to the kids and young adults who use it, and I hear it aplenty.  I wonder if they'll always use it or if it'll stop someday....Is it like the tatoo craze? I wonder......The only thing is, one could stop using "like" but, it's mighty hard to get rid of the tatoo.....which is exactly what I told my daughter who has a butterfly on her back....forever and forever. :thankyou
#13 - August 25, 2010, 05:14 PM

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I use a variation on "it sucks" in the very first sentence of my manuscript. I do understand the offensive origins of the term, but it felt (and still feels) very appropriate for my narrator's voice and character makeup, and it hasn't been mentioned by anyone who's read it, including my agent. I'm curious to find out if I'll hear anything about it from whichever editors end up reading it, but so far, nada, and if I had to make a prediction I'd guess that I won't hear anything...
#14 - August 25, 2010, 07:18 PM

I'm using it in the story I think might be upper MG.
#15 - August 25, 2010, 07:49 PM
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I've been saying "you suck" "that sucks" "it sucks" since I was a teenager and didn't realize the connotations of it until just recently. Here in Canada there's a saying, "Don't be such a suck!" (Meaning, "don't be such a baby!"), and I always thought the saying came from that!

ETA: I decided against using it in TRAMH (or any other MG story I write), though I know kids in that age range (including mine  :embarrassed2) use it all the time!

Rue
#16 - August 25, 2010, 08:00 PM
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As far as "like" be used every other breath.....This also bothers me....I wonder who started it.  It seems to be addictive to the kids and young adults who use it, and I hear it aplenty.  I wonder if they'll always use it or if it'll stop someday....Is it like the tatoo craze? I wonder......The only thing is, one could stop using "like" but, it's mighty hard to get rid of the tatoo.....which is exactly what I told my daughter who has a butterfly on her back....forever and forever. :thankyou

It's a hezitation device, and the use of it is rather unconscious for the most part. I doubt it will go away.
#17 - August 25, 2010, 08:03 PM

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Once I did use it in the very beginning of the first book of my series. I can't remember if it's still there, but I had her father admonish her. So I owned that it wasn't nice language.

On the one hand, you don't like it, but on the other, you need to be true to your audience. Kids are the first to smell dung and recognize when they're being coddled. So if you change it, I wouldn't make it obvious that you are avoiding it. Does that make sense?
#18 - August 26, 2010, 07:11 AM
Christine Norris

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I use the word once in my upper middle grade ms for boys. It's toward the end, and there was really no other word to express how the mc was feeling. Believe me, I really tried. Sometimes a thirteen-year-old boy is gonna say what he's gonna say. It's my job to honor that, regardless of how I "feel" about it as a parent.
#19 - August 26, 2010, 07:18 AM
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I use 'it sucks' (sparingly) when I write MG and I'm well aware of its derivation. I'm thrilled now that someone else has acknowledged this:  nobody in my family believes me. I am absolutely going to show this to them tonight, and don't think I'm not going to feel smug.
#20 - August 26, 2010, 07:27 AM

I use a variation on "it sucks" in the very first sentence of my manuscript. I do understand the offensive origins of the term, but it felt (and still feels) very appropriate for my narrator's voice and character makeup, and it hasn't been mentioned by anyone who's read it, including my agent. I'm curious to find out if I'll hear anything about it from whichever editors end up reading it, but so far, nada, and if I had to make a prediction I'd guess that I won't hear anything...
Variants display imagination and help cover the rawness of the actual word. I actually encourage them.
#21 - August 26, 2010, 07:28 AM
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Variants display imagination and help cover the rawness of the actual word. I actually encourage them.

Oh, I use the actual word, I just meant I use a variation on the phrasing...
#22 - August 26, 2010, 07:33 AM

Oh, I use the actual word, I just meant I use a variation on the phrasing...
Ah... I was picturing something my son said a while back. "That snarfs."
#23 - August 26, 2010, 08:24 AM
Bazooka Joe says, I have the ability to become outstanding in literature.
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I remember my mother being upset with me for saying "she's got the hots for him." I said it as slang and not in a sexual context, but to her it was highly offensive. I still don't think it's a big deal. I say to that say that being over 40 I do know the originations of the word "sucks" but doubt that most kids think of it that way unless someone has clued them in. And even still, they probably wouldn't think of it that way.

To be honest, as a parent, if my kid's say "freakin'" as a substitute as another word, they are still putting a swear word in and getting the point across. So that's not okay with me. However, that is me as a parent, not a writer. If I'm not using a creative, unique and completely new slang word, it's just a substitute for "the real thing" and will come off as inauthentic. But a lot of it depends on the age of the intended audience.
#24 - August 26, 2010, 02:12 PM

"It sucks" was being used when I was in high school in the '70's, so I do think it has stood the test of time. But it was definitely considered more vulgar back then and I still wouldn't use it. Then again, Bart Simpson uses it regularly!
#25 - August 26, 2010, 04:19 PM
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I remember back in the day we used to say "That sucks donkey."
#26 - August 26, 2010, 06:00 PM

Words just don't mean what they once did. I used to have fits over "suck," "freakin'," and calling things like cell phones "sexy." When my girls first starting saying guys were "hot," I nearly came unglued. But I was raised in a home where "Oh my gosh" and "darn!" where met with a bar of soap to the tongue.

I still make my teens watch it around the little ones, but I've tried not to let it get to me as much, because honestly, I've got bigger battles.

I've yet to use it in my writing simply because I feel like a hypocrite. And that in itself is somewhat hypocritical, because my characters do other things I don't want my kids to do! (My MC calls a girl a "hot habanero!") I say use it if you need to and let the editor decide.
#27 - August 26, 2010, 07:33 PM
« Last Edit: August 28, 2010, 03:41 PM by mlbrown »

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Thanks Michelle.  I know, I've certainly relaxed a little too, in areas (and words) I never thought I would, having two kids in their twenties......funny isn't it?  Oh well.  I agree that some words really don't have the same meaning they used to have.  As my kids would presently say,  "Mom, you don't understand."   :smile
#28 - August 27, 2010, 03:58 PM

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If you think about most slang, it comes from some sort of sexual terms. I said suck as a kid and said it because that's what kids said and didn't know what it meant until I was a little older. Watch a recent teen movie sometime and figure out where the language comes from and you probably won't use it LOL.  If it's not sexual, then it might be drugs, so be careful. If you want a list of recent movies, I could tell you : )
#29 - September 13, 2010, 03:10 PM

I always marvel at people who are willing to throw "dork" around--even in the titles of MG novels.  Unless I'm wrong, its original meaning is d___k?

Similarly, I've never felt the same about "scumbag" since I heard its origins.
#30 - September 13, 2010, 03:54 PM

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