SCBWI's Blueboard - A Message & Chat Board

"It sucks." okay to use?

Discussion started on

Member
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region easternny
I don't think anybody can say for sure it's okay or not okay... but I'll share that I had that phrase in my first few drafts of SUGAR AND ICE and ended up taking it out.  It wasn't absolutely essential - and I decided it wasn't worth the discomfort it might cause some teachers and mother-daughter book clubs reading aloud.
#31 - September 13, 2010, 04:07 PM
www.katemessner.com

OVER AND UNDER THE SNOW, Chronicle
MARTY MCGUIRE
CAPTURE THE FLAG
HIDE AND SEEK -Scholastic '13
WAKE UP MISSING- Walker, Fall '13

SarahSH

Guest
My husband insists that it's short for "sucks eggs." That's how he always heard it growing up, more than forty years ago.
#32 - August 13, 2012, 11:18 PM

Global Moderator
Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region socal
I use "You suck" just once in an MG ms at the absolute height of the crisis when the MC stands up to a huge bully in his life. It definitely carries shock value in the scene, but, after reading everyone's comments, I'm not sure I should use it. What could I use instead? Nothing cute or funny - the MC is in the fight of his life. (I know that sounds melodramatic, but it's true.)

Laurel
#33 - August 14, 2012, 07:29 AM

I flirted with using "sucks" in one of my books and my 14 year old daughter suggested "stinks" instead, so I went with it. She said that's what she and her friends use. As for "like" and "totally", they are like totally from the 80's valley girls, and I feel that the more they are used, the less intelligent the character sounds.

That said, I do have the phrase "totally hot" in my current WIP...and probably one or two likes.
#34 - August 15, 2012, 09:54 AM

#35 - August 15, 2012, 01:09 PM

Member
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region houston
It was around 67 or 68 that vandals broke into my elementary school and wrote sux on a lot of stuff. Definitely very vulgar use in
my day. I'm surprised to hear that it's now mild. I thought it still had the same connotation.

How common is the usage of these terms? That stinks. That reeks.  That blows. (still vulgar connotation.)

I have a lot of That stinks in my current mg
#36 - August 22, 2012, 06:33 AM
Making metaphors out of molehills for over thirty years.

Owl Princess
Admins and Mods Emeriti
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region canadaeast
There are other, less risky, less vulgar expressions to use. I would go for one of them to avoid offending teachers, librarians and parents.
#37 - August 22, 2012, 07:20 PM
ANTIQUE PIANO & OTHER SOUR NOTES
http://decoowlpress.com

Barb  :owl

Website: http://barbaraetlin.com
Blog: http://owlsquill.blogspot.com

You know, I think sucks can sound a little gross, but I grew up in what I've always considered a really conservative environment, and my kids are also and I've never once seen an adult reprimand a child for using "sucks". I wonder if it's worse regionally? F-bomb, sure, but sucks... I've seen kids get the smackdown for "dang" more than I have for "sucks". It would never occur to me to edit it out of a manuscript.
#38 - August 22, 2012, 11:49 PM
Robin

Katrina S. Forest

Guest
I'm kind of falling on the side of thinking "it's sucks" is not that bad. Don't throw it all over the place like it doesn't mean anything, but I can think of several situations where it would completely make sense. (A nasty bully, a kid who's been pushed to the emotional breaking point, ect.)

As for using, "like," a lot, it might happen in natural speech frequently, but writing it too much, imo, makes it sound like you're trying to imitate valley girl speak. Most adults I hear using it are more often stumbling for words. ("Well, it's like this.. I was trying, um, like trying to fix it, and it then went like... bam!") Or, they're retelling a conversation, "I was like, 'Could you move?,' and he looked at me like, 'Well, I could, but I won't.")

I don't think, "I totally get it," dates itself as much, only because the phrase, "I get it," has been around for a while. If you've got a character that would use the phrase, "totally," then go for it.

To me, the big thing to remember is that not all tweens/teens speak the same way. And if you try to force what you think are the "in" phrases on your characters, it'll show. (I can think of a couple MG/YA novels that suffered from this. Didn't make them bad novels per se, but they would've been so much better with more natural dialogue.)
#39 - August 23, 2012, 03:24 AM

Member
Poster Plus
I'm kind of falling on the side of thinking "it's sucks" is not that bad. Don't throw it all over the place like it doesn't mean anything, but I can think of several situations where it would completely make sense. (A nasty bully, a kid who's been pushed to the emotional breaking point, ect.)

As for using, "like," a lot, it might happen in natural speech frequently, but writing it too much, imo, makes it sound like you're trying to imitate valley girl speak. Most adults I hear using it are more often stumbling for words. ("Well, it's like this.. I was trying, um, like trying to fix it, and it then went like... bam!") Or, they're retelling a conversation, "I was like, 'Could you move?,' and he looked at me like, 'Well, I could, but I won't.")

I don't think, "I totally get it," dates itself as much, only because the phrase, "I get it," has been around for a while. If you've got a character that would use the phrase, "totally," then go for it.

To me, the big thing to remember is that not all tweens/teens speak the same way. And if you try to force what you think are the "in" phrases on your characters, it'll show. (I can think of a couple MG/YA novels that suffered from this. Didn't make them bad novels per se, but they would've been so much better with more natural dialogue.)

That's because "like" his a hesitation device used in speech, similar to "um" or "uh." None of these really belong in writing.
#40 - August 29, 2012, 01:14 PM

I got away with it.
#41 - January 26, 2013, 10:37 AM

Member
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI RAE
  • SCBWI Region arizona
While you don't want to use profanity or any other word or phrase just for the shock value, neither should you censor a word your mc would say in a particular situation. An editor is not going to reject your book over the sparing use of a word like sucks.

If your mc is in the fight of his life he's going to say something stronger than what he usually says. Let him. It keeps your character, and your story, real.
#42 - January 26, 2013, 09:28 PM
Regional Advisor Emeritus

www.bobimartin.com
Organisms That Glow
Theme Parks
What Are Gems?

Member.
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region carolinas
Thanks, Bobi.

I think I agree with you, now.  When I first asked this question, I was writing a manuscript which I have now rewritten and resubmitted. I decided not to use it in the manuscript.

I am now well into the writing of another manuscript and I believe I will use the word at least once because it fits the character and situation.

If I'm asked to remove it, of course, I'll remove it. 

It's very helpful to have all the  feedback on what you guys think about this, however!  Thanks to all.  :flower
#43 - January 31, 2013, 12:24 PM

Member
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI RAE
  • SCBWI Region arizona
One thing I like to do when I'm not sure of a word, phrase or action I want a character to take is to go to the library and skim through a few of their "Just arrived" books. I'm not reading for content, but skimming for language or action along the line I'm thinking of. If what I want (or something close to it) shows up in one of the new releases, I know I'm not likely to have trouble with it.

Of course this depends on the house/editor that reads the material, but in general this works.
#44 - February 01, 2013, 08:47 PM
Regional Advisor Emeritus

www.bobimartin.com
Organisms That Glow
Theme Parks
What Are Gems?

Member.
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region carolinas
Right.  I do that all the time, at libraries and bookstores.  It helps a lot to see what's being currently published, right?  And, you're exactly correct....depends on the editor and/or house.   :exactly:
#45 - February 02, 2013, 07:15 AM

m_stiefvater

Guest
That's because "like" his a hesitation device used in speech, similar to "um" or "uh." None of these really belong in writing.

I'd argue that they DO have a place in writing as long as you know why you're putting them there. Not in narrative, certainly, but in dialog — I would have no problem using a "like" or an "um" or even a broken off word to indicate a character being nervous or slow.

Also, re: "it sucks." I'm 31 and grew up in a very conservative (Virginian) household and we never got yelled at for it — I don't think it raised an eyebrow. Moreover, I have to say that in this context, I think the dirty etymology is meaningless if the current generation doesn't know where it came from. "Jeez" and "Gee whiz!" are both derived from "Jesus!" but they are regarded as the most innocent of exclamations now.

I'm all about authenticity and writing for my readers. I would edit for what THEY found questionable. So if they don't know the dirty meaning behind "it sucks!" (which, again, I really really don't think that anyone under 20 considers), I don't have a problem using it, even if the adult gatekeepers of the books might raise their eyebrows. And likewise, if my tween readers have developed some new dirty slang that adult gatekeepers wouldn't recognize as dirty, I'd edit that OUT.

As far as knowing what's current — you just have to listen and be a fly on the wall. I'll often jot down conversations as they're happening so that I can compare how it looks on paper to what I just heard.
#46 - February 02, 2013, 07:24 AM

Mike Jung

Guest
I use 'like," "um," "uh," and their ilk with pretty high frequency for exactly the reasons Maggie mentioned - to indicate hesitation (feigned or genuine), uncertainty, trepidation, etc.

I use the word "sucks" in the very first sentence of my book and it was absolutely fine with my editor. I also use it pretty liberally throughout the book, and it has raised some eyebrows - one of my trade reviews described the book as containing "profanity," which I personally think is going a bit far, but there you have it. A number of teachers/librarians have mentioned that they think the book is more appropriate for ages 10 and up because of the language. I don't know that it's hurt the book in terms of readership or placement - I haven't heard or seen anything about it NOT being read or purchased in any given context, although it's possible it's happened and I just don't know about it.

Personally I wouldn't hesitate to use it again.
#47 - February 02, 2013, 07:40 AM

Members:

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.