Sunday, August 13, 2006

Oh My Heck

By C. L. Beck

There are distinct advantages to writing for the LDS market—ones that I’m eternally grateful for. See, there’s one right there. I can say I’m eternally grateful for something and no one thinks I’m weird.

Another benefit is that I don’t have to make up new names for things pertaining to the next life. If I want my character to die and go to the celestial kingdom, I don’t have to send him to ‘the happy hunting ground’. If his cat dies, I don’t have to send it to ‘the great litter box in the sky’. Without a smitch of worry about political correctness, I can just ship them off to heaven and be done with it.

In addition, I don’t have to fret that my characters are going to let their hormones carry them away and I’ll have to describe a graphic sex scene. It’s not that Latter Day Saints are prudes; I believe most LDS adults know about the birds and bees. I’m just eternally grateful that they aren’t interested in reading about them. (Ooo, ‘eternally grateful’. I just got to use that phrase again.)

I love it when my characters want to be married in the temple, and I don’t have to go into a lengthy explanation about it. Nor do I have to explain that baptism for the dead does not mean that we’ve put sprinklers in the graveyard. Any Latter Day Saint who reads my work understands that we do not baptize dead people in the flesh (or non-flesh, as the case would be), but by proxy. I don’t even have to explain that big word ‘proxy’ in my stories.

Then, too, there is the matter of swear words. I love being able to have my character say, “Oh my heck!” when he trips over a rock—precipitating a fall off the cliff— and is caught by his belt loops by a tree root just before he splats at the bottom of the canyon. None of the LDS would think I’m odd, immature, or just plain strange for saying ‘Oh my heck’. In everyday life they all use words like darn, shucks, scrud, flip, fetch, oh my land, and crap.

Oops. Crap. Is ‘crap’ a swear word? Can I use that one? I’ve never quite figured it out, since I do know of active Latter Day Saints who use it. Perhaps it’s a quasi-swear word, like doo-doo. I’m never quite sure on that one either.

It doesn’t matter, though. I’ve got an out. If I have a mean, rotten, low-down-skunk of a character who wants to swear up a blue streak, I can simply use ellipses in place of the words. Bless their hearts; the Saints understand what those little dots mean without making me actually type out the words.

Every pancake has its flip side, and there is one to being an LDS writer. We do have to be careful how we address sensitive subjects like unwed pregnancy, drugs, abortion and abuse. Being careful is a small price to pay, however, for the swearing we don’t have to use and the sex scenes we never have to portray.

Oh my heck, yes.


Anonymous said...

Oh my land! What a hoot! I laughed so much I felt like a bowl of green Jello!
I'm eternally grateful for this blog!

KB said...

Loved this! I laughed so hard I could hardly breathe and then I read the comment about the green jell-o and about died! This is so good. Print it out and frame it. :)