Thursday, October 21, 2010

What is "Edgy" Exactly?

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The term "edgy" gets tossed around a lot in our industry ("The book is really edgy." "I'm looking for something more edgy for my list.") And to me it always seems to mean that there is a certain amount of language and/or sex and/or a really rough topic that makes some people uncomfortable in the book.

I'm not edgy-- not my writing anyway. Ok, not me either. I'm like the anti-edgy. :-) I would certainly say my books are pretty clean and sweet. But then isn't edgy subjective to each reader? Would one person find my book edgy and another find it tame? When I was doing copy edits last week I noticed the phrase "I'd bang that" got flagged for language in my book. In the book I go on to have the main character yell at the person who said that phrase but still. Someone might think it was too much.

With my first book, The Espressologist, the first thing I did during edits was go through the the entire book, cleaning out every single swear word. I hadn't even really realized I had so many swears in the book to tell you the truth. But I took them all out except for one-- one that I thought really needed to be there. It was the B word if you're curious. Anyway, imagine my shock about six months after the book came out when I stumbled upon a review of the book where the reviewer said she enjoyed the book but be forewarned readers, it was full of swear words. Wh--? I KNEW there was only one. So I was slightly annoyed but I read on and noticed someone had commented what are you talking about-- there are no swears in the book. The reviewer said she felt "Oh My God" was a swear and that I used it frequently. Ah. I had no idea people would feel that was a swear. Ok, I still don't think it is one but whatever. Everyone has their own opinion.

So what is edgy to you? And what are the various degrees? Can something be a little edgy? Or super hard core edgy? What would that even mean? Whats the "edgiest" YA book you've ever read?

Kristina, Miss See Me On the Shelves


BookChic said...

I read a mix of "edgy" and tame books, but edgy books don't really offend me.

I can see where "Oh my God" would considered a swear since you're taking the Lord's name in vain, but as someone who's apathetic toward religion (other than the fact that it's cool to learn about), it doesn't bother me. And honestly, it shouldn't bother anyone since there are way worse swears out there (not that I really have any problem with any swears).

I swear way too much in my personal life and I'm sure it would translate into my writing. My roommate and I toss out swears casually, though she at least watches herself in public. I don't and occasionally there are old people and/or impressionable children nearby. I know enough decency to not like shout it, but I guess whispers can still be heard, lol.

But I'm also the most inappropriate person and make jokes and laugh at things that most people find offensive. I'm just weird, but hey, at least I surround myself with people of the same mind set, so it's all good. :D

Jennifer Hoffine said...

I guess you're right, edginess is in the eye of the beholder (or be-reader?).

It seems most important to me that a book seems true to the characters and real to the teens reading it...and sometimes that does mean edgy (to some people:)

C.K. said...

I think if you're tackling tough subject matter AND not pulling your punches, that's edgy.

Kate Fall said...

Yes, I think of edgy more as subject matter. My dad had taught me all the best curses by the time I was 10. (Where the hell did you get that damn language, young lady?)

But what's the edgiest YA I ever read? I don't know! Sandpiper by Ellen Wittlinger was very good. Oh, the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen! That probably wins.