The comments on the first Halloween contest submission bring up some good points. You’re right, I said no swearing in the rules. That word slipped past me because that allusion to Shakespeare is so common that it doesn’t seem to be actual swearing to me. I suppose we could either consider that a commentary on how I have become so inured to evil that I don’t even notice it anymore… or it could be that because it’s in the Bible I don’t put it in the same category as some of the other, more offensive, words.
In this case, by loosely quoting that phrase from Macbeth, the writer is evoking all of the ghostly tone and emotional guilt from the original work, using it to foreshadow what is coming next. (At least, I assume something is coming next that will brilliantly reflect the implications of that quote.) It works. “Out, darn spot” wouldn’t cut it. Another use would be to reference Rhett Butler’s classic quote. That one probably would have floated past my notice as well.
“Hell” can be a swear word too or it can be a literal place–a place that someone might want to reference in the opening paragraph to a horror story. It could also be used as an adjective (that hellish blog is giving me fits), in which case, I would not call it swearing.
After thinking about this for hours and hours, I’ve decided to let the submission stand as is and to revise the rules as follows:
If you use one of the two words I’ve mentioned above, as described above, then I’ll let you slide. Other words, or these words used merely as expletives, will cause your submission to be sent back for rewriting.
As always, if you find a submission personally offensive, don’t vote for it.