Watch your mouth!

How do you feel about foul language in your books? I’ve heard it said, several times, that a writer should always be honest. If you’re writing about a family that doesn’t get along, there should be some arguing. If you’re writing about a ruthless and violent killer, his crime scenes should reflect it. If you’re writing about an old, crotchety sailor, he should have a foul mouth.

If you’re writing about a ninety year old vampire, he shouldn’t be attracted to a sixteen year old…oops, wrong tangent.

So how do you handle a book full of foul expletives? Does it bother you? Does it make you want to put the book down? Should the author withhold the ‘truth’ to keep the book clean? Can the story and characters have the same potency, are there other ways to do it?

I generally steer clear of books with loads of swearing. Not necessarily because I don’t like reading the F-bomb every other word, but because I generally don’t like reading about the kind of people who choose to speak that way. I do read a lot of Stephen King, and some of his stuff is full of it. I don’t mind a character or three in a story having an issue with their mouth, the world is that way sometimes. That’s my only beef with Mr. King. He claims his characters speak the way they do because that’s the way real people are. But if that’s true, then my dentist should be dropping cuss words left and right while I’m in the chair, and the officer who pulls me over should be literally cursing my name. That’s not realistic, at least not where I live.

What do you think?

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Published in: on January 28, 2010 at 11:59 am  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Nice thoughts…I honestly can’t stand liberal amounts of swearing either. Like you said, I don’t think people really talk like that, at least not around me. Maybe Mr. King keeps much different company than I.

    That said, when a character needs to swear, I feel like I’m cheating if I substitute a “golly gee poopy pants” just because the alternative is not something I would say in my own daily life. Not every character is a direct extension of myself…which, considering some characters, is a really good thing, you know? 🙂


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