Indie Authors Monthly Magazine For Authors and Readers discussion

To Swear or Not To Swear. You Decide . . .

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message 1: by Lilo (last edited Apr 21, 2015 07:00PM) (new)

Lilo Abernathy (lilo_abernathy) | 31 comments Take the poll!

I just checked my reviews today and saw a new one came in addressing swear words. The reader writes,

"I like that you told a great story and you didn't have to use curse words. Thank you for that."

This isn't the first time I've received this comment and I love that readers are communicating their thoughts on this. However, this wasn't really a goal of mine when I wrote the book. I'm not pro or con swear words. I'm fine with them when they fit the story . . . (Click here for the poll and the combined results:

message 2: by Jason (new)

Jason Crawford (jasonpatrickcrawford) | 72 comments I took the poll. Interesting question!

message 3: by Lilo (new)

Lilo Abernathy (lilo_abernathy) | 31 comments Thanks Jason. I'll report the results when the entries stop coming in.

message 4: by Lilo (new)

Lilo Abernathy (lilo_abernathy) | 31 comments The blog post now has a link to the combined results.

message 5: by Jim (new)

Jim Vuksic Words, considered extremely profane by those who are socially and politically ultra-conservative and/or devoutly religious, may be interpreted as mere colloquialism by those with more liberal attitudes.

An author, like any artist, must follow their instinct and write in the style to which they feel their targeted audience will be attracted and find entertaining.

message 6: by Lilo (new)

Lilo Abernathy (lilo_abernathy) | 31 comments This question is less about what authors write, but more about what readers like to read in these genres.

message 7: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Ashwood (sarahashwood) | 27 comments I've been complimented by some readers for not using swear words, but one reader actually said he didn't like it. To each his own, I guess. Even though my series isn't young adult, I want young adults to be able to read it, and I want parents to feel safe letting their kids read my books. So no swear words or sex scenes in my writing. But I guess, no matter what you do, some will like it and some won't.

message 8: by Lilo (new)

Lilo Abernathy (lilo_abernathy) | 31 comments I suggest you look at the poll results linked in the blog above. I think you will find them interesting.

message 9: by Kathryn (new)

Kathryn (kathrynmeyergriffith) | 29 comments I've gotten the same compliments...most of my 22 books have little or no cursing in them or just mild stuff like "damn" or "hell" and a lot of readers say they appreciate that. As Sarah said I also want everyone of all ages to be able to read my books so I try to keep them basically clean.Kathryn Meyer GriffithDinosaur Lake

message 10: by Brooks (new)

Brooks Kohler I no longer use them.

message 11: by Alyson (new)

Alyson Stone (alysonserenastone) | 194 comments I can stand swearing, but some authors use it too much.I cannot stand books where every other word is a curse word.

message 12: by Robin (new)

Robin Field (SmithField) | 2 comments I find that I only use swear words when I believe that is how my characters would react in the situation. However I don't go to the extreme and I tend to use swear words on the lower end of the spectrum in severity.

message 13: by Natalia (new)

Natalia Marx (nataliamarx) | 2 comments As a reader, if I'm in a "young adult" world, then I don't like it unless it's used with a purpose. BUT if I'm reading adult fiction, then I don't mind swear words at all as long as it fits the character. Actually, I can't stand it when I read dialogue from a 28 year old who says "oh my gosh" or "jeepers". Suddenly it feels like the 50s and it's just weird.

message 14: by [deleted user] (new)

I'm kind of torn when it comes to bad words. When I'm reading adult fiction, I don't mind reading that kind of language. However, whenever I'm reading young adult fiction, I don't like it. It makes the plot awkward and doesn't make the atmosphere of the book believable. In a way, it kind of makes it seem like teenagers are trying to play the roles of adults, if that makes any sense at all.

message 15: by Jim (new)

Jim Vuksic Gratuitous profanity - Irritating and tacky! Profanity, essential to the character's established personality and situation - No problem.

message 16: by Zara (new)

Zara Steen (zarasteen) | 12 comments I like this question. I had an opportunity to address it when I was writing recently and asked myself the same thing. I personally feel like profanity depends on the character. So I started asking myself if there is a purpose in it. Like does it really reflect his or her reaction, and also is it true to who the character seems to be. I think most often it's me slipping in there and maybe feeling frustrated at their situation ;) haha

message 17: by Donnielle (new)

Donnielle Tyner (donnielletyner) | 12 comments Cursing depends on the character. I have written characters that don't curse, but other's that do (I refuse to use the f-word and sexual based curse words). The reality is that some teenagers curse, have sex, and do some crazy stuff that adults wouldn't want them to do. If your story is about those teenagers then be real with it.

I do agree that some authors go overboard and I can tell when I'm reading when they are adding curse words just to have a reaction. It's super awkward to read.

message 18: by Andrea (new)

Andrea Waltz (andreawaltz) | 9 comments Have you ever read anything and felt the profanity was missing? (Yeah not me.) I don't mind it but if it's everywhere I am out. We have mild swearing and decided to remove the f-word that we had used (by mobsters no less) just feeling that we just don't need it.

Great discussion everyone!

message 19: by Natalia (new)

Natalia Marx (nataliamarx) | 2 comments Donnielle wrote: "I refuse to use the f-word and sexual based curse words"

I completely agree with this!

message 20: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Cresswell (lisa_cresswell) | 6 comments I write mainly YA and I tend to avoid it, but I will use swearing if the character calls for it. But I never writer main characters who swear like sailors. I recently read a book by a big name YA author with a main character that swore a lot. It got old fast. :/ I think it's a crutch, sort of a cop out. Using a swear word is easier than developing a character with a more interesting vocabulary sometimes.

message 21: by Crissy (new)

Crissy Moss (crissymoss) | 8 comments I believe in being true to a character. Some people swear. But I also think you should be true to the world you are writing in. The swear words in one world are not necessarily the same as another. Consistency is the key.

message 22: by K.P. (new)

K.P. Merriweather (kp_merriweather) | 6 comments It depends on the character and universe . Some drop f bombs some use milder ones others blue. I actually wrote a full length novel with none ! (Quite the feat for me since i can get sailor on folks...)

message 23: by Sophia (new)

Sophia Martin | 9 comments I'm in the, "it depends on the character/circumstances" camp. I've also noticed that in my psychic mystery series, the usage of swear words decreases as the books go on. That's not intentional, but probably reflects my own comfort level. I work as a teacher, but I wrote the first book when I was still very new to the profession. As time goes on and I've become accustomed to policing my students' (and my own) language, it feels less natural to use swear words in my writing. That said, I use them very deliberately in my dystopian fantasy. In the first book I don't know if I used them at all (it's been a while since I reread it) because the narrator is high class and just about all of the dialogue is between high class members of a royal court. The second book, which isn't published yet, has a very different narrator, who comes from the lowest class of the society, and she does use swear words sometimes, as well as her own colorful vernacular. So it just depends on what fits.

message 24: by Rinelle (new)

Rinelle Grey (rinellegrey) Interesting results to the poll. As a reader, I don't mind some swearing, as long as it isn't excessive (every second word of most of the characters!) and is in character. Personally, I don't swear (or at least, only mildly), so I do the same in the books I write. My characters will use mild swearing (bloody hell in the latest!) but that's about it. I've never had any complaints about it.

message 25: by J.S. (new)

J.S. Frankel | 16 comments I very rarely use them. I think there are other ways to get around them, unless you have a very dramatic or intense scene i.e. a fight where they may be necessary. Granted, teens to tend to swear a lot in real life--many, but certainly not all--but all the same, I think if you need a four-letter word to get your point across then you're doing it wrong. JMO...

message 26: by M. Owen (new)

M. Owen Clark | 2 comments I used lots in my novel and then as part of the review process I ended up taking most of them out as sometimes you don't realise what you are writing, especially in dialogue and you yourself have a potty mouth. Maybe it's just not great that you suddenly need to be reminded that you need to wash your own mouth out once in a friggin while.

message 27: by Booknista (new)

Booknista | 1 comments Swear words don't bother me WHEN they are authentic to the character or situation. In fact, if they aren't there sometimes, I'm a bit baffled. Too clean can feel false as well. It's like a movie, please don't show sex and nakedness just for the buzz you might get, show it because it supports the story.

YA is funny in a way, the last article I read on demographics had over 50% of readers being older, def not teenagers. I don't think it's as much about offending a reader, as much as it is being true to the character and plot.



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