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General Talks > To Swear or Not To Swear. You Decide . . .

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message 1: by Lilo (new)

Lilo Abernathy (lilo_abernathy) | 9 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: http://bit.ly/1J5imrp)

message 2: by Melissa (new)

Melissa Ramirez (melissaramirez) | 241 comments I don't personally have anything against the occasional (Emphasis on OCCASIONAL) swear word, in books (this also carries over to movies. American Hustle? Too many F-bombs for my taste. Wolf of Wall Street? Same thing.) I really try hard not to use bad language in my everyday life, and it is refreshing every once in a while to read/watch something that doesn't rely on swearing to get its point across, but at the same time, it has to feel natural. (ex: If a teenager rams his foot into a door accidentally; whilst trying to escape some random creepy guy chasing him, do you really think he'll say "DARN!! Today is just NOT my day!"? Probably unlikely, given the situation.) I am not a fan of books that use anything "stronger" than 'hell' or 'crap' for a middle-grade book; but billed as YA, I can take some stronger swear words every now and then.

Bottom line: If you're trying to make a kid-friendly book, definitely no swear words! Maybe a few rude words would be permissible, depending upon your audience.
YA, keep it to a reasonable minimum (although "grittier" or more "urban" books I would expect more rough language. Is that a double-standard? Maybe.)
Adult, let it all out; 'cause your readers are very obviously old enough to handle whatever you throw at them.

My final opinion: Swear words are fair game, as long as they are used REASONABLY, within context.

message 3: by Lilo (new)

Lilo Abernathy (lilo_abernathy) | 9 comments Thank you Melissa for sharing your opinion!.

message 4: by Melissa (new)

Melissa Ramirez (melissaramirez) | 241 comments My pleasure! :)

message 5: by Lauren (new)

Lauren AKA randomreader (randomfreckles1831) I personably don't like swear words in books but then again if the author wants to use them that's fine but sometimes they take away from the story if they are thrown around.

message 6: by Jo (new)

Jo (jowashere__) | 13 comments I don't like swear words in books. It isn't usually necessary. And since I don't usually read books with cussing, when there is a book that swears I'm thinking more about the fact that a cuss word was used than thinking about the book. Things like Harry Potter with almost no swearing is ok, but not much more than that. same with movies.

message 7: by Ashish (new)

Ashish (ashish_verma) | 3 comments Apart from the story, which of course is the foundation of any book, i strongly feel that dialogue among characters should sound real. I mean can you imagine Mitch Rapp confronts a terrorist and not swear? or two childhood buddies having beer and talking nice and sweet? No it will spoil the whole idea of writing. Dialogues should be like everyday talk and swear words are part of it. I read only fiction and i reckon one cannot write it without them specially espionage, crime and politics. Otherwise, you have libraries full of literary books.

message 8: by Jojobean (new)

Jojobean Since I have a big dirty mouth that will make a sailor blush, swearing is not a big deal for me.

Erin *Proud Book Hoarder* (erinpaperbackstash) If it's realistic to the character, then I don't mind/notice.

message 10: by Bunny (new)

Bunny (faerybunny) | 3 comments I think if its makes the setting and characters more realistic and lively then swear words are okay.

message 11: by Sera (new)

Sera | 71 comments I have no problem with some swearing as long as it fits the situation, and is realistic not just thrown in for shock value.

message 12: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Choueifaty | 332 comments Personnaly, i swear a lot so when i read this in books, or whatever story, i don't really mind them. Sure, sometimes it surprise me, but it's not really what would discourage me to like a book

message 13: by Derek (last edited Aug 29, 2015 09:45AM) (new)

Derek | 4 comments To me, swearing in books is okay - given the context the character finds him/herself in dictates that permission. However...

Middle grade novels - let's face it: middle schoolers swear. So do their parents. But let's not provide what are still impressionable minds permission to swear because of what is written in the novels. Is there something you're trying to help your reader deal with? Find a better way. Swearing isn't one of them.
Young adult novels - I've seen too many recently where the F-bomb is put in for, what I believe, is shock value or an attempt at getting more readership. Really?
Adult novels - not every adult enjoys swearing. I'm one of them. Too many swear words in a novel? Sorry, I won't be buying.

message 14: by ✨Skye✨ (new)

✨Skye✨ I don't personally see a problem, as long as there is some kind of warning that bad language is used, so if someone feels they'll get offended or if a parent doesn't want their child reading it, it won't happen. But in general, swearing is just quite normalised in a lot of communities I know of, and like I say, as long as people know what they're going to be reading, they can make a conscious decision on whether that's okay for them.

message 15: by Amanda (new)

Amanda | 17 comments I'd rather not read the C word given the choice, but otherwise I couldn't care less. Cursing is a part of life.

message 16: by Tina (new)

Tina Yeah, I'm not into too many swear words. Takes away value and story line from the book. Love paranormal and mysteries but thank goodness some are cleaned up.
But because we live in America we have freedom of speech. And that cannot be taken away.

message 17: by Aniket (new)

Aniket (aniketbarik) | 162 comments I rarely use any swear word. And when someone uses too many swear words, I readily assume that the person has a poor vocabulary. You know, it's like, they can't find appropriate words to express how they're really feeling at that time.

message 18: by Amanda (new)

Amanda | 17 comments I must respectfully disagree with you Aniket. When I was a kid and I didn't know what a word meant my grandmother would tell me to look it up in her dictionary. I would usually end up reading the entire page, at least, and I would read the dictionary just for fun after a while. So I have quite an extensive vocabulary and a passion for learning. I actually was dubbed "the grammar nazi" because of my penchant for correcting others' grammar, a habit which I curbed in my early twenties once I realized that the vast majority of people preferred ignorance to constructive criticism.

That being said, I absolutely use curse words. Not in a disrespectful way, nor out of anger, but rather as an accent word to illustrate depth of feeling. If I tell someone "I like your dress." I'm likely to get something like a casual "Oh thanks." In reply, which is adequate if that is the level of enthusiasm I have for that dress. On the other hand, "I f***ing LOVE that dress!" Is on the complete opposite end of the spectrum, communicating the depth of feeling said dress evoked in me in a way that incites enthusiasm and excitement from the recipient of the compliment.

I certainly don't require curse words to adequately describe my depth of feeling, but the ability to do so without them becomes irrelevant if the end result is the person to whom you are speaking becoming confused, or worse, inferring condescension from the simple fact that I have a broad vocabulary. The sad fact is that the education system today isn't nearly as comprehensive as it should be, and even within that not everyone has the same strengths. I have a gift for language, however I have no desire to alienate other people around me simply because they have a different gift.

So curse words are not, in fact, exclusively the mark of the uneducated, or even the lazy. Curse words, when used appropriately, are actually a valuable bridge in communication between people with different skill sets and/or standards of education.

Language itself is fluid, and has been evolving all over the world for millennia. Once Latin was the common language, today it has evolved into many romance languages. Old English has evolved into modern English, eschewing many words and adopting many more. American English has evolved into a fusion of many languages. Slang words are born and die with each new generation, and some even make it into the dictionary. As recently as a hundred years ago there was no such thing as ebonics. Today enough people speak it fluently for it to be considered another dialect. Once the word gay was a synonym for happy, and that was its common use. Now it is generally used describe a man who loves other men romantically and sexually. The word gay is actually a perfect example, because if you use it with a certain tone and inflection you are implying insult. (Children on the playground using it as a substitute for lame, for example.) Whereas using it casually simply describes a fact. (Tim is gay, he and Joe are getting married next month.)

Words themselves are nothing more than tools for communication, each one having additional meanings, associations, and feelings tied to it that are unique to every individual. Did you ever notice that when you are first getting to know someone misunderstandings happen much more frequently? That is because you are both actually learning an incredibly subtle and nuanced dialect of your same language which is unique to that person. I once spent half an hour, at least, discussing with someone the different ways we defined the word respect and it's practices. Tone, inflection, facial expression, and body language are much more universal, and thus carry far more weight than the individual words used.

Lastly, like language, intelligence is fluid. You get out of it what you put in, and anyone can choose to educate themselves. It is worse to be lazy than to be uneducated, because sloth is a roadblock in all areas of life. Ignorance is easily overcome if one is open.

message 19: by Aniket (new)

Aniket (aniketbarik) | 162 comments Amanda wrote: "I must respectfully disagree with you Aniket. When I was a kid and I didn't know what a word meant my grandmother would tell me to look it up in her dictionary. I would usually end up reading the e..."

Amanda, I appreciate that you took your time to make me understand your point of view, and I must say that I kind of agree with you and I realize that what I said was not exactly correct. But kindly note that I said 'too much swearing' I am fine with little swearing, it's just that there are some people who have to swear in every sentence they speak, no matter if they need to put emphasis or not. I don't think cursing is requisite. But I welcome your point of view and I feel no shame in admitting that it was enlightening. Thank you very much.

message 20: by Amanda (new)

Amanda | 17 comments Oh I did miss that. You are correct, when a sentence contains more swear words than non-swear words it isn't very pleasing to the ear. I apologize for misunderstanding you, and to be honest as a language buff I just generally enjoy having the opportunity to discuss it in general. I find language to be a very stimulating topic. :)

message 21: by Aniket (new)

Aniket (aniketbarik) | 162 comments No need to apologize. And it's beautiful that you have a gift for language. I am told that I am fine with language, but my gift lies in science and mathematics. Being a science student, it is what I usually study and think about. So it was good having this discussion with you because I surely learnt a few things. :)

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