Saturday, February 6, 2010

Bleeeep!!! The F-word

One of the first reviews of "Blood and Groom" was posted on the Dorothy L listserv by Don Longmuir of Scene of the Crime books.  It was a nice review, rather complimentary, except for one thing (sort of):  Longmuir mentioned that there were some, ahem, four letter words in the book.  He went on to say that the swearing wasn't gratuitous, and that it did indeed fit the character/the scene, and that the salty language didn't bother him. 

But, his comment made me wonder:  What do readers in general think of naughty words?  Do readers steer clear of effing authors who effing swear?  Do readers make alowances for four letter words when they're used by the bad guys or when naughty words clearly fit the character?  And, as a writer, would you sacrafice you voice (the character's voice) to please your audience (and your publisher)?

Just effing wondering ;-)


  1. Hi Jill -- I carefully avoided most four letter words when I wrote the two Sylvia and Willie amateur sleuth mysteries. My current wip, a standalone suspense novel, however, has a couple of very bad guys who talk exactly like you'd expect really bad guys to talk. I don't know if I'll find a publisher, but I have to admit I kind of enjoyed writing (and swearing) from the bad guy's point of view. :)

  2. As long as its an adult book, then let-em fly... everyone has heard them maybe not all use them. but i doubt there is a reader of your genre, that wouldn't buy a book becauses of this reason... the blood on the cover of the book should weed out any reader that would be bother by swear words...
    best of luck.

  3. This is such a timely post for me. I recently got back similar feedback on my manuscript about using curse words. But, my hero is a bad boy rock musician and if I'm being true to his voice, he would cuss. It's not gratuitous, but I use it where I think it's needed. I've been to enough rock concerts to know that lead singers don't say darn and shucks. So, I'm reluctant to take them out because I want it to be realistic.

  4. I don't have a problem with them, but I also find ways to write around them. Unless my character is uneducated or really pissed off, it just doesn't seem necessary. I kind of like the maxim my parents used to say to me, "If you can't think of a better word, don't say anything at all." I would substitue 'write' for 'think of.'

    That being said, I didn't have a problem with four-letter words in your book. But I wouldn't. I write mysteries, too!


  5. I write YA, so of course, cursing takes on new meaning in my books. Still, I think if it fits the scene and the character, and it's used effectively, that it's very worthwhile. It can feel disingenuous to not have cursing sometimes. However, I think an overload of cursing can make it lose its effectiveness (in literature and in real life), so it should be kept to a minimum, imo. Indeed, gratuitous anything is obnoxious. Growing up, my mom always said, "anything in excess is bad for you."

  6. Personally, I am (apparently) one of the few who finds swearing really offensive. I will watch movies with swearing (because there aren't many without), but I wish they would leave it out altogether. Realistic or not, I don't like it and I would always enjoy the same movie more without bad language (even when the 'bad' guys don't swear).

    Concerning books, I just can't bring myself to read books with swearing in them. It's different for me in a book because it is actually me saying the word myself (in my mind) as I read, and in my real life, I just don't use swear words.