Too much swearing

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One of the things I have been giving a lot of thought to as I approach the editing stage of my book is do I leave the swearing in. There isn’t a lot of swearing in it, just one character swears he uses the f word a few times, it is fitting with his personality but I have a few worries about it.

No one buys a book because there are a few swear words in it but some people might avoid it because of that. Although I do want it to be the book I’ve always wanted to read I would like to sell it to a few more people than my family.
It is written as an adult book, but it might also appeal to the Young Adult market and swearing might stop in being used in schools.

The main reason I’m worried about swearing is my friends mum who I’ve know most my life and I lodged with her for about a year has recently offered to be a beta reader when it’s ready. She is very nice but is particularly fierce about swearing. She didn’t like the Harry Potter films because there where to many ‘Bloody hells!’ I just couldn’t look her in the eye giving her my book to read know there a few f&*$ks in it.

I have a plan, I’ve invented gods for my world so will replace the swearing with blasphemy against them, I don’t think anyone can offence against insulting some made up gods?

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26 thoughts on “Too much swearing

  1. Do not change it if it fits the character, young adult books or teen books also have swearing, and sex and older themes, realistically in high school, year 7 and 8, at 11-13 years old are bad mouthing each other, young adult readers are at least 14, if they feel comfortable reading it, a couple swears won’t make a difference

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  2. Swearing is fine! As long as it fits a character and it’s gratuitous. If it was swearing for the sake of swearing, then I’d say you could remove it… But what you’re describing here is one character, who you’ve created as you see fit, you’ve breathed life into him. Keep the swearing. It makes the character. Especially if no-one else really swears; it’ll be synonymous with that characters mannerisms.

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  3. I inventing new swear words is fun.

    I’ve had the opposite worry – that there’s not enough swearing in mine.

    If someone doesn’t like your book over a few swear words then they are probably not your ideal fan. Don’t worry about them.

    As for age range, your agent and editor will help with that. I would leave them in and wait to receive instruction.

    Don’t sweat the small stuff.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Well Eric – you know what the advice would be from you know who… Most importantly you have to stick with the reality of your characters for the story to remain true. Adapting or cutting aspects of their character can change the feel and authenticity of the book and take away from how it should be written. It is your book, your characters and creativity and you should 100% stand true to what you have written. You will always offend somebody with something and most probably it will be something quite unexpected – maybe even as something as simple as it being about a wizard! Stick with it I say (in my humble opinion of course!).

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  5. Making up a whole dictionary of swear words can be fun and also a worthwhile exercise in creativity. Another way around it is to give a character a quirky sort of expletive or phrase of their own which can add an extra layer
    Swearing these days in so common it’s becoming dull. With one character or in a stressful situation it fits nicely.
    All the best with your journey.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Ah…swear words. Relative. As for characters in fiction….they are much like real people, in that use of the F-word may be an integral part of a character’s vocabulary and avoiding it or using a cutesy substitute will only cheapen the characterization. For example, a character may refrain from using bad words, but get across his propensity to do so by his musing: “ok, I admit I’m an axe-murderer, but I still don’t like to say the F-word in front of old ladies….especially Aunt Tillie. It just ain’t nice.”

    Also, the F-word from teenage gangbangers is not unusual or shocking…it’s part of the peer lingo…a character going around saying “FUZZ!” would just make a situation or circumstance sound silly. On the other hand…having the offending words come from an otherwise sweet-little-old-lady can be quite effective, appearing unexpected in a paragraph as a surprise utterance.

    Cuss words…bad words…are relative anyway. Take the example of a four-year-old who whispers the word “penis” to his sister, walking by in the wedding procession down the aisle…..that kid is busted big time, and penis is a perfectly legitimate word….unless INTENDED as a word of badness, then even as a euphemism it is verboten.

    On the other hand (again,) I should add that for the F-bomb to occur completely out of context is quite another thing. For a strict establishment librarian to arbitarily say— “make sure you turn in that (F-word) book on time—” would be completely inappropriate in most literature.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha! Just kidding!

        I agree with a lot of the comments. I think you have to write in a way that is in agreement with your character and how you are developing them.

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  7. I second a few of the other commenters, if you are at all going after the YA audience make up a word rather than drop f bombs. However if you aren’t intentionally seeking YA readers than swearing is fine if in character.

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  8. Very interesting to see what a writer has to consider in his book.
    I think a few f*** words are not bad. I tried to remember in how many books I read swearing or not. I guess I don’t care if there are any bad words so I did not pay attention to that at all. But you are right that some people might be more sensitive to that.
    Maybe you could use a “milder” word than f***.
    But I don’t think that your book will only be judged by the swearing. If it is interesting and exciting to read the people will love it.
    I have faith in you.
    Odie

    Like

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