Editing for me is the most difficult part of writing a novel. So many ideas, characters, plot lines and opinions to take into consideration that it can be easy to become obsessive when finalising the changes needed to make your book the best is can be.
One topic that has been brought up on many occassions while I have been doing book signings from various people has been the aversion many readers seem to have to swearing in a book. Sometimes I will speak to people about my novel Corrupted and one of the first questions they will ask is, “does it have swearing in it?” Admitting that yes, ‘Corrupted is littered with swear words,’ is enough to put many people off of reading my book straight away, I have found so many people who are against the use of foul language in literature that I am considering cutting most of it from my second novel that I am currently working on.
But many of the books that I love and admire have swear words dropped into the dialogue in every other sentence, classics such as Trainspotting for example, that would lose their realism and flavour if the profanities in them were cut out.
So why are people so scared of the F word? These are the same people who don’t mind reading stories about depraved serial killers, in depth descriptions on autopsys, real life accounts of abuse, violent scenes featuring murder, or fantasy/horror books featuring evil spirits, witches and warlocks and yet they are afraid of a swear word.
Does swearing bring down the tone of a book or is it in fact a realistic reflection of the language that is used in society today and has been for many centuries? To filter it out are we creating a more respectable piece of literature that is more likely to be acclaimed or are we in fact being ignorant to the human nature and culture that we are a part of?
It is obvious which side of the fence I am on with regards to the swearing debate but after discovering that so many people refuse to even read a book with swear words as they find it cheap, and claim that good writing doesn’t need foul language, is this a factor I should be taking into consideration when finishing my novel?
Is the odd swear word alright, but too many a vulgar attack of the ears to many readers? As a writer should I be sensitive to this?
I personally believe that some swear words are some of the most expressive in the English language. What other words can convey anger, social status or a character’s emotional state as much as a single swear word can?
As I filter through the dialogue of my book and try to balance the language of my characters so there is just enough swearing to accurately portray my character’s dialect and speech patterns without alienating readers, I would be extremely interested to know what your thoughts are.
Does swearing put you off of a novel and do you find it a cheap and easy way of showing emotion, or are you in favour of a warts and all dialogue, littered with profanities if that is the best way of capturing the characters in a story?
Please let me know and I will look forward to reading your comments!