Today I wanted to talk about something a little controversial. Cursing in books. Especially those books by professed Christian authors.
Now I’m fully aware this is a hotly debated topic in some circles. It seems there are a few standard answers.
A. No cursing at all. Get it out.
B. Some is ok as long as there is a good reason for it.
C. Meh, I don’t really care.
What’s my viewpoint? Well, I can see both sides of the issue to a certain extent. But overall, I don’t mind reading some language. Sex is another thing entirely and we won’t go there today. Why am I comfortable reading curse words? I’m exposed to it everyday at school, out at the store, in movies, etc. For worse or better, it’s unavoidable. The occasional cuss word comes out of my mouth and I definitely have thought one or two in some situations.
Now, when it comes to be every other word that I’m hearing/reading, then it becomes something else and I quickly get turned away. So what about in my writing? Well, my usual viewpoint is that if I can’t safely give it to my 12 year old sister, then it’s not getting written. Except in a few cases when I might be dealing with a more “adult” story overall.
I have one WIP where I have included a few curse words, mostly for emphasis. Now don’t be thinking that this is one big cuss storm of a book. It’s not. I’ll give you an example here in a second. I’m using “milder” (to me) cuss words and there will probably only be a handful of usages. I don’t like the F bomb and there is never any reason to profane the name of God. Ever.
Why have I included them? It has to do with the overall tone of the book. It’s a bit darker and (I sort of don’t like this word, but) grittier. To me, it makes sense to include them in the right places. Now I understand that many people I know don’t like this sort of thing in their books, so now it becomes a big decision for me.
Do I include it or not? Yes, I’m definitely going to classify this story as Christian fiction based on the plot and storyline, but what does that change for readers? Do I have an obligation to cut it out based on people’s viewpoints? If it something I’m comfortable with, is it okay to include it? If I do include it, am I risking scandalizing a reader? Since it has so permeated daily life, do I need to take the high road and not use it?
I don’t even know if I’m making sense at this point. But I promised an example. So here goes with a quote from the book, one as currently written and one with a reasonable substitution.
“He’s your blood!” Dermot slammed the table. “That damned outsider rode in here and took him as if he were free for the taking!”
“He’s your blood!” Dermot slammed the table. “That cursed outsider rode in here and took him as if he were free for the taking!”
Which one do you think has more emphasis?
So now to you, Reader? What is your opinion on cursing in fiction?
Now this is also a way to poll readers since A) you’re probably following this blog because you’ve like a post in the past or B) you’ve read one of my stories or are interested in reading one of my stories. Would something like this turn you away from the story no matter how interesting it sounded?
I’m genuinely interested in your opinion, since this is something that I’m really debating at the moment. But please be respectful of other people’s opinions when commenting.
*I reserve the right to release the cleaning harpies on the comments section.*