Skaneateles thanks & a question about cursing

Enjoyed a fantastic day at Skaneateles High School, which has one of the most gorgeous school libraries I have ever seen. Many, many thanks to everyone there – the whole school was involved in this one, and the students incredibly well-prepared. And nice. And friendly. The day flew by at warp speed. Good luck to the boy’s basketball team tonight!

One of my favorite authors, Chris Crutcher, is catching a lot of Michigan flack because he uses realistic language in his books.

What do you think? Should characters in books for teenagers (grades 9-12) use curse words? Is it realistic? Is it realistic to have a book for teenagers in which the characters don’t curse?

90 Replies to “Skaneateles thanks & a question about cursing”

  1. I’ve gone around with this question, too, and I’ve concluded it depends on the tone of the book. Just like there are some books for adults where, however realistic, cursing will through you out of the story, there are books for teens where it just doesn’t fit.

    There are also books where nothing else fits, and no other words will do. I don’t like to avoid cursing to protectthe reader, only to be true to the story.

    On the other hand, I suspect this is something I would back down on more easily than I like to admit. As it is, at the middle grade level (where my books have been published), I have resorted to letting the occasional character “shout words she wasn’t supposed to know” and the like. Which is wimping out of a sort, but beats having a contemporary protagonist shout “drat!” or “darn!” 🙂

  2. I’ve gone around with this question, too, and I’ve concluded it depends on the tone of the book. Just like there are some books for adults where, however realistic, cursing will through you out of the story, there are books for teens where it just doesn’t fit.

    There are also books where nothing else fits, and no other words will do. I don’t like to avoid cursing to protectthe reader, only to be true to the story.

    On the other hand, I suspect this is something I would back down on more easily than I like to admit. As it is, at the middle grade level (where my books have been published), I have resorted to letting the occasional character “shout words she wasn’t supposed to know” and the like. Which is wimping out of a sort, but beats having a contemporary protagonist shout “drat!” or “darn!” 🙂

    1. I like the idea of saving cursing for when you know things are TRULY bad. If a character hasn’t cursed through the entire novel, and a big metal door has slammed shut on them, and water is filling up in the chamber, and the latch to the door is stuck, then I suppose the character’s first “Damn it!” will make more of an impact than if you’re liberally sprinkling cursing throughout the book.

        1. Thanks. Now that I think about it, the 14-year-old main character in my own YA fantasy novel hasn’t cursed throughout the whole book, and her life is about to get a whole lot tougher…:)

      1. If a character hasn’t cursed through the entire novel, and a big metal door has slammed shut on them, and water is filling up in the chamber, and the latch to the door is stuck, then I suppose the character’s first “Damn it!” will make more of an impact than if you’re liberally sprinkling cursing throughout the book.

        Although at that point, I think “damn” doesn’t even begin to cover it. 🙂

  3. I’ve gone around with this question, too, and I’ve concluded it depends on the tone of the book. Just like there are some books for adults where, however realistic, cursing will through you out of the story, there are books for teens where it just doesn’t fit.

    There are also books where nothing else fits, and no other words will do. I don’t like to avoid cursing to protectthe reader, only to be true to the story.

    On the other hand, I suspect this is something I would back down on more easily than I like to admit. As it is, at the middle grade level (where my books have been published), I have resorted to letting the occasional character “shout words she wasn’t supposed to know” and the like. Which is wimping out of a sort, but beats having a contemporary protagonist shout “drat!” or “darn!” 🙂

  4. Censorship due to profanity

    Hi!! I feel like commenting.
    Whenever I come across a swear word in a book (actually, this is really only when I come across the f-word), I’m always a little startled (is that the right word? I more or less … pause, I guess) at first, but I’m not flustered or angry or anything. While I myself rarely swear (except for that time I flushed my watch down the toilet), a lot of teenagers swear at my high school. I think it’s realistic. Reading profanity isn’t going to corrupt my mind or anything. If I’m going to be swearing, it’s because my parents or friends do it a lot around me and I catch on. It’s silly a book should need permission slips for this kind of thing! I admit I haven’t read the book, but now I want to just to see. By censoring things (especially literature) people’s curiosity is spiked!! Dumb***es (i’m just kidding!!!!!!!!!!).

    this was sort of long.. whoops!
    carly

  5. Censorship due to profanity

    Hi!! I feel like commenting.
    Whenever I come across a swear word in a book (actually, this is really only when I come across the f-word), I’m always a little startled (is that the right word? I more or less … pause, I guess) at first, but I’m not flustered or angry or anything. While I myself rarely swear (except for that time I flushed my watch down the toilet), a lot of teenagers swear at my high school. I think it’s realistic. Reading profanity isn’t going to corrupt my mind or anything. If I’m going to be swearing, it’s because my parents or friends do it a lot around me and I catch on. It’s silly a book should need permission slips for this kind of thing! I admit I haven’t read the book, but now I want to just to see. By censoring things (especially literature) people’s curiosity is spiked!! Dumb***es (i’m just kidding!!!!!!!!!!).

    this was sort of long.. whoops!
    carly

  6. Censorship due to profanity

    Hi!! I feel like commenting.
    Whenever I come across a swear word in a book (actually, this is really only when I come across the f-word), I’m always a little startled (is that the right word? I more or less … pause, I guess) at first, but I’m not flustered or angry or anything. While I myself rarely swear (except for that time I flushed my watch down the toilet), a lot of teenagers swear at my high school. I think it’s realistic. Reading profanity isn’t going to corrupt my mind or anything. If I’m going to be swearing, it’s because my parents or friends do it a lot around me and I catch on. It’s silly a book should need permission slips for this kind of thing! I admit I haven’t read the book, but now I want to just to see. By censoring things (especially literature) people’s curiosity is spiked!! Dumb***es (i’m just kidding!!!!!!!!!!).

    this was sort of long.. whoops!
    carly

  7. I think using swear words if your describing public school kids is realistic.

    But with writing a book you can’t encouraging it either. I think the simple words such as hell or sh** would be ok to use occasionally.

    If it was a Catholic school (which I have attended before) it is VERY rare.

  8. I think using swear words if your describing public school kids is realistic.

    But with writing a book you can’t encouraging it either. I think the simple words such as hell or sh** would be ok to use occasionally.

    If it was a Catholic school (which I have attended before) it is VERY rare.

  9. I think using swear words if your describing public school kids is realistic.

    But with writing a book you can’t encouraging it either. I think the simple words such as hell or sh** would be ok to use occasionally.

    If it was a Catholic school (which I have attended before) it is VERY rare.

  10. Bad Language

    I think, as with anything else, there is no right and wrong…only gray areas that aggravate people. I’ve listen to Chris Crutcher talk and he cares deeply about his subjects. The bad language makes me squirm because I’ve only started using bad language as an adult. I didn’t as a teen and I don’t remember kids around me using it. With is being used so prolifically in movies though, it only makes sense that kids are going to use it more and more. Even though it still makes me uncomfortable, I think it’s “real” to use it in ya lit. But I think it’s classier to not use it. I like to see that on a character by character basis. Yes, there are going to be the swearers, but let’s see some that work to find other words too.
    Angela

  11. Bad Language

    I think, as with anything else, there is no right and wrong…only gray areas that aggravate people. I’ve listen to Chris Crutcher talk and he cares deeply about his subjects. The bad language makes me squirm because I’ve only started using bad language as an adult. I didn’t as a teen and I don’t remember kids around me using it. With is being used so prolifically in movies though, it only makes sense that kids are going to use it more and more. Even though it still makes me uncomfortable, I think it’s “real” to use it in ya lit. But I think it’s classier to not use it. I like to see that on a character by character basis. Yes, there are going to be the swearers, but let’s see some that work to find other words too.
    Angela

  12. Bad Language

    I think, as with anything else, there is no right and wrong…only gray areas that aggravate people. I’ve listen to Chris Crutcher talk and he cares deeply about his subjects. The bad language makes me squirm because I’ve only started using bad language as an adult. I didn’t as a teen and I don’t remember kids around me using it. With is being used so prolifically in movies though, it only makes sense that kids are going to use it more and more. Even though it still makes me uncomfortable, I think it’s “real” to use it in ya lit. But I think it’s classier to not use it. I like to see that on a character by character basis. Yes, there are going to be the swearers, but let’s see some that work to find other words too.
    Angela

  13. I’m all for naturalistic language if the subject matter of the book warrants it. Which could be a comedy or a tragedy.

    I think it’s easy enough to tell in the first few pages whether there’s going to be any really strong language. I just finished a book in which homophobic locker room banter turns really ugly — it’s got incredibly strong language — and on page one it’s a lot tamer, but the narrator still mentions “giving oral” and says the word “crotch”; so readers will likely be prepared for what comes. I do think YA books should probably prepare their readers for strong content in some way — so students aren’t shocked beyond what they can handle, and so teachers aren’t caught reading aloud something they aren’t prepared to discuss.

    But I also don’t consider a basic swear word used in the hallways of every middle school in America to be “strong” content.

    Thanks for asking this question!

  14. I’m all for naturalistic language if the subject matter of the book warrants it. Which could be a comedy or a tragedy.

    I think it’s easy enough to tell in the first few pages whether there’s going to be any really strong language. I just finished a book in which homophobic locker room banter turns really ugly — it’s got incredibly strong language — and on page one it’s a lot tamer, but the narrator still mentions “giving oral” and says the word “crotch”; so readers will likely be prepared for what comes. I do think YA books should probably prepare their readers for strong content in some way — so students aren’t shocked beyond what they can handle, and so teachers aren’t caught reading aloud something they aren’t prepared to discuss.

    But I also don’t consider a basic swear word used in the hallways of every middle school in America to be “strong” content.

    Thanks for asking this question!

    1. and so teachers aren’t caught reading aloud something they aren’t prepared to discuss.

      I have to respond to this statement – teachers shouldn’t be reading anything aloud that they haven’t read previously (unless it was something like a writing assignment done in class that they haven’t had a chance to read to themselves). I understand that they’re swamped with work, but at the very least they should have flipped through the book/article/story, decided on the passage(s) to read, and / or consulted their friendly neighborhood librarian about the work.

      Please understand – this isn’t meant at all as an attack or personal comment towards you – it’s just a reaction to a strongly held belief on my own part. I’m also sad that there seem to have been so many (imho) poorly-handled challenges lately – Whale Talk in both Michigan and South Carolina, Bless Me, Ultima in Colorado, where the principal simply handed over copies of the book to the parents who complained, the superintendent in California who unilaterally decided that a unanimous vote of a review committee was wrong to keep Louise Rennison’s books on the shelf, etc.
      *whew* /rant

      To actually answer the original question: I believe that profanity has its place, but there’s definitely a line past which it becomes gratuitous. Teenagers do use profanity, and as long as the book uses language in a way that corresponds with reality, profanity is fine. There are those who don’t use profanity, and there are plenty of books out there that also don’t and don’t need it. I’m not saying that teenagers and their reading choices should be segregated as to whether or not they use profanity, but I do think that realism should and does work both ways. I also think that Chris Crutcher uses profanity in a completely realistic way to reinforce the messages in his works. Profanity is not the point of the books; rather it’s a vital part of making the whole picture more real and honest.

      1. SDN,
        Thank you so much! I somehow thought each person would have to do it individually, but now I see they don’t. You rock. I sent you a picture book the other day.

        and RBB -Oh, I agree with you completely that teachers should and must read the books they assign. I just said that because sadly, they just don’t always. In fact, a friend of mine who works for a well-known book club for young people said that that was one of their criteria for inclusion: the book needed to contain nothing that a teacher (who hadn’t bothered to pre-read) wouldn’t be comfortable reading aloud in class.

  15. I’m all for naturalistic language if the subject matter of the book warrants it. Which could be a comedy or a tragedy.

    I think it’s easy enough to tell in the first few pages whether there’s going to be any really strong language. I just finished a book in which homophobic locker room banter turns really ugly — it’s got incredibly strong language — and on page one it’s a lot tamer, but the narrator still mentions “giving oral” and says the word “crotch”; so readers will likely be prepared for what comes. I do think YA books should probably prepare their readers for strong content in some way — so students aren’t shocked beyond what they can handle, and so teachers aren’t caught reading aloud something they aren’t prepared to discuss.

    But I also don’t consider a basic swear word used in the hallways of every middle school in America to be “strong” content.

    Thanks for asking this question!

  16. They need to remember: Welcome to the 21st Century, where us high school know about so many things our parents don’t expect us to know–or want to know, for that matter.

    So…in spite of all those people, I shall be reading his books! HA!

  17. They need to remember: Welcome to the 21st Century, where us high school know about so many things our parents don’t expect us to know–or want to know, for that matter.

    So…in spite of all those people, I shall be reading his books! HA!

  18. They need to remember: Welcome to the 21st Century, where us high school know about so many things our parents don’t expect us to know–or want to know, for that matter.

    So…in spite of all those people, I shall be reading his books! HA!

  19. During my AP US History midterm my junior year of high school, I used a bad word in an essay. Out of respect for the fact that I don’t know your readership, I won’t repeat it here.

    It was a strong word, it was seven letters long, and it described Richard Nixon. The word was not a judgement on his mother’s marital status at the time of his conception/birth, but rather a character judgement used as the basis for an essay. My usage made sense. It was a great essay. My history teacher gave me full credit for the essay, but told me I couldn’t swear on the actual AP test. I told him, “I want to use the words that best fit what I think in the shortest amount of time. Some of these are swear words. Ergo, I should be able to use strong language.” I’m surprised that most of my teachers didn’t hate me in high school.

    It’s very realistic for teens to curse, and often it’s necessary to have a certain rhythm and power in speech. If I say “that’s a dang shame, gosh darnit,” that won’t resonate the way that a swear will. Swears are forbidden because they are so powerful, in a way: you’re telling God to commit this person or item to the firey pits of hell, you’re telling someone they’re as low as a female dog, you’re accusing someone of committing one of the most intrinsically despicable crimes possible. If you want to shock people into listening to you, there’s very few ways of getting someone’s attention faster.

    I can understand that using harsher language is offensive to some, and I do clean up my (admittedly foul) mouth when I feel it necessary. I think using words merely to hurt, without a grander purpose in mind, is despicable. I think that sometimes, profanity is used as punctuation, as common as commas, when those words should really be semi-colons or interrobangs.

    I think it’s important not to shy away from language that scares us, and it’s realistic for teenagers to curse. It’s not necessary, and not a necessity; there are books where there is no profanity, or it’s left in the minds of the reader (“that expletive deleted” — we always think the words are so much worse when we’re left to fill them in.), and the works are the better for it.

    It wouldn’t even be an issue, though, if the adult world wasn’t so profane to begin with. If the man who issued the challenge never cursed in his life, more power to him. He ought to be cleaning up the adult world first, though. It’s so much more terrible.

    As a postscript to this very long comment — Hi, I’m Rachel! I’ve been reading this journal since linked to you, and reading your books since she recommended you as well. During my senior year of high school, I read Catalyst over and over again. It helped, I think. 😉

  20. During my AP US History midterm my junior year of high school, I used a bad word in an essay. Out of respect for the fact that I don’t know your readership, I won’t repeat it here.

    It was a strong word, it was seven letters long, and it described Richard Nixon. The word was not a judgement on his mother’s marital status at the time of his conception/birth, but rather a character judgement used as the basis for an essay. My usage made sense. It was a great essay. My history teacher gave me full credit for the essay, but told me I couldn’t swear on the actual AP test. I told him, “I want to use the words that best fit what I think in the shortest amount of time. Some of these are swear words. Ergo, I should be able to use strong language.” I’m surprised that most of my teachers didn’t hate me in high school.

    It’s very realistic for teens to curse, and often it’s necessary to have a certain rhythm and power in speech. If I say “that’s a dang shame, gosh darnit,” that won’t resonate the way that a swear will. Swears are forbidden because they are so powerful, in a way: you’re telling God to commit this person or item to the firey pits of hell, you’re telling someone they’re as low as a female dog, you’re accusing someone of committing one of the most intrinsically despicable crimes possible. If you want to shock people into listening to you, there’s very few ways of getting someone’s attention faster.

    I can understand that using harsher language is offensive to some, and I do clean up my (admittedly foul) mouth when I feel it necessary. I think using words merely to hurt, without a grander purpose in mind, is despicable. I think that sometimes, profanity is used as punctuation, as common as commas, when those words should really be semi-colons or interrobangs.

    I think it’s important not to shy away from language that scares us, and it’s realistic for teenagers to curse. It’s not necessary, and not a necessity; there are books where there is no profanity, or it’s left in the minds of the reader (“that expletive deleted” — we always think the words are so much worse when we’re left to fill them in.), and the works are the better for it.

    It wouldn’t even be an issue, though, if the adult world wasn’t so profane to begin with. If the man who issued the challenge never cursed in his life, more power to him. He ought to be cleaning up the adult world first, though. It’s so much more terrible.

    As a postscript to this very long comment — Hi, I’m Rachel! I’ve been reading this journal since linked to you, and reading your books since she recommended you as well. During my senior year of high school, I read Catalyst over and over again. It helped, I think. 😉

  21. During my AP US History midterm my junior year of high school, I used a bad word in an essay. Out of respect for the fact that I don’t know your readership, I won’t repeat it here.

    It was a strong word, it was seven letters long, and it described Richard Nixon. The word was not a judgement on his mother’s marital status at the time of his conception/birth, but rather a character judgement used as the basis for an essay. My usage made sense. It was a great essay. My history teacher gave me full credit for the essay, but told me I couldn’t swear on the actual AP test. I told him, “I want to use the words that best fit what I think in the shortest amount of time. Some of these are swear words. Ergo, I should be able to use strong language.” I’m surprised that most of my teachers didn’t hate me in high school.

    It’s very realistic for teens to curse, and often it’s necessary to have a certain rhythm and power in speech. If I say “that’s a dang shame, gosh darnit,” that won’t resonate the way that a swear will. Swears are forbidden because they are so powerful, in a way: you’re telling God to commit this person or item to the firey pits of hell, you’re telling someone they’re as low as a female dog, you’re accusing someone of committing one of the most intrinsically despicable crimes possible. If you want to shock people into listening to you, there’s very few ways of getting someone’s attention faster.

    I can understand that using harsher language is offensive to some, and I do clean up my (admittedly foul) mouth when I feel it necessary. I think using words merely to hurt, without a grander purpose in mind, is despicable. I think that sometimes, profanity is used as punctuation, as common as commas, when those words should really be semi-colons or interrobangs.

    I think it’s important not to shy away from language that scares us, and it’s realistic for teenagers to curse. It’s not necessary, and not a necessity; there are books where there is no profanity, or it’s left in the minds of the reader (“that expletive deleted” — we always think the words are so much worse when we’re left to fill them in.), and the works are the better for it.

    It wouldn’t even be an issue, though, if the adult world wasn’t so profane to begin with. If the man who issued the challenge never cursed in his life, more power to him. He ought to be cleaning up the adult world first, though. It’s so much more terrible.

    As a postscript to this very long comment — Hi, I’m Rachel! I’ve been reading this journal since linked to you, and reading your books since she recommended you as well. During my senior year of high school, I read Catalyst over and over again. It helped, I think. 😉

  22. Hm. Tough one. I know that I am a prude, but I am honestly shocked when I read a curse word in a middle-grade novel. For example, THE CANNING SEASON completely blew my mind. The old ladies who get drunk and go joyriding? The tutor who calls his charges “little fuckers”? Whoa. The book was really good, though, and I can’t imagine it without the elements that shocked me; in fact, it could be that those elements made the book good (or were contributing factors), because they established character, and they also forced the story away from any possiblility of being overly sentimental, sappy, or cute.

    Theoretically, I frown on cursing in kids books, because I think kids often emulate the tone that they read. I was always taught that people curse because they are too lazy or stupid to think of a really good word. I know, as an adult, that that isn’t necessarily true, and that curse words are often fantastic words in their own right – but I still think that kids should learn to communicate effectively using standard English before they start breaking the rules. That is one of the reasons I loathe Junie B. Jones; I wouldn’t want my kid picking up the name-calling and lazy English that Junie uses.

    THAT SAID, I know that kids KNOW the words. If their use is something that is necessary for the character, then I think it would be terrible to leave it out. If I am reading a Walter Dean Myers book about kids in juvenile hall, and none of them ever curse, that is going to strike me as odd. If I don’t like stories like that, I should stick to reading cutesy stories about magic dogs, or whatever.

    ALSO, parents should leave curriculum decisions to the teachers. I am sure that no teacher is going to irresponsibly assign inappropriate material, and raising a fuss about it or trying to ban it outright will only increase the books allure, anyway. The fact is, lots of kids don’t like to read old-fashioned books about magic dogs, and would rather read modern, edgy stories about real people. Real people curse.

    God knows I curse a fucking blue streak!

  23. Hm. Tough one. I know that I am a prude, but I am honestly shocked when I read a curse word in a middle-grade novel. For example, THE CANNING SEASON completely blew my mind. The old ladies who get drunk and go joyriding? The tutor who calls his charges “little fuckers”? Whoa. The book was really good, though, and I can’t imagine it without the elements that shocked me; in fact, it could be that those elements made the book good (or were contributing factors), because they established character, and they also forced the story away from any possiblility of being overly sentimental, sappy, or cute.

    Theoretically, I frown on cursing in kids books, because I think kids often emulate the tone that they read. I was always taught that people curse because they are too lazy or stupid to think of a really good word. I know, as an adult, that that isn’t necessarily true, and that curse words are often fantastic words in their own right – but I still think that kids should learn to communicate effectively using standard English before they start breaking the rules. That is one of the reasons I loathe Junie B. Jones; I wouldn’t want my kid picking up the name-calling and lazy English that Junie uses.

    THAT SAID, I know that kids KNOW the words. If their use is something that is necessary for the character, then I think it would be terrible to leave it out. If I am reading a Walter Dean Myers book about kids in juvenile hall, and none of them ever curse, that is going to strike me as odd. If I don’t like stories like that, I should stick to reading cutesy stories about magic dogs, or whatever.

    ALSO, parents should leave curriculum decisions to the teachers. I am sure that no teacher is going to irresponsibly assign inappropriate material, and raising a fuss about it or trying to ban it outright will only increase the books allure, anyway. The fact is, lots of kids don’t like to read old-fashioned books about magic dogs, and would rather read modern, edgy stories about real people. Real people curse.

    God knows I curse a fucking blue streak!

    1. Teens?

      But my question is aimed specifically at teenage, high school readers. If my publisher defines my books as written for grades 9 and up, or ages 14 and up, what does this LJ world think are reasonable boundaries?

      I have used curse words (rarely) in my books. I find that it works best to limit the usage – it gives the words more power if they are used sparingly. Also, with my linguist hat on, I think that in some social groups, “curse” words have taken on the role as place-holders in spoken discourse.

      The interesting thing is that as more and more people use the old profanity casually (and on TV), the words are losing their shock value. I think we’ll be see “new” profanity in the coming years. We’re wearing the old words out.

      1. Re: Teens?

        AHH, that changes it! I read it as age 9-12, as in middle reader age.

        For teens I think it is fine, as long as it seems true to the character and situation. And I totally agree that they are more potent when used judiciously.

      2. Re: Teens?

        adding on to my earlier comment, and in reference to writing for mature teens specifically, I did find that it was better for the story to use euphemisms of my own creation in many places rather than to say the actual word. It created more of a unique world (and of course that’s what one wants fiction to do) and it also allowed the profane or dirty words I used to have much more impact. For example, biscuits instead of breasts or any other common way to reference those bodily parts. But the strongest words when I really need them.

        I have seen books recently which use stars (F**K!) or (****!) — Be More Chill does something like that. And there are also books which use exculsively euphemisms (Born Confused, for example) and do me, neither quite rings true.

  24. Hm. Tough one. I know that I am a prude, but I am honestly shocked when I read a curse word in a middle-grade novel. For example, THE CANNING SEASON completely blew my mind. The old ladies who get drunk and go joyriding? The tutor who calls his charges “little fuckers”? Whoa. The book was really good, though, and I can’t imagine it without the elements that shocked me; in fact, it could be that those elements made the book good (or were contributing factors), because they established character, and they also forced the story away from any possiblility of being overly sentimental, sappy, or cute.

    Theoretically, I frown on cursing in kids books, because I think kids often emulate the tone that they read. I was always taught that people curse because they are too lazy or stupid to think of a really good word. I know, as an adult, that that isn’t necessarily true, and that curse words are often fantastic words in their own right – but I still think that kids should learn to communicate effectively using standard English before they start breaking the rules. That is one of the reasons I loathe Junie B. Jones; I wouldn’t want my kid picking up the name-calling and lazy English that Junie uses.

    THAT SAID, I know that kids KNOW the words. If their use is something that is necessary for the character, then I think it would be terrible to leave it out. If I am reading a Walter Dean Myers book about kids in juvenile hall, and none of them ever curse, that is going to strike me as odd. If I don’t like stories like that, I should stick to reading cutesy stories about magic dogs, or whatever.

    ALSO, parents should leave curriculum decisions to the teachers. I am sure that no teacher is going to irresponsibly assign inappropriate material, and raising a fuss about it or trying to ban it outright will only increase the books allure, anyway. The fact is, lots of kids don’t like to read old-fashioned books about magic dogs, and would rather read modern, edgy stories about real people. Real people curse.

    God knows I curse a fucking blue streak!

  25. I remember giving an interview once for a magazine in Barcelona, after the publication of my third collection of short stories for adults was published. All three books feature gay characters (the first one also had lesbians) and all three had plenty of sex.

    But during the interview I was criticized by the interviewer, who complained that no one smoked and no one drank coffee, only tea, which made the books seem completely un-real to him.

    Now, there were only two brief mentions of a character drinking tea in the book, but since I don’t drink coffee, it hadn’t occurred to me that coffee’s total absence from the stories would be so conspicuous.

    Likewise smoking.

    In terms of cursing in YA (or other) fiction: some people can pull it off so well that you can’t imagine the book any other way. But often such words are extraneous, just like you don’t want to read all the ums, and ahems, and so on that we actually say in real conversation, but which, when reading a conversation, just bog things down.

    Generally, I am not much interested in reading about characters who curse a lot, but that’s a personal quirk.

    On the other hand, inventive cursing/insulting wins lots of points. 🙂

  26. I remember giving an interview once for a magazine in Barcelona, after the publication of my third collection of short stories for adults was published. All three books feature gay characters (the first one also had lesbians) and all three had plenty of sex.

    But during the interview I was criticized by the interviewer, who complained that no one smoked and no one drank coffee, only tea, which made the books seem completely un-real to him.

    Now, there were only two brief mentions of a character drinking tea in the book, but since I don’t drink coffee, it hadn’t occurred to me that coffee’s total absence from the stories would be so conspicuous.

    Likewise smoking.

    In terms of cursing in YA (or other) fiction: some people can pull it off so well that you can’t imagine the book any other way. But often such words are extraneous, just like you don’t want to read all the ums, and ahems, and so on that we actually say in real conversation, but which, when reading a conversation, just bog things down.

    Generally, I am not much interested in reading about characters who curse a lot, but that’s a personal quirk.

    On the other hand, inventive cursing/insulting wins lots of points. 🙂

  27. I remember giving an interview once for a magazine in Barcelona, after the publication of my third collection of short stories for adults was published. All three books feature gay characters (the first one also had lesbians) and all three had plenty of sex.

    But during the interview I was criticized by the interviewer, who complained that no one smoked and no one drank coffee, only tea, which made the books seem completely un-real to him.

    Now, there were only two brief mentions of a character drinking tea in the book, but since I don’t drink coffee, it hadn’t occurred to me that coffee’s total absence from the stories would be so conspicuous.

    Likewise smoking.

    In terms of cursing in YA (or other) fiction: some people can pull it off so well that you can’t imagine the book any other way. But often such words are extraneous, just like you don’t want to read all the ums, and ahems, and so on that we actually say in real conversation, but which, when reading a conversation, just bog things down.

    Generally, I am not much interested in reading about characters who curse a lot, but that’s a personal quirk.

    On the other hand, inventive cursing/insulting wins lots of points. 🙂

  28. Teens?

    But my question is aimed specifically at teenage, high school readers. If my publisher defines my books as written for grades 9 and up, or ages 14 and up, what does this LJ world think are reasonable boundaries?

    I have used curse words (rarely) in my books. I find that it works best to limit the usage – it gives the words more power if they are used sparingly. Also, with my linguist hat on, I think that in some social groups, “curse” words have taken on the role as place-holders in spoken discourse.

    The interesting thing is that as more and more people use the old profanity casually (and on TV), the words are losing their shock value. I think we’ll be see “new” profanity in the coming years. We’re wearing the old words out.

  29. Teens?

    But my question is aimed specifically at teenage, high school readers. If my publisher defines my books as written for grades 9 and up, or ages 14 and up, what does this LJ world think are reasonable boundaries?

    I have used curse words (rarely) in my books. I find that it works best to limit the usage – it gives the words more power if they are used sparingly. Also, with my linguist hat on, I think that in some social groups, “curse” words have taken on the role as place-holders in spoken discourse.

    The interesting thing is that as more and more people use the old profanity casually (and on TV), the words are losing their shock value. I think we’ll be see “new” profanity in the coming years. We’re wearing the old words out.

  30. I like the idea of saving cursing for when you know things are TRULY bad. If a character hasn’t cursed through the entire novel, and a big metal door has slammed shut on them, and water is filling up in the chamber, and the latch to the door is stuck, then I suppose the character’s first “Damn it!” will make more of an impact than if you’re liberally sprinkling cursing throughout the book.

  31. I like the idea of saving cursing for when you know things are TRULY bad. If a character hasn’t cursed through the entire novel, and a big metal door has slammed shut on them, and water is filling up in the chamber, and the latch to the door is stuck, then I suppose the character’s first “Damn it!” will make more of an impact than if you’re liberally sprinkling cursing throughout the book.

  32. Re: Teens?

    AHH, that changes it! I read it as age 9-12, as in middle reader age.

    For teens I think it is fine, as long as it seems true to the character and situation. And I totally agree that they are more potent when used judiciously.

  33. Re: Teens?

    AHH, that changes it! I read it as age 9-12, as in middle reader age.

    For teens I think it is fine, as long as it seems true to the character and situation. And I totally agree that they are more potent when used judiciously.

  34. Thanks. Now that I think about it, the 14-year-old main character in my own YA fantasy novel hasn’t cursed throughout the whole book, and her life is about to get a whole lot tougher…:)

  35. Thanks. Now that I think about it, the 14-year-old main character in my own YA fantasy novel hasn’t cursed throughout the whole book, and her life is about to get a whole lot tougher…:)

  36. (this is my editor icon.)

    you know what i think: if the character is someone who curses, they curse. gratuitous cursing is pointless. fake cursing (“scared spitless”) is worse.

    in other words, fuck that shit.

  37. (this is my editor icon.)

    you know what i think: if the character is someone who curses, they curse. gratuitous cursing is pointless. fake cursing (“scared spitless”) is worse.

    in other words, fuck that shit.

  38. (this is my editor icon.)

    you know what i think: if the character is someone who curses, they curse. gratuitous cursing is pointless. fake cursing (“scared spitless”) is worse.

    in other words, fuck that shit.

  39. Re: Teens?

    adding on to my earlier comment, and in reference to writing for mature teens specifically, I did find that it was better for the story to use euphemisms of my own creation in many places rather than to say the actual word. It created more of a unique world (and of course that’s what one wants fiction to do) and it also allowed the profane or dirty words I used to have much more impact. For example, biscuits instead of breasts or any other common way to reference those bodily parts. But the strongest words when I really need them.

    I have seen books recently which use stars (F**K!) or (****!) — Be More Chill does something like that. And there are also books which use exculsively euphemisms (Born Confused, for example) and do me, neither quite rings true.

  40. Re: Teens?

    adding on to my earlier comment, and in reference to writing for mature teens specifically, I did find that it was better for the story to use euphemisms of my own creation in many places rather than to say the actual word. It created more of a unique world (and of course that’s what one wants fiction to do) and it also allowed the profane or dirty words I used to have much more impact. For example, biscuits instead of breasts or any other common way to reference those bodily parts. But the strongest words when I really need them.

    I have seen books recently which use stars (F**K!) or (****!) — Be More Chill does something like that. And there are also books which use exculsively euphemisms (Born Confused, for example) and do me, neither quite rings true.

  41. It is always surprising to me that “bad” language seems to be such a locus for criticism. Somehow, even more than sex, and much more than violence, people take offense to cursing. I feel like representing how teenagers actually speak is an important part of writing for them.

  42. It is always surprising to me that “bad” language seems to be such a locus for criticism. Somehow, even more than sex, and much more than violence, people take offense to cursing. I feel like representing how teenagers actually speak is an important part of writing for them.

  43. It is always surprising to me that “bad” language seems to be such a locus for criticism. Somehow, even more than sex, and much more than violence, people take offense to cursing. I feel like representing how teenagers actually speak is an important part of writing for them.

  44. and so teachers aren’t caught reading aloud something they aren’t prepared to discuss.

    I have to respond to this statement – teachers shouldn’t be reading anything aloud that they haven’t read previously (unless it was something like a writing assignment done in class that they haven’t had a chance to read to themselves). I understand that they’re swamped with work, but at the very least they should have flipped through the book/article/story, decided on the passage(s) to read, and / or consulted their friendly neighborhood librarian about the work.

    Please understand – this isn’t meant at all as an attack or personal comment towards you – it’s just a reaction to a strongly held belief on my own part. I’m also sad that there seem to have been so many (imho) poorly-handled challenges lately – Whale Talk in both Michigan and South Carolina, Bless Me, Ultima in Colorado, where the principal simply handed over copies of the book to the parents who complained, the superintendent in California who unilaterally decided that a unanimous vote of a review committee was wrong to keep Louise Rennison’s books on the shelf, etc.
    *whew* /rant

    To actually answer the original question: I believe that profanity has its place, but there’s definitely a line past which it becomes gratuitous. Teenagers do use profanity, and as long as the book uses language in a way that corresponds with reality, profanity is fine. There are those who don’t use profanity, and there are plenty of books out there that also don’t and don’t need it. I’m not saying that teenagers and their reading choices should be segregated as to whether or not they use profanity, but I do think that realism should and does work both ways. I also think that Chris Crutcher uses profanity in a completely realistic way to reinforce the messages in his works. Profanity is not the point of the books; rather it’s a vital part of making the whole picture more real and honest.

  45. and so teachers aren’t caught reading aloud something they aren’t prepared to discuss.

    I have to respond to this statement – teachers shouldn’t be reading anything aloud that they haven’t read previously (unless it was something like a writing assignment done in class that they haven’t had a chance to read to themselves). I understand that they’re swamped with work, but at the very least they should have flipped through the book/article/story, decided on the passage(s) to read, and / or consulted their friendly neighborhood librarian about the work.

    Please understand – this isn’t meant at all as an attack or personal comment towards you – it’s just a reaction to a strongly held belief on my own part. I’m also sad that there seem to have been so many (imho) poorly-handled challenges lately – Whale Talk in both Michigan and South Carolina, Bless Me, Ultima in Colorado, where the principal simply handed over copies of the book to the parents who complained, the superintendent in California who unilaterally decided that a unanimous vote of a review committee was wrong to keep Louise Rennison’s books on the shelf, etc.
    *whew* /rant

    To actually answer the original question: I believe that profanity has its place, but there’s definitely a line past which it becomes gratuitous. Teenagers do use profanity, and as long as the book uses language in a way that corresponds with reality, profanity is fine. There are those who don’t use profanity, and there are plenty of books out there that also don’t and don’t need it. I’m not saying that teenagers and their reading choices should be segregated as to whether or not they use profanity, but I do think that realism should and does work both ways. I also think that Chris Crutcher uses profanity in a completely realistic way to reinforce the messages in his works. Profanity is not the point of the books; rather it’s a vital part of making the whole picture more real and honest.

  46. I think that, since it’s high school, there’s no reason a book can’t contain a few curses. But on the other hand, I find it makes me uncomfortable when whoever I’m talking to uses excessive profanity, partly because it’s just kind of annoying. So the same goes for books. If it makes sense for the characters to curse, and it would be awkward to euphemise, by all means they should curse. But it is realistic to have books about teens where characters don’t curse, because plenty of teens don’t curse (except of course in those term-paper-due-tomorrow-computer-lost-file-notes-eaten-by-dog dire circumstances). My friends and I only curse when a curse is the only thing that fits, but then we are literate and intelligent young ladies. (And slightly odd so about as likely to say “Gah!” while flinging things about or even yell “fie on thee, cursed laptop”) So what I’m trying to say is that it depends on the context.

    On a sort of side note, I had one English teacher junior year that would not let us read the word “damn” aloud even though it was in the text. That I found incredibly annoying, as we were all looking at the word anyway, and it sounded odd to substitute. I guess it was her classroom, though.

  47. I think that, since it’s high school, there’s no reason a book can’t contain a few curses. But on the other hand, I find it makes me uncomfortable when whoever I’m talking to uses excessive profanity, partly because it’s just kind of annoying. So the same goes for books. If it makes sense for the characters to curse, and it would be awkward to euphemise, by all means they should curse. But it is realistic to have books about teens where characters don’t curse, because plenty of teens don’t curse (except of course in those term-paper-due-tomorrow-computer-lost-file-notes-eaten-by-dog dire circumstances). My friends and I only curse when a curse is the only thing that fits, but then we are literate and intelligent young ladies. (And slightly odd so about as likely to say “Gah!” while flinging things about or even yell “fie on thee, cursed laptop”) So what I’m trying to say is that it depends on the context.

    On a sort of side note, I had one English teacher junior year that would not let us read the word “damn” aloud even though it was in the text. That I found incredibly annoying, as we were all looking at the word anyway, and it sounded odd to substitute. I guess it was her classroom, though.

  48. I think that, since it’s high school, there’s no reason a book can’t contain a few curses. But on the other hand, I find it makes me uncomfortable when whoever I’m talking to uses excessive profanity, partly because it’s just kind of annoying. So the same goes for books. If it makes sense for the characters to curse, and it would be awkward to euphemise, by all means they should curse. But it is realistic to have books about teens where characters don’t curse, because plenty of teens don’t curse (except of course in those term-paper-due-tomorrow-computer-lost-file-notes-eaten-by-dog dire circumstances). My friends and I only curse when a curse is the only thing that fits, but then we are literate and intelligent young ladies. (And slightly odd so about as likely to say “Gah!” while flinging things about or even yell “fie on thee, cursed laptop”) So what I’m trying to say is that it depends on the context.

    On a sort of side note, I had one English teacher junior year that would not let us read the word “damn” aloud even though it was in the text. That I found incredibly annoying, as we were all looking at the word anyway, and it sounded odd to substitute. I guess it was her classroom, though.

  49. SDN,
    Thank you so much! I somehow thought each person would have to do it individually, but now I see they don’t. You rock. I sent you a picture book the other day.

    and RBB -Oh, I agree with you completely that teachers should and must read the books they assign. I just said that because sadly, they just don’t always. In fact, a friend of mine who works for a well-known book club for young people said that that was one of their criteria for inclusion: the book needed to contain nothing that a teacher (who hadn’t bothered to pre-read) wouldn’t be comfortable reading aloud in class.

  50. SDN,
    Thank you so much! I somehow thought each person would have to do it individually, but now I see they don’t. You rock. I sent you a picture book the other day.

    and RBB -Oh, I agree with you completely that teachers should and must read the books they assign. I just said that because sadly, they just don’t always. In fact, a friend of mine who works for a well-known book club for young people said that that was one of their criteria for inclusion: the book needed to contain nothing that a teacher (who hadn’t bothered to pre-read) wouldn’t be comfortable reading aloud in class.

  51. I’ve been thinking long and hard about this, and I think I agree with SDN and BlackHolly. In my five books for teenagers, only the last two have had what could be thought of as major cursing, and it only went in after much thought. My feeling was that it had to fit with the both the character and the setting. So, in a book set in World War II, the main character, a trainee pilot, would never under normal circumstances swear in front of his girl friend, but when he’s describing to her the death of one of his friends in an avoidable training exercise and is on the point of emotional collapse, then he says, ” . . . and there was fuck all I could do.” It fits, therefore I would have argued to the death that it had to stay. Thankfully, my publisher didn’t bat an eyelid, but I have had some librarians ask me why I had to “spoil” the book with bad language. One word – sheesh! The latest novel set roughly now has its main character an incandescently angry seventeen year old boy. He swears, not excessively, but he does it because of how he feels, and because he basically wants to alienate the world.

    Gillian

  52. I’ve been thinking long and hard about this, and I think I agree with SDN and BlackHolly. In my five books for teenagers, only the last two have had what could be thought of as major cursing, and it only went in after much thought. My feeling was that it had to fit with the both the character and the setting. So, in a book set in World War II, the main character, a trainee pilot, would never under normal circumstances swear in front of his girl friend, but when he’s describing to her the death of one of his friends in an avoidable training exercise and is on the point of emotional collapse, then he says, ” . . . and there was fuck all I could do.” It fits, therefore I would have argued to the death that it had to stay. Thankfully, my publisher didn’t bat an eyelid, but I have had some librarians ask me why I had to “spoil” the book with bad language. One word – sheesh! The latest novel set roughly now has its main character an incandescently angry seventeen year old boy. He swears, not excessively, but he does it because of how he feels, and because he basically wants to alienate the world.

    Gillian

  53. I’ve been thinking long and hard about this, and I think I agree with SDN and BlackHolly. In my five books for teenagers, only the last two have had what could be thought of as major cursing, and it only went in after much thought. My feeling was that it had to fit with the both the character and the setting. So, in a book set in World War II, the main character, a trainee pilot, would never under normal circumstances swear in front of his girl friend, but when he’s describing to her the death of one of his friends in an avoidable training exercise and is on the point of emotional collapse, then he says, ” . . . and there was fuck all I could do.” It fits, therefore I would have argued to the death that it had to stay. Thankfully, my publisher didn’t bat an eyelid, but I have had some librarians ask me why I had to “spoil” the book with bad language. One word – sheesh! The latest novel set roughly now has its main character an incandescently angry seventeen year old boy. He swears, not excessively, but he does it because of how he feels, and because he basically wants to alienate the world.

    Gillian

  54. If a character hasn’t cursed through the entire novel, and a big metal door has slammed shut on them, and water is filling up in the chamber, and the latch to the door is stuck, then I suppose the character’s first “Damn it!” will make more of an impact than if you’re liberally sprinkling cursing throughout the book.

    Although at that point, I think “damn” doesn’t even begin to cover it. 🙂

  55. If a character hasn’t cursed through the entire novel, and a big metal door has slammed shut on them, and water is filling up in the chamber, and the latch to the door is stuck, then I suppose the character’s first “Damn it!” will make more of an impact than if you’re liberally sprinkling cursing throughout the book.

    Although at that point, I think “damn” doesn’t even begin to cover it. 🙂

  56. As someone who reads tons of teen lit, but primarily booktalks to junior high students, my personal belief is that while I don’t think swear words should be used in books for kids under 12 (I’m still not sure what I think about the Canning Season, aside from love) or inappropriately to the context and characters of a book (ie just for shock value), I feel the controversy over them is just a red herring. Words only have as much power as you give them, and when parents are freaking out about words in a book are words their children already know and have heard countless times on the street and in the movies, they are telling their children that those words have a power over them, the parents. Much better would be to discuss with the children why they as a family don’t believe using such words is good or appropriate, but to try and blast them out of existence is a hopeless task that puts a lot of outrage into something that is really harming no one.

    What I would like to see is all that outrage and energy going into battles worth fighting, over injustice and greed, and questioning a society that welcomes violence with open arms (tv, games, going to war, owning guns), but can’t handle the sight of a simple human nipple, which is as natural and common as things come in this word.

    I have all the respect in the world for Chris Crutcher. I love his books, and always feel they help me to grow as a person when I read them! Plus, he gives me reason to experience hometown pride, which I otherwise never do for poor old Spokane.

  57. As someone who reads tons of teen lit, but primarily booktalks to junior high students, my personal belief is that while I don’t think swear words should be used in books for kids under 12 (I’m still not sure what I think about the Canning Season, aside from love) or inappropriately to the context and characters of a book (ie just for shock value), I feel the controversy over them is just a red herring. Words only have as much power as you give them, and when parents are freaking out about words in a book are words their children already know and have heard countless times on the street and in the movies, they are telling their children that those words have a power over them, the parents. Much better would be to discuss with the children why they as a family don’t believe using such words is good or appropriate, but to try and blast them out of existence is a hopeless task that puts a lot of outrage into something that is really harming no one.

    What I would like to see is all that outrage and energy going into battles worth fighting, over injustice and greed, and questioning a society that welcomes violence with open arms (tv, games, going to war, owning guns), but can’t handle the sight of a simple human nipple, which is as natural and common as things come in this word.

    I have all the respect in the world for Chris Crutcher. I love his books, and always feel they help me to grow as a person when I read them! Plus, he gives me reason to experience hometown pride, which I otherwise never do for poor old Spokane.

    1. I’m sorry I am so late chiming in on this. It’s a curious issue but dirtylibrarian’s comment . . .

      What I would like to see is all that outrage and energy going into battles worth fighting, over injustice and greed,

      . . . pretty much sums up my feelings.

      I had an experience with my first book, someone told me how they liked it but the “damns” in it were offensive. WHAT? Wasn’t the labeling offensive? The belittling? The prejudgement? The million other things that the book was about?

      Madeleine L’Engle, a devout Christian, has the perfect sentiment on this: “What the storyteller does is to look at the world with all of its problems and write a story. The story is where we look for the truth of the matter. I do not believe we need to protect our children from language which they already know, from the horrors of the world which they already know. I think we owe it to be honest with them.”

      Me too.

  58. As someone who reads tons of teen lit, but primarily booktalks to junior high students, my personal belief is that while I don’t think swear words should be used in books for kids under 12 (I’m still not sure what I think about the Canning Season, aside from love) or inappropriately to the context and characters of a book (ie just for shock value), I feel the controversy over them is just a red herring. Words only have as much power as you give them, and when parents are freaking out about words in a book are words their children already know and have heard countless times on the street and in the movies, they are telling their children that those words have a power over them, the parents. Much better would be to discuss with the children why they as a family don’t believe using such words is good or appropriate, but to try and blast them out of existence is a hopeless task that puts a lot of outrage into something that is really harming no one.

    What I would like to see is all that outrage and energy going into battles worth fighting, over injustice and greed, and questioning a society that welcomes violence with open arms (tv, games, going to war, owning guns), but can’t handle the sight of a simple human nipple, which is as natural and common as things come in this word.

    I have all the respect in the world for Chris Crutcher. I love his books, and always feel they help me to grow as a person when I read them! Plus, he gives me reason to experience hometown pride, which I otherwise never do for poor old Spokane.

  59. swearing/language

    People who object to a character who swears need to ask themselves why they object. Authors can write horrific scenes with devasting language that contain no four letter words. Consider the following: I want a divorce, you’re fat, you’re ugly, stupid, I wish you were never born, etc. The most painful things we endure in life usually come at us without colorful language. They are rendered in simple, direct statements.

    Berel Lang, a philosopher, said the following in an essay called “Clarity.”
    “For if there are words that wound and even in this are provisional, equivocal, countered by other words that heal, soothe – we search, in looking beyond them, for words that kill.”

    If our concern about swearing is that it may harm our young adults, think of all the other words that can really do damage.

  60. swearing/language

    People who object to a character who swears need to ask themselves why they object. Authors can write horrific scenes with devasting language that contain no four letter words. Consider the following: I want a divorce, you’re fat, you’re ugly, stupid, I wish you were never born, etc. The most painful things we endure in life usually come at us without colorful language. They are rendered in simple, direct statements.

    Berel Lang, a philosopher, said the following in an essay called “Clarity.”
    “For if there are words that wound and even in this are provisional, equivocal, countered by other words that heal, soothe – we search, in looking beyond them, for words that kill.”

    If our concern about swearing is that it may harm our young adults, think of all the other words that can really do damage.

  61. swearing/language

    People who object to a character who swears need to ask themselves why they object. Authors can write horrific scenes with devasting language that contain no four letter words. Consider the following: I want a divorce, you’re fat, you’re ugly, stupid, I wish you were never born, etc. The most painful things we endure in life usually come at us without colorful language. They are rendered in simple, direct statements.

    Berel Lang, a philosopher, said the following in an essay called “Clarity.”
    “For if there are words that wound and even in this are provisional, equivocal, countered by other words that heal, soothe – we search, in looking beyond them, for words that kill.”

    If our concern about swearing is that it may harm our young adults, think of all the other words that can really do damage.

  62. Being a high school student (a bottom-feeder, no doubt), when I read books with profanity, I think “Fuck! What has the world come to?!” OK, maybe not. Nonetheless, the amount of profanity in novels have increased, but not that it’s a bad thing. I remember reading Catalyst, and the character Teri just spoke out. She just gave me a more vivid memory of her other then the other characters. Why? Well, for one, the profanity. The way she expresses herself without caring just gave me a more powerful view of Teri.

  63. Being a high school student (a bottom-feeder, no doubt), when I read books with profanity, I think “Fuck! What has the world come to?!” OK, maybe not. Nonetheless, the amount of profanity in novels have increased, but not that it’s a bad thing. I remember reading Catalyst, and the character Teri just spoke out. She just gave me a more vivid memory of her other then the other characters. Why? Well, for one, the profanity. The way she expresses herself without caring just gave me a more powerful view of Teri.

  64. Being a high school student (a bottom-feeder, no doubt), when I read books with profanity, I think “Fuck! What has the world come to?!” OK, maybe not. Nonetheless, the amount of profanity in novels have increased, but not that it’s a bad thing. I remember reading Catalyst, and the character Teri just spoke out. She just gave me a more vivid memory of her other then the other characters. Why? Well, for one, the profanity. The way she expresses herself without caring just gave me a more powerful view of Teri.

  65. I’m sorry I am so late chiming in on this. It’s a curious issue but dirtylibrarian’s comment . . .

    What I would like to see is all that outrage and energy going into battles worth fighting, over injustice and greed,

    . . . pretty much sums up my feelings.

    I had an experience with my first book, someone told me how they liked it but the “damns” in it were offensive. WHAT? Wasn’t the labeling offensive? The belittling? The prejudgement? The million other things that the book was about?

    Madeleine L’Engle, a devout Christian, has the perfect sentiment on this: “What the storyteller does is to look at the world with all of its problems and write a story. The story is where we look for the truth of the matter. I do not believe we need to protect our children from language which they already know, from the horrors of the world which they already know. I think we owe it to be honest with them.”

    Me too.

  66. I’m sorry I am so late chiming in on this. It’s a curious issue but dirtylibrarian’s comment . . .

    What I would like to see is all that outrage and energy going into battles worth fighting, over injustice and greed,

    . . . pretty much sums up my feelings.

    I had an experience with my first book, someone told me how they liked it but the “damns” in it were offensive. WHAT? Wasn’t the labeling offensive? The belittling? The prejudgement? The million other things that the book was about?

    Madeleine L’Engle, a devout Christian, has the perfect sentiment on this: “What the storyteller does is to look at the world with all of its problems and write a story. The story is where we look for the truth of the matter. I do not believe we need to protect our children from language which they already know, from the horrors of the world which they already know. I think we owe it to be honest with them.”

    Me too.

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