My characters swear. Not all, but some. Of those that do, they swear a lot.
I’ll use swear words in the narrative. Why? Because I like to at times. I sometimes find it humorous. And I feel it also intensifies a line.
I know there are readers out there who don’t care for profanity, which is why I go the extra yard and post warnings on my books “Graphic language and violence.” Personally, I don’t think all of my books contain “graphic ” language (the fantasy stories have their own version of cursing, but the horror ones have one or two that push it), but I put the warning on there out of consideration anyway, for these sensitive readers, right at the end of the the production description. It isn’t hidden, trying to trick someone into buying it unawares. It’s. Right. There.
Now, what bugs me is that some people don’t pay attention to this warning, buy it anyway, and then complain about the swearing. What am I supposed to do?
No. Sorry. If my characters have a case of potty mouth, they’re going to swear. They’re going to swear hard.
And the thing that really makes me wonder about these readers is that…. the majority of the offensive swearing occurs in my horror books, where characters get shot, eaten, stabbed, slashed, crushed, gouged, kicked, poisoned, bludgeoned, blown up into still quivering segments, or perform dental surgery upon themselves while shit-faced. It’s horror… and there are some fairly gruesome things going on in there. I make it as horrific as I can at this stage… but none of that stuff seems to disturb these readers.
The swearing does.
Does this not seem… odd?
We’re okay with descriptions of characters suffering and /or dying in horrible ways, but no bad language please.
I’m actually considering placing this warning on all of my books–especially the horror:
CONTAINS GRAPHIC LANGUAGE. NO REALLY, IT HAS SOME REALLY FOUL LINGO. SERIOUSLY, IF YOU DON’T CARE FOR SWEARING, SKIP THIS BOOK. I’M TELLING YOU, AND I’M THE WRITER–I KNOW THERE’S TRASH TALK IN THERE. IF NASTY, DEROGATORY USE OF THE LORD’S NAME IN VAIN BOTHERS YOU, IF F-BOMBS MAKE YOU ANGRY, IT BOTHERS ME WHEN YOU READ THIS BOOK WHICH IS WHY I GIVE THESE WARNINGS. SO PLEASE DON’T BUY THIS. I REALLY REALLY STRONGLY RECOMMEND YOU NOT BUY THIS BOOK IF POTTY MOUTH IS SOMETHING THAT OFFENDS YOU OR YOU FEEL GETS OLD MIGHTY QUICK. OKAY? CUZ IT’S IN THIS ONE. I PUT THE NASTIEST EXPRESSIONS I COULD THINK OF IN HERE AND FULLY EXPECT TO DIE HORRIBLY BECAUSE OF IT. REALLY. I’M JUST SAYING…DON’T…. JUST DON’T. BUY ANOTHER BOOK INSTEAD. I CAN NOT POSSIBLY MAKE THIS MORE CLEAR WITHOUT UTILIZING EXPLETIVES AND HAVING BIRDS FLY INTO MY WINDOWS OR BABOONS ATTACK ME IN THE PARK.
THIS BOOK CONTAINS EPIC AMOUNTS OF AIR SCORCHING SWEARING AND SHOULD NOT BE BOUGHT BY PEOPLE WHO ARE OFFENDED BY SUCH.
And also contains graphic violence.
I can’t make this any clearer. I’m not offended in the least by readers who complain or offer critical feedback on anything in any of my books–it’s their prerogative since they bought it…. but some people aren’t playing attention to what they are buying in the first place, when the warning is there.
And I’m shocked at what they are fine with.
You follow Chuck Wendig’s blog at all? Probably one of the most creative users of profanity operating on the Internet today:
I mean, not *all* his blog entries are nonstop walls of the f-bombs, drug jargon, and vivid descriptions of colorful sexual acts, but there is a lot of swearing and that comes out in his books, too. Sounds like you and he receive the same kind of shit from the same kind of readers. *smirk*
See, you had me right at “one of the most creative users of profanity.” :0)
Now I’ll have to check that site out…
You might want a disclaimer of similar magnitude and fervency for any sex you might depict in your books.
The graphic violence disclaimer is fine as is. 🙂