I don’t much care for most female authors. Oh, I know that makes me a Chauvinist pig, but hear me out. There are some fine and talented women who write. It is just that their characters lack a realism that makes them hard for me to accept. It is the language they use in dialog. Now, be honest, ladies – when you are in your coffee klatch or having lunch with your close friends you talk openly and freely and use slang to describe sexual matters. While I’ve never listened in to these conversations I have had women friends admit that they often when in company with confidants use “shocking” language.
Men, of course, are more open about their use of profanity and while they don’t use it around the office for fear of “sexual harassment” law suits, real men are cussers.
When I write I use the language that is appropriate for the character and the situation. Often that calls for “street talk” or common profanity. Women, on the other hand, who may talk like a sailor to their friends, have their characters – even if they are cops in a squad room – chatting like a bunch of choir girls. “Darn, lieutenant. That dad blamed son of a gun got away with it again. What a bad person.”
If I had written that line it would have been, “Goddam it, lieutenant. That motherfucker got away with it again, the son of a bitch.”
There is just something about women authors (and I am talking about good writers here, not the deliberately filthy writers whose object is shock instead of quality writing) that keeps them from having their characters speak in terms that are common in the real world.
I once submitted a novel to an agent who lived in Tennessee. He was a good agent and had good contacts and liked my material and was ready to service it. But he told me that using the word “fuck” would kill the novel in, his quote, “The Bible belt.”
So I used “search and replace” and substituted the word “darn” for every “fuck” in the manuscript. When I read it in its revised form, it was hilarious. It really read like a parody or a comedy routine instead of a mystery novel. (That book died a well deserved death.)
I don’t believe in using profanity where it is not appropriate just as I don’t believe in overly graphic sex scenes in fiction. Those techniques are for the less talented who have no other way to portray real life. I much prefer leaving the reader the option of vigorously using his or her imagination which is stronger than any words.
I just wish that female authors whose work I admire, would let their characters speak in words that the modern world knows, accepts, and uses in their day to day communications.