I had a small “launch” party at my house last Saturday for my latest adventure/mystery novel, “Tropical Daze” now on Amazon.com. We had a good time – my editor was here, and a professional announcer read the first chapter for everyone. It was nice. But here is a good example of the problem a realistic author has. The announcer called me aside and said (and I am paraphrasing) “There is a lot of profanity in this chapter, should I say ‘bleep” when I come to one of those words?”
My answer, “Fuck, no!” I love my characters; I don’t know my readers. I write to allow my characters to tell their story. If the readers find normal profanity objectionable they must relinquish their personal prejudices if they are to permit the characters to do their job which is to entertain readers.
I can understand the announcer’s hesitation. My very own editor advised me not to use profane language in my work. “A lot of people will be turned off by that,” she advised. Let me make this perfectly clear. In my writing, the narrative (that is the narrator and unless he is the protagonist that would be me) does not use profanity. SOME of my characters do use common everyday profanity.
I shouldn’t have to explain this to urbane readers – if you live in the real world you know that people do use profanity. I must say that even I, and there is no question that I am an adult, am shocked at screen writers of English movies who seem to have only one word in their vocabularies It is not uncommon in an English movie to have an actor deliver a line similar to this: “Well, fuck the motherfucking fucking asshole, the fucking shit pot.” Even I can’t take that.
The point I want to make is this: My characters are as real as I can make them. If they are rough, tough, gangster hit men they talk like rough, tough gangster hit men. If they are not, they don’t use profanity.
I write for adult readers. I don’t write children’s books. I don’t write the so-called “Christian” books (although I am a Christian and let me tell you I have known a lot of cussing Presbyterians – especially on the golf course).
As I have tried to explain to those who inquire, I do not put MY words in my character’s mouth. They talk like what they are. You can take offense at the characters but I have always stated, if real-world language offends you and you buy one of my books Amazon will give you your money back. In the meantime, I will try to keep my characters true to their nature. If they say, “Fuck you,” to their nemesis, it is because they REALLY mean it.