What the $&%^#$ Did He Just Say?

$#*$% ?  I say $%#@#$# and *&$^%$  &%$% yes.  If not some *&^$ person may not be *&^&% again. 


I’ll hold off for now and allow you a moment to fill in the blanks, but suffice it to say simply because you see a mix of symbols doesn’t mean that the first sentence has to be X-Rated.  But it easily could be.

The point of this comes from a conversation I recently had concerning the use of profanity and what exactly was appropriate language for books on the market today.

As the saying goes, opinions are like $#*&%$ – everyone has one.  Keep in mind everyone has a hometown and probably a pair of pants.

I’m of the opinion, as with many things in literature, there is certainly that which is not only appropriate but, necessary.  On the other hand there is that which I believe is for shock value and shock value alone.

For instance, if there’s a scene where every third word out of a character’s mouth is an F-bomb, it’s likely we have shock value.  Or, say a character is given a profanity laced case of Tourette’s Syndrome with no other plot tie-in, then perhaps we have shock value.

However if you have a particularly seasoned police detective, some profanity, perhaps even at inappropriate times, is to be expected.  Perhaps a man of the cloth has fallen from grace and will utter every profanity in the book; however he refuses to take the Lord’s name in vain.  I believe these uses of profanity help create a full character.

Even with the average person sometimes a single well-placed expletive can be amazingly effective in conveying a subtle difference in mood or tone that, I believe, is difficult to otherwise create.  To avoid such or, even worse, to write around this, would simply not be true to the character.

But wait you say!  Won’t you alienate your audience?  Well, I believe you have to know your audience before you can alienate them.  However, if you are not true to your characters or your story, you may not have readers to alienate.

I write thrillers and mysteries.  I don’t believe my readers would enjoy too much graphic language or even too much blood and gore. I don’t believe they want me to discuss politics or religion.  I do believe they want believable characters.

However, if, on occasion the language in a book mirrors that which you may hear in real life, I believe that not only does my audience accept, but also expects it.  To do otherwise I believe I run the risk of losing readers. 

I believe if a character limps then the reader needs to know it.  If a character is a seasoned police officer but tends bonsai trees for relaxation, the reader needs to know it.  And if a specific word conveys the emotion or adds to the tone of a scene, I believe the reader should have it.

Really?  I say completely and affirmatively 100% yes.  If not some loyal reader may not be loyal again.

Oh yes, the translation of the first sentence?

You just read it.

As long as you’re here, why don’t you read an excerpt from The Trust or even buy a copy of your very own.  A portion of all proceeds from The Trust will go to K9 nonprofit organizations.  Feel free to comment!

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