I'm going to let you into a secret, lean close and I'll whisper it. Ready?
Most kids swear!
I said it. I uttered the words no parent/adult/relative of a teenager wants to hear. But they do, and they do it in secret.
I've no doubt that there are some kids who don't. Take my teenage self as an example, I swore.
I knew the words. I tried it. But, for some strange reason, people told me (and still tell me) it doesn't suit me. When I asked my friends why, they told me it's because I look too innocent or something. hehee.
My word choice is now limited to bloody (a great British, non-swear word).
But what about swearing in YA?
The topic has been debated around the web and various blogs about the subject. It isn't something I tackle lightly (and I'd hate to offend) but I've read posts by agent Mary Kole discussing the topic here and here. There is also an author perspective from Gayle Forman.
So I wondered do we, as responsible writers, close our minds (and ears) and pretend that this generation has never uttered a profanity? I heard my Seventeen-year-old cousin let one slip during a heated conversation with my uncle. For a second I thought his pulsating neck vein would explode!
I've also heard some choice phrases from groups of kids in shopping centers. And it creeps me out when I hear really young kids swearing (I'm not kidding, some kids on Supernanny have fruity language!)
I'm not talking about a book littered with F-bombs, although I'm sure it happens. No, I'm talking about the heated moments when a swear word may slip out. Do we, as readers, see a word like this and close the book vowing never to read that author again?
There are the handy alternatives to swear words. The hell, damn it and crap (my new favourites around my toddler goddaughter are what the flip and crud). But some people take offence to these too. And that is their right to do so. This world is a wonderful mix of opinions and choices and I would never try to change that for one second.
I think it comes down to personal choice, one that you make for your character, book and story. I have mild profanity in my completed MS and wip. It's not an f-bomb. In fact, I'm gonna call it an s-bomb.
I tried other words. I didn't shove it in to be topical or controversial. I thought long and hard about including it. But the situation called for it and an OMG wouldn't do.
I'm not advocating a book littered with profanity. But why is it less acceptable in books but not in films? How many films have you seen where they utter the f-bomb/other curse words on a regular basis?
Here is another view on the subject.
Now, I'm curious as to your thoughts on this subject.
P.S. Don't forget to check out Katrina's contest round-up post.
Oh, and we have the frawesome query chat with Elana Johnson coming up on the 28th of October and something special happening on November 1st.
Too. Much. Awesome.