Saturday, December 11, 2010


Dane swears.

I don’t. I don’t swear. Seriously. Maybe once in a hundred and fifty days. Rarely enough that people tend to make a huge deal about it if I do. So it was no surprise to me that there was no swearing in Aurelia. Actually, Robert made the attempt—he really didn’t like watching Gregory beat up the colt, but even that one comment didn’t make it through my critique group. So there is literally no swearing in Aurelia. Remember me mentioning how polite and helpful Robert is?

Dane is not.

I said, “You know, Dane, maybe you shouldn’t swear.”

And he said—

Well, if you’ve read Academy 7, you have a pretty good idea of what he said.

I find it interesting how many people comment about the swearing or lack of swearing or relative lightness of swearing within books as if it is the choice of the author. Or the editor for that matter.

This is not my experience.

I find that swearing is almost exclusively the choice of the character.

Salva and Beth both swear. Generally lightly and just in their heads.

I could give excuses to explain this. Such as the observation that real teenagers growing up in less than affluent neighborhoods and less than affluent high schools tend to swear, but the truth is, this is just the way Salva and Beth talk. Or think.

And really they are extremely well-spoken—class acts—especially in comparison to Pepe, whom you haven’t met yet.

And whom Beth can’t stand.

And who I admit to having had reservations about until Salva explained his best friend to me.

But censoring Pepe is like asking him to shut up.

It doesn’t work.

So . . . I’m apologizing to you all for this now.

Because, truthfully, it’s a whole lot easier than trying to have the discussion with a hundred and ninety pound linebacker.

Though goodness knows I’ll make the attempt if my editor asks for it. In which case, you can expect to see me back here for a report on how that undoubtedly painful conversation with Pepe went.


  1. I think it's funny you are so specific on the amount that you swear. Once in a hundred and fifty days. Thanks for the heads up.

  2. I am almost the complete opposite of you - swear words are my comfort, in all ways. They consist of only the mildly bad words (nothing racist or anything disgusting like that) but the F-word pops up every so often.
    Interesting topic.

  3. Hi Deborah, I suppose it is. I doubt most of my characters would do so . . . though maybe Beth.

    Hi Lissa, maybe you could have the conversation with Pepe for me, should the necessity of having it ever become necessary. LOL.

  4. I try to avoid using swear words in my works as much as possible, mostly because of personal moral reasons that I grew up with and I think the people who use swear words consistently just have lazy language skills. I do use such terms as "pissed" or "sucks" (not that that's really bad in comparison to some words, but you see my meaning) but it usually doesn't get worse than that.
    I also try to get creative with my "swear" words. Like, "gosh-dang it to heck!" or (to borrow a word from Tolkien) "Confusticate" or just "blasted" when describing something. When my brother started writing his 500-something page novel, several of his characters dropped swear words all over the place, not because he swears (not at all) but because he thought it suited their personalities. But he's toned it down considerably. I don't like swearing, but I understand when an author feels compelled to use a swear word when no other phrase will suffice.