1. jacklondonsghost
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    jacklondonsghost Contributing Member

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    Locker room language?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by jacklondonsghost, Feb 6, 2010.

    A good portion of my book takes place in the context of a group of high school hockey players. From personal experience I know the kind of foul language that gets thrown around in locker rooms and in groups of guys in general. My question is whether it is exceedingly vulgar to use realistic language for these situations. It's written from the point of view of one of the players, so he also uses that kind of language himself. It doesn't bother me personally to read bad language; my eye starts to ignore it after awhile.

    I'd like to know what everyone thinks about excessive swearing in fiction. I feel it is necessary to achieve the realism I want, but how much is too much? Is it more advisable to cut down on the swearing but risk the realistic sound of the dialogue?
     
  2. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    is this an adult market novel, or for the YA crowd?

    the point is to not have it be 'excessive'...

    if you have them all saying the f-word in nearly every sentence, as they may well do in real life, it will seem over the top and beyond limit in writing...

    who do you want to read your book?... if it's meant only for the jocks you're writing about, it'll never sell, 'cause they don't read novels much, if at all...

    but if it's meant for the mainstream fiction market, then a sprinkling of 'bad' words is all you'll need to give the dialog a flavor of reality...
     
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  3. jacklondonsghost
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    jacklondonsghost Contributing Member

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    Ah I guess I used the wrong word with excessive. What I mean is, how much swearing is really needed to get the point across? I'm especially worried because it is a YA work. While I've read mainstream fiction with this kind of language (such as in Pat Conroy's work), I've never seen much of it in YA. However by removing the language entirely, it removes that aspect of the realism and most teenagers are not prudish when it comes to language (just take a walk down a high school hallway). I agree, the f-word every sentence is excessive and not my intention at all, I'm just wondering where the happy medium is between keeping the swearing pretty prevalent and cutting it out completely.

    Also, the book is meant for a YA audience with emphasis on LGBT teenagers. I'm well aware the guys I play hockey with are not interested much in books haha...
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The word excessive says it all. If it's excessive, lose it!

    Always use less than you think should be there. A little really does go a long way. A very small amout carries the impression of much more.
     
  5. jacklondonsghost
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    jacklondonsghost Contributing Member

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    Good advice. I'll have to bust out the red pen and cut some then.
     
  6. bluebell80
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    bluebell80 Contributing Member

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    In the world of YA publishing, you'll probably have a harder time selling a project to an agent or publisher if you have excessive language, even though most young adults use that language when they are not around adults. Publishers and agents may still live in that utopic idea that people under 18 don't swear at all...lol And even though we know better, most of us having lived though it or currently living through it, we know the ideal still exists.

    In adult writing, I don't mind it. Even in a YA book, when my kids are to that point of reading, I wouldn't care if they read something that was full of swearing, because that is part of the reality of the world and the teenage experience. But there are plenty of people who like to stick their head in the sand and say that isn't the reality they live in, and no kids, including their own, would ever speak like that!
     
  7. thinking
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    thinking Member

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    If you're writing about teenage boys, I hate to say it, but the more swearing the better. Think Holden Caulfield. Think "A Serious Man." The fact is that a certain segment of the male population at "that age" swear almost constantly. It becomes excessive, but that's kind of the point. If you are aiming for realism, I say stick with Plan A.

    Don't forget that much of the swearing will be in the form of LGBTQ slurs and remarks. Trust me, being a member of the LGBTQ community and being on a high-school sports team, you hear a lot of things you wish you didn't.
     
  8. Twisted Inversely
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    Twisted Inversely Senior Member

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    I have read young adult books that do contain excessive swearing and sexual content but often these tend to be written by already established authors. For example one of my favourite authors John Marsden had to change several instances of strong language in his first novel So Much To Tell You to less offensive alternatives. Ten years later, and a fair amount of commercial success, later he writes Dear Miffy which contains about half a dozen F-bombs per page, if this is an exaggeration it's only a slight one, and yes this is a young adult book (and a very good one at that but not for the easily offended).
     
  9. vinkersole
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    vinkersole New Member

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    I think, depending on the audience, swearing is acceptable. If you're adding it because it is realistic for the character to do so, then do it. If you're putting it in for the sake of it (which you're not) then scrap it.
    I think a little less is better with swearing, but then again, I personally write what I think is realistic... If there's a lot of swearing, there's a lot of swearing! lol
     
  10. jacklondonsghost
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    jacklondonsghost Contributing Member

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    I know how they swear, as I've played ice hockey on a few guys teams before. It is excessive, but to a point where it is simply language that loses most of its emphasis and is simply said on an every-sentence basis. It's just how they talk, and it's similar to the language I'm hearing on the guy's floor in my college's dorms.

    The homophobic slurs are also a big part of it, and I also know how it feels to hear those all the time. I'm feeling like I need to cut down on the swearing, because I do think a little goes a long way, but I will leave a lot of it in, because it is necessary to capture their speech patterns.
     

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