1. Dave Gregory
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    Dave Gregory Member

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    Sweary or Non-sweary?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Dave Gregory, Jun 8, 2015.

    Hello all....

    Still beavering away on my first attempt at novel writing, but had a sudden doubt creep in.

    The story revolves around teenage boys (mostly) in a Southern English seaside town, in the early 80s. Now, so far I have written the dialogue exactly as fourteen-year-olds used to speak in that era, including - obviously - copious f-words, c-words and general political incorrectness.

    I did this, as I wanted the dialogue to be authentic, but reading back now, it's pretty full-on from the very first page.

    So now I'm wondering: is this going to turn readers off straight away? Is it going to seem unnecessary? Should I keep it for authenticity, or tone it down to TV teenager speak - where the little angels mind their Ps and Qs, even whilst beating the hell out of one-another and getting drunk on stolen beer?

    Yes, first and foremost, I'm writing the book for me, and I would have no problem with the language - I would enjoy it in fact. But equally, I want people to enjoy reading it, and for it to be a popular read.

    Any thoughts?
     
  2. J_Downloading
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    J_Downloading Member

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    More readers would probably appreciate the authenticity more than be repulsed by the language in my opinion so I think you should keep it. So long as you're ready to defend your choice again the vocal minority that get all uppity about such things you should be fine.
     
  3. plothog
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    plothog Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Some readers will prefer the swearing, some will prefer it without.

    I believe this is very much an issue where it's fine to make the decision according to personal preferences. (As long as you're not writing for kids) and I say that even though I prefer to keep the swearing in my own work mild.
     
  4. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    Forget about what other people 'might' like.
     
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  5. ladybird
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    ladybird Contributing Member

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    What age are the teenage boys - late teens or early teens? I don't recall the level of swearing to be as bad as it is now. Teenagers then did show a little more respect towards adults and would certainly NEVER swear at teachers or their parents. There was no political correctness and the N word was used often. Do you have some sample dialogue you can post for reference, please?
     
  6. Reilley Turner
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    Reilley Turner Active Member

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    Personally, due to many factors, I have kept the swearing in my story to "Damn", "Hell", and the occasional "Ass". But my advice to you would be; look at it from two views, the authentic view and the moral view. Would you allow that kind of language? If not, tone down the f-bombs and such, but to keep it authentic, I'd add the occasional f-bomb.

    Hope this helps. :)
     
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  7. Dave Gregory
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    Dave Gregory Member

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    Ok, I'll post a couple of bits..... The first is the opening passages of the story (it's SciFi by the way):

    [text removed]

    And this is typical of the dialogue further in:

    [text removed]

    Is that too much?
     
  8. Reilley Turner
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    Reilley Turner Active Member

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    Lets put it this way: it would be too much for my book, but I think its fine for yours. :)
     
  9. Dave Gregory
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    Dave Gregory Member

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    Yeah, I think mine's aimed at a certain.... Uh.... 'Level' hahaha.
     
  10. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi Dave,

    I've been following this with interest, thinking "I'm not over-fond of foul language, so I'll leave this to others." Having seen your post, yes, it is a little colourful, but it's in character - I might tone it down a little (e.g., change "fucked if I know" to "buggered if I know") but not much.

    I actually like the story, and your voice is distinctive and compelling.

    The one criticism I've got is the sheer number of names you throw at the reader in the first few paragraphs...very hard to keep track of them all. If you could find a way to introduce them in smaller quantities, over a few more pages, it would improve it no end.

    Otherwise, keep up the good work.
     
  11. Reilley Turner
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    Reilley Turner Active Member

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    Yeah, but your situation is different from mine. I'm still at home with a mother who would wash my mouth out with soap if I said the c-word. D: But good for you! You know what audience you want to read your book. Me however, Its YA but it might change sometime, I don't know yet.

    I complete agree, and when I introduce more then 2 or three characters at a time, I make the rest either generic or unnamed. I find that it makes a book easier to read if it is like that. :)

    An example from my book would be; in the prologue I introduce 6 characters, but only give names to two of them, and leave the other 4 unnamed until Chapter 1, where one of the remain 4 characters actually gets a name.

    Anyway, great start! Keep on writing!
     
  12. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Yes, first consideration, which choice reflects the characters.

    On the other hand, you can invent curse words if it's sci-fi or fantasy.
     
  13. Reilley Turner
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    Reilley Turner Active Member

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    Exactly! I read the Ranger's Apprentice series and they use "Gorlog's beard/teeth/horns/other features" in place of some of the more "serious" swear words.
     
  14. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Please refer to the Forum Rules as regards posting work for critique. The amount you posted is appropriate for the Workshop but not for this area of the forum.
     
  15. Dave Gregory
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    Dave Gregory Member

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    Ooop..... Apologies!
     
  16. No-Name Slob
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    No-Name Slob Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    When I think of swearing and other bad language, I ask myself if it's necessary for character development.

    If it is, leave it in. If it's gratuitous, I'll try and edit it, and think of more challenging words that still add to the depth of the character.

    My first reaction when I read books with an enormous amount of swearing is, "could this author not branch out? Is his/her vocabulary limited to common words like these?"

    That said, if your characters are thuggish and of a low intelligence bracket, it makes sense that they'd swear a lot.

    It's the same way I feel about nudity on the screen. Gratuitous nudity lacks depth; but if it's important to understand the character, I get it.
     
  17. The Mad Regent
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    The Mad Regent Contributing Member

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    I try to imitate life and some people are swear-machines.

    It's as simple as that.
     
  18. ladybird
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    ladybird Contributing Member

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    Also my bad...soree, wrey *blushes*
     
  19. EmptySoul
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    EmptySoul Active Member

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    I find there are many series I have read in which the swearing is unnecessary and, as a reader, I start editing it out of the dialogue. For me, a character who only occasionally wears can pack more of a punch with their words than one who vomits it out regularly.
     
  20. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    No worries. :) No harm, no foul. :bigwink:

    As to the original question, my take is this:

    Ask yourself why you're asking because the answer that fits for you, @Dave Gregory, is to be found therein. Publishers certainly don't shy away from publishing F-bomb riddled work. And if they publish it, safe bet is that people are buying it.

    So, are you:
    • tired of reading it in other works?
    • concerned that you don't know when to pick your moments because you yourself tend not to swear?
    • coming from a belief/moral/upbringing history that makes it taboo?
    • concerned what family and friends will think of you for writing it?
    • having some other concern I've not mentioned?

    Think on that for a bit and try to be honest with yourself. The answer is there.
     
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  21. Dave Gregory
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    Dave Gregory Member

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    Hmmm... I think the question is arising, because whereas the language in the story actually amuses me (I describe at one point how an alien character loves the humour and versatility of swearing - particularly in English), at the end of the day, I want readers to be able to connect to characters that are, as @No-Name Slob asks, thuggish and juvenile. Too much swearing may make them even less appealing than they already are (and these lot are the HEROES!). Other characters swear as per their personalities - some not at all, some every second word.
    I did have the alien character who so enjoys English swearing utilising bad language as often as he could, but I've since toned him down, as it felt unnecessary.
    Thank you all for your input!
     

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