Wednesday, May 23, 2012

cursing in YA books

This is always an interesting debate.  There has been some posts about this on Gayle Foreman's blog, Kiersten White's blog and even usnews.com.

For me this is an interesting question.  I didn't curse when I was a teenager.  I don't think I would have cared either way reading it in a book; I mean, all my friends cursed so it's not like I wasn't aware of it.  I was the oddball (as always, lol).

For one reason or another, I started cursing.  I don't really know what happened, I think maybe I wanted to be cooler, or express myself better when I'm angry.  (Saying "darn it" just doesn't have the same emphasis.)  I don't think of myself as the biggest curser ever, but I definitely don't shy away from it.  At.  All.

But I don't curse in my novels.  Maybe I'm trying to hold on to my childhood, I don't really know.  But I just don't really think it's the right place for it, in my novels.  It just doesn't go with the tone of my my stories.  But I'm not at all against it for other young adult novels, because the fact of the matter is they hear it all the time anyways.  They're going to make their own decisions about whether or not they want to curse.

But the thing with profanity is that it's kind of lost it's meaning.  People drop the F-bomb all the time over things that don't really matter.  [Myself included.]  And that's kind of a problem because these words do have power behind them.  Teenagers might say "eff off" and not really mean it as anything, and that's a problem.  Someone could react to that like it's no big deal, while others may be very hurt by it.  And we have to respect everyone's reactions and understand that they may differ from your reactions.  I think that's what we should really teach teenagers.  We shouldn't just ban books because there is cursing in it.  Again, they have heard it all before, so it's not like we would be introducing anything new.  We need to teach teenagers that their words can hurt, and that everyone reacts differently to cursing, whether it's being offended or not.  And while to me, it's fine for teenagers to curse, they also need to learn how to be respectful, and I don't think banning books because they have profanity is the way to do it.

7 comments:

  1. My thought on the matter is… Why do it? I don’t think it’s respectful in any situation, live or in a novel. There are ways to get frustration across without cursing, and so for me, I just don’t see the point. (Well, I do see the point, but I see that there are ways to go around that and not do it… Does that make sense?) Thanks for your thoughts! I like how your blog makes your readers think.
    ~Aidyl

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    1. I totes see your point. I know for me when I write profanity it does kind of feel inappropriate (though that could be because of the feel of the story), so I eliminate it. But that doesn't stop me from doing it in real life for some reason...

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  2. I personally don't curse, but that's a choice I've made. My characters do, depending on who they are and what the situation is. I think if it's done authentically, then it's what the book needs. Other than that, I don't think anything about cursing or banning because of it. For me, it's all about what the book needs to be properly developed.

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    1. I agree with it being all about authenticity. Sometimes it just doesn't feel right reading "dang-it" because most teenagers (or at least the ones I hung out with when I was younger) would never say that. But sometimes curses are too severe for what happened. It's all about the situation.

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  3. I agree. While I have sworn in my writing, it's when the characters are that kind of person.

    For example, I wrote about a character who is 17 and had a very aggressive personality. She swore a few times in the project.

    But I will control it as much as I can. I swear a lot on real life but when I write, it stops being about me.

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    1. You're so right when you say when you write it stops being about you. I think that is a great statement.

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    2. Of course I write for myself but I have to accept that I am not my characters.

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