Saturday, April 7, 2012

Saturday on Swearing Like a Sailor

Or: Characters that curse.

First of all, don't forget that we're looking for new members! Go to this post for details.

Now, let's talk about cursing! I, personally, don't swear. There's nothing wrong with it, obviously, but I work with kids and I just don't feel it's necessary for me as a person.

That says nothing about my characters. My first book, Spyder, has 97 f-words right now. And I've been trimming them out. But my MC in that book swears like a truck driver. My second book, Berserk, has no f-words but some other curse words. My third book SMN has less swearing but there's still some.

The thing about swearing is that they DO have to matter, especially in YA. If you're cursing for the sake of cursing, it shows and that's something I have to watch myself. My MC in Spyder swears a lot and that is part of her character, but every time a character swears, as a general rule of thumb, it needs to be important. They are words that have power and if you overdo it, you risk losing that power.

It's like... you know those people who every other word needs to be a curse? You know how it just gets old? It's like that.

You also need to keep the setting in mind. There are places where it is WHOLY innappropriate to be dropping f-bombs left, right, and center. (Like, outside of an elementary school right before the bell rings for the end of the day. Ugh. Don't get me started on how rage-making that is.)

For me, too, the age of my character matters. My two main characters who swear more are seventeen and one is close to eighteen. My one who doesn't really swear (but other people in the book do) is fifteen turning sixteen during the course of the book. She's at an age where she still gets heck from her parents, which the other two don't have to worry about, and she's a lot more shy than them.

So. Do your characters curse? How do you make sure that you're not overdoing it? What are your tips about this?

Peace and cookies,