Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Should YA stories have swear words?

I've had my novel edited by several different types of people. All of them are adults and all of them swear on occasion. However the responses about swearing in my novel varied greatly depending on the reader. Some thought that it would sound more natural if there was more swearing, while some thought that it should be taken out completely.

My thought is that it all depends on the overall tone of the book. There are plenty of YA novels that are full of swear words, from the characters saying something as simple as “oh my God!” to the scary “f-word.” I don't think that writing should be limited. Children swear. They may not swear around their parents or teachers, but they swear. I know I did. I remember having a conversation with my best friend in grade two about how “I need to stop fucking swearing so much.” I may not have known what they meant, but I through words around. As a result, I see no problem with children saying things like that now. It's only words. Unless they are directing them toward someone in a bullying manner, then they should feel free to express themselves however they like.

You've probably guessed that I have decided to add more swearwords or at least keep the ones I have. Well, you'd be wrong. When it was mentioned to me that I should take out the few words I had in this novel which were basically along the likes of “crap” and “oh my God” I realised I really didn't need them to convey the story and they weren't helping with the tone of the book. Having those types of words can cause a barrier for the readers, often coming from parents and librarians. I want my story to be as accessible as possible. If I felt that the words were necessary for the tone of the book, I would fight to keep them in. As it is I'm happy with the decision I'm making.

What are you're feelings about swearing in literature?

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