Thursday, April 7, 2011

Profanity in YA

It is F- day on the A to Z Blogger Challenge, and I am, yet again, about to post about a controversial subject.  Perhaps that should be my personal theme for this month long challenge -- Controversy.  But if it gets us writers talking to each other . . . brainstorming about different POV's and writing styles, then I am all for it.  So her it goes.

F is for F#*!

Alright, so the use of the f-bomb has been a source of a lot of discussion lately when it comes to YA writing.  The opinions run the gamut from totally unacceptable in any form to if it fits with the character's situations and the general direction of the dialogue, then it is okay. I have seen published authors, agents, even editors chime in on this issue and the consensus seems to be that so long as it is not tossed into the ms merely for shock value, then it works. 

I tend to agree, but I should qualify that by saying that all genres lend themselves to "language."  Would I toss a crap-load of profanities into a fairy tale or even a YA romance?  Probably not.  Would I ever put them into a MG or Faith-based novel?  Hell no!  But a dark, contemporary Dystopian or an edgy YA Contemporary -- well if written right and placed appropriately, then the profanities can actually aid you in character development, give the reader a glimpse of the character's internal struggle with some insurmountable, external force.

So weigh in guys, what is your take on profanities in YA literature?

14 comments:

  1. I agree- I don't mind profanity when it is used properly. Having said that, if you can accomplish the same effect without it, then I would leave it out.

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  2. I agree that profanity works in small doses, when it's appropriate. It can really add some flavor, just as using any unique word can.

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  3. If it's YA, I think a little profanity would be appropriate and real. I remember being a teenager and I had a teenager so I know how they talk. That said, not all teenagers swear so it goes to character. My Dad swore like a ... so no surprise I tend to do so but a girl I work with NEVER swears, never has, and probably never will. The question is, is the character the type who swears?

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  4. Being around teenagers and hearing their everyday use of profanity made me realize it's a part of their characters. It doesn't bother me to see it in novels. That being said I noticed I don't use it in my novels. It doesn't fit my characters, yet.

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  5. It's a difficult topic to answer. My sister likes to cuss; she's 16. Teenagers do use swear words and not to use them because they are younger seems silly. They know what they mean. On the other hand, I don't think they should be used a lot in what they read. I've read some adult books that had such words in almost every other sentence. I agree that small doses and if the situation calls for it, it should be acceptable.

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  6. My current WIP is a YA comtemporary, and there is profanity. I feel it goes with the setting, and the characters and gives them depth. Is it extensive and used in area's where it isn't needed? I don't think so. But I feel in this story, it would be lost without it.

    I feel profanity depends on a lot of things and it needs to be used appropriately for it to work.

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  7. I'm pretty sure you know my take on this subject LOL but I'll chime in too. Gratuitous is one thing, but appropriate is quite another. There are many books where I think the colorful language is appropriate and vice versa. I think distinguishing is the key:)

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  8. Sometimes it can seem overdone and silly. It doesn't bother me if it's right for the character and the situation.

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  9. The best YA book I've ever read is full of the f-word, and it works perfectly. It exists in real life, why not write about it?

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  10. I think profanity is ok I don't have a problem with it. I have more of a problem with the somewhat provocative and vulgar situations some characters find themselves in.

    Teresa
    http://icecoldpenguin.blogspot.com

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  11. I think if it's realistically used, it is okay. The thing is profanity is a legitimate part of our language, with specific meanings and indications. On the other hand, I'm not comfortable putting the F-bomb in my own YA fantasy novel. I did use other profane words sprinkled throughout, where it sounded valid, and where subs for profanity simply sounded lame. I cussed as a teenager, and I cuss now. It just depends on the person/character.

    Good luck with the A to Z Challenge!

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  12. Glad you YA writers are debating this issue. Will come back to see if it ever gets resolved.

    Hello, fellow A-Z Challenger! Here's my latest
    entry. Come visit either of my blogs when you can and leave some comment love:

    G is for Gardening Comfort - A-Z Blogging Challenge

    http://rockinchairreflections.blogspot.com (A-Z)
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    Twitter: @SolarChief

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  13. I don't really think that profanity is necessary to write a good book. It kind of annoys me to see profanity being used and abused. Some curse words may be used in the appropriate times, but when it's abused it makes the book trash.

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