Writing Tip #94

The F word. Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about profanity. I attended a ThrillerFest panel this month in which the panelists talked about how they were hesitant to use a lot of expletives in their books. I found this very bizarre. Many of these novelists write about serial killers and all kinds of violence-loving bad guys. And there was a problem with the F word?

Then, last week, as I was auditioning narrators for the audiobook of Baby Grand, one of the female narrators in the running wound up pulling out because, as she told me, “The extent that the F word is used is something that I’m going to have to pass on.” Again, I found this very bizarre.

Baby Grand has 10 characters — seven men and three women — who serve as narrators of the book, and there is a very liberal use of the F word among a few of them. That’s the way they talk, and I, to be frank, never thought much about it (maybe it’s because I’m from New York! LOL!). That’s the way these characters came through to me, and I certainly make no apologies for them or for the way I write them. And I thought about what a disservice it would be to Baby Grand, and its readers, to have watered down the language of these guys just because, hey, the F word might offend someone or because I feared that I, as the author, would be considered less of an author in some way.

My feeling is that if you find your characters cursing up a storm, then that’s the dialogue I as a reader would like to read. Whatever is true to them. In my opinion, the only F word we should be worried about as authors is false.


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