I’ve gotten a couple of emails from folks who really like the Stone books, but they expressed concern about profanity. They think it would be better if some of the characters weren’t such potty-mouths, or at least if I left out some of the more extreme ends of the cussing spectrum (like the “f” word).
While I totally respect that opinion, and respect people’s right to limit their exposure to words that make them uncomfortable, unfortunately my response has to be a polite, “I can’t do that, Dave.”
Because here’s the thing: when I write, especially when I really get into the flow and the words start coming out faster than I can type them, I hear my characters like a movie in my head. I’m not so much writing as transcribing when I do dialog. Some characters, like Stone, don’t use a lot of weapons-grade profanity. If Stone says some variation of “fuck” (which he’s done exactly twice so far that I remember), that should be an indication to the reader that the guy is stressed big-time. On the other hand, characters like Jason (a young guy who grew up around a lot of other young guys in a culture that uses casual profanity) will pepper their conversation with it, and folks like Trin practically use it as punctuation! That’s just the way they talk. Trying to tone down the salty language would make them sound completely different–and completely wrong.
One email writer suggested that Verity shouldn’t cuss as much because nice teenage girls don’t talk like that. While once again I respect that opinion (I actually had a nice email exchange with her–she’s an older lady whose sensibilities come from a different age, and I think it’s awesome that she and her husband love the books!), I respectfully have to ask if she’d ever met any modern teenage girls. Maybe all of them (or possibly even most of them) don’t swear much, I’ve heard a few who will put sailors to shame. And besides, Verity isn’t exactly a “nice” teenage girl.
So, people in my books are gonna cuss, if it fits with their personality. That’s not changing. But hopefully I’ll be able to tell a good enough story that even the potty-mouth haters will be willing to skip over the bad words and focus on the bigger picture.