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.
100% agree. Shit happens, and I like reading about characters who would react the way I would…F-bombs and all.
I’m an older generation reader. I read to escape the real world including an abundance of profanity. I don’t mind profanity if it makes sense i.e. a character who is severely stressed. I confess I don’t enjoy profanity for profanity’s sake. A teacher once made a comment to my friends and I back in high school (circa 1970)”Profanity is the language of the inarticulate.” I tend to agree with that teacher…to me profanity is a lazy way to express emotion.
Having said that…I did purchase your box set. It’s on my list of books to read.
I respect that, for sure. But I also think it’s important to portray characters realistically–and sometimes that means having them swear. That, and some of the most articulate people I know swear like sailors. 🙂
In any case, I hope you enjoy the box set!
Actually, studies have shown profanity is used by the more intelligent. It is a function of your “lizard brain” – a different part of the brain than your normal vocabulary. As an older lady who teaches high school, most of the kids I know use profanity.
Unfortunately, I could be considered an “older” generation reader (>50 years); however, I completely agree with the author’s point of view. To me, it would seem very odd to have characters, old or young, all speak as though they went to the same Emily Post school. It doesn’t really matter whether I approve of it or not – it is a part of how some personalities speak and would be odd to leave out. Also, please realize this isn’t just an old vs young thing – it is a way of speaking that differs with different personalities and different situations, and in many cases doesn’t have anything to do with laziness or inarticulateness. (And as they say – nice women rarely make history!)
I tend to look at the entire story, and disregarding profanity, ask what it would be rated based on what happens. Is there nudity, sex, drug use, violence, murder, and how graphic are the descriptions? At that point make the language fit the style. If you then have a character who curses like a sailor, and the rest of the work is G or PG, there is nothing wrong with stating the person cursed without quoting them. Or show other characters reacting to their foul language. Or…be creative, there are ways to convey things without spelling it out in four letter words.
I find your books well balanced. Not too much romance, not too much swearing, and lots of intrigue and adventure. A recipe perfect for me. If there were too much swearing, I would find it distracting, then boring. At no time did I see that. I can’t wait for your next Stone book to come out!
In real life some people do swear every second word, and a book full of swearing might suit them. I always felt that it just polluted the English language and took importance away from message/information they were trying to get across. In a book you don’t have that luxury of time to waste. You don’t want to lose the reader’s interest.
I really like your books, and I think if you take the swearing out you won’t be able to convey the character’s real personality. Furthermore to have the other characters react to the swearing is utterly ridiculous. The books are well written, you’re doing a great job, and you’ll never please everyone so be true to yourself.
If you don’t like the swear words, don’t read the books! Everywhere you go you are more than likely to hear profanity, it’s the way most people speak. If you don’t want to hear it don’t listen to it or read it, that’s your choice. I don’t see that a few people have a right to censor what the majority of people want to see or hear. It’s fantasy, the books are about supernatural, if you are so self righteous,so pure, what are you reading books about the supernatural? Is not ‘the occult’ suppose to be ‘a sin’ as much or more than profanity? I say get off your moral high horse & let the rest of us enjoy what we want to read. Just keep on writing what you do best R.L. King & your fans will buy & read it.
I don’t know what constitutes “older” reader, but as a 52 year old woman and teacher, I think context is vital to keeping it real. If profanity offends you, there are thousands of great and not-so-great books out there for you. But, feedback to authors should contain what you like and don’t like about the books.
As a person who grew up in the 80s, I am rarely offended by language, and when I am, it always because of its use in an inappropriate context, like at work in a conversation with a superior or in a public setting. In a book, not so much. Writers usually have a good feel for language and what is appropriate for their characters, and good writers know a variety of people “types” from which they can generalize language. King does well in balancing and contextualizing the language of her characters, so I can’t see the use in moralizing. If you don’t like the language, then you don’t like the characters in her book.
I love these books, and, to coin a phrase I don’t give a flying fuck about the swearing! I’m British, so perhaps it’s a cultural thing, and perhaps we swear more on this side of the pond. We’re certainly less prudish, I think.
I am always entertained by the descriptions of ‘older folk’ in the books. I am sixty-seven, but most the these folks seem to me to belong to s bygone age. Does the US not have huge populations of old rockers, aging goth-hippies etc?
Not quite sure what you mean by the “descriptions of older folk,” but we absolutely have old rockers/hippies/goths over here! I know quite a few of them personally. 🙂
Yeah, I am 72, just watched Bohemian Rhapsody 22 times and am too old to be put off by much of anything. Seen it all, heard it all and have almost done it all, well pretty much anyway. If anyone is that offended by foul language there are plenty of good Christian books out there. I also am a college graduate, worked hard all my life and had an English teacher that thought ain’t was a foul word. You rock R. L. King. In a word from my generation, you are BITCHIN’
I think this thread is quite interesting. I am an older reader 60ish. I have read the entire series to date and have always felt the dialogue to be very realistic and always in character. I wouldn’t expect Stephan or Aubrey, for example, to use profanity at anytime. But if they did it would certainly have the desired impact. One of the things I enjoy most about the books is when I’m reading along and up pops a mental holy sh*t and the next line in the book Jason says holy sh*t. I guess that’s what makes me an avid reader. I certainly wouldn’t enjoy the books as much if he said ‘my goodness’. Words is words. Get over it. Sometimes you just need something a little more colorful and descriptive. I love the stories please keep them coming.