Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Profanity in Young Adult Novels

There was a time when just about every novel I read had profanity; some books had quite a bit of it. So when I wrote the first draft of Choices, I set out to write like the authors whose books I read at that time, and included profanity. And I used a lot of it. After all, there are a lot of teens who use bad language, I told myself. And the novels I read were selling pretty good, so assuming there were a whole lot of readers out there who wanted profanity in the books they bought, that's what I tried to give them. However, through the years I changed, and as I changed the content in my manuscript changed. In other words, as I grew in the Lord it became more important to be true to myself and to honor God with the gift He has given me. I needed to put a novel out there I felt He'd be pleased with.

Even though the character, Randy, would have a mouth on him if I wrote him exactly how I pictured him (and I'm talkin' f*** this and f*** that and s*** all over the place), there is very little profanity in Choices. The more rewrites I did -and there were a lot of rewrites -the more I pictured teens reading the story, and, not that they haven't seen, heard, and maybe spoken them, I didn’t want to fill their minds with the obscene f***, s***, and a** words. However, the d*** word is mentioned, I believe twice, because, okay, I was thinking that even though Shauntice, LaKeeta, Bridgette and Hope are Christians, it wasn't really realistic that they never heard anyone else use bad language. And the b**** word is mentioned in "The Fight" chapter so a lesson about that word could be taught, and hopefully, learned.

When teens read Choices and notice that the characters they can relate to are engaging in conversations without lots of bad language, hopefully they'll begin to care more about what they allow to come out of their mouths. Even if the choice to not use lots of profanity in my story only affects a few, that's better than none.

As for my own choices today, whether I’m reading a book or watching a movie, I’d rather not be subjected to the most obscene f***, s*** and a** (if the donkey is being referred to, fine, but I still don't like the word) words. But when they pop up, I do my best to overlook them.