Saturday, August 27, 2005

Four-letter words

I was intrigued by this post on the Romantic Times message boards:

"I very occasionally read contemporaries and really dislike the careless use of four-letter words coming out of the heroine's mouth. To me that is not romantic!"

I imagine this depends on the age of the reader, among other factors. But I actually prefer heroines who aren't afraid to use swear words, even crass ones. Your characters don't all have to swear like sailors, but it seems to me that if you're going to write realistic young people (and I'm defining "young" here as under forty-five or so!) they need to cuss occasionally. Let's face it, most people do cuss nowadays. To me, having female characters that never swear is a lot like having all your books feature thirty-year-old virgins-- both are throwbacks to past ideals of female behavior, rather than an effort to realistically represent the current culture.


  1. for me, I look at the character. If it seems odd to me a character wouldn't curse...something's not right. And some will and some won't. It doesn't turn me off though. Some people talk that way.

  2. I just write however the character tells me to write. If that means they cuss a lot or not at all, then so be it.

  3. I totally agree, ladies. Some characters swear, and some don't. My latest (a futuristic) had a lot of cussing on the part of the hero, but none on the heroine-- it didn't seem right for her. So it depends on the characters. And certainly some people decide to remain virginal till they marry, and that's okay too. But to diss ALL contemporaries because the heroines sometimes swear seems wrong to me. This is one reason I like MaryJanice Davidson-- her heroines actually sound like a lot of young people.