Friday, December 2, 2011

Cussing in Young Adult Books.

Those forbidden, mind boggling, ear-splitting banned words of the youth. Are you cringing just thinking about it? I bet some of you are, am I right? Yeah, I thought so.

Opinions vary widely on this topic. Some say yes. Some say no. For me, it depends on the why and how. I can't stand when a writer chucks in a cuss word for the hell of it, especially in every single sentence. I mean, come on, lay off the I-can't-think-of-anything-else-better word, and come up with something worth our time! That's when it becomes too much for me too handle. *HINT HINT* (Catcher In the Rye. Seriously. You can not tell me that it didn't bug you. Or am I just crazy?)

Well anyways for me, when it comes to a character, you must stay true to that character, no matter what. I will use the story that I'm writing for example. My main character, Rusty, is an angst driven, rebellious teen. She's easily aggravated and cusses when she is. Now do I cuss in every single chapter? Of course not. I believe that takes away the meaning of the novel itself. I only do so when my heart tells me so. If I didn't cuss at all, my character wouldn't portray well as the hormonal teenager who can't cope with reality.

Now let's take another story of mine into perspective. The main character, Joelle, is the complete opposite of Rusty. Joelle is a quiet, respectful teenager who never cusses at all. It just wouldn't fit her personality, and it just wouldn't make the story ring true.

I don't want to give away much detail to my novels, but I hope that makes sense. So what are your opinions on cussing in young adult novels?


  1. I agree that you have to stick true to your characters. Fiction might be make-believe, but your readers will expect it to be more believable than well, real life itself. However when it comes to swearing, you have to be careful, especially in YA novels.

    Teenagers may swear like sailors, that's true, but prolific swearing is going to directly affect the audience of your book. Just like explicit sexual content would not be in a YA publication, heavy swearing also wouldn't.

    It takes a bit of skill to "get your point across" in YA writing when it comes to this topic, but careful thought and discretion should put you on the right track.

  2. I agree with you in every way. YA is a hard genre to get things correct because if you don't your going to lose your audience from either boredom or agitation.