Be true to the art

The previous re-blog post brought to mind a question for all you readers out there. I assume we are all adults here, so I would like to ask for opinions on the use of profanity in novels. You see, I believe that in order to be real, the prose should reflect not just the language of the characters, but the inner thoughts as well. Even those of us who do not voice out profanity, sometimes think it. Therefore, for the sake of realism, I must be true to the characters, in dialogue and narrative. Don’t get me wrong, it shouldn’t be overdone just to infuse a bit of a shock factor. But, I think it is necessary at times, especially in adult novels, in order to bring the story to life. In any case, it does depend on the character’s persona, and the mood of the scene: anger sometimes incites language that the character would not normally use, therein lies the power that draws emotion from a scene. So I must not force the characters into purity of language for the sake of political correctness. That would steal the realism, and rob something from creation. I’ve heard people say that they do not appreciate the language in some stories. I understand this, to an extent, but do not blame the author: they were simply dictating those voices that come from realms in the back of the mind. An artist must be true to the art.


4 responses to “Be true to the art

  1. For me it depends on the feel of the book as much as anything…some of my writing would never, or at most rarely, have profanity because it wouldn’t feel right, while others might have a fair amount because the characters and the style of writing fit I – for instance I write two types of novels – one is sort of literary and psychological and I tend not to use profanity in that – the other type is black comedy, and in that I tend to use it. So for me it depends a great deal on the writing context and I don’t think I think consciously about this at all as I write, it just comes out that way because of that context. πŸ™‚


    • Yep, that’s exactly how I feel. It’s a natural process. I read all types of novels, literary to young adult, and I find that the bolder authors who take risks and ride on the edge (Stephen King, for instance) seem to bring the world of fiction to life better than those who avoid profanity at all costs. But that’s just me. πŸ™‚


  2. Absolutely. I have no problem with using profanity in writing fiction or non fiction, or coming across it in reading other works. I go with the character’s personality and the situation they find themselves in. You have to be true to your characters, or in non fiction, to how someone said something, or the emotion of how you feel.


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