It seems to me that a few authors took this in a different direction than was my original intent.

This is a network of readers. Literally more than 80% of us are readers here....

I think that this discussion has been good and after reading the last posts, I believe we have shifted from our original intent.

Maybe we have said all we can say about this.

I will say that the discussion started out with readers expressing their views about what they would or would not read (or buy) and turned into a reader bashing discussion about a few bad reviewers. Maybe that would best be a discussion for another forum?

Besides I did get a few complaints from readers here about the posts lately so I have shut this one down.

********************************************

This morning I was looking at discussions on Michelle Sutton's Ning page "Edgy Christian Writers" and one discussion was about cussing in a Christian book.

Some were saying it hurt "the reality" of a character like a gang member, if they didn't cus.

Really?

Reality? I must use the F bomb or ...
Personally I resist cussing and did even before coming to Christ. (Although even now I slip and feel badly about it afterwards.)
I feel it is in poor taste and cringe around those in my life who use it. It is the way I was raised.
So I do not need it.

 

The Sopranos is a great example.
Watched part of one episode on HBO and "... fnfnfnf ef" click... changed it and I love gangster movies/ programs.
When it came out on A&E ... sans cussing and nudity, I watched the entire series.

GREAT!
I might have missed some of the reality (My friend tells me I didn't experience the the true reality.) It was enough for me, and I do not feel that I missed anything.
As writers, the pen is in your hand, you set the boundaries and take us where you want to go. You create the reality, and if you are good about making us care about the characters, and keep us on the edge of our seat, we will not even notice that there was no cussing, besides suggesting language was used can leave it to the imagination.
The scariest part of Jaws was the first 90 seconds, for me because I never see the shark.

I never met anyone who discussed a book with me saying "You know there wasn't any (or enough) cussing in that story!"
BUT I have met plenty who have complained otherwise.

Write the way you want and create the reality you want, then find a publisher who will publish what you want... that is the rub we are discussing.
Then I will spend my money and time and energy to read what I want :-)

 

I would be interested in your thoughts as readers, leaders and writers.

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Old Hollywood gang movies like West Side Story and The Outsiders had no cussing and they were blockbusters. Cussing dies not make the character more real. It's the emotion.

I agree that the older movies and novels didn't use all this vulgarity to become successful but times have changed and the Godliness of our culture allows and even condones such language. Back then most people didn't use swear words so openly as they do now. It wasn't accepted. People cuss on television like it's nothing now. I hear profanity in the streets all the time. Parents cussing at their kids like it's nothing. My parents didn't curse at me. It's a different world and as unpleasant as it is the reality is there. So if you're depicting people of today's behavior then it will be a matter of realism to a point. People today readily express their emotions with foul language. The thing for a writer is to find ways to be realistic in a non-vulgar or worldly manner. It's tricky but it can be done.

     As a writer I favor authenticity in all aspects of my novels. However, I prefer good taste and upholding Christian values as passionately if not more. So I abstain from the F word, the S word...MF, GD and other hard core obscenities. I'll admit I have used damn and hell a few times when I thought it really necessary to authentically paint the character and/or the situation. But I have  done that sparingly. Cursing in literature like sex scenes and such should have a purpose and not be used by any writer, Christian or not, haphazardly or  for sensationalism. I won't read things peppered with vile language and graphic sex just for the sake of it. It gets on my nerves.

     So my opinion is that a follower of Christ would not want to use blatant cursing in their work because that should not be part of who we are but we are not perfect and like Fred said even Christians slip every now and then because of the culture we are in. But cursing should be at a minimum if used at all. One thing I learned as I wrote more was how to substitute curse words with other expressions that had the same impact.  We as Believers are to write (and read ) literature of a higher quality. True, every character won't be born again. We should depict life as it is not as we'd like it to be. It's a little harder but we can find ways to do that without being overly vulgar with cursing or sex. 

Instead of substituting a less harsh word for a curse word in Christian literature, the author could just state that the character cursed. 

Yes, some Christians might "slip" because our ears hear and our brains contain those words, but when writing, it would be deliberate and thus avoidable.  We must try to clean our mouths and brains clean of such things.

I had a few curse words in my book but only when repeating a few direct conversations. People curse either because they think this boost them up in front others or because they have little education and poor command of language, or this is what they constantly heard from their parents.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=es1TaFKHxgQ

I prefer not to have profanity in books. I think as a society we get enough in the real world and would like less in my books. I like to be able to use my imagination rather than some things spelled out.

I don't want books in my house with language that I would not want my grandsons to see. I'm sure they will see and hear things that are not wholesome and healthy for them, but I don't want it to be at Grandaddy's house. Frankly, I don't want to read books with filthy language. That mess gets stuck in the brain and keeps replaying. I don't need it.

As a writer of Christian non-fiction I stay away from profanity. I don't use it in my speech so it would not come across naturally in my writing.

As a reader I do not shun books that have profanity - even Christian ones. For me personally, profanity doesn't add to anything and I tend to skip over it anyway. But in a Christian book I would be observing who the profanity was ascribed to (a non-believer?) and does that person's character as it is developed warrant that. I would be looking to understand its purpose. Does it add to the depth of the character or is it simply gratuitous?  Unfortunately profanity is an every day part of language for many and to sanitize what would be perfectly normal in a real life setting (if I were walking down that street for instance) is to dilute the richness of the character. And possibly limit an aspect of transformation. I would never expect to read a book with an inner city gang theme and not encounter profanity. I would be surprised if the "Christian" in the story engaged in such language because it goes counter to all that the "Christian" should subscribe to. I would expect an extreme light/darkness contrast though.

That said, I do cringe at anything over the top - profanity, violence, sexual references. I think the point can be made without being so 'in your face.'

In a non-fiction book - Christian or otherwise - I simply do not see a point in profanity (unless of course it's in the context of quoting someone). It's unprofessional and someone writing a non-fiction book needs to be able to convey their message without the use of profanity. My opinion.

Thank you for not using profanity in your books.

Coming from a long career in the motion picture and television industries, I can tell you all the excuses possible to justify bad language, cussing, nudity, and anything else that is none-Christian.

Just because a lowlife speaks from the gutter doesn't mean that a Christian writer can't be more creative than that, and still demonstrate from where it comes. A Christian writer should be able to raise people up instead of coming down to their level. This becomes a personal choice, but I think if the book is going to be sold as Christian,  it should be held to a higher standard. 

YES.   I agree with you.  I expect a higher standard in Christian books and would feel betrayed to find foul language, nudity, etc. in a Christian book.

Thank you Bonnie from all us "Littluns."

If it's Christian, then the values of being Christian, as the writer walks in Christ's footsteps, becomes a responsibility. Anything that doesn't, is just using the word Christian to sell their book. I consider that false advertising. If a Christian book is NOT Christian, but calls itself Christian, then the person who wrote it is not being a true Christian. When a young impressionable mind reads what is labeled  Christian without all the values presented, then how is it different from any other secular book?

There obviously should be more scrutiny before a book can be labeled Christian. Creativity is never diminished when under God. Finding other ways to demonstrate a gutter mentality, without actually giving importance to it, is where a Christian work prevails, proving itself worthy of being called a Christian work. 

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Created by Phred St Laurent May 27, 2010 at 11:35pm. Last updated by Phred St Laurent May 31, 2010.

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