Swearing, Sex and Violence (these are a few of my favorite things)

Any writer writes for themselves first and foremost. That doesn’t mean we don’t take the readers into account, quite the opposite, but when hard creative decisions have to be made I always go with what I want over what I think would be safe and more comfortable for the readers. For example in my book, The Vampires of Soldiers Cove, something happens to Rachel that is very violent (if you’ve read the book you know what it is but I’m not going to tell you here. That would be a spoiler!).  I went back and forth for a few days before doing a rewrite of the book that I knew people would read on whether or not I’d actually include it. I knew it would make people uncomfortable, or potentially shock them. This is really the only kind of writer’s block I experience. The kind where I know what I want to write, but I hold back out of fear of what other people will think of me if I do.

In the end I decided that it had to be included, as the incident is really a defining moment for that character and creates a domino effect that will be seen over the next three books. I have been accused of including that, and other things such as violence, sex and swearing, ‘just to shock people’. Trust me folks if I wanted to shock you, there are easier much less time consuming ways to do it. A book is something that takes months, if not years of a writer’s life. And the writer is not going to be with you in the room as you read it to experience your shock. If I wanted to shock people and experience their reactions I’d dye my hair a strange color, or get a huge tattoo, or get a million piercings etc. (nothing wrong with any of those things! I Love seeing people who do that).

If you read my books and my character is swearing and destroying things, it’s because that’s who they are, and honestly, don’t we all know people who are like that? We might not enjoying hanging around with them, but there they are and if you know them at all you probably couldn’t picture them being any other way.

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5 responses to “Swearing, Sex and Violence (these are a few of my favorite things)

  1. I was doing really good cutting back on my profanity… then I went back to work. lol

  2. Swearing, sex and violence are very emotional sides of a character and to describe them and to use them in a book is always a decision to be made. For sure not every reader will follow them willingly, but writing a book that will be read by young adults or adults also means that readers have own experience with one or the other side of a character that is far from what a minor might understand. That is what ratings are for (also in novels or especially in fanfiction that is posted online) I think that adults may be able to cope with strong emotions or some violence when it´s in the context of the story. I´m no fan of cruel violence when it comes the PWP (Plot, what plot?) way. But wwhat you wrote is, in my opinion, straight in the context of your novel and part of Rachel´s development (as a human and as a vampire) Life isn´t always a pony farm as we say over here and sometimes shocking and traumatizing events cross one´s life path (like violence, death or even rape) and these events are merciless teachers to one´s life, whether we want it or not! It simply happens and we have to look what to make of them and how to cope with them! Including traumatizing events into a characters life is much more real life than to cling to the only harmless side of life. (If we would want this, then we would would write novels for children, adapted to their ability of understanding and coping with life on a child´s level) Result of such development is either a breakdown or that the person will emerge from it much more stronger and matured. The same is with swearing. For sure you would keep your kids away from swearing adults not to compromise their language early. And in general we don´t like it when people swear, but also this is a very emotional thing, an eruption of stress, distress, fear or plain anger that breaks free and mostly has the function of a cleaning storm which comes hard, fast and with some violence(of expression), but after it the mind is released and we feel more free to think clear again and to find a solution for a situation.

    Using these strong moments should be restricted to adult reader´s novels but to some certain degree it´s okay in my opinion if it helps to understand a character´s emotions or personal development. If I read an adult novel I´m able to cope with such content, That´s what makes the difference to minor stuff and in The Vampires of Soldiers Cove you didn´t cross a border to the degree of intolerability. And the fact that you thought it over again and again before you gave way to the final edit shows me that you, as an author, are thinking very well about it before using such strong moments. If an author is targeting on shocking his readers he normally adds scene after scene of this stuff with no logical sense and no real plot. There are novels, and movies, like this out there, but their value might be stuff to hard discussions and also some crtical point of view. But your novel is not part of such a discussion to take place. Your content is adequate in my eyes and doesn´t cross the border of common good taste and common sense.

    If other readers have another opinion it´s their good right to do so too and every novel can be target to discussions in general. And when anybody says the content is too hard it´s their personal opinion and they are free to put the book aside and never read it again if they dislike it. So be it.

    Go on with writing your following novels the way you want them. We know the level and the rating and the genre related content and that´s all you need as a reader for a novel to fulfill your expectations.

  3. During a writing workshop my boyfriend’s short story, containing swearing, sex and violence, got skipped by several of the girls in the class, saying ‘It offended me, so I didn’t read it.’ I don’t know what this kind of reaction this is. Laziness?

    • That’s ridiculous. As an adult in a writing class you should be able to handle some swearing, sex and violence. If you can’t you need to maybe go find a class that focuses only on children’s stories. I respect that they might not want to include it in their own work, BUT, in a class you have to be prepared to deal with the work of others and you don’t get to censor them because you are ‘offended’.

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