Do Words Matter?

This weekend I finally got around to reading the most recent issue of the RWR and aside from my annoyance at the continued condescension of the letters from the president, I read the letter to the editor and found myself scratching my head.

For those who don’t know, someone wrote in and complained at the language used in romances these days. Apparently, it’s okay for a hero to say bad words but when a heroine does, she sounds like a gang member.


Here’s the deal, everyone is allowed preferences. I have no issue with people who don’t like their characters cursing. But for me, as an author and as a reader, realism is important. My heroines, for the most part, are harder edged and while I take issue with the idea that cursing makes one sound like “a gang member” I do believe a hardened warrior or vampire hunter would tend toward harder language. That’s just basic story accuracy and being true to a character. For instance, Tate Murphy, my heroine in Making Chase has a slight problem dropping “F” bombs when she’s stressed. She’s not a gang member, she’s pretty darned wholesome all in all, but it’s part of who she is. Also? A vagina does not make one exempt from excited utterances of bad words when faced with a demon bearing poison teeth or an uzi in your face, or even walking in on your boyfriend with your best friend on the kitchen table.

I take issue with the idea of needing yet more ratings and explanations on books. We’re talking about adults here. If I pick up a dark paranormal I’m absolutely going to expect to find harder language in it. That’s sort of common sense. Also, over time, I’m going to know what lines and authors write what. Nocturne for instance has darker paranormals but the cursing is at a minimum. Most Harelquin and Sil lines (except Blaze and Spice) keep the cursing to a minimum. But in truth, if you’re reading a contemporary or a paranormal – just like in modern day life, people curse. It might not be what *you* do, but to call someone vulgar or a gang member for saying “shit” or even “fuck” seems, well, quite an overstatement.

To a certain extent, I sympathize with readers who find it hard to find what they like on the shelves. I’ve been there! But I’m an adult and I don’t need anyone else rating what I read to enable me to be a big girl and do my own research.

6 comments to “Do Words Matter?”

  1. Bev Stephans
    September 12th, 2007 at 7:52 pm · Link

    I agree!! No ratings!! No censorship!!

  2. rhian
    September 13th, 2007 at 4:01 am · Link

    i like me the f-bomb. heh. alot.
    censorship bad.
    next they’ll be making me paint little black boxes over the nekkid parts of my paintings. 👿

  3. Christine
    September 13th, 2007 at 7:06 am · Link

    First off are we living under the Taliban that we are arguing about censorship. I agree I don’t especially like every other word to be
    an expletive but if fits the character and it’s
    appropriate I have no problem w/ the

  4. Lorelei James
    September 13th, 2007 at 8:24 am · Link

    I’ve taken lots of hits for this…mostly in the mystery series I write – which is hard-boiled and if it’s got a skeleton on the cover, gee, maybe it ain’t gonna be about fluffy bunnies.

    The attitude smacks of sexism. What bothers me the most? Is other *women* are usually the biggest detractors of language issues.

    No ratings. If it’s listed as adult fiction, you should expect it’ll have adult language and issues.

  5. N.J. Walters
    September 13th, 2007 at 8:54 am · Link

    Ratings are totally unnecessary.

    Like you said, the type of books tend to dictate the language. If you don’t like swearing, you don’t have to buy certain books. Any author knows that to use it indiscriminately is to lose the effectiveness of it. Used sparingly, it works!

  6. Red
    September 13th, 2007 at 1:34 pm · Link

    I agree! No censorship.

    I mean, did I MISS something? We’re supposed to move forward, not backward! We’re big girls – we can handle that and more. 😀