Thursday, March 21, 2013

Profanity in Books--What's Your Dealbreaker?

Today I am taking an informal poll of my readers:  How much profanity has to be in a book before you will stop reading it?  And what are your reasons?

For example, are you the type of reader that likes no profanity in a book?

Do you mind a damn or hell every now and then?

Do you skim over profanity?

Is profanity not a deal-breaker for you at all in books?

For me, I prefer no profanity at all, but I don't mind a hell or damn every now and then, particularly if it's the villain.   But I'm curious at to where other readers draw the line.

And just because I'm Mormon and we like to make up faux swear words, I'm including this video.

WARNING:  It has a lot of faux swear words in it.  And it's freaking funny.


Lindzee said...

That movie was freakin' hilarious! And I'm similar to you...I don't mind the occasional mild swear word if it is in character and fits the tone of the book. F bombs are a huge turn-off for me, though, as is constant and profuse swearing.

Cranberryfries said...

I dont mind it. I dont love it, but I can handle some sprinklings.

I've read a handful of books where it's plastered and it's just obnoxious. It seems lazy to me and in both movies and books, for me, it draws away from the story line (when there is too much).

Janice Sperry said...

I won't read the book if there is an "F-bomb" on the first page because it will only get worse from there. I've found that if the swear words are heavy, then the morality isn't. I will stop reading if swear words distract from the plot. I don't mind a damn or a hell here or there. My daughter has a part in her 6th grade Shakespeare play and they replaced ass with donkey. I think it negates the joke, but their substitution is appropriate since it will be performed for the elementary school.

rebecca h jamison said...

I love to listen to audio books while I'm working in the kitchen, which means my kids hear everything I read. I hate it when I'm listening to a book that came highly recommended, and it's full of f-words and other colorful language. I usually stop listening if I hear a lot in the first chapter.

Debra Erfert said...

To me, if the words are in the Bible, then I can use them, but sparingly and only in an emergency and the scene really calls for it.

Like your commenters above, I don't like the "F" word. I think the use is lazy and unintelligent, and mostly used for shock value, and if I see it on the first page, I put the book down--it only can get worse from there.

Unknown said...

I definitely don't enjoy profanity in a book. I agree that sometimes with a villain it's appropriate to set the mood, but excessive swearing, f-bombs, are distasteful. I'm not so picky as to say that it'll make me stop reading though, I just skip it or replace in my head. I hate to not finish a book. That being said, I have read a few books that had a lot more profanity than I was comfortable with, but they were both memoirs and that's really the way people talked. One was The Glass Castle which wouldn't have been as powerful of a story if that had been left out. The other was In the Sanctuary of Outcasts which tells about life in a prison. It would be difficult to imagine life in prison without the profanity. Both were great books with powerful messages. Unfortunately, profanity is a part of the world we live in, whether we embrace it, use it or choose to rise above it.

M. R. Buttars said...

I prefer no profanity and will usually stop reading if I find more than one or two in the first chapter. I'll put aside a book in a heartbeat if I encounter the F-bomb, or b-tch or ba-rd in any form. I think those terms are derogatory and demeaning to everyone and have no right usage. The occasional hell or damn I can skim over if the story is really good, but I try to read books that don't even have those. (The exception being when they are referring to hell as a place.)
The video was awesome! I enjoy making up faux curses for my characters to use since it ensures people of all ages can enjoy my books. :)

Anonymous said...

I have a hard time putting books down once I've started to read, but if I hear a book has a lot of profanity, I probably won't pick it up in the first place.

There are some words that don't bug me. In fact, "hellish" is one of my favorite adjectives. There are other words (f-bombs and taking the Lord's name in vain) that I really don't like.

I read a lot of military history, and most of it has some swearing. It doesn't bother me too much when it's used in moderation or in quotations from first-person accounts.

With audio books I'm much more picky, because you can't really skim over the profanity in that.

Gina said...

I'm pretty easy with profanity, at least as far as most Mormons are concerned. If it makes LEGITIMATE sense, and it's not excessive (like multiples on every page) then I don't mind it. But if it's used for the author to prove that they're "hip" and "with it" (and you can always tell) I can't handle it.

cmjeppsen said...

I prefer no swear words, but if it's a farmer or Scripture type word, I don't worry about it. I don't like books that excessively blaspheme, and any time I find an f-bomb I'm done with that book.

Julie Coulter Bellon said...

Thank you all so much for your feedback and comments. It is greatly appreciated. :)

Unknown said...

I actually have never known a Mormon who would talk the way the guy in the video talks-I would hate to have people get the impression that any of us run around saying Mother Father. When he says the euphemism, he makes it sound just a bit too much like the real thing for me. I can handle some profanity in books, but if it gets excessive, I will put it down. I don't like it in movies because my kids are likely to over hear if we are watching it at home. My most hated word is the F word. Reading or hearing that anywhere makes me feel a profound disappointment in the speaker. I want to say to them, "Come on, don't you know you are a LOT smarter than that?"

Julie Coulter Bellon said...

Jane, you're right, I've never known a Mormon to say all those things. No one I know ever says Holy Hannah Montana or Helen Keller or son of a bee sting. That's the point, though, is that these words can be used as substitutes for the real thing, but aren't we really thinking the real thing when we say them? A debate for another day I suppose. :)

Thanks for weighing in. I appreciate it! :)

Unknown said...

As a military veteran and a former correctional officer, I don't suppose you can surprise me with profanity. But you can offend me, especially in audio or video that might have been heard by my kids (then) or might be heard by my grandkids (now).

I don't use any profanity in the Christian fiction I write - I might allude to a character's cursing, but I don't use the actual expletive.