I can’t believe I’m doing this… editing bad language out of my YA novel and novella.
The suggestion came from the least likely person: my husband who doesn’t give a flying fig about cuss words.
He read the first chapter of my novel and called the profanity a “turn off.”
It irked me, mostly because it followed his comment (with wrinkled nose) that my book wasn’t really his style.
I’ve always been able to handle feedback from critique partners, but for some reason I had trouble swallowing Seb’s honest opinion. Probably because critique partners tell you what works and what doesn’t while “not my style” flat out says, “I don’t like it.”
“Of course it’s not your style. Are you a teenage girl?” As far as the language I said, “I hear teenagers talk like this all the time.”
“Doesn’t mean I want to read it,” Seb answered.
After a night’s (non)rest I mulled over the cussing and think Seb might have a point.
I love cursing, but don’t particularly enjoy hearing it from kids.
C.C. Hunter, who wrote the Shadow Falls series, uses “crappers” in her books and it sounds really cute.
Stacey Wallace Benefiel, author of the Zellie WellsTrilogy, offered helpful advice. She said the language was more noticeable in my novella for our Death by Chocolate anthology. (Add it to your bookshelf at goodreads!) “I guess since the story is shorter, it’s more blatant.”
I dropped the first f-bomb on page one. Stacey suggested removing the opening curse. “Over the course of a novel, I’d say I wouldn’t even notice it.”
I liked her advice that my adult character (Adrian, 22) could cuss all he wants – he’s an adult.
“I have cuss words in my YA novels, more than some people are used to and I have gotten some weird reviews because of it...but that's how kids talk, most kids I think. I've always had a potty mouth, so it doesn’t bother me.”