Thursday, July 14, 2011
Swearing in YA: How much is too much?
I am a swearer. Is that a word? No reason it shouldn't be. The point is, I swear. A lot of this has to do with my day job, where I have become conditioned to language my mother doesn't approve of. Yes, f-words drop out of my mouth with wild abandon.
I have some limits, though. I don't approve of the c-word, although, as I once told a colleague: "I don't consider my day complete unless I've been called a c*nt at least once." Also, I come from a nation of swearers. It's not exactly a proud cultural tradition, but it's a cultural tradition nonetheless.
Anyway, I'd like to throw out this question: How much swearing is appropriate in a YA novel?
So far I'm averaging an f-word per page, and I'm worried it might be too much. It's first person though, and my protagonist isn't the sort of guy to censor his own thoughts. And I think his voice, despite the profanities, is actually quite compelling.
Here's the background: The protagonist is male, 17, an angry little bunny, and is in a military-type job. I think in this case the profanity is almost mandatory. More than that, I think it's genuine. When's the last time you heard a 17 year old say "gosh"?
On the flip side, of course, when's the last time you heard a 17 year old effing and blinding and actually took notice of what he had to say behind the swearing?
Gah. It makes my head hurt. And it makes my mother want to wash my mouth out.
On a lighter note, I am guest posting on Friday at the awesome Wicked & Tricksy. I'd love it if you could head over and say hello!