Some thoughts about swearing in The Girl Who Never Came Back

girlwhonever1A few people have commented on the fact that one of the characters in The Girl Who Never Came Back swears a lot, and some people seem to be offended, so I thought I’d explain why I wrote it like that.

When I start a new book, I always decide which (if any) characters will swear, and which won’t. I do this because I think that swearing is one of the many small things that reveal something about a character.

Some people never swear. Some swear all the time. Some only swear under pressure. Some swear because they want to offend other people, or because they actually enjoy it. Others swear without even thinking. There are so many reasons. I know people in real life who swear like Charlotte. Personally, I hardly ever swear, because I worked in a kindergarten a few years ago and had to make a conscious effort to stop. I’m not usually offended when other people swear around me, unless there are young children nearby.

In the case of Charlotte, I decided that she should swear a lot. In an early scene, her sister Ruth even comments on this. However, by the end of the book, Charlotte has mostly stopped swearing (as well as drinking) while Ruth is the one who tosses out a few f-bombs, including one while her daughter is nearby. This is on purpose, and it’s a very small part of the characterization of the two sisters. Maybe I didn’t make it clear enough, so I’ll go back and take a look.

The point I’m trying to make is that the swear words aren’t just tossed in lazily. Charlotte is a bit of an extreme case, but again, there’s a reason for it. I know some readers think she’s not a very likable character, and I can see that, but personally I like her. I think that beneath the swearing and the blustering and the sarcastic comments, she’s someone who has always sensed that something’s not right with her life, but that’s something that comes out in the story. She uses swear words to annoy her sister, and it works, at least in the beginning of the book.

But if you don’t like the fact that Charlotte swears in The Girl Who Never Came Back, I respect your opinion and understand if you’re offended. Just like in real life, some of my characters swear and some don’t, and I’m not going to change that. However, I do mention swearing (along with violence and sex scenes, if they’re present) in book descriptions, because I think people should know what they’re getting when they download a book. I think I’ll update the description for The Girl Who Never Came Back and mention that there’s a lot of swearing.

In the meantime, the new Journey to the Library series has absolutely no curse words of any kind…

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