First off I have to say, I’m a fan of George Carlin and as I write this I can hear him saying, “There are no bad words…” and I agree, they are simply words, and all of them have a place. I had been told that YA publishers don’t cotton to cuss words in YA literature. Which hasn’t been a problem for me, much.
I am writing a YA novel and yes, one character would like to swear, but I’ve been sidestepping it with phrases such as a friend overhearing, “a string of colorful words, meaning her mom must not be home.”
I recently read a YA book, something contemporary, which has won an award, and it has a healthy dose of swear words, including the globally recognized “F” word. Obviously these words are allowed and I got incorrect information. That’s fine, then I started to wonder, what are some of the feelings about these words used in this genre?
I started asking around for opinions on this and have read some interesting thoughts. I agreed with some, disagreed with others and then it occurred to me that none of these folks are teenagers. Not knowing any current teens, I queried some who have been teenagers very recently, and the response to being asked how they felt when reading swear words in YA books was; “normal”.
I’m not one to shy away from reading any particular words, and while I don’t want to be barraged by obscenities, I can accept it if it fits the character and the story is good. Now, I may just let my character get a few of those sorts of words in.
I still want to ask, have you ever put a book down because there were swear words? Do you have a limit to how many you’ll tolerate? Or does it depend on what sorts of words are used; damn and ass for example, but not anything stronger?