Is Swearing in Fiction Under-rated?

Maybe there should be some kind of rating system for books like there is for movies and music. If “Painting With Fire” were a movie, it would be rated R for violence and profanity. It is a murder mystery after all. I had a person complain recently about bad language in my book. Oddly enough, they said they didn’t actually read the book but they gave it a one-star review. I’m trying to not give a flying fig. (Pardon the strong language there.) “Painting With Fire” is still highly rated overall.

I know fiction isn’t real but I still believe it has to be authentic and I just don’t think that your reaction is going to be “oh golly,” when you find a body. There are some very cartoonish cutesy mysteries out there that trivialize the act of murder. But when my characters die I take it seriously. Those around them are supposed to be people, human people who use human words and have human conversations. As writers, I think we have to be somewhat realistic sometimes, true to life.

As a writer, I am also not entirely responsible for what my characters say. Creative writing comes from the subconscious. It’s subliminal. It’s like dreaming. Are you always responsible for your dreams? Yes and no. Some of my characters swear. Some of them don’t. It depends on them and what situation they are in.

That said, I do agree bad language isn’t for everyone, especially not kids or the faint of heart, but they shouldn’t be reading murder mysteries with dead bodies anyway. So maybe a rating system would be a good idea, or maybe not. Maybe it would have a chilling effect on writers and literature at large. What do you think?

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