First Wednesday of the month is the Insecure Writers Support Group day, when bloggers around the Web come together for a group cyber hug.
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So this topic has come up quite a bit lately--writers feeling bad or guilty about the way they've written their characters. Feeling embarrassed to let family members read sexy scenes, or dirty when characters behave in a way some readers deem as tasteless. I'll admit, I've struggled a bit with knowing some of my family members will be reading Butterman (Time) Travel, Inc. because my characters curse from time to time.
Is that crazy, or what?? I'm a grown woman. Still, I worry about what they think of my filthy mind for allowing my characters to toss around profanity. Personally, I opt for more silly phrases like Holy Canoli, or Holy Smokes ... even Good Grief or Fudge. Using actual profanity doesn't add anything to what I say, and it doesn't do anything for me when I hear it from others. A curse word here and there is no biggie, but excessive use really annoys me.
In writing my previous stories, I let my characters assume my viewpoint on the matter. But this last time around, my characters used some profanity. I tried and tried to write it out of the story, but finally I conceded. I realized I was censoring them--trying like mad to find another way for them to express themselves. Why?
I was inflicting my personal beliefs on them. Yes, they're my creation and ultimately I have the final say, but I didn't like having that censorship. Once I accepted the fact they sometimes used profanity, it really set their characters free in my mind and I let them take control.
Now, don't get me wrong--I'm not suggesting writers make a point to use profanity in their work. I still don't care for it, but let's face it, others out there use it liberally. And the trick is to know who our characters are. Can we still convey our characters a certain way without allowing them to use it? Sure. We can find other ways for them to say what needs to be said. But I chose to write my characters as I heard them, and maybe I'll get the stink eye from some elderly conservative relatives and friends, or maybe they'll understand that just because my characters do something, doesn't mean it's a direct reflection of me as a person.
I am not my characters.
Like I mentioned, I've seen this issue pop up more and more on writer forums. It's definitely an insecurity issue. I even had one reviewer who really enjoyed my book comment on how she didn't care for the language and didn't understand why authors feel the need to drop the F bomb.
Hmm, well I certainly didn't do it just for kicks. If she only knew how tough it was for me to let those bombs fall. LOL
What are your thoughts on the matter? Ever have a reviewer or beta reader question your characters or imply their thoughts or actions were a reflection of you as a person?
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