Characters, Family, Fiction, My Books, Novel, Opinion, Real Life, Words, Writing

Oops … I embarrassed my mother!

“Linda used the F-word in her book! And here I’ve already told my friends at church to read it.” This is what my mother said to my sister in a wake-up phone call yesterday. I had sent my mother a copy of Brevity, and she started reading it as soon as it arrived. My sister works nights, and I can imagine my mother watching the clock until she thought it was safe to phone my her.

My mother is 87 years old. She’s also forgetful. I warned her mine was not a book her elderly, Christian friends would like. (Though they probably all watch the same soap operas she does, and you can see and hear “everything but” on those.) But she’s proud of me and couldn’t resist a little bragging—at least that’s my take.

Once upon a time, I was in a critique group session when the topic turned to the advisability of using four-letter words in your writing. At that point, the most vocal opponents had read only chapters of Brevity that contained PG dialogue, so I cringed when I heard them express their opinion that only weak writers resorted to using curse words.

Don’t get the wrong idea. My writing is not rife with words to turn my mother blue. Out of 87,351 words, I used some form of the “F-word” 13 times. Even damn appears only 21 times. I don’t think that’s out of line for contemporary fiction aimed at adults.

I do not cuss—all right, I slipped once and said, “Damn it!” But I see nothing wrong with my characters using expressions that would come naturally to them. Renee, one of my Brevity characters, is a streetwise bar waitress. She’s outspoken and has a temper. I think it would be laughable if she said, “Oh shoot!” or “You darned jerk!” or even “That frickin’ idiot.” In other words, she wouldn’t speak like me. I don’t even use the euphemism frickin’.

So yeah, I embarrassed my mother, but she still loves me. I think.

Your turn: How do you feel about “street language” in fiction? And why?


Advice, Editing, Links, Tips, Writing

It’s a link thing

I’m desperate to wrap up my latest edit and have nothing particularly interesting to write about today, so I’m going to tell you about those who do. I know a lot of us follow the same “industry” blogs, but we may not follow some of the writers’ blogs so I’m sharing a few highlights. So go read, and if you’d like to discuss here any of their topics come on back.

T.A. Olivia, aka Darksculptures, wrote a beautiful piece on how writers are a masochistic nation of people. Excerpt: “We live in this secret society. It’s an independent nation. Rarely do we venture outside our borders. The trek to foreign soil is long, arduous and the neighbors are inhospitable. They don’t like our type.”

Kayla Olson, aka owlandsparrow, shares her color-coded method for editing a novel. Excerpt: “So, what does this editing actually look like? It’s one thing to say, “I read through twenty-five pages and made notes,” but another thing entirely to say how I’m doing that, or what I’m looking for along the way.”

Suzanne Conboy-Hill asks our opinion on using profanity in our writing. Excerpt: “I’ve noticed that none of my characters is inclined to swear. They don’t use profanities any more than I would myself and they would certainly never use that word even in extremis. So am I being prudish, unreal, and disconnected?”

Bonus: here’s one for those of you needing free stock photos to enhance your blog posts: The Morgue File and no, it’s not a collection of gruesome autopsy photos!

Enjoy! I’m going back to work.

[tweetmeme source=”cassidylewis” only_single=false]