Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Cursing in Christian Fiction
This story wasn't my favorite of hers (It was predictable and somewhat cliched, the characters were well-developed though unlikable, and the plot meandered. I ended up skimming the book.) but that's not what surprised me. Rather, it was the amount of cursing she used -- b- words, sh- words, and others.
I know cursing in novels is an oft-debated topic among Christian fiction fans. Should the author be authentic and use the course language a particular character would likely use? Or should the author write around the language?
As a writer, one thing that's drilled into me is that each word in every sentence, scene, and chapter matters. These words are meant to draw the reader seamlessly into the story and should make an impact, yet they shouldn't pull us out. In the case of this novel, I felt her word choice did the latter. The use of swear words was infrequent, but still unnecessary. It didn't add to the character development. It didn't help define the scene or the setting, but it did make me blink--I'd stop and re-read the sentence to confirm the author actually wrote that. Not once did I think her choice was warranted, thus tugging me out of the story.
Now someone how reads mostly general market fiction wouldn't think twice about the word usage and would label me a prude. But, the Christian market is different, and since this was published by a known Christian publisher and written by a Christian author, the assumption is that this book is written for the Christian market. It will be interesting to see how the typical Christian fiction reader responds.
Do you believe there should be no cursing in Christian fiction? If not, in what instance(s) would it be acceptable to you?