Wednesday, December 16, 2009
What are they thinking?
WHAT ARE THEY THINKING?
Obscenity, vulgarity, and bad taste — do we really need it in our literature?
There is an astonishing amount of good literature available on the Internet, and a lot of it is free. I like to browse websites and blogs for some of the best of it. Recently, I found a well written story. The suspense and plotting was just about perfect, and I was anticipating a great ending—which came in the last line. I was not pleased, however, with some of the language in the story. Many of the sentences were augmented with four letter words, such as in ‘what the ****.’ I could have lived with one or two, but this occurred in almost every short paragraph. When I suggested that this did not add to the story, most of the other readers disagreed. Words like honest, descriptive, and true to life, popped up in their responses. My question to you is this: Are our readers intelligent enough they can get by without giving them a detailed description of all of our character’s body functions? If you are expecting a moral lesson in any of this, you are going to be disappointed. Morals, or the lack of them, is not the issue I am addressing here. It is simply a matter of looking at ‘honesty’ in a different way. Many blacksmiths, sailors, and construction workers have an ‘honest’ way of expressing themselves, and the rest of us know to move back a few feet when they become unspooled. From having read tens of thousands of books and stories, I have come to believe that the very mention of some human condition can convey all of the emotional flags we need to raise in a particular dramatic situation. As any editor can tell you, the correct word is what triggers human emotion or perception. The sprinkling of four letter words is the literary equivalent of using triple explanation marks at the end of a sentence — and you don’t want me to do that!!! Now do you!!!
Posted by Joe Prentis at 8:42 AM