Author Topic: Know of anyone succeeding in Romance with swearing but no explicit sex scenes?  (Read 3164 times)  

Offline Awasin

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Let me lay it out this way: Most traditionally published books don't have a lot of filthy language. Traditionally published authors have learned how to create the same effect without using vast numbers of offensive words. So why should an indie book be less polished?

The F-bomb always seems like lazy writing to me.

It doesn't offend me; IRL it's pretty much every second word out of my mouth.

But in fiction, it usually seems closer to braggadocio than verisimilitude.

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    Offline Usedtoposthere

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    Oh, to answer the question better re covers: I believe some authors do couple head-shots. Some perhaps do objects or landscapes. Those can look like sweet romance (I definitely have this issue, but the covers still work better for me than a more generic look). I think the tone and the reader experience are more important to convey than specific steam level (other than that it's erotic romance, which is different), because many readers aren't reading for a specific steam level. Readers who enjoy steamy will read down the levels pretty happily, other than rigorously written fade-to-black only-kissing-here or inspirational. If it doesn't seem like the author's avoiding sex because "ick sex" and there are still sexyfeels, I think there's still an audience for lower-steam books amongst readers who also like steamy romance. "Sweet" readers, however, will probably complain that "ick sex." It's hard to convey everything, so I go for tone. 

    Offline Usedtoposthere

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    Well there you go. Research! I hadn't read anything that specific, but that's definitely the sense I get of the demographic that enjoys this type of book. (Which is not every type of romance.) That's a good link.

    Offline Nikkira

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    I write sweet romance and try to avoid all swearing in my books. In real life, I'm from the Seattle area (West coast of US) and none of my family or friends swear much. I'd be shocked if I ever heard them them drop an f bomb. I say it maybe once a month. My husband swears more often, but he's in the Army. None off us are super religious and we are fairly liberal. This is all to say it's not just the bible belt of the U.S. that would find it offensive to read every other word swearing.

    Offline Evenstar

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    I'd actually really like to know what people use instead of an expletive at a moment of shock / horror / outrage / things going horribly wrong in a book

    In real life I would probably use words that have religious connotations, but invoking the name of the son of God as an expletive is definitely a NO NO in my books. I say [poo] a lot (or Merde! when around the children).

    I settle for
    Bloody Hell!
    Blast!
    Oh Crap!
    Oh my goodness!

    But they are a bit without impact, so if anyone has any better ones then I'd much appreciate it as I can only use Blast so many times without having all my characters sound the same.

    Offline Usedtoposthere

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    In real life, I say, "Shoot." If it's really bad I say it three times. My sister who's spent her whole career as a professional dancer (translation: people around her swear plenty) says, "Oh my golly." Yes she does. I think that's worse than "Shoot."

    The real life person I based some of my first book on, a very illustrious star in a very rough sport, says "Geez" and "Jeepers" in interviews. I'm sure he says much worse things in the game, but he doesn't off the field. I've used "Geez" in books. I draw the line at "Jeepers."

    Offline Going Incognito

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    Hmmm. Now I'm tempted to appease/ secretly tease the US audience alone with things they don't recognize as cuss words. Anything beyond bloody hell and bugger that the US wouldn't notice? I could throw in a fanny. Maybe some choice Spanish cuss words. Oh! Or French. Then they could literally say pardon my French. 

    Offline Nic

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    I write steamy (erotic) romance and erotica with lots of on-page sex, but practically no swearing. If my characters swear, they have a solid reason. Someone would exclain "f*ck this!" when he hits his thumb with a hammer while driving a nail into a wall. There aren't that many such occasions in the books to justify more than a couple of swearwords. Maybe there are 15-20 such words per book.

    I see no reason for people to talk as if they just lifted their faces out of a used toilet. If you want to write a vulgar character, there are more ways to do that than vulgar language. Try reading some Colleen McCullough. She managed to write working class and crass people without resorting to littering the dialogue with swearwords.

    Offline Usedtoposthere

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    To answer seriously: for Southern Hemisphere, I use stuff like "bloody hell" and "bugger me." (Which is plenty dirty but doesn't "count" to a US audience.) For US books, things like "Damn it to hell" for frustration. Or I'll do the Dick Francis thing and say, "He swore." If my hero is losing control, say, in an intimate moment as a man does, l say something like, "He swore, long, low, and dirty." My audience knows the words. They can fill them in. Just like they grasp what he's doing while he's doing the swearing without my having to use all the words. :)

    Offline Going Incognito

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    Thanks!

    Offline Laran Mithras

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    I write steamy (erotic) romance and erotica with lots of on-page sex, but practically no swearing.

    Same. In fact, most of my characters have very clean mouths, though I can get descriptive with them during the sex scenes.

    I'll only start peppering profanity if I have outlined the character as being that kind of personality. Otherwise...

    Online Rose Andrews

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    Hm...I don't go beyond damn or crap in my books far as swearing goes. I don't think readers really care much for swearing but I think that also depends on your audience (I write sweet romance, some on the clean side).

    What's funny is that in real life I've been compared to a pirate. It's something I'm really working on. I'm a petite lady with an innocent looking face and the moment I open my mouth the f-bombs come out. If I can keep my books cuss free, why can't I keep my habits cuss free, too? Sigh.

    Offline Pandorra

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    Just my .02 and I am admittedly a bit old fashioned.


    I remember someone I really respected telling me once that cursing is the lowest form of human speech and not to do it unless you really, truly can't find a better word. I remember it every single time I cuss. lol... BUT, I can't see a better way to ruin something good than by taking the beautiful works that can be made of written (or spoken) words and turning them into a nightmare that has no actual context.

    Steamy hot sex with explicit words between partners? ok I can deal, heat me up, I love it .. it can add to the mood.

    Replace every other word with a curse or derogative? WHY??? What does it add to the story, where IS the story under all that garbage?

    If you're writing one character and that's his personality then its one guy/girl I won't like much and I'll essentially skip their dialog. Put it in ALL the dialog? I'll just skip the book. There is no place for it at all in the narrative.

    Either way, every time I see it in a book or hear it in a movie, it pulls me out of the immersion... every time.
    « Last Edit: September 16, 2017, 12:00:19 pm by Pandorra »

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    Offline Usedtoposthere

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    The OP is talking about Australian characters who swear a lot. That is the character. They can still swear a lot if you are going for steamy romance but not erotic or NA. Just change the swears and tone the number down and think about who your audience is.  :)

    Bridget Jones' Diary was a hit partly for shock value in the US. Or take British movies like Foir Weddings and a Funeral. That's a lot of swearing for a US audience, but acceptable because British and chick lit not romance. Market expectations are part of it. So if it's sort of good natured enough you may get away with more swears in your overseas easy breezy romance. But think about the sleeping around and so forth in four weddings  also. Chick lit breaks romance rules but has an audience amongst US romance readers. Shopaholic books, which are light, don't have quite so much swearing I believe but still more than similar US books would.


    « Last Edit: September 16, 2017, 01:31:22 pm by Usedtoposthere »

    Offline Nic

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    Shopaholic books, which are light, don't have quite so much swearing I believe but still more than similar US books would.

    What are shopaholic books?

    Offline Usedtoposthere

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    What are shopaholic books?
    Discussed in an earlier post. Sophie Kinsella, the Shopaholic series. British chicklit, very popular some years ago.

    Offline Nic

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    Discussed in an earlier post. Sophie Kinsella, the Shopaholic series. British chicklit, very popular some years ago.

    Thank you. No wonder I didn't know  ;) For a moment I thought there's a new romance genre involving shopping.

    Offline TellNotShow

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    Wow.
    That's one wide range of opinions on the subject of swearing in books.
    A lot of good advice in there too.

    Unfortunately, not many examples of what I was hoping to find, names of authors who are succeeding with books of this type -- although C.L. Stone's books are a good find, and I'm currently enjoying the first one.

    Coincidentally, I first posted this because I was about to read some books I THOUGHT would be similar -- books written by UsedToPostHere, then realised her books had very little swearing, and despite my best efforts, was unable to find anything else. Her thoughts on this have been helpful, and she certainly has a good understanding of what sells, what alienates, and some of the differences between cultures.

    My previous books have been clean romance, and I learned early on to be super careful with swearing, and particularly so with words that people of certain religions might find offensive. And I probably should have gone into more detail regarding the extent and type of swearing my Aussie characters do in this book -- it's certainly not a "constant stream of expletives" or "in all the dialogue".
    It's not ALL the characters.
    It's not ANY of the characters ALL the time.
    Very little of the swearing is done by women. A little. Only when they're REALLY upset or angry.
    The swearing is mostly from men who live in a certain type of world, speaking as men who live in that type of world do -- that is, they swear regularly around each other, but very rarely around women.  And when around women, only in (what I believe is) a story-appropriate manner. Appropriate swearing being, for example, but not limited to: when shocked or angry enough, either by accident or deliberately; in a sexual way, either as thoughts or almost involuntarily; or in a joking or amusing way.

    That last was what I meant about the colour of the Aussie language, as it relates to swearing. I make no apologies for my fellow Aussies, when it comes to this. There are some uniquely Australian expressions, with swear words in them, that are rich and funny and have a certain beauty of their own that, used right, can't be captured by using other words. It's not just Australians, of course, whose language is richer for its particular type of swearing. (I'm looking at you Ireland, for starters, and a few others too.) In my opinion -- I'm certain others will differ -- swearing done a certain way isn't offensive, unless the listener WANTS to be offended. Obviously, my book will be disliked by people who are so easily offended or upset. (Maybe I'll swear in the blurb to save such readers from buying it.)

    Yes, I know the book could be published with a uniquely Aussie flavour WITHOUT leaving all the swearing in. But it wouldn't be the book I want to publish. Indeed, it was my Mum who first recommended UsedToPostHere's books to me, and one of the reasons she so enjoyed them was that they had plenty of authentic NZ language, some of which is unique to Kiwis, and some of which is shared with ours. (The two countries share much more than a geographical closeness.)
    Also, my Mum had read an early draft of my book, and said it reminded her of UsedToPostHere's book she'd recently read, which is how I got confused into thinking they were more similar than they probably actually are.

    Many thanks to everyone who took the time to reply.
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