We are half-way thru the week! Who’s excited?? Well, we have another fantastic guest for you today, Mike Scantlebury! And we are talking swear words!! And I love it!! You will, too……
WHY THIS AUTHOR WON’T USE SWEAR WORDS IN HIS NOVELS
I write books. Novels. I’ve written lots of them. If you look on Kindle for my e-books, or on Amazon for my paperbacks, you’ll find over twenty, both full novels and half novels. Some books are crime fiction, some are SF, but all those novels have one thing in common: there’s no swearing.
You know what I mean, I’m talking about the ‘F’ word, or, as we say up here in the North of England, ‘effing and jeffing’. There’s none. Not one.
I know what you’re thinking. “Stop right there, Mike. You’re telling us you write CRIME FICTION, and yet none of these criminals, low life’s, drug addicts, murderers or bank robbers, ever use the ‘F’ word? What kind of world is that?” Because, as I think you’re trying to tell me, most people seem to be under the impression that bad guys swear. A lot. But honestly, where did you get such a silly idea? Mainly, I’d suggest, from the crime fiction you read. It’s a convention, a habit. In crime books, you can tell the nasty people, not only by the black hats they still wear, and not only because of all the knives and guns they’re carrying, but also because of all the ‘F’ bombs they drop! It’s ridiculous, but so common that we just all take it for granted. Unfortunately, it’s completely false.
How do I know that? How do I know how criminals talk? Because I live next door to them! A man on our street has just been given a twelve year sentence for robbing banks and post offices. A guy from the other side of the square is serving a five stretch for kidnapping and car theft, (with the victim in the boot – or ‘trunk’ as Americans might say – yes, really). A family on the top road have recently all been arrested for running illegal car parks and their neighbours are awaiting trial for organising a cleaning business that didn’t pay tax, ever. Their cousin actually shot a man, a young student. Killed him for no reason. It’s a tough area.
Now wait a minute, you say, these baddies all swear, surely? Well, yes, they might do, but it’s nothing like the way it’s portrayed in books. Firstly, if they use an ‘F’ word in a sentence, it’s just as likely to be an adjective for the pizza they’re eating as it is for the bank they’re planning to rob. Authors don’t get that. Most writers are pretty middle-class, and if ever they swear, it’s for emphasis. If they say ‘I’m annoyed’, they’re likely to put a swear word in between to make it clearer. In that case, the ‘F’ word is simply standing in for the word ‘very’. Real swearers don’t discriminate. They put an ‘F’ word in when they’re annoyed, angry or just plain placid. It doesn’t mean anything. It’s padding.
Secondly, authors put swear words in to make the sentence more of a declaration. Here’s news for you guys – real criminals don’t talk in sentences! They use phrases. They repeat themselves. They stop. They start. They start again. They swear a lot. It doesn’t help understanding. How do I know that? I’ve spent ten years interviewing families in this area about their history. We’ve collected their stories and put them on our local radio programme. Several people have said to me how fascinating these recollections are. ‘You should transcribe them’, they say, ‘and put them in a book’. We tried that, several times. It was unworkable, because, even though the extracts we broadcast were easy to understand, (with swear words removed), when we tried typing them out, they looked awful on the page. The stories were interesting to listen to, but impossible to read.
So what I’m saying to you is this: you’re being conned by crime writers. The authors are putting in swear words in an attempt to convince you, the reader, that somehow the characters they’ve created are ‘real’ and authentic. But ‘F’ bombs aren’t enough. If they construct sentences, make statements, explain their motives and their aims, they aren’t talking like real criminals. They just aren’t. And no amount of swear words is going to make those creations leap off the page and live out in the world. As ever, the world is more complicated than that, and the insertion of swearing is simply a lazy way of trying to create a semblance of ‘reality’. It just doesn’t make it real.
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Mike Scantlebury lives in the North of England and writes crime fiction about his local area. His latest novel is being feature on Kindle Scout. Check it out. If you vote for it and Kindle decides to publish it, you’ll get a free copy. Here’s the link: https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/1CGRSA4H8NJ14.
You can also follow Mike online:
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Until next time…………………………………… Stay Creative!!