Are These Milder Words Okay For MG Books or Christian Fantasy Books? #FishingForAnswers #books

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Sometimes an author has questions, and the best person to answer them is YOU. I am eager to hear your thoughts through the poll and comments below!

The Question:

Do you think the milder “darn” and “heck” words are okay for MG books? How about for Christian fantasy?

This question came up after I read author friend Claire M Banschbach’s post, discussing curse words in literature. It made me wonder if lesser words, like darn and heck, are controversial? I’ve seen them in books and TV shows for kids, and I myself have used those two words in some stories. But I want to know what you think. Are those milder words okay for MG or Christian Fantasy?

 

Feel free to discuss this more in the comments and share with friends! 🙂

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20 thoughts on “Are These Milder Words Okay For MG Books or Christian Fantasy Books? #FishingForAnswers #books

  1. I don’t actually mind them (Marilla says “darn” in Anne of Green Gables! *gasp*) 🙂 those are both words I say, myself at times.

    I think my main problem with them would be if I felt the author was using them in a lazy way… peppering a character’s speech with them to make that character seem “cool” or “bad” when it would be better (though slightly more difficult) to show me that through the character’s actions/personality, or if that was the only way the author felt they could truly show emphasis of a character’s feeling… then it would annoy me. One or two here and there used appropriately (like in the Marilla example, because that’s a character who would NEVER allow a “bad” word to come out of her mouth so the fact that she says “darn” always just astounded me as a kid and let me know exactly how upset she was) doesn’t bother me at all.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Marilla does? Haha, it’s been so long since I saw those movies, I need to refresh my memory of them. 🙂
      That’s a good point you brought up, Jenelle. It annoys me too when a character uses certain words just to sound tough or cool, unless that was intentionally a flaw in the character that they would later address in the story. It’s much better to “show” than “tell” a character’s personality though, I agree. Thank you for commenting!

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  2. I’m by no means an expert on Christian fantasy, but I think that “darn” and “heck” are just fine for MG fiction. It starts to sound a little cheesy if they’re used all the time, just like frequent usage of actual “swear words” can also detract from a book’s quality. So I think moderation is always in order. When it comes to language substitutes in MG books, I think I’d draw the line at what are often used as substitutes for stronger expletives, like “freaking” or “shoot,” but that also depends. For YA-level books, I think I’d feel differently.

    Specifically for the fantasy setting (no particular age range in mind), I do enjoy when authors make up “swear words”. In the Star Wars Expanded Universe books, they concocted some particularly memorable ones, like “stang” and “kriff.” When it comes to books, the knowledgeable reader can imagine what these funky words could be subbing for, and the blissfully ignorant ones can just chuckle at their oddness.

    P.S. This reminded me of a funny conversation I had with a classmate some years ago. I must’ve said something along the lines of, “I really don’t give a darn about class politics.” She responded with a shocked expression, “Allison! ‘Darn’ is a really bad word, you know….” 😀

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    • Thank you for commenting, Allison! I just got back from a trip, so I am late replying to this, sorry about that. I like the point you brought up about how frequent use of curse words, whether mild or strong, can detract from a book’s quality. I agree, and I know that’s how I feel when I come across that in books.
      “Stang”? Haha, I do enjoy those odd made-up words authors will come up with! Did they use those in the Star Wars movies? I can’t remember.
      Oh lol, I remember when I was a kid and “darn” was a big deal. How things do change over time. 🙂

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  3. Ooh, this is a really tough question! I would say it depends on how you use them, like Jenelle said. If you get lazy with it and just throw them in whenever you need an exclamation, then it can get old fast. But if you just toss them in every now and again, I think that’s just fine. 🙂 Also, if you’re writing fantasy, and there’s a different language being used, you could always make up words. 🙂

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  4. Language in books is a fascinating topic to me – I feel like it’s too case by case to make a blanket statement about.
    Made-up cursing, mild or otherwise, can frequently irritate the living daylights out of me (i.e., Maze Runner), to the point where I’m like, “JUST CURSE FOR REAL AND BE DONE WITH IT PERSON!!!”
    However, I have read books where it wasn’t annoying, as it fit into the world/environment of the characters (Artemis Fowl). In Christian novels, the made-up words frequently seem to be a stand in, or an excuse. If the words/language are extra, and do not help the story or the characters in any way, then I think they’re unnecessary.
    On the other hand, I have read quite a few books where the profanity level of the characters either made me not finish a book, or dislike it in general – so it certainly does affect me!
    For you as a writer who is also a Christian, I would examine why your characters speak the way they do, and how much is important/necessary. Real people talk in particular ways, and communicating that is half the difficulty of dialogue! So I’m basically droning on to say that I don’t think it’s right or wrong, per se, but I think that like anything else, it has to be evaluated based on the story and characters 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great reply, Rebekah!
      I agree that the decision should be made based on each story. I don’t enjoy coming across cursing in a book, but can handle it if it isn’t a whole lot throughout the story.
      Yeah, I don’t like those characters who say words just for the sake of saying them, and it doesn’t add value to the story.
      About the only thing I use is heck or darn, and even then rarely and only if it works for that scene, and it’s only for a particular character.
      It sounds like most people agree that it depends on the story and how it’s used. It’s fun discussing things like this. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • And I DO feel that it’s deeply personal. Some people have less problems with it, and they make very convincing cases. However, especially as Christians, we would never want to abuse our personal freedom, especially of conscience. So I think it is great that you are posing these questions and encouraging thoughtful discussion! At the end of the day, if we all thought more deeply about our words, the world would be better off, I think 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • “At the end of the day, if we all thought more deeply about our words, the world would be better off, I think”
          –That is so true, in so many ways. It’s probably how the saying “Think before you speak” came about. It’s too easy to forget that the words we say and write can be hurtful to others, or be a harmful influence.

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