How Far Should I Go?

One of the interesting things about writing my own books, has been the explicitness question i.e. how far should I go? This covers several different elements; I’ll try and cover my reasoning for each.

Language – should characters swear at each other. I personally, have nothing against the use of swear words, although a lot of dialogue used in movie adaptions, or TV, seem to go further than the books on which they are based. I have used swear words, but minimally, and only where I think it adds to the plot. I have not written an action packed crime thriller or gangsta rap piece. If I did, I may swear more, but even then, I would want to keep it to a minimum. DH Lawrence used sexually explicit words in his descriptions and conversations. I have not, but then again I am not DH Lawrence by any stretch of the imagination.

  • Sex – I have been told there is a lot of sex in my book, there is some but define a lot. For the lead characters it is part of their engagement with each other, it’s also critical to the lead protagonists behaviour before he meets his girl. This is an adult thriller not an adult book. I could have been more explicit, I could have been less. I have found that in a lot of thrillers, in this genre, sex is missing or skipped over. I wanted to make sure it was there.
  • Violence – Like the sex, there is some, not as explicit as a slasher or other serial killer books, but some. Again I was tempted to go further but held back. I wanted to leave some to the imagination
  • Sexual Violence – Combining the last two into a single theme. There are some difficult scenes with the killer and his victims. Again, I was tempted to be more explicit but held back. Partly, this was contrived for the further parts of the plot, but also because I didn’t want to write some of the things, or when I did it became too comic book.

With the elements covered, there is an overall pitch level as to who the book is for. That covers the style, language, and theme. Do I want 12 year-olds reading it? Probably not, but I read some fairly serious so called adult books as a young teenager. I have tried to understand the Young Adult genre characteristics, and I am struggling. Why is a film or book characterised in this way I struggle to understand much as the argument about nudity in films, (bad leading to age restrictions) compared to nudity in an art gallery (good and culturally uplifting and worthy of a school visit).

Hollywood and TV seems to have decided that bad language and violence is fine but nudity and sex is not. Calling someone a M***** F***** is fine in a 15 film rating, but showing them having sex results in an 18 or USA R rating. When visualising the scenes in my books or writing the conversations am I led by this hypocrisy or should I write what I want. I would love a film deal so should I swear more to try and get one? If I was lucky enough to get one would I argue to keep the sex in and swearing out, what would you do?

One thought on “How Far Should I Go?

  1. Pingback: What The Hell Is YA? | Phenweb Publishing

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