To curse or not to curse…that is the question

I know I promised a blog post yesterday, but I elected to sit down and type another 400 words of my story instead. Gotta indulge those impulses when they strike. What I wanted to discuss in this post is something I’ve been debating as I write. “Atlantic Island” was envisioned to serve two purposes. One- to give me the chance to explore a concept I’d had in my head for years. To take the Stephen King approach of throwing a couple normal characters in a horribly abnormal situation and see what they do to get out of it. Two- to position the book (and future series) as a successor to “Hunger Games”, “Twilight”…any of that kind of thing. To that end, I chose to write a book that had mature appeal but was appropriate for young audiences. If you’ve read the first part, “The Event,” you know that although the language gets a bit heated in times of strife, no character uses any of the mighty curse words of doom. As I got deeper into the followup, “The Leadership,” I started to find myself censoring my natural flow of writing. People in stressful situations curse. Teenagers curse. Teenagers in stressful situations? Well, you do the math. With the draft I am about to complete I have dabbled in allowing one new character to use foul language freely, as it fits his personality. I’m not sure that will stay. One of the cool things about writing for the Kindle Store is that I can reedit my already published book if I feel that the dialogue should be modified to fit later portions. It won’t change the story at all. Of course, the tradeoff is losing appropriateness for a young market…though based on my rankings I don’t think I’m selling well in that market at all (sci-fi is where I’m seeing action). As a long time wrestling fan (as detailed in “Doing the Job”…cheap plug) I remember starting to feel a little funny as WWF and WCW dabbled in edginess. Seeing a guy as large as Hulk Hogan say he was going to kick his opponent’s “butt” just seemed phony. Of course, eventually the companies went full bore into adult-oriented language and situations. Now their business is bigger than ever and is back to being a child-oriented, PG product that I find horribly dull. I’m curious to hear your feedback. Is it better to let my characters have their natural voices and lose a huge potential audience? Or should I continue to doctor them to be appropriate for all ages? Did any of you who read “The Event” feel anything was lost by the language being softened?

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