I’d appreciate your opinions concerning ‘blue language’ in novels.  In the final edit of my forthcoming novel, Black Karma, I notice that my main character has a very ‘blue’ exchange using the ‘F’ word when he’s mistakenly taken down by the FBI.  I notice that several sites want to know about a novel’s use of profanity.  As a former Marine, I know and sometimes use blue language. When really pissed, so does my main character.  What are your views? How do your own readers feel about it?

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I have a street-kid character. It took me ages to understand that he was talking with my words and not his. When I started restricting the range of his vocabulary and letting him swear, he started coming to life. A lack of education means he doesn't have any other words to express himself.

Fuck yeah!!!

Am currently writing my second Detective Maier novel (for Exhibit A in the UK and US). My detective swears moderately, rarely in fact, but other characters are more vociferous with their 'blue' outbursts. I take a cue from real life. I am currently living in a hotel in India (a great place to write detective fiction) with an illustrious collection of guests. One Greek guest here swears continuously. The staff are less than impressed. But what can they do? This relationship between a constant exponent of bad language and those suffering the consequences around him may well flow into the text.

I'd say, in real life there is plenty of swearing. In a lot of mainstream detective fiction there often is not because the corporate end of the genre is sanitized and utterly boring. If you like your characters to be 'real', then use it where it fits.

I just finished the first novel written by Chuck Hogan (whose novel Prince of Thieves was made into The Town by Ben Affleck). In it, he does an amazing job of individualizing many characters. One uses the f word in almost every passage of dialogue. Others do not. I think, as others have said, it depends on the character, and certainly on the type of book you're writing. Cozies don't interest me. Hard boiled and noir novels do. Forgot to mention the title of Hogan's book (written when he was 27) The Standoff. I highly recommend it.


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