Just finished reading The Rooster Bar by John Grisham. It is a well-crafted, interesting, and enjoyable read . . . that is missing something. What is missing is profanity. The characters utter nary a blasphemous, obscene or vulgar word. None. And – shiver me timbers – the tale is just as lively, the characters just as believable, the storyline just as authentic.
It’s all together and absolutely possible to craft a good story without peppering it with obscenities. This has been proven time and again by best-selling authors such as Grisham, Lee Child, Sue Grafton, and Dean Koontz just to name a few. Their works are no less realistic without repugnant language unless, that is, a reader feels a need for dirty words.
One can find numerous online articles addressing this issue. Some common reasons given not using said language are:
- Profanity turns off many readers and we need to do all we can to foster a polite, civil
world of mutual respect.
- Profanity is not needed to make a novel realistic. When is the last you time you heard
the f-bomb 500 times in three hours outside of a movie theater or on cable TV?
- Profanity is often the sign of weak writing. The 2014 movie The Wolf of Wall Street
(based on the novel, which begins the f-word bombardment on page two) deployed the f-bomb alone over 500 times, which averages to one use of the ugliest word in the
English language every 20 seconds. The movie mirrors the novel.
Some writers disagree with the offense rationale. Words are just words, they reason, and it’s goofy to be offended by them. I suppose this mindset would think nothing out of order with sprinkling the f-word throughout worship services, or U.S. senators and representatives using the same in speeches on the legislative floor. Then there is the fact that some people just couldn’t care less whether others are offended or not.
Some of my blog readers will recognize that I have addressed this issue before. It might cross their mind that I’m beating a dead horse. But the horse is alive and kicking. And it’s a horse I don’t want to ride. I’d rather saddle up alongside Lee Child and John Grisham.