"Welcome to my blog space. I believe that God has carefully placed gems in our paths to fill our days with joy. The challenge for us is to take the time to notice them. My desire is to share the gems in my life so that, hopefully, you will see the ones He's placed in yours. I hope what you read here will be worth your time and you'll want to return often." - Cathy

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Vision or Venom?

              “*WARNING* This book contains offensive language not necessary to the story. Other than that the writing is good. The plot moves at a nice pace, the characters feel like real people and the descriptors make you feel like you are part of the story. Sad that such good writing is tainted with bad language.” So reads my review of the latest book I read.

My Unread Books Shelf
              I don’t remember how I acquired the book. I found it buried in a stack of books I had not read as I was trying to organize some books a while back. Week before last as I was looking for something to read, I plucked it off of my Unread Books shelf.

              I don’t ordinarily read fiction that isn’t recommended by someone I trust or comes from the Christian book store. I once picked up a book at Wal-Mart in the religious section only to find that the story about a murder in an Amish family contained horrible language. I will give the author credit for only having the lawyer and police detectives talk that way.

              When I ran into the first curse word on page seven of the book I just finished, I was surprised and then I had a dilemma – do I continue reading (I was already involved in the lives of these characters) or do I throw the book away (I couldn’t pass it along to any one in my circle of book-swapping friends) and hope no one sees it in my trash at the Convenience Center and takes it out to read it? What a pickle.

Worst two page spread
in the book
              I decided to do an experiment. Every time I ran across one of those blights on the page, I blacked it out. Did the loss of those words change the story? Not at all. Did the sentences read any differently when it contained a blacked out word? Not at all. Did the pace of the story change because I deleted the vulgarity? Not at all. Did the story have the same punch of emotion without them? Yes, definitely. So why were they there?

              I had a discussion via e-mail with the author of the Amish mystery. I asked why a writer of her caliber included such language. Her response was that she wanted it to represent real life. All the lawyers and detectives she knew talked like that. It made me sad for her. And for me. She is an excellent writer, far above most I’ve read, but I won’t get to read any of her other books because I’m not willing to compromise on bad language for a good read.

              Throughout history, there have been writers who were positive influencers on society. What if we writers don’t accept “real life” as our benchmark? What would happen if we penned vision on our pages instead of venom?

              Jesus tells us that at judgment we will answer for every careless word we’ve spoken. I wonder if that includes the careless words we’ve written as well.

Going out with joy today, pondering life-



I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak.” Matthew 12:36 ESV


  1. My sentiments exactly! I edited briefly for a small book producer, but discontinued because of unsavory content.

  2. I think it shows a lack on the part of the writer. If the writing is strong you don't need those words. The writing will carry the story without them. Thanks for visiting and taking time to comment. Blessings on you, dear One.

  3. I used to work in a library. The writing group I used to belong to also met there. The program specialist talked to me and then to the group about co-sponsoring a guest speaker who would speak on the process of getting published. He spoke on how HE got published. He had a copies of a book he had written with him that night. He asked $10.00 for each. I purchased one and read it to completion. But, the language and the scenes he described were NOT what I would normally read. Like you, I didn't share it with either of my two closest friends. I threw it in the trash. It was a mystery story. The mystery to me was something he said the night he spoke."an author who doesn't use distasteful words in his or her language can write them because the words come from the character in the story." Not as I see it.

    1. Thanks so much for telling me about your experience. I recently went to a one-day writers workshop where both presenters cussed during their presentations. I was amazed. I had never heard anything so unprofessional. Thanks for letting me know that I am not the only one who feels this way. Blessings to you.

  4. I have a tendancy to toss a book because of curse words. I'd almost rather have a racy sex scene. At least I can skip over it. (And to all you RWA members, those type of scenes don't move the story forward.)

    Too many writers use curse words for shock. Especially the "f" word. But by using so many, you lose that umph you're going for.

    I don't use them in my writing. I've seen no need to, even to keep it real. And at book sales when people find out I write clean fiction, they tell me they're tired of all the bad lanuage in books.

    Could that be why inspirational fiction is the number two selling genre in America?

    1. Thanks, Kathryn! You could be right about that genre. Thanks for taking time to respond. It makes me feel like I'm not out there on a limb alone. Be blessed today!

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  6. Well said, Cathy! For the life of me, I will never understand why authors believe we have to read the trashy stuff to get the full picture of whatever is being written. I want to keep my heart and mind clear of anything that would offend my Lord or others.

  7. Thanks, Glenda. Sounds like there are more of us out there with these feelings than I thought. Thanks for validating my thoughts and thanks for commenting. Blessings to you and yours.

  8. I agree with you totally Glenda. As I writer and as a human being, I believe we do not need bad language. For me, it is a sign that a person has a very limited vocabulary. St. Paul said, "whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. What we fill our minds with, gradually begins to govern our way of being. Thank you for our post.

    1. Thanks for your comments, Jan! I love the verse of scripture you quoted. You have blessed me today.