I’m having a bit of a moral dilemma…
I mentioned awhile back that I wanted to try to write a novel this summer. I go back and forth between feeling like this is do-able and feeling like it’s an impossible dream. (For example, the other day I saw an interview with Nicholas Sparks and he said that it always takes him five to six months to write a novel. And here I am, an inexperienced rookie, trying to write one in three to four months. Am I crazy?)
Reading other novels doesn’t really help me make up my mind either. I recently read this one:
And when I finished it, I thought, “Nothing I write will ever EVER be at this level.”
But then I see books like this:
And I wonder, “How on earth did that ever get published?” If she could get her story published, so can I!
I just don’t know.
I finally had to stop debating whether or not I could do it and just start writing it, for crying out loud! And I like it so far. I’m not sure if anyone else will…but I like it, and that’s enough for now. And I let my husband read what I’ve written so far (but I couldn’t watch…I squealed in terror just watching him open the laptop, and he was like, “I’m not even reading it yet! I’m just looking at Yahoo Sports!” and I grabbed the car keys and I was like, “I have to get out of here.” I couldn’t even be in the same house as him while I thought he might be reading it. I know if I eventually want to publish the story I’m writing, I’ll have to let people actually read it at some point, but I’m taking baby steps, here.
Anyways, my moral dilemma has to do with using foul language in my story. I’m a Christian and I avoid using curse words. I try my best to use my words to build people up instead of tearing them down (not to say that I don’t slip up and make mistakes). But this is a fictional story, and as I was writing dialogue between my protagonist and a guy who he’s friends with who is kind of a jerk, I couldn’t help but think, “This is too nice. If this were a real live mean guy, he would be using some nastier words.”
But is it okay for me to write down those words? Just for the sake of being realistic?
I’m not talking about throwing f-bombs or anything really horrible in there. I have my limits. And I would never have a character speak in long strings of curse words, because I feel like that starts to distract from the story and it’s not very creative writing.
But in most novels I’ve read, even teen novels that seem to be rated PG as far as subject matter, a few of those words inevitably get thrown in. I hear people talk at work, and when they’re riding the bus and talking on their cell phones. I know how things are in the “real world,” outside of my Christian bubble. I know that if this particular character were a real person, he would talk that way too.
But am I crossing a line that I shouldn’t cross, here?