Monday, September 26, 2011

Getting Real with Dialogue

Foul language is, well, foul. I don’t need it and I don’t think my readers will miss it—even if my male main character is a typical high school senior. Someone out there just rolled their eyes. A valid point. A writer needs to get real. Real emotions, real problems, real solutions. What about real dialogue? My critique group just discussed this. Apparently some swear words are more acceptable than others and what you grew up with is an influencing factor. Is it possible to write real dialogue without swearing? (Keep in mind that I’m aiming to please myself since I’ll never please everyone.) The MC, Josh, is a good kid with values, but he’s starting to run into some rough characters with grand theft auto on their minds. Can a writer show enough details and emotion through things like description and tension that the reader gets it without vulgar word choice? This writer is attempting to find out. Reality Zone is dead ahead. I’d love to hear what you think.

5 comments:

hannah said...

Yes, I think you can have real dialogue without swearing. But your character's voice has to ring true. The grammar, dialect, phrase length, subject, and word choice (minus the four letter words) should be consistent with your character. If you have him saying gosh-darnit or oh-my-heck... these phrases probably won't ring true. Good luck! I'm interested to see how it turns out.

Renae W. Mackley said...

Hi Hannah. Thanks for the reminder about consistent voice for my character. So true, so tricky.

Pamela King said...

I don't think anyone misses them when they aren't there, unlike many people who are uncomfortable when they are.
As long as it is written realistically, I don't think swearing is necessary and I agree with you that some words are less offensive than others. There are some books that I won't let my teenage daughters read because of abundant swearing...especially when it is the more offensive ones.

Stephanie Black said...

I agree with the above comments--as long as the voice sounds realistic, people aren't going to miss the swearing. Sometimes I'll do the "he swore" thing if I have a character who would use profanity, rather than writing the actual words.

Renae W. Mackley said...

Emphasis on being realistic is key. Thanks for the comments.
Anybody lurking out there that wants to tell me that the swearing adds to what they read? (Just curious. Your opinion counts too.)