Tuesday, April 8, 2014

G is for ...

The A to Z Challenge is moving along at a pretty snappy pace. That's another way to say April is flying. I can't believe we're four months into 2014.

So far, my blogging through the alphabet has been a challenge--as it's supposed to be. I've dealt with home renovation, deadlines and illness. Still dealing with some of it. But, others who are doing the same.. Please support the bloggers of the #AtoZchallenge by visiting, sharing or commenting.  It's fun!

Today we're using the letter G. And my word is a little touchy for writers. Everyone has opinions about authentic bad guys and how dialogue makes them real. I think real might be in the eyes (and ears) of the reader. And the author who uses an abundance of profanity is kidding himself into thinking he's adding authenticity.

I interviewed and wrote an article on Steven James, a best selling award-winning, Christian thriller writer who is quite the storyteller. Talk about authentic characters! They're chilling, and he doesn't toss any profanity into their mouths. Sometimes reviews say he's a little too graphic, but his dedicated fans argue that his graphic murder scenes are true to his stories. Violent reads with no profanity. Can you imagine?

I'm sure some of you can't imagine. Many of my writer friends argue this point with me, but when there's no profanity, yet readers are chilled to the bone, can't sleep  at night or have nightmares, I believe the skill of the author is obviously noticeable.

You 're probably wondering when I'll get to my G-word. Well, I won't write it, but I hate it when authors sprinkle God's name in vain throughout their books. As if that really adds anything to the mix. Nora Roberts curses liberally though for the life of me, I can't understand why. It adds nothing. In fact, it yanks me out of the story because it seems so unnatural for these wonderful characters I'm reading about. The three heroes use profanity continuously, for no good reason, as does their mother. I think it makes them all sound alike.

But the main point is that when we take God's name in vain, we're breaking one of His commandments.

Exodus 20:7 states:

"Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain." - King James Version (KJV)
If that isn't clear enough, then see what The Message says:
 No using the name of God, your God, in curses or silly banter; God won’t put up with the irreverent use of his name.
Authors who take God's name liberally are treading on dangerous ground, every time their books are read. Their words of profanity, God's name taken in vain, are being repeated over and over again, slamming into the minds and hearts of readers everywhere. Is that causing someone to stumble?
I don't know about you, but I don't want any sins trailing behind me.


Sylvia Ney said...

Wonderful reminder Jess! I wish more authors (and people in general) would recognize this as a sin.

Megan Lee said...

I love this post. I agree wholeheartedly. There are times I think a character I'm writing about would use God's name in vain, but then I remind myself that there are plenty of alternatives that sound natural. Great topic!

Jess * Jessie * Jessy said...

Thanks Sylvia. I've had people tell me they aren't saying the words--their characters are.

Megan, thanks for stopping by. Sometimes I have characters that want to curse but I over-rule them! ::)

Carol Graham said...

I agree 100% - especially about the part that it adds nothing to the story line or any conversation, for that matter. I hate the expression OMG and cringe every time I hear it -- which is so much the last couple years.

Jamie Dement (LadyJai) said...

I must agree. And disagree. :) Though I will not take the Lord's name in vein, I have had one character now talking to me with curse words...though mild. I can't not because of the situation in which he's in and how he thinks. He won't let me not use curse words, though I sprinkle them rather than shower them. :)

Jamie Dement (LadyJai)
My A to Z
Caring for My Veteran

Robin Davidson said...

I don't use curse words in my writing because I typically write for Christian genre. And I agree about taking the Lord's name in vain and that many books just liberally scatter words in that don't have any purpose and actually detract. It makes people sound ignorant when they overuse those words because they can't come up with a better vocabulary with which to express themselves. Now, my confession is that I sometimes use bad words myself. However, I use them in moderation, I don't use them in front of children, I only use them in front of people that will not stumble or judge me based on the word I used. I believe it's all semantics. What the difference between saying "poop" and the other one? It means the same thing. It's our culture and connotation that dictates one is worse than the other. Different countries hold different views. Some days when I am frustrated or mad, when I am alone with my husband or my closest friend, nothing else conveys what I am feeling like one of those horrid words. But, I would never tack God's name onto such a thing. And I think it boils down to self-control and the thoughts and emotions behind it. I can bite my tongue and not say that word, but if I think it, God still knows. And I can change the word to "darn" or "gosh" but isn't it the same emotion behind it? I get convicted when I think about what my use of that language is conveying about what's in my heart and mind. The language may be a symptom of a deeper problem--am I exhibiting hatred or jealousy, etc.?