How Much is Too Much (Part Two)

So, in my last blog, I posted about gratuitous sex in fiction, namely fantasy. I have come to the conclusion that we have far too much sex in both literature and movies. And it’s not just that there is too much sex. It’s that the sex that is portrayed is often abusive, pornographic, violent, and depicted in unhealthy situations and unhealthy relationships. Not to dwell too much on what I discussed last time, but how many movies and stories are out there talking about losing one’s virginity, finding that all too elusive one night stand with that girl who we all know will eventually have major issues with relationships and everything else because she was billed as the high school slut who boys went to to lose their virginity. I don’t think I would find sex in literature so disturbing if it was portrayed in a healthy manner, between two people who are in a loving, preferably married, relationship, and within the realm of realism. I read some books and I think to myself, “These guys (and girls) watched way too much porn, because this stuff normally doesn’t happen in reality.”

            Okay, enough about sex. So what’s next. Let’s talk about language. I know that as a fantasy author who is also a Christian, language can be a tricky issue, almost as tricky as sex. One of the nice elements of fantasy is, when everything else is made up, why can’t curses and bad words be made up as well? That was a bit of advice given to me by one of my editors and, even though at the time I was a little upset, after a while it made sense. Why was I upset? Well, even though I am a Christian and even though I don’t really want to exclude anyone over the age of, say, 13 from reading my books, I do want to portray some sense of realism. If someone gets stabbed with an enchanted sword or zapped with a lightning bolt, are they really going to say “Oh, shucky darn.” I don’t think so. But at the same time, is it really necessary for an author to explicitly list all the colorful words that would come out of that character’s mouth? I don’t think so. I say, give the audience a sense of realism. Let them know, through the character’s language, what is going on, and leave the rest up to their imagination. I think language can also give the audience an insight into a character. If an author is trying to show that a certain character is vulgar, bad, evil, uncivilized, etc. then is it okay for them to use some colorful language to portray that? I would say yes. I know some would disagree, but I think so. The problem goes back to the original question, How much is too much?

            First of all, I am not a fan of the Big Three—this is what I refer to them as in my classrooms. You all know the big three—the F word and the two C words. If you have to ask what the two C words are, then don’t ask. Anyways, I remember a day when you could turn on the television and know there was a limit as to what kind of language you might hear. Now, as long as the comedian portrays a picture of a cat, he can say . . . well, you know. If so and so shows a picture of a rooster, all the sudden it’s not vulgar to say . . . well, you can guess that one as well. A rated R movie was pretty much free reign on language, but PG-13 meant no F words. Then it was one F word. Now, who knows. Much like sex, language has become a nonissue for many people. It’s a part of our culture. It’s an expression of who you are, where you come from. It’s a part of your vernacular. I think those are all copouts. I don’t know how many parents I know who will tell someone to watch their language around their kids, and then once their kids are in bed, they reveal that they have the worst mouth anyone has ever heard. Does that make a whole lot of sense? Like, your kids aren’t going to pick up on that eventually.

            So, what does that have to do with literature. We, as a culture, have become more accepting of things that were once taboo. And I don’t think its necessarily a good thing. Its not okay to have a potty mouth, so why should it be okay for foul language to be the norm in literature. Like I said before, I think there are certain circumstances where language can help move a plot, express a character, or help with action, but those are perhaps the extremes. I don’t think language is as much of an issue as sex. I think using foul language doesn’t have as many negative implications in regards to society as a negative view of sex does, but one can certainly see how a disregard for one can lead to a disregard for the other.

            Again, I am interested in your thoughts, so please read and respectfully reply through the comments. Also, if you are reading this blog posting and would be interested in purchasing my first fantasy novel, A Chance Beginning, you can use the following code QV3GNESC at to receive a $1 discount on your purchase. You can also purchase A Chance Beginning for kindle at