How rude can you allow your characters to be?

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Post by Guest »

In a crime story, how rude can you allow your characters to be? I have one man in conflict with another and in real life he would use a lot of personal comments as well as swear words.

However, how far can you go in a book? Clearly not as far as reality, but how rude can he be. He is going to be murdered in the next chapter.

Post by Carol »

Your characters have to be true to their personalities. And true to life. If they would swear like a trooper in real life then that's how they'd speak in a story.

Post by Tom »

Let him have his swan song and speak in whatever style is meaningful to that type of character.

Then stick it to him in the next chapter. Don't forget to twist the knife.

Post by Richard »

There are no rules. Write your story. You should know who your characters are by now and how they will react, how they will speak, how they will argue, etc. There are no rules.

Post by Geraldine »

Completely depends on your genre. Hardboiled, noir, thriller - curse away. Murder mystery, traditional whodunnit - keep it minimal, imply rather than be explicit. Cozy mystery- keep it clean or readers will be offended, the genre has become very "clean"

Every genre has different rules.

Post by Del »

In my detective series I find that word play is better than curse words. The bad guy says a slur and my MC comes back with a snide comment.

Post by Steven »

How much swearing was in the last, say, ten recently published books you read that were aimed at the same audience as yours? That much, on average, is what you should expect to be able to get away with.

Post by ~MK »

As long as the behaviour is not gratuitous, there is no limit.

It’s like asking, “How long is a piece of string?”

Others made a good point about considering your audience.

Write it as you see fit. Once the draft is completed, you will get a better picture and know whether or not you need to turn down the spice.

Post by Jay »

Do you mean in terms of racist, antisemetic, antigay, or misogynistic put downs? I'd advise restraint -- depending on whether or not your title would otherwise sell to high school age readers and depending on whether or not you want to be criticised for putting so-called hate speech into mouths of your characters. People do seem to hold fiction writers accountable for their characters. Where such instances might occur, as true to life, I would have another character condemning the person's hateful remarks, as is also true to life and ought be shown (i.e., e.g., other character might call the offender out as a "biggoted, foul-mouthed jerk").

Post by Ron »

Every time anyone wonders what is permissible in a story they are making a mistake. There is no set of rules, no laws, no governing board overseeing what is written. Do what is best for your book. If what you do works you did it right.

Post by John »

As rude as necessary. My bad guys are really bad guys. Gives the good guy a heroic task to accomplish. As far as profane language, I use it very sparingly. I feel I can express myself without it. You should hear me when working on an old car though. Maybe for crime story for realism if writing organized crime or such. Keep your readers in mind.

Post by Rebekah »

I've been watching police interrogations to get the feel of this kind of dialogue. I would say include one expletive out of three. Not too much, but enough to reflect the characterization.

Last bumped by Anonymous on Wed Sep 28, 2022 4:53 am.
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