Many years ago, in my first Creative Writing class, I wasn't wowed by one of the other students like the instructor was. I have to admit, he certainly was easy on the eyes. Watching him read his short stories was...pleasurable - his hair had that who-cares-I-look-like-this-when-I-wake casualness, he always had a two day growth beard, his jeans had just the right amount of holes. And all of this long before it was stylish. But listening to his stories - nah, not so impressive. He used a heavy sprinkling of four-letter words, dropping the F-bomb frequently. This seemed to impress the instructor. I've always felt there are so many more descriptive words in the English language that the use of profanity just isn't needed.
Nowadays, profanity is expected in all forms of art. I avoided using them for a long time. It wasn't that I hadn't heard those colorful words or that they made me uncomfortable. I grew up with a father that worked construction most of his life. I think the only men who swear more than construction workers are sailors. At least, the saying "swears like a sailor" must be an indication. Eventually, in the name of realistic dialogue, my own writing became laced with a few four-letter expletives. I write contemporary for the most part, and all you have to do is stand in a shopping mall near a group of high school students to get the feel for contemporary language. Luckily, I don't write teenagers. I've been able to sprinkle the realistic dialogue with everyday guttural words but avoid the F-bomb.
Where am I going with this? My current work in progress has a character that keeps threatening use of the avoided word. So far, I've held him at bay with the alternative word friggin'. My husband just read my rough draft. He's not a romance reader but when I write a romantic suspense, he always gives me good feedback. He knows how to help me beef up the suspense. Well, this time he says I'm half-stepping. The guy's a murderer and crass. He wouldn't pussyfoot with his swearing. Ah man...really?
If my bad guy doesn't come off bad in a realistic way, I'm sunk.
So what to do? I've sent off a letter to my editor for some direction. My critique partners are mixed on their opinions. I'll be starting revisions in the next week so I really need to make a decision and go for it. I don't think my publisher would want to see %$#& just because I have trouble putting the word to paper.
Would love to hear any and all opinions on my dilemma from a writer's point of view as well as a reader's feelings on the subject.