The Words we Speak, Read AND Write…

Who’s your audience? 

I read a great blog post by Janet Sketchley, entitled “What’s in the Heart.” I strongly recommend you follow the link (click on her name) and read it too. 

It made me think about the books I read, but even more so about those I write.

Personally, and I don’t mean to offend anyone, but regardless how great a story is, I simply can’t enjoy a book when it contains coarse language. I enjoy it even less when the writer misuses the name of God throughout. His Name is Holy and should only be used that way. I’ve deleted several books from my Kindle for that very reason.

Our local Christian radio station says: “What’s in your radio goes into your ears, into your heart, and into your mind.”  Shouldn’t it be the same for what we read? Does it matter, since we didn’t ‘write’ these words? To me, it does.

But what if we turn this around? What about the words we write? Does it matter what we tell our audience? After all, who is our audience that we should be mindful of what we tell them? In Proverbs 21:23, God’s word tells us: “Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.”

When I wrote Stella’s Plea, someone told me, regarding the cops and ‘bad guys’ in my novel: “Tough guys are supposed to swear.”

Huh? Really? Perhaps they do, but with all due respect, I must disagree with the fact that these words must be included in the pages of our novels. I’ve read fine Christian novels where the person swears but it’s not spelled out.

In his novels, when wanting to show his readers the character swore, Christian author Jerry B. Jenkins simply says: He swore. Some authors might add under his breath or something along that line. But it’s sufficient to show readers the character is angry, upset, etc. and it describes the action.

In the third chapter of the book of James, we read about the taming the tongue, though it says in verse 8: no human being can tame the tongue.

The dictionary is filled with four-letter words. Why use the offensive ones?

My audience begins with God. Who’s yours?   

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8 thoughts on “The Words we Speak, Read AND Write…

  1. Well said, Renee-Ann, and we need that challenge as Christians who write. (And thanks for linking to my post!)

    I faced the same issue in writing Heaven’s Prey. Definitely my villain was a swearing-type guy. But I didn’t want to write it, and my publisher certainly wouldn’t have printed it. To me, as a writer and a reader, “he swore” is the kind of “telling” that’s useful. It lets us know what happens without needing the gory details. The same as violent or sexual content that needs to happen in the story but we as readers don’t need to have poured into our brains.

    Stella’s Plea is on my e-reader in queue.

  2. Thanks so much for the comment Janet. It’s so true, it doesn’t apply only with the language but with violent and/or sexual content. We’re all adults and we know what happens behind closed doors. I prefer to leave that to the reader’s imagination.

    I look forward to reading your book, Heaven’s Prey, as well.

    Blessings, Renee-Ann <

  3. I absolutely agree with you. I don’t write fiction commercially, but I always feel awkward swearing in writing as well as in speaking.

  4. Years ago, God convictted me about my reading choices. I wasn’t reading “bad’ books but books written by popular authors. I agree that what we program into our mind affects our hearts. I appreciate authors who choose to write stronger by not going the cheap route with foul language.

    • thank you for the comment. I know what you mean about “bad” books. The sad part is that some of those books have a very well written story, and I strongly believe some of them would have a much wider audience of readers. It’s a shame, that’s all.

      Blessings, Renee-Ann <

  5. Amen to this…. i totally agree wtih you on this topic. Swearing words aren’t necessary to be written out. Christian authors can set out to be great examples for these kind of writing, and have influence on their audience. Like “oh brother” is more appropriate…. gentle words like that can teach us a very long way. Keep up the good work.

    • Thanks for the comment Cheryl. I always go back to the examples of Jerry B Jenkins and so many others who use a simple phrase like “He swore under his breath” or something along that line to convey the message.

      I’m working on a third novel and two of my characters aren’t Christians. They “swear” under their breath too but never would I use any curses in my books. For me, that’s sufficient.

      Blessings! <

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