Friday, January 20, 2012

Piffle, Piffle, Piffle

Where Love Once Lived was written to conform to the definition of Christian Fiction and be eligible for sale by members of the Christian Booksellers Association (CBA). CBA novels contain no explicit sex, no premarital sex, no swearing, a Christian worldview of some sort, and normally a strong evangelical message. What was most difficult for me was the swearing rule. My characters sometimes felt like screaming a few four-letter words, especially when they were alone or in the presence of an understanding friend.

That's why you'll find my fictional character Karen saying piffle from time to time. I learned that word from Jinx. Before she died, Jinx was a school counselor and had to be careful about what she said in front of the students. However, I think everyone, including the students, knew what she meant by piffle. It was the way she said it, not the word itself. She had so-called clean words for just about any situation. My favorite was fluff, because it was a word you didn't often hear in mixed company.

The Vengeance Squad, my second book in the Bookmobile Series, was a contestant in a Clash of the Titles recently. Here is a disclaimer as posted on their website:

As of July 2011, each of COTT's participating authors are required to sign a disclaimer stating that there is no foul language, explicit sex, or defaming of the name of Christ in their novels. Because COTT staff cannot review every novel to verify this, please read at your own discretion.

I'm not sure what all is included in the term foul language, but The Vengeance Squad does contain two instances of the word "bastard." To be honest, I didn't mean to include the word and didn't know I had until a reviewer mentioned it. In my defense, my characters were dealing with pretty tough foes and got carried away.

There is a lot of discussion among writers of Christian fiction about what to include and what to exclude, but if we want our books in Christian bookstores we need to follow the rules.

I would love to hear how you feel about the use of foul language in books.


  1. you are invited to follow my blog

  2. Why should we follow your blog, Steve?

  3. Received this comment by email:

    Personally, I have felt that foul language is appropriate if it fits the character - that is, if he or she sounds natural using it. However, this can be overdone too easily - such as in some films. A word, here or there, should suffice to give the idea. But I realize that in writing for any genre, you need to follow the rules. In a hardboiled novel about crude characters, a word here or there probably wouldn't fly. But I wouldn't care to read it anyway.. Does this make sense? Peg

  4. Makes sense to me, Peg, but I enjoy reading a variety of books. I’ve read most all of Kathy Reich’s Temperance Brennan books and they deal with law enforcement people who can’t say a whole sentence without profanity. But, still, it fits and isn’t overdone.

    However, one of my reviewers said the word bastard in The Vengeance Squad offended her.

    I judged some entries for a Christian association of writers recently and one of them was about characters involved in drugs. I don’t think that will work in the Christian book market.

    The premarital sex in Where Love Once Lived only works because the characters learned from their mistakes.