Some of you might remember that around this time last year I blogged about a YA book I was writing called Perfect Summer in How do you guess the future? I was talking about how difficult it was to guess what technology would be like in the future and how I had to keep rewriting my book as technology changed. Well I finally finished it and got it accepted by an American publisher.
But then I came across another problem. Perfect Summer is a gritty mystery story with lots of tension and drama. Some of the scenes warranted, I thought, some cursing and strong language, especially the scenes where the main characters faced grave danger. My publisher disagreed. Their ethos was to publish good fiction without using any bad language. Now I agree with this in principle but I found it incredibly difficult to write some of the scenes without using the odd curse word or two. I tried to think of alternative words but 'Oh Sugar,' or 'Gosh' didn't quite have the effect I wanted so I decided to delete most of the offending words and let the dialogue stand on its own. And to my surprise it worked. I've asked a few people to read the book and they've agreed that losing the language hasn't lost any of the tension.
Have you ever come across this problem? What did you do? Did you manage to find some adequate substitute words that aren't swear words - if you did please share in case I face this problem again. Do you think writing YA fiction justifies using strong language?
Karen King writes all sorts of books for children. Check out her website at www.karenking.net