I watched an interview with the late Ian Fleming, creator of James Bond, on one of the remastered Blu-Ray discs from the new box set. The interviewer asked him about the lack of use of foul language in his books.
Fleming said he thought it was rude to the reader to use such words.
That was 1963.
What about now? I’m sure you can read many novels with no use of ‘four letter words’ but any that deal with characters that would, in real life, drop an f-bomb or other words deemed inappropriate for polite conversation almost require them.
I believe the key is like exclamation points. From early on we are taught to use them sparingly, if ever. The more you use them the less impact they have. If every other word in a book begins with an ‘f’ or an ‘s’ it would get pretty tiring or you would just get desensitized to it to where when there is something that really needs the expressive nature of the colorful language it would have no impact.
I’ve never read a Nicholas Sparks book but have a feeling you’d have to search to find anything considered a dirty word, and probably wouldn’t find one. But pick up a Vince Flynn thriller and there’s sure to be more than a few sprinkled in.
In writing my characters some swear, some don’t. Some do a little, some do a little more. It’s their personalities. Will it lose me readers? Perhaps. But I also won’t be putting it into the same category as The Notebook or Harry Potter when I submit to Amazon and Barnes & Noble.