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Mike Klaassen

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By Mike Klaassen   
Rated "G" by the Author.
Last edited: Thursday, October 30, 2008
Posted: Friday, October 05, 2007

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How Much, If Any, Profanity to Use in Young-Adult Fiction.

Recently, I came across a blog where several authors were debating the use of profanity in young-adult fiction. As I was reading through the messages, I was reminded of my own struggle to add realism to my stories without being irresponsible to young readers.

One of the first things I learned as a writer was to utilize stimulus and response in my scenes. My real-life response to mashing my thumb with a hammer is to cuss. Like it or not, the use of profanity is an effective device for portraying emotion in fiction. It can add realism to dialogue and to the character’s introspection.

As writers, we make lots of choices, and as writers of young-adult fiction we are faced with choices regarding profanity. My second novel deals with troubled teens, boys likely to pepper their conversations with expletives. If conversations between real teens includes foul language, how much profanity should an author use when creating dialogue and introspection? The choices come down to:

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