Writing Books/Swearing


Hey, Cathy!  When it comes to using swear words in a young-adult novel, how many is TOO many?  Any information on this or even just your own opinion would be very helpful.  Thank you in advance!!!

Hi, Mia!

Okay, there are two different levels of YA. There are those that are in the bookstore for teens to buy and there are those that are not only sold in the stores, but are also picked up by school libraries. For the American Library Association buys (because that is a HUGE market of sales) there can be NO swear words. You can be creative in your swearing, of course. F*** can be Frack and Sh** can be crap. That sort of thing. But even though teens do swear and swear often, what appears in the "official" channels is usually sanitized.

So, ultimately, feel free to put in what you will but try to write it so that if the ALA comes calling to make a deal with your publisher that the words can be sanitized without affecting the characters or the plot. A character with a swear word catch-phrase, for example, isn't your best choice. If you can have your characters be "above swearing" because of religious beliefs or strict parents or such, that's even better because teens can relate to having personal standards.

Does that help? Good luck!


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Cathy Clamp


I'm happy to answer questions about any aspect of writing novels, from the beginning kernel of an idea through completion. I can help with writing a query letter and synopsis to an agent or editor. I can explain publishing terminology and acronyms. I can also assist with questions about verifying the credentials of agents/publishers and how to proceed once you've been accepted for publication. I can teach the rules of formatting a manuscript, creating viable plots, characterization and flow in the following genres: romance, science fiction, fantasy, thrillers, suspense, horror, women's fiction, mainstream and mystery.


I'm a USA Today bestselling author of urban fantasy and paranormal romance for Tor/Forge Books. Along with a co-author, I've published fifteen novels (combination of mass market and trade softcover) since 2003, and have contracts for four more books through 2011.

Romance Writers of America, Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, Western Outdoor Writers, Horror Writers of America.

Tor/Forge Books, Western Reflections Publishing, BenBella Books, Running Press, Wild Child Publishing. Many others.

My educational background is limited to real life experience of publishing novels commercially for the past five years.

Awards and Honors
USA Today bestseller, Waldenbooks Mass Market Paperback Top 20 bestseller, Nielsen BookScan Top 20 bestseller, RT BOOKreviews Career Achievement Award winner, 2009, Book Buyers Best Award for Paranormal, Romantic Times Best Werewolf Novel, Write Touch Readers Award, EVVY Best Historical Chronicle Award, The Lories Best Paranormal. Many others.

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