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Clean reads are books without profanity and gratuitous sex. Here’s why that’s what I write.
First, I believe in not dishonoring God by using his name or his son’s name inappropriately.
But what about other curse words? Often, I think people use them for several reasons—the pain they are in, anger, bad habit, an attempt to prove something, for shock value, or laziness. I should probably add ignorance that swearing is displeasing to God.
This summer at the LA SCBWI conference Kwame Alexander read a piece of one of his poems and his interviewer asked him why he hadn’t used swear words in a certain line. First, he told us his mom was going to read the book. Secondly, he taught poetry for 9 years and taught his students not to use profanity. Third, who his publisher is. But because he couldn’t use the convenient short cut of a curse he had to be more creative. He wrote something no one had heard before. How cool is that?
I also don’t enjoy reading a lot of foul language, so why would I write it? And the more I don’t hear it, read it, see it, the less likely I’m tempted to use it myself. Does anyone really need to be exposed to it?
Note: It’s actually more shocking when someone who doesn’t use profanity uses it than when someone who habitually uses it swears.
Sex is a wonderful thing between a husband and wife. And that’s where I believe it belongs—between them. Not on the pages of any book I write.
Also, when I write an “adult” book, I want it to be safe for a younger audience. I so remember reading Mary Stewart’s Airs Above the Ground as a young teen. There’s a scene after a visual break where the husband is putting his socks back on. It meant nothing to me. Later I reread the book as an adult and the light dawned—oh, they made love. My daughter talks about having the same discovery as an adult. It was so subtle our teen selves missed it. But our adult selves enjoyed the inside knowledge of the small hint.
Our imagination is wonderful at filling in the blanks. I like leaving some room for the reader’s imagination.
An honestly, I think a long-awaited kiss can be very romantic. One of my favorite scenes in Pride and Prejudice (the movie with Kiera Knightley and Matthew McFadden) is the closing scene—the first time they actually kiss.
If you also write clean, I’d love to hear your reasons why.
SM Ford writes inspirational fiction for adults, although teens may find the stories of interest, too. She also loves assisting other writers on their journeys.