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August 30, 2009



Underlying your post is a question about reviewers - what is a good review, what is a bad review and what do we expect reviewers to do?
You start by saying that it's a 'lovely" review because it is favorable and shows that the reviewer read thoroughly.
Is that enough?
I expect a reviewer to have knowledge from experience- if the book i pick up is a rewrite of a book from thirty years prior i want to know, if it is an original idea or a development of a previous work i want to know that too.
But in every review there is going to be the individual opinion of that person - and we can't please everyone.
You are the writer and if you want your character to cuss that's your choice, the reviewer can only say "I don't like it".

Sheila Connolly

I think that used judiciously, those F-bombs can have an important impact in otherwise polite books. It's when they pop up on every page that it becomes offensive--or meaningless.

Toni LP Kelner

Chris, when I spoke of a lovely review, I was only doing so from the point of view of an author. Well, of this author. And I was somewhat tongue-in-cheek. But honestly, when it comes to my books, I want only favorable reviews. My only sop to fairness is that I do want to get the impression that the person read my book, not just said they liked it because they're a friend. (There's an Amazon review of one of my books that a friend put up, and I know darned well she hadn't read the book. I'm not happy about it.)

Of course, when it comes to reviews of other peoples' books, I want knowledge from experience and all that good stuff.

And absolutely I get to decide how my characters speak, and of course the reviewer should say if he or she likes it. But when an interesting question is raised in a review, it gives me an opportunity to revisit my original thinking, and make sure I'm happy with the decision. So it's all good.


When I rent a DVD, and the dialogue quickly becomes all F-bombs, used as every part of speech ("Well, F-you." "No, F-you, you mother-F-er."), I stop watching it. Not because the word offends me, which it doesn't, but because I resent the lack of imagination and the ability to reflect those characters any other way.

On the other hand, I love the new F-bomb, frack, that the writers of Battlestar Galactica created for their series, and I don't mind when they overuse it, because I consider it clever writing. I think I'm being consistent there, but maybe not.

But the occasional use of F-bombs and other swear words in any book, especially when we might not expect it, can have a powerful effect. As writers, we'd be crazy to deny ourselves that tool. If a writer genuinely believes a character would use that word, she absolutely has to allow the character to say it.

Toni LP Kelner

Kris, I hate to break it to you, but frack dates back to 1978 when the original Battlestar Galactica was on the air. Only then it was usually paired with feldercarb, as in frack and feldercarb.

But it's darned satisfying to say, isn't it?

Toni LP Kelner

My husband pointed out that I should have used a different title. I could have gone with "Curses of the Kissing Cousins" or "Kiss of the Cursing Cousins."


Wow, thanks for telling me, Toni. I never saw the original show - I actually never saw the current one until it came out on DVD, not while it was on the air. I still think it's clever to create curse words, no matter when it happened. But that demonstrates that they're just words, and they only have the power that we give them.

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