Monday, March 28, 2016

Lesson from Downton Abbey

I will confess, I don't watch Downton Abbey. It isn't that I don't like that sort of thing, because I suspect I would really love it. After all, my friends watch it and love it. I'm just too scattered to keep track of when it's on and the one TV we have is usually taken over by someone else--and I don't care enough to take charge of it. That said, I came across a quote from Downton Abbey's Violet Crawley that I think we can all take a lesson from.

"Vulgarity is no substitute for wit."

I'm going to take it one step further. "Profanity is no substitute for good writing."

I recently read five romantic suspense novels, sadly, none of which I would recommend based solely on the amount of profanity. Every single one contained the F word--and one novel several times per chapter. It was appalling, and completely unnecessary.

My teen years saw all the Mary Stewart, Victoria Holt, and romantic suspense novels I could find at the library. Sometimes I would raid my grandmother's Reader's Digest Condensed novels hunting for similar authors. They were brilliant. They had intrigue, murder, twists and turns, that spark between hero and heroine.

What didn't they have? Sexually explicit content. Profanity. Did that take away from the story? Not one bit. Does it add to the story? Rarely, and even then, it is no justification for randomly throwing it in there.

As a reader, I want writing to take me away, uplift me, even inspire me. I want to be able to find some 'keepers', books I can recommend to my friends and the world at large.

So, my writer friends, I challenge you: up your game. I will say it again, "Profanity is no substitute for good writing."

Write well my friends, write well.


  1. Thank you, Peggy! I wholeheartedly agree. There are a number of talented authors who I no longer read because of their use of swear words and sexual content. I wish more people could see how "realistic" language does not need to appear in our literature and that sex scenes belong behind closed doors, off'camera, and off the written page. Even authors who I know for sure are Christians cave in to the pressure to put in swear words and/or "just one tasteful sex scene." I recently read a YA paranormal, by an author who I know is Christian, that was excellent but I could not, in good conscience recommend it due to the use of "biblical swearing" in the book. If we don't stand up for what's right, who will?

  2. You just explained why you'd love Downton - no swearing and only implied sex, if I am remembering everything. I agree 100%. I hate all the swearing and sex. You don't need it! Some of the most romantic books and movies don't even have a kiss in them. You should check out vidangel, if you ever get the tv. It lets you pick out the parts of the movie you don't want to see. We love it!


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