I asked this question of my Facebook friends a few weeks ago, and a surprisingly lively conversation thread broke out — aided and abetted in no small part by my author friend Mary Guterson, who jumped in unexpectedly and got everybody's blood pressure rising. Mary's two novels, We Are All Fine Here and Gone To The Dogs, feature generally intelligent, well-educated women who drop f-bombs like kids drop candy wrappers.
• Christy K., a 37-year-old Seattle author: "Any word repeated too often gets boring, especially if it seems forced or unnatural. It's not a moral thing. But if it's in character, let it fly."
• R.J., a Maine author in her early 40s: "Reality is my guide. If the story is set where the people don't know or use a wide range of adjectives, then the characters shouldn't. It isn't lazy. It's accurate."
• Mary Guterson, 52, Los Angeles author: "My characters know a million adjectives. They just prefer the word fuck, as it works every single time."
• Janet R., Texas resident, late 30s: "Doesn't bother me in the least. The word can be used in many colorful ways. Overuse of it, or any repetitive word, does become dull and annoying, though. As if the character has a very limited vocab or a general lack of intelligence."
• Amber M., Montana resident, early 30s: "I agree that when an author is redundant by virtue of laziness or lack of talent that my interest wavers. However, if you wanna' see me get REALLY bored RE...ALLY fast, give me a book full of "characters" whose soul has been shaved away by a writer trying to protect his own delicate sensibilities or that of his readership."
So ... insta-poll for you readers: What's the takeaway from this sampling of people and responses?