#Rebellious Writing: Why We Need Better Books

(Hey everyone. I just wanted to apologize for missing my Thursday post and getting this one up so late- on Thursday I went to see Wonder Woman with my pals [I'll do a post about that in a few days ^-^ and I've been sick this morning. So sorry - posts will be a little irregular this month. :P)

Once upon a time, there was a little girl.

Okay, so this girl wasn't so little - in all honesty, she was a high schooler. But I digress.

Our heroine was out for a walk with her mother when she asked a simple question: "Mama, do movies and books include lots of cussing because people cuss a lot, or do people cuss a lot because it's in movies?"

Her mother responded: "I think it is a vicious cycle. People swear more and movies swear more and that makes people think they should swear more and around and around it goes."

This is a true story, y'all, and yes, I am the protagonist. ^-^ But the question is true: Why must there be so much cursing and crud in every movie/book you watch/read?

My younger sisters and I are watching a great movie right now. It's called Gettysburg, and it's about that monumental battle in the Civil War, detailing the lives of the generals on both sides of the army. It's based on a book called the Killer Angels. I would totally recommend it - except the d-word is in every other sentence. Literally. And I know what people say - they're soldiers, yadda-yadda-ya. The thing is, though, this is a three-and-a-half or four-hour long movie. FOUR HOURS. When you look at it on IMDB's content advisory guide, they say that there are 80+ OCCURENCES OF THE D-WORD. This is an old movie, y'all. It's from 1993. And while there are a LOOOOT of appearances of mild language in this movie, it's still not as bad as some other, more recent movies (I'm looking at you, Manchester by the Sea.)

And also: since when did PG-13 movies have permission to put in all kinds of marvelous explicitness? I mean, just think about it for a minute. I can think of a lot of movies that are rated PG-13 that should probably be rated R, and while I have never seen many R-rated movies, it's probably a safe bet that many of them should be rated NC-17. How desensitized are we, people? Check out this picture.
They have to have this at movie theaters to give you an idea of what you should allow your kids to see. It seriously says on there that an R movie will have "Some Adult Content". What's passing for adult content these days?!!!!!

This post is not an isolated one. It's part of a movement. The lovely Gray is the leader and grass-roots
 director of this movement; you can check out her post here. #RebelliousWriting and #RebelliousReading are a new movement, one designed to take the world of YA fiction by the shoulders and say to it, "Teens do not need your explicit material, your cussing, or your low expectations."

A LIST (because lists are pure awesomeness) of things YA/  PG-13 Books and Movies should NOT include

  • Sex scenes (of any kind really)
  • Cussing
  • Drugs, alcohol, etc.
  • abuse that is glorified
You'll notice I did not say violence - I don't appreciate gratuitous violence, but I believe that if it is necessary to show that a villain is truly bad and contrast light and darkness, a case can be made for it. Please understand that I do NOT by any means want gratuitous violence, just that it can be argued. And when I say abuse that is glorified I mean making it romantic, a misunderstanding, etc. If it's a real situation and the story is about escaping, redemption of the victim, standing up against the abuse, or light coming in the midst of darkness, it can be there - as long as it is EVIL AND DEPICTED AS SUCH. Abusive relationships fall under the same category.

I hope you will join me and many others in this rebellion. Stand with us against the darkness that is so often found in bestselling YA fiction.

Write what honors God.

If the book makes you uncomfortable, set it aside.

When you set the book aside, leave it a low review on Goodreads.

And stand strong. This is what we're here for - to make a difference in our generation for the name of Christ.

Who's with me?



  1. Thanks for joining us, Faith!!! I couldn't have said it any better, thank you. <3

  2. Amen, Faith! Being such an avid reader and a Christian who wants to glorify God in every aspect of my life, I'm extremely annoyed at all the junk in YA and even Middle Grade books these days. Picking up pretty much any book is a risk, and that's just sad! Don't you especially hate it when a book has AMAZING potential but then ends up being inappropriate, ruining a totally wonderful plot???

    1. I do hate it. I had that experience with Illuminae not too long ago :(

  3. AMEN!!!

    I always say that YA is my favorite and least favorite genre. On the one hand, all my favorite books are YA and they appeal to me the most. On the other...why on this green earth are writers (and ADULT writers at that) writing such junk for impressionable teens??? How is that okay? I don't understand! It's a rant I go on...a lot. So I'll spare you. But I basically agree with your post 10000%. There are soooooooo many YA books I want to read, but won't because their awesomeness is ruined by completely inappropriate content. I don't want that nonsense floating through my head. Ugh. It's so frustrating!

    I want to always write good, WHOLESOME YA fiction that glorifies God, and not worldly behavior. That shows good for good and evil for evil.

    Thank you for writing this and spreading the word. It's so important!

    1. So frustrating. And I tend to find that I think about more dirty stuff after I have read something that includes it than I would otherwise.

      That is a worthy goal! I feel the same way. If people want to complain about my writing, it can be because it is too clearly good and evil (apparently these days we don't like that?)

  4. YESSSSS. This movement is making me so, so happy. I'm hoping to join in and post about it myself sometime this week or the next. My reading life was nearly ruined because there was so. many. bad. books. And like zero good ones. I usually read through dozens of reviews, even spoilers, just to figure out if a novel is wholesome or not. Some novels I skip scenes in. It almost makes me afraid to read new novels at times, which I really, really don't like, because I love to read without being afraid to turn the page. Let's get clean reads back in YA!

    audrey caylin

    1. I can skip and overlook stuff if there's not all that much. Some books I've been pleasantly surprised by the fact that they had waaaay less than I was expecting. And some of them are just #YeahNope. The movement for clean books is spreading!

  5. I'm with you, girl!!!!!!!!! I've never put a swear word in my book, am not now, and never will. Or anything else like that, for that matter. I don't know how people can let themselves write things like that without feeling.... TERRIBLE about it!!!!! O-o

    1. I know! I guess it's the way people can do it in movies :P

  6. YEESSS! I've been waiting to see when you would post. This was awesome. I get so happy to see more people talking about this. *hands you celebratory cookie* This is so exciting.

    I'm sorry you haven't been feeling well. I hope you feel better soon. :)

    All your points were excellent and I think what people need to know is if they want to include some of the bad material in their books, then they need to shed light on why it's bad to have in there. Stuff like this shouldn't be in YA books. No one hates clean reads.

    Anyway, hope you have a blessed day. <3

    1. Yeah, I totally agree. If a book HAS to have abuse or something as part of the darkness of the story, I'll overlook it... so I do NOT appreciate the fact that it is just a given.

  7. I love this. I'm so annoyed with what's acceptable these days. So many good movies have been ruined by cussing and explicit content. But this really encourages me to write GOOD things! To show the world that books/movies don't have to have bad stuff in it to make people like it.

    1. I agree. And I totally appreciate your Goodreads reviews, and trust them to warn about the content ;) It's my goal to only ever write clean stuff.

  8. Don't you think, in some ways though, this is a form of censorship? I completely understand your personal dislike for swearing, but not everyone is religious, and therefore see these things completely differently. Maybe more use of content warnings is a better way to approach it, rather than taking these things out altogether! Because believe it or not, some teenagers DO have sex and drink regardless of whether or not it's in the media, and to completely erase that from novels means that we can't raise mature discussions around these topics, regardless of either of our opinions. Literature is a form of critiquing society in many ways, and if authors choose to bring sex up in a healthy, positive way, and raise discussions around it - well, that's not a bad thing!

    Also, going back to the topic of sex - if teenagers are smart, and know what they're doing (i.e. using condoms, on contraceptives) then that really isn't such a bad thing. Again, not everyone is religious, so they will view these things in a different light.

    I'm not trying to start an argument with you - I promise! :) But I think maybe we just need more content warnings and normalization of bringing up what is 'wrong' in a book (similar to trigger warnings) instead of removing it. However, I do think this was an incredibly well written post, and can totally agree on some parts! Well done for starting this discussion in a mature, positive way :)

    1. This is very true- I completely understand. I don't expect everyone to be religious, and I'm sure not everyone will agree with what is said here.

      But the thing is - let's say you get a serious boyfriend/girlfriend and decide you want to consummate your relationship. Would you want someone in there writing down/filming everything that went on? Or- what if it was your best friend? I completely understand that sex happens and is a part of people's lives, but what I'm arguing against is explicit depictions of it - or really any depictions of it. It can be talked about and discussed without being depicted - does this make sense?

      Thank you so much for your respectful comment - it means a lot to me :)

    2. Hopefully it's all right that I say something. Anonymous, I see your point. My opinion on this is to not completely remove these things. They are parts of life. As someone who believes in God's word, I believe it is best to wait until marriage to have sex, but I'm not shaming anyone who believes otherwise.

      What this movement is trying to get across is that these books are making drugs, underage drinking, and teen sex as a positive thing that is completely normal. A lot of books are doing this and we just want to communicate that not everyone wants to read that.

      While I don't think they should be completely removed from the books, I think there should be consequences as every action has a consequence. Some people don't believe in birth control or other things that prevent pregnancy. Also, those things don't always work.

      Sorry if this was long. I just really felt like I needed to say this. Putting warning on the books is kind of silly. Some people want to read that kind of stuff. We're just trying to put it out there that not everyone, not even most people, want to have to worry about what's in the book they've picked up.

      I also wanted to add that your comment was really mature and understanding. You weren't attacking people for their beliefs and that is really awesome, especially in today's world.

      God bless. :)

    3. Thanks for saying that, Ivie. You got it across much better than I did :) I'm usually tongue-tied :P

    4. I thought your reply was great, too. I just really felt the need to say my part, too. Don't worry about being tongue-tied. I get that way a lot, too. This was a great post. :)

  9. Aw, sorry to hear you haven't been feeling well!

    Very glad to have you join us! You wrote an excellent post, keep your chin up!


    1. I'm much better now, thanks :)
      And yeah! This is a movement that I'm thrilled to get in on :)

  10. What can I say? This was a great post. <3

  11. Ohhh. Right. In Australia we have 'MA (mature audiences) 15+' (e.g. the LOTR trilogy (for violence. and probably the ghosts in the dead marshes, which were creepy)), which I think would be the approximate equivalent of R? Because here, R means 18+ (so I was a little confused!)

    Great post, Faith! Let's keep standing up and telling the world that actually, not all teens believe that stuff is (or should be) acceptable!

    1. That's possible? R is 18+, while NC-17 means that no one under 18 is allowed to watch it at all. Like they're not allowed into the theater. I think MA is probably the equivalent of PG-13?

      Thanks! Yes ma'am!

    2. Our [movie] ratings go: G, PG, M, MA15+, R18+.

      Sometimes I think American culture isn't so different from ours... and then something throws my brain completely out of whack. It's the little things, like having similar - but not exactly the same - labels for movie ratings. And the fact that your summer starts on June 21st?? I mean, June, sure - Northern Hemisphere - but the 21st?? And DO you use the word 'fortnight', because I read somewhere that Americans don't... *this is my dose of 'international culture' for the week* ;)

  12. I don't completely disagree (in fact I agree with a lot of this), but I would like to throw one of my opinions into the mix, even though it might be an unpopular one here.

    I'm the first person to say that overuse of cussing bothers me in books (aka like the one reason I didnt totally love The 5th Wave books, even though I bought them.). But I also understand the phrase that says, "When the world explodes, 'Dangit' just doesn't really cut it." So while I don't condone writing bad language, I think it's understandable in some situations. Personally, I don't write any words that I wouldn't say myself, and for me, that means I only use mild cussing and it's not overdone. I use mild swearing in certain situations where I think it's understandable why they would say it.

    Also, you mentioned that if a book makes you uncomfortable, put it down. I agree with that, but I also think that sometimes those books that make us squirm are the ones that can change us the most. Like I read Unwind by Neal Shusterman and it DEFINITELY made me uncomfortable, but it made me squirm because it was making me think. So it was a good thing, not a bad thing.

    So those are my opinions.
    Good post. :)

    1. Absolutely. It's definitely true. But the thing is that most of the time in YA, if there was cussing, it's because the character wants to sound cool or is trying to accentuate a statement. Or it's just engrained in their vocabulary that it just pops out. If the world were coming to an end and someone wanted to drop a heavier word, I'd be okay with that, although I'd still flinch. But that's not usually what the words are used for. And I do agree with you, I just want to clarify Rebellious Writing's position (at least from my POV XD)

      And that is definitely a true statement. I haven't read Unwind, but I know the premise and I get what makes it uncomfortable. That's a different kind of uncomfortability. That's something that makes you think. I'm thinking more about when the content is making you squirm. When you can't get around the f-bombs or the explicit sex. It's more a question of, if your conscience is screaming at you for reading the book, will you put it down, regardless of how interested you are in reading more? I certainly agree with reading stuff that puts you out of your comfort zone.

      Thank you so much for taking the time to comment on this! You have some very valid points!

    2. Thank you for clarifying your points in such a mature and respectful way. I was pretty sure that I knew what you meant, but I still wante to throw my opinions into the mix because, well, that's what a post like this is for! <3

    3. Yes, thank you for being so respectful, too! I'm always up to discuss dissenting opinions!

  13. Very thought-provoking post! It's funny that I read it today, because I was literally thinking just this morning about being more discerning with the books that I read (basically, putting it down if I'm getting uncomfortable instead of just reading on). And I'm actually considering adding a rating system of sorts to my review blog, like an index that would list the issues in the books I've reviewed, so people would know exactly what they're getting into.

    I think the major issue with this is what you mentioned with violence: when all of these things are glorified, or basically seen as "normal" or "okay," that's when we have a problem. When they're overused to the point where the author is just throwing them in for fun instead of making the bad things matter to contrast the light.

    Glad to see people talking about this! It's important that we take the time to think deeply about what we're reading, the messages it's sending, and the way we use our own writing to glorify God. :)


    1. That would be awesome! I definitely agree with you about violence. They should NEVER be glorified. All of this is wrong.

      If you're interested, we now have an official website for this movement. Check it out at rebelliouswriting.com!

    2. Awesome, thanks! I'll definitely check that out! :)


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