Embracing the Use of Swear Words in Your Writing

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This post is about swearing. If you saw the title and clicked on it then this should come as no surprise. If you are a fan of swearing, read on. If not, well you might want to click the ‘back’ button right about… now.

Are you still here? Great, or should I say, fucking great? I’m so fucking glad.

OK, I’m not just going to add curse words all over the place for dramatic fucking effect (sorry, I couldn’t resist), but there may be a few more before this post is at an end. Non-swearers be warned.

So yeah, swearing. What have I got to say about swearing? Is there a place for it in a novel? You bet your ass! But is it necessary? Yes, I’d say, but obviously everything needs to be in context with the nature and feel of the story. Perhaps a romance novel is not going to be littered with them, but I’m sure a couple of characters could have potty mouths. And of course I’m not talking about children’s books here, I’m not a complete dick-muncher.

People swear all the time in real life, so in order to make your story realistic, you’re probably going to want to add a bit in there. Swearing can add so much to a situation or scene. If a character is swearing all over the place and adding an ‘F’ or a ‘C’ every couple of words, you are going to make a pretty quick judgement of that character without needing lots of description about their temperament.

But does the swearing have to be spoken to have this effect? Absolutely not. Swearing during internal dialogue is just as important, possibly more important for getting to know the character. A narrator who uses expletives to describe aspects of their life as well as friends and enemies will allow you to build a picture of their personality in your mind almost immediately, without them being required to actually talk to anyone.

It’s been said, probably by intelligent people who think ‘tits’ is bordering on the obscene, that those who swear are just too unintellectual to come up with other words. Bollocks to that, I say. A well-timed cuss word can add just that extra bite to a situation.

What’s that, you want an example?

“I’ve had enough of this. Get your things together, and leave.”

You may need to add an action to this statement to really tell (sorry, I mean show) your reader the motivation behind the words. Or maybe an adverb? Shh, that’s another swear right there!

How about the same statement with a couple of swear words?

“I’ve had enough of this shit. Get your fucking things together, and leave.” Maybe a ‘Motherfucker‘ at the end would work, too.

Which one has the most punch? Exactly. There is less need for any actions to accompany the dialogue in the second example. The swearing takes care of that without doubt.

There are many more examples, but time is probably your enemy as you’re reading this so I’ll let you think of them for yourself.

I suppose one no-no for swearing in a novel is if the story is told in the omnipresent third person. In this situation I’m sure it wouldn’t work fluently and may make the words seem too narrate-y.

The cold fog encircled Jimmy like a haze of blackened fucking ice. His muscles froze like some wanker had injected them with anaesthetic. He knew that in seconds he would be dead as a bastard if he didn’t get moving quickly. He stumbled forward in an attempt to run, but his struggles were bullshit.

If you added speech marks to the above paragraph and had a character speaking of Jimmy’s plight then it might fit, depending on the character, of course. But not in a straight story narrated by some all-knowing and possibly smug story-teller.

Perhaps there are stories and novels out there that do this, but I can’t think of any right now. Although I’d love to read one, better get searching and if not, shitilicious, I might just write one myself.

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Well, again, I don’t think I’ve provided any new or helpful information here, other than add some swearing to your story. These are becoming the norm for me recently, I have an idea, start writing about it and then…. shit, what the fuck was I talking about?

So swear, swear, then swear some more. But please, make sure your swearing is in context. Let me explain it a little better with, yes, more examples.

Have you heard someone call another ‘a self-centred and contemptuous piss‘, or ‘a disgusting, homophobic snatch‘? Has anyone described a recent movie that was pretty poor in all aspects, as ‘a complete pile of twat‘, or ‘a towering inferno of cock-fuck‘? Although these are technically not correct, they sure as hell are shitting funny.

Thanks for reading, and if anyone has any comments then I would lovingly encourage swearing (isn’t that fucking obvious?).

 

Photo credit: Raphael Raue via Visual hunt / CC BY-NC-SA

Photo credit: online_horst via Visual Hunt / CC BY-ND

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Categories: writing

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5 replies

  1. Fucking hilarious. Nearly pissed myself. That’s some good-shit entertaining writing advice.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post. I often come into this conflict as I try not to curse in my everyday life, but have to embrace that my characters are not me. I often have to weigh when to have my characters curse and when not and in their thoughts… Damn, their worse than bloody sailors…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Your characters sound great!! Thanks for stopping by

    Like

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