What the #$%!#* did you write?

I’ve always been a late bloomer, none so obvious as in the area of swearing. I was in my late teens and ended up having to be teased and dared into uttering my first swear words and blushed horribly while doing so.

As time went on I became more familiar with swearing and used it in my vocabulary when I got ticked off to the max – usually when someone cut me off in a car.

But when it comes to writing I tend to hit a snag when it comes to cursing. Cursing is a natural way of speech with some people and it’s hard to present characters in a realistic way without using some swearing. It’s a part of life and everyone does it – whether you agree with it or not.

I’ve read some stories where every second word was swearing, to the point that it loses its effectiveness in portraying an emotional state. As in real life if you do nothing but swear non-stop I tend to tune you out when you get *really* upset because of the constant swearing. Consider it a version of “Cry Wolf” where the swear words become meaningless because there’s so many of them. Like those teenage kids who use the F-word as a noun and verb in the same sentence, it just gets boring.

To me, swearing in writing should be like exclamation marks – few and far between and timed to deliver the most impact. If one of my characters swears it’s when he/she is under stress and the cursing is to accentuate the seriousness of the situation. If they’re swearing, the *bleep* has hit the fan and now there’s trouble coming in fast and furious.

Which is not to say there’s never a good time or place to write plenty of cursing.

You could have a rough and tumble guy or gal who swears like a sailor every time he/she opens her mouth – but suddenly lapses into silence when faced with a situation. As a reader that would slap me in the face with the shift in emotion and as a writer that’s what I want to create.

I guess what I’m saying in my usual mumbled way is that I think that if you write cursing into your writing it should be there for a reason – not just to shock. Because the shock wears off quick enough and you’re left with your characters and story having to pick up the slack and if they’re not strong enough to carry it without swearing and cursing… then there’s a problem.

And, of course, I might be full of #$#@%&.



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