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Re: Writing, swearing, and blah.
Posted By: gabby, on host
Date: Tuesday, March 13, 2001, at 18:59:16
In Reply To: Blah blah blah, writing, blah blah blah. posted by Quartz on Tuesday, March 13, 2001, at 14:37:28:

> I certainly hope that whoever reads this will give me their opinion on this matter instead of the usual shaking of head and wondering when I'll stop and just go away.
> Qua "Shucky darn, dag nabbit, heavens to skimmed milk" rtz
> ~~*Q*~~

Like Andrea noted, pointless things always detract from a story. But then, if something doesn't detract, it's not pointless. I guess the question is more whether swearing furthers the purposes of the author. I have several thoughts.

I've read some books that were ruined by stupid, excessive swearing. It served no function, told nothing about the character; it was included only because "By swearing, you can demonstrate that you are mature, for you understand mature concepts, and that you are daring enough to thwart the oppression of social convention." (HTBP) Ideally, people would not swear. Realistically, many do, but for different reasons. It seems to me that different reasons may call for different methods in your writing.

Some people swear only in the most extreme circumstances. They would probably use some of the more 'traditional' swear words, which I won't list here. For expressing uncontrollable rage by such a character, I think anything less could be inappropriate. Milder emotions may merit harsh speech, but not swearing.

At the other extreme are the people who swear constantly without realizing it. To avoid having the reader concentrate on parts of speech the character doesn't even notice, it would be best to simply eliminate it all. Adding some phrase about how "the girl swore vigorously" would fit the character and prevent distraction simultaneously. The only reasons I can see for including all the mindless swearing are to make the reader hate the character or think the character is vapid.

In the middle are people who swear commonly but are conscious of doing so--for example, people who swear because of pain or anger or for emphasis. With these types of characters, saying how they swore rather than what they said is best. Made-up fantasy or science fiction swear words are almost universally silly, which may not help you convey the right mood.