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Re: Blah blah blah, writing, blah blah blah.
Posted By: shadowfax, on host
Date: Tuesday, March 13, 2001, at 22:00:25
In Reply To: Blah blah blah, writing, blah blah blah. posted by Quartz on Tuesday, March 13, 2001, at 14:37:28:

> If the general vote is no, that's fine. Whether my characters swear or not isn't the whole point of the story. The point of the story is the STORY.
> Qua "Shucky darn, dag nabbit, heavens to skimmed milk" rtz
> ~~*Q*~~

this one turned out longer than i thought it would. Hope it doesn't bore anyone. .. .

It depends on the character. Here are two examples I find highly annoying in writing:

1) A perfectly nice character, maybe a child, well bred, pleasant, etc, is set up. He's written to be a good person in every way until his dialog starts at which point he could embarass a sailor's parrot. This is highly unrealistic and is gratuitous swearing. What if Ramona Quimby started using the f-word?

2) A rough-and-tough character, maybe in the military, in a position of authority, and is in a bad situation that's guaranteed to tick him off. Lots of rough edges on the character, but he doesn't swear. Again, that's unrealistic and therefore annoying. What if Chavez from the Clancy novels never uttered a single curse? Would that be realistic? Hardly.

In short, if your character is a character who would swear in a certain situation, then he should swear in that situation, no matter what your mom thinks.

As to whether it's wrong to write them in your stories, that's getting into religious grounds and at that point it depends on who you talk to. My personal opinion is no - -- they're just words after all. I've never really understood why changing one letter in a harmless word like "duck" suddenly offends everyone. If they don't want to say it, that's fine, but it's no reflection on them if they hear it uttered by someone else, so why get upset about it? Are they frightened that they are so weak that merely hearing the word will corrupt them? Most of the people I know are made of stronger stuff than that.

Additionally, people have very funny unwritten rules for using swearing. For example, if back in school I'd gone up to my english teacher and said "awww hell, I forgot my homework," I'd have gotten in trouble. If, however, I'd said "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned." she'd probably have hugged me for actually knowing something from a shakespeare play that we hadn't read. Why would the reaction be any different? It's the same word. I have a whole theory on why this kind of thing happens, but that's beyond the scope of this question. Maybe it'll come up again some time.

Back to the subject, I really don't see any problem with someone else swearing, especially if a character that they are writing would swear in the given circumstance. I do, however, see a problem with a character in a story NOT swearing when in real life he would.