Well smeg

So I had pointed out to me that the little orphan story I published had a high level of swearing in it compared to a lot of my writing. I also happened across a post on swearing and then proceeded to read a few others.
I admit, there is swearing in what I write. Well some things, in Nyssa, I don’t think there is much actual swearing but there is cursing. I have characters in other stories who like to get colourful with it… Kyra and her “Fuck me sideways on a trapeze”, Rachel’s “Tell her to go rape a chainsaw”
Now I admit I have a colourful curse habit, one which I am trying to curb since K walked around the house saying “Bloody Fuck” the other weekend after hearing me swearing from the other room when something went horribly wrong for me. *coughs* Yeah, really do need to work on that. I know people who curse far worse than me and far often, I know people who are very offended by swearing, usually on religious grounds, I even read a blog post from someone who says that no curse is acceptable, not even heck, *blinks*, just quietly I don’t think they should read anything I read…EVER.
So what is the right thing, what could hinder a story from being widely enjoyed and what is simply curbing a character’s individual expression to sell out to the ones who dictate what is acceptable. Now generally I am the kind that if I know someone does not like swearing then I will not do it, I will tend not to curse colourfully in front of the boss, (though he does in front of me, go figure) and I try not curse in front of young and tender ears. I will often insert a different word, often from a fandom. Frak and smeg are well used in my life. As is friggin, though I don’t know where I picked that up from. But my characters and the stories, well sometimes I think there is nothing else to be written but Kyra crying out a four letter curse when she has to decide between the life of her brother and that of her best friend. “Oh gosh” just won’t cut it. Then I have characters like Elle who are just cute when they curse because they won’t go for the strong curse words even when they are being advanced on by zombies. It’s all dependent on the character and I don’t just throw it in for the sake of it. But where is the line drawn? Fuck seems to be offensive to many, Sweet Mother Mary, offensive to others; What the Hell can draw a raised brow from the wrong person. Where is the line? And is it wrong to cross it?

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2 thoughts on “Well smeg

  1. You know what? Fuck it. The language used in each piece of writing is specific to that piece. It’s not thrown in there for the hell of it, it’s there because a situation or a character’s personality calls for it. It’s not like you’ve gone full-on South Park on your readers. Because really, “Fuck, shit, cock, ass, titties, boner, bitch, muff, pussy, cock, butthole, Barbara Streisand!!” was quite a bit worse than what you wrote. As I’m really, really fond of saying these days (and it’s a direct quote from my darling fiance) – “People need to stop being so fucking sensitive.”

  2. I go on two questions with such issues: 1. who is my target audience and is this language appropriate for them? and 2. who is my character and would they say that?

    If your target readers are religious folks who shun the modern world and technology, then swearing like a trucker is not appropriate. But on average most people are ok with swearing within reason and anyone who finds it inappropriate isn’t likely to actually be your target audience.

    I have a character, Nama, and if he lived here on planet Earth, he’d swear like a trucker, in fact, when he gets really mad he’d probably make many people blush. Which is why I use a system of swear words that I created from my conlang. The conlang curses allow Nama to be his delightful self when there’s no avoiding it, while also respecting a majority of my targeted audience.

    So, I say don’t sweat it too much as long as you keep your readers and your characters in mind when you’re putting it in.

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