Hey Mother Cluckers!
This particular article is brought to you by Samuel L. Jackson. Okay, it’s really not, but if he were reading it, he would probably approve of the following content…hehe.
Having your characters swear is not a new thing. In fact, I’m fairly certain that using cuss words in writing is probably almost as old as written communication itself. If not, then it #@$!% should be…
I have a few writer buddies out there who love to use F-Bombs. I mean LOVE to use them. Every other word in dialogue is F-This or F-That. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate a well-placed Shit or Damn as much as the next guy, but a lot of it comes off as gratuitous and I’m not a fan of that.
Fecal Matter on Toast!
Don’t get me wrong, I’m no prude by any means. In fact, the expression “cussing like a sailor” was one of my guiding principles both in and out of the Navy for the longest time. However, with age comes wisdom and with reading comes vocabulary. The beauty of having an extensive vocabulary is that you can modify the most disgusting and crass of things into language that can be utilized anywhere and with anyone. To me, that’s a mark of intelligence.
Forking A, Dude!
I use a particular rule of thumb when I am deciding what goes into one of my stories:
Unless it advances the plot or adds insight to a character, it’s probably best to leave it out.
But Wallace, you may be thinking, I have characters that are crass and low-brow and thorough pieces of crap. If I don’t use profanity in their speech, how will I convey their personality?
Glad you asked. 😉 I’m not saying don’t use profanity. What I am suggesting is to save up those oh-so-special colloquialisms for those time in the plot where you need to make a particular point. In Parallax, Jack Pratt, swore maybe 4-5 times and then only when the circumstances were dire enough or he was frustrated enough that he needed to vent. Look, we all react to circumstances in different ways, but in Pratt’s case, he was up against overwhelming odds and when rational thought goes bye-bye, there’s only that special language to fall back on.
Again, I’m not saying don’t use it. Save those special words for special times to give your scene that extra-special punch. Do it right and your readers will start talking.
Thanks for your time and remember that sometimes you just have to throw your hands up in the air and yell “Well, Fudge!”