Indie Author's Marketplace discussion

17 views
General > To Swear or Not To Swear. You Decide . . .

Comments Showing 1-16 of 16 (16 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Lilo (last edited Apr 21, 2015 07:02PM) (new)

Lilo Abernathy (lilo_abernathy) | 11 comments Take the poll!

SWEAR WORDS IN URBAN FANTASY / PARANORMAL ROMANCE BOOKS?
I just checked my reviews today and saw a new one came in addressing swear words. The reader writes,

"I like that you told a great story and you didn't have to use curse words. Thank you for that."

This isn't the first time I've received this comment and I love that readers are communicating their thoughts on this. However, this wasn't really a goal of mine when I wrote the book. I'm not pro or con swear words. I'm fine with them when they fit the story . . . (Click here for the poll and the combined results: http://bit.ly/1J5imrp)


message 2: by Lawrence (new)

Lawrence Ambrose (Ambrose2014) | 9 comments "Fine when they fit the story" seems like the clearly right answer. If you avoid them for religious or personal reasons - especially when they're really demanded for certain kinds of characters and situations (e.g., military, truck drivers, etc. ;-) - you are handicapping your writing. On the other hand, using them indiscriminately weakens their power.


message 3: by Mack (new)

Mack Moyer (mackmoyer) | 1 comments You don't need swear words, but they can add a layer of color, I think.

If I read a chapter where the main character has to go into a dive bar and the angry drunks say "Gosh fluffin' darn it" I'd probably put the book away right then and there.


message 4: by April (new)

April Wilson (aprilwilson) Hell yes! It depends on the story and the context. My characters swear - a lot. All of the male characters swear (they're former military, for crying out loud), and some of the female characters do. But the main female protagonist doesn't swear much, because it's just not part of her characterization. In all stories, it should vary by character and by context.

Just my .02 worth...

April


message 5: by Katheryn (new)

Katheryn Avila (katheryn_avila) I'd say it depends on the character. If it's true to the character, then go ahead and swear. But too much cursing could jar a reader from a story, which could have happened with the reviewer you mentioned.


message 6: by Lawrence (new)

Lawrence Ambrose (Ambrose2014) | 9 comments I recently had a religious reader complain about "using the Lord's name in vain." I actually decided to change the scene he complained about, since it did appear a bit over the top. But yes, military people and truck drivers - in fact, just normal people - swear a blue streak at times. A writer friend of mine - a Christian - rejected the notion that one's characters should ever use foul language. I think when you do that you allow other non-writing factors to dominate your writing. You have to ask yourself: When I write am I trying to write my very best, or are other factors more important? I think if they are, you should probably do something else besides writing. If you write, in my opinion you should be "all in."


message 7: by April (new)

April Wilson (aprilwilson) Lawrence wrote: "I recently had a religious reader complain about "using the Lord's name in vain." I actually decided to change the scene he complained about, since it did appear a bit over the top. But yes, mili..."

Lawrence, I agree wholeheartedly. The novel I just released this week has a male protagonist who says "Jesus!" It did occur to me that some readers are going to be offended, but that's how this guy talks. I can't help that. I thought about changing it, but then decided I would leave it as it was. I don't want to censor myself because I know some people will be offended.

April


message 8: by Stan (new)

Stan Morris (morriss003) | 6 comments In one of my series, the teenagers swear a lot (not the F word), but that was deliberate, because I wanted them to reach a point where they thought about the words they were using and their affect on younger kids.


message 9: by Sharon (new)

Sharon (fiona64) I agree with all of the comments. If one of your characters is a gang-banger, I doubt that they will say things like "Let us repair to my abode for refreshments once I have discharged my weapon into this other fellow," you know? By the same token, a woman during the Regency era is not going to be dropping the F-bomb. It depends on the situation, in other words.

Those who get their knickers in a twist over mere words kind of amuse me, to be honest ... but that's a story for a different time.


message 10: by April (last edited Jul 12, 2015 10:30AM) (new)

April Wilson (aprilwilson) Sharon wrote: "I agree with all of the comments. If one of your characters is a gang-banger, I doubt that they will say things like "Let us repair to my abode for refreshments once I have discharged my weapon in..."

Ditto, Sharon! You said it beautifully.

April


message 11: by Lawrence (new)

Lawrence Ambrose (Ambrose2014) | 9 comments Sharon wrote: "I agree with all of the comments. If one of your characters is a gang-banger, I doubt that they will say things like "Let us repair to my abode for refreshments once I have discharged my weapon in..."

I don't know. That would make a great against the grain gang-banger character! :)


message 12: by Richard (new)

Richard Ward (RichardWard) | 1 comments It's okay to swear if the plot requires it.


message 13: by Sharon (new)

Sharon (fiona64) One final note, from an anthropological perspective: the words that we tend to consider obscenities were common Anglo-Saxon words *until* the Norman conquest. At that point, the ruling class determined that the local speech would be deemed "low-class," and thus came the idea that certain words (like the f=word) were obscenities. So, if you're writing something set in the time of "Beowulf," those words would be in common use and not considered rude at all.


message 14: by April (new)

April Wilson (aprilwilson) Sharon wrote: "One final note, from an anthropological perspective: the words that we tend to consider obscenities were common Anglo-Saxon words *until* the Norman conquest. At that point, the ruling class dete..."

Thank you, Sharon. I didn't realize that. As a fan of culture anthropology, I thank you for sharing that.

I've never understood people's discomfort with words that are considered profane. To me, words are just words. They all have their place.

April


message 15: by Sharon (last edited Jul 13, 2015 09:29PM) (new)

Sharon (fiona64) April wrote: "I've never understood people's discomfort with words that are considered profane. To me, words are just words. They all have their place."

Likewise. There are times, for instance, when one is not merely perturbed but is flat-out pissed off. ;-)

All levity aside, I don't have much patience with pearl-clutching over an author's word choice. The author made a decision to use a given word for a reason ... and those who are offended by the mere inclusion of a word are probably not the intended audience for that particular book.

Edited to add: there is a brilliant Icelandic film called "Beowulf and Grendel" that I highly recommend. The screenwriter made a decision that everyone *except* the priest was going to use Anglo-Saxon words. The priest uses Latinate words. A number of people complained about the "anachronistic" language, because they thought that the words they deemed "obscene" were modern (they weren't). If you're interested in linguistics, it is worth investigating -- and that's aside from it being visually breathtaking, all filmed on location in Iceland.


message 16: by Lilo (last edited Jul 14, 2015 01:34PM) (new)

Lilo Abernathy (lilo_abernathy) | 11 comments Sharon wrote: "One final note, from an anthropological perspective: the words that we tend to consider obscenities were common Anglo-Saxon words *until* the Norman conquest. At that point, the ruling class determined that the local speech would be deemed "low-class," and thus came the idea that certain words (like the f=word) were obscenities. So, if you're writing something set in the time of "Beowulf," those words would be in common use and not considered rude at all. ."

That is such an interesting perspective. I wonder if we sort of hold that class differentiation today. Some people might (and probably do) consider people who swear to be 'low-class'. Perhaps not swearing makes them feel like they are better than those who do swear. Perhaps people who don't swear see themselves as 'clean' or 'nice' and see those who swear as not.

When examining corporate cultures (which my day job company does) it is interesting that some companies have a strong culture of swearing and others have a culture of not swearing. At a company with a strong culture of swearing, someone who does not swear might be perceived as weak. They may be walked all over. Their voice might not be listened to at meetings. But a company that has a culture of not swearing, someone who swears stands out and is looked down upon. It may be considered that the person has trouble controlling their emotions. At my company we have a strong no swearing culture. We are consultants, so we can't go into a client's business and start swearing, as that would offend most companies. More Fortune 500 companies (which is what we work with mostly) have a culture of not swearing than have a culture of swearing. But I think a lot depends on what kind of company it is. An oil company is quite different than a information technology company. The size makes quite a difference too. The companies we usually consult with are quite large and international in scope. A small company's culture would naturally be influenced more by a smaller set of people at the top.

I also wonder if it has something to do with how emotional swear words are. They indicate extreme emotion. Overuse can make them lose power. But, if I were an extremely rational person and a non-emotional communicator (which I am) I might find swear words distasteful because of the amount of passion behind them. And I do. I don't find the swear words themselves distasteful mind you. I find the excessive emotion that is usually laced in the tone of the words to be distasteful. I can handle reading swear words more than listening to them. If I hear one, it is usually jarring, but it does its job which is to be an alert. If I hear many, I usually want to avoid the speaker because constant jarring for me is annoying. But someone could say a non profanity in place of a swear word, like 'Pow' and if they said it with the same extremely emotional tone, it would annoy me just as much.


back to top