don’t you just love it when even your headings rhyme? (unintentionally)
I’ve been thinking about addressing this issue for a while now. Let’s talk the “F” Bomb and gratuitous cussing/cursing/profanity/etc.
Recently I was mocked by an Indie writer because I used “carp” instead of “cr*p,” and she went on to very obviously use “cr*p” and more in her dialogue. I was thoroughly put in my place, you know, if my place was the same as it had been before her condescension.
As writers, words are ours. We use them to define characters of all types, especially in dialogue; to describe a landscape; to make poetry that sings; lyrics that evoke, sometimes provoke. We use words with intention. We choose particularly. We want that one word that will transcend or immediately convey.
I read The Godfather at a very young age, probably too young, but that’s neither here nor there, well, except for the fact that it gave me an early introduction to graphic language (and sex) which was further enhanced after reading Norman Mailer’s The Naked and the Dead not too much later. (Yeah, I was a weird tween who turned into a weird adult.) The reason why I mention this is to simply state that I’m not the profanity police. While I’ve not read it all (or heard it all even though I used to only use public transportation), I have recently been left to wonder why some writers liberally pepper their dialogue with colorful language in books where it hardly seems appropriate.
A mentor whom I very much respected told me that words like the F-bomb should be used judiciously so when they are used they resonate. How can a word resonate if it’s used five times in a sentence? What does it even mean anymore if you use it as an adverb for, well, everything?
The reason why I decided to write this post now after giving it consideration for so long is that I just read a book review and the young book reviewer thought that her analysis could use peppering. A. Lot. Of. Peppering. (eye roll) Needless, IMHO, peppering.
What are your thoughts? Why do you think people are no longer careful with their writing? Do you think it matters? Do you care one way or another? Are you put off by liberal peppering? (I used liberal without a political slant.)
I am all ears…except for the nose, mouth, eyes….
8 thoughts on “A Rant (without any discernible political slant)”
Interesting. Could be an age thing. A few years back I took a screenwriting course at our local college and the 20-ish youth in that class used profanity liberally in dialogue. One day I brought this up and suggested that profanity was just being used to shock and writers who used it extensively simply lacked imagination to ignite the audience another way. The older folks in the class agreed with me, but the younger ones said they were writing how people talked. HOWEVER, I noticed that after this discussion, the amount of profanity in dialogues decreased dramatically. I think profanity, like animals in peril, is just a cheap way to get an emotional rise from the reader and often shows a lack of imagination by the writer. That’s my 2 cents. (PS. Sometimes profanity is appropriate like when you have a character who’s a good girl and gets fed up with being a doormat and exclaims F*** this s***. Then we’re rooting for her.)
I agree with your example I use the f-bomb in my writing (yesterday’s flash fiction for instance) and I use it to show a character’s emotion. Hopefully it resonates. 🙂
I do think people use it to sound tough or dangerous or cool, especially young people.
I also hear people say: that’s the way people talk. Last year I was vacationing next to a house being built. There were lots of carpenters, plumbers, builders of all kinds. I heard the f-bomb once, when a dropped something really heavy on his foot. If you don’t here it in construction…
I am an older person but I have been known to use profanity in my speech for most of my life. However I do not use it in my writing as I do not write fiction and F Bombs would have no place in the things I write about. I don’t mind it in dialogue but over use tends to dull the sense of it and a character who swears all the time tends to get boring.
Hopefully you don’t swear around your horses. They’re very sensitive. 😉
Never swear around my horse. He might swear back in the form of a swift kick!!
Can’t beat a well placed swear word to relieve, or create, tension. I occasionally employ hard language as a tool. The thing is, you have to be good at using bad language.
This is true. I think in fiction it can and certainly should be used to define a character.