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Use of Profanity



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Mon Dec 23, 2013 4:38 am
CowLogic says...



What do ya'll think of the use of profanity in fiction. Do you think it adds maturity and realism, or do you think it's unnecessary or offensive? Discuss, man.
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Mon Dec 23, 2013 4:52 am
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yubbies21 says...



I think that, depending on the genre and mood of the story, it can be effective. In other places, it can be vulgar and quite unnecessary. Say, in a dark, teen-fiction story, some profanity may be appropriate. But in a light-hearted comedy, it probably isn't...But of course, it all depends on your point of view.
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Mon Dec 23, 2013 4:54 am
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RachelLeeAnn says...



I feel it depends on circumstance.
I do not like when authors just throw random profanity into a piece when it is completely unnecessary, only trying to "add maturity" to their story. I don't believe it does them any good.

However, I do think that if the profanity is pertinent to showing the personality of a character, have at it. If the language this character uses helps display the kind of person they are, I feel it can be very useful.
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Mon Dec 23, 2013 5:10 am
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Iggy says...



It all depends on the story, or rather, the dialogue.

The use of profanity when it's not in dialogue is rather tasteless. It makes me lose faith in the author and his/her writing abilities. Using the f-bomb to describe a school as the setting? Why, when you could use so many other adjectives? That type of profanity makes me put the book down and walk away.

Now, I'm all for profanity in dialogue. I love to use it to its advantages. Watching the people around me talk, I learned that some people have become so accustomed to cursing that they use the f-bomb randomly, or abuse it.

A nice example would be yesterday, when my almost two year old brother and I were in McDonalds, waiting for my mom to finish shopping. In come these two older ladies, one of which looked like a druggie, and sat behind me. They start talking about something that agitates druggie lady and she starts ranting, using the f-bomb for every other word. She must have used it at least five times in one sentence. So I moved, because I didn't want to hear that, I didn't want my brother to hear that, and I'm sure the kids and their parents sitting in front of me definitely didn't want to hear it.

My point is that cursing in dialogue is awesome. Go for it, I say. But don't overdo it and definitely make sure it fits the purpose of both the scene and the character.
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Mon Dec 23, 2013 5:12 am
BadNarrator says...



aww, you guys said it before I could.

but yea, it all depends on the context. the way it is used can portray a character as either hardened by life experience or childishly naive. it should not, however, be used for the sole purpose of being edgy. this will make the work come across as cheap and shallow.

incidentally, not using profanity can actually ruin suspension of disbelief in some situations.
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Mon Dec 23, 2013 8:52 pm
CowLogic says...



Personally, I don't think profanity should be overused, as it would diminish the effect, and like @Iggy said, it shouldn't be used in narration often, unless your narration itself is molded into a dialogue.

However, when it comes down to it, they are color words, used for higher emphasis due to their arbitrary condemnation. I know that my friends and I, and basically everyone I know my age, use cuss words in day to day life, well, a lot. So like @BadNarrator says, it's pretty necessary to use them in dialogue if you want to maintain a realistic setting.

What do you think about purposely using profanity in order to desensitize the audience/not allow the word any intrinsic meaning? Do you think that this could be a legitimate claim?
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Mon Dec 23, 2013 9:03 pm
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TimmyJake says...



I would have to agree with @Iggy for the most part. I don't think using the F-bomb does anything, anytime. Even if its a druggie, they could use different words. And honestly, a person can be still believable and evil with out the use of that word.
As for describing a setting, unless its in a narrative story, and even then, I don't think it adds anything. It actually draws away, I think. People focus on the word and not the story. I don't read stories that are filled with excessive profanity, cause a story is supposed to be enjoyable, right? :P
Saying that, I have read a few stories and heard of so much more that were really awesome, even with the profanity. If the profanity hadn't been in there, I kind of wonder if it would have been a more enjoyable read, or not. Sometimes some profanity is needed to show the reader that, yes, the character is VERY upset! Just saying dang it! doesn't do it justice the majority of the time.
That's my two cents, anyways!! :D
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Mon Dec 23, 2013 9:11 pm
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Zolen says...



Depends on the story, profanity is a highlight, an aid in expressing someones character, just like any other word, to be used by the darker characters in more violent and adult themed writings. It can highlight an aggressive means of speech, shock, fear, rage to show those personality traits, to expose a "real person".

Artist of the written word should not censor themselves as long as they have good reasons for the choice, just as you need a reason for any choice.
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Tue Dec 24, 2013 12:32 am
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CowLogic says...



I agree with @Zolen. I don't necessarily have a problem with the words at all. But just like other words, diction is to be processed with variation, so overuse is bad.
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Tue Dec 24, 2013 12:41 am
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EloquentDragon says...



Keep in mind that it actually might take more skill to craft realistic dialogue without using profanity. From experience I speak, young padawan. Sentences must be restructured, you have do to a lot more showing as opposed to telling. Now, I'm mostly referring to when you write for children. I can remember when I picked up a "young" readers historical novel from the library once, and in the first chapter I was exposed to "b----," "d---" "h---," among other things. It was offensive, and not something I was expecting. Now obviously, kids cuss just as much as adults do nowadays. But an author still has a responsibility to their audience. To censor stuff from young eyes/ears and to create compelling, realistic characters without the use of profanity.

Those are my two cents.

Ps, it annoys me when people cuss in conversation. I can understand if you slam a box on your finger or crash into a door or something, but not when you use it as an adjective, verb, noun, adverb, and modifier. ;) Learn how to communicate without using crutches, seriously people.
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Tue Dec 24, 2013 12:54 am
CowLogic says...



What makes the essential difference between a "crutch," as you say, and just any other word. What about "the?" By your standards, it would take more skill to construct sentences without "the" so you should stop leaning on a crutch and not use it?

And why shouldn't kids be exposed to this language? Will it make their ears wilt?
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Tue Dec 24, 2013 1:18 am
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dragonfphoenix says...



I believe what @EloquentDragon was trying to say was not so much "crutch" as "total absence of vocabulary." Seriously, people, if you haven't read 1984 and its appendix on the 'destruction of language,' you're missing out on a valuable education on the power of words.

@CowLogic
You know as well as I that intense heat or acid will cause ears to melt, not language. Now, I believe that by the Objective Standard profanity shouldn't be used at all, but to answer your question, I don't think the pragmatic view of "they're going to encounter it sooner or later" is the best position to hold. We have a moral responsibility to propagate good in this world, and intentionally exposing kids to profanity doesn't do that.
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Tue Dec 24, 2013 1:21 am
CowLogic says...



Who says profanity has to be bad though? If we desensitize people to it, then it loses its effect, it's "bad" effect. Wouldn't the world be better off if there we no arbitrary "bad words?"
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Tue Dec 24, 2013 1:23 am
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fortis says...



I find it unnecessary, as you can find other words to use. I have literally never sworn in my life, so I figure my characters can do the same.
Basically, I don't swear because my church has recommended that we are clean in all things, including our language. But my faith doesn't specify using bad language in creative writing. I know what their answer would be: "Do what you think is pleasing to the Lord."
So yes, I don't really think there's a need for it, but I understand why people do it, and I don't mind too much.
And I don't think very young kids should be exposed to it, just because they will be very confused, and the parents will be put in a tight spot.
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Tue Dec 24, 2013 1:41 am
EloquentDragon says...



Who says profanity has to be bad though? If we desensitize people to it, then it loses its effect, it's "bad" effect. Wouldn't the world be better off if there we no arbitrary "bad words?"


Then we wouldn't have a need for them at all.

I think that all things should be taken in moderation. Just like you wouldn't take your five year old to an R-rated movie, you wouldn't want to expose him to those same kinds of things in a book.

So, as I said before, it really depends on the audience.
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