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Use of Profanity



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Tue Dec 24, 2013 7:38 am
Sylar says...



Most of the time it's just immature and annoying, for the stuff I've read on YWS with language, it didn't add context
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Sat Dec 28, 2013 10:30 pm
Stori says...



Quick response: Don't ever do what Robert Bakker did in Raptor Red. At some point in the book he decided to use curse words for absolutely no reason. There was no dialog, as this was a piece about a Utahraptor.

I don't see anything mature about the use of profanity. Rather, it shows gaps in one's vocabulary.

Incidentally, what do you guys think of writing "he swore" in place of the actual curse word(s) used?
  





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Sun Dec 29, 2013 1:30 am
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CowLogic says...



I think saying "he swore" is much better than pretending the words don't exist, so that's pretty good.
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Mon Jan 06, 2014 1:20 am
comrie says...



In dialogue, I think it's fine.

In everything else (descriptions, narration, etc), I don't think it's fine.
  





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Mon Jan 06, 2014 1:46 am
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JohnLocke1 says...



In my opinion, it is all about what the story needs. It is about what you, as a writer, believe that your writing requires. If it happens to be a curse word, who am I to say that it was tasteless?
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Sat Jan 25, 2014 4:16 pm
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Auxiira says...



I for one cannot claim in any way to have a clean mouth. I swear like a trooper some days. So I think that it is sometimes needed to make dialogue more credible. However, we don't have to use standard curses. I mean, for the fantasy writers here, we're capable of creating a world, with creatures no one has ever thought of, and languages people don't understand. So why can't we create inventive curses to go with that. I've read quite a few books with this, and it actually works really well! As a reader, you don't feel as insulted as you maybe would be if they were swearwords from "our world", but the reactions of the characters on the receiving end tells you it's as bad as some of ours. So in fantasy at least, let's be a little creative with it!
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Sun Jan 26, 2014 6:18 pm
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SetSytes says...



'Bad' language, when in a suitable place, can be really great. But then I'm biased, I use it a lot in my stories... Some characters were just born to talk dirty.
  





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Sun Feb 09, 2014 4:30 am
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brassnbridle says...



I personally feel that profanity is unnecessary most of the time. I don't find it enjoyable to read and usually feel that it's the easiest short-cut for an author. A creative writer can effectively write a piece to give off the desired emotions and feelings without just sticking a few swear words in. Totally personal opinion, of course, but that's the way I see it.
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Sun Feb 09, 2014 4:36 am
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Zolen says...



Humans are not all pure and clean, they do not all talk with perfect English, or censor themselves for children. It feels strange and artificial when stories use no profanity. There are stories where it makes sense, like when the characters are mostly small children, but very few teen/adult can truly claim they have never "cursed" when stressed, a few might avoid it, but not everyone censors themselves all that well.
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Sun Feb 09, 2014 4:37 am
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Cole says...



I think among some authors, profanity is overused just because they want to be 'edgy'. However, when used appropriately, I think profanity can definitely make a character feel authentic.
  





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Tue Feb 18, 2014 4:15 pm
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horrendous says...



i've read stories that make proper and improper use of profanity. there's no cut-and-dry "profanity is right/wrong" argument that has validity. curses are JUST WORDS and only hold negative influence if the reader/hearer associates the word negatively. now some words are obviously going to be offensive no matter what, but any curse can serve a purpose in the right context. curses can add a lot of emphasis to character dialogue and showcase emotions that a line of dialogue might not otherwise convey.

"I hate you."

"I _______ hate you, you _______."

insert the appropriate curse words that you see fit and tell me which line of dialogue projects the speaker's hate better?

however, curses that are used for no apparent purpose and just thrown in for the heck of it are very, very lame. they bog down any story.

in short, profanity itself is not bad, but how its used can make your story either better or worse.
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adjective: shockingly dreadful; horrible
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Tue Feb 18, 2014 10:27 pm
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CowLogic says...



What is strange is the fact that you guys keep mentioning that authors use them just to be edgy. I don't think I've come across this at all within literature. To me, they are always used for realism and diction purposes. Unless you guys are specifically talking about works on this site?
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Thu Jan 29, 2015 10:26 am
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TriSARAHtops says...



Thought I'd revive this thread and restart the conversation.

The fact is, people swear. Whatever you think of profanity, you can't deny that swearing is, to varying degrees, a part of most people's lexicons. So why shouldn't that be true of fiction? Obviously intended audience/characters involved plays a role in whether a work contains swearing, but if you are trying to create a realistic world, whether that means emulating our own or presenting one of your own imagining, having characters who swear can be a part of that.

As someone who has a number of potty-mouthed characters who seem intent on making sure all the works I post on YWS have an 18+ rating, I don't think that including expletives in their dialogue (narration is more of a grey area, but I'll get onto that) is at all lazy. Not everybody is eloquent in real life - they don't take the time to articulately convey their thoughts and emotions in perfect, thought-out sentences. Some people are, and good on them, but most of us do swear from time to time, and therefore I have characters who swear, in various degrees of frequency. It's a part of their personality, just like any colloquialisms or slang they use.

Whether or not a character swears can also be used as an awesome tool to provoke a specific response from the reader. The constantly swearing character might be seen as rude, or have a a rougher personality. Really, the inclusion of expletives can play the exact same role as any other element of a character's vocabulary. Plus, just like with the rest of language, it is possible to play around with profanities, to use them creatively and form derivatives of them. In some cases, I've seen swearing used in a way that adds so much to a characters dialogue, giving it way more entertainment value (best example of this that I can think of is Ronan Lynch in Maggie Stiefvater's Raven Cycle books). How a character swears can contribute as much to character development as whether or not they swear.

I've seen a few posts that say it's okay in dialogue but not in narration, however I disagree with that to a certain degree. In some cases, I think swearing can have a place in narration, if it's a first person POV and the narrator is somebody who would swear in dialogue. I don't think profanity would really work in narration otherwise, but in the above scenario, when it is a part of the character's voice. I just feel as though it would be weird (I'm talking about a character who swears reasonably often in dialogue, just for the record) if you have a character who swears in dialogue to speak in an entirely different way in narration.

None of this is saying that profanity should be overused, rather that it can be a very effective tool in developing the way your,character speaks. Just m opinion, at least.

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Thu Jan 29, 2015 10:38 pm
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CowLogic says...



Exactamundo!
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Thu Jan 29, 2015 11:52 pm
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Mea says...



I agree with a lot of what's been said here about how profanity can definitely be used for a purpose in writing.

Also, while I do agree in principle that swearing is something many, many people do on a regular basis, and thus it is unrealistic to not have it, my personal dislike of it colors my view. After all, there are plenty of people who don't swear (except maybe when the situation's really extreme)- like everyone I hang out with. So depending on the main characters and the context, there are definitely entire books that have great justification for little to no swear words.

I can easily read and enjoy books with minor swearing, but if it gets to be a lot, it just becomes distracting and I really don't like it.

A great example of a book that was ruined for me by all the swearing was "The Time Traveler's Wife." The f-bomb was used so much, usually at least once a page, that it turned a cool twist on romance to something that made me feel distinctly uncomfortable every time I picked it up. At that point, for me, I don't care how unrealistic it is for them to not be swearing, I just don't want to read it.

I am a supporter of saying "he swore," though. And I love it when fantasy authors make up their own swear words.

Also, a semi-random sidenote, people that try not to swear still have their own branch of "profanity" (a.k.a what they say when they're irritated/upset), so that's something you can use in writing. They also tend to be pretty creative and weird ("Oh my flipping darn" is one that comes to mind). Plus, doing that adds as much character to the person as swearing would to another character, perhaps even more so.
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