P Is For Profanity
I guess I should preface this with the fact that I very rarely swear. I confess to indulging when I was a teenager. Often, in fact, but not for a very long time. My husband doesn’t either. At least, not around me. I think the strongest word I’ve ever heard my mother say was shit. And that was one time. My father doesn’t use profanity around me either. But I suspect it might be a different story for my brother.
That doesn’t mean I think using them is right or wrong. They are words like any other. To use. Or not. Having said that, there are words that will never ever cross my lips or spill from my pen.
The reading stretch I’m on now has a decided lack of profanity. And it’s given me new reasons not to indulge in too much of it. I am loving the books I’ve been reading lately.
I think overuse dilutes the impact of cursing when it’s necessary. For myself, it’s a crutch I try not to use but I do indulge in. I never want it to come easily. Obscenities are like cheap wine, too much and it leaves a nasty taste in your mouth. I find that by rewriting and omitting, a more powerful way to convey the emotion I’m reaching for is possible and often more effective. And it’s lots of fun to develop creative ways for characters to insult each other than the obvious and the cliched.
But sometimes f-bombs and the like are necessary. They are words used by characters when developed convincingly are warranted. Too much profanity makes for exhausting reading. But I have characters that swear for reasons that I hope are evident, but swear they do.
You might enjoy this article from the Writers Digest: How To Use Profanity And Other Raw Talk In Your Fiction.
What is your reading or writing preference? To swear, or not to swear?