Cursing a Blue Streak

Yesterday I happened across an article about Lori Foster’s upcoming release, Back in Black. Since I absolutely love (LOVE) those SBC guys, I’m eagerly anticipating this novel. The article, however, wasn’t so much about the book as it was about characters and how their language makes them more authentic. Specifically, how some characters’ use of “coarse” language makes them more genuine. You can read it here: http://bookclubs.barnesandnoble.com/t5/Unabashedly-Bookish/Type-Dirty-to-Me/ba-p/462476

Now, let me just begin by admitting something to you all: I swear like a sailor, or rather a sailor’s daughter. Yup, my stepdad who raised me, was in the Navy. I once told him that since he never got any tattoos, swore, or drank himself silly, I had to do it for him. It isn’t that I drop the F-bomb with every other word, but I do use it a lot. I’m sorry if this lowers me in some of your eyes, but it’s just the way I am.

When I’m reading, I’m not offended by the characters’ use of poor language. If anything, for me, it adds to the authenticity of the story. I imagine how I would react in similar situations and think, “Yes, I would definitely be screaming that word at that moment.” You’re walking along a dark, deserted street minding your own business (never mind that you shouldn’t be doing that in the first place because it’s stupid and dangerous). Some fiend (I do love that word), jumps out and accosts you. Do you scream “Oh my!”, or do you let loose with a big, fat “Fuuuuuu-“? (I’ll substitute my favorite word with “fudge”). The latter seems the obvious selection.

I understand a lot of people would rather not read/hear swearing. I respect their choice, and curb my tongue in their presence. However, when I’m reading, I don’t mind salty language. Yes, it’s coarse and, in some people’s opinions, the markings of a lack of education. Yet these words are part of language. They have roots in the history of our language.

Now, for those of you who think I’m completely uncouth, when I’m unable to use the language I’d prefer to, here are samples of my substitutions:

Son-of-a-biscuit-eater!
God bless America!
Fudge!
Fudgesicles and brownies! (when I’m really upset)
And then there are the foreign swear words I use when nothing but the real word will do. I wouldn’t say I pride myself with a large vocabulary of foreign swear words, but I can curse in German, French, and Spanish.

How about you? How do you feel about such language in books you read? For the writers, how do you feel about using them? Do you feel as though there’s a big no-no stamped on such language? What are some of your favorite non-swear words?

7 Comments

Filed under Writing

7 responses to “Cursing a Blue Streak

  1. I don’t use the F-bomb…ever. If you make me mad enough to consider this word, I usually already have a baseball bat in hand. 😉

    I don’t mind an appropriately placed swear words, and some of the words that most people consider offensive, I don’t even consider a swear word. (after all, what else are you gonna call poo? We left ‘doo-doo’ behind back in first grade.)

    What I don’t like is the author who wants to prove s/he is all grown up now, and uses this word every other sentence, just to prove s/he can use it. -.-

    • Valid point! If it doesn’t fit with the character, then no, I wouldn’t use it. However, if your character is the type who would use these words, then yes. As for the baseball bat…remind me never to make you mad! lol

  2. I hope in my books, it fits with the characters. 😉

    Thanks!

    Lori

  3. I have a character who uses colorful language. It adds to her personality. She’s amazing and she’s out there hanging out with agents right now. I hope she doesn’t offend them….
    I love Lori’s books. You should come to her conference in June. I will be doing a workshop on hero/heroine archetypes there.

    • Oh if I could…I’m already slated to go to Nationals (crossing my fingers for it) so there goes all my vacation time *sniff, sniff* And I think colorful language only adds depth to characters who have a reason for using it. Good luck on your subs!!

  4. I personally don’t like vulgar language although I have been known to let out a sh** when I’m really angry. I have a character, though, who uses every curse word in the book when she is scared or intimidated. She thinks they make her seem stronger in those situations. She uses the words as a wall she hides behind so that others won’t see how scared and lost she is, or won’t care even if they get a glimpse of her vulnerability.
    I think vulgar language as a character development aid has a place in fiction. If vulgar language is something a writer doesn’t want to write, she could make up a curse word for her character. Battlestar Galatica did it, why not a writer?
    “That’s famuggling right,” I hear someone say.

    Mariella Morgan

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