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View Full Version : Proper time for profanity?



melaniehoo
08-25-2007, 08:01 PM
I'm new to the LSW game and I'm stuck on when to use profanity. I've been attempting to keep it clean, but there are some stories that just need the F word for full impact. So far I've included it once and it's jarring. (I can easily add more to solve that problem).

Words of advice? My biggest hurdle is that it's my story I'm telling, so it's me doing all the swearing. I'm not a particularly vulgar person, but we all have our moments. :)

johnrobison
08-25-2007, 08:33 PM
I think you should start by writing things as you'd say them, and go from there.

If the result is moderate, leave it alone.

If the result is so vile and disgusting that outlaw bikers would cringe, it needs moderation.

melaniehoo
08-25-2007, 08:35 PM
Agreed. I'm trying to follow the rule of thumb to just write and worry about editing later, but my fingers trip on a select few.

Deirdre
08-27-2007, 10:40 AM
Tell that inner censor to shut the feck up. ;)

Tymolee
08-27-2007, 06:19 PM
I agree with Johnrobinson on this one... Write it down and edit if necessary.

I have to add, when I write LSW if I'm cursing like a sailor for one reason or another, I may just write that I cursed like a sailor rather than putting down exactly what I said...

For example, if I stubbed a toe or something, I'll write "I stubbed my toe and spit out a few choice words that would make my gram blush if she heard me." That sort of thing. Rather than "That F-ing stupid... blah blah blah".

Of course, my LSW is more or less related to humorous stories about my kid, so cursing is kept to a minimum for more impact... but I can see how in other LSW it would be appropriate to have a lot of cursing.

melaniehoo
08-27-2007, 08:21 PM
if I'm cursing like a sailor for one reason or another, I may just write that I cursed like a sailor rather than putting down exactly what I said...

That's what I did at first at it but it lost some impact. Here's the line in question:

I whirled on him. "I am so sick of you treating me like a f--king prostitute!"
Lucky for me no one in the house, let alone the neighborhood, speaks English.

I do appreciate all the input. I'll just fight the censors and let it flow. :)

Melisande
08-28-2007, 03:09 AM
Maybe you should try to get creative with the cursing. Instead of using the infamous F-word all the time you could find other words of 'power'. There are plenty, and fun to use.

melaniehoo
08-29-2007, 11:03 PM
In other words, challenge myself as a writer. Good advice.

Gracias. :)

dclary
08-31-2007, 01:12 AM
Just like cooking for company.

Pepper your language to spice it up -- to the tastes of your audience. Boys Life and Reader's Digest is going to be much more adverse to language than Men's Health or The Atlantic.

Citizen Rob
08-31-2007, 02:36 AM
When I submitted by memoir to my publisher, I had a whopping ten or twelve f-bombs, which is perhaps a lot for a parenting memoir. When I submitted the final edit two weeks ago, it was down to a crucial three.

Remember that in the case of profanity, it's not just an issue of "how much is too much", but also sometimes "less is more". Do you want your audience to become numb to the profanity? Perhaps that's appropriate, if you're writing a gritty story that takes place on rough streets. Or maybe you want to use them sparingly, so that when they come, they arrive like a slap in the face.

Write your manuscript, work without your internal editor turned on, and then when you are doing your endless re-reads, you'll ask yourself, as with any other word choices, if your choices serve the story you're telling. But I agree with others. Tell that story first.

melaniehoo
08-31-2007, 02:40 AM
Thank you, again.

In this particular case I'm going more for the slap in the face. Also, since I'm writing my personal story, part of me feels I should be true to what I actually said. I don't use it much in my normal conversations, so it won't be overrun with F-bombs.

Citizen Rob
08-31-2007, 02:42 AM
Heh, I had to tone mine down from my actual language. I am apparently a nasty man.

melaniehoo
08-31-2007, 02:44 AM
Ask me a couple years ago and I'd be in the same boat. It was a new year's resolution a few years back...

Although now that I'm in the land of spanish-speakers I find them slipping out more often.