I’ve been asked a lot of questions lately on my thoughts on lots of writing topics so it only seems fair that I should share them here with you as well. Today’s topic is about swear words–how to use them, when to use them, how many of them to use, their validity etc.
Here are my thoughts on this.
The first time I read a Jane Austen novel, I was utterly blown away by the depth of disgust, contempt, jealousy, rage and hatred she could portray and never a swear word was spoken. I always keep that in the back of my mind when writing and I try to hold myself to higher standards than I set in my real life.
In my life, I swear. But every year I try to stop (clearly, it’s a work in progress) because my feeling is that, basically, it’s lazy and unnecessary. And, also, any moment now my toddler will begin saying the same words back to me. Which is interesting, isn’t it? We all know we shouldn’t swear around children and we’re alarmed when we hear a five-year-old spouting off a litany of words that make us blush. But somehow the rules change as adults?
As I get older, fewer swear words appear in my writing. I will use them sparingly for impact where I feel it’s validated. But I think there are so many more ways to show character other than via swear words. The way they act and, of course, what they think, is arguably more important. As a writer, I feel it’s my job to dig deeper. If I’m relying on lots of swear words then maybe I haven’t gotten down to the true crux of what I’m trying to say. If I see a swear word in my manuscript, then I ask myself if that is really what’s necessary there or whether I just haven’t worked hard enough.