“WHAT THE @#&^%$*!?” Frodo exclaimed as another orc tried to impale him.
Yeah, seems out of place doesn’t it? Frodo doesn’t swear.
However, in all liklihood, Mr. Baggins would have sworn a great deal as he left the Shire for the Cracks of Mount Doom, nearly dying numerous times and all the while fighting the power of the Ring.
I despise excessive swearing, more than Tom Cruise movies or leopard-print coats (well, maybe not that much). It’s disgusting and rude and it belittles the swearer’s intelligence and depth of vocabulary. Personally, I don’t swear. I was raised that way and keep friends (save one) who also keep their language clean. That’s who we are.
However, the characters in my head are not those type of people. They’re rough and occasionally lewd, with tongues that more likely than not unleash foul language. And, writers generally place their characters in situations that would elicit “#$@^%!” from even me.
Generally, the YA that I read (and as the most easy-to-access and accommodating genre, it’s what I mostly read) is completely clean, aside from slang like “hell,” “crap,” and “damn,” along with the vague ”she/he swore.” Books like the Wicked Lovely series go a bit higher, using frig, sh*t and even f*ck. And while I find swearing distasteful, in the mouths of these rock n’ roll characters it is acceptable, even adds to the authenticity of the person.
Then you have books like Kristin Cashore’s Fire, where her characters blurt out things like “ROCKS!” and “CLIFFS!” in frustration, or J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, where Ron’ll let out a bellowing, “MERLIN’S BEARD/PANTS/BAGGY Y-FRONTS!” There’s also Trumpkin of Lewis’ Narnia: “Beards and bedsteads!”
These are only ordinary words used in such a way that it’s considered slang, or even swearing, and we, the readers, understand what the author is trying to convey, even without the use of an ‘actual’ swear word.
I’m not comfortable using the F-bomb (despite the high usage it sees nowadays, especially by young people), but I feel like sh*t would be something my characters would appreciate, lol.
So as I’ve been pondering repulsive language, I’ve created three lists.
Swear/slang words I’m comfortable using in my writing:
- bitch/bastard (which in my opinion are acceptable words when used properly)
- sh*t (and I’m still on the fence about this one. It would be used sparingly)
- I’d love to incorporate “bollux” but unfortunately I think that’s too famous a British term to use in a fantasy novel. I can settle for daily usage.
Swear words I’m not comfortable using in my writing:
- everything that’s not in the first list
Words that my characters use as slang in their world:
- dragon’s teeth
- dragon balls (I use this in day-to-day situations. Try it. People’s faces are priceless.)
- *currently searching for more ideas*
Do your characters swear? Are you turned off by reading something with swear words in it?
May you have a @&#%*ing stupendous day and happy