I swear. Actually I swear a lot, perhaps too much. I do refrain from swearing at work (unless I'm in the back room) and try not to swear (too much) in front of my father. So when is swearing acceptable, needed in writing?

I don't ever swear when writing for children, do occasionally on a young adult work---it all depends on the character and the situation they are in. My adult characters do swear on occasion and I have sometimes, notice the sometimes, sworn in some of my poetry.

So what stops me?

I swear in reality so why am I hesitant to use profane language in my writing?

It's because I think it is so highly over used and in about ninety percent of the time, not needed.

In my opinion there is nothing worse in a book to be pulled out by one of the characters beginning to sound like a smart mouthed twelve year old using every word he knows (unless of course that is what he is)- but even this sort of character doesn't need to have a F or C or S word used as a noun in every sentence.

To me it loses impact- loses any sense of reason and character trait if used too much. It's like reading a novel with the main character talking in a thick accent the whole way through- you either struggle through or give up...it becomes too hard..too over the top.

We all know the humour when a small child uses one of those 'bad' words for the first time. We giggle, we shake our heads because we know they have no idea what it means. But what happens when the child continues to use the word, over and over and over again?

A while a go we had a small child in a pusher, trying to grab things off the shelves and saying the F word, over and over again. Loudly. Very loudly.  We ended up going to the mother, who seemed either unconcerned or totally blase about it, and explained that they were in a public area and this sort of language- from anyone- is not acceptable.  She became annoyed and left, taking the child, who was still yelling this word, with her.

I think the question needed to be asked is why are you swearing?

Is it the character?

Is it the situation?

Are you merely going for shock value?

Can remember being at a poetry gig (and there is usually a lot of swearing at spoken word and frankly when used well it strengthens a piece) when a poet who had previously done some quite innocent and 'pretty' poems read one that made me, and the majority of the audience cringe.  It was simply a string of words used to shock us----and you could tell the words felt strange on the poet's tongue.

Good writing should be able to stand alone. And consider why you are putting those words in...what are you telling us about the character, the story?

If you are simply trying to be clever....why bother?


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