When I was revising my novel, I realized that I used a few swear words. Okay, a fair lot. They come mostly from my male characters, when they’re furious or anxious.
But what’s funny, is that in real life, I hate swearing. I tell my children off should they drop the F bomb by mistake or say any other rude word. It doesn’t happen often, since they know my view on this. My six-year-old even remarks on people who swear, whether on telly or in the street “they said a naughty word, Mummy”.
I don’t swear myself (or I have to be in a really, really bad mood, and even then I feel bad after I said it.)
So why do I use those words so readily in my writing?
I have pondered about that for a while. And the only thing that came to mind, was how in putting myself in the shoes of a character, I see them talk this way. Not all my characters swear. Some would be mortified to, like the real me.
But the ones who do use offensive language, are the ones who let their emotions fly right in your face. The ones who can’t care less what people think of them, or the ones who lose it and let the words come out without restriction.
I remember the first time I read JR Ward, and her Black Dagger Brotherhood series. I don’t know if the curses are still rife since I gave up on the series after Lover at Last, but I was shocked at the amount of bad language at first. Then of course, I fell into the world of those larger than life vampires, and suddenly those profanities melted and mixed in with the overall atmosphere. They still appeared on the page, but they didn’t jump at me anymore.
It helps that my target audience is adults. If I was writing YA, I would draw back on those words, not because the characters wouldn’t fit the profile of someone not using them (teenagers not swearing? Riiiight), but because I’d rather not bombard a twelve year old with curses. Call this the motherly instinct in me.
And what about the characters’private parts? To me, one of the most difficult choice to make. What do you call those things, without falling into the overly vulgar, sickly sweet or childishly funny trap?!
I’ve noticed I use more offensive terms for men’s anatomy than I do women. But I have yet to find words that don’t sound too clinical, graphic or unsexy, to use outside of a sex scene. A happy medium of sort, when I want to show that the..*cough*…womb raider…is happy to see the heroine for the first time, for example. Know what I mean? I can’t always use “himself”, “between her legs”. Sometimes, I need a specific word to vary my sentences, and nothing like Veinous Maximus or Tampon Tunnel (ewwww!).
What do you think of swear words in novels?