Hey everyone, time for a writing-related post, yay! Today, we’re going to talk about a topic that’d been coming up in a few of the writer’s groups I poke my nose into that didn’t seem to have a clear resolution: swearing.
Here’s what I feel is the unspoken rule on swearing in novels…don’t unless it’s necessary. You get to decide what’s necessary, of course, but be smart about it. If it’s a rough, gritty book and the main character is a foul-mouth, then sure, let it rip. You’re going to attract people who want to read the grit, lol. Just about anything else though, it’s not about modesty or how it reflects on you as a person. It’s just the same as if you had action, action, action, non-stop action or when you use exclamation points at the end of every bit of dialogue. People need a break. Swearing is high action in word form. An unnecessary excess of it seems over-dramatic, over-the-top, or too intense to a lot of readers.
This seems odd for writers to compare it like this though, because some will say, “I only did it once!”, but one unnecessary time is jarring to a reader, especially if they’re sensitive to it or not expecting it in your type of novel. If you want to have someone swear a lot (I have character like this myself), I’ve found the best way to do it is to show them reacting to whatever they’d be swearing about.
“Bob cursed at the table, holding his broken toe in both hands.”
“Suzie balled up her fists, turned red, and used words I’d never heard her say before. You can bet I’ll never come between her and her coffee like that poor waiter.”
You get the idea.
I hope that was helpful. If you have anything you want to add or disagree with, post in the comment section below.
Fear not, adorable dog pictures will resume next post!