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My bleeping problem with bleeping profanity

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Androxine Vortex, Mar 31, 2015.

  1. When I first started getting into writing, I was in middle school. I was working on a spy-fi piece, and I was trying to make it as realistic as I could. Granted, I was only twelve, so I didn't quite have as much understanding of the world of espionage as I sort of do now. I was no Ian Fleming.

    But, because I was trying to make it as real as I understood, I knew I would have to include profane language. The problem was, I was twelve, so I wasn't permitted to say those words by my father (I'm nineteen now and still not able to say those words.) So, as I was beginning to write the story, I had approached my dad and asked if I would be allowed to use obscenities in my writing. He allowed it, saying "People swear. And to ignore that in your writing just wouldn't do your work justice. You may use profanities in your work. But you must not go overboard, and under no circumstances are you to drop any f-bombs. And just because I allow you to write these words, that doesn't mean I am giving you permission to say them."

    It's been seven years, and I still follow his rules.
  2. studentofrhythm

    studentofrhythm Minstrel

    I can't believe nobody's mentioned Firefly's creative cussing: "go ram it," "rutting," "we're humped" etc. Not to mention all the Chinese. But they can lay that on a bit thick too. I'm reading The Stormlight Archive now and getting mighty tired of the frequency with which all the characters keep exclaiming "Storms!"

    No, Gandalf doesn't drop F-bombs, but Tolkien's orcs say "damn" at least once, and his trolls say "hell."

    Cursing in a fantasy setting is an opportunity for exposition: what are this society's taboos, its values? What does it mean to break the taboos and subvert the values? What values and taboos are shared by some people and rejected by others? What class structures are enforced thereby? It's also a good opportunity for playing with language. As long as it's not overdone.
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2015
  3. MineOwnKing

    MineOwnKing Maester

    I think the use of profanity has to be judged on a case by case basis. One novel cannot set the bar for another.

    It might depend on the voice and style of the author, but I think some subgenres of Fantasy are more suited to profanity than others.

    Personally I feel like I'm not writing to the best of my ability when profanity slips in.

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