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Swearing in writing.

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Aidan of the tavern, Feb 19, 2015.

  1. TheCatholicCrow

    TheCatholicCrow Inkling

    I really like the idea of looking at other cultural forms of swearing/obscenities

    In Spanish "Puta Madre" technically means your mom's a beyotch but it's used more or less the same as you would SOB

    Some cultures have a tendency to not only include bodily emphasis but also connect it to animals.... things like "screw a pig" or "ride a donkey", "you're mom's a cow", "monkey sh!t", etc. this works best with animals that are considered particularly dirty or are associated with the lower class/peasantry who keep them (farm animals give rise to sayings like "chicken sh!t" + variations of the ones above).

    In addition to offensive language you might also consider offensive gestures (flipping someone off, biting your thumb, the iconic Italian gestures, the British index & middle finger [similar to peace sign], sign language hand under chin etc.) ... or even just sticking a tongue out which is a more juvenile but also irritating approach which basically expresses the same sentiments.
  2. joshwolf

    joshwolf Acolyte

    When I'm writing urban fantasy, I tend to have characters who swear A LOT, probably because I grew up around people who cursed without thinking about it. I usually pare it way down in revision. Less is more. I also find it's useful to have only one or two characters who use really colorful curses, so it doesn't become overkill. You can often show how one character is beginning to rub off on another if they pick up some of their unique oaths, especially if two people from different cultures swear really differently. It's one of those things, like food, that defines a culture, right?
  3. buyjupiter

    buyjupiter Maester

    Normally I make do with normal Earth swearing, when I use it--which I do often enough. The normal words and combinations of the normal words.

    But in the most recent WIP, I've taken to making up oaths. They're not very pleasant (referring to setting the God of Death's body parts on fire in a particularly grisly kind of way, but for humorous effect), and there are short forms for the longer oaths as well.

    I did write the opening of the WIP just to use the oath and the footnotes that accompanied the oath, because it was funny and I think it sets the tone for the rest of the book.

    Is it cheesy? Maybe. But I also think that the level of thought I put into something as "simple" as swearing/cursing gives a lot more depth to the society in a very quick, off-hand, normative way. In other words, I could spend two or three chapters conveying the same amount of background information, or I can go for the cheap laugh.
  4. My swearing depends on both character and setting. If it is in a non-earth setting I generally make up my own swears. In my earth like setting I use regular swears and other quasi-swears that fit with the time period I am working with. I only have a problem with swearing if it pulls me out of the story. Otherwise they're just words to me.

    As a good example of good contextual swears I generally refer to Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn (rust and ruin being a form of dammit) or to Robert Jordan.
  5. AnxietyDragon

    AnxietyDragon Acolyte

    Depends on the target audience. I'm writing something that is 'all ages' at the moment, and I'm really struggling not to swear in it! I've always used swearing to convey strong emotions, and it can be used really effectively if done well.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 18, 2015

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