Friday, 15 August 2008

I swear…

I will admit that I swear. It’s wrong, it's naughty and its bad but there it is. Though, I am selective in my swearing. I don't swear around people I do not know - unless threatened - nor do I swear without reason. Reason you ask? Is there ever a reason to swear? Well, yes – I believe so. My opinion is that sometimes a good swear can be cathartic. It gets out all the pent up anger. It call also be kind of funny sometimes. Often my best friend Ethel will let out a stream of swearing - words she makes up - generally to do with male genitalia - and it's so funny that I just laugh. With her it's a tension breaker. However swearing for the sake of swearing? Nope I don’t agree with it.

Ever see the movie Four Weddings and a Funeral where Hugh Grant is running late for a wedding and he swears continuously? To me that's not swearing that bothered me - but then it may have upset others. It was swearing I can identify with. I often use that same stream of words when I am running late too. I also tend to use 'bloody' and 'oh crap' a lot but to me that's not swearing. I also like to use
'son of a motherless goat.'

So what is my point you ask? Swearing in books. Do you like it? Hate it? Think it's necessary? In one of my books when it was in editing - I think it was
Mad About Mirabelle - it was pointed out to me that if the hero was impatiently trying to get to the heroine and obstacles were in his way he would hardly be polite about overcoming them and that showing that impatience through 'stronger words' would work. My editor was right…and no she did not suggest I let loose with a bunch of swear words. Up until then I rarely had my characters swearing. Again I think it's because I did not know my audience and I did not swear around people I did not know. So yeah, now I will put the odd swear words in if appropriate. But I think there is a fine line to what is appropriate in romance. To me, swear words from an evil villain is okay. The hero or heroine swearing back at him is okay. And sometimes it can be hot and when two lovers use the 'f' when they are making love or about to.

My parents never swore around us as we were growing up. Of course as kids we swore because ours peers did. I always remember my older brother going to dob (tattle) on me to mum and dad on me for swearing. Unfortunately for him I had dirt on him so it was a case of make me look bad and I'll make you look worse. Kids huh? My mother only ever swore once around me and it actually shocked me. Why? Because she had never said the 'f' word before so when it came out I just looked at her stunned. I always remember her face after she said it - she smiled sweetly and said 'I bet you thought I'd never use that word' -
well no.

So - to swear or not to swear in your books? Do you? Do you want to read swearing? Is there a level of swearing you find acceptable or is swearing flat out wrong?
Go ahead: Live with abandon. Be outrageous at any age. What are you saving your best self for?


barbara huffert said...

Yes, I admit it. I swear too. The worst when I've dropped something on my toes, generally anatomically impossible combinations. I let my characters run free at first to get a feel for their personal flavors and then reign them in as needed.

Anny Cook said...

Swearing... when it's in character. For instance two guy in a bad situation are most likely gonna swear. A guy with a woman, not as likely to swear. A woman alone in a bad situation might use swear words, but probably different ones from the guys...

I really try to let my characters speak for themselves.

Anika Hamilton said...

I swear sometimes, but it sounds weird when I do.

I don't like to put it in my work either, I have changed the words using something milder when my character starts having hissy fits.

Cindy Spencer Pape said...

I'm with ANny. Whatever fits the character and the situation. Otherwise it just doesn't read as real.

Regina Carlysle said...

Hm. This is a good question. Yes. My characters swear when appropriate. Sometimes it's just a one-word expletive or something involved with a sex scene. Personally,I think erotica readers expect edgier stuff and a total lack of cuss words isn't needed. Every now and then...yes, it's more real.