I swear! Or do I?

NOTE this one is sort of NSFW, I did sensor though.

I got a review recently suggesting to add a profanity to my book. I’m not a prude by any means, I can be foul-mouthed when appropriate. I didn’t think the scene necessarily needed one. The biggies are not in my book and I haven’t given much thought to adding them… yet.

When reviewed by a professional I was told my writing is borderline Young Adult and New Adult. That the writing style and content could swing either way. Not a bad thing I was assured. This means I am open to a wider market. Huh. Okay so what to do about swearing?  At this point I think I’ll leave it out. Now it’s been brought to my attention I will have to think more on this. What is acceptable? What isn’t? Does it even matter anymore? Given the content and settings of my story I wont be adding them anytime soon, perhaps in the second book when things get a little more dangerous and the antagonists step it up a few notches.

This doesn’t mean my characters don’t drop some colourful expletives, I had one drop a few but I eluded to it in a very humorous way instead of just putting it out there. I also had another cut someone off mid F-bomb to make a point on their behavior.

This has me pondering, should I stick a couple in? It’s totally possible, but is it necessary?

Now I know this is a touchy subject and for those that might be sensitive I’ll respect that and sensor this list that was partially derived from Ofcom.

Worst offenders




Sort of bad, but common

Assh%le  (IMO this belongs a bit higher on the list)
B&lls (This might be a personal issue, I don’t see a problem with it)
P!ssed/p!ssed off  (Not sure this is so bad?)
S%n of a b!tch

Meh, more of a personal or religious issue here. I personally don’t touch religious ones.

Jes*s Chr!st

Swearing can be tricky if you are writing young adult, too much and parents might object, too little and the teens will roll their eyes. That’s not to say it MUST be included. It doesn’t, unless realistically the scene would call for it.

Here is how I avoid them.

Partial omission:

Son of a…  You can add any word/descriptive or leave the dots. “Son of a blowfly.” Depending on the character it could be funny. essentially a blowflies son is a maggot. So its a win-win in the insult department.

Her body reacted instantly to his touch. “Oh Fu-” Her words lost in his mouth as he pulled her closer.

The casual reference:

Sasha slammed her food down, the screeching of the tires drowned out her colourful string of expletives. Less than an inch of space remained between the car that nearly hit hers and her bumper.

Sasha tripped on the threshold, smashing her elbow on the mahogany console table by the door.
“Watch your mouth young lady.”
“It freaking hurts mom!” She seethed and rubbed her injured arm.
“None the less a lady does not speak such words, especially not in my house.”
Sasha rolled her eyes and mouthed the words at her mothers back in spite.

The substitution:

“Oh Firetruck!”
“You’re twenty six Anne you can say the actual word you know.” Sasha giggled at her friend.

“No, I wouldn’t date him again he’s a total Duckhead.”
“Seriously Anne, you quack me up!” Sasha snickered into her hand.

The PG Sillies:

Sasha scrunched her face at Cal. “Ugh. You’ve got poop for brains.”
“Oh my dear goodness no! Not poop for brains.” He held his side as he laughed.

“Smarten up or I’ll kick you in the tenders.” Valery crossed her arms as Dale guffawed.
“Tenders…” He walked away wiping his eyes.

The aftereffect:

Cal handed Sasha a glass of water. “I had no idea you even knew those sorts of words.”
She sniffled. “Sorry, I was scared.”

Cal waited for Sasha to calm down and sit. “You curse like an unsupervised drunk tween at their first party.” Cal chuckled.
“Don’t piss me off then.” Sasha pouted with her arms crossed. “I’m on the verge of raising the PG rating of this conversation significantly.”
“I doubt you could take it any higher.” He sat beside her chuckling softly. “On second thought, I would love to hear you try.”
“You’re annoying you know that Detective?”
“I try.” He laughed at her poor attempt to stifle a laugh of her own.

The thesaurus translation:

“You don’t have to be such a Donkey-sphincter about it Val.” Anne pouted as Sasha spit her drink out.

Sasha clenched her fist. “This is pure bull feces!”

To include them or not, I guess I do to some extent, I avoid the worst offenders completely. I’ll use pissed off or damn or dammit. Bitch, shit and ass or asshole are likely to be used at some point, while bad, there are even eight year olds know them and use them. Heck I’ve heard toddlers spit them out. It’s really about perspective and I suppose if the publisher says, ‘yeah tone that down’ I have no problem acquiescing.

My advice about swearing.
Use your F@#ing judgement, know your D@mned audience and maybe test drive the sh!t by having some d!ckhe@d read it and hopefully they give you honest F@#ing feedback.


Other not so sh!#tty posts

That is disgusting

Eating emotions

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

 Second Thoughts


36 thoughts on “I swear! Or do I?

  1. Ah yes! Very amusing . Different parts of the English speaking world have different words. “Bloody” was a fav in Australia when we were there many years ago. My daughters first sentence, when stepping onto a hot metal step was:” this bloody step’s hot”. She was two at the time!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s an interesting and pertinent point indeed Sheryl. I have to say that I do sometimes slip in the odd word or two, but it all depends on my character and the type of person they are. I would never do that as a narrator, that’s just unnecessary, but in dialogue and the inner thoughts of characters? My attitude is, most people do it so my characters do too.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Swearing, profanity, sexual ugliness has all become so common that it really doesn’t mean much any more. We can’t say, “That’s terrible!” We feel we have to say, “That’s*****terrible.” Once we’ve fallen into the trap of using yucky language, we limit our vocabularies way too much. There are perfectly appropriate adjectives and adverbs that get the point across without slipping into the (sad) vernacular of swearing.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I write about myself and The Viking and we both curse and sometimes it’s even eloquent and colorful. Obviously, The Viking is better at it than I am but I’m working on it. I never underestimate a good curse as an emotional response to pain, disappointment or anger, or simply as a way to get in the last word as I stomp out of a room. Luckily, my audience is more of the married or in long-term relationship variety and those people swear and curse like pirates. :o)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Even being a relatively conservative person, I think all swears have their place. So long as they fit the character, as swears are capable of giving a strong message in ways that regular words can’t. That being said, there’s nothing more amusing than a writer finding a clever way to avoid them!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It’s something I struggle with all the time. I’m familiar with swear words but in daily life have never used nor encouraged those around me as I find them offensive. There are some my kids know, I’ve never heard, and contexts I’ve never heard since I’ve never surrounded myself with those who curse up a storm, lol. I’ve used them on occasion, depending on the character. If it’s in character it might be appropriate. No real evil baddy is going to say oh darn, or dang or crap. Most really foul mouthed types are used to make them seem more evil and horrible. We’ve probably all stubbed our toe and said damn! that hurt! I wouldn’t use the “c” word, ever! or a few others that I find really disgusting. It smacks of the same idea as “graphic violence for the sake of violence. Vile cursing strikes me the same. Is it appropriate or to “sell books”. hmmm just a thought.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The C is off limits for me too. This is a subject I think a lot about in relation to writing. In fact I actually started this blog months ago and just couldn’t express it properly until now.


      • You did exceedingly well. You handled it perfectly. I have a hard time using anything stronger than damn hell shit bullshit and maybe the odd f bomb when called for the character would use it though I would not. Makes me uncomfortable for all that lol.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Hello! I sent you an email last night, hope to hear from you today if possible for some advice. Writing A Book and funny that I asked the Author about titling one of the chapters in my book, “What The F!CK. He said it was fine because that is life today, as well as, when I got to what I thought was a low level in life for me, it’s really what I said to myself, lol.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Reblogged this on juantetcts and commented:
    Interested in your thoughts on swearing. I am currently writing revising my first book and one of the chapter titles is What The F!ck. The Author commented that it was fine because that was the language used today. The interesting point is that even though it is a turn off to some, it’s exactly what I said when I was at a point in my life in which I had no idea how I got there! I’ve been known to use the F word a time or two in real life situations!

    Liked by 1 person

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