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

C*nt
F*ck
M%th#rf*ck#r

Offenders

B&st&rd
B#&ver
C%ck
D!ck
D!ckhe&d
Pr!ck
P*ssy
Sn&tch
Tw&t

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)
B!nt
B!tch
B%llocks
B*llsh!t
P!ssed/p!ssed off  (Not sure this is so bad?)
Sh!t
S%n of a b!tch
T!ts

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

Arse/Ass
Bloody
Bugger
Cow
Crap
Damn
Ginger
Git
G%d
G%ddam
Jes*s Chr!st
Minger
Sod-off

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.

-Sheryl

Other not so sh!#tty posts

That is disgusting

Eating emotions

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

 Second Thoughts

One step forward and two steps back

The point of any story is to get from one point to another with entertaining bits in-between. Ideally, the protagonist is on a journey of some sort. Probably growth by emotions or achievements.  No path is smooth nor should it be. How dull would it be if nothing ever got in the way? If nothing pushed the hero off course and they sailed on through to the end easy-peasy.  Yawn. Double yawn even.

I am a huge fan of the setback, the ‘are you freaking kidding me?’ moments.  I don’t care for over the top non-stop terrible incident after terrible incident. The kind where the character can’t ever catch a break, so much that it becomes annoying. In those cases it’s more about bad luck or sensational writing without content. Like a sweet strawberry cream filled chocolate without the strawberry filling. It’s okay, because hey, chocolate. But where’s the gooey good stuff?

All in all, the protagonist should be steadily gaining ground and when setback they should triumph and move along to the next obstacle.

What about those obstacles? Well, I try to make them meaningful to the story in some way. Random death or destruction is fun but if it means nothing to anyone in the story, the reader certainly won’t give a rats ass either.

For example, I’ll talk about Sasha. She is pretty high up in importance at the design firm. She knows how to utilize others’ skills appropriately and is a team player. She lacks drive or the push to get her to do what she should really be doing and starting her own agency. So I’ve set Amber on her to make her work life hell and later someone else will toss her to the flames and really light a fire under her butt.  Now in her personal life. She has a secret and a few select people in her life know about it. Something bad happened and slowly, this will be drawn out by a series of relationship related events. Some good, some bad and some very much both. Her friends are trying to force her to move on, men are trying to drag her out of her self-inflicted misery, but eventually someone will give her the courage to let it all go and move on herself. Don’t worry the path is riddled with awful things that make her grow as a person.

Cal is a detective and loves his job. His journey has not been addressed yet, so no spoilers.

Not all journeys are for the greater good. A character can wander from the ideal path and become well… bad. These are fun to play with. You can get super mean and nasty to them to drive them over the edge. Or maybe they’re already there and are the ones tossing out the roadblocks on the sly for the protagonist to trip on.

Think of it like a ladder. The side boards are the progression, the protagonist will climb from the base of the ladder to the top. Some rungs may break and others may be missing. Eventually they need to get to the top. Some characters will be making their way down. It’s easier to go down and even fall fast. Then there are the rungs of the ladder. It’s okay to have rungs, the characters/events that serve only to help someone else up or down. They have no real part in the journey other than that one moment.

Overall, the strong emotion eliciting moments are the ones that will keep the pages turning. How are they going to get out of this mess? What happens next?

My advice about setbacks.
Use them appropriately with cause and purpose. If you over do the set backs then the reader might start eye rolling and get bored or frustrated. Remember its all about the endgame. How can a struggle or set back make the reward sweeter?

-Sheryl

Other posts

Desperately procrastinating

I’m just me

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Base

The jerk-face warrior

Jerks are people that aren’t necessarily the bad person. I think of jerks that are just contrary or mean without true malice. A self-serving person that is borderline if not a bully. I’ve read books where the protagonist complains about a jerk, but the jerk is either not a jerk or the writer doesn’t show it for it to be believable. Honestly if I want to believe someone is a jerk I want proof, I want the example and I want to agree fully with the protagonist. If I don’t then they lose credibility in my eyes. Show me an ass and I’ll dislike them as I was meant to.

Being mean doesn’t mean the person is bad. A good person or even the hero of the story can be a jerk on a good day. But hey that can lead to some interesting confrontation or dialogue.  If it’s really out of character then maybe it will lead to the revelation moment, when the past or truth is revealed.

 A jerk is condescending to someone undeserving.

Dale rolled his eyes at the barista. “This would be perfect if you’d made it correctly.”
Tittering behind her hand Amber nodded. “It’s too much to ask of the minimum waged.” She whispered loudly.

A jerk is often found giving backhanded compliments. 

Amber smiled sweetly. “The new company promo is out Sasha have you seen it?” “No, not yet.” Sasha smiled and looked at the printout Amber held.
Scott peered over her shoulder. “It’s a good picture of you Sasha, you look slimmer in it.”

A jerk insults someone close, like spouse or family member to/ in front of others.

Sasha took a deep breath and went back to the table. Her father and mother had invited friends, whom she’d never met. Mr. and Mrs. Welsh and they were already three glasses of wine in. The regret to come to this dinner was setting in just fine.
“Sasha darling you do take forever, your food is getting cold.” Her mother smiled and refolded her napkin on her lap.
“Sorry.” Sasha sat and listened to the idle pompous conversation of the wealthy as they ate. She should fit in, she was their daughter, but it wasn’t her cup of tea to boast and brag.
“What is it you do again Sasha?” Mrs. Welsh asked as she lifted her wine to her perfectly painted lips.
“I’m a senior graphic designer at Clifton-” The kick from her mother stopped her from continuing.
Her father smiled and cleared his throat. “Sasha hasn’t found her true calling as of yet. We are hoping she considers law or architecture. Something more respectful.”

A jerk takes food without permission.

Sasha sat at her desk and took out her pumpkin spice muffin. Amber strolled in without knocking and dumped a file on her desk.
“Ooh pumpkin. Yum.” Amber leaned over and pulled a piece off, popped it in her mouth and left.

A jerk brags or boasts.

Scott walked briskly out of Morrison’s office a deep frown on his face.
“What did he want?” Sasha asked as Amber stopped filing and stood beside Sasha. He stopped and pouted prettily then grinned broadly “Guess who got the promotion?” He raised his arms, closed his fists and pointed his thumbs at himself. “This guy, that’s who. Yup. I totally deserved it.”
Sasha plastered a small smile on her face and glanced at Tory, he deserved the promotion hands-down, not Scott.

A jerk leaves a mess behind.

Cal went to the lunchroom as Detective Poulson finished making his coffee.
“Morning Cal, how’s that Crowen case going?” Poulson spilled sugar then set the dirty spoon on the counter beside it.
“I’m heading over to the latest victims house in half an hour.” He held up a box of bagels. “I was just brining these in before I go.”
Poulson picked up his coffee and headed toward the door. “Let me know if you need any help, that prick needs to be locked up once and for all.”
“Will do, thanks.” Cal frowned at the counter as he set the box down and pursed his lips at the wet coffee ring, spilled sugar and dirty spoon. The cloth was less than a foot from the mess, as was the sink.

A jerk in inconsiderate.

Sasha indicated to take the parking space that was just becoming available. Before the car fully drove away another swerved around her and eased into the now vacant spot.
“Hey! I was here first.” She yelled at the driver as he hurriedly got out of his car.
“I’m in a hurry, sorry.” He waved at her absently and kept walking.

A jerk says inappropriate things.

Sasha and Valery leaned over the table looking at the proofs. “That is quite the view.” Scott leered at their backsides as he entered the room.

Amber closed the panel on the projector. “There. All fixed.”
Dale leaned back in his chair. “Not bad for a girl.”

Jerks do a lot more than what I described. Jerks or jerk moments happen, they can be ignored, addressed or confronted. They can be a minor or major part in the transformation of the protagonist or even the antagonist. Whether they start rumors, complain for no good reason, decline donations or contributing to a group gift or are undeservedly bossy, Jerks are necessary for creating conflict or tension, small or large. My husband calls people like this Jerk-face warriors.

My advice about jerks.
If and when someone pisses you off, think about why and what they did. Will that work in your story? I don’t recommend making it over the top in your face without provocation. Jerks are just simple small people that make life less pleasant and the work day just a wee bit longer.

-Sheryl

Other fun posts

Did you smell that?

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It’s funny you said that…

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Transformation