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

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