Should we cuss when writing?
-Every time we sit down to write we are faced with decisions. Should we write in first person or third? Should the story end happy or sad?
-Hemingway’s quote makes a great point. Some authors steer clear of controversial language completely. While other authors make a point to use the most flamboyant language they can think up.
-Whatever we ultimately decide when writing. We should be ourselves. Write the way you are and write the way you talk. That is usually the best method.
definitly true words! thanks
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Since I don’t associate with people who curse profusely and without cause, I would hardly read their writings. People today seem to get a kick out of dropping ‘f’ bombs here and there, especially now on live TV talk shows. I’m not amused. Excessive use has lost its shock value and luster. I just change the channel never to return. Why would I want to drop to their lower levels?
I appreciate what your saying, but what would you do with Hemingway? Or other great literary classics? Completely disregard them?
Never read Hemingway. But, did he say fuck every other word? I doubt it.
I’ve come across a few blogs lately that were so laced with profanity it was unreadable. I have found that people resort to profanity when all else fails. Do we really need another Lenny Bruce?
To be fair, my favorite comic is Lewis Black. I know him personally and despite his ranting and raving, he more or less speaks truthfully and makes great, perfect talking points. His good points far outweigh dropping the occasional ‘f’ bomb. Jon Stewart, however, is becoming quite boring as he drops the ‘f’ bomb more and more. That’s because his message is stale, untrue and insignificant. So, Stewart has resorted to cursing to please his similarly vulgar audience. IMHO.
In other words, if the writer or writing is superb, the profanity is endurable. The good outshines the bad.
Hope that helps in my clarification.
It annoys when I hear people using cuss words as fillers in their sentences. Some people slip the words “like” or “you know” into their sentences when they pause for a thought. I’ve noticed a trend where people do this with cuss words now. It is annoying and it is even more annoying when writers use it in dialogue. Sometimes tense scenes call for tense words, but when a novel is overflowing with cuss words it becomes tedious reading for this reader.
Love this. I’m rereading The Sun Also Rises, and I noticed he doesn’t swear as much as I suspect the characters did in actual conversation. Whenever I try to use profanity in my writing it never rings true, but speaking is another thing entirely. Glad to find this!
I love that quote. Ernest is my hero. My writing is full of curse words. I have a dirty mouth. Oh well, it’s all me baby!
I like your defense. I’m gonna check your blog out and follow!
Oh and also, I think it depends on what you’re writing. If the character you’re writing swears a lot or uses filler words, then that’s their “voice.” It might be unrealistic to not use those words because it would sound too…perfect and not like real life.
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To cuss or not to?
I do and creatively not on every piece. I’ll ask myself, “Is it for shock value???” I can’t say. I’d like to think I’m expressing myself as I see fit.
Will people relate? Definitely and I rest assure knowing that also, some will not.
I think even if I didn’t cuss some people won’t read my writings.
Thanks for sharing this!
Or even better, write the way your character talks. Swear words should be used like any other words: appropriately.
I like Stephen King’s take on language. If it is natural to the dialect of the character, then by all means swear, instead of using some gentle euphemism that doesn’t ring true. But I also believe: everything in moderation.
Reblogged this on Looks and Nooks and Books and commented:
I say absolutely, but sparingly!
Great advice! You are what you write. (most of the time) 🙂
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I feel that curse words used in general conversation indicate a mentally lazy character. I am not against cursing and feel that it does have its place; like verbally highlighting an action or event.
Example, overslept, put on two different shoes, get to the 9am meeting late, spill coffee in your lap. *f&$ k!*
Some characters and scenes require a good drop of profanity. But I think profanity should be treated as it is, just more words.
Add to many swear words and it’s like tobacco, too much ruins what you created.
Clearly Goodfellas and Pulp Fiction aren’t books but the use of fuck or deviations of it are never glaring because it’s an embedded part of the story, the coarseness of the language is also about their poor beginnings, the harshness of life.
People who hear swear words and react like they are some abomination need to open their minds, because swearing is a fabric of language in one way or another. I feel there’s a real generation gap on this.
I think the key is to be true to your character. If profanity seems to be writing itself in naturally and it fits with the character’s personality, let it happen. If your character wouldn’t use that language, don’t force it in just to be edgy.
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