Monday, September 10, 2012

How Much Cursing?

Tip of the Day: Have you seen Debbie Ridpath Ohi's cartoons on our site? Well, I'M BORED, the picture book she illustrated, released this week!

So check out this picture of a heatmap showing how much Americans swear on Twitter. In Rochester, NY, I apparently live on the corner of F and U.

From The Atlantic:
So how much swearing takes place in your manuscript?

I don't like to drop the F-bomb. I don't say it myself and I don't think it fits most of my characters. It would be totally gratuitous. Having said that, it is REALLY hard to write from a teen or adult's perspective and not curse at all.

Not everyone considers the same words to be swear words, though. I use hell and crap, and I consider that cursing, but I know a lot of people don't think those are swear words.

Now I don't mind reading a manuscript that has a lot of cursing. I love Stephen King. I've read one or two published books where it didn't fit--the F bomb was thrown in to make it sound more "authentic teen voice," and it fell flat. But the exceptions to the rules usually stick out, and most of the time, reading curse words flows right and doesn't bother me a bit.

The thing is, when I'm really upset, when I'm feeling at the end of my rope and I can't figure out how to get out of a situation, it's natural for me to cross a blasphemy with a curse. Goddamn. That may be one of my favorite words. I don't say it much (I have kids) but I think it all the time. I differentiate my characters by the ones who curse and the ones who blaspheme. I feel more comfortable taking the Lord's name in vain when I'm emotional. I try to write around that, but sometimes it just fits, you know? My main character really does want to know why God hates her. (Sorry, honey, it's not God, it's just me.)

Are there any words you really want to use but find yourself holding back? Is it because you think editors won't like them? Or because you don't want all your characters to sound the same? Or because you don't want to lean on curse words like a crutch? After all, we're not all from Rochester.

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages


Andrea Lipomi said...

I think Vegas didn't register because our swearing tweeters don't know how to properly spell most four letter words.

Kate Fall said...

LOLZ Andrea. That explains a lot!