Four Letter Words

Is it ok to swear in one’s writing?  Opinions vary but my general thought: fuck yes you can swear in your prose.  I can’t speak for all people in the world but the people around me swear.  Some swear often, others less so.  Interesting people (in my personal experience) swear.  It shows a depth of emotion and a certain set of experiences that at least in fiction, lead to interesting stories. 

Are there interesting people who don’t swear?.  Lots of people I’ve met who don’t swear refrain from religious zealotry.  I love cults and cult stories.  I can imagine writing a clean cut shiny Jesus-eque cult piece full of characters who never swear. 

Does swearing in books turn people away from that fiction?  Maybe?  Children shouldn’t read a book full of cussing.  But did writers create a book that’s child appropriate excluding those darn swears?

There are adults who are offended by foul language.  They’re a more realistic loss of an audience.  Again though, I’ve got to ask if they would read the book if only it weren’t for all the f-bombs.  I don’t know because I don’t know specifically what people find distasteful. 

A common anti-cussing in books argument is that it stifles creativity.  To me, that sounds like, “if you make that face long enough it will stay that way.”  Which we all know isn’t true, your mom our your grandma or whoever just wanted you to quit making funny faces.  Doesn’t making faces strengthen your facial muscles and help you create new expressions?  Why can’t the same be true of swearing?  I’ve heard some funny, creative, and expressive swears in my time.  Cussing well is a talent.

It’s your manuscript and you have to be happy with it.  Do whatever supports your creative vision and worry about other people’s stomach for foul language afterward.

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