Let me start out by saying that I’m no stranger to vulgar language. When I was just a small child (before my mother found the Lord and changed her ways), there was nothing unusual about the F word flying out her mouth which was wrapped around a cigarette. Not surprisingly, I inherited both of these traits. By the time I was a teenager, I had moved well past the awkward cursing phase…where every time you cursed, it was just like the first time. Now, cursing is just a natural part of my language and while I try hard to curb my cursing around the more sensitive members of our society, I see absolutely no reason why I should ever quit.
I mean, there are a lot worse words in our language than S&*^ or D@$M. There is a long list of words that you will never hear me use. I will not use derogative language of any kind…this ranges from harsh ratially or sexually motivated cut-downs to the simpler terms such as “idiot” or “moron”. I will not use the “gd” word (often)…Let’s just say that I try not to use it…Now, if my face is getting chewed off by rabid hyenas or something like that, I might waiver in this…All of this is to say that I believe there are certain words in our language which are taboo….certain words that do nothing but regress the human race and those are the words that you will never hear me utter. But, let’s face it, most of your average, run of the mill curse words just don’t fit that bill. I can’t for the life of me understand what is so offensive about the word @$$ for instance.
With all this being said, I have noticed lately that I never really curse in my writing. I noticed, mainly, because I wrote a character that needed to curse and when he did, it felt odd. It is one thing to use vulgar language in your day to day life but an entirely different thing to intentionally write them down on paper. Something about it seems foreign to me…like I’m breaking an ominous rule of writing. I can’t really reconcile where this is coming from because I’m definitely not from the school of thought that vulgarity cheapens the English language.
In fact, a well place curse word can strengthen the impact of a character or plot event. Whether you like them or not, curse words create a strong sense of emotion and the writer who uses this as a tool (and uses it well) is wise and resourceful. Maybe I’m just not that writer…I would like to think I’m a Neil Gaiman but maybe I’m not….but I want to be…*sigh*…Maybe one day. For now, I’ll settle for being me.
Confused about whether or not you should “color” your writing language?
and the best of all…An Ode to Using Profanity in Literature.