Friday, 21 February 2014

Rude words

Today I want to talk about rude words. I might say a few rude words in this blog so if you're not sure you want to read them best not to go on and we can catch up next week - same time, same web-channel.

If you want to continue reading, let's go.

As a writer, when people ask me what I think about bad language I always respond that I don't believe there's such a thing as bad language, just inappropriately used language.

I swear. I love to swear because used appropriately, swear words can be a form of expression.

Where I get upset is when people use swear words gratuitously. Instances where swearing is used too frequently just tells me that you don't have a very extensive vocabulary.

I remember a time when my grandma dropped the F bomb. This was a lady who used to spell S.H.I.T in conversation instead of saying shit.

This particular day, she was so upset about something that she said fuck and I was so shocked that I'll never forget the point she was trying to make.

I've known people who swear so regularly that when they do happen to be legitimately upset about something the swearing just doesn't seem to express it.

The very first story I ever wrote was called A Book by Any Other Cover - it won first prize in a literary competition and I was asked if it could be published in a writers' magazine.

Of course I was over the moon! I said YES!!!

"Well", the magazine's editor went on to say, "there is just the small problem of the swear word. We can't have foul language in our magazine."

It so happened that one of my characters says, "No shit."

I couldn't understand their attitude, I mean, it's not a bad swear word, and it was not used gratuitously. In fact if you knew my character as a real person, this phrase would have been typical of him. However, I was not about to argue with the editor, after all I was new to writing, and was way too excited about having my story published.

In the version of the story that ended up in the magazine, my character says, "No kidding."

When A Book by Any Other Cover was included in my first published book, All That & Everything, my character reverts back to saying, "No shit."

Language can define a character, as I've mentioned before, you can tell a lot about a character by what they say. One of my characters in Torn swears. He doesn't swear gratuitously, but I use his swearing as a way of defining him. In this case, he is a wealthy young lord whose swearing is an extension of his casual irreverence and dislike of snobbery.

There are some movies that, I think, involve too much swearing and it seems to be a trendy thing for comedians to get laughs from using swear words. After a string of four-letter, one-syllable words you stop hearing them and they stop being funny or lose their impact.

One thing that does offend me about people swearing is when they apologise for it immediately afterwards. My attitude is if you're going to swear, do it with conviction and don't say you're sorry. If you're going to be sorry or feel you need to apologise, don't swear in the first place!

I don't think I'm being old fashioned - please tell me if you think I am.

Although Torn was set in the Regency period, my character says words like shit and fuck. I did my research to find out if these words were used in the day and was intrigued to learn that they are, in fact, very old words.

It's a fascinating website; if you feel like checking it out, click here. Type in your word and have some fun.

Meanwhile, I stopped short at using the C word - I've never used that in any of my stories, and do really think on the scale of rude words this one is the worst. I won't say never, though. If, in the future, I have a character that could reasonably be expected to drop the C bomb, I will most certainly use it. 

Most women, and many men would agree, that there are not a lot of instances where that word is genuinely called for, regardless of what we think of the second worst word - the F one.

In Inviolate, the sequel to Torn  (due for release in April 2014), I use the C word in its 18th century - and more acceptable form - cunny. Again, it's not gratuitous and is in keeping with the behaviour of my character.

So, there we are. In summary, I suppose you could say that rude words, like any other words, have their place if they are used to define a character and/or make a point. You might disagree and say, oh there's Karen being a silly old fart again, and hey...you could be right.

But I remind you that I do like swear words, and use them regularly - within appropriate company and circumstances, of course! On some odd level I'm proud to say I can, and do, swear in about six different languages. Hey, we're all good at something!

When you're writing, think about your use of rude words and make sure they say something about the character. They should never say something about you.

Anyway, I mentioned A Book by Any Other Cover as being the first story I wrote that won an award, and that it was published in All That & Everything. If you'd like to read it for free, just click here, but be warned - this is the uncensored version!

Have a great week.

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