Do You Curse Brightly?

While finishing my paranormal thriller, I have made some major cuts and additions. I think my sex scene is sexier after eliminating the mechanics and expanding the sensual description. I fixed the parts where the chicken went into the oven and came out as roasted rabbit. I deleted overused words like “perfect” even though at one time I thought they were perfect.

Reading best-selling thrillers while writing my first have inspired me, until yesterday. In the middle of an intense scene where agents were kidnapped, the protagonist, “cursed brightly.” (insert sound of needle scratching record here) WHAT??? It pulled me right out of the story. I stopped reading and set the book down.

shouts expletive

The hammer actually smacked my poor thumb, hence the realistic grimace.

In an age when television allows just about every expletive under the sun, including the mention of MILF on The Neighbors and Modern Family, why are authors reluctant to use them? If we are going for realism in a story, then isn’t the placement of a dammit or a bitch important to show the reader how upset and frustrated the protagonist is? If they curse, then I say, let them curse, dammit!

I can see where the word fuck would be avoided.  I even had a hard time typing it here on my blog. Many of you as well as myself, may drop the f-bomb once in a while, but hearing or reading it still feels like a punch in the stomach for some. It may depend on your exposure to the word.

Showing verses telling is integral  to engaging your reader especially in a story filled with action. Looking back, the author could have shown the mental state of the protagonist by having him pick up a glass and shatter it on the floor, or put his fist through a wall, or race out of the room, sprint outside and scream. But instead he cursed brightly….

And what’s up with the use of the adverb brightly? My daughter joked last night that it seemed as soon as they were taught about those “ly” words, they were told never to use them. These days the thesaurus is one click away and strong verbs are at our fingertips. I have to admit that I may have used a few adverbs in my novel, although sparingly.

When I first started blogging, I wrote quite a few short stories. I found the placement of a cuss word added emphasis to the situation. If a man walking through the parking lot to his own wedding, trips and falls face down in the mud, would he say shuckydarn? I guess he could curse brightly...

As I near the end of my 845th rewrite, I am asking for your advice since I hope you’ll read my book from cover to cover someday. Do you feel comfortable when reading an occasional cuss word or do you set the book down wishing the protagonist had cursed brightly instead?

Related articles:

When to Use Swear Words in Your Writing – Writer’s Digest

Ode to a Four Letter Word – New York Books

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181 Comments

Filed under Humor, Life

181 responses to “Do You Curse Brightly?

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  2. Pingback: In Defense of Emoticons, Asterisks, and Exclamation Points!!! | Susie Lindau's Wild Ride

  3. How did I miss this post? Susie, it is so funny! I really like the idea of cursing brightly, and I’m going to do so today at work. “Dammit,” she said, brightly, a smile pasted to her face. “I have 402 emails to read. Yippee!”

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  6. I’m struggling with this..but my characters are happily swearing :)

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  7. I have no problem with an occasional cuss word if it adds to the story or character. But if a character is constantly swearing, it makes for the character uninteresting and one dimensional.

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  8. Oh my dear, me drop the f-bomb… Never! Insert :roll:

    “cursed brightly” what the hell is that all about? As long as your swearing is realistic and appropriate, I’ll buy it, I guess I’ll have to if I’ve already bought it. And please don’t fret typing fuck… just don’t spell with ampersands and other symbols.

    I’d actually rather talk about the photo, which is about the cutest I’ve seen of you, Susie. Even Sexy, I might add.

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  9. What a great post! As a woman who rarely cusses herself and doesn’t relish novels with a barrage of cursing, I’ve given this issue quite a bit of thought. But when I wrote my YA novel with a teenage baseball catcher frustrated by his friend’s terrible pitching, I just couldn’t write: “Your butt, not mine.” Seriously? What self-respecting 17-year-old boy would say that?!!! Of course I happily settled on “Your ass, not mine.” No other reasonable way to write it.

    I look for other options instead of going straight for the curse word, but sometimes it shows characterization, setting, or voice better than anything else. (By the way, did anyone curse darkly in said novel?)

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    • Thanks so much Julie! I loved your feedback!
      I was going for realism in my adult novel, but I don’t want to turn anyone off. It really is hard to please all the masses, but in this particular novel, there is an F-bomb on the next page!
      I found one more “bright” curse, if you can believe it, but no darklys! I gotta believe it happened in editing. I really think this particular thriller can handle the cursing. If they felt it was too much, they could have left it out! But hey! I am glad for the blog post. I learned so much and have edited since!
      Have a great weekend!

      Like

  10. I have no problem with cursing when it fits the situation, Susie.
    All the best to you.
    You’re going to do well, I know it!

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  11. Ha! I love it. I rarely curse, which I think makes them more shocking and powerful. LOL My fiction contains far more cussing that my vocab, which surprises some readers, like my hubby. ;)

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    • I know what you mean! I have gotten more of a potty mouth as I’ve gotten older and the kids are in college. I do watch who I drop curse words with. I am usually pretty careful and only say them with a smile…..
      Thanks August! Somehow I missed your comment!

      Like

  12. Pingback: Guilty Pleasures Mash Up: Read ‘Em, Fools! | Jess Witkins' Happiness Project

  13. Just wanted to let you know that I am enjoying your blog! So I nominated you for The Versatile Blogger award. Stop by my sight to find out the steps to accepting it, if you choose to!

    http://cherylfassett.wordpress.com

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  14. Good question. I use cuss words VERY sparingly while writing. They make many people uncomfortable (like me) and I think those who overuse them are indulging in creative laziness to a certain extent – going for shock INSTEAD of awe.

    Having said that, sometimes a curse word is absolutely what is needed to stay in character.

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    • Thanks Peg! I agree and it depends on the situation too.
      It has been great to get everyone’s opinion on this topic. I have learned a lot!
      If you are Tarantino, you can get away with anything and somehow it works!

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  15. Well I consciously don’t, but yeah my inner instinct does when exposed to a situation like hammer missing the nail

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  16. Well, in Australia we curse a lot. So “cursing brightly” just won’t cut it. For me, authenticity is important, so if it fits the character and the scene, then I say, don’t hold back!

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    • Thanks for stopping by Alarna! I figure the amount of exposure is regional, but given the situation in the book I read it really seemed strange. Especially when the author had an f-bomb on the next page! Now no one who read this post will be able to read, “he cursed brightly,” without giggling! I hope editors keep it out of my book!

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  17. Le Clown

    Susie,
    Cursing is for fuckers.
    Le Clown

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  18. Oh f……..! A comment disappears before I post it. I do another. It reappears having posted itself. Well, take your pick!

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  19. Not using adverbs judiciously is a lazy author catering for lazy readers.
    Most of the people who would swear in my books would do so in language I would not care to report, so something like ‘swore filthily’ does it for me.

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  20. I think the avoidance of adverbs is laziness on the part of the author catering to laziness on the part of the reader. ‘He cursed’ as opposed to, ‘He cursed virulently’ or ‘filthily’ – the latter choices are what I would use in place of the string of words likely to flow from a low-life. ‘Dammit’ really wouldn’t ring true.
    Amazing the rabbits out of the oven one gets even in third editions of well-selling books. In one, on safari, they pour wine into mugs and then have moonlight glinting on the glasses …

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    • That is hilarious! My biggest fear is that the glint off the coffee mug happens in my book. Danny is reading a novel by Ken Follet and he must have changed the names of the characters at one time. A random name popped up in the middle of the book…. I have changed the names of my characters too… scary…
      I am only going to mention the actual curse words or not mention them at all. Of course I say this, but if my wish comes true and after it is professionally edited it gets picked up by a major and gets edited again, there’s no telling what kind of cursing will be included…
      Thanks for your input!

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      • I know from sad experience how much one misses, and then the editor misses, even after proof stage. The eye tends to fill in missing bits unless one is constantly programming it not to. Quotation marks are a particular bugbear, especially with quotes within quotes. Also misplaced/missing subject following a gerund.

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  21. “I think my sex scene is sexier after eliminating the mechanics and expanding the sensual description.” Always works, imho.
    –Damyanti, Co-host A to Z Challenge April 2013!

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  22. I use swear words, but try not to overuse them. I think they are effective, but lose their punch if they’re in every chapter or whatnot. It also depends on the characters, of course. If a character is going to swear, then he/she needs to act the part, too. Otherwise, it just doesn’t work.

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  23. Susie, we are all line up waiting for your book! I debated about the swearing issue today but, as everyone points out, its kind of out there. In The Bridge Club one of the women swore all the time … but only in French! In my next novel, there’s a fifty-something woman who habitually drops the f-bomb and nobody really notices. Do what works for you and your characters (who really make the decisions anyway)!

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    • Thanks Patricia! I am including a French cuss word or two too!
      Your book is on my list. I can’t wait until I am done with this rewrite and can catch up!
      I love the sound of your characters. I think when we are writing in present day, we have to include the “colorful metaphors!” I certainly say and hear them!
      Thanks so much! You made my day!

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  24. filbio

    What the heck is “cursing brightly”?

    I am a believer that in real life situations people use curse words and in movies/books they should use them to when appropriate. Sure, at times I will curse like a truck driver but only on occasion.

    Just curse away I say!

    Phil
    http://www.blog.theregularguynyc.com

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    • Thanks for that Phil! Away I will curse! Oh, I mean, I will use a few for emphasis in my book. This post made me think and reconsider any colorful metaphors I had placed. I deleted several yesterday…I have really learned a lot from this forum!
      I wonder what the reaction would be to “a tongue in her ear??”
      Thanks Phil!

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  25. I am with the majority here. I agree that the characters should and will curse (or not) depending on their…well…character. I find that “the rules” that are sort of conventional wisdom about fiction writing turn out to be not so conventional and not so wise when offered in context of one’s story and characters. Good for you, Susie, for questioning the status quo! And congrats on getting through those rewrites. I may do some bright cursing when I dive into my next scene rewrite. This writing thing is HARD!

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    • Thanks for the vote of confidence Kecia! I so appreciate your input. I am too naive to even know what the status quo thinks. :)
      That may be a good thing.
      I just got within 50 pages of the ending when things really go south and wow, there has got to be a couple of f-bombs thrown in or it will die a slow boring death.
      Love to hear that you are working on a project too! Where are you with yours?

      Like

  26. I don’t mind, I expect especially adult books to have swearing in it, YA is controversial on the subject some do, others don’t. Do what feels right for you, don’t force yourself to swear if it makes you uncomfortable!

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  27. Looking forward to reading your novel, Susie! Glad to see you got your sex scene worked out… I have two in a story I am re-working and out of the whole story, those two scenes are giving me the most trouble, trying to find a good balance.

    I don’t have a problem with swearing as long as it is part of the character’s voice. And I swear in my memoir because, well… I swear in real life. Not a lot, but I do swear on occasion. I’m not going to write ‘oh fudge’ if I said ‘oh fuck’… it would sound false. When I posted my “I Hate Spiders” blog post a few weeks ago, I changed ‘fuck’ to ‘f**k’… Tina read it before I posted and I got a little lecture about censoring myself. So, as you saw… the f-bombs in all their ‘glory’ stayed in the story.

    Swearing for swearing’s sake is like f**king for peace… it may feel good, but it really doesn’t accomplish anything. You, or your character, should swear to convey something more than the fact that you know how to spell the words. Swearing is emotional… it needs to fit the scene or situation… it needs to be real.

    It may be fiction we write, but fiction is based in reality… even fiction has to be real.

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    • Great points! I agree about your blog and memoir and keeping it real. I am tightening mine up and dropping the curse words in for emphasis.

      Sex scenes are a blast. I was told once to think less about what is going on and more on the sensation. I recently read a really awkward sex scene with no passion. It left me feeling…. so…. used…. :)
      Thanks so much for stopping by and helping me out! It is most appreciated!
      Great to see you Veronica!

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    • Interesting observations and I love the f**k story.

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  28. I always think of Stephen King: the road to hell is paved with adverbs. Especially brightly colored ones.

    As for swearing in fiction, I think the character would determine whether or not they swear or not and how much.

    As for swearing on a blog, I do think people can completely overuse the F bomb. To me, it’s annoying if not used sparingly. In my real life, I swear a lot, so I try hard not to swear much in my blog. When I say “shit” I want to make it count. My readers would be shocked if I dropped the F word.

    Congrats on your upcoming book, Susie! that is a huge accomplishment!!

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    • I will have to commiserate with my characters! There are a couple that should have their mouths washed out with soap..
      It never bothers me when people cuss on their blogs, unless, like you say, they overuse a word. Then it distracts rather than adds to the story. A little shock factor is good for some blogs and adds an edginess.

      Thanks so much Darla! I am nearing the end of a big rewrite. After I finish and reread it one last time, it will go out to beta readers….whoever they are….
      Thanks for weighing in! It was a lot of fun to get everyone’s opinion!

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  29. If it’s natural for the character, I’d go with the cuss word.

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    • That’s what I think too! Thanks for giving me your opinion. It is great to hear what others’ think. I wasn’t sure if I was in the minority, but it seems we are in the majority!

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  30. I reserve use of brightly for modification of shiny objects and smiles that shine, etc. There’s a myth afoot that cursing is only for guttersnipes and that so-called skilled writers don’t have to resort to gutter language. What joy juice do those who believe that crap drink?

    Authentic dialog is what we want to read not unbelievable twaddle because it’s not the language most characters certainly would use.

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    • That is so true! Twaddle and crap juice is right. I think the shyness of the author begins to peek through and it ruins the story.
      There are a lot of myths out there. Many best-selling novelists use adverbs. When writing a 400 page book, it is hard to avoid them!
      I will F-bomb away, if only once or twice. I just rewrote part of an intense scene and it would be hard to avoid using a few cuss words so I’ll be sure to use a few!

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  31. Bring on the swear words! Please don’t insult my intelligence and maturity by telling me your character, ‘Cursed brightly’. I will immediately hate that character for not having the balls to yell out a ‘fuck’ or two! As you can probably guess, I use the real words in my writing, but in my fantasy I make up swear words. It’s great fun to try to find a downright dirty word or phrase that means the same thing, but would be consistent with a fantasy environment. Since my heroine was raised on earth, though, she has taught them a few choice words, fuck being among them. I love that word. Maybe a little too much.

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    • That pulled me out faster than if “he cursed.” I don’t mind reading f-bombs if they makes sense to the character or the story.
      It must be fun to make up swear words! “By Gilliam’s Magnificence, put the graftar down!” :)
      Thanks for stopping by Tameri! Loved your input on this!

      Like

  32. I say “power to the curse word.” If used sparingly, they can be powerful and real.

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    • That’s what I think. Or just don’t put in the word. I went through my book and looked them over and deleted a few that were unnecessary. This has really helped me!
      Thanks so much for your thoughts!

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  33. Oh yes I do curse brightly and wittily too! LOL! Actually, I recently published my second book and there is a scene where a character curses and I did write the cuss words, so there, not ashamed at all. :-)

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    • That’s great and I bet your character didn’t curse brightly at all!
      It can be tricky. I am so glad I posted this. Everyone including you M, has really helped me out!
      Thanks so much!

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  34. Ha! Yes, that would’ve ripped me out of the story, too! Adverbs are tricky little buggers.

    As for swearing in novels / on blogs… It’s a GREAT question. I actually curse quite a bit in real life, but “shit” is as far as I’ll go on my blog. At least for now. In a book? Hmm. All bets are off! But it’s gotta have a pay-off. Not just swearing for the sake of swearing. Swearing simply for shock value often rubs me the wrong way, too. Unoriginal. The F bomb becomes meaningless if it’s overused, and dammit, we need an F bomb to have meaning!

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    • I know what you mean about cussing on your blog. To be honest, I can cuss like a truck driver when I am with a really close friend or my husband Danny, but I keep it off my blog. It would be different if I ranted on it!
      I agree about the F-bomb. I think I may include one or two in my story. We’ll see what my beta readers think. I just got to the intense part of my story while rewriting this afternoon and I can’t imagine not including a few choice words! But you’re right. I am not going to throw them about like offhand expressions.
      Thanks for coming by Jules! I appreciate your input!

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  35. I think keeping the cursing in context is important. Maybe the brightly cursing author was trying to find a way to avoid actually writing the curse word. Funny how their choice is far more noticeable!

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    • It is funny, especially when the author f-bombed on the next page! Why even include it? I wonder if the editor added it and if an author is completely out of control of final edits when being published by a one of the Big Four. I would “curse brightly” if that happened to my book!
      Great idea about only cursing in context. It would also stand out if a female character let one slip out in an elegant social situation unless the author wanted to show how coarse she is…. So much to ponder!
      Thanks for your input Coleen! It must really be hard to decide to include them when writing young adult books, but I am sure that you are an old sage when it comes to that!
      Happy Monday!

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  36. Context is everything Susie. Your characters will determine their language plus the situation. The days of gosh and darn are long gone but sometimes a non-swearing person stands out in their archaic language! Look forward to reading the book.

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    • Awwww! Thanks so much Ginger! I can’t wait until it’s done, and yet I won’t put it out there if it’s still half baked. I am still learning so much about the key ingredients.
      Thanks for your input! Love your idea about a non-swearing person and their own language standing out. Gosh dang, I am learning so much through this post! I actually use the word dang all the time in real life! :)
      Have a great week and say hello to Oily George and the gang!

      Like

  37. I love “Fuck!” when used honestly and with a lot of rawness .. It’s my fav. curse word.. should be used when every other word fails )) And if Russian language didn’t have curse words… there would be silence in many conversations.

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    • I have to admit to loving it too. In the movie Risky Business, the underlying theme was about the many different meanings of the word fuck. It’s pretty hilarious if you watch it with that in mind.
      I would think that cursing would have cultural differences.

      Thanks for stopping by my little corner of the world Elena! I wonder where you are traveling today???

      Like

      • Have to watch that film again.. don’t remember that part ) I’m in LA writing about my 5 months on the road. Leaving at the end of May around Europe for a couple of months, then Moscow and then maybe a Trans-Siberian to China. Also thinking of moving to NY when I get back.

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  38. I think swear words are like sex scenes in books. If you can use it to enhance the story or character, then it’s worth it, but if you’re using it just to put it in there, it probably won’t sound right. And I guess, the same goes for avoiding it when it’s needed.

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    • Great points! I had wondered how reading words is different than experiencing real life. Someone having a really, really bad day where they lose everything may curse a lot in real life, but reading it may be waaaay too much. I Love your comparison to sex scenes. I haven’t read 50 Shades of Gray, but that was one of the criticisms, along with the overuse of the word “crap.” That poor lady never had a chance to edit it! :) I also like your point about it enhancing the scene. Definitely something to keep in mind.
      Thanks so much for your thoughts Jess!

      Like

  39. Curse away, I say! Anyway, what the hell is a bright curse? So funny.

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    • I know! A bright curse will stand out for all of us now.
      Maybe it is supposed to highlight the page when we are reading on the dark…hmmm…
      Thanks for your opinion Julie! This is really helping me!

      Like

  40. As you are probably aware I drop swear words occasionally on my blog. But when I write a post its typically either full of four letter words or completely free of four letter words. I don’t think too much about it, but in general I have no problem with people swearing. As long as one knows when to shut it off. My feeling is, if words like f—, sh—, etc, didn’t serve some relevant purpose in our language, they would never have evolved into the words that they are. I use these words when I talk to certain people and I avoid them like the plague when I talk to people that I know would be offended. It’s all in the proper placement, I guess!

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    • You make a great point! I would think that would translate into a book really well. So if a character cussed at someone in an inappropriate setting it would glare out from the page.

      I also think it is still more acceptable for men to curse than women. Hey! Now there’s a blog post for someone. Equal rights for women! Curse away! Actually I love Chelsea Handler and she cusses like a truck driver.
      I am know to drop a few choice words when in the right company. Just ask my husband!
      Thanks for your opinion and ideas!

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  41. Wonderful post about cursing brightly! I just wrote a 100 word flash fiction and the first word was damn. I didn’t give it a second thought. Smiles.

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    • I LOVE it! That is a great way to capture the tone of a story and the reader’s attention!
      Thanks for sharing your opinion! I hadn’t known if I was in the minority on this topic, but from the comments I’ve gotten, it looks like I’m in the majority.
      Have a great week! I will look forward to reading your flash!

      Like

  42. “Cursed brightly” would probably earn that book a place in my circular file.

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    • Hahaha! It’s a great book, but it made me wonder…I will be sure to leave it out of mine so it doesn’t find a place in yours! If I am even lucky enough to have you buy a copy! :)
      Thanks for stopping in and reading VB!

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  43. I believe you are feeling uncomfortable using those cruse words because it wounds your spirit, as it does Christ’s. Yeah, all of you ” professional” experienced writers are now hating me BUT I am just expressing my point of view too. I absolutely would struggle with this delima too. So, Here is my (1 person’s oppinion) advice: who is your audience and write for them. I love your candor and think we are a lot alike. Rock on!

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    • I agree. I was raised Catholic in a pretty strict household and went to Catholic school for 12 years. I have to say that when I was in college, no one swore like they do now. I rarely heard the word bitch! The guys f-bombed, but anyone using it in common conversation stood out. And this was at the University of Wisconsin in Madison – Party school USA late 70’s and early 80’s!
      I don’t have any problem cussing now, but am careful when in public. I also don’t curse on my blog. I just don’t think it goes with my brand of being an upbeat Colorado girl.
      I have read a few books recently that included, “He cursed.” It just hit me as wrong. To me it’s like saying, “He called out his name,” instead of saying, “Harold! Get back here right now!” If the author is uncomfortable calling out his name, he should just run up to the guy and tap him on the shoulder…
      Thanks for coming by and weighing in! I had wondered how others’ felt about this and it is great to get everyone’s opinions!
      Thanks Deborah!

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  44. “Cursed brightly”?!? What the fuck is that pussy of an asshole typist trying to say? Grow some balls and just fucking say it. No, profanity does not offend or surprise me in the least, unless it spills out of the yap of someone under age ten or maybe if it was coming out of the pope’s mouth after he pounds his thumb with a hammer and screams, “Jesus fucking Christ!” Yet, under those circumstances, I would say the exact same thing, so I’d be inclined to give The Pontiff a cursing pass, too. What offends me even more than cursing is when someone writes “sh*t” or “f*ck”. That really fucking annoys me. If you can’t spell it out, don’t use it.

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    • Love it V! Hilarious!
      I think we hit on the same point. Why allude to it? Just say it already dammit! :)
      I am assuming my audience will be adult and not cloistered for the last 30 years, so they should be able to read a cuss word or two..
      I don’t think that our humble ex-Pontiff would curse, but like you said, it really doesn’t shock me anymore as long as it’s not a kid.
      You should definitely blog about your pet peeve. It will polarize your commenters, but it would make for a great discussion in your comment section!

      Like

    • HA! I love your comment. It had me rolling! I couldn’t agree with you more. If the situation calls for it then bring it on, let it out. I’m not offended if I read it, only if it’s addressed to me directly … then it’s on dude. It’s pinche on! Spanish English in any language … it on!

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  45. Dammit Susie, when I curse, hell I curse vehemently. Brightly !!!!!!! Using the f-bomb is just a sign or ignorance of good cursing skills. Old story: Back in HS days had a priest for a teacher who addressed the topic of cursing in this manner: “it’s a damn bad habit and it sounds like hell”, and from that time on I cleaned up my everyday language (except for when I hit my thumb with a hammer). Happy Sunday!
    Paul

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    • Hi Papa bear Paul!
      Love it! I was brought up to be ladylike, but the times they are a changin’… I still don’t hear a lot of cursing in everyday banter, but I would assume that when my friends are alone and they slam their finger in a car door, they may let one slip!
      Your priest sounds like a character. We had a few like him back in the day too! His joke made an impression. :)
      Happy Monday!

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      • Just a side note, Susie…, that priest became a non-priest who met and married an un-nun. Does that mean that they will have a non/un family???
        He also became a great friend and we had some really interesting discussions on the topic of “religion”.

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        • I bet that you did! The priest that married Danny and I after we dated for about a weekend, quit the priesthood too! Neither of us lived back in Wisconsin, so I have no idea what happened to him.

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  46. I think if the cursing is used appropriately to enhance the readers image of the character or the scene it’s perfectly acceptable and much more realistic than using weird replacements that no one understands. People curse…even the best of us have our moments..that’s life.

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    • So true and that is what I wondered. I have been wrong before. I know. It’s a shock… insert giggle here…
      For some reason every time I read, “He cursed,” it just feels lame. Muttering something under his breath would be better, don’t you think?
      I hope your week is devoid of cursing moments this week, Lisa!
      Thanks for stopping by!

      Like

  47. I learned to curse in college, I was taught that your language choices reflected your education level, but I don’t believe that is the case – take for example – the Mayor of Chicago, I understand he can swear like no one else and then there is a certain former Governor of Illinois who swears on tape.

    I know some very educated folks who swear like sailors! Four letter words are used to because all of the better words are taken – take for example golf. Now that is a swear word… but in writing (and in reading), it depends on your characters who they are, what they are doing, where they are if they are going to swear a blue streak or not. Just sayin’

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    • Wow! Thanks for all the info! I had no idea that politicos from Illinois cursed so brightly!
      I remember hearing that swearing showed the coarseness and lack of education of an individual, but I agree. Not anymore!
      I will have to say “GOLF!” the next time I hit my thumb!
      Great advice about the type of character being portrayed. Thanks so much Clay!

      Like

  48. I actually like the phrase ‘cursed brightly’. I may start dropping it into conversation, Susie!

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  49. Cursed brightly? What the hell does that mean? Did they say the f-word while giggling?

    I’m okay with a well-place swear word as long as it fits the mood and the placement in the story. Hell, yeah.

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    • Hey Robin!
      I know. My sentiments exactly, but the author did include the f-bomb among other cuss words. It is just so funny sounding to me.
      Good point about it being well-placed. Thanks so much for weighing in!

      Like

  50. I’m never going to get the words ‘cursed brightly’ out of my head now. Cursing is way more natural. Most people drop a bomb of some sort when they drop things or hurt themselves :)

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    • Or if someone is out of control of life or death situation, or they are really, really, really angry!
      I actually found “cursed brightly” a second time in the book… and the author includes f-bombs!
      Thanks Catherine! Have a curse-free week!

      Like

  51. I think the bomb can be effectively used for character development or plot development. But it can be overused so use it carefully and cautiously. And brightly.

    And I’m on revision eleventeen-hundred & sixty-two. Time to step away for a while for me.

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    • If I use the f-bomb, it will probably only be once, for impact, like the bomb that it is!
      My characters won’t let me take a break (they are very persuasive), but enjoy yours!!
      It has been fun to see the different comments.. so far it is thumbs down on cursing brightly… :)
      Thanks for stopping by Renee!

      Like

  52. As soon as I saw the title of this post, I said – Huh??? Let me say, upfront, that the f-bomb falls from my tongue easily and often. I am mindful of the fact that not everyone is comfortable with those kinds of words, so I keep a lid on it when I’m around most people. In my reading or TV/movie viewing, it doesn’t bother me as long as the cursing is in keeping with the character. A good story has believable characters. People swear, some more than others. Some people don’t swear at all.

    Adverbs, IMHO, are only good for playing Tom Swifties – as in, “I seem to have had an accident with the axe,” Tom said off-handedly. Or, “Sonof–, that light is blinding me,” she cursed brightly. ;-)

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    • Hahaha! Mary this is great!
      I use all kinds of language when I am by myself or with my husband.. That is a great point about being true to the character. There are some vast differences in them.
      I love Tom Swifties and your “brilliant” examples – hilarious! :)

      Like

  53. I don’t mind an occasional “damn” or “crap,” but I do get turned off by a constant stream of expletives. I watched part of one episode of the Sopranos once and decided if they had to talk that way I didn’t have to watch the program. I think a clever writer can get a point across without resorting to gutter language.

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    • I agree! It can become like shots to the gut. I can’t listen to too much of it and I would think that too many would turn a reader off. I will use them only a couple of times. With what happens in my story, it would be unnatural if no cuss words were ever uttered. It will be interesting to hear what my beta readers think. They certainly won’t think I’ve overdone it, since I only plan to use them a couple of times….Maybe they’ll want more!
      Thanks for the advice David!

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  54. As you said, it’s supposed to be realistic.
    Although there are areas (my family’s home) where swearing is really frowned upon and “brightly” would be as close as you could get, I taught special needs middle school and one of the things I didn’t have to teach were expletives. Most of the students came with the entire package. It does sound more normal; it can be overdone; however, used “sparingly” I think it add spice and realism.
    Scott

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    • Great advice! I like your idea of it sounding normal and not overdoing it. We weren’t allowed to swear or even say butt in our house when growing up. My dad giggled while reading a joke about “shit” when I visited last week.It was actually hilarious.
      Thanks so much Scott!

      Like

  55. never ever would it bother me.. the way 50 shades is written is nuts.

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  56. I learned it early and was punished which encouraged me. Four years in the military polished my skills. Now it’s as natural as sh**titing. which sometimes slips out at the supermarket or church.

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    • I think we all slip once in a while. At church???? :) I am glad to hear that it is natural for you too. I had planned on including a couple and will try to make them appear as natural as possible!
      Thanks so much Tom!

      Like

      • B******t might slip out when the priest tells us with one side of his mouth that God loves and then condemning birth control even though a few less people might help us keep God’s planet in better shape. One thing a nice semi-swear word that I’ve come to love and use is asshat.

        Like

  57. PS- When I read the title to this post, I thought it had something to do with Mensa. Those people curse brightly.

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  58. Well, I just so happen to use curse words in just about everything I do. Yes, even daily affirmations. I think as far as novels are concerned, the emphasis has to be on what the moment is asking for. If saying shit or bitch or yes, even fuck (sorry) at the point of contact allows the reader to feel the very thing the character is experiencing, then aim and fire.
    I used a four letter variety in my post today, because it just fit what I was trying to convey. I re-read it, and went “Hmm,” after which I said “What the hell…it works.”

    Like

    • I so agree with you and I think we all have to admit to using these words at least once in a while. (in your daily affirmations??? Hahaha!)
      I can only speak for myself, but when I read a book without any cuss words and it takes place in present day, it makes me wonder.
      I will fire away, but sparingly….
      Great to see you Cayman! I was getting worried…. :) Thanks for the great advice!

      Like

  59. Perfectly hysterical. (just had to throw that in)
    Cursing and selection of dialogue curses depends on the book’s era and the character’s personality.
    While “brightly” is worth a chuckle – it does seem a bit perky for an angry emotional outburst…unless Mary Poppins or a drunk Winnie the pooh/Piglet. (that time of being stuck in the pot of honey?)
    When writing try to select vocabulary that is in tune with the story’s era/location and the character’s age/upbringing/ personality. Nothing is worse than having a character’s dialogue use words not in common usage for that story/character.
    Appropriate dialogue keeps the story real and honest?
    Whew – good luck with this one (you also have to consider your audience if you plan on being a big seller, and of course you will be!)

    Like

    • Awwww! Thanks so much. I can only hope and pray….
      Love your “perky” characters! My story takes place in present day, so that makes it a little easier. I did ask for some help from a friend who grew up in the South of France, (where my novel takes place). There may be some expressions used there that I’m not familiar with.. The cuss word usage is the same!
      Thanks for the advice! It was very helpful!

      Like

  60. I curse darkly and often. It suits my writing and scares easily offended readers from my blog before I do any real damage to their tender psyches.

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    • Hahaha! Now darkly I can see! Isn’t that ironic, since brightly turned me off…
      Love your blog! I think most are getting used to seeing cuss words. My thinking is if someone doesn’t like what I write, the blogosphere is a big place!
      Thanks for coming by Averil!

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  61. I avoid adverbs as if they are a carrier of plague. There are other words I take great care to avoid, and give great consideration before one gets used in my writing.

    With expletives, judicious use. I’ve one character with a rough edge, and in one scene she tosses around f-bombs, with intent. There are some words that are essential to speak and thus repetitive to some extent, but with less common words, take great care and seek alternatives. Dictionaries, more than one, line my links bar above, along with a thesaurus, etymology, rhyming, etc. And then there are times when a made up word will work.

    Like

    • A made up word? Cool!
      I agree about adverbs. I have only been writing for a short time and now they just glare at me (brightly?) from the page if overused. Once in a while doesn’t bother me….
      Love the links idea. I am always in search of more descriptive passages…
      Thanks for coming by Nelle and giving me your advice. Great to “see” you!

      Like

      • Made up words can be fun, if used sparingly, if understood in meaning one intends to convey, and with judicious placement.

        We all have our own style of writing. I do a lot of searching of opinion on the net, see what suits and what doesn’t in terms of writing tips. Writing rules can be broken, again so long as one evaluates whether doing so enhances the story.

        Bottom line though… do these things, and write, write write. We all get better from ‘practise’.

        You have a way of telling stories, and you love to do it. Keep telling them, keep writing. Keep looking to better yourself, as we all need to do.

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        • That’s why I blog! I am way behind and am racing to catch up…
          I probably break rules because I am not aware of them. Writing is my passion and I am like a sponge… :)
          Thanks so much Nelle!

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  62. I’m with Lynn on avoiding use of GD and JC, and with Julie Catherine on use of the C_ _ _ word in my own manuscripts. I wouldn’t put a book down if I read them. But, it had better be a villain. It gives me all the more reason to amp my dislike and disdain for him/her. [Justice! We want justice!]

    Other than that — it depends on the character and the situation. If I’m “in voice” with the characters and the situation, the words invent themselves. At least that’s what happens with me.

    Same with the “mechanics” you described in your sex scenes. I don’t need to know which parts are engaged all the time. Sometimes? Oh, yeah. Engage all the senses, including sight. I have the most fun writing about what the POV character is feeling.

    Cursing brightyly? Good grief, that’s half of an oxymoronic saying. I leave it to you decide which half.

    I am so excited about reading your book, Susie. Be true to your characters and yourself. The rest? If it offends, your writing simply isn’t right for that particular reader. It happens.

    Like

    • Such great advice Gloria! I love your idea of being true to my characters and myself. It’s great that commenters are letting me know their limits, words which I wouldn’t consider using anyway.

      Sometimes I don’t need the words at all to feel the character’s angst or anger over slamming their thumb with a hammer… :)

      It seems like we are hellbent to using more and more “colorful metaphors” in everyday language all over the world, so it seems logical to include them. It would be different if it were a children’s book!
      Thanks so much for stopping by! Great advice!

      Like

  63. I use them all over the fucking place. Maybe I should rethink that.

    LOL

    Great post, Susie, and yes, I’ll buy, read and review your book when it’s ready. You will get me to read a paranormal, which I’ve been digging my heels on.

    Nia

    Like

    • Hahaha! Nia, you crack me up!
      Awwww! Thanks so much. :) I am so excited to finish and yet I want it to be polished before I query agents. Yep. It will include a couple of swear words…

      Like

  64. The cursing is as useful in showing more about a character as they do (or don’t) curse.
    For myself, I stay away from curing in writing because I do it so much in real life, that I deliberately try to avoid it when writing.

    Like

    • I can see that. I try to avoid it on my blog, but not today! Hahaha! I won’t avoid it in my book. The characters are adults and I gotta believe given the situation, anyone would cuss…
      It has been great to get everyone’s take on this.
      Thanks for stopping and weighing in!

      Like

  65. Julie Catherine

    Susie, I have no objection to reading curse words, as long as they’re necessary, appropriate and used to make the situation or dialogue realistic – and not every other word of the entire book, or I’ll think the writer has a supreme lack of imagination. That being said, there are a few words that always turn me off no matter where, when or how widely used they are. I hesitate to even spell them out here: “C_ _ _ t, C _ _ _ _ _ cker, and mother_ _ _ _ er” – as far as I’m concerned, there are better ways to say these ones. “Cursed brightly”? That actually made me giggle! LOL. :D

    Like

    • Julie Catherine

      Geeze, that first “c” word bothered me to much I even had the wrong number of blanks in it!

      Like

      • Julie Catherine

        *bothered me SO much … see what I mean?

        Like

        • You are like me! I would get flustered too! I really hesitated in typing the word “fuck,” but it would have been ridiculous not to include it. Actually, it is a lot more common these days then a lot of cuss words.
          I agree about the overuse of them. Some writers use them as a shock factor, but after a while it wears off and we can see that it is really just thinly veiled poor writing, like you said.
          I hope you washed your hands really well afterward.. Hahaha!
          Thanks for your advice!

          Like

  66. You are a writer after my own heart! I have had it beaten into me for years by editors, peers, and successful writing classes and groups that great stories are done by “showing” not “telling.” I doubt I’ve ever cursed “brightly.” what I can say is I’ve screamed out damn, or fuck, or crap thousands of times.

    And you hit the nail on the head when you said you were taken out of the story. Why don’t more writers realize that when a reader encounters a speed bump in their story, such as “cursing brightly,” the reader is suddenly taken out of the scene, and if it happens enough, they will no longer bother trying to get back in. The book or story gets put down, never to be picked up again.

    Thanks for a great post!

    Like

    • Thanks Barney!
      There are other things that take me out like weird metaphors or strange sex scenes that aren’t at all sexy or giant plot holes. I hope I don’t have any of these foibles in my book!
      I think most of us do cuss a thousand times or more in a lifetime and it is strange sometimes to read an entire book without one!

      It seems that most of the commenters agree with you and I, in that the last thing an author wants is for someone to put down their book.

      I’ll be careful, but plan to plant a few during the more “explosive” scenes.
      Thanks so much and for your thoughts!

      Like

  67. “Curse brightly” doesn’t bother me. I can see situations where leaving the specifics to the reader’s imagination would have a greater impact than spelling it out…just my two cents.

    Like

    • I am big on showing, but when the character completely loses it, they may cuss..I don’t think any of them will be cursing brightly… :)
      It has been fun to read everyone’s take on cursing in books. It is different than life since we rarely see someone at their worst. Don’t worry, I’ll be careful!
      Thanks for your thoughts!

      Like

  68. I’m SOOOO with you. Bad dialogue can absolutely RUIN a good scene of fiction. Cursing is part of dialogue, dammit, and when necessary, it’s necessary. There’s no suitable substitute. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been yanked out of a network TV drama by some street tough cop saying he’s “..gonna nail this gosh darned perp before he stinking kills again”

    Network TV limitations may be part of the reason why TV cops are so often silent and brooding. In the case of some of the actors, we can give silent thanks. The less David Caruso says, the better.

    Getting back to writing though, cursing is part of some people’s language, and needs to be included as such. In other cases, the character is NOT a curser, so when they finally do, it’s a big deal. That being said, cursing and dialogue in general is really tough to write well. When it works, the reader really get’s to know the characters and is right there with them. When it doesn’t work, we get disconnected and fiction becomes fictional.

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    • I love your idea 1point! That would add a lot to the drama, if she only used the words when completely at the end of her rope, literally… no wait… she is never at the end of a rope. But I get it!

      I didn’t realize they didn’t curse on CSI! I heard the kid from Modern Family say, “What the hell?” just last week, so I assumed they were harsher on cop shows.

      Thanks for your input!

      Like

  69. Aside from it’s legitimate use as a modifier for that which shines brightly is not part of anyone’s vocabulary that I know. The one curse I cannot stand is mother——. I hate it and yet as it is used by some people and those people may become characters in books I read. It’s authentic dialogue creates believable characters that come to life on the page.

    Like

    • I don’t get the “brightly” thing either. It might be a way that people curse in another part of the country I haven’t visited yet. Maybe when they do curse, everyone is temporarily blinded. :)

      Those harsh words are even hard to write, but I understand what you are saying. I could see someone adding them to the end of the climax with the beaten down hero uttering, “Die MF!” Right before he sends him off a cliff, or triggers the C4, or … I am such a wimp and can’t type them either. You won’t find that combo in this book!
      Thanks for the advice!

      Like

  70. I’ll be short and sweet about this: if there aren’t any cuss words it’s just not realistic. I say that because it happens every single day in the real world there isn’t a person around that hasn’t said something at one time or another.

    Like

  71. If it’s paranormal or sci-fi esp futuristic you can invent curse words which are not curse words in English because they don’t exist but the reader can surmise what the curse word is. For example on Babylon 5 they used the word “fracking” instead of our contemporary F-word. An SOB can become a Zargon child or as the ancient Roman’s used to say “a whore’s son”. Excrement can become “bowl droppings ” for Martians or a made up word of alternative world “umpoff” for example. Also depends upon the readership to whom you wish to appeal. Have never used a curse word on my cartoon blog or on comments on blogs which I visit. I don’t think there is anything wrong with ly words and have never heard an admonition against their use. I call adverbs “when, why or how” qualifiers.

    Like

    • Thanks for stopping by Carl.
      I am not one to leave a cuss word in a comment either.

      I had mentioned that alien cuss word idea to my husband yesterday. It would be a blast to come up with them. Shmitgog!
      I think we all brand ourselves a certain way and have to go with what’s comfortable.

      I reeeeeeally felt uncomfortable typing fuck. That is just not what most come to see on my blog, but given the subject, it would have been the elephant in the room. Now create a cartoon for that Carl. Hahaha!

      Like

  72. No cursing brightly. The paranormal book you’re writing is for adults and you’re editing? Yes? Then, used sparingly and for maximum effect, adults curse. And adult males curse in the company of other males or in their deep inner point of view. I know this because I’ve worked in male environments and have heard them greet their best pals on the phone with, ‘How the f*$ck are you?’ (At the time they’d no idea I could hear them or that I was in the vicinity.) They never, ever cursed in front of women. Ever. In fiction females never drop the Fbomb, although they might use a little curse in their deep inner point of view like, ‘Shitty, shit, shit.’ When they’ve done or said something they shouldn’t or feel something they don’t want to feel (usually attraction or lurve.)

    Having said all of the above, there can be exceptions to every rule. Many a hero pushed above and beyond to the end of his tether by a woman (usually one of my heroines) has been known to say, ‘You f%$!!ing kill me.’ or ‘You drive me f%$!!ing crazy.’ But by then, it is in all honesty a term of endearment and the woman concerned is usually perfectly happy and thrilled to bits she’s driven him to that point. :)

    Like

    • In the States neither sex is shy about cursing, at least around me. Jeez… what does that say about me??? :)
      I wrote a short story once with almost those same “shitty” words after my poor heroine fell off her bike into the mud. Hahaha! I would love to expand on that short story some day. She was hilarious and kind of a klutz….
      I like the deep within the male POV idea. Thanks so much for the expert advice CC! :)

      Like

  73. My screenwriting software actually has a feature which makes a chart of all the curse words I use in a script. My bank robbery script has so many variations of the “f word” that the company that makes the software actually mailed me a bar of soap and a letter telling me to put it in my mouth… ;)

    Like

  74. Seriously, can we do away with substitudes like f—k for fuck or s– for sex…TV stations in West Africa still censor cuss words in films even after advising parental guardiance and I don’t find it funny anymore. It’s such a big scam.
    When posterity comes to read our literature do we want to have them believe we never cuss out while we dealt with shit from fellow men?

    Like

    • Hey Charles! How are things in Africa?
      That is so interesting that they censor cuss words there. Here, some are edited on television, but we hear many even during family hours on television. My target audience will be adult, so they should be able to handle a couple.I hope to keep everyone on the page… :)
      Thanks so much for your advice!

      Like

  75. Wow, that’s a great pic, Susie, but what a bummer that you nailed your thumb. I can’t wait to read your book. I know it’s going to be awesome.

    There are a couple swear words that make me cringe, mainly GD it and JC. I can handle the rest. It took me a few years of working on my YA novel to finally feel comfortable adding swearing where it’s realistic. I mean some of my characters are edgy teens, and they cuss. Used sparingly, I’m okay with it. If I read “cursed brightly,” it would yank me right out of the story, too!

    Like

    • Great to see you Lynn!
      It pulled me right out. And this is a book that uses the F-bomb..

      That is such great advice about the difference in cursing and swearing. I don’t want to alienate anyone and really am not that particular about which to use so I will keep that in mind and out of the book!

      My thumb hurt for a while! Hahaha! What a goofball I am. I’ll do anything for a blog post, but that really wasn’t necessary~ :)

      Like

  76. Susie, some of my characters curse — wildly (I too love adverbs). I think it’s absolutely necessary in fiction writing if you’re writing that kind of book in order to make your characters seem, well like real people. As you know, character development is vital to making a reader care about or hate or love the characters you create and that includes all kinds of human foibles, traits, etc. It’s when we don’t give a shiz-nit about what happens to a character that the story dies a slow death. And no writer wants that. Let your character curse — if that what he or she does — brightly or darkly, just let ‘em! (this is, of course, only my humble opinion). :)

    Like

    • Thanks so much Brigitte! I am not catering to a young crowd, so I will choose careful -ly! :)
      You are right about the slow death. I have seen movies like that too. My hope is to pull the reader in and eliminate as many obstacles for the reader as possible. I will leave them for my heroine!
      Thanks so much for the advice!

      Like

    • I basically said the same thing Brigitte said but with 5 or 6 curse words. Some neologistic ones too.

      Like

      • How do you know words like neologistic? I know what it is now. Thank God for FSOG…and what are they?

        Like

        • The term neologisms was embedded in my brain by a lecturer of English Language History in college. It’s the only thing I remember from the class. Well, that word, and the concept of how curse words are just that, words (topical!) it’s culture that makes them “bad”.
          I’m big on contractions right now, especially when driving:
          Fucknose
          Cockbag
          and my new favorite word for sex: bang sesh, as in, bang session.

          Your characters should definitely have a go-to curse word, or phrase.

          Like

      • You are so smart. You and your neologistic cursing, you. Your neologistical vocabulary is wildly and fantastically entertaining whilst I grudgingly look up what neologistic means so that I can carefully reply with intelligent repartee.

        Like

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