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.
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?
Click for more of my Wild Ride!
On Writing, Querying, and Perseverance
Your Personal Brand and How to Improve It!
When to Use Swear Words in Your Writing – Writer’s Digest
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My friend Zawmb’yee curses too much. It’s getting to be a bad habit, and it disturbs the elders, although it can be funny. But she should not be corrupting the language — I mean, aren’t there damn more elegant ways to say things. I mean, if someone puts a horse’s head in your bed, it doesn’t always mean you have to worry. It could just be someone rehearsing a scene from a movie with props.
Look here, Zawmb’yee and Doug were telling ghost stories in a cabin in the woods and so she got scared a little. But there wasn’t actually a ghost there — just a common ordinary poltergeist or something. No need to curse. Doug wrote about it in his diary quasi-blog thing. Damn, what’s the word for it. Anyway, so… Zawmb’yee said:
“Oh Kievifkwa — Doug, see what’s out there, get the Kievifkwapa door closed.”
I ran to the door and looked out. I leaned on it and pushed with my legs to get it closed.
“Anything there?” she asked.
“No. The door wasn’t fully closed and latched I think. We were in a hurry and forgot to fully close it I think.”
“How could you not close it. Oh Kievifkwa. Damn!”
“Um, Utcoozhoo always says ‘when a fierce wind blows, put up a Windmill’.”
“Ha! That doesn’t sound like what Utcoozhoo would say.”
“Well,” I said, “s’pose not.”
“Well yeah, but he’d say, ‘the stark-naked breeze has no debris and with ease we can breathe a sigh of relief like the leaf that bends and doesn’t break, and um, and um uh’ …”
“Ha-ha-HA-ha-ha. I don’t THINK so, oh; nah-nah-nah,” she said.
I love your cave stories, Natzko! There are a few people out there who could benefit from their own personal windmill. Ha!