Do You Curse Brightly?

For Writers - Cursing and Swearing in Books. How much is too much? Writing tips and advice, Writing characters, novel writing ideas, blogging tips, creative writing #writingtips #writingnovels #creativewriting #writingcharacters

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?

Click for more of my Wild Ride!

Related articles:

On Writing, Querying, and Perseverance

Your Personal Brand and How to Improve It!

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

Ode to a Four Letter Word – New York Books

186 thoughts on “Do You Curse Brightly?

Add yours

  1. The ahl al-dhimma, mainly the Christians, were thickly populated in Egypt.The people trunks are [url=]Authentic Custom Jerseys Sale[/url] overmuch many lowborn in MMA, but I necessity to attain it cleared. aaatix. The good news is that the top brand names with the action enjoyment Adidas, nike and possibly even talk appear to have been carrying out really good court runners cardio exercise. However, watermelons are notorious for having loads of sugar and calories in them. Aside from, this chip also characteristics 256MB GDDR3 video clip reminiscence that may be ideally [url=]Authentic MLB Jerseys Sale[/url] suited for graphic processing and an additional 256MB of XDR RAM suitable on your consoles CPU. Our men鈥檚 accessories category holds a range of items that cleverly mix style, practicality and innovation. The demand is simply there because no where else in Europe delivers better weather, better year round sports, better medical and communications infrastructure – all in all Spain delivers A BETTER QUALITY OF LIFE. Customized for guys to indicate their personal identity. However, its also important to critical services, like hospitals, which need a regular electricity supply to power vital medical equipment. If you follow the instructions that the stock trading robot gives to you, you’ll be able to make a huge profit in just [url=]Authentic NFL Jerseys[/url] a few days, and you can continue to make money on the stock market simply by following the suggestions and instructions of the trading robot.


  2. 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.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: