1. Fullmetal Xeno
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    Fullmetal Xeno Protector of Literature Contributor

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    Is Profanity really needed?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Fullmetal Xeno, Aug 5, 2011.

    I ask this question cause it seems when there Dark movies theres alot of constant swearing going on, if i ever wanted to capture that feeling without swearing, would that be a good choice? Cause if i wanted my book Blue Phoenix to be mature (in a narrative manner) where it doesn't seem too unrealistic and is not like your normal superhero story where everything goes the right way. Im just wondering cause i don't want it to feel too unrealistic but not too much profanity. I want my characters to escape the simple dialogue, but i don't want it to be unneeded and unnecessary where it's more of a adult book that is filled with language then a book that's young adult and dark that isn't too corny or too simple. Does anybody understand what im trying to say here?
     
  2. Mikeyface
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    Mikeyface Member

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    I think there's a thread about this right beneath yours, heh.

    Anywho, it all depends on what you're attempting to write. There is no finite answer to this.

    Movies tend to have more swearing than books, but real life has more swearing than movies.

    Language is meant to be explored!

    (Except when it's an MTV reality show.)
     
  3. AfterBroadway
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    AfterBroadway Senior Member

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    If used correctly I think profanity can convey a certain emotion more intensely. It's sort of like exclamations.

    What sounds better when you're flustered?

    "What's going on?"

    Or...

    "What the fuck is going on?!"

    Haha, of course I swear like a god damn sailor so I feel like I'm defending myself rather than the art of writing
     
  4. Radrook
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    Radrook Contributing Member

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    It can be used to convey character, values, level of education, morals, geographic origin, ethnicity, sub-cultural membership-etcetera.
     
  5. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    That really depends. If it's something a character would do realistically, then go for it. ;)

    Less is more, a lot of the time.

    This is just a personal preference, but I don't like it when the 'cop-out' versions are being used, when they just don't fit the situation or character. I'd rather a writer grows some balls and swears, as opposed to making do with a carefully placed 'darn it' or similar ilk.
     
  6. Shadowstar
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    Shadowstar Member

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    Swearing is really needed but it can convey emotions and the importance of somethings better than without it. I'm not saying obviously that every intense, emotional kind of thing needs swearing.
    I absolutely can't stand reading things have have swears thrown in for no reason. Even when that's the characters way of talking I don't like it.
    If its something that would seem realistic, and that someone would really say in that situation though, do it. Just don't go overboard, or use light substitutions for them, darn it, etc.
     
  7. LostBreakingDevelopment
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    LostBreakingDevelopment New Member

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    I've seen plenty of works that are free of profanity and are very enjoyable. Just because your characters don't cure doesn't mean your novel can't have a great sense of realism. I say as long as everything in your novel remains grounded in reality, a curse-free book is fine.
    Good luck!
     
  8. Radrook
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    Radrook Contributing Member

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    I agree 100%. In fact, when a work of fiction is over-brimming with foul language, one sometimes begins to suspect that the writer lacks substance and is trying to compensate with verbal shock value. Such sudden diatribes are usually sporadic and disconnected. More like whims of the moment when the writer is feeling at loss as to what comes next and feels like blowing off steam and decides to do it through his MC or SC.
     
  9. cybrxkhan
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    cybrxkhan Contributing Member

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    As others suggested, you don't need profanity. Then again, you don't don't need profanity. Use whatever feels best for your story.

    Don't try to use profanity just to sound "dramatic" or "mature" or whatever. Then again, don't try to avoid profanity just to make your story "nice" and "pleasant". Use it when you need to. There are definitely characters who might curse quite a bit, and situations where it makes sense - I would find it odd, for instance, if I read a war novel where there wasn't at least a bit of cursing and swearing. There are also times, as others suggested, when profanity can be used to help the story - in the infamous The Catcher in the Rye, the main character uses quite some profanity in his narration, but he never resorts to saying the f-word; when he does come across it, scrawled in graffitti, he is extremely angry that people would do that kind of thing; thus, profanity is used to demonstrate certain attitudes or viewpoints the main character has.

    You can think of it like other more "questionable" elements such as sex or bloody gore and so forth - if your story needs it, and/or it fits your story well, then use it; if you feel like it'd detract from the story and/or be unnecessary, then ignore it.
     
  10. bluejt2000
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    bluejt2000 Member

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    "Is Profanity really needed?"

    No, but good grammar is. Check yours before worrying about anything else.
     
  11. Fullmetal Xeno
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    Fullmetal Xeno Protector of Literature Contributor

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    How is that wrong? Excuse me if it's wrong, i haven't had alot of sleep lately, some of my grammar might not be at it's best. Everybody makes mistakes.
     
  12. cybrxkhan
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    cybrxkhan Contributing Member

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    I think he means that "profanity" should not be capitalized, though frankly I don't mind myself as long as you make sure you proofread your manuscript well enough.

    Everybody makes mistakes. :)
     
  13. Fullmetal Xeno
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    Fullmetal Xeno Protector of Literature Contributor

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    Oh i didn't notice that i capitalized a second word XD. I seem to do that a lot, even though i don't intend too. oops. I usually am really careful when i read my own manuscripts i'll make sure everything is in a proper form and capitalization isn't repeated XD.
     
  14. Gigi_GNR
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    Gigi_GNR Guys, come on. WAFFLE-O. Contributor

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    Don't go overboard with it, but it can be used to underline a scene.
     
  15. Fullmetal Xeno
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    Fullmetal Xeno Protector of Literature Contributor

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    I don't plan for it to go overboard, but when it's needed.
     
  16. Marcelo
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    Marcelo Contributing Member

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    There are dozens of writing elements, one of them being the eponymous profanity. It can either improve or worsen whatever you're writing, just like every other writing element; it really depends on how and when you use it.
    But to answer the original question: no, profanity is not needed, it is but a modifier. :)
     
  17. CH878
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    CH878 Active Member

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    In my opinion, you have two choices for using swearing in your novel. You can either use it as much as is realistic, which is probably a lot if you want to mirror the real world, or you can use it very sparingly, saving it for moments of extreme emotion in which case it will impact much more on the reader. The second option might also be viewed by some as the more sophisticated route.

    What I would say is that if a book is set in the modern era or an era very similar to it, some swearing is necessary for realism, because without, that just isn't the way people talk.
     
  18. Red Diamond
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    Red Diamond New Member

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    In Irvine Welsh's books, profanity is acceptable because that kind of language suits the characters, themes and situations. J M Barrie, on the other hand, would have had a hard time justifying the use of profanity.
     
  19. AllThingsMagical
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    I tend to use a couple of swear words in a novel just for effect or to convey emotion. Generally though I prefer not to and often resort to writing something along the lines of - Character A swore loudly as they ...

    I think there are certain situations where it makes more sense to use profanities that to try to avoid it. That said if a writer truly objected to the use of swear words they should be able to easily find a way around it. So I guess it's not necessary but it adds variety and realism.
     

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