Tags:
  1. shaylyn
    Offline

    shaylyn Member

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2012
    Messages:
    72
    Likes Received:
    1

    Need help replacing a word.

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by shaylyn, Feb 29, 2012.

    I really don't like the word "damn". I'm really okay with any other curse word but, being a somewhat reserved Christian, I really don't like that word. Not the point, but I thought I needed to throw that out there. ANYWAY,

    Do you ever come across a part in a book you're writing where there is really just no other way to put something?
    I am writing a story and am having trouble with one small section. Here's the snippet I'm referring to.

    “Get off of me!” I exclaimed trying to shove him away.
    “Keep your damn voice down!” He hissed looking around the corner.
    I shut my mouth and listened. Everything was silent. The snow muted any sound that would have been coming from the freeway.


    Now I really don't want to use the word "damn" and am looking for an alternative that will still get the point across that this guy means what he's saying. I tried "blasted" but that almost makes him sound like an old man.

    Do any of you know of a better word?

    Thanks
     
  2. Unit7
    Offline

    Unit7 Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2009
    Messages:
    1,151
    Likes Received:
    59
    Simple. Since you don't have a problem with other curse words you go with the only other curse word that makes sense.

    "Keep your fucking voice down"

    I am pretty sure thats about the best you can do if you just wanted to replace the word.

    Sorry if I broke any policy on using curse words. I am not 100% sure on them and I try not to use them to often on sites like these.
     
  3. shaylyn
    Offline

    shaylyn Member

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2012
    Messages:
    72
    Likes Received:
    1
    I thought of that word too but it seems a bit too harsh :p If only there were like a happy medium.
     
  4. funkybassmannick
    Offline

    funkybassmannick Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2011
    Messages:
    836
    Likes Received:
    30
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    Sounds like you're looking for something with only one syllable, so it flows. "Keep your voice down!" is a bit too cliche and bland, and "damn" really solves that problem. Maybe replace it with an adjective to describe "voice?" I can't think of any right now, but an example: "Keep your big mouth shut!"

    I think you might want to consider replacing the whole sentence entirely. What else could he say there? Maybe something insulting, showing his frustration? Something that heavily hints at the relationship the two have, perhaps? You won't need to swear if the original sentence is more interesting.
     
  5. minstrel
    Offline

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2010
    Messages:
    8,724
    Likes Received:
    4,821
    Location:
    Near Los Angeles
    I'd just use "damn." I don't believe in God, but if I did, I'm pretty sure he wouldn't mind. :)

    I had a similar problem in my first draft of my first novel. I didn't use any "bad" words at all, in the entire 78,000 word manuscript, except one. A character told my MC something he didn't believe, and my MC said "Horseshit." My MC was slightly drunk when he said this, so his inhibitions were loosened up, and it was the absolutely perfect word to express what he was thinking. But it's the ONLY bad word in the ms, and that always made me uncomfortable. It's like sticking your toe in the swimming pool water and finding it too cold, so the only wet part of you is your toe. It's a bit embarrassing.
     
  6. Dullener
    Offline

    Dullener Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2012
    Messages:
    56
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Interesting. Earth.
    I think damn fits perfectly. Fucking is also good. Well... no character minds except oversensitive.
    D.
    Damn it!
     
  7. Jowettc
    Offline

    Jowettc Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2012
    Messages:
    207
    Likes Received:
    8
    "Keep your stupid voice down!"
    "Shut the hell up dumb ass!"
    "Put a sock in it!"
    "Shut your face!"

    and others maybe...don't really know how any of those fit with your writing style but some options anyways.
     
  8. Nakhti
    Offline

    Nakhti Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2012
    Messages:
    400
    Likes Received:
    16
    I also think 'Damn' works perfectly - its a natural expression, flows well, and has about the right weight to it in terms of tone. Trying to substitute any other word would just look like you're trying to avoid using the obvious one, which you are. So I agree with Funky - if you're not going to use 'damn' I'd reword the sentence completely.

    I assume 'shut the hell up!' would also offend your reserved Christian sensibilities? How about 'Keep your mouth shut!' or 'Not so loud, idiot!' or something?

    By the way, I know it wasn't the question in your OP but I kinda feel like I have to mention it... you use 'exclaimed' and 'hissed' in your dialogue tags rather than the conventional 'said' - there have been endless debates on this, but they kinda stand out. You might want to read up on dialogue tags in articles like this: http://fmwriters.com/Visionback/Issue%205/tags.htm
     
  9. Kurto
    Offline

    Kurto New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2012
    Messages:
    11
    Likes Received:
    0
    What about a more "slang" sort of expression? "Keep your freakin' voice down!"

    Flippin'? Bloody?

    :)
     
  10. Islander
    Offline

    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2008
    Messages:
    1,542
    Likes Received:
    59
    Location:
    Sweden
    "Darn"?
     
  11. AmyHolt
    Offline

    AmyHolt Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2011
    Messages:
    475
    Likes Received:
    17
    Location:
    Warsaw, IN
    This is my suggestion too. It flows the same way but without some of the negitive connotations. It's actually the most common replacement that I've heard.
     
  12. baggy
    Offline

    baggy Member

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2012
    Messages:
    17
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Brisbane, Australia
    Bloody is a common mild swear word here in Australia & the UK as well. Not sure about USA

    'Keep your bloody voice down.'
     
  13. Nakhti
    Offline

    Nakhti Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2012
    Messages:
    400
    Likes Received:
    16

    Hmm, not an expression they use in the US, from what I gather. It's about as American as 'shut yer bleedin cake 'ole!' :D
     
  14. EdFromNY
    Offline

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2010
    Messages:
    4,684
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    Location:
    Queens, NY
    First of all, in that context it's "damned", not "damn" (although if you are quoting vernacular, "damn" is common usage). Second of all, using it in this context is not, technically speaking, a curse - you (or the speaker) are not damning anyone (i.e. to hell), which would be considered a curse.

    Having said all that, and speaking as a practicing Catholic, my own view is that the traditional religious qualms with using the word "damn" (or any of its variations) have their origins in the medieval belief that God would consign a human being to hell on the request of another human being. This is nonsense - an all-powerful being would never cede a decision on such a matter to one of his creations. In fact, an argument can be made (and has been, for example by St. Theresa, the Little Flower) that a truly loving God would not consign any of his creations to eternal torment.

    "Besides", Henry Drummond says so eloquently in "Inherit the Wind", "there are so damned few words that everyone understands."
     
  15. jazzabel
    Offline

    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2012
    Messages:
    4,273
    Likes Received:
    1,666
    Every time I face a scene where the theme or wording makes me uncomfortable, I take it as a challenge to resolve another one of my personal hangups. The story is sacred in a sense that there's an intuitive process there and if I allow too much censorship, I won't be true to it anymore. Damn is just a word. It's a good, useful word, emotional, melodic. I can see why you would use it in that sentence, I think it flows much better than "bloody" or other suggestions.
    But, if you still choose to self-censor, then it is irrelevant which word you use instead. It will always feel a bit odd because it was forced substitution, imo.
     
  16. Nicholas C.
    Offline

    Nicholas C. Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2011
    Messages:
    209
    Likes Received:
    5

    Don't do this.

    In my opinion either use damn/fucking, or don't use anything at all. Your #1 job as a writer of fiction is to be honest about real life. The passage sounds like a tense situation, and when the vast majority of people are under real-life tense circumstances, they don't say gosh-darnned, frickin', or poop. You have to (once again, in my opinion) be willing to put your own sense of morals aside and determine, honestly, whether or not your character is the type of person to swear every now and again. If he/she is -- please use the real thing. If you don't, you run the risk of losing credibility with the reader.
     
  17. Phoenix Hikari
    Offline

    Phoenix Hikari Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Messages:
    333
    Likes Received:
    6
    I was gonna say that! Though compared to damn, it sounds a bit boyish.

    Maybe you can take the whole cursing-thing off and just show it in his expression.
     
  18. picklzzz
    Offline

    picklzzz Senior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2011
    Messages:
    177
    Likes Received:
    4
    Location:
    Florida
    What about instead of a sentence for him, use an action, such as: He put his hand up. I tried to say something else, but the look in his eye made me close my mouth again.

    Give up a feeling of him more than the literal.

    Also, in the first sentence, I don't care for the word "exclaimed". You already have an exclamation point. "Exclaimed" is redundant. Just my opinion though, but it's overkill.

    How about:

    "Get off of me!" I tried to shove him away.
    He put up his hand. "Shh..." he said, peeking around the corner.
    I tried to say something else, but the look on his face caused my mouth to close again. Everything was silent. The snow muted any sound that would have been coming from the highway.
     
  19. shaylyn
    Offline

    shaylyn Member

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2012
    Messages:
    72
    Likes Received:
    1
    Thanks guys, I have a lot to think about.
     
  20. madhoca
    Offline

    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2008
    Messages:
    2,527
    Likes Received:
    88
    Location:
    the shadow of the velvet fortress
    Yes, but it is not YOU talking, it is your character. Some people, like you, do not swear. Other people often swear. Unless you are going to reinvent the world, or only write dialogue for people who don't swear, you will have to break out of your cocoon sooner or later.
    My mother would just say: 'Quiet!' with a sense of urgency in her voice. She never swears. I don't swear with my students or my children under any circumstances either, so if I was talking to them I'd say the same.

    But your characters are different people. I think they'd say at least 'Shut up!' or perhaps swear.

    Except, if one character is trying to shove the other away, how come the person is looking around at nearly the same time? And anyway, you need to keep the talking to a minimum, given the situation.
     
    1 person likes this.
  21. topeka sal
    Offline

    topeka sal Senior Member

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2011
    Messages:
    135
    Likes Received:
    6
    Agree with Madhoca. If it's something your character would say then he should say it. Be true to the voices of your characters. That's the most important issue, I think.

    In any case, other suggestions (again, depends on who this person is): just plain ol' "Keep your voice down"; "Keep your friggin' voice down"; "Keep your blasted voice down"; "For Chrissakes, keep your voice down"?
     
  22. killbill
    Offline

    killbill Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2012
    Messages:
    559
    Likes Received:
    24
    Location:
    where the mind is without fear...
    'damn', the exclamation mark, and 'hissed', you can omit either one or two of the three and still the idea you want to put across would have been achieved. With the three of them together, I feel u r over doing it. So, you can omit damn. But I agree with others that damn feels like the right word. I would do away with hissed and the exclamation and retain damn.
     
  23. Dryriver
    Offline

    Dryriver Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2011
    Messages:
    113
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Istanbul, Turkey
    If a character is swearing angrily as part of the scene/action, you should depict this as realistically as possible.

    Otherwise your scene may loose its narrative impact.

    If he says "damn" then he says "damn". If he says "fucking" then he says "fucking". And so on.

    Trying to sensor the angry words he speaks may lessen the impact of the whole scene, and contribute to causing your readers to loose interest.
     
  24. Gonissa
    Offline

    Gonissa Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2012
    Messages:
    264
    Likes Received:
    12
    Location:
    Ghost Tower
    I've found I don't like even minor cursing in my stories as well. Look, follow your conscience. Don't listen to people who say you "need" to put in cursing. If your writing is good enough, people will like it even without. Like in Chronicles of Narnia, the Legend of Drizzt, the old (the only) Battlestar Galactica, or the Mortal Kombat movie. They avoid these sorts of words, and people like them just fine. Don't make yourself use words you're uncomfortable with, because that will make you unhappy with your work, and it will only suffer as a result.

    As for the sentence, rework it or leave it as "keep your voice down". It's fine that way, really. Are you comfortable with word like "hell" or "bastard"? Those are words I use a lot when I'm trying to dodge worse things.
     
    1 person likes this.
  25. madhoca
    Offline

    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2008
    Messages:
    2,527
    Likes Received:
    88
    Location:
    the shadow of the velvet fortress
    “Keep your damn voice down!” He hissed looking around the corner.


    The major problem with that sentence is that it is impossible to 'hiss' it since there are no sibilants.
    'Quiet!' would actually be the most natural thing to say under those circumstances, if you are determined to avoid swearing. It makes no sense for the character to explain at length why it is necessary for the other not to speak, just adding to the noise!
     

Share This Page