1. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    Starting with profanity

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Aaron DC, May 21, 2015.

    Full-on profanity warning.

    So the opening line from the opening paragraph of my first ever book has finally revealed itself.

    It's a rant from a character. And goes like this:

    "It's fucked. The whole system - it's fucked"


    So my question is: too much?
     
  2. BrianIff
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    BrianIff I'm so piano, a bad punctuator. Contributor

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    Well, you along with everyone else have watched a movie or two that begins with some profanity. Seems like you want to capture the circumstance's significance through realistic speech. Some might wonder if they can expect a rendition of Casino, so you might want to reassure them that it won't be all f-bombs throughout. And you must acknowledge the book will never be in the Scholastic order guide or rank highly as a Christmas gift for youngsters. If that's cool, it's all good.

    ETA: One last caveat, some readers may think that swearing is a sign of inexperience in the sense that it is used as a crutch to ramp up emotional intensity -- ration your f-bomb ordnance.
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2015
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  3. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    It's not too much profanity, but starting with dialogue is always a dangerous road in my own modest, humble, and incredibly astute opinion.
     
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  4. Dunning Kruger
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    Dunning Kruger Active Member

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    Mine starts with "Assholes" so I approve. But then, I'm an inexperienced newbie in the truest sense so you might want to do the opposite of me. In this case, maybe substitute "fucked" with "copulated". Just kidding.
     
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  5. Grappling Minstrel
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    Grappling Minstrel New Member

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    Do you mind elaborating on this?
     
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  6. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    It's dangerous because there's no context, and often this leads to the reader needing to read more to get context, which sounds like a good idea, but then having to backpedal to understand the dialogue rather than moving on with the story is a roadblock. And that's assuming people will care enough to want to know more. It's not a 'don't do this' warning, it's a 'you must do this well for it to work' warning.
     
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  7. Grappling Minstrel
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    Grappling Minstrel New Member

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    So it would work better if it was say, a second chapter where people would already get a grasp of what's going on?
     
  8. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    "Well that's sexually intercoursed" is part of my normal speech patterns :D
     
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  9. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    Incredibly astute and humble all at once. Goodness :p
     
  10. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    Personally, yes. But if you're confident this is the way you want to start it then use it by all means.
     
  11. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    Hmmm. It's more a device for showing the reader an aspect of this character's personality. Clearly one sentence is not enough to derive context, and that's my mistake. I have only just managed to work out how I am going to write this novel. Well. The opening few chapters at any rate.

    I do not know what the Scholastic order guide is, so difficult to feel great loss there. I don't consider this a book for youngsters, either, so that lack of Christmas gift potential is fine too.

    Do you mean readers here or writers? I would never have read a book and thought, "this is a sign of inexperience" - until this past week. It sounds like you are describing the reaction of someone with experience in writing rather than your average reader?
     
  12. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    I appreciate the responses and discussion - it's brilliant. I have made a mistake in not providing sufficient context.

    This opening chapter is similar to a prologue, and is used to show part of the character's intensity or passion. Hence the swearing - he's passionate about the thing that's fucked, or rather the fact that it is fucked. I am going to be writing it third person limited (woo hoo POV lessons completed kinda sorta well I mostly get it) and the very next line or so will be from the POV of his friend, bleh too complex to describe but yeah.

    I promise to make my queries more intelligent and useful as I progress!!
     
  13. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    And it's really not me writing those words - it's this character in my head speaking them. All ranting like.
     
  14. BrianIff
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    BrianIff I'm so piano, a bad punctuator. Contributor

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    I mean the general public with respect to swearing. Think first impressions; some might think that you're going for an edgy hook by using common, but vulgar, language. If, however, you start describing -- after or before -- the character and hint at his temperament, then people will see that you are showing how the character handles stress or whatever.
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2015
  15. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    Yeah ok. I must be showing my naivete - I usually just go in without trying to guess what an author is trying to do and just read what they have written. I've never thought "ah is this writer going for an edgy hook by <>".

    Ever.

    It still sounds like the analysis an editor or another writer would be making.

    I might get a page or two in and think - man this main character is a wimp, or, that's not what I would consider a fierce passion, but hmmm fair enough.



    Always good to get another perspective.
     
  16. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    You'll learn. As a reader you can just go with the flow. But you are not a reader. You are a writer. As a writer you really do need to be aware of what you're doing. You're constructing something, building something, and builders plan. They put doors and windows in particular places for a reason: because of access flows, how it distributes light, how it appeals to a certain style, heating and cooling efficiencies. Generally the less effort put in or understanding of what you're doing, the shittier the building. Stories are the same. That doesn't mean you should plan it entirely, but you do need to understand that if you stick a door there instead of here, it's going to have a certain impact on the overall functionality of both the door and the building.
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2015
  17. BrianIff
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    BrianIff I'm so piano, a bad punctuator. Contributor

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    People, in my opinion, usually judge a book by its first page and cover. I'm worried that readers would see it as a not-so-original attention grabber -- not that you should give too much importance to p.1, but to avoid seeming cliche.
     
  18. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    But Brianiff is saying the opposite - that readers do not go with the flow, but rather they analyse what the writer is trying to do, by using profanity, etc?
     
  19. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    I'm down with analogies but in this instance you've lost me.

    Are you saying I am not putting in enough effort?
    Or are you saying I do not know what I am doing?

    I admit frequently I am a newbie writer but not a newbie reader. I read a lot. I've never, ever analysed why a writer does anything in their novels, as Brianiff seems to be suggesting a reader would do with my novel intro outlined in OP. Never. It sounds much more like the actions of a writer. Or a critic, sure, but not a plain old Joe average reader.

    Is that what average readers do? Start reading something and immediately wonder why the author is using this device or that device?
     
  20. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    No no, just saying that as a writer you will need to understand why you are putting things where they are and how you are using them, and that will come with time. Part of learning and understanding is doing exactly what you've been doing. Asking. :)

    As for the second bit, they don't do it on purpose. Readers don't consciously understand devices. They do however react to them. People, in my opinion, are impatient and reactionary. If they get confused or are not interested, they won't stick around. Especially not now with so much media available.
     
  21. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    Ah ok. There's a method to my madness. Until it's written it might not make any sense - and I have hinted as much, that context is missing and yadda yadda.


    Agreed to the reacting. I reacted lots to the simperingness (!!) of the MC in the novel I just finished. Repulsive. As could an opening full of swearing.

    I am kind of amazed books are even still sold - the twitter 140 character soundbite instant gratification mantra that seems to pervade society is really at odds with the character development that happens through a trilogy of 3 x 100k word novels.
     
  22. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    I read that prologues / expositional dumps at the start of novels are to be avoided. So in a sense I am sneaking in a couple of conversations from one character, and making them chapters with titles rather than calling them prologues. They fit with the story arc and set the foundational characteristics of the character in question.
     
  23. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    I'm far too scaredy cat to ever get someone here to preview what I end up writing... :meh:
     
  24. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    As in: rather than having the MC narrate the process (2-3 x scenes / chapters worth) a secondary(ish) character went through to arrive at the place where MC now finds himself, I am going to write those scenes in. If that makes sense?
     
  25. BrianIff
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    BrianIff I'm so piano, a bad punctuator. Contributor

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    Not so much everyone analyses the shit out of every sentence, but when the first sentence has two f-bombs, some will have a question immediately posed in their mind about whether there is a meaning for the swearing or if it is the mark of poor craftwork. That's why I said it's important to explain the character's temperament.
     

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