PDA

View Full Version : How Does Cussing Affect a Story?


SFFWorld.com
Home - Discussion Forums - News - Reviews - Interviews

New reviews, interviews and news

New in the Discussion Forum


Pages : [1] 2 3 4

A. Lynn
December 17th, 2005, 02:43 PM
Cussing, Slurring, Yelling, and general #$*@!!!.

You see that it's in some stories, and absent in others, and then in some they even try to replace some words by saying things like "bullspit" instead of.... well.... :cool: you know.

So how does cussing affect a story anyways? Would you rather see the full grittiness of it all for sake of realism, or do you actually think its more creative to use make-believe cusswords?
And just what are the "safe" cusswords anyways, because you'll see one author use the word "damn" but will lay off the nastier words in contrast.

Personally, I tried using the "Bullspit" alternative for a while but it kept making me laugh at serious parts :D So what is the answer?

tracyt1800
December 17th, 2005, 06:14 PM
I don't like the "bullspit" method. Sounds too phony, unless, of course, that is part of the character's personality.

I personally don't care for excessive cussing in stories. Surely people/characters can speak without constant cussing. My characters use mild cuss words like "damn" pretty loosely and "h3!!" semi-often. But I try to limit their use of the more vulgar words and save those for moments of great stress or for some sort of emphasis.

Just my opinion.

Rocket Sheep
December 17th, 2005, 06:48 PM
Cursing and swearing? Do you really call it cussing? Is it rude to say cursing? Americans are so cute. ;)


In Australia we just swear in the local stuff. We do it all the time when we talk anyway... so it feels natural to write it. Readers would fall over laughing if a character said "Oh blast."

KatG
December 17th, 2005, 08:09 PM
People curse -- not because they like to curse necessarily, but out of habit, to express emotion, surprise and emphasize statements. Those who don't use strong curse words tend to still use mild ones. Substitutions, like bullspit, tend to come when you have the kids, though eventually they learn all the words anyway. Curse words come out of our language, our religions and our culture -- they're a form of slang. So if you have an imaginary world and there is no Jesus and Christianity and thus, no hell, it doesn't make a lot of sense for them to be running around saying "hell." In fact, I find it disturbing and out of place, much more so than if they worship a big, slimy sea goddess and they run around swearing, "By the big, slimy sea goddess!" Curse words can help you create language patterns, cultural patterns, and speech patterns that assist in characterizations and atmosphere. But you certainly don't need to use them if you don't want them. Having soldiers who don't swear is a bit odd, though. :)

For the use of swearing as an artistic aid, check out the Stateside t.v. series "Deadwood." They've raised it to an art form.

Tyler Hawke
December 17th, 2005, 08:25 PM
I guess it depends on the tone you want. Personally, for fantasy I'm not a big fan of it. For a Horror story, it's almost expected in this day and age and for whatever reason it doesn't bother me in that format.

Kathryn
December 17th, 2005, 10:25 PM
Cursing and swearing? Do you really call it cussing? Is it rude to say cursing? Americans are so cute. ;)

That is funny! I never thought about that. Our grandparents and very proper people that don't cuss ...ever ...not even the mild cuss words, say "curse". But my generation (born in 70's) views "cursing" as an old fasioned word. (with the exception of very proper people from my gen.) :)

Well anyhow back on topic.
I don't much care for cuss words in a story except for a smattering of mild ones if necessary. I don't mind if the author creates an untranslated cuss word like in the Rhapsody series. If you use something like "bullsplit" that is just down right hokey! Say what you mean or don't!!

ok I said my 2 cents worth! Thanks!

Shiloh
December 18th, 2005, 12:00 AM
i think a little swearing can add to the story but for emotion and anger.. but in excess it's annoying

A. Lynn
December 18th, 2005, 01:01 AM
In Australia we just swear in the local stuff. We do it all the time when we talk anyway... so it feels natural to write it. Readers would fall over laughing if a character said "Oh blast."


Curse words can help you create language patterns, cultural patterns, and speech patterns that assist in characterizations and atmosphere. But you certainly don't need to use them if you don't want them. Having soldiers who don't swear is a bit odd, though. :)

For the use of swearing as an artistic aid, check out the Stateside t.v. series "Deadwood." They've raised it to an art form.

Alright here is where it gets tricky:
Again, that is an enforcement to what I feel, that soldiers cuss, that's just the way of it. In my WIP: Eyes in Shadow: I have a multitude of characters that range from occasional nasty fits to downright dirty. One is named Raven, and he's a cold, brutal guy, but he respects the language and almost never abuses it. Then Shade is his opposite and is cursing every other word practically, a bit of a street-grown yankee guy. And of course there is a general multitude of characters (soldier, fighter types) that use the "safe" words like "damn" or "crap." I'm playing in a world where I'm surrounded by serial killers and I see that some of them are going to cuss and yell, so am worried about it.
One of the main parts I'm puzzled with is a part where the lead character gets into a nasty scrape against a vile thug kinda guy, and after she gets the upper hand for a little, the thug bursts out in a screaming fit saying things like "I'LL F****** KILL YOU! I'M GONNA SKIN YOU ALIVE..." etc. I go over the part in my mind and see it without the F word and to me it looses a bit for the thug (Who is a semi-recurring character. If it was just average goon #1 I wouldn't care). :confused:

Question: What about the "@#@$%" quote? :D Roger Zelazny was a fan of using this, what does it reflect on you guys as readers? (I'm still having trouble finding how I feel about the symbol)

JamesL
December 18th, 2005, 05:00 AM
George R.R.Martin has made use of every swear word in the English language and it's not harmed his success at all. ;)

Imo, I feel that swearing in moderation can help characters seem more realistic.

Mathain
December 18th, 2005, 05:32 AM
Curse words come out of our language, our religions and our culture -- they're a form of slang. So if you have an imaginary world and there is no Jesus and Christianity and thus, no hell, it doesn't make a lot of sense for them to be running around saying "hell."

You're right, Kat.

But you're also wrong.

Say I'm writing a story. I have a character. We'll call him Mathain. I come to a confrontational conversation. I have two choices.

"Go to hell," said Mathain.

"Go to Malarand," said Mathain.

Now, in my story perhaps Malarand is an equivalent to the reader's perception of "hell". But this is fantasy! So maybe Malarand is really a town in the deep south? Or maybe Malarand is another person? Unless I want to spend a lot of time and words (an infodump! ugh!) explaining what "Malarand" means, I can just cut to the chase and say "Go to hell", because the image that I want to evoke is already there, nicely formed in the reader's mind. Even better, it's a word that cuts across cultural boundaries! An Indian has a vision of hell. A Roman Catholic has a vision of hell. A Chinese reader has a vision of hell. Woo hoo! Multiple birds killed with one hell!

Further, perhaps I want Mathain to say:

"Go f--k yourself."

OK! Great! Short! Sweet! To the point! Best of all, I didn't have to have Mathain say something like:

"Go falazabakan yourself."

You said:


Curse words can help you create language patterns, cultural patterns, and speech patterns that assist in characterizations and atmosphere.

And that is also true. But I just want to get on with the goshdang story, you know? I don't need to use made up curse words to create language patterns, cultural patters or speech patterns. I can have my characters say "f--k" and still evoke the same characterization and atmosphere.

All writing is about making choices, choosing the best word to say exactly what you mean. This is why we don't write our fantasy novels in made-up languages, after all. Otherwise, we would have no knights, no kings, no bakers, no horses, no trees, no broadswords, no crowns, no roads, no cities, no pants, no nothing. Every word
come[s] out of our language, our religions and our cultureafter all.