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July 30th, 2002, 07:24 PM


Another 'what's acceptable to public taste' question:

I'm working out an idea where the dialog isn't complete with out a very large amount of swearing. The words we teach our children not to repeat, and bbs software edits to look like this: ****. But I know a lot of people preffer not to see F**K and S**T and D**N and the big no-no C*NT/P*SSY when they are reading a story...

It's a fantasy world, and the whole story is based within the army, which is notorious for the language they use(that's not the fantasy part) It just seems like if I avoid those words the characters won't be complete, or rather wouldn't feel like themselves. It's not natural for these guys to swear, it's second nature. It's part of their language.

Seeing as it is Fantasy, I've been considering coming up with a few words which would directly replace certain offending english words. BUT I've always been very very against creating words with-out having a real reason behind it, and then it should be a well developed language(like the Trekkies have!)... In this case I'm affraid that if I just replace those few words it'd have a Smurf effect. "Oh, Lord Smurf it. That Smurfin dirt eater nearly rotted out my Smurfin toe! Hey, Smurfer, go Smurf me that Smurfin bandage kit..."

Any advice? Anybody been in this position? What'd'ya do? Should I just Smurf it? I've seen where authors use their own swear wods ("Fire and Death!") but I feel it rarely adds anything, and often just comes across as a shallow attempt at adding depth to the world they've created...


July 30th, 2002, 07:40 PM
Heh heh heh, go for F**K and S**T and D**N and the big no-no C*NT/P*SSY .

Seriously, write what's dying to jump out of you and onto the page/screen. Finish your tale and review it. Go with your gut and even better, get other people's opinions.

On the face of it and without the context of the rest of your tale, most will tell you 'No, no, must not swear, no need in this fantastic genre, Tolkien never felt the need to... blah blah bleaaaaargh!!!

Give it a whirl mate. You don't offend anyone while you write for yourself. If you can come up with great words like DROK and CROMMMMMMM, use 'em. Otherwise, and I love to type it again... Go with F**K and S**T and D**N and the big no-no C*NT/P*SSY

:D :D :D :D :rolleyes: :cool: :p

July 30th, 2002, 07:56 PM
Okay, anybody else? I don't know if I can take the advice of a Icecream Monger!!! I'd imagine you like the C*NT part right!?! :D :D ;)


okay, back to serious. This is bordering on offensive it'self... IF I need to edit just say the word...

Thanks though, Juzzza.


hmmm... "Crommmmmmm, I like the sound of that... It has a certain ring." :p

July 30th, 2002, 07:59 PM
Don't you start with the Hue Heffner Porn Monger comments!!!

I'll watch this thread with interest, and not comment again.

Hmmphhh! And there I was trying to tell you to go with your heart and look at the thanks I get!!!


July 30th, 2002, 08:57 PM
Hmmm...looks like I may need to leave some soap here in this thread, just in case we need to wash out some mouths! :D Thank god for the asterisk!

July 30th, 2002, 09:03 PM
Oh Oh, Big Erebus is on the scene.

I tried to tell him Big 'E' but he wouldn't listen... Please don't tell Z*dd on me ;)

Do me a fave Big 'E', edit his post so I'm not a Prawn Monger!!!

July 30th, 2002, 09:27 PM
There you go, Juzzza...I'll have a choc-chip sundae thanks! :D

Oh, and there's no need to tell Zedd anything...he is all seeing anyway and we can hide NOTHING from him at all...:eek:

July 31st, 2002, 12:37 AM
You are not alone with this problem Lifino. I spent a few years in the Canadian Armed Forces and often caught myself swearing in the middle of words. Consequently military dialogue tends to be overly vulgar to reflect this. Further the points you brought up above are all true - modern cursing doesn't fit and made up words are shallow and out of context. What the SMURF is a writer to do?

I suppose the first thing is to put on the old creativity cap and get in touch with that creative nature that made you sit down and start scratching out your thoughts in the first place. Have you ever seen "Full Metal Jacket"? (To anyone who hasn't I highly recommend it.) Think of the dialogue of the drill sergeant character. I don't think you could string together more foul launguage if you tried. Once you get over the initial offence, think about what he said - not all of it was swearing - it was just plain colourful - filled with vivid, vulgar imagery that would be just as effective without the cursing.

"I will gouge out your eyes and rape your skull!" is just as effective as "I will gouge out your eyes and skull-f**k you!"

What's important is the imagery you want to get across. "Your father was a cucumber!" is innocent enough on the surface.

As far as made up words go, you have to generate a context. During my basic training, the intructors weren't allowed to swear "at" us. One day one of the master corporals went off about how we all just milled around like flock of idle crows sitting in a corn field. Quickly the term "idle crow" caught on. (My apologies to any other soliders who read this - I can't claim my unit invented this term). Pretty soon, the soldiers were calling each other plain old "crow" whenever they screwed up. It worked because a context was generated.

My advice would be to look at the culture(s) you've generated. What is taboo? In many fantasy settings a beard is very important to a dwarf, therefore the greatest of insults could be calling a dwarf a "smoothie." And as far as soldiers go - generally they have enemies, which can be entire cultures full of insulting references.

My teachers always used to say that swearing was simply a sign that a person couldn't come up with anything more creative to say.

July 31st, 2002, 12:47 AM
Gotta agree with choppy there.

Actually, if I have a question about these things, I normally see how it's been done by others more successful in the form.

For example, your question would rate a look at military-fantasy series like Glen Cook's "Black Company" or Steven Erikson's "Malazan". A number of these authors' heroes are soldiers, hardened veterans all, so you would expect swear words galore.

In the Black Company books, there's not much swear words verbally present though Cook's still manages to transmit the feeling that these characters are the roughest, toughest soldiers WITHOUT having them swear much.

On the other hand, Malazan books are as choppy said, with Erikson's characters being very inventive/ creative in swearing. I remember one of the characters, Fiddler, telling some Arak tribesmen what they could do to their offers for his horse. Heh, and not a single word of... :D

Anyway, just my 2 pieces of silver...

July 31st, 2002, 02:50 PM
ICECREAM!!! What kinda panzy term is that? It was PRON, and it was pron on purpose! Not Porn, not Prawn and most certainly NOT ICECREAM!!

Sorry, Pron comes from an inside joke on another forum I attend. Flame war that got out of hand, one poor fool hit the wrong order of kyes;) and it became a forum wide joke... Same forum that has made it impossible for me to look at the word 'parents' and not read 'parnets'

Thanks for the advice and suggestions guys. I like the idea of letting the foul language grow through the story. The story does start at training and follows a bunch of characters through a few battles... And as Choppy said, most people in the armed forces seem to be surprised at the decline their vocabulary suffers from joining. It only makes sense that these guys learn it as they progress... And ultimately it's the imagery(good choice of words Choppy) behind what's said... Not the words themselves, which give this genre the flair it's recognised for...

The idea is a bastardization from a few war and prison movies I've seen recently, plus heavily influenced from reading Band of Brothers(cover to cover while lost in the U.S. air transportation system, you know it's going to be a rough trip when they ask you de-plane and they'll arrange for you to get to your destination - this time it added about 34 hours to the trip!) Right now it's taking after Band of Brothers a little too much... But it's a different way of writing too, kinda skewed POVs. Except there's mostly swords and no guns, there MIGHT be(I'm considering) an opposing force with cannons, or a primitive versioin of...

I'll have to get a copy of Black Co.

And, uh, Big E, Who the Smurf gave YOU the right to Edit my post? You *** ***** ***** **** **** ***! *** ***** **** **** ******* **** ****!! :mad: