Sunday, January 17, 2016

Swearing- Open Book Blog Hop



***WARNING***

If you are easily offended by the use of rude language, bad words, and the occasional taking of God;s name in vain, please don't read any further. You may encounter any of the above.

There is more and more swearing in television, movies, books and the like. What are your thoughts on this topic?

I was raised a good Catholic girl in a good Catholic family. My friends were all from good Catholic families. I went to a good Catholic school. Swearing wasn't a thing. I think I was twelve or thirteen the first time I heard my father swear. And that was some fool ran a stop sign and almost collided with us. By us I mean my father who was driving, my mother, and I'm not sure how many of us kids in a station wagon. Dad managed to avoid the accident, but he did let one bad word slip out. I think it was "damn"— if I remember correctly. And my mother, very quietly, shushed him.

By the time I was in eighth grade, I was reading books well above my grade level. And yes, I'd come across an occasional swear word or two. I was sure my parents would be horrified, so I didn't tell them. What they didn't know wouldn't hurt them.

Then I got to college. And I didn't go to a Catholic college. But people were, for the most part, still very polite. There wasn't a whole lot of swearing going on, but someone would drop am occasional damn or shit. (I warned you!) It didn't bother me.

Then I switched colleges and started mingling with a much different group of people. The school was out west, and the students came from a diverse background, including ranchers and cowboys and oil field workers and even from families of migrant farm workers. Suddenly, swearing seemed to be a part of everyday language. While I found it surprising, it didn't shock me. So when I met my now-husband, his frequent use "improper" words only took a little getting use to. And my "vocabulary" expanded.


Eventually, as a mature woman, I started working in a field that was dominated by young males. Their "working" language defied anyone's definition of traditional proper English. I chose to take it as a compliment that they felt safe enough in my presence to not worry about offending me. I was one of the boys.

Somewhere along the way, I figured it out. Swear words are just another combination of the 26 letters we use for everything else, and they only have the power we give them. What we in the Unites States consider a "bad" word, may not hold that same meaning or that same power in another country.

So when I'm writing my books, I listen to my characters and the situations they are in to determine if the use of swear words is appropriate. The chances of me writing a Catholic priest using swear words are slim to none. But my lone-wolf shifter who has been on the run, living on the street, moving from town to town, has been known to drop a few words my mother wouldn't find respectable. And even my ex-librarian, while she may watch herself while in polite company, isn't totally adverse to letting a damn or a shit slip from her mouth once in a while. She certainly gets herself into predicaments that warrant a few harsher words than that.

On the other hand, I believe the use of rough language can be overused. I recently wrote a scene where one of the characters used an excessive amount of foul language. I was cringing as i wrote it, but I didn't see a way out of it. The character uses profanity as a way of making herself appear tougher and less vulnerable. So while it was true to the character, it wasn't true to me and my normal writing style. In the end, I chose to write the character as she wanted to be presented. I just made that scene as short as possible as a compromise.

To find out what Nicole Sorrell has to say about swearing, visit her blog Nicole Sorrell.  Nicole is the author of "The Art of Going Home." And feel free to share your thoughts about wearing in the comments. (just keep them moderately clean, okay?)

Maddie dreads going home to face the memories of her dead sister. But she must return to the tiny town after a decade to attend a funeral. As it turns out, the haunting reminders of her twin are the least of her worries...

Not given any details of her sister's murder at the age of ten, Maddie is persuaded to track down the killer. Following one ominous clue after another, she learns the surrogate family she thought honestly loved her has been hiding the truth of her childhood for eighteen years. As suppressed memories of her past come crashing forward, Maddie begins to doubt everything she once believed. And everybody she thought she could trust.

Including Zac, her high school crush. Though she can't seem to find the strength to resist their mutual attraction, Maddie isn't sure she'll ever be able to forgive his betrayal. As she struggles to come to grips with her family's past and absolve those who deceived her, will she survive the horrifying discovery of who killed her sister?

With poignancy and clarity, author Nicole Sorrell spins a tale of a young woman's personal journey as she faces her vulnerabilities and tries to accept the love of a man who may hold the key to her happiness. The story is a testament to the real meaning of family and the enduring strength of a sister's bond.

Please note: contains mature content.



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5 comments:

  1. I agree that as writers, we sometimes need to add in a few swear words. However, although I do this, I'd rather not!

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  2. When the world ends or you've just slammed your hand in the car door, swear words are natural and therefore appropriate. A writer needs to provide a realistic interaction in their books. But when every sentence has one or even if there's one on every page -- it's probably overdone and we do the English language no favors by undervaluing it.

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  3. Kudos for writing a character you're not comfortable with. I struggle with that sometimes, but try to stay true to that character's personality.

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  4. Great discussion PJ! You raise many good points. Historically, there have always been situations where foul language (and people who used it) was more acceptable than others. In my culture growing up, some words were totally unacceptable and viewed as 'fighting' words. And certain words were just not said at all. My concern is that these words are now routinely used and many times without any venom. So the words have lost their power. Strange world we live in. As writers we need to be realistic and write as our characters feel and express their feelings....I don't know if I would ever be able to write a character whose personality required extensive use of swear words. I could write the dialogue. I've been around some experts in this field! Just not certain how my readers would feel.

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  5. I definitely agree with you on letting your characters' personalities decide the profanity level! My proper society ladies don't swear but don't get me started on my cattle rustler!

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