There's an interesting article here about swearing.

One of the things it says is: "There are circumstances when swearing is deeply satisfying, the kind of swearing I call cathartic swearing. I believe a lot of it goes back to a rage reflex that we inherited from other mammals. When an animal is suddenly confined or injured it will erupt in a furious struggle and emit an ear-piercing yowl. In the case of humans, that vocal impulse ties into our language system so we articulate our yowl with words we usually inhibit ourselves from saying."

It made me think of Mark Billingham's comments in the introduction to the new anthology, Expletive Deleted:

"But…if knowing full well what the subject matter of such books is, you are still shocked and disgusted by a little bad language, then frankly you are an idiot, whose sense of values is way overdue for a service. Just how skewed does your worldview have to be, before you find it acceptable to read about death and dismemberment but are offended if those who come close to it swear now and again? Or go home and have a drink to cope with the trauma? Or, heaven forbid, sleep with someone they haven’t known for very long?"

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Well, you reproduce the language most likely used by the character in question. However, the horror immanent in the situation does not require the f-word from everyone. In my general disgust with television offerings, I have been watching MASH reruns. Nary a swear word in that series. A lot of expressed anger, but no swear words. It worked. All this emphasis among some writers on the f-word is a fad.
Hmm. Saw the movie. Prefer the television series. Mostly for the cast.
Late in the series, in a very dramatic moment, Hawkeye called someone a son of a bitch. I remember, because it was the first time I'd heard that on network TV.
I use expletives ad lib in my own writing, but I find it interesting that Lee Child uses none in his Jack Reacher series.

Child sells a lot of books, and Reacher is one of baddest badasses ever, so I'm wondering if he might be on to something.
Jack Reacher is a man of few words. :)
I think I agree with Mark. It depends on the context doesn't it. It would be out of place in a setting with little old ladies doing some amateur sleuthing, but if the book was about a criminal gang then it would probably be out of place for there not to be profanity.

Horses for courses. Swearing doesn't bother me in the slightest. How could it? One of my favourite authors is Christopher Brookmyre.
Nice to see another Brookmyre fan here.

The weird thing for me is (and I guess for Billingham) is that while foul language would be out of place with the old ladies doing some amateur sleuthing, the cold-blooded murdering is perfectly at home. Oops, that's a different discussion.

I'm reading Roddy Doyle at the moment. Plenty of swearing. One Booker Prize.

It'll be a fad in writing if it turns out to be a fad in peoples' lives. Or if trying to get the language of people into writing turns out to be a fad.
Nice to see another Brookmyre fan here.
Aah, yes, we are about. Several of my book-reading friends (all Aussies) are big fans as well.
You're right. I've read stuff where people swear in all the wrong places and it's just... bad. And when it isn't there and should be.

My wife describes my books as being full of nothing but sex and violence and filthy language. if she was famous I'd use it as a blurb.

You lose some readers, you gain some others. that's the great thing about books, they don't have to appeal to the greatest possible demographic, do they?

The Last Detail is a great movie. "We are the fucking shore patrol." There's no other way to say it.
Not this one Ray :o) Like Sunnie I love Brookmyre too so it's a good job I'm not offended by the odd swear word. I'm more offended by the way some types of books have the heroine saying coyly "Oh for flip's sake Horatio, it's really rude to weewee in the bleeping kedgeree." And you wouldn't get a drug dealer being arrested by the police and saying "Unhand me you varlet." It's down to the book. A well placed 'fuck' in Alexander McCall Smith's Mma Ramotswe series for example would have a hundred times the impact of a Brookmyre 'fuck' (errrrr...if you know what I mean). And a misplaced fuck can sometimes be worse than no fuck at all.

I can see why people wouldn't want it in their books, but then I don't read the same type of books. My mum doesn't like swearing in books (she wanted my publisher to do her a special copy of mine with the swearwords blacked out). And if I swore in front of her, I would still get my arse skelped (whoops, sorry Mum). We both read crime fiction, but she tends to stick to the cosier end of the spectrum, ahile I prefer the mean streets. I live in Glasgow - a group of 10-year olds were in front of me on the bus yesterday and I learned some new words. Little old ladies swear on their way to the bingo, some people swear as punctuation. If I read a Glasgow set book with no bad language it just wouldn't feel right. As I say, I'm more offended by books that try and save me from having to read a swear word (shock, horror), with the result that the characters come across as unrealistic.
You didn't lose me. I agree completely with the position that graphic or gratuitous violence is okay and certain words are taboo is hypocritical. Appropriateness is key.

I also agree with Towne's comment. There's another reason. People with less confidence in their vocabulary often curse more; so do those who intend to shock, or to show their disdain for polite society. In DEADWOOD, the cursing is gutter modern, nothing like what would have been said in 1876. David Milch did his research and found that what passed for strong language then would sound like Yosemite Sam to modern ears. Voila! The fascinating patois of contemporary vulgarity and archaic sentence construction that became DEADWOOD.
"I just lost a load of potential readers, didn't I?"

Maybe, Ray. It wouldn't bother me, but then that sorta thing doesn't. In my case, it's the publisher who indicates what words are acceptable. She's okay with the "F" word and such, but the "C" word is out of bounds. I have had a couple of times where I would have loved to use it, but couldn't, though there is virtually no swearing in the series. In late 19th Century England they used the "F" and "C" words in male company. So in that case, I'm not being accurate. Oh well, I did write in the rats.


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