The plan was to post the prologue to the fifth e-book in the Triple Threat Investigation Agency series has been slightly postponed.
As I was giving it one last quick look-see, I saw the F-word and it got me to thinking about profanity . . . and the curses, obscenities, vulgarity I lump under that one heading.
A new character with an I’m-always-right attitude (you know the sort) tells it like it is. Period. He’s abrasive—like steel wool. I tend to limit swearing and the like, partly because I don’t want to affront readers and partly because peppery language simply isn’t always necessary (funny, given the F-word flies out of my mouth more often than I’d like to admit, try as I might to control it). When do I use it? When I believe scenes and scenarios and situations warrant usage. As an FYI, I have no issue with profanity and obscenities in other authors’ works, as long as they’re not bleeding across every page like
Certain characters in certain genres—such as crime stories or thrillers, as examples—would (should) be more “hard-edged”. Would they come across as such if they said “gosh darn it” instead of spitting an expletive when confronted with a crazed killer or caught in a dire situation? Think: mechanism versus mechanical, realism versus awkwardness. Balance is a very good thing, so give it some serious thought. Do you write for your readers? Or do you write what you feel comfortable writing?
Consider this: it’s human to become angry, sad, outraged, happy, discouraged, passionate, responsive. We demonstrate emotions and feelings through actions and words. Sometimes, we lash out . . . and loudly. So do fictional characters.
Time and continual story-crafting will dictate what makes you comfortable and what your readers want (and don’t want). But don’t be afraid to challenge yourself or your readers; just be certain that whatever expressions you add to text and dialog are there for a valid reason: to emphasize a moment, an emotion, or a reaction, not to toss in vulgarity for the sake of adding it (“shock value” might have worked once upon a time ago, but nowadays it leans toward trite).