Monday, February 3, 2014

Writing 101: Writing with Expletives

Jon Stewart, who happens to be the most popular late night host, drops F-bombs on his TV show nightly. It gets beeped out of course, but the audience loves it and he's very good at it. Lots of people use expletives regularly when speaking. Doesn't that mean they should also be appearing in your books?

Four Little Letters

Gone With the Wind was controversial because it contained the word "damn." When the movie was made in 1939, "damn" was taken out of the script. Clark Gable insisted upon using the original dialogue, so the word made it into the film. Hollywood, and authors, have been pushing the envelope on what's considered acceptable in language ever since. I guess we have Margaret Mitchell to blame for our loss of literary innocence.

Or from another point of view, we have her to thank. Writing with expletives is so widely-done now, many people don't even think about it while they're reading those words. But others do notice, and that's why you always have to think about it when you're using them in your books.

Think about that. Re-read it if you need to. I'm telling you to think -- I would never tell you not to write with expletives if that's true to you and to your books. Sometimes, F-bombs are not just appropriate -- they're required. 

I read this author all the time. His work is very funny but also very emotional, focusing strongly on romance and family life. He's an actual Catholic priest, and he writes primarily about Irish characters. And while I have never been to Ireland, from what I can glean from reading his work they use a great deal of "colorful euphemisms" in their everyday language. So this Catholic priest drops F-bombs all over his work. He does it not to be offensive or shocking, but because he's trying to accurately mirror the way his characters would speak. He's even said as much, in his work. 

So if writing with expletives is okay for a man who has dedicated his life to God, I guess it's okay for me as well...and you, and any other author who wants to do it. But use expletives only if they lead something to the story. Don't use them just to use them. Don't try to be offensive. Because no matter how you use them or why, someone's going to get offended anyway. You shouldn't let that stop you...but don't let it goad you, either. If you feel good about what you've written, whether or not it's riddled with four-letter words, then that's all that matters at the end of the page.

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  1. Thank you Jade. I exploit expletives every day.
    I just put your DOL series on my Amazon wish list and will be ordering them soon.

  2. Thank you Jade. I exploit expletives every day.
    I just put your series on my Amazon wish list and will be ordering them soon.
    (it's making me do this twice)

  3. Thank you for your comment, MM! I hope you'll come back and let me know what you think of the Deck of Lies.