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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Did I Say That?

I don't swear.

Let me qualify. I don't swear like most people.

Startle me enough and you'll get the number one verbal response of Protestant Americans, yes. It seems to be hard-wired into my system. But on most days, you'll get "for the love of Mike," "shut the front door (thanks for that one, WGR)," or "son of a buck-naked tavern wench." For minor expletives, you might hear "uff da (that one's real and I've had to apologize to a few Minnesotans)," "frell" or, on exceptionally bad days, "George."

As you see, I don't swear like most people.

I don't like when other people swear, either. Not that I run at folks with a cricket bat and a bar of soap, but I don't use that kind of language myself, and I'd prefer not to be assaulted with it in the Walmart shopping aisle. Not from an immodestly dressed 12 year old or her immodestly dressed mother and runny-nosed 4 year old sibling.

One of the hallmarks of a declining culture is increasing vulgarity. Not on my watch, people.

But some of the characters in Past Ties are developing potty mouths. Not severe. Certainly not as bad as those Walmart aisles, but more than I use.

This is the point where some authors would say, "That's real. People talk like that. Go for it." Others would say, "You can find a way around it if you're creative enough. No need to use the real words."
I'm generally more of the latter kind of writer. I make up swear words for my characters. Easy to do when you mostly write fantasy.

I thought I'd gotten around this problem by creating the "New Clean Air Act of 2070." After the EPA is dismantled (my future, remember? I can do what I want), Congress passes a no-public-vulgarity statute. Not as restrictive as the one from Demolition Man, but the idea being after the Revival of 2064, most people don't want to hear it or say it.

People continue to swear, of course. As long as we can be startled, there will be a place for potty mouths. However, for the most part, public swearing falls by the wayside for the next 50 years. What a fabulous time to be alive, eh?

I suspect during revisions, the language will come out. For now, though, it seems to be part of the process. I'll deal with it, I guess.

I don't frelling have a choice, do I? Uff da!


  1. I'm a believer in letting the character dictate what kind of language he uses, but at the same time, as an author, you don't HAVE to write down every word you characters say. There's a fine line between realistic writing and gratuitous vulgarity.

    I like the creative expletives, too. I think I may have to use that "son of a buck-naked tavern wench." As it is, I've already gotten a few odd looks/comments for using things like "horse puckey" in conversation and emails :P.

  2. I totally forgot "puckernuts!" That's from ElfQuest. It's a kind of sour nut, obviously.


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