Call me a F*****g Ishmael! – Cursing at it’s most brillaint


Okay, so the above quote is from Alan Russell, author of The Fat Innkeeper, not me!

I saw this quote and had to laugh and then post it immediately. Apparently in the story the main character encounters a beached whale and is s a bit surprised by this.

This made me think about cursing in writing. I use it obviously in my works, but I had never thought that mainstream writers would use it. I’ve only read independent works and British books, which cursing is used heavily in both.

The British are a bit more discreet than most Americans and use such curse words. Some that you might not have known are bloody, blimey, chit, shite, wanker, arse, and bugger. If you are not British, then you might not even realize that they are indeed curses.

The question I have is SHOULD you use cursing in your writing? Does it actually enhance your writing at all? I have always thought I was the only one that cursed it their writing, but if even mainstream artists are doing it, then it had to be normal, right?

I think that in some cases cursing is overused, but in other cases…it is downright necessary. I don’t curse in real life, but if I came upon a beached whale, I might just possibly curse. It creates the reality of the writing. Some characters you may write, and they would never curse, and to do so would be out of character, but others would be out of character if they DIDN’T curse.

So what do you think? Do you curse in your writing, or do you keep it clean? Please let me know if I’m not the only one!

Just FYI, my book is free an amazon right now, so if you have the time give it a read and let me know what you think. Or leave a review, both work!


About Everyrosehasathorn

So I have finished my first book, Every Rose Has a Thorn, which is available on amazon for free if you have an amazon prime membership, or 2.99 otherwise. This is a book about Emily Rose who is drawn into a battle between angels that want to not only destroy the world and human race, but for some reason want her on their side when they do it! She must learn that doing what is right isn't always easy, especially when you fall in love with a very dangerous angel! View all posts by Everyrosehasathorn

18 responses to “Call me a F*****g Ishmael! – Cursing at it’s most brillaint

  • Ian Andrew

    Hi, firstly thanks for stopping by my blog… Secondly, yep I curse in my writing (and in real life). In my “latest” (for latest read one and only) novel there is a fair amount of it. One bit in particular where the main character uses a word for shock effect and she knows exactly what she is doing…

    Must admit she is British and so it reflects her nature.

    happy days, I am now off to check out your book…

  • MishaBurnett

    I use curse words sparingly, because I want them to have an impact. In my opinion a lot of authors overuse them and after a while they become meaningless.

  • Lynn Cecil

    Some of my characters swear, others don’t. It really depends upon their personalities–or if I want a character to, well, act out of character.

  • marsreine

    It’s all about the character for me. If it’s in their personality and a believable part of their behavior then you can expect to see their limited choice of adjectives. Or, like Lynn Cecil mentioned, sometimes it’s effective to use when you want a character to be out of character so it underlines that moment. I’ve also had characters use their own versions of curses i.e. Fudge or Fudgemonkeys and that’s also part of who they are. So long as it links to who the character is, I’m all for it, even if the character curses like a sailor.

  • kathrynlewis2014

    I never curse in my own writing, but mostly because I don’t curse much in real life, so when I do try to put curses in it feels forced and awkward! I feel like I should try to include cursing more, because having no cursing at all just isn’t realistic for some characters.

  • A.D. Everard

    I write sci-fi. Some characters curse and swear a lot. Others don’t at all. To me, it very much fits in with the character.

    Look at it this way, if you were writing about, say, street thugs, they’re not likely to say, “Oh gosh, golly and poot!”

    Realistically, people swear. They also swear more often when under stress. I’ll use it to depict anger, for instance, more often than have a character use it casually.

  • njmckay

    Hi! Thanks for stopping by my blog. I know i’ve struggled with cursing with my writing at times too. It seems that if the character is the type who does swear and curse then it’s passable, of course I still keep things pretty light. I basically only use it for effect, or for reaction. Like you said, stumbling upon a beached whale could provoke a curse out of me!

  • M. Talmage Moorehead

    I’m like you. I don’t curse much myself, but sometimes my characters do. The big drawback with cursing is that it has a tendency to take your writing off the shelves of the many decent religious fundamentalists in the world. I care a lot about them and want to connect with them, even though I’m not among their number anymore.

  • Miss Min

    I think well-placed swearing (I’m an Aussie,what can I say?) can be effective, both to colour our characters and also to emphasize an unusual situation in which our characters – the ones who normally don’t curse – are so affected emotionally that they’re shocked into behaving out of character. I don’t enjoy reading anything that’s too liberally sprinkling with swearing. It normally shows a lack of imagination on the part of the writer, though there are always exceptions to the rule. I’m looking forward to downloading your ebook to kindle. Well done! 🙂

  • Unni

    Some characters swear, some don’t. It’s the same in real world and in books depending on the atmosphere they’re in. But don’t overuse them. Using the cursing words (a bit) can increase the impact.

  • sjvernon

    Thank you for visiting and following my blog… now onto the topic at hand!

    Truth be told, I rarely curse in real life or in my writing. It has just never felt natural to me. Cursing doesn’t offend me, and I have almost literally rolled in the floor laughing at some fairly curse-laden comedians.

    As for how others use it? It depends. If it feels right for the character, and fits with the story being told, then I’m fine with it.

    I will give you one tangential answer, though… South Park. I love the show, but when I buy the Blu-rays they have an uncensored audio track… and I honestly find the show funnier when the cursing is bleeped than I do when I hear the actual words.

  • Jesse LaJeunesse

    I wrote a YA novel which is currently in its first draft. The characters curse sometimes, and I know I should reduce or remove them because of the ostensible target audience. But it just doesn’t feel realistic otherwise. I know you can write around that, but I don’t know that I quite know how to do it.

  • JohnRH

    I mentally curse a blue, blue streak but I don’t think it adds much to written or spoken communication other than shock effect. P.S. why do we start sentences with so (Google it. Quite a conversation about that too.)

  • Carl D'Agostino

    Often drat, dern, land sakes, land o goshen, I’ll be John Brown, upon my word, sheesh, fiddlesticks, pshaw, shuckens, etc don’t measure to a good curse word. I enjoy Jack Whyte’s Camulod Chronicles series(post Roman Britain, King Arthur, etc.) and the curse words of the ancients are of interest. For example whore’s son instead of bastard for Roman lexicon. Shakespeare’s “Mary” comes to mind too. Then there’s”fracken” from Babylon 5.

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