By Katherine MK Mitchell
Does cursing have value in the world of literature or in life? Is there “good cursing” and “bad cursing”?
The use of language has beauty and purpose. If you’re angry, you curse, you scream, you punch.
If you’re happy, a well-placed swear-word can be endearing. Somecursing goes with clenched fists, grinding teeth and call for retaliation. Other cursing is cute and charming and ends in hugs and kisses.
Curse words can be hurtful or not—but when used correctly, they will bring on a responsive emotion.
Often in movies, plays or novels, we experience every second word by one or more characters as something nasty, maybe just the “f” word over and over again. After a while no one even hears it; it has no meaning, no weight, no value. It can potentially offend the audience or reader, and even cheapen the character. Same is true for words like “dear, sweetie, honey,” which are worthless if overused. “You guys” is another phrase that can also be taken as nasty, talking down, or talking lazy.
A writer has to be aware that at certain points a character’s language represents his or her own background in life. That is
another way of using curse words or endearing words bringing on a reaction from the listener or reader. Try this experiment: Listen up when you hear a bad word. Determine if it was used the right way, right place in a sentence, eliciting the correct response? You will be amazed at how astute you really are and at the same time you will improve your own manner of speech.
When to consider the curse word:
- If it’s part of your character’s background. Maybe your character was raised in a tough neighborhood where cursing was part of the natural language. But don’t go overboard. Just a few well-placed F-bombs can get the point across. It doesn’t have to be every fifth word.
- In scenes where it makes sense—such as if your character is angry or frustrated, or in a romantic scene, where certain words can be endearing and create a certain intimate atmosphere.
- If your character doesn’t typically curse, but you want to convey something truly impactful to show a range of emotion.
Katherine MK Mitchell
Katherine MK Mitchell is the author of Shelby’s way … Maybe, the third installment of herMaybe_ series. Striving for the elusive major success, she worked in film and television for several years in
los angeles before relocating to Florida. Three of her screenplays have been optioned by production companies, and her treatment for a serialized television soap was considered for production by Columbia tv.
Mitchell can be found online at http//www.katherinemitchellauthor.com