You Effing What?!

Have I got your attention? Lovely. Don’t worry you’re not in for a rant.

What do you think to swearing and what do you think its place in books?


Personally I don’t find off the cuff swearing offensive, if someone was swearing at me I might get upset but to hear something along the lines of ‘oh my f***ing god’ doesn’t really register. Is that bad of me? I only realise how much I swear when I try not to but then I trip over (as a naturally clumsy person tends to) and a stream of panicked expletives fly out my mouth. Oops.

In fiction, unlike real life, we don’t have the risk of our mouths firing before our brain’s approval. So what does that mean for swearing? In my book (which is currently going into it’s third draft) my characters swear quite a bit. Now, I haven’t chosen to do this for any sort of shock factor, my characters swear because everyone I know swears and my characters are supposed to be damn close to real people (just more interesting).

I’ve read a lot about swearing in writing being a poor choice, when you have a whole lexicon at your disposal why resort to effing and blinding? In some ways I agree. When you’re writing a description in third person it would seem odd to say ‘it was ****ing raining’. But, in dialogue I think it can sound natural and dialogue should sound natural.

I should point out here that I’m not writing a children’s book (there are lines) … but saying that, even Mrs Weasley calls Bellatrix Lestrange a bitch.

Anyway, what do you think? Does swearing have a place in writing? Or should we rise above?


14 thoughts on “You Effing What?!

  1. Interesting topic! At first I was nervous you were going to take the opposite standpoint on swearing, but I totally agree with you. I slip swear words into regular sentences without even realizing it all of the time. I try to keep it PG at work and around certain people (like my parents), but otherwise I don’t understand why people get so bent out of shape about swearing. For a lot of people, it’s a completely normal way to communicate. If I’m pissed, I’m going to express it! I think there’s absolutely nothing wrong with swearing in books as long as it mirrors the characters and how regular conversations go.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Okay, especially for new adult characters. New Adult books probably have the most swearing versus any other genre, but that’s because new adult characters who didn’t swear would just be unrealistic! I really don’t know anyone at my college who says “effing” – so why would a college-age character do this in a story? Swearing definitely has a place in writing when it fits the characters.

    Sophie, are you interested in being part of a writing process blog hop? (: I’d just tag you at the end of my post; all I need is your photo and your bio. Let me know if you’re interested!


  3. richwebbi says:

    I think it comes down to “authenticity” i.e. are your characters likely to use sweary language or not. Done well there can be a certain poetry to a good earthy dialogue and the comedy that can come from it. Check out the character “Brick Top” in the file “Snatch” – the gravelly, East End London, gangster’s turn of phrase is marvellous. Then try to imagine him having the same impact without swearing.


  4. First of all, thank you for following my blog. Second of all in response to your question: I think swearing can be overdone but within a context very effective. I have found a well-placed word is very natural to certain characters. Other characters never swear (like in life), Some authors have made up swear words which can be pretty funny.


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