Anti-Clean Language

This blog post is about writers using profanity (obscenity, swearing, cussing, etc.). Are these words necessary in a story?

I think some profane words are all right in a novel if the words are part of the character’s personality. When a writer uses profanity everywhere, the novel is about the writer expressing a particular side of their personality. It’s not about the story.

I do not read books with excessive profanity (or graphic violence, I have the evening news for that). I think too much profanity pollutes the story with wordiness. The use of profanity can distract a reader and become a list of profane words without purpose.

Also, I find too much profanity boring. Yeah, the writer knows a lot of swear words, but can they write anything else? A writer who focuses on profane words is not focusing on the story.

If a writer uses profanity, how far should they go in the selection of words? I resent writers who use words that are anti-religious, racist, provoke ridicule, or are derogatory. Even if they keep within the character, I think this is unnecessary. If a writer wants the reader to know this about the character, they should do that in the story through active voice.

Profanity should not be the focus of the story. It should be the characters, plot, story line, and other elements in the story that make a good telling. Of course, there are readers who enjoy excessive profanity and do not care about the choice of words. That is not for me.

I’m interested in the story, plot, and characters. I enjoy word usage, style, and technique. Qualities I have never found in a novel with a list of profane words.

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