Bad Language in Your Writing: Yes or No?

Oh Gosh Golly!!!!!

Oh Gosh Golly!!!!!

Too many writers today have decided that in order for their work to have an “edge” then all of their characters have to swear like sailors or teenage boys. I am not saying that everything that you write has to read like an episode of Leave it to Beaver, but if you are going to use profanity you must make sure the words have their own flow.

All words need rhythm, even "bad" ones

All words need rhythm, even “bad” ones

In order for profanity to seem natural it has to have a purpose besides making your writing seem more edgy or adult. It needs to begin and end with the characters. In my daily life I at least try not to swear like I’m in an R rated movie but if I do something like drop a hammer on my foot all bets are off. That being said, my characters are not me and have their own unique voices. Any time my characters uses swear words it is because it sounds like it’s something natural for the characters to say. While swear words do not have a “classy” vibe, they can have a rhythm. If you’re ever worried if the types of swear words sound like they have rhythm it’s a good idea to read your passages aloud. If you reading your work aloud can’t make what the character is saying sound natural, you might need to rework the line.



One thing you need to keep in mind, especially if you plan to be published, is who your intended audience might be. If you are trying to get a kids book published then you can look forward to a lot of rejections if ever other word out of your characters’ mouths is eff this or eff that. You need to tailor your work to your audience, or more specifically to the publisher. I’ve said this before but if you want to be published then it is a good idea for you to research the kinds of things that the publisher has come out with before. If they normally publish things that are so clean they read as if they had been dipped in bleach, then they most likely would not be the best bet to publish a book with gratuitous language.


Exercise of the Day

Exercise of the Day

Exercise of the Day: Describe a Christmas

For this exercise you’ll need to create a character who lives in a country that is not your own. Do they celebrate Christmas? If so, what do they do? If not, how do they view Christmas? This exercise gives you a chance to research the cultures of other countries and to think of how they celebrate and view the holiday season.

Thanks for reading!






Filed under Art, Characters, Creative, Creative writing, Dialogue, Imagination, Literature, Novel Writing, Playwriting, Plot, Screenwriting, Uncategorized, Writing

5 responses to “Bad Language in Your Writing: Yes or No?

  1. I write mainly for children and young adults and I try not to swear in my books. Only if necessary and only mild swear words. Even when I’m writing for adults I don’t use ‘bad’ language. Oddly though no one notices that in a creepy ghost story there hasn’t been any swear words. If my character ever needs to swear then I use it but that doesn’t happen often. I think you can write without it and still end up with an edgy story.


    • Perfect! That’s exactly what I’m talking about. You know your intended audience, or their parents, most likely wouldn’t respond well to overly adult language so you’re careful about it. Kudos!!! Thanks for reading!!! I really appreciate it


  2. Agreed! I can’t stand when I’m reading along and then I’m blindsided by a word that doesn’t really need to be used. I mean if you’re going to use it, USE IT. Right! Great post.


  3. I actually had a conversation about this with the person who copy edited my last book. I felt that my character used swear words, my editor didn’t. Given that my editor is a retired school teacher and that my main character is my age I went with the swearing because I felt that I would know more about people my age now but… I really thought about it I can tell you.


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