Words Written In Plastic Kids Letters

The Top Seven Arguments Against Using Profanity in Your Writing (And Why They’re Dumb as Fuck)

Today’s post is by Robert Bevan, off the site Caverns and Creatures on November 28, 2015.  Warning, cuss words ahead!

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The Top Seven Arguments Against Using Profanity in Your Writing (And Why They’re Dumb as Fuck)

Earlier this week, a writer friend of mine shared one of my blog posts on his timeline. Incidentally, this was the same post that first caught the attention of Phil Elmore. It got someone else’s attention this time. Here’s a comment someone left on that Facebook post.

That one like was from me. I knew then what this week's blog post was going to be about.

That one like was from me. I knew then what this week’s blog post was going to be about.

And so I embarked on a mission to discover what it is about “bad” language that gets people so riled up. Here’s what I found…

7. It’s lazy.

What’s lazier than parroting some bullshit your high school English teacher told you fifteen years ago, and trying to pass that off as some kind of intellectual argument?

As many times as I’ve seen or heard this argument raised, I’ve never seen anyone show a specific example of what they’re talking about, then provide a suggestion on how it might be improved.

"Fuck that. I'd rather just call you lazy."

“Fuck that. I’d rather just call you lazy.”

I’m afraid that won’t do, Mr. GoGettter. In order to drive this point home, I’m afraid a single example isn’t enough. You’re going to need to provide enough examples to establish a pattern, and demonstrate that profanity can be singled out as the sole source of laziness.

Otherwise, you’re just talking out of your fat, lazy ass.

6. It shows a lack of intelligence and/or creativity.

This is complete and utter horseshit. I don’t even know what it’s supposed to mean.

Every time you write a word or a sentence, you are rejecting an infinite number of words or sentences you could have used in its place. There are no true synonyms. Every word or combination of words carries its own connotations in a given context. As a writer, it’s your job to choose the words and combinations of words which most closely paint a picture in the reader’s mind. If some of those words happen to be the ones which society has arbitrarily deemed “bad”, so be it.

By the logic of this argument, you could say the same thing about any word in any sentence ever written.

In the recently released Critical Failures IV: The Phantom Pinas, a character says, “Randy, you already done shit in the chili.”

This wasn’t the result of me crapping out the first thing that popped into my head and saying “Fuck it. That’s good enough.” There are other ways I could have had this character express that Randy had been the catalyst of a situation which was now beyond his control. Hell, I could have said that very thing, but it wouldn’t have been true to the character. She isn’t the type to say “catalyst of a situation.”

I could have gone with, “Randy, you already done scrambled that egg.”, but I felt the phrase I chose instead more accurately reflected the character’s personality and upbringing.

Comparing those two metaphors, “shit in the chili” is objectively more creative, because “You can’t unscramble an egg” is a much more known saying. This would still be the case if the word “shit” were replaced with “poop” or “defecate”, which tells us that the vulgarity of the word “shit” is not a means with which to measure the writer’s creativity. And your inability to come up with a competent counter-argument lends credit to the writer’s intelligence.

Read the full post on Caverns and Creatures.

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