Grandma Says..

Observations and views from a different set of eyes

When Writers Drop the F Bomb

on January 30, 2013

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I have a pet peeve. I hate the word F**k, whether it be in conversations or articles, or books. This aversion to what I call the “F Bomb” is not new. So, before you start thinking that this is just a prudish Grandma’s outlook on this subject, let me tell you that I have always hated this word. Why? Because it is a crude, nasty and offensive word that makes me cringe every time I have heard it used or seen it used by a writer.

Let’s start off with the definition. I’ll give you the short version, it’s the act of sexual intercourse! No big surprise, after all, this word has been around since the 1400’s, so most people know what it means. These days, it is thrown out as an intensifier or an insult but basically the use of the word is universally found to be just downright vulgar.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I do not consider the act of sex to be vulgar. Far from it, I believe intercourse can be the most heavenly thing (oh, yes, even at my age!) But, try turning to your partner, look into his or her eyes and ask, “Do you want to f**k?” Good luck on that one, you romantic devil you.

So, why do we, as writer’s, consider it necessary to use this word in our works? Some writer’s use it for the simple shock factor. They believe that putting the F bomb in their titles will draw an larger audience. Or, they drop the bomb numerous times in their piece, feeling that they are relating with their readers.

I, for one, will quickly scroll down if you have the F word in your title. Sorry, just the way I am! If I start reading your piece and you start dropping the bomb more than once, I run for the hills and quickly go to block, unfollow or whatever method I can find to prevent me from having to read your work again. So, if your target audience for your writing is limited to readers who are used to the continuous use of this vile word…count me out. But, if you truly want a larger audience, don’t drop the bomb. Use another word, phrase or intensifier to put your thoughts out there!

If you argue that it is necessary to use the bomb to keep up with today’s readers, I point you to the books of one of the most read writers over the past 3 or 4 decades, Stephen King. He’s a master at using characters from all walks of life, and I may be wrong, but I don’t believe that I’ve had to duck the F bomb in any of his books, and I have read the majority of them. If he has used the F word, it was so subtle that I didn’t feel I had been slapped in the face with it.

So, is it really necessary to use the word f**k to attract readers…I think not. And as for the word “Motherf***er,” don’t even get me started. That’s another rant for another day.

DO YOU DROP THE BOMB? WHEN AND WHY OR WHY NOT?

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22 responses to “When Writers Drop the F Bomb

  1. kerbey says:

    I’d never seen your blog before, but you can’t go wrong with Almira Gulch. I can hear the music in my head as she rides. I also agree that the f-word is unnecessary. Didn’t Eddie Murphy say that Cosby sat him down one time and explained that he didn’t need cursing to be funny–that foul language is a crutch used by performers who lack good material? Jerry Seinfeld seemed to make several million without cussing. You go, Grandma!

  2. I admit, I’m a swearer. But since I write nonfiction, I often try to capture dialogue truthfully. How would you treat a character (like most my relatives) who swear constantly? Would you leave it out? Just curious. Thanks!

    • A gentler way is to use * in place of letters. I swear, I’m not saying I don’t and I will use curse words in my writing when appropriate, quoting or as an intensifier. And, there are times that when quoting, you have to use the bomb. But, whenever possible, I leave it out or find a way to substitute it with another.

      But, using the bomb liberally throughout your writing, takes away from the content, or so I believe.

      But, remember, this is just one old lady’s view!

    • When writing characters, I would try to find words that would convey the same emotion..unless it’s a direct quote. Then, I would resort to the least offensive format of substituting ** for some of the letters, such as F**k you.

  3. LadyGrave says:

    Agreed. I will admit that after my years at college, the F word has become a fairly regular part of my vocabulary—but ONLY when I’m speaking with people my age who also use it regularly. Even when I’m out somewhere with my friends, I will be the one to point it out if there are kids nearby and say, “Hey guys, it’s time to tone it down.” I plan to write for Young Adults, and while I’ll use other swear-words freely because that’s sometimes what the character would say, I feel like using the F-bomb in my book, even once, would cross a major line. Back in July, I wrote this whole post on the subject: http://gracemakley.com/2012/07/07/profanity-in-writing-among-other-things/ It’s certainly a topic that bears some discussion, and I enjoyed reading your views on the matter.

  4. lly1205 says:

    I might have used it in dialogue once or twice? And it wasn’t the case that every character swore, it was a defining feature of one person’s speech. I didn’t like them very much anyways…

    Lily

  5. Susan Norden says:

    I am really, really with you on this topic. Any time I see “that word”, or similar base words, I fly right over them and don’t read whatever it’s a part of. In fact, I’ve even ‘blocked’ or ‘unfriended’ people on my Facebook account when they seem to use “that word” in every sentence. I find it really very offennsive and I believe it shows a lack of expanded vocabulary with those who use it. I could go on, but you get my gist. I wrote a blog piece on this topic recently. It grates on me. :-O

  6. MG says:

    I love that word Crankypants! lol I think it’s hilarious. I’m sorry though. I’ll try to use it economically for your sake though. 😉

  7. htkilburn says:

    This is brilliant!! Thank you for putting a smile on my face! (no F bombs will be used in my writing either).

  8. sarahcradit says:

    I have to confess: I am an offender of the f-bomb in my verbal speech. I like to think that my vocabulary is large enough (I am a writer, after all) that I wouldn’t have to use it, but it comes out, nonetheless. I am ever and always the lady.

    However- I agree with you about writing, for the most part. I don’t use it when I am writing my blog, FB posts, or non-fiction, and I don’t use it as a descriptor in fiction either (i.e. “that f*ing such-and-such). The exception I make is if I am using it for a specific character. For example, I have a character who is incredibly colorful and the f-bomb is a signature for him because he doesn’t have the capacity, or filter, to express himself more eloquently. However, my other characters, even when upset/angry/etc, almost never use it (or I use a different word in substitute) as I think there are better ways to get the point across. In other words, I think if you’re writing truthfully it can be difficult to avoid it entirely, but there are definitely ways to minimize the use of it and find better methods of expressing thoughts creatively.

    • Realistic characters sometimes have to use the F-word when conversing with their peers. Sad, but true, that many young people use this liberally in their everyday language.

      But, other than that, I hate when it’s used purely for shock value. It just turns me off! Thanks for commenting!

  9. sivrag2 says:

    Wow, no love for one of the most versatile words in the English language. I do understand where you’re coming from, and while I love this particular word, I do try to be respectful of those around me. In my regular blog, I don’t use it because it is a general purpose blog and it is not my intention to offend or to shock. In my fiction writing or more adult themed rants the f-bombs typically fall like rain, and when I did freelance writing for erotic literature sites and Larry Flynt, the word’s use was almost a requirement.

  10. Basharr says:

    I have to admit I have been known to drop numerous F-Bombs in a single sentence, but I have decided clean up my act and watch my swearing and am trying hard to not take the lords name in vain. It is never to late to improve one’s self.

  11. My father always said that the F-Bomb is for people that don’t have a large vocabulary. I have to agree.

  12. keladelaide says:

    Thanks for following my blog. I confess to using a version of it in one of my posts when discussing my youngest’s new found ability to use inappropriate language. You won’t need to vet my future posts or unfollow me because there won’t be any more of those annoying words popping up in my writing.

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