I don’t swear in real life. Seriously.
Well, okay, there was this one time when my 18-month-old daughter was seriously hurt, and we had to take her to the ER and I was frantic. We had to get our oldest daughter from a party and figure out where to send her and her four year old brother (You don’t want that many children in the ER). I was going to go to the ER and my husband was going to arrange for the other kids, and then we couldn’t find the car keys, (Little children carry them off) and then one car’s battery was dead. And right when we finally had overcome all of those things and were ready to go, my husband said, “Just a minute, I need to go to the bathroom first.”
I snapped. For a reason that is still not clear to me, a string of swearwords issued forth from my mouth. I didn’t even know they were there. They all just came out in between the words: “They have bathrooms at the ER!!! Now get in the car!!!”
Not too long ago I said something to my now teenage son about how I never swear, and he said, “You did once. You swore that time you went to the Emergency Room.”
I was surprised he remembered that all these years later.
That’s probably how swear words should be. If you use them, they’re so rare people will remember them decades later.
I’ve heard people use the F-bomb so many times in a sentence, it was a noun, adjective, and verb. I always wonder what those people do when they’re really mad. I mean, what is left to say? “I double-dog F-bomb you!” or “F-bomb times infinity!”
I’ve seen the same problem in books. If you have a character swear all the time, it loses potency, and at least to me, comes off crass.
My problem as an author is that I sometimes have characters who would swear in given situations. I still don’t include swearwords. (I have used the word h word–don’t want to write it here, lest my blog be blocked by some filters–but only to describe the actual place, which I don’t consider swearing. Although some younger kids don’t seem to realize this difference. I was a Sunday School teacher for 8-year-olds once and had to refer to it as that-place-the-devil-lives because otherwise they gasped every time I said the word. And yes, I did try to explain the difference between swearing and naming a location, but they never seemed to grasp this finer point.)
Anyway, I can’t have my characters swear for one simple reason. At my house I long ago instituted the rule that anyone who swears will have to pay five dollars.
I have over a million books in print. I am not that wealthy. I will have to continue to be swear-free.