WHERE DO YOU stand/sit/lie/dangle on swearing in fiction? I’d assume it will align with how you feel about it in other aspects of life.
For some swearing is a turnoff, end of, there can be no need for it. There is the biblical end of the spectrum whereby to blaspheme is a terrible thing, it should be avoided always. And there are much more liberal people who don’t mind it providing it has some relevance i.e. profanity is congruent with a character or situation. I’ve always looked at it from the point of view that swearing is just a word or words, nothing more nothing less, comparable to ‘the’ and ‘and’ except they tend to be used in anger or to convey some sort of emotional state. Swear words are expressive. You can swear at a friend with intent or simply as an extension of a sentence. Clearly one of those is not pleasant, so we tend to refrain from swearing at each other for understandable reasons.
Like them or not, swear words pack a punch if used well. Irvine Welsh’s fiction is rammed full of swearwords and he doesn’t hold back in interviews either. Now imagine Trainspotting without any swearing – it would be distinctly strange and inauthentic. I don’t advocate swearing for the sake of it, to get a reaction from the reader like a twelve year old trying to piss off their parents. But within the construct of a fictional world swearing is vernacular webbing for some characters and represents their world(s).
It grates when people complain about swearing in fictional adult settings. Some cite swearing as ignorant, lower class, ugly and even disrespectful. ‘Coarse language’ is a part of English and always will be. When people go to other countries one of the first things you’ll learn is a swear word (providing the hosts are good – I jest, somewhat) and they’ll want to know your native ones also, it’s a very natural thing is the old rude words thing.
So – swearing in fiction? Acceptable? Deplorable? Inescapable? Necessary? How do you feel about it?