literary_equine (literary_equine) wrote,

Using Vulgar Language in Modern Literature is a Bad Idea

Currently I'm reading a horror novel written by a master. The atmosphere that he creates is claustrophobic and paranoid and fits the story perfectly. He has a wonderful storytelling ability that makes you care for and identify with the characters.

The only problem? If it wasn't for the "f-word" the book would probably be reduced 10% in length.

Now, I'm no prude, but dropping multiple f-bombs on every page you write is an exercise in bad writing and I'm taking a literary position here, not moral.

When your own work is dripping with vulgarities, three things happen:

  1. The words lose their shock value, and
  2. They then become adjectives (and very stupid ones at that)
And what's the third?

Let's actually use a vulgarity to make my point even though it's rather exaggerated:

Old Man Marsh walked into the d*mn door because some d*mn fool forgot to keep it open. "D*mn!" Old Man Marsh shouted. "Some d*mn fool forgot to open the d*mn door, d*mn his d*mn eyes!"

Now, things aren't as bad as this in the book I'm presently reading, but sadly close enough for my illustration . Reading that many expletives in one space, they lose their shock value and become actually ludicrous. And at that instance, the only point they serve is to serve as adjectives, and adjectives used to excess are bad writing.

And very badly used adjectives on top of that. Doors and eyes are not in danger of eternal perdition, though fools may or may not be.

In the above illustration, change out the word for an f-bomb.

I don't know about you, but I've never seen a door have sex.

Bottom line: Use vulgarities rarely if at all. There are still a lot of people on this planet that go throughout the day not feeling a need to use vulgar language and I submit to you they are the better communicators because they feel no need to manipulate their hearer's emotions or prove their "edginess."

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