Shoot! Darn! Heck! Fetch!

One of the topics I've pondered as I've been writing is the place of cursing and using deity as an invective in my stories.  In a lot of contemporary writing, it seems to be de rigeur.  And, admittedly, sometimes there are situations where it  seems that a good curse is needed or at least expected (ever unexpectedly run into a clot of vampires at midnight on Halloween in desolate, remote and long abandoned graveyard?  Shoot!)--so, what's a writer to do?

Curious as to other writers' perspectives, I posted a question to several groups on Facebook and LinkedIn, such as LinkedIn Sci Fi Group and LinkedIn Writers Guild Group, to get their opinions on language and, "clean" writing in general.  I was pleasantly surprised that, across the board, it seems there is support for "clean" writing, which actually encompasses more than just language.  I was encouraged to see this.  Several comments, however, indicated that it was old-fashioned, out-dated and unrealistic.

Ultimately, though, my goal is to write "clean", no matter the contemporary trend, expectations of others or what seems popular.  I think that as a writer one does not have to write to the level of the current marketplace and whether or not one has the responsibility, one at least has the option, of showing a better way.

What do you think?  Can one write "clean" novels and be successful?  And, if not, is it worth the compromise to attain success?


  1. Absolutely one can write clean! Profanity is just a weak mind seeking to forcibly express itself. It relies on nothing more than shock value and the path of least mental resistance. But what do you do when the scandal of those words have eroded and they no longer serve to express the power you are looking for? Dig a little lower? I've heard all them before, way too often. If I want that I can find it all over the place. What do you have for me to consider that is new? What is in your work that distinguishes it from the other titles out there, rather than blends in with all the rest? There are so many wonderful words and ways to express ideas in concise, creative, lofty or amusing ways, why does one ever think they need to use all the tired, threadbare ones so common among the quisqullia? "I am not suggesting that our conversation be all honey and blossoms. Clever expression that is sincere and honest is a skill to be sought for and cultivated." Gordon B. Hinckley

    A good story with well-developed characters will carry itself without cheap, easy & tawdry crutches to prop it up. Just write your story, don't worry about what level of the marketplace you may or may not appeal to--it will find its audience. You really don't need to spend half as much time as you might suppose worrying about that.

  2. Darn tootin', Brenden--thanks for your thoughts!

    - Frank