Tell Me What Are Words For


Last week, when I had every reason to be delayed in posting (red-eye flight), I was here bright and early.

Today? Not so much.

I’ve been trying to get back into the swing of things, the swing of things including writing on my WIP every day. And, I realized yesterday when I was reviewing it, I start no fewer than four chapters with a sentence containing the word ‘fuck.’ In fact, sometimes the sentence is just the word ‘fuck.’ Like this: “Fuck.” I went through the document, and I use it at least 53 times.

I am not writing a historical.

Since I had my son, I don’t swear hardly at all; I do say ‘shoot’ and ‘darn’ a lot, but not much beyond that (ask my son, however, what I yell about in the car, can he’ll tell you everyone else on the road is a Big Jerk). But in my writing, in this case a contemporary, I do swear. It’s of the time, it suits the character(s), even though I don’t say it much myself anymore. Oddly enough, I don’t say or write ‘shit’ nearly as much, mostly because I’m not a big fan of the scatalogical.

Of course, when we write historical, we can fall into the making-it-authentic trap by making it sound too dated, as though we were channeling Jane Austen, only not the spirit of her (for the time) contemporary voice. Reading Georgette Heyer‘s Venetia for the read-along, for example, I was struck by how Heyer defines our genre through her dialogue. Many historical authors have incorporated some of her common usage (mushroom, Corinthian, lightskirt), but hopefully not used it has heavyhandedly as she did; when she did it, she was blazing a genre trail. When people do it now, it’s just lazy writing.

So if you ever read any of my contemporaries, don’t be shocked at the language; I write as the characters would speak, hopefully, and yes, they would swear. Some of them, at least. And some of my historicals also use the word, albeit not as plentifully. It was true to the time, and the characters.

Megan

PS: Cameo‘s “Word Up!” was one of my favorite songs back in the day. Does it really pertain to the topic? No. Do I care? Also no.

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