Omitting Vulgar Language As A Writer

Call me what you like but I don’t like to hear cursing, vulgar words or expressions. That posses a problem for some writers; what if their character curses and uses vulgar words or expressions?

One way to solve the problem is to not introduce characters who curse and use vulgar words or expressions. That may limit the intent, intensity, and the personality of a character and make the story less real.

Personally, when I pick up a something laced with vulgar language, I lay it down. I don’t like hearing it or reading it and I certainly don’t want to write about it.

In one of my early novels, The Summer of ‘62, I wrote about characters as I remembered them from actual events and conversations. Every word was as remembered. I was offended by my own writing. A friend read it and said very simply, it was not me.

It was a test of principles, honesty, and desire for an honest portrayal of events. For awhile I stood at a dilemma many writers have faced. I wanted to write stories and novels my grandchildren could read and yet want them to be real and honest. In no way did I want them to adopt the vulgar use of language spoken by my characters.

A solution came to mind; Joe cursed. It was simple, I could tell what the person did without quoting them. The reader can use their own imagination or point of reference. I was happy and if it’s not realistic enough for the reader—get a pen and write in their own words.

Many writers and editors will protest and rile at such an approach but a clear conscience when writing is better than a troubled one.

My feeling is a reader should go to a place, while reading, that will elevate their thinking.

The intellectual argument is that words are words and intellectually I agree. However writing and expressing thoughts is a craft or art. It should be pleasing. It needn’t shock or abuse the reader.

How one writes is up to the writer. This is merely presented as an option to those who wish to write in a fashion that will not offend by the use of vulgar words or expression.

How can a writer omit vulgar words or expression? The way I found is just to say a vulgar word, or expression was used without quoting.

Joe hit his thump with the hammer. “Ahh!!!” He screamed and cursed loudly.


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