random writing tip: on the virtues of the word “fuck”
now i know what youre thinking. migi, why would you ever think about the usage of the word fuck? well, my dear little fledglings, let me tell you something. the calculated use of the word “fuck” (and hey, even most other harsher swear words) can be the difference between a scene punching you in the gut or falling flat like a limp noodle. dont believe me? well, heres an example:
now most of us are familiar with harry potter, right? well, we all remember our first time reading/watching the deathly hallows and that iconic moment when molly weasly was fighting bellatrix and shouted “NOT MY DAUGHTER YOU BITCH”. i for one recall in the theater the entire crowd cheering and shouting, losing their collective shit. it was a FUCK YOU moment and everyone was invigorated by it. the way this worked was by a calculated usage of swears and expert timing. most works, be they for younger readers or mature, avoid an overt usage of swear words. some characters just dont use them often, or it doesnt fit the mood. but, if youre clever and know how to utilize them correctly, dropping an impactful “fuck” can make a tense, emotive moment all the richer.
audiences can and will get desensitized to swearing. its just a fact. by being selective and thoughtful of when and how you use curse words, you can ramp up the seriousness of a scene when it otherwise might have just fallen flat. a mild-mannered motherly type in the throes of a battle to the death with a woman intent on murdering her children? yeah, you drop a fuck or a bitch in there and your audience will be on the edge of their seats, cheering. a hard boiled type who curses between every other word? yeah, not so much. there’s no sign that the situation is affecting them as much as it could, and your audience loses out on an impactful moment that could have been better executed.
now, im not telling you not to let your characters curse. if its in their nature to swear, then let them swear. but keep an eye out on who they swear around and in what situations. make the reader understand these verbal cues as well, and use them to your advantage. the word “fuck” is as useful as any other word, maybe even more so given its ability to convey so many layers of intent. its a strong word to have in your arsenal, so make sure you’re using it to its fullest potential.