Swearing About My Dialog

One of the more interesting challenges I face as an author is writing believable dialog. This is especially true when the conflict has intensified. The characters are feeling the pressure. Those are the times when an, “oh my goodness gracious me,” simply won’t cut it. However, I don’t want to take it too far and risk offending my readers. I’m fully aware some have limits about what language is and isn’t appropriate.

When necessary, my characters will say an occasional, “damn,” or “hell.” Oftentimes, that’s enough to make the point. There may be occasions when a character may exclaim, “son of a bitch.” This usually happens when they’re suddenly shocked or surprised. It can also happen when they’re referring to a male villain who’s done something outrageous. My villains aren’t meant to be nice. They’re supposed to make other characters angry, and dialog is the most effective way for them to express their anger. It’s also the kind of language we hear in real life when someone is angry.

There are, however, places where I draw the line. First and foremost is using the Lord’s name as a curse word. While I may not be overtly religious, I still believe in God, so to me, it’s disrespectful. That’s why you’ll never hear any of my characters, not even the villains, saying the, “G-damn,” word, or using the names, “Jesus,” or “Christ,” as curse words.

The other word I won’t use is the “f-bomb.” Some readers simply find it too offensive. This can be tricky, as there are some situations when even a “what the hell,” may not be enough. On those occasions I’ll have another character interrupt just in time. That way the word is implied, but not actually said.

I realize there are some folks out there who may even find the word, “damn,” offensive, but simply I can’t be all things to all readers. I’m also the first to admit that my novels aren’t for everyone. So if you’re looking for good, sensual romance, with believable characters who speak like real people talk, you’ve come to the right place.

Marina Martindale