Using swearing in writing

swearing writing

To swear or not to swear. This is the question many writers face. Swearing in writing is even more a consideration when planning a character who could or would easily swear a lot and possibly gain from it.

The point of this article is to consider how we perspective swearing in general life and how it translates into writing.

Swearing in general life has become so common place, most of us hardly think twice when we hear someone exploding in colorful language. The BBC and other publication encourage it as healthy. And there is research and studies showing benefits of swearing in certain settings.

The research

A particularly oft sited study from Keele University on the benefits of swearing showed that cussing can enhance pain tolerance. With caveats. One such caveat to this benefit is it only works if the person doesn’t swear often to begin with. Which does negate the point popular articles often make about swearing often.

(But that’s just a fun side note.)

Often times swearing is expected among younger people when something either tragic or exhilarating happens. But for the older generation, cussing is still often looked down on. In ‘proper society’ or in formal events, we almost certainly don’t loose our tongue with every known profanity even if we might in another setting.


Choosing to swear is vastly different from not being able to communicate what one feels except through swearing.

This difference should be noted in writing as it creates vastly different characters. A writer can create characters and stories that do not rely at all on swearing and get their point across.

But a writer who chooses to use swearing must take care with how their characters use profanity, how frequently and note how it can affect their communication.

There is a difference then between people, or characters, that can articulate themselves clearly without relying on swearing and people who can’t. Some choice colorful language for personal expression, some can’t talk without it. And there is a huge difference when writing these people.

Tagged , ,

Leave a Reply