We know it’s amateur to use clichés in our writing, but did you ever consider that cursing is cliché? When you hear someone yelling and cursing in real life, are they saying anything meaningful or important? No. When you write out a character’s profanity, you’re just repeating clichés. Don’t. You’re more creative than that! Here’s what you do.
Describe the scene and let your readers fill in the blanks with the actual words. Readers will actually be pulled into your story more if you let them subconsciously “hear” whatever comes to their mind. Here are some examples I’ve made up:
She cautiously entered the tavern, shouts and curses piercing through the murky smoke. A sneering man groped at her, slurring profanity. She screamed as his beefy arm circled her—his rancid breath and filthy words sickening her.
“Just get rid of the girl! I don’t care how!” The boss roared. Zeb threw the phone down, hands shaking, spewing curses. He couldn’t escape now. He’d have to find and kill her or die himself.
The scrawny boy tried to scramble away, but his drunken father yanked him by the hair, screaming obscenities and flinging him across the room. The vile words cut him deeper than the bloody gashes.
It’s more powerful and effective to give us the emotions and visuals of the scene—we’ll fill in all the details ourselves.
Savvy Writer Tip:
Don’t spell out profanity. It’s clichéd, boring, and weak. Instead, vividly describe the scene and the character’s emotions. Don’t worry—we’ll “hear” the cursing. Keep us engrossed in your story by portraying graphic action and intense emotions!