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Friday, October 15, 2010

The Curse of the Potty Mouth

Something came up in my latest revision that had me reflecting on my own life a little. It turns out that my heroine had a bit of a potty mouth and my agent felt that it was making her look a little trashy. She also suggested that by swearing so much I was losing the effect of the words. Taking her suggestions into consideration I cut back on the swearing by a lot and realized that just a sprinkle was all I needed to get the point across. My heroine is still kick ass and hard core but maybe not so crass.

During the revision, and the subsequent cutting back of swear words, I couldn’t help but make connections to my life. You see, I have a terrible potty mouth. I can’t say why or where it comes from (my mum would kill me if she knew just how bad I really am) but get me around my friends and I’m dropping the f-bomb all over the place.

Which is why I think it came through in my writing so much.

I’m a big believer that we give words power and that if you make a big deal about a particular word it becomes more powerful than it probably should be. I also believe that swear words in and of themselves are kind of funny…their role I mean. I suppose most people have connected them with subverting authority or gaining power and I know that many people believe that they are a sign of one’s lack of intelligence.

People consider me to be pretty intelligent. I’m highly educated and in a profession that, for the most part, is respected but I can't stop myself when that office door is closed. Does it make me seem trashy? I don't really know...I also don't really care...maybe because I have so many restrictions in my life - you know, don't swear around the kid, don't swear around the boss, that I just lose control when I get some freedom.

What about you all...potty or pretty mouth?


  1. I have a hard time transitioning from being able to swear to not being able to swear, so to avoid getting myself in trouble, I try not to swear. But I don't think it's trashy to swear around friends or when the office door is shut.

  2. I, like you am University educated, and can honestly say that I can use those 4 letter words with some degree of flavour! Angry, funny, silly, whatever, they come out. I love them and find them expressive. But, I don't use them in inappropriate places and I never used them at work or in the presence of oh let's say the bank manager when renewing the mortgage, or my doctor. But, they can be quite useful at times. I find your post quite funny in fact because I used to say an uneducated person would use those words more often, and yet I don't believe that's the case. In actual fact some people of lower educated levels don't use those words at all. I'm sure it's just a way of personally expressing one's self. I'm definitely a potty mouth, but know who and where I can use these words, like you. :) Great blog this week Angela..a fun topic!

  3. Definitely a potty mouth. Poor Carlos just shakes his head. The man curses about twice a year on average. I use the f-bomb on a regular basis. I do try to taper it in my writing though and only use it if absolutely necessary, which sometimes it is. :)

  4. Get me riled and I can curse up a storm. Hell, I can curse up a storm just because a particular topic seems to warrant it. I try to keep it location/company appropriate, but when "I'm free", I'm a grown woman and swear as much as I want.

    I support your potty mouth.

  5. I deleted the last post by accident as I was moderating them so I reposted it as Anonymous....but it was An Again...sorry!

  6. Oh Damnation. I'm not so bad but to be honest my parents watched what they said in front of us. It was a real shock to hear my Mum drop the F-Bomb. I know that she knew the word but to hear it come out of her mouth was weird.

    Great post and I hope that my own characters will be as temperable when editing arrives, however since most of my stuff is Kid's books I don't think it will be too bad.

  7. I think I'm... cute mouth? While I don't drop the f-bomb much, there are other words I seem to use. Like you, I'm careful around kids and always while in professional company.
    However, I don't have any word allergies. ;-)

  8. Sorry so late in commenting, but I have the same problem. I curse like a sailor's daughter (so I like to say). I can hold it back, but it feels...wrong. I also use a lot of my salty language in my writing, but I think it helps make the characters seem more realistic...especially when they come up with their own swear words.