Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Swear Reflex

As anyone who has read my novels could have guessed, I'm a bit of swearer. But I'm not one of those crude people who use swear words in a casual manner. I'm from the old school and swear particularly for emphasis. A writer never likes to waste words.

This past weekend, I had a moment of proper use for an expletive. I was slicing up a particularly difficult tomato for lunch when the extremely sharp knife slipped, stabbing me in the palm between my thumb and forefinger. It went deep, hitting a nerve that left my finger numb and tingly for nearly ten minutes. At the moment of impact, in my howl of pain, I let loose a drawn out, full volume, well articulated F*#K that sent the cats scrambling for cover.

Once everything was tended to and the feeling returned to my finger, I laughed at how my reaction in such situations is to swear. It's the same for many people. I started thinking how strange it is that a release of obscenity is the body's reaction to pain, and even stranger, how it helps to ease it. Another testament to the power of words...and the dangers of sharp knives.


  1. Very hard to use swear words in fiction. Often seems false but we all use them!

  2. It can effective if done right. Irvine Welsh is a master at it.

    My first few books are swear heavy, and I think it works. However, I've abandoned it in my last few books. It all depends on the character and if its natural to his or her voice.

  3. I too believe swearing emphasizes an emotion, not meant to be offensive or derogatory.

    Great post!

  4. I never understood the concept of taking offense to a word of any kind not directed in a personal manner. The blanket objection to this word or that word really perplexes me. Words are words.

  5. lol so true, I cut my finger the other day while cutting an orange and it hurt like a bitch! so yeah just had to say it. does make you feel better too

  6. Haha thats so true! I try not to swear, especially around my parents or elders, but when I get hurt, it just kind of slips out...