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>>>>When writing dialogue, (for a screenplay in this example), its hard to imagine some of the conversations being carried on without a fair sprinkling of expletives. In this case the words wouldn't be used to draw attention or shock the audience, but to give a more accurate insight into the speaker's character and state of mind.
>>>>How do you handle it in your writing? For instance:

SB: I wrestled with that a bit when I started writing my novel. It's based around five seasoned spacers who are doing mining and exploration in space. In any real-life situation you would expect there to be a fair amount of cursing. I was prepared for that, but I didn't want the cursing to be a distraction for some readers (I have some friends who won't go see a movie if they hear there is a lot of profanity, for example).

Also, when I was still writing chapter 1, my 13 year old daughter was reading over my shoulder and she said, "Ooh, you said damn!" I knew at that point that I didn't want to write anything that I wouldn't let her read, so I decided to compromise. I would limit myself to damn, hell and crap, and that was that. Words your kids can hear every day of the week on network TV.

As it works out, the book doesn't suffer from the lack of anything stronger. Once the reader recognizes that a certain character only says "damn", there is no expectation of anything stronger. (At least, that's the way I feel when I read.)

If you think a character or situation demands something stronger, you can cheat, the way they do on TV, by cutting off the character in mid-word. ("That Shaft is a mean motherf--" "Shut yo' mouth!") I did that once where someone began "Sonofa b--". It gets the point across without quite saying it.

Somehow, 9 1/2 chapters into the book, I don't think I have had to use even mild curse words more than a dozen times in all. I could have had them swearing a blue streak, but it really wasn't necessary, and wouldn't really add to the book. If I can keep from turning off even a few potential readers, it's worth it.

Just my inflation-adjusted three-cents worth.

>>>>In Non-Fiction, either using the term yourself, or in a quote?

I guess it depends on the type of non-fiction. If you are quoting General McArthur in a historical context, of course include the profanity if it's in the quote. But if I were writing about computer repair, unless the tone were humorous rather than scholarly, I don't think I would say, "Then just plug in the damn computer!" It all depends on the context.

Consider the books you read. In a Tom Clancy novel, with international spies shooting at one another, profanity is natural and expected. On the other hand, I can't think of many SF novels with more than the occasional mild cursing. I'm no prude myself, but even for me, too much profanity -- especially if it isn't necessary -- can be a distraction. (Me: "Damn it! Do they have to curse so much?" <g>)

Mark.
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