Tuesday, February 7, 2012

This is When I Put My Foot in My Characters' Mouths

So I have recently come to the rather uncomfortable realization that several of my Clocker characters are potty mouths, or ought to be. The conundrum is that I don't swear--I'm more likely to say "H-E-double-hockey-sticks" than "hell" even when describing the geographical location where one would expect to find fire, brimstone, and Satan. Several of my characters are, however, solid working people with tendencies toward colorful expletives.

I'm a bit of a Britain-o-phile so thus far I've used British slang to spare my American readers (and myself) from vulgar colloquialisms. I've encountered some problems with that, though, as I've realized that some of the slang I'm using is more offensive than I initially thought. I have enough readers who are fairly familiar with British language that I'm getting some stares. That's what I get for trying to speak another language.

And, unfortunately, you can only use "blast" so many times before your readers stop buying it. Like twice. Total.

This has led to my rather bizarre investigation into creative swearing. Let me tell you there is LOTS of strange and interesting material on this subject, but I do not recommend the search to anyone with any sort of sensitivity to profanity. In fact, I wish there had been another way to compile a list of less-offensive, old world expletives than googling "old English expletives." Apparently I'm not the only person to write about swearing on their blogs. You'd be shocked at the amount of research some bloggers have put into riddling out the origins of modern day curses. You'd also be shocked at the crass immaturity of other adult bloggers who log in so that they can use whatever word, or combination of words, pops into their head, without censure.

Fortunately, I'm starting to get into the rhythm of my characters' speech and, hopefully, have accumulated a large enough dictionary in my creative writing journals of acceptable naughty words that I can avoid the extremely jarring discomfort of casual modern profanity. If I had to resort to that I have a feeling that my characters would swear so profusely that the story's dialogue would soon be really boring (or interesting for all the wrong reasons). Luckily, this world is really mishmash (in the best way possible) and, as such, is open to the use of words from other languages. I don't, for example, speak ANY Italian, but I'm using a lot of messed up, out of context Italian words. It was my original intention to use random words from as many languages as possible, focusing on those found in Asia, but those are harder to translate so I've just used LOTS of British slang.

Favorite profanity discoveries:
  1. Cobbler--British slang; similar usage to the American "baloney"
  2. Grotty--British slang; seedy, wretched, dirty
  3. Naff--British slang; as an adjective: inferior, as a verb: to goof off
Also please note that I have not forgotten my promise to post the first two chapters . . . they just haven't been edited as I'm currently working at a frenzied pace to finish the third chapter in time to turn it in to be workshopped on Thursday (so far I have an outline and . . . 65 words). But, never fear! I am getting back into this tale and I'm really excited because our heroine is about to encounter a character who looks a little something like this (though I am undecided on dreads at this point) . . .

And, though I won't tell you his name, how she meets him, or the capacity of their relationship, I am chomping at the bit. I found these pictures by accident, but it's honestly almost as though someone read my mind and decided to make this upcoming character a reality . . . SO excited to write these character interactions. It's not going to be pretty, but if it translates from my head to the paper at all it will be awesome.

1 comment:

  1. Can't believe I haven't commented! Love this, you are so clever and I can't wait to read your chapters!