The official blog of Jane Domagala


Before I dive into the subject of swearing I should warn those with sensitive ears that there will be swear words starting with the letters s, f, c and e mentioned in this post.

To be fair, swearing is not limited to adults alone, however, there are some who would have swearing corralled and shuffled off to the dregs, so that their children may never be befouled by such language. Which brings me to my first point.

I object to the suggestion that swear words are not part of mine or anyone's language. Statements such as, there is no need for that language; please refrain from using that language; if you continue to use that language you'll be charged, bother me. I didn't realise that swear words made up their own language. Since I only speak English what other language am I supposed to use? Would you prefer I swore in French? Ah, if only I could.

As a writer, I need access to all words so that I can explore all facets of my characters.

It is not the words themselves that matter, but the context in which you use them. Hey cunt, how's it going? can be a term of endearment to some. But to call someone a slobbering dog is generally an insult. The word scum may be considered mild in comparison to fuck, but put a negative edge to it – you dirty, filthy piece of scum – and it becomes extremely insulting, especially to those who have had to scrape their way out of the gutters to make something of themselves. The word fuck probably doesn't mean anything to those who use it every day.

When I write fantasy fiction I tend to use less of the s, f and c words in favour of more creative words. I do this because I find those harsh swear words have more impact when used sparingly (but that's just me). I do know others who like to use them more often to give their story a gritty feel. There are many different ways I like to come up with soft swears, as you might want to call them. Three of the mains ones are:

Many of our modern swear words come from taking the lord's name in vain. All of my fictional worlds have some form of religion that my characters follow or resist. I give my gods and religious leaders names and titles and then use them as swear words.

Animals and Body Parts and Bodily Function
We've all heard the term bullshit before, I'm sure. Animals, body parts and bodily functions are a great way to swear. Sometimes I make up animals, or use animals common to my story as a replacement for the word bull. Then, instead of using shit, I might use a bodily function similar to shit; poo, diarrhoea, crap, dung, farts, burps (all the fun toilet humour stuff). Or I might use body parts, which I won't elaborate on here, but dog's balls is a great example. Be creative. Of course these animals, body parts, bodily functions can all be used independently. I'm sure I don't need to explain that one.

Another way to use animals is to pick ones we tend to think of as repulsive or dim-witted; maggot, slug, snake, cockroach, worm, mule, turkey. The list goes on.

Ordinary Words
The word fuck/fucking has been replaced with ordinary words such as freaking, fruit-tingles and flaming. Almost anything can become a swear word if you use it the right way. Just stick the word dirty in front of it; dirty mutton; dirty cheese hole, dirty wax stuffer, etc. I'm sure you can come up with better ones.

Making Words Up.
This one is my favourite. I love making up words. One trick I use is to take a real word and swap the letters about and play around with the way it sounds. For example, take the word shit. This can be changed to shet or shek or skick. Othere examples: you're such a smenk; keep your bleaming hands off my you cepidizoid; get the frugo outta here; you're such a eglitest.

These are pretty mild examples, but you can see where I'm going. How harsh you want to get with your swear words comes down to your characters. Where they grew up, how they were raised, culture constraints, friends and families can all attribute to how and when your character swears.

Tell me your creative swear words.

Coming up next Observation Deck – Is The Universe Inherently Lazy?; and Beauty in Fantasy (not necessarily in that order)


Great post, Jane. I luv a good fuck! Ummm...Oops I mean swear...

It is interesting about what you said how some people react. I remember someone saying to me once that my flippant use of the word 'fuck' was offensive to this person and would I stop using it.

Out of respect for her feelings I did my best to refrain - but I do have to question what is actually offensive? If someone said directly to me: You are a rotten piece of shit... that would so totally offend me over someone lovingly telling me to 'Fuck off.'

Really - as my mum used to say. It's only a word. And as far as what makes something offensive is more about the context in which it's used :)


Hey Jane - I also meant to mention that I think swearing is pivotal in Adult novels (used sparingly) or so the masses tell me :) but like you said when the characters swear occasionally there is more impact. It also makes them real and perhaps we can get away with a lot more swearing in general conversation (as in real life) when adapted to the screen or theatre. Perhaps this is where my forte lies since my characters swear a lot he he :)


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