S27E6 – Can I Use Swear Words in My Novel?

You probably know that word choices are important in writing. Different words have nuances that can change their meaning. Consider how “angry” is different from “frustrated” or “irritated.” The same principle applies with swear words. We’ve had many writers question whether or not they can or should use swear words in their stories. The short answer is yes, but it gets a little more complicated as you dig into the writing.

There are a few important things to consider before diving in and using all the swear words in your vocabulary. The first and foremost is you target audience. On this podcast, we always tell you to not worry about the audience in the first draft. That applies here. In your first draft, write whatever words you think work best in the moment. When you edit, though, consider the best words for the audience. Especially if you are traditionally publishing, there will be different considerations for things like the target age and the book’s genre.

We discuss target audience as well as other considerations when choosing whether or not to use swear words in this episode, as well as creating your own fictional curses that fit the world and setting.

First aired December 20, 2021.

About the Author
I'm an editor and cover designer for AspenHouse Publishing. I am also a host for AspenHouse's poscast, Writing Roots.

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