RARA-AVIS: Re: Violence for the sake of...?

From: Dave Zeltserman ( davezelt@comcast.net)
Date: 20 Mar 2005

> I really don't agree with this part of the argument. Gratuitous
> obscenties (or gratuitous anything) is usually not a good idea,
> appropriate cursing never stands out for me. In fact, it's the
> opposite. If a character in a book is in a situation where he's
> pissed off and isn't cursing but should be, it seems artificial to
> me...In my own writing, I try to never hold back or censor myself.
> my characters want to curse, they curse.
> J
> http://www.jasonstarr.com

As a writer this is something I struggle with. I agree that you want the dialogue and the character's actions to be natural, but if Hammett, Jim Thompson, James M. Cain, and many other could write hard-hitting realistic scenes/dialogue without profanities, then we all should be able to. My first book, Fast Lane, which is a very harsh and violent book, I use "fuck" 3 times, that's it, and I don't think the dialogue or characters come across as unnatural. Since then I've taken the easier way out - I just write the dialogue as naturally as I can, and then go back and take out as much of the profantities as I can without making the dialogue sound unnatural. As least to my ear. But I still struggle with the fact that we should be able to do what Hammett and Thompson did - write with 0 profanities. I just can't help but feel all I'm doing is displaying a lack of skill.

-Dave Z.

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