Correct use of the “F-bomb”


I see on a lot of writers and publishers forums discussions of what is euphemistically called the “F-Bomb“. Some seem to feel that using this multi-purpose slang word is ‘bad writing’.

Excessive use is certainly poor practice. Although my feelings on the matter are that ‘bad writing’ is sometimes not using said swear word. If a character is one who swears, then they should swear properly, and not get all dainty mouthed about it. Spending any time in a male dominated environment means one is likely to hear the F – word used as adjective, verb, adverb, noun and in some ‘blue collar’ environments, punctuation and even pauses for breath. A character in any narrative is framed by their speech, and part of a writers job is to paint that picture with veracity. This whole self censorship thing detracts from the honesty of any fictional character and makes them less credible. This attitude comes across, to me at least, as teeth grindingly prissy, censorious and dishonest.

Conversely, it can be argued that ‘bad writing’ is excessive use of the aforementioned swear word, which is also true. My feelings? The trick is to use bad language appropriately.

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Martyn K Jones

A writer who first trained as an Electrical Engineer, then fulfilled various roles within the computing industry. First published in 'SuperBike' magazine, 1978 under the pseudonym Harry Matthews. Since then has written and had published a wide variety of work; from PR copy in trade magazines to supernatural short stories and the occasional satirical article. Emigrated to Canada in 2007. Became a Canadian Citizen December 2014. Now branching out as a serious science fiction novelist.

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4 thoughts on “Correct use of the “F-bomb””

  1. The F word is everywhere. First time I enountered it in a work setting was in the white collar work arena when I returned to it after my kids graduated to infant school. I’d never heard the F word said so much (okay to be honest I’d heard it from my husband) but I’d not expected to hear it from a 26 year old woman in that kind of setting. Since then I’ve been in two more white collar environments, to be fair stressful environments, and it has become commonplace. I don’t want to sound fuddy duddy but I am relieved that it isn’t common where I currently work.

    I think it is like any word. Over used it loses it’s potency anyway.

  2. Angie, over used certainly, but the thing is; does any given pejorative help paint a narrative picture? My view is; if consistent with character and setting – definitely. If not – don’t. Simples.

    In my current project some of my characters use variants as heard in everyday speech, and I have written it to reflect speech patterns and inflections, replacing the U with A or O, or even RI as appropriate. Although I have worked in environments where the F-Bomb is used as punctuation. Often as a comma or semi-colon.. Authenticity is everything.

  3. I can go with that answer. By coincidence, I was mulling over speech patterns & inflections on my way home from work this evening. I’ll share with you once it becomes more than a mull

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