Tuesday, May 23, 2006

#@$*!! in the manuscript

Ph*cked in Philly writes...

Are writing samples with cursing generally frowned
upon? I got one I might send, and it's a curse
festival.

A curse festival, eh? That sounds like fun. I guess I'm split on this PiP. On the one hand, you write what you write, your characters say what they say. On the other hand (and the one I'm leaning toward), I think it was Joseph Joubert who said "Before you use a fancy word, make room for it."

I think this is probably true of curse words too. The more there are, the less impact they have. I guess it comes down to this, PiP: if they sound authentic to the story, then they work. If they don't, then they don't. Get another set of eyes and ears on your story, PiP. See what that person says.

My overall advice: if all things are even, or close to even, I'd send the non curse festival story for my MFA application. Rock on.

2 comments:

Old Scribe said...

I'd also be careful to ensure that the bad language isn't superfluous. Sure, nothing about your manuscript should be excessive, but a lot of foul language might turn off an editor/instructor quicker than surplus "clean language."

If it's dialogue, you might defend the cursing because certain people really speak that way, every two or three words foul and offensive. But if it's exposition, I'd try to cut it back.

I suppose you could compare curse words in a manuscript to ingredients in a recipe: use just enough to get the job done, to render the effect you desire. Because if it's excessive, you may ruin the meal.

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