Most of my stories are written for a general audience, and so I try to avoid the use of swear words in my short stories. I also believe that cursing is for the uncreative and unoriginal. Think about it: haven’t we all cussed at one time or another because we “couldn’t think of anything better?” The problem is that there are instances where cursing just works really well and is even expected at times.
Case in point: I am currently writing a story that involves pirates…IN SPAAAACE! Just like any other self-respecting pirates, these scurvy dogs (really, they’re pirate DOGS) spit, belch, don’t bathe, threaten harmless people (or cats as the case may be) and should probably swear like sailors. Thus, I have a few options:
1) Say ‘f*** it’ and use real swear words in my story, which I don’t really want to do.
2) Borrow not-quite-swear-words from other works of fiction, like ‘frak’ from BattleStar Galactica, but I don’t want to do this either because its well, unoriginal, and I know I’m setting myself to get stuck in some “THERE’S NO FURRIES IN BATTLESTAR GALACTICA” debate down the road.
3) Use common words. This method was used often by one of my favorite writers, Isaac Asimov. When a swear was needed, his characters would say things like “Space!” or “Stars and galaxies!”
4) Just make stuff up. This is obviously the hardest one, because I’m essentially inventing new words, and I’d like for them to make sense and not look like a random jumble of letters.
I am going with #3 with a varying degree of success, and who knows, I may invent some new pseudo-cuss words, especially at work, but for now I’ll just have to punt and pepper my story with <SWEAR WORD> placeholders until I think of something better.