Writing: Is There a Proliferation of Profanity?

Are words being used more for shock value?

A Tucson Festival of Books writers’ panel included several authors who addressed that issue as part of their discussion on “Good to Great.”

Adam Mansbach, Author of Go the F*** to Sleep, defended his book for parents whose children just won’t go to sleep. He denied he was going for shock value, but claimed his title was just an organic result of exasperation when a child just won’t go to sleep – for hours.

All of the authors on the panel, including T. Jefferson Parker and Thomas Perry, are serious writers who want to create excellent literature. Indeed, Mansbach questioned whether “good is the enemy of great.” He advocates seeking out the great in writing.

Perry said that books should be hard, strain you. Parker would like to be remembered as the author of at least one great book, citing Catch 22 as such a book.

Although they agreed that greatness is to be aspired to, Perry commented, “Nobody has written 25 great books…(they are) lucky to do one…with luck, persistence.”

I admit that I was the one asking the question about writing for shock value. Finding more books with scenarios and words used for shock, I remember my mom saying that “those words” were a sign that people didn’t have the vocabulary to express themselves well without using those words.

Have we, as a society, lost the spark? Have we resorted to profanity to get attention? I’d like to think that we could express ourselves well – in any situation.

Walking down a hiking trail recently, I heard three people speaking and it seemed every third word was “F***.” There was no anger shown in the word’s use; the profanity was just a word like any other word.

(I was not eavesdropping, we were just on a narrow trail and they were following us.)

Perhaps the sad thing about profanity is that it is used so commonly that there is almost no meaning. And, words should have meaning!

What do you think, readers? Is profanity more widely used and losing its meaning? ~~~~~~

Shelley Gillespie is an Expert Book and Writing Coach. She assists writers who want to use just the right words to create a well-crafted book.

 

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