More About Cussing #amwriting

UntitledI’ve written about this before, in a post called To Cuss or Not to Cuss. That is the Goddamned Question, but the subject has come up in a practical sense.

I heard about an anthology that will pay pro prices, called No Shit, There I Was. Every story must begin with that line. No question about it: If I want to try for inclusion, I must use the word “shit” at least once.

It tickles me to write a wide variety of characters while using a minimum of actual foul language; although I don’t shrink from dropping the occasional f-bomb when necessary, I don’t descend into what I would call nastiness. Which, you know, depends on my mood.

ANYWAY, “shit” is not an uncommon word in my vocabulary. I try not to say it in front of my mother. If I do, she says, “I wouldn’t have in my hand what you just had in your mouth.” She cracks me up.

Still, not many of my characters would just haul off and say it, all casual-like. So I was puzzled. Would I have to invent a new character?

A friend said, “It’s too bad Mr. Sugar wouldn’t say that.” (Mr. Sugar is a neutered, gay, white Persian cat of refined sensibilities but enormous courage.) I said, “Yeah, it is, but he totally would not say it. … But Mrs. DiMarco would!” Mrs. DiMarco has happened to be part of both Mr. Sugar stories I’ve previously written, “Mr. Sugar vs. the Martians,” which appears in the collection LONNIE, ME AND THE HOUND OF HELL, and “Mr. Sugar vs. the Cake Thief,” which appears in the anthology MARDI GRAS MURDER.

Mrs. DiMarco has “the bluest language and the deadliest throwing arm in the neighborhood,” so she was perfect for the job. DiMarco and Sugar are a breeze to write, too, since they’re so different, and yet share the same grit and clear vision — literally and figuratively.

The title jumped into my head: “Mr. Sugar vs. the Wicked Uncle.” Why? Dunno. Sometimes random titles do that, and I have fun seeing if I can write a story that fits. If the story goes somewhere else, there are plenty of titles to be constructed. In this case, I got to dig into Mrs. DiMarco’s past. After all, somebody taught her how to cuss, smoke, drink, and gamble. The story ended up going in a somewhat different direction that I originally thought it would, but I’m happy with it. I hope the place I submit it is happy with it, too.

I’m reading it to Mom tonight to get her edits before I send it off. What do you suppose she’ll say, after I read the first line?

LonnieLONNIE, ME AND THE HOUND OF HELL is available in electronic format only, for the low, low price of 99 cents (65p, in GBP):

Buy it for the Nook.
Buy it for iTunes.
Buy it in other electronic formats at Smashwords.

MardiGrasMARDI GRAS MURDER is available at Amazon in print and for Kindle.

A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: What is your main character’s most common imprecation?



I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “More About Cussing #amwriting

  1. Jane

    December 7, 2015 at 10:35am

    Bloody Hell!

    I just had a devil of a time enabling javascript EVERYwhere! But I did it!
    Now to find out just how the damned thing got UNenabled!

    Good post.

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen

      December 7, 2015 at 1:05pm

      Glad you got enabled, lady. Did you update your browser? It’s all ones and zeros, anyway.

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply
      • Jane

        December 8, 2015 at 1:50pm

        All my browsers were ENabled. I realized the whole Java had been deleted. Maybe by me??? Just two-three years ago, this was the trend. NOW, uh uh. You got to have it. FYI.

        I reinstalled.. Done.

        Permalink  ⋅ Reply
        • Author

          Marian Allen

          December 8, 2015 at 4:19pm

          Yas, and now everybody is telling me to uninstall Flash, and my best sites won’t work without it. 🙁

          Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  2. A.C. Flory

    December 7, 2015 at 11:48pm

    I used to find swearing very difficult. Not because I’m so ladylike but simply because I think there are better ways of expressing how you feel. Unfortunately, I seem to have a knack of coming up with characters that are less articulate than me…and they swear. -shrug- You do what you have to do. 🙂

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      December 8, 2015 at 8:04am

      I know how that goes, Meeka. I wrote a story once with a kid who dropped the f-bomb every time he opened his mouth (only in one scene, so he didn’t have time to get boring). When I told my grandpa, he said, “Why did you use that language?” I said, “Because that’s the way that character talks.” He thought a minute, nodded, and said, “Well, okay, then.” 🙂

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        • Author

          Marian Allen

          December 9, 2015 at 8:05am

          He was the dearest and best, Meeka. I would say I miss him every day, but he’s still very much Present in my heart. We use his quips and sayings all the time. 🙂

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  3. joey

    December 8, 2015 at 4:49pm

    I appreciate your mother’s humor.
    I’m an Indianapolis native. Lived here and there around central Indiana, so I’m always pleased to meet another Hoosier online.
    I find it unbelievable to read dialogue wherein all the characters sound the same. It’s not authentic. Some characters are above swearing, and other characters are over those characters — but that’s honest, that’s life, and it rings true.

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      December 8, 2015 at 5:27pm


      Books are always more interesting if the characters speak out of their interiors rather than out of the author’s head. There’s nothing more boring than what I call Sock Puppets: characters who are obviously the author talking to him/herself. Bleh!

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply

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