Dropping The Bomb

No. I don’t mean Theee Bomb, literally. But yes, literally—in literature.

I’m talking about the F-bomb. The F-word. You know, primetime television’s favorite forbidden expletive. If you see Kay.

Ron Burgundy gets fired for saying it on the air in Anchorman.

Britney Spear’s spells it out in her song If U Seek Amy.

And Nick Jonas beefs up his recent hit Jealous with an explicit version. (Personally, I prefer the non-F-bomb version.)

Even the Minions are allegedly saying “what the f**k” in McDonald’s Happy Meal toys. (However, according to my daughter, inside the plastic wrapping there’s a paper containing the translation: “Ha ha ha” because he’s a caveman minion.)

It’s not that I don’t like the F-word. I’m actually a huge fan and avid user, especially when I write first drafts, since I’m just slinging words on the page to empty the story from my head. Though reading it back, I’m usually shocked by all the F-bombs crossing my wonderful characters minds and pouring from their mouths. I prefer to edit out F-bombs and stick with words suitable for the Hallmark Channel because when they turn my books to movies there won’t be a lot of rewriting for the screenplay. HBO can easily add them back in. *wink/smile*

It’s one thing for me to drop the bomb in my day-to-day activities. Like stuck in traffic on the way to pick up the kids from school. Or when I stub my toe. Or get a paper cut. It’s perfectly appropriate for me to string F-bombs—as nouns, verbs, and adjectives.

But coming from my beloved characters… I dunno about that. After all, they don’t drop F-bombs on General Hospital and all those super-sexy characters have no problem getting their messages across and getting it on. I say it enough for everyone, I’d rather not read it.

How about you?
Do you enjoy an F-bomb or two or twenty in your Contemporary Romance novels?
Is there a limit to how many F-bombs are too many?
Do you like F-bombs in certain genres but not others?
Or are you an F-word lover, it doesn’t bother you and can never get enough?
I’m curious.


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34 thoughts on “Dropping The Bomb

  1. As an F-bombaphile, I definitely have to weigh in on this one! In my opinion, cursing in general and the F-bomb in particular get a bad rap. These words are just that—words—and sometimes they are the best ones for the job, and it’s not because I have a limited vocabulary; I definitely do not. They carry emotion, they offer release, and they can be funny as, well, fuck. But that’s the thing. They do have to be well placed. Just a slew of them in every paragraph, whether written or spoken, diminishes their power. So I agree with you, Deb. I too tend to fling away in my first drafts, then go back and kill whichever ones don’t really serve a purpose (just like every other word, really!). On the other hand, I’m forced to self-edit my speech ALL the time, between kids, work, and friends who don’t share my love for all words profane. And honestly, it’s tough. Even if I turn it off 97% of the time, do you know how much I talk around my kids? 3% percent means I’m raising kids that will probably have a turn or two in a time out chair in kindergarten until they fully grasp the self-editing thing as well. So I do my best, but sometimes my best fucking sucks and it’s such a relief whenever I’m hanging out solo or emailing with a fellow F-bombaphile like Debra Druzy!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL. Thanks for dropping a comment and a few f-bombs, Laurie.
      I’ve also slipped a few f-bombs around the kids, and the fact they don’t repeat it is a miracle, so far, so good. xo

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  2. Deb, Love the blog! As far as the use of the 6th, 21st, 3rd and 11th letters of the alphabet, love them, use them, and then edit most of them out. A well placed 6/21/3/11 is better than too many! Quality not quantity.

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  3. I prefer not to use the word, only because I was burned by a some readers in the Christian community who were offended that one of my characters said, “For God’s sake” and “God forbid,” once in his dialogue to another character. After that smack down, I learned to be careful about words that offend anyone, and I’m sure the F-word would bother people, especially older readers. This is just my personal point of view. I hate to lose any readers–and I don’t like getting irate emails lecturing me about “how I should know better.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sorry that happened, Judy. And I appreciate you sharing your wisdom. I’m feeling avoidance in CR is safest. There’s always an alternate word that can pack a punch. Its actually become a fun writing challenge to say what needs to be said without the F-bomb. xo

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  4. I read a lot of contemporary mysteries so the word doesn’t bother me at all. And it wouldn’t bother me in a romance either. But as far as my writing goes, I’ve only done two romances with contemporary settings and it didn’t feel quite right so I used “ef-ing” as a euphemism instead.

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    1. Thank you, Mary. I’ve taken the F-bomb down a level to frickin, and then just took it out completely and it didn’t seem to change the intensitiy. Personally, I luv using effing when I’m not in the place to say f**k. Effing-A goes a long way throughout my day : )

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  5. I seem to be part of the majority. If the character and situation calls for it, then it’s okay. It never bothered me to see it in stories as long as it’s right for the scene. I find it laughable and unrealistic when, as Maggie pointed out, someone says “ah shucks” after hitting themselves with a hammer. But using it too many times makes the character sound like a teenager who paints everything with it just to show their independence and rebellious nature. The character must truly be unique to pull off an excessive amount of the word.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Raymona. Yes, love scenes mainly. And as an intensifier in dialog in other scenes. It’s almost easier to leave it out than predict if it may turn readers off.

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  6. For me, it depends on the story and character, Debra. How gritty is the character? Is this part of his/her personality, etc. It wouldn’t bother me, but then again, it’s all about the character.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for stopping by, Mary. Yep, I agree…story and character. I’ve written flawed CR characters, but not an f-bomb dropping gritty hero–yet. Maybe I’d do it for another genre, like crime stories. Someday. : )

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  7. Whenever I hear it, or read it, it is a bit of a shock. Yet I use it quite frequently myself. 🙂 I think most people reading CR don’t want to see it. An occasional mild curse word is probably okay, but the heavy stuff should probably be left out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Susabelle, (I love your name by the way!) Yep, I’m on your page. If I can leave out the f-bomb, I can pretty much leave out cussing in general. If they can’t say it on TV, I try to steer clear of it my CR writing.
      : D

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  8. I think it depends on the story and the character. I have one hero who drops them a lot. The heroine, on the other hand, is an extreme-situation-only kind of f-bomb user. It fits them, and there’s actually a scene where they talk about his incessant profanity and meeting her grandparents. I’ve read some stories where it fits the character and the plot/setting but others where it’s just so wrong. I’ve actually taken the f-bomb out of one novella and one novel because I was conscious of my target audience and it wasn’t necessary to the plot.
    Great topic, Debra.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Lynne. I’m glad I’m not the only one taking out f-bombs from manuscripts. Sometimes taking them out is a challenge. But I know there are audience members that enjoy reading romance without things like f-bombs, and butt plugs, and other bits and pieces. I don’t mind reading f-bombs in other genres, like crime/mystery, where men talk like men with men, or even women talk like men. But a man and woman expressing undying love in a contemporary romance, f**k doesn’t seem to cut it.

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  9. It all comes down to–it depends lol Not very helpful, I know. If there are too many, or if used gratuitously, it begins to irk me.

    Oh the other hand, I find it hard to believe someone saying “oh, shucks,” after dropping a hammer on their foot.

    So, used correctly, I wouldn’t say I enjoy the use of the F-Bomb, but it doesn’t turn me off either.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for posting, Maggie! I like your point: it doesn’t turn you off either. I definitely don’t want a misplaced f-bomb to turn off a reader, especially when there are other words that could be used, even if a hammer drops on their foot. : )

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    1. Hi Debra, Thanks for commenting. Yes, they do give a certain feel to a character, I just don’t know if that’s the feeling I want of a contemporary romance hero. Maybe a bomb or two, but definitely not every other word.

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  10. I’ve read books where it seemed natural and I’ve read books where it seemed forced. It can be used effectively for characterization and it can also be used for shock value when that’s what you want. (After all, what’s the point of having an offensive word if you can’t use it to offend?)
    Gotta say though, I’ve never been bothered by its absence. I can’t think of a time when I have read something and thought, “Gee, she really should have dropped the F-bomb there.”

    Liked by 2 people

    1. LOL, LIllian. I’ve read stories with f-bombs, then reread mentally deleting the f-bombs, and if it weren’t there I wouldn’t have missed it or noticed. Sometimes it does sound forced or unnatural and I think it would have been stronger without the f-word. Thanks for stopping by! xo

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  11. I completely agree with Joanne. Time and place is everything. My hero might even drop a few if he’s arguing with another man. My villains sometimes have foul mouths, even in the company of ladies.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Sandra,
      Thanks for stopping by. I also agree, time and place definitely matter. I like your point about the hero arguing with another man, and the villain having a potty mouth. I’m more inclined to allow my antagonist to cuss than my hero/heroine.
      xo

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  12. Great topic. I have to admit too many dumbs down the character for me, can make them seem, well, like that caveman. lol But I think it really depends on the character. For example, a hero from the rough side of town is probably going to use it a lot more than say, the CEO of a large corporation. I had one hero who was dropping them all over the place, and I let a few of them stay, because it was part of his character. And I’ve had heroes who out and out refuse to curse out loud. It’s also a lot more common to read them in erotic romance. So, I say it’s time and place. It has to fit the character for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for chiming in, Joanne.
      I agree with you! Time and place and character’s personality matters most. Some people can say it and it sounds suitable, while others say it and I cringe.
      xo

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