Welcome to my blog!

I'm a divorced mom with a teenage daughter and two pre-teen sons. Writing is my first love. When I'm not writing or working or playing taxi to the kids, I also toy with photography and baking.

So, basically, my camera rarely sees the light of day and my mixer stands in the corner in permanent time-out.

To see some samples of my writing, you can check out my website: www.csrickard.com

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Who needs profanity?

It amazes me how much we take for granted when communicating. I knew writing fantasy would require world building, and I knew that would mean creating worlds, religions, creatures, even languages if I wanted to get really fancy. What I hadn't thought through was the impact of words within culture.

Yes, words, not language.

Our use of expressions and slang link us to a culture, region and sometimes even a city. They give us the ability to express strong emotions using only a word or phrase. Sometimes the word used not only announces are feelings to those around us, but helps ease the intensity of emotion.

The most obvious example is profanity.

How many times has something bad happened and you simply said, "shit!" 

With one word, everyone within hearing distance instantly knows something went wrong. They don't need any more information than that one word. What's more, the anger and frustration that had built up until you said the word has now lessoned a bit. Had you ever noticed that? Swearing aloud has some kind of cathartic release linked to it. Whether it's the word itself, or the emotions we attribute to the word's use, once said, those emotions go with the word. Not all of them, of course, but there is an immediate drop in tension within your body.

How and why does that happen? Or, more to my current dilemma and this post, how do I make-up words or sayings that can create that same kind of impact in my world?

Creating new swear words isn't as easy as you'd think. I've been play around with words and phrases a bit the past few days. At first, I thought the power of the word was purely what we associate to it. However, after trying out a few words, I've discovered that the anatomy of the word is equally as important as the meaning it represents. Words and phrases have a flow to them; a feel that matches the emotion. I'm not sure how else to discribe it as I find it very subtle. Regardless, just randomly throwing some letters together and calling that a swear word simply doesn't work. It sounds just like what it is: random letters thrown together to create a new word. There is no impact with it. No power in it's use.

A few of the phrases I've created are linked to the world and I like them. I like they way the sound and the way the feel when said. However, swear words a much more difficult. I can't rely on multiple words that I can link to something negative in the world. I need to create power where it doesn't exist, from a world that doesn't exist, and make it real to the reader. They need to feel the emotional buildup prompting them to want to say the word. And they need to experience the emotional release when they read the word and hear it in their head. Not an easy task.

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