I’ve always found it very interesting the impact that profanity has in any society. You would think that a simple word would not have all that much of an impact. Profanity is used by different people for different reasons. Some people use it for shock value. Some people use it when they’re angry or to show great emotion. Some people use profanities because that’s what their social circle expects.
Writers should use profanity very carefully. Writing is a craft. When writing is very good it’s an art form. A writer has to be in control of this craft if the craft is to do all it can do. Flash fiction writers must make every word count. When a profanity is used in a flash fiction story it should be the only word that can get the effect that the writer is seeking.
I write “literary” flash fiction. I’ve written over 80 flash fiction stories and I’ve used the F word in only a handful of them. It’s a funny thing; I usually have my female characters use it. I guess I’m trying to put them on a profanity equal bases with the guys. They’re trying to get the guys to listen to them. And of course this perks up the reader’s attention, too. But profanity can turn off a reader. If a writer uses it too often there is a real danger that the reader will become bored. Used too often, profanity loses its shock value and you’re back to keeping your reader’s attention with characterization, setting, description and story. It takes no talent to put the F word in the mouths’ of your characters.
There was a porno movie theater on Pittsburgh’s North Side called The Garden Theater. It went out of business. When I was a young man my brother and I bought our tickets and walked into the dark theater. As we carefully made our way down the aisle I looked up at the big screen and there was a close up, accompanied with a lot of loud moaning and groaning, of this large erect penis going in and out of this vagina.
My brother said, “Wait a minute. I’ve already seen this movie.”
The F word, and any other profanity, definitely has a place in flash fiction. Just use it wisely.
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