When the movie The Da Vinci Code came out awhile back, it caused quite a stir among the religious sector. I remember hearing in church and from all of my conservative mentors about the evils of the movie/book and the blasphemy it offered up for all the world to see. At the time, I thought nothing of it and accepted what they said as truth.
Now, however many years and a sequel later, I have finally watched The Da Vinci Code. Watching the movie, coupled with a new short story I have just written, has really got me thinking about cursing, blasphemy and creative liberty.
Upon watching the movie, there were, I will admit, a few parts that made me shrink back a little. Offended by their obvious disregard for the truths taught in the Bible. And yet, as a writer I understand the need for creative liberty. Do you watch a movie and think that everything in that movie is 100% true and accurate? No. Of course not, that would be silly.
When I watched The Da Vinci Code (and I did enjoy the movie by the way), I did not sit back and think – what a bunch of lies. No, instead I thought to myself, well that was quite entertaining.
And isn’t that what much of creative writing/movie making is all about? Entertainment? To give the human mind something to imagine, to think about, and to be in awe over. I have always been captivated by Greek mythology. Something about hearing stuff about all those gods and goddesses fascinates me. Does that mean I really believe Zeus lives on Mount Olympus watching over us all with the other gods and goddesses?
Again – of course not.
Every story should entertain. If it has a moral, a theme, something inspiring that makes you think after you’ve read it – GREAT. But there are many stories written purely for entertainment’s sake.
Anyways, I realize this whole blog post has been rather long and rambling. I’m just pouring out the thoughts that are on my mind. Like in my latest short story, I created a world with centaurs and seven gods. I do not feel this is blasphemous. I am not saying these things are true – I am merely using the imagination God has given me.
Which leads me to another, slightly different, topic.
Cursing in fiction.
As a general rule I try not to curse. I haven’t quite figured out what my convictions are in this matter – right or wrong. My brother sees nothing wrong with it, and I appreciate his freedom to follow his own beliefs. I tend to lean toward the side that cursing is wrong. If nothing else, it feels wrong for me.
And yet, some who have read my works of late will notice a growing trend in my writing – the addition of a few, selectively placed curse words. These ‘dirty’ words are always placed in dialogue, and I use them very sparingly. My thinking on the matter is this:
People curse in real life. Right or wrong, they do. People are flawed in real life. Now, there are ways to indicate someone has cursed without spelling the word out…there are other words that can be substituted, etc, BUT this often lends the story a fake, contrived feeling. Readers know when it is ‘in character’ for a particular person in the story to curse. It just feels right. It’s part of the rhythm, part of the story, and in my opinion, not a terrible thing.
With that said, I don’t approve of profuse profanity (lol, say that ten times fast) – at the very least for my own writing. I dislike reading stories where every other word is the f-bomb. [As a side note, I have never used the f-word in any of my stories…It’s one of the ones I will never, I think, use. My words tend to be more mild curse words like piss, sh*t, hell, and damn.] Just as in real life, curse words can punctuate a sentence or a person’s feeling much more effectively if used sparingly.
Think about it this way. If Bob usually says the f-word for every other word, and one day begins to rant and rave in such a manner, you would be accustomed to this. But if Bryan, who never curses, in a fit of anger screams the f-word – which one will be more potent? Bryan would be expressing the truth depths of his emotional level by using the word when he normally does not. Bob, however, would be doing nothing out of the ordinary and thus his cursing is redundant.
Not even sure if that makes sense. It did in my head, so if it didn’t on the blog page…well, I’m sorry.
Anyways, I will leave you to ponder my ponderings now. Feel free to leave me a comment about your own opinion on these matters.