Showing posts with label Writing Notes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Writing Notes. Show all posts

Do Swear Words have a Purpose?

Should you use swear words? There are quite a few opinions out there about whether they should be used. Some people feel that there is nothing intellectual or edgy about swear words -- That they have no artistic value, and only show a lack of skill.

The first thing I want to know when asked about this topic, and many others that come in the form of "Is it alright to..?" is to know if the concern is as a Writer? or Morally? I can't help with morals. I don't find moral evaluation effective for fiction writing. Just about everything I post on this blog is from the POV of being a writer, and creating stories which have immersion value for the reader. With that in mind:

Perhaps a strong argument could be made that profanity itself is not intellectual. Maybe you could even make an argument -- that, aside from those who have endured injuries to the brain, or suffer from mental conditions, which make swearing an act beyond their control -- using profanity demonstrates a lack of intelligence. However, using fuck properly as a writer is intellectual. 

Studies show that sex-related insults in particular are common across cultures (Flynn, 1976), so they are good tools for keeping the reader inside the story, with a strong, impacting word. No matter what culture you are raised in, if you speak English, you are not going to be confused about the meaning of Fuck in the context of the scene.

Vocabulary Effect

Take a quick check of your emotional state at this point. How do you feel over all? Note levels of stress or tense muscles. Take a breath and relax. There are several memes in this article which will likely cause tense or stressful feelings as you continue to read. Be mindful and allow the feeling. Notice what happens when you read these words. Make notes. 
Having command of a lexicon, which is cross-culturally understood has obvious value to a writer, no matter what that writer strives in producing. This is hardly an intellectual justification for a small subset of the vocabulary, when there are others which could claim the same level of understanding. But there are qualities in certain words which other words do not possess.

A while back I posted a piece on the power particular words have on us:

Writers use words as tools, as keys, even as a mode of travel -- but it has come to my attention that many writers, even experienced novelists, don't really divine the concept that 'words have power'. Take for example the word yawn. Yawn is short, and basic. Yawn is not a command, and thus benign. Yawn is even a common word. We hear the word yawn all the time. When someone yawns, however, other people yawn.  In fact, you don’t even need to see me yawn do you? No. You don’t. You just have to read the word yawn, a few times, and your mind will react just like the word yawn was a real yawn, instead of just a word on the page.

Not enough novelists give this the consideration it deserves. It should be passed on with greater frequency, but even we minimize phrases like “Words have power”, hearing it as an esoteric belief, rather than a fact that has more than three decades of rigorous study behind the concepts to back them up -- with repeatable results. We feel or believe that this belongs to another era, the 70s perhaps -- when in fact it is more apt now than it ever was – in any other age.

So, back to what we are talking about, we know that insults, especially insults that refer to the act of sex a physically affecting. However, simply referring to sex or genitalia is not sufficient to make a word or phrase taboo. Our reaction to the word “fuck” is much different than our reaction to “coitus,” “make love,” or even “have sex.” There is also nothing special about the sounds or syllables in the word “fuck.” Close-sounding words—such as “duck,” “truck,” and ”buck”—are not prohibited and in some cases can serve as a more socially appropriate substitution for what everyone understands was meant to be a curse word, for example “mothertrucker!” (Pinker, 2007).

In certain situations swear words and taboo phrases have their uses: mainly to evoke a strong negative reaction from someone. Speech perception is nearly automatic in mature individuals (Pinker, 2007). Try this: don’t think of an apple. Did you think of an apple anyway when you read the word “apple”? With swear words, your mind
immediately drags up whatever offensive combination of forceful descriptors of the nastier aspects of things we may not want to think about.

Swear words are also useful and effective ways of conveying that you feel strongly about something or inciting strong feelings in someone else, even when used outside of their traditional definitions (Jay, 2009a; Pinker, 2007). Saying that something is “bloody amazing” does not mean that that thing was literally bloody, but adding the term “bloody” to the phrase gives it extra emotional emphasis.

However, swearing is not always about evoking negative emotions; swearing itself can also be a cultural phenomenon.

Denotations and connotations are associated with any word when you hear them, but swear words are more primal. Their connotations more profound on the reader, or listener. These make swear words powerful insults and forceful descriptors of the nastier aspects of things -- yes -- but also they are bridges to other aspects of meaning and description. For example:

The willingness to break a cultural taboo in front of others creates an atmosphere of informality and sense of community. A realism that pulls the reader into an emersion. If taboos are defined by the greater society, then an environment where subverting those taboos is acceptable creates a smaller, more intimate society inside of the greater society (Pinker, 2007).

Using this information it is easy to see how this is useful to demonstrate a MCs history. For example, your MC is a District Attorney. For the last three chapters he's dealt with criminals, but not once has he used profanity. He talks to the Mayor, to lawyers, to police officers. Perhaps these other characters have used profanity, or maybe not, but he has not. In chapter four he visits his parents house, and when he finds his cousin there, he says, "Holy shit motherfucker! When did you get back?"

We instantly feel that there is a strong bond between these two characters, and that they share a relationship that perhaps no one else in the family is a part of. It's personal, and intimate. It also demonstrates a level of trust between them. 


Another interesting use of taboo language is as a cathartic experience, a way of expressing and alleviating pain, frustration, stress, or regret (Jay et al. 2006). A classic example of this would be shouting “damn it” after hitting yourself with a hammer while trying to nail something down.

Swearing was also shown to increase the ability of subjects to tolerate pain (Stephens, 2011).


Using neuroimaging techniques such as PET (positron emission tomography) scans, they demonstrated that a small part of the brain called the amygdala is highly active when exposed to threatening, and vulgar words (Isenberg, 1999).

The amygdala is part of the limbic system, one of the primitive parts of the brain responsible for processing emotion and memory. In particular, amygdala activity is correlated with negative emotional associations; stimulating the amygdala can cause panic attacks and aggressive behaviors, while destroying the amygdala causes unusual placidness or fearlessness (Zald, 2003; Davis, 2001). Therefore, it makes sense that the amygdala would be activated in association with unpleasant words such as swear words. The amygdala also makes several connections to memory and association centers in the brain, which could also be responsible for the increased memory response when subjects are presented with swear words (Davis, 2001).

Is swearing harmful?

“Swearing can occur with any emotion and yield positive or negative outcomes. Our work so far suggests that most uses of swear words are not problematic.”

 ~ Timothy Jay and Kristin Janschewitz
The use of swearing in both aphasia and GTS gives us a real insight into how swearing works in the brain. Individuals with aphasia have damaged the normal parts of the brain which produce formal language, such as Broca’s area or Wernicke’s area, found in the left hemisphere of the brain. The fact that they continue to be able to swear suggests that swearing is localized outside of these damaged areas, and is handled differently than other parts of their vocabulary. Psychologist Chris Code, who studied individuals who had their left hemispheres removed, proposed that swear words and several other types of speech preserved in aphasic individuals fall into a category of “lexical automatisms” or automatic speech, which are localized to the right hemisphere instead of the left one (Code, 1996; Van Lancker 1999).

Swear words for fiction writers are tools. If you use them properly, the rise in emotional levels of the reader, plus the increased memory signature for the details described by the passage can enhance the story.

 But if you're just saying fuck to say fuck, well, fuck it.

Check out 100 Happy Words, and 100 not so happy


Further Reading



How to write headlines that convert


You know that — on average —
only 2 out of 10 people read an article beyond the headline, don’t you? If you don’t write irresistible headlines, even fewer will read your content.


How to self-edit so you don’t look dumb

Whether you are a good writer or not doesn’t matter.

Does this surprise you?

The only way to become a master writer is to become awe-inspiringly good at editing. Advertising great David Ogilvy says this:

I am a lousy copywriter, but I am a good editor. So I go to work editing my own draft.

Getting Your Content on Google


There is a basic fact that we need to get clear here. Other than yourself, there is no one on this planet who wants your content showing up as often as possible in the SERPs than Google.

For nearly two decades Google has spent 100s of 1000s on giving you an education, and telling you exactly what it takes to get you listed as often as possible. They want you to be #1! Reels of Video Training on YouTube,. Free College Credit Classes at Universities across the nation, MOOCs, free advertisement with Adwords (up to $500 at times). Reams of pages, and the best Analytics program money can buy given to you with all the training and needs you could imagine -- for free.

How to enchant your audience



  • If you try to sell right off the bat without building trust, the sceptics will quickly click away.
  • If you delight your readers with your product or idea, if you provide real solutions to their problems, they’ll want to find out more.
  • Use the following tips to engage, delight, and ultimately sell:
  • Understand your readers. Know their fears, dreams, and desires. How can you engage with someone you don’t understand?
  • Don’t write for a large audience. Choose one person, picture him, and write to him as if he’s a friend.
  • Use a conversational tone of voice. Nobody wants to chat with a company.
  • Be engaging. Using the word you is the most powerful way to be more engaging.
  • Be remarkable. So much content is out there, how can you stand out? Disclose your point of view, tell your personal story, and develop your own writing voice. If your readers feel they know you, they will connect with you.
  • Use familiar language. Check Twitter, Facebook or Google’s Keyword Tool — and find the wording your readers use. 
  • Avoid jargon. Always choose the simplest possible expression of your idea. Avoid obscure words.
  • Don’t insult your readers. Being clear doesn’t mean you have to tell your readers things they already know.

Be likeable. Do great things for your readers, help them out, and be generous. It’s obvious isn’t it?

How to write content your readers will remember

You’ve made so much effort.

You write, and write, and write. People are reading your content, but your message doesn’t stick. Your readers are forgetting it, and fast.

Don’t worry.

The following nine simple tactics will make your message unforgettable:
  1. Use sound bites. These are easy-to-remember, easy-to-quote nuggets of wisdom, just like proverbs. And haven’t generations of people remembered proverbs?
  2. Avoid routine common sense. You won’t win reader loyalty with your breathtaking grasp of the obvious.

The Willing Suspension of Disbelief
Believe

I grew up in writing under the impression that the Willing Suspension of Disbelief was a fact. I never questioned it, as it fit my personal experience with books and stories -- even movies -- perfectly.  The way it was explained to me by one of my first mentors said, "You can get away with anything. The reader is 'willing to believe' -- just don't remind them they are reading a book. Don't break the spell." What that meant was -- the sky can be purple, the planet square and the ice on the poles burning -- no problem. However, if you have your character put some ice into her glass and it doesn't explode, or you give a lame reason for how the gravity works on a square planet, you break the spell. The reader will toss your novel aside and never return. You broke a trust, a trust that is sacred between author and reader.

There are so few Sacred Trusts left in the world, so you can imagine my state when a Neuropsychologist showed that this wasn't true. The Suspension of Disbelief wasn't how we did things at all. 

Kurt Vonnegut - The Short Story

I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don't let anybody tell you different.

I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can't see from the center.

Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.



"I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, 'If this isn't nice, I don't know what is.'"

She was a fool, and so am I, and so is anyone who thinks he sees what God is doing


Ray Bradbury 12 Tips and How to Save the World

Ray Bradbury was a hero of mine. His attitude toward life and his art centered my misgivings and neuroses more times than I can remember. When he died in 2012  the world was a little darker and it hasn't recaptured that light.

Steven King on Writing

1. First write for yourself, and then worry about the audience.“When you write a story, you’re telling yourself the story. When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are not the story.”


2. Don’t use passive voice. “Timid writers like passive verbs for the same reason that timid lovers like passive partners. The passive voice is safe.”


3. Avoid adverbs. “The adverb is not your friend.”


4. Avoid adverbs, especially after “he said” and “she said.”


Nightmare Death


Night Terror AXIS I: 307.46
The rare sleep disorder goes by many names: night terrors, sleep terrors, pavor nocturnus, or AXIS I: 307.46 (The DSM’s code). It remains a medical mystery. What medical researchers do know is that night terrors are caused by an over-arousal of the central nervous system (CNS) during sleep. In children, this may be the result of the CNS still maturing — it has long been believed that the CNS’s maturation process ends in early childhood (although several recent studies suggest it may continue to develop through around age 25).

Medical Experts Seek Clues to 'Nightmare Deaths' That Strike Male Asian Refugees

January 11, 1987|LARRY DOYLE | United Press International

Since April, 1983

...at least 130 Southeast Asian refugees have left this world in essentially the same way. They cried out in their sleep. And then they died.

Medical authorities call this Asian Death Syndrome. The refugees have various names for it, one of them being Night Terror.


On the Use of Chloroform

It is perhaps unfortunate that James Y. Simpson stressed the ease with which chloroform could be used to produce unconsciousness without resort to specialised equipment [1]. The potential advantages were not lost on the criminal fraternity who were quick to attempt a variety of crimes including rape and robbery under its influence. Unlike the use of the cudgel, the garrotte and the pistol it was not a felony in English Law to administer chloroform to another unless the purpose was murder or abortion!.

As early as 1851 it was public knowledge that chloroform had been used for various criminal purposes as witnessed by a well-known cartoon in Punch magazine of that year [2].

The Checklist of Character

What we got here is a infograph of suggested check points for your MC and the Protagonist. I read through these and thought on the surface they looked like a good idea. Most of them are. What I balk at myself is the full list - the shear volume of them.

I haven't used this checklist against any of my own novels -- I'm sure they all fall short at some point. However - it is a comprehensive list of points, which will improve the character area of a novel. I tend to write characters who are Not extraordinary in some way, as the first point suggests. the idea of 'regular people' being pitched against extraordinary events is more appealing and  normal people are all that normal.

The nuts and bolts of writing a Scene

Want to see a grown writer roll his eyes into the back of his head, stick his fingers into his ears and start chanting "na na na na na" like a four-year-old? Easy, just start talking about structure. Things like outlines and guidelines and scene structure and anything that smacks of planning and non-creative activity that will stifle the flow of electric wow-ness.
This paradigm of belief is based on the misconception and confusion regarding creativity vs creation. Creativity is a force, an energy, and a chaos, which if guided through  a filter of brainstorming often results in plots, ideas, characters and dramatic paradigms for a story. Creation, is the process of structure applied to the wild energies.

Tips from Authors for Authors

1

Harper Lee
“I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career that before developing his talent he would be wise to develop a thick hide.” — Harper Lee

2

Somerset Maugham
“There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.” ― W. Somerset Maugham

3

George Orwell
“Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout with some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.” — George Orwell

4

Robert Frost
“No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.” ― Robert Frost

5

Ray Bradbury
“You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” ― Ray Bradbury

6

Henry David Thoreau
“Write while the heat is in you. … The writer who postpones the recording of his thoughts uses an iron which has cooled to burn a hole with.” — Henry David Thoreau

7

Ernest Hemingway
“The first draft of anything is shit.” ― Ernest Hemingway

8

Jack London
“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” ― Jack London

9

Rose Tremain
“In the planning stage of a book, don’t plan the ending. It has to be earned by all that will go before it.” ― Rose Tremain

10

Joyce Carol Oates
“The first sentence can’t be written until the final sentence is written.” — Joyce Carol Oates

11

Charles Baudelaire
“Always be a poet, even in prose.” ― Charles Baudelaire

12

Elmore Leonard
“Don’t go into great detail describing places and things… You don’t want descriptions that bring the action, the flow of the story, to a standstill.” ― Elmore Leonard

13

Zadie Smith
“Leave a decent space of time between writing something and editing it.” ― Zadie Smith

14

Anton Chekhov
“My own experience is that once a story has been written, one has to cross out the beginning and the end. It is there that we authors do most of our lying.” ― Anton Chekhov

15

Antoine de Saint-Exupery
“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” ― Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Denotative and Connotative
and the difference between

Be aware of the difference between denotative words and connotative words. 

A  denotative  word  conveys  information:  "hat,"  "yellow, " "twenty-five, " "book," "cat," "big." Such words speak to the practicalist in us,  to the data bank and statistician. A connotative word, on the other hand, is calculated to arouse emotional  response,  to  give  a  fillip  to  imagination,  to project a mood in our hearts and/or on our senses. To denote a woman,  I can refer to her as  a "female," a "teacher,"  or  a  "customer."  I  can  also  speak  of her  as  a "bimbo," a "maiden," or a "luminous creature," all connotative.

The  distinction  between  denotative  and  connotative, then, is that connotative words express a writer's opinions and  personal  feelings  while  denotative  words  state  the facts.  As  a  careful  writer,  you  will  be  aware  of these subtle,  yet significant,  differences.

For example,  if you  refer  to a person as  being "tired" you  convey  a matter-of-fact,  denotative  message.  If you describe the person as being "weary," the image becomes more personalized, as it does with the terms "drained" or "burned-out."  These  words  are  all  synonyms,  perhaps. Yet each carries a different degree of emotional charge. Be aware of what these charges are and use them knowingly. The following verse provides an astutely whimsical example of just how much connotations count, in life as well as in literature:

Call a  woman a  kitten,  but never a  cat; 
You  can call her a  mouse,  cannot call her a  rat; 
Call a  woman a  chick,  but never a  hen; 
Or you surely will not be her caller again. 
You  can call her a  duck,  cannot call her a goose; 
You  can call her a  deer,  but never a  moose; 
You  can call her a lamb,  but never a sheep; 
Economic she likes,  but you can't call her cheap. 

If you can't find the precise word,  move on and come back to it later.

Most writers discover this trick on their own, especially if they write on deadlines.  Better just to put an  X  on  the problem word, keep writing, and come back later. You'll bring a fresh eye to the decision then, and probably a fine solution.

Which  brings  up  an  important  rule  of  thumb  for writing practice in general: When your writing is going well, don't let anything stop your flow.  Don't get hung up on the grammatical or factual details. Just leave them, get on  with  the  brainstorming,  finish  the  entire piece,  then return to fix  the fine points. 


Catch Glenn on Twitter Noir Writer

And Check out the new site for Noir Stories -- Noir Street -- Tales of Shadow and Lust

Sales vs Marketing

Sales and marketing are closely interlinked and are aimed at increasing revenue. As sales and marketing are closely intertwined, it becomes hard to realise the difference between the two. In small firms, one cannot come across much difference between sales and marketing. But bigger firms have made clear distinction between marketing and sales and they have specialised people handling them independently.

Do You Know Your Readership? Do You?

I'm moving back into a day job I had -- part time anyway. This means that I will be picking back up the pseudonyms that I had with the company. These personas havn't put out a new title in over six months. With my Fiction Writers Group I was going to put together a few posts on using Twitter for best effect. I noticed several of the members are on Twitter now fumbling about. In the past I didn't do any marketing for the pseudonyms at all, but the names are cold long enough for proof of concept now. I'm fairly good with Twitter and Social Media I can normally get 3k page views on any given day. In fact I did that on Friday -- again as a proof of concept.

Where you start with Twitter is the hashtags, but not necessarily in the "trending" ones.  What you are  looking for is a set of Hashtags that are frequented by people who would be your readers. Once found you get involved, post interesting news, facts, jokes, and help people with problems they might have. You make yourself a resource. But first, you need to find those tags, which means Demographics.

Writers on the Worst part about Writing

My personal is listening to non-writers tell me what I should never do.



Al Hunter Ashton Being on your own. I’m a party animal.
Ali McNamara Sitting still so much, definitely. I used to be a fitness instructor so I was very active all day. Writing involves too much sitting down at a desk – not good for the fitness levels or the figure!

No Words in English, but there should be

Some emotions and situations which English doesn't have a word for - but should

Age-otori (Japanese): To look worse after a haircut

Arigata-meiwaku (Japanese): An act someone does for you that you didn't want to have them do and tried to avoid having them do, but they went ahead anyway, determined to do you a favor, and then things went wrong and caused you a lot of trouble, yet in the end social conventions required you to express gratitude


Dance of the Dead, by Goethe

The poem  Dance of the Dead, by Goethe  is a chilling and vivid depiction of a supernatural dance of the dead, an eerie scene where the dead...