• T.P. O'Dúnín

Bad Words

One of the problems I’ve encountered when world building is having to come up with curse words that don’t have a basis in our world. Think for a moment of all the swear words you know, and out of that probably extensive list, remove the ones you don’t use on a regular basis, keep only your daily go to list. I’m guessing that at least one or two of those words have a basis in religion, the rest are no doubt grounded in body parts or functions. As a species, we seem to be particularly obsessed with bodily functions and disrespecting authority figures. When your world is not in any way connected to the real world this can make things difficult. At least it does for me. The words in your go-to list hold weight, for you. They mean something to you. They are the words you use to blow off steam, to express frustration, irritation, anger and hatred. They are used in a joking fashion between friends, or in moments of shock or surprise. As an experiment, try to substitute in another word, one that you wouldn’t consider a swear word. I’m sure you’ll find that it’s just not the same. It doesn’t feel right, it doesn’t fit, like a pair of someone else’s underwear! The problem when trying to craft swear words for a fictitious world is that the swear words you are obliged to create must feel right and natural. Some words can be taken from the real world, those based directly on our bodily functions. The words derived from religion however are a no go. They have no place in the fictitious world we are creating. There is no hell, or heaven, you can not mention Mohamad, Jesus, Thor, Zeus or Jupiter.

Furthermore, common swear words, those based on bodily functions, are not always necessarily proper to use in a fictitious world. When you use them, you run the risk of pulling the reader out of your world. It’s a difficult beast to wrangle, some writers pull it off well, others not so much, but that’s purely my own opinion.

As I said in “Under Construction”, I had completed my first work. Ever since that time, I’ve found that it doesn’t take long before my fingers start itching to begin something new. Usually about an hour! So while still in secondary school I started my second project. This was mostly written when I should have been studying and completing homework. I think I mentioned before that I was not a model student. It was here that I, for the first time, began world building. Maps were drawn, towns, cities, and villages placed, mountains positioned just so, and rivers snaked down to the sea. A brief history was created, nothing extensive, but more than I’d ever done before. As we were still in the mid-nineties I had no access to a scanner, or much in the way of a graphics program, so Microsoft Paint became my best friend. It’ll kill some people to discover that I still use Paint to this day! It does exactly what I want without being overworked. Someday I may use something a little more sophisticated. Someday!

All this work was done on school computers, after school, when I had spare time, and saved on floppy discs. It’s entirely possible I still have those discs somewhere. I tend to hoard anything related to my writing. Never waste an idea or a resource, you might be able to recycle it at a later date if it doesn’t work out now.


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