Let’s get this out of the way right up front. This post is about the “f-bomb” and various other phrases and four- through fourteen-letter words that are generally not used in polite company: swear words, curse words, obscenities, vulgarities, the whole lot, and the words we sometimes substitute for them. As a matter of convenience, I’ll call everything swearing.
I know you’ve all heard the usual advice to writers and their reviewers: if swear words are natural parts of a character’s way of speaking, don’t be shy about using them, even if that’s not the way you speak.
But that’s not really enough advice for a writer, nor is it enough for a critiquer trying to determine if such language is being used as it should. That’s what I want to get into now.