Should You Curse In Your Novel?

Ashley Amber
2 min readSep 26, 2023

Those gosh darn curse words, I just never know when they’re appropriate.

As someone who probably should have washed my mouth out with soap a time or two, it may come as a surprise that I always prefer not to curse in my writing.

Photo by Michael Dziedzic on Unsplash

Personally, when I see a flat-out f-bomb in the midst of a beautiful narrative, it lessens the quality for me.

Cursing in dialogue is different, I suppose. I’ve let my characters get away with saying hell a handful of times, but I tend to shy away from them saying anything stronger. I’ve alluded to certain words being said or almost said, but they never actually go through with it.

I also have this interesting advantage as an English-speaking writer who incorporates Irish Gaelic words into my writing, as the majority of my characters are Irish and live in the heart of Ireland. So, I’ve been able to throw in a few damnú air’s and an eejit here and there, letting the majority of my readers do the googling themselves and not being any sort of offended while reading.

However, I recently decided to add a certain word to my WIP that I — even as a mostly M/M writer — never thought I would.


No, it wasn’t used as an insult and definitely not in any sexual way, but simply to humorously describe a phallic object.

And I definitely contemplated using it, but ultimately decided it was my best choice of word for this specific moment in the story.

So, I want to know, what’s your take on cursing in novels? Do you feel it lessens the quality of the story or enhances the characters’ personalities?