Swearing – not big, not clever…

And yet we all do it. Unless you’re some kind of saintly nun, living on Rich Tea Biscuits in a remote convent’s broom cupboard. John Rickards had a rant the other day about people who use the naughty language, but hide it behind coy asterisks. Which got me to thinking: as an occasional offender – and thus at risk from what’s swiftly becoming known as ‘Rickards’ F*****g Law’ – why do I use much, much filthier language when I write books than I would anywhere else? I mean, I have been known to let fly the odd torrent of abuse, but most of the time I’m pretty tame on the old vocabulary front.

When we were doing the line edits on Cold Granite – way back when – I asked if we should maybe cut back on some of the swearing. But Sarah, who is a lovely lady at HarperCollins and not prone to the ribald phrase, liked it just as it was. Lent a sense of realism. OK. I can live with that (in a smug, haven’t-I-been-a-good-boy kind of way) But after John’s stunning impersonation of a hairy Victor Meldrew, I went back to the final edit of the book and did a find and replace on every rude word I could think of at the time, adding up all the ‘Word had finished searching the docment and has made 126 replacements’s. Hmmm… five hundred and fifty five incidents of profanity (including your basic, entry-level blasphemy). Now that’s in a book of 127,733 words, or 0.435% for those of you with a pedantic bent. And I honestly can’t say whether or not this is a good, or a bad thing…

And if you are one of those pedants, here’s how those number’s breakdown. Those of you with a nervous disposition should look away now:

#Naughty WordTimes
#Naughty WordTimes
9.'Lady's Front Bottom'*1
* Sorry, just too rude to write on the internet.

Anyone else looked back at the end of writing a book and though f**k me, my d*****ing language is h****ed worse than a g*****king-f****-monkey!?!