Sound Familiar?

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"To get what we want we must be subtle as snakes; more deadly, more cunning, more patient, more mean. Think of the serpent, how it slithers through the garden. It's such a beautiful creature, slow and delicate, rarely seen but effective, low, and not loved, but gloriously efficient! The serpent is now our model; we must pattern our work after him. So go to your old friends and stand by their sides. Pretend you want to help them while whispering deceits in their ears. Only lie when you have to. Speak the truth when you can; for the truth, once it's twisted, is the most effective tool we have. Coat your lies with enough truth, and they will swallow it down.

"Now listen to me, people, for this is the key-evil can be twisted into virtue if you phrase it just right. Any vice is accept-acceptable if you cloak it as an issue of freedom. Any immorality is worth fighting for if you tell them they are fighting for choice, if you wrap it in the mantle of privacy and freedom. So take their moral agency and turn it on them. But be patient. . . be patient . . . it takes time to turn the truth upside down."
-- Satan

(As quoted from the novel, "'The Great and Terrible,' Vol I, 'The Brothers.'" By Chris Stewart.

Sound familiar? Sound like Liberals and Marxists?

About Paul West

Paul West is a freelance writer and novelist. Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Paul claims to be a "Prune Picker," though he now makes his home in Taylorsville, Utah.

You can follower him on Twitter: @PaulWWest

Published: Thursday, February 12, 2009

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This subject has a pet peeve of mine for a long time. The subject recently came up in the Utah Children's Writer's message board, and there are a lot of people who say profanity is needed to make a scene believable or credible.

I for one, do not believe using profanity in ANY book is necessary, adult or young adult. I've seen many books depicting bad characters who use profanity, but the author chooses not to use the actual words. I think it's sufficient to indicate that a character swears, or swore, without using those profane words.

As an example. I'm currently reading "The Great and Terrible" series by Chris Stewart. I recommend reading this series and other "best-selling" books by Mr. Stewart as great examples of what I'm talking about. Mr. Stewart has some pretty awful characters depicted in his books, yes, characters who swear and use profanity, but he does not use the actual profane words, choosing rather to indicate that a character swore, and leave the bad word up to the imagination of the reader. It does work. I don't think anyone reading his books will think they are fake or phony. They're quite realistic.

Another example is Dean Hughes' books. He writes about WWII and other difficult subjects where profanity should be expected. But I can't recall a single profane word and his books are totally believable.

Certainly, it takes a bit more creativity on our part, but isn't that what we writers pride ourselves as being -- creative?

I think we can avoid using profane words and still be realistic. It just takes a slight bit more effort. In my mind, using the actual words in our writing cheapens our work and is the lazy way out, and what example are we showing our youth?
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Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people.

Admiral Hyman Rickover (1900 - 1986)
U.S. Navy
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"The totalitarian phenomenon is not to be understood without making allowance for the thesis that some important part of every society consists of people who actively want tyranny: either to exercise it themselves or -- much more mysteriously -- to submit to it. Democracy will therefore always remain at risk."

-- Jean-Francois Revel

I think we're close to being there.
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Seven queries sent via email and on-line submission sites. Three automated rejections so far. I can't help thinking with the automated rejections, as nice as they sound, did the agent even look at the query? I got these back within hours of sending them off.

Makes one wonder.
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