My main characters are a cranky pair and they're often finding themselves in sticky, violent situations. Naturally they want to let off a little steam by having a good cuss. But I'm having a world of trouble getting the right words in their mouths. One is a noble-born sixteen-year-old girl who rather resents the prissiness that's expected of her and picks up dirty words with glee and alacrity, and the other is a low-born but highly educated man who's a little bit proper but doesn't mind letting rip when something really awful happens.
Getting the cussing right is something I'm struggling with. There just aren't enough words for the right situations. I've got exclamations like "rot", "pigswill" and "blood and piss!"; "what the Deuce/blazes" (for snottier bit characters). Then there's the handy insults "Go swive a goat" and "son of a donkey's turd". All these I'm very happy with. But they only go so far.
Plenty of writers get around this by making up their own curse words, such as Battlestar Galactica's "frack!" "fracking hell" and "go frack yourself" and James Dashner's "klunk-head", "go shuck yourself" in The Maze Runner. The problem with made-up curse words is they can sound a bit naff. I don't really want to do this.
Then there's the fact that the world I've created is secular, so my characters can't take the lord's name in vain, damn anyone to hell or swear by Zeus's armpit or some such. They do, however, refer to the heavens and describe things as hellish. In fact, hell has sneaked in several times and I'd rather like to get rid of the bloody thing (said the sinner to the saint, hehe...) I've been watching the fantabulous series Rome recently and they have some mighty colourful swearing, such as "by Juno's c#%$!" and "I pull a hair for what my mother will think". Actually, that second one could come in handy. I shall appropriate it.
But the one curse word that I love, that I use all the time myself, that pegs Lharmell as being written by an Aussie and couldn't be less appropriate (in an anachronistic sense; propriety be damned) is "bloody". I bloody love saying bloody. It's the Aussie adjective. There are infinite uses. "What the bloody hell is going on?" "Not bloody likely." "Bloody hell!" "I can't bloody stand it." In fact, I don't think there are two words in the English language you can't use it between. You can even use it in the middle of words, as in "Abso-bloody-lutely". Such a happy, versatile curse word it is. (Apparently "bloody" came from "bloods", which is eighteenth century slang for a noble person. "Bloody drunk" meant "drunk as a blood" or "drunk as a lord". And I suppose that lords did drink a bloody great deal.)
But "bloody", along with "f---" "b----" and "c---" do not have a place in fantasy literature. I don't believe there's anything wrong with these words in urban fantasy, for example, or contemporary realism, but they just stick out as wrong wrong wrong in fantasy lit.
I read on a forum that swear words not about gods, sex and excreting just don't cut it as swear words. What are your favourite swear words or pseudo-swear words?