I recently had a question asked on Goodreads about whether the use of 'feck' instead of 'fuck' in Prince of Thorns was a kind of accent or a kind of censorship.
Accent. There are 15 fecks in the book and 8 fucks. In a book where a bishop gets nails hammered into his head there's no need to censor swearing.
And having counted(*) the number of fucks in Prince of Thorns I went on to repeat the process with all the books in Broken Empire and Red Queen's War trilogies.
(*) i.e gone Cntrl-F "fuck" in the Word document and looked at the number.
So here for your viewing pleasure are the fucks (and fecks) given in my books to date. Note this includes 'fucked', 'fucking' too.
(EDIT: with Red Sister added it seems that The Wheel of Osheim may well have been peak fuck!)
As a footnote: my most recently completed book (The Wheel of Osheim) contains as many fucks in one paragraph of the prologue as are contained within the whole of Prince of Thorns.
(click for detail)
But wait - there's more!
The discrepancy between the tolerance for sex and for violence in books has often been remarked upon. Even by me. But when you think about it the intolerance of 'bad' language is perhaps even more strange.
I saw one review of Prince of Thorns where the reader loved the book but lamented the bad language. There was, he said, a 'fuck' every other paragraph.
Actually, if you run the numbers there's a 'fuck' every 47 pages - which, if nothing else, shows how strongly the issue distorts perception.
However, more surprising to me is the fact the person could read about murder after murder, read allusions to burnings alive, rape, and torture, and yet be unphased until someone opens their mouth and says 'fuck'.
That's a problem but the rest is fine? Everything is good so long as we're polite about it?
I find it wholly bizarre when we enter a fantasy world where ever single word is spoken in English with the same meaning ... until someone hits their thumb with a hammer, and it's "Storms!" or "By the Pit!" or some such... It seems the only difference between the folk of many fantasy worlds and regular humans is that they utter different profanities. Also the whole, no needing to go to the toilet thing.
I've met people in real life who are literally unable to get through a single sentence without using the word 'fuck'. There's a guy like that on the show 'Gold Rush' - a miner up in Alaska, an older guy with a beard you could lose a baby in ... there are people like him all over - they use 'fuck' as punctuation, as filler, and as verbal garnish. If one of them were a major character in a book I wrote then the fuck-count would zip past 37 and probably top 370.
I think the ability to read about terrible people doing terrible things, but to freak out if one of them says a rude word, is related to the sex-violence dichotomy but an even more exacerbated example of it.
Anyway, what's up with that? Comments welcome if you have an explanation!
[this article has a fuck-count of 15 ... well ... 16 now.]