Are you ever stuck for a suitable expletive to place in the mouths of your characters? I’m currently writing a science fiction novel set in the near future on Mars. I’ve imagined a new world where, amongst other things, the society is effectively agnostic. In devising dialogue, I suddenly became aware of just how pervasive is the use of expletives based on religious foundations. With apologies, and a warning, to those who may find these offensive, I list some here:
By damn! By the blood of Christ! Christ! Damn! Damnation! For Christ’s sake! For God’s Sake! For the Lord’s Sake! For the love of Christ! For the love of God! God Almighty! God help us! God! God’s Blood! Good God! Good heavens! Good Lord! Great heavens! Hell and damnation! Hell! Holy Christ! Holy mother of God! Holy Smoke! Jeez! Jesus Christ! Jesus! Lord have mercy! Lord help us! Mein gott! Mon dieu! Mother of God! My God! Oh God! Oh my God! Oh my gosh! Oh, my Heavens! Thank God! What the devil was that all about? What the Devil? What the hell?
But I’m looking for appropriate expressions of shock/surprise that could logically escape the lips of atheist/agnostic characters. And I have to confess I found that difficult. I could revert to those swear words that find sexual matters a good source for the expression of shock, but that wouldn’t fit in with my new world either, since sex there is accepted as a great but normal and natural aspect of life by both genders and not considered a topic for insult or surprise. So, where do I go?
I’d love your opinions on the following list and, if you’re feeling creative, your suggestions to add to it, please. Bear in mind these are intended as replacements for occasions where religious expletives would be considered normal and appropriate:
Shit! What on Earth? By the dust of Mars! Of all the downloads! Exploding stars! Black holes and dark matter! Science save us! Beta, blast and binary! By Einstein’s Constant! Oh, Einstein! Newton’s apple!
And my thanks to the website that provided the graphic that heads this post: