right now I'm working on a play called THE RAW and i just finished my third scene. it is a very tense scene when the plot really gets moving, and one of the characters has a nervous breakdown. now in the rest of the play, i have used language, but to a minor degree. in this paragraph, this character goes completely nuts and swears a lot. now what i wanted to ask was:
should i take out the swears, so it will appeal to a larger audience, and well having a possibility of getting into festivals (i am a young adult, so it would have to be a "young adult film festival.") or should i keep in the swears and make the piece I think it needs to be. i will try to take out the swears, but i dont know if it will really detract from the play.
If you honestly believe the scene needs the language--that the scene will benefit from it--then I would use it. However, the very question signals an uncertainty so, perhaps, it is not really needed at all or you're afraid to follow your instincts. So I would ask myself: What does the language add to the scene? Without it would some flesh on the character or some plot be lost? Thinking about what others will think or marketing strategies at the expense of the truth of the character or going against your gut might not be in the best interest of the play. On the other hand, language for the sake of language is a big muthrfking turn-off. Unless your character has Tourettes Syndrome, what has language got to do with "going nuts?"
I would be more concerned about the plot waiting till the third scene before it "really gets moving."
I agree with Edd. If it adds to a scene, a character or both, then keep it. If it isn't necessary then trim it back. I have a play that uses a lot of (bad) language, but nothing is beyond the scope of what my characters normally use in their everyday lives; they always talk like that. While it has limited the number of theatres that will even look at it, I believe that the piece makes it's point much better as written than it would if I "cleaned it up."
It's your art and your vision. While some outside influences/critics can help you tweak it, don't let anyone or anything dictate HOW you write.
All language has an effect. All language is there to be utilized. And I agree with everything all have previously posted.
However, I always think profanity is the last worst choice that can be made. (Given that statement, when you finally DO have to make it, it becomes a BEST choice.)
There are more colorful, original metaphors or combinations of words that can be CREATED by you for your characters to make them originals (original characters with original metaphors) within your play than those that are already out there. This is true no matter who the character is.
When I have attended acting nights for graduating college students (BFA, MFA) I am amazed at some of the selections that are made. As are all in the audience who are professionals. We already know college students can swear. Show us something else. We get weary.
I apologize in advance for bringing up Shakespeare, but when one reads Hamlet's "Get thee to nunnery" speech or sees it performed well (Listen to Paul Scofield's recording) it has a lot more effect that "F*ck you" or "Go to hell, bitch." Thus, this causes her to say of Hamlet, "O what a noble mind is here o'erthrown!" And we have reached a point in the play where things are going to go from bad to worse. (And yes, Shakespeare had his wonderful turns of vulgarity!)
In all of the plays I have seen there is only one F*ck line that has ever stood out and I must admit it is one of my favorite lines in all of Dramatic writing. Joe Montegna delivered it in Glengarry Glen Ross on Broadway. (In fact there is a string of six F*cks in a row. And they came out of his mouth like a six-shooter. The line standing alone is not funny or effective. But when I explain the dramatic positioning to people when I tell the story, they laugh and get it.
But here is the most important aspect of a great line: where does it come within the drama of the play? Glengarry is filled with profanity. But this line stuck out because of its theatrical positioning within the story, the particular staging and timing of the actors and many other elements that go into a production.
Is the language merely what we would expect? Or is the language something that will surprise us dramatically?
Or in reverse, if a character elicits a string of profanities then suddenly says something extraordinarily beautiful - within character of course.
It is said, "Write what you know." But in the end, we have to write what the character knows.