12 February 2010


I was thinking of insults, yesterday--possibly because I was ironing at the time, and I hate ironing. My thoughts drifted to a horrible politician currently inflicting himself on Australian society and how I'd describe him.

The thing is, I don't like insults. Too often I've found that in passing judgement on someone, I don't have all the facts. Later I learn something that modifies my opinion, and I regret my rash words. Besides, insults hurt. I'm not going to be part of that bad karma.

Still, faced with liars parading across the TV screen, I do shout a bit. So, what do I shout?

Idiot. Liar. Buzzard (well, the word sounds somewhat similar). And an imaginative usage of Australian colloquialisms. Not to mention good, old Anglo Saxon plain speaking.

But as I ironed, I challenged myself to think of insults beyond those that spontaneously express themselves. My conclusion? Worst insult: If I heard he'd rescued a child from a burning building, I'd still think he wasn't fit to be near the child.

The reason for going on about insults is because in writing they might be a key element of a conflict scene and an expression of character. I think well thought out insults in a moment of high drama and snappy dialogue ring false. They should be raw and real, here. However, in reflecting on character, introducing or otherwise revealing them, a more developed insult may be appropriate. The other vital point to consider is that what might be an insult to one person, such as to be described as arrogant, could be simply an empty descriptor to another person or even a compliment.

What amazes me in considering this topic is how often insults are also accusations. The other amazing point is how much I've found to say on insults. Insult: I talk too much.

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