So, there you are writing a big confrontation between your heroine (or anti-heroine) and one of the people in her way. Things are nasty, things are heated. Words are uttered. Angry words. Insults are traded and …
Wait. Insults? What constitutes an insult in your world? If you’re writing fantasy (as I am, though without the magic), this can be a problem to figure out.
Insults derive their impact from cultural, religious, sexual, and other contexts. None of the modern stuff with which we are all sadly familiar is likely to apply. Or rather the contexts with which we are familiar don’t apply. Insults dropped into your story will-nilly from the modern world will sound silly, out of place, or just plain weird. Not all, of course, but many. Although I do use the venerable F* and S* words occasionally I try to minimize their appearance in my prose.
So what to do?
Well, I’ve found a few websites that might help you come up with “period” insults.
These may give you some ideas. Enjoy:
- Insult-o-matic.com (yeah, I know)
- Shakespearean Insulter
- Old French Insults
- Elizabethean Insults and Curses
For more on period insults, check out the Ancient Arts Fellowship.
In addition the Randomly Generated Period Insults page can give you some good ideas. You may not be able to drop any of the offered insults directly into your dialogue, but you can probably modify them to suit your needs.
So, go out and start calling people names!