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This is in a sense a part two to my question on English Stack Exchange about replacement for word "bullshit", which I decided would better fit on this site.

A bit of background

Optional reading explaining why of the question.

I've been writing a short, dramatized story about my "adventures" in Pokemon Nuzlock. Pokemon Nuzlock, in the shortest terms, is a self-imposed set of rules for Pokemon games that make the game more challenging and lends itself to emergent storytelling. For example, when my Pokemon I raised and bonded with for at least a few hours over few days died to what I called in my story "random bullshit", losing a battle despite astronomical odds of losing that eventually caused me to lose entire 35-hour long run, starting a streak of incredibly unlucky and short runs - it was quite a story to tell (among other Pokemon players).

I have a bit of a problem with overusing profanities in English, especially with the word "bullshit" (English is my second language), so I took issue with the phrase "random bullshit" and tried to replace it, while still keeping the angry tone of the sentence. Soon I realized I was trying to do the impossible - it was the use of profanity, that made me sound upset. If I want to write without profanities, there is no drop-in replacement word that could still preserve the tone of what I'm writing, I need to use a different method to show the reader how I feel. So this is where the question starts.

The question

Where the question starts.

What are some good methods of indicating an angry tone in first-person writing other than using profanities and outright saying "I was angry/furious/fuming/frothing at the mouth/etc."? The question was inspired by non-fiction, but to make it more useful in general, let's assume that making things up for the story (like throwing plates around the room) is allowed.

And at the risk of making the question too general (mods, please remove this part, if that's the case), how could a writer show other emotions or emotions in general in a non-trivial way when writing from the perspective of the narrator?

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  • Describe body language, physiology and actions associated with anger.
    – user110391
    Sep 21, 2022 at 16:10
  • 2
    I always like sarcasm as an option. "Imagine my utter delight when a random event annihilated everything I worked on for 35 hours, in a measly 5 seconds. Now I get to start all over again and experience the game afresh. Yay!"
    – user54131
    Sep 21, 2022 at 16:41

1 Answer 1

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Describe the physical reaction:

As your eyes grew wide with shock at what happened on the screen, perhaps you started trembling. Or maybe you smashed a keyboard (very popular with my kids). Your face may have twisted into a scowl, or perhaps your jaw clenched up tight. A head could have been pounded on a wall, or maybe you went storming off from the computer.

You can still use expletives, but I find they are better left to the imagination. Put an edit box where the word should be. so you'd say, "(expletive)! How (expletive, expletive) can that be! You're (expletive, expletive) me."

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  • I'd have never came up with an idea to just censor expletives, that's super creative. I can already imagine snickering to myself as I write ⬛⬛⬛⬛ ⬛⬛⬛⬛⬛⬛⬛ ⬛⬛⬛⬛ and draw over it with a pen until it's completely covered. Sep 23, 2022 at 16:20
  • @Laurel Thanks!
    – DWKraus
    Sep 23, 2022 at 16:35

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