Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Tutorial Tuesday: Naughty Bits – A Rose By Any Other Name

I’ve seen more than one discussion pop up as to what a writer should call the body points down south of the belly button.  How graphic, romantic, cute, silly, etc. should one get when it comes to naming the goods?  What do we call those … things?

The easiest answer I can give you is, listen to your characters.  Call it what they call it.

In Alien Embrace, Amelia has a hard time with F-bombs as well as other explicit language.  She was brought up terrorized by the idea of being tortured and killed for sexual misconduct.  Even after she’s safely off Earth, she has to rally hard to proclaim to her dead mother’s memory how much she likes sucking an alien’s cock.  Since much of the book is from her point of view, most of the language used is milder than you’ll find in the majority of erotica despite all the kinky sex.   Because of Amelia’s lack of ease with blatant sexuality, there aren’t even boobs or tits mentioned in Alien Embrace.  The references are to her mounds or breasts, even when we’re not reading her direct thoughts.

Chapter 2 opens with a very naughty encounter between Amelia and the clan stalking her.  Note the lack of graphic names of the body parts in the first few paragraphs:

                Rajhir’s tongue invaded her mouth, filling it.  As he tasted her, the massive hands on her breasts squeezed before pinching the engorged tips.
                Warmth coursed from the lips of her sex as another pair of hands parted her thighs.  Fingers slid up the insides of her legs, pushing up the scant material of her dress up and over her hips.   She lay completely exposed to the man rubbing her thighs.  She imagined him watching the honey flow from her.
                Rajhir pulled his mouth from hers and cupped her face in his hands.  He gazed into her eyes as if trying to read her mind.  She felt embraced by the cool depths of his blue-purple eyes.  Flencik continued to massage her breasts, slipping his fingers inside her bodice.  Breft’s fingers slid closer to her damp, naked sex, tantalizing with their nearness to her pleasure button.


Ditto on the restraint for the Netherworld series.   As a former escort, heroine Brandilynn Payson has no issues with sexual acts, especially of the BDSM variety.  However, she intensely dislikes profanity and will only say the words cock and pussy while she’s in the middle of intimacies.  No one around her is allowed to say anything unseemly either, so everyone has sex or makes love.  There is no ‘fucking’, and unless it is uttered by another character, you won’t find that word in the Netherworld series.

In contrast, Alien Rule’s Jessica takes great delight in cursing now that she’s free of Earth’s religious fanaticism.   Foul language suits her hot temper perfectly, so once she gives herself permission to let off profanity-laced verbal steam, the more graphic terms take effect when sex occurs.  Alien Slave is also a little more intense with the verbiage since heroine Dani is a prostitute and used to thinking that way.  But since Kalquorians hold women in such high esteem, penises and vaginas are still handled respectfully (pun intended) for the most part.

My next tip:  keep your word choices appropriate to the tone of the book and/or scene.   I personally find words like ‘cum’ and ‘cunt’ jarring when used in a supposedly romantic setting in which the participants are purported to be making love.  For me, these two words are better suited to porn or FWB or casual sex settings.  I realize my opinion is entirely subjective, but I feel no warm fuzzy love feelings when I read words like those.   So if I’m writing a candlelit encounter with two people joined at the heart (among other things), I will not use coarser language to describe their body parts.

Finally, when all else fails, simply call it what it is.  There is nothing wrong with calling a vagina, a vagina or a penis, a penis.  Sometimes simple really is best.  Waxing poetic can be unintentionally funny, which you usually don’t want in the middle of a hot scene.  Don’t be cutesy or evasive about it, unless the characters are acting that way.  An example of how euphemisms can be silly is illustrated in Netherworld:  Drop Dead Sexy, when Dan teases Brandilynn about her dislike of profanity:

Dan’s face was pure heat.  “Dibs on her—”
“Don’t be vulgar,” I warned. 
He grinned.  “Yes, my sweet Brandilynn.  I want your honeypot, your lotus bloom, your wet, warm, tight tunnel of womanly love—” 
“Okay, okay!” I yelled over Tristan’s laughter.  “Enough already.  Just do me.”


So put away the turgid man muscle and the gushing rapids of her innermost cavern.   Let those body parts be what they are:  a pussy, cock, nipple, mound, penis, slit, or whatever.  As long as your characters and story tone say the words fit, you’re safe.

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