Thursday, March 31, 2011

Romance and Anatomy, how specific?

I read romances in which the sexuality ranges from sweet to very naughty. What I love about the romance genre is that there's a heat level for everyone. In my conversations with other romance authors, I've noticed a recurring topic: How to refer to *those* parts. (I wish I could use "schlong." I LOVE that word! Alas, it's not sexy.) Although I'm working on my fifth (I think) romance, I still have to stop and think about it. I base my decision on two key factors.

A.) The heat level I'm going for (I usually go for super sensual but not quite erotica.)

B.) My characters. Since my heroes are, well, men, most will think of their appendage as their cock. And some of my more matter-of-fact heroines will, too. My current one doesn't because she's more of a "nice girl."

How the ladies think of their stuff is actually a bigger problem for me. "vagina" is too clinical, "c*nt" too harsh (I used it once and offended a reader) and "hoo-hah" is too goofy. So far I base it on the heat of the scene ranging from vague euphemisms like "her core" to flat out naming the parts getting the clit. Romance heroes always know how to find it. :)

There are a few words/ phrases that I won't touch with a ten foot pole and I'm happy to share why.

I will not compare lady parts to flowers. For one thing, I'm not Georgia O'Keefe, for another it just doesn't come natural to me, no matter how much I enjoy the old-school poems referring to "Dew on the Lily."

I will never use the word "manroot." Not only would such silliness not occur to me, but there's a rant on an Amazon forum that convinces me readers don't want it.

I won't use the term "manhood" in a sexual situation because I don't want a man to be defined only by his genitals. However, if he gets kicked in the junk... and totally deserved it "He clutched his wounded manhood..." I think it works.

My heroines' wombs won't "clench" in desire. A womb has no play in sexuality. That stops at the cervix. If a womb is clenching it's either menstrual cramps or contractions from pregnancy. A clenching womb is painful, not arousing! Sorry, that's a big annoyance for me.

How 'bout you guys? How detailed are your descriptions? What ones turn you off?

Also, authors Jamie De Bree and Carol Buchanan have been doing a series on their blogs called "Sex on the Page." The posts are a lot of fun. Jamie's are a little steamier but Carol has a certain delicious subtlety.


  1. i giggle writing sex scenes. then again, i write YA Crossover so i can't get all detailed about slamming her with his purple headed yogurt chucker, throwing her over the couch and ravishing her with his throbbing womb broom....i'm crying just thinking about it. hahahaha
    However, I do use a lovely and very wide range of terms for the female and male anatomy. it's really colorful and hilarious to say the least.

  2. First, so glad to see that chandelier! I'm always amazed when I'm out and about at how most lighting fixtures these days look like boobs. So it's refreshing to see something different. ;-) I'm sure, though, that a man also designed this one just as men likely designed the breast-lamps.

    Second, love this topic and your take. I struggle with this too because the only really sexy terms, if there really are any, are dirty and not all of our characters would think that way, especially mine. My current WIP is historical, as in ancient Greece, which has made it really hard with not only anatomy terms but also with expletives. I'm pretty sure today's 4-letters weren't used back then... Ah, well. I suppose there are worst worries to have.

  3. Brooklyn,
    This is the funniest thing I've seen today and kudos to you for writing. I am amazed at some of the words authors use to describe body parts but you stated all this in such a humerous manner. Very funny, indeed.

  4. LOL! If I ever make it big, I'm so getting a chandelier like that. And Kristie, I'd double check. Quite a few four letter words have been around since the beginning of time. I'd also recommend reading some poetry by Sappho and other ancient Greek erotic works.

  5. Great post! I always have this issue. I'm not a big fan of the c*nt word either. It just feels very ... angry-vulgar. Kind of like the word bitch. I also don't like the word p*ssy (I have no idea why I'm using asterisks for god's sake. Like there's any question what word I'm going for.). I laughed when I read your line about guys calling their penis a cock, because it's so true! Even my husband, who isn't vulgar at all, calls it that! I have a harder time with lady parts. I once did a beta read for an MS that called it her meat-tunnel, and I laughed for a good five minutes. Ewww!

    Thanks for the smile this afternoon. :-)

  6. Meat Tunnel?!!! OMG! Just....OMG! I gotta use that some time with my husband...when he's eating or drinking something. Mwah hah hah!

  7. BEAUTIFUL! I love this so much.

    My husband likes to say I write because I can only think about the "sausage". I told him he had to be italian for that to count ahahah

    great post! great post! LAUGH!!!!

  8. LMAO!!! ::cough:: My husband's Italian....and ::cough:: I've made um..."references" of that sort.

  9. In the spirit of Clash of the Titans, might I offer, "Release the Kraken!" :)

  10. YES!!! I wish I could use that too. :)

  11. My ex always calls his a 'dick' so whenever I don't like a guy named Richard, he automatically becomes a 'Dick'!

  12. Oh, B. Uh, I don't have much to offer, but that was funny!! LOL on Release the Kraken!!