You have been warned this post is about writing, but contains sexual language.
What happens when you ask four writers and two readers their thoughts, opinions, and suggestions for ways to describe male and female genitalia? Well in the words of one writer, “BEEF CURTAINS?! Thanks for the nightmares.” For the rest of us, that writer included, the conversation ranged all over the place. Seems that while there are thousands of words and descriptive terms for male and female genitalia using them is a…potential minefield.
Keeping in mind I understand you cannot please every reader, I would like to avoid alienating readers because of poor word choice, but what is poor word choice when it comes to describing genitals and acts of sex? Here is the best example of this, I choose two words that I learned are rarely if ever good to say to a woman: cunt and twat and I asked the women involved in the conversation their thoughts on using cunt and/or twat as a replacement for pussy or vagina. So they understood, not to call another person those names, but in a story context.
- Woman A: Cunt is dirty and insulting but twat is okay.
- Woman B: Twat bothers me, cunt works for me and I hate the word pussy.
- Woman C: I call mine vajay and both words sound wrong to me.
Interesting results from my non-scientific poll. When a word was deemed wrong it was wrong, but which word was wrong depended upon the woman involved. Well shit, what now? So I put the words into a more specific context, providing them with a sample sentence and that was when the conversation got more interesting, context affects…well everything; I knew this, but needed to see it in action. In the context of erotica or describing a sex act or dialog during sex both words were acceptable. However, without details people assumed negative details about the character cunt or twat was applied to or the character of the speaker, which was interesting to me, as it was a sample sentence only.
While this was going on one very dedicated writer and inspirational source went nuts with lists of words. Which then lead to the “At what point does erotica cross over into comedy territory due to word choice.” I have read plenty where word choice caused me to giggle instead of become aroused or even interested of the action. It is really easy to get stuck in a rut of adding new words or descriptive words (I know a writer who adds a minimum of one adjective to every noun), thus I understand how descriptive words and phrases overtake the erotica/romance writer; “With a thrust, he parted her moist beef curtains with his love stick.” That sentence definitely imparts the action, but you stop being interested in the story and start looking for other sentences like that. I know I do.
So, as I wrap this up, my take away is that I demonstrate an expanded erotica lexicon, but I should be aware that people will insert their own characterizations without enough context and that too many descriptive words turns erotica into comedy and while laughing during sex is a good thing, laughing while reading is not…wait…some laughing is good…I think.