The House of Elyot

The Unique Challenges of Writing Erotica: Vocab

Posted on: June 16, 2016

I thought it might be fun and illuminating to think about some of the ways in which erotic writing differs from other types – because it does, in many ways, some of them quite surprising.

Today we have naming of parts.

Of course, all writers have to think deeply about their word choices, I’m not suggesting otherwise. But for erotic writers, this can become an incredibly vexed question. There are readers who will click away from the story the moment the word ‘cunt’ shows up. There are others who will roll their eyes at anything but the bluntest descriptors.

Most readers fall between these two stools (but let’s not get into scat – definitely not my niche). Even so, everybody has their cringe-list; those words and descriptions that will take them out of the breathless moment and into mild nausea.

I have quite a few of my own, but my number one bugbear is ‘cum’ – spelled like that, rather than ‘come’, which is fine. I know that makes no sense, but I hate it. There’s something about it that reminds me of the panicky, unsettling feeling when I found sticky pages from highly-coloured porn mags in the local woods as a child of about 9. It makes me anxious.

My weird aversion illustrates something all erotic writers must struggle with – the readership’s own irrational hatred of certain words and phrases. Of course, you can’t possibly take everyone’s tastes on board. You’d never get a word written at all. But I keep an eye on these kinds of conversations, and if one word persistently crops up as being found repellent by many, I’ll avoid it. ‘Moist’ is one – many people find it sickening, which is a shame, as it’s a very serviceable word in erotic description, but I don’t want people heaving over my characters’ shenanigans, so I have – with some regret – crossed it off my ‘to use’ list. Another is ‘gusset’. Oh, how many times have I been tempted to write about a woman’s ‘moist gusset’. But you’ll only read it here – never in one of my stories. Alas!

What words do you avoid? I’d love to hear everyone’s squick list.

Next time – euphemisms!

2 Responses to "The Unique Challenges of Writing Erotica: Vocab"

Any and all terms referring to female genitals…every single one evokes that reaction in me. Good thing I write men exclusively (at least foe the sexy parts)

Very skilful way to deal with the problem :D.

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