Monday, February 21, 2011

Calling a Spade a Spade

Of course, I am talking about genitalia.  What else would I be talking about?

In reading romance, I always note the terminology and/or euphemisms.  While there are some cliche expressions, in well written stories, the character's perspective leads the way in the naming of body parts.  Is she a aristocratic virgin who is unfamiliar with her own body?  Is she a doctor who looks at sexual encounters as mammalian couplings?  Or is she a dock-side strumpet with a dirty mouth sadly in need of Orbit?  Whoever she is, it will guide the way she views her experiences.  An older sister who raised a herd of younger brothers may look on the penis as a pizzle, peanut, or whatever cute name they used for the toddlers.  Her prior knowledge of it as a non-sexual organ will color her experiences when, ultimately, she discovers its other purpose.  The educated modern woman may be specific and scientific -- and if she did start talking dirty, it would be part of her character development.

But what none of these ladies would think is that the penis is a velvet encased steel lance or a pulsating rod of power.  Unless the author has established an omniscient narrator, all third person perspective descriptions are deep point of view.  The story is from the character's perspective and unless that character is a poet and completely disengaged enough from whatever sensual activity is happening in the scene, she is not going to describe her own nipples as ruched peaks of rose petals atop milky mounds of downy softness.

For years I referred to the female genitalia as the 'area' (usually accompanied by a vague hand gesture).  There was no slang term I liked and the technical terms just seemed too formal and specific.  With my current w.i.p., my main character is really earthy and sensual so it's going to be a challenge to label from her perspective without coming across as crass.  What are your favorite, least favorite, or just plain silly euphemisms?


Talei said...

Oh Erin, that imagery of a velvet lancer! - Like, ouch. This is a good topic, I've toyed with what to call 'the nether regions' and have opted with 'sex' for now, I have a couple of love scenes, one which will need to toned down.

Happy writing this week! ;-)

Michael Di Gesu said...

HI Erin,

My last novel was written with the a seventeen-year-old male's point of view.

Yes, as you know sex is all he thinks about and ragging privates is something he takes care of OFTEN. It's normal. That's what teenage guys do.

Anyway in my book the slang I used was not too vulgar. Mostly shaft, package, nuts, balls, pecs, chest, nipples, and hard on. That sort of thing, There was a heated scene and where Aidan is pleases Tanya orally. There I mentioned him diving into a red patch (Tanya's a red head) hidden behind black lace.

I generally try not to be too graphic and keep in less technical. There are certain words I would never use like the "c" words. That I find vulgar.

Interesting topic.


Francine Howarth said...


Yeah, it's hilarious the way some us pussy-foot around the words sh*t and f*ck on blogs, then we go and write up cock in a novel and mention shagging!

As for euphemisms, some are just so funny within the category romance genre that all the sensual buid up in the world is instant lost in a ROFL moment: the novel no longer the least bit sexy!

Writing historical novels, though, is much more fun, because one can utilise an era for appropriate euphemisms/terminology re genitalia: some sweet, some quite crude! ;)


Francine Howarth said...


Hee hee. So loved the honeypot image!

dolorah said...

Yeah, one of the reasons I quit reading romance - long time ago - was all the flowery terms. I don't think the terms in my novel are vulgar, but they are anatomically correct. Hmm, maybe I went overboard in not using euphemisms.

Still working it out . .

Great post.


Susan Kane said...

Do you really want me to write something here? I mean, do you realllly want a response? I'll talk to my husband about this. tee-hee. Susan

Kathleen said...

I love your clip art and your live link to Orbit gum! You are too funny, girl! I think blunt is better, though I do like some poetry about their feelings during "the act". It reinforces the love story for me!

Raquel Byrnes said...

I shall restate. Anything described as hot and throbbing generally requires antibiotics. ;)

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