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I’ve been watching a discussion about words used in erotic romance and erotica. I’m a word whore, I admit it up front and I do believe that words have a unique sort of power to impact what you read. Not “shock” value but in making choices to evoke a certain feel.

In truth, what the choices mean to me may not mean the same to other people when they read. But if I spend all my time thinking about that, I’m not writing the story as it should be written. So I don’t. It’s not that I don’t care, it’s that if a scene calls for “cunt” I’m going to use it. If a scene calls for “cock” I’m going to use it.

I saw a comment – boiled down it was something like “the character wouldn’t have considered what happened fucking” And hmm. That’s fascinating to me on a few levels. Firstly, I love that the book or story resonated so much with that person she felt like she could say that and truly believed it. That’s powerful storytelling, IMO (and it wasn’t about my book so I’m not complimenting myself here, LOL). Secondly, it points to the power of language and words because I don’t see “fucking” as a bad thing or a worthless thing or as a demeaning thing. But some people do, which means the power of the term is watered down by generational/cultural/gender/whatever perspectives. At the same time, what can you do as an author? The author could have said “intercourse” which seems clinical to me. Or she could have said “making love” which is, IMO too soft for what happened between the characters.

There are times when a word can change the scene drastically and yes, that’s using words for a certain sort of shock value. Not in the way it’s meant most often, but words, when used right, can evoke strong feeling.

I didn’t use to use the word cunt. I grew up in a time when it was bandied about as a gender epithet. Admittedly the word comes with baggage. And yet, over time I’ve come to use it in certain scenes because I think the scene calls for it. I don’t actually think only the man should use it, quite the opposite, I’m far more comfortable when my female characters own it for themselves. Still, I know the word carries a lot of reaction – negative and positive. Still? I think it’s a great word. It’s hard. It’s sharp, nearly feral in a sense and sometimes sex is that way.

Anyway, I’m babbling but I’m working on so many things right now I wanted to get my thoughts down! What do you all think about words – strong words like cunt and cock? Do they totally put you off to the point where you don’t read that book or author? Do you skip them? Do you like them?

4 comments to “Words”

  1. JSL
    January 31st, 2008 at 4:20 pm · Link

    I’m not as big a fan (if a fan one can be) of “cunt” – I feel that it’s still a derogatory term, and the use of it seems to be more for shock value. Or maybe not that, but all the baggage that come with the word distracts from the text, and jolts the reader back into the “real world” and other thought. “Fuck” and “cock” “bother” me a lot less. Probably because those terms are bandied about easily. Maybe its my age. The latter two terms sometimes work for a grittier feel. Sometimes “fuck” is overused. But I have to admit, I’m fond of the word – probably overfond. It works (in real life) for so many situations.

  2. Christine
    February 1st, 2008 at 8:13 am · Link

    I have to say it really depends. If they are over used in a book it loses it’s meaning. It’s like in a movie when every other word is f**k. It’s make you wonder couldn’t the writer come up w/ dialogue. For me it has to fit in the scene.

  3. TJ Michaels
    February 1st, 2008 at 10:42 am · Link

    Growing up, there was the general thought that “good girls don’t…as long as they don’t get caught.” Sex was dirty. Sex was bad. Until the light switch was turned on when you got married. Suddenly, sex was sanctified and right. Doesn’t make a bit of sense now that I’m older.

    So, I didn’t used to use bold words…except during sex. Now, if it fits in a story, I stick it in there with no shame. I prefer ‘cock’ to ‘dick’ depending on context. Most men don’t refer to their penis as a ‘cock’ where I come from. They use the ‘D’ word instead, but some pubs won’t touch that word. Don’t understand why if they’ll take everything else. But that’s another story.

    I’ll use pussy, coochie, the occasional cunt, and sometimes kitty if the moment is ‘cute’ enough. I try to mix it up so no word is overused, but sometimes “fuck, fuck, fuck” in the middle of a hard scene is all the person can manage to say. :mrgreen:

  4. Lori
    February 1st, 2008 at 8:56 pm · Link

    OK, admit it, Lauren. You brought this up just to get a rise out of me, didn’t you? LOL.

    Well, we had this discussion exactly a year ago on my blog, LOL. And you know I don’t care for it. I can handle it if it’s not overused, but there are those authors that overuse what I’ll term (for lack of a better word) ‘dirty’ language in their love scenes.

    But, I also admitted in the same blogpost that I wouldn’t be perturbed if my own cleancut hubby would talk a little dirtier. 😳 However, I would draw the line at the “c” word. (See? I can’t even say it…erm… write it :oops:).

    And… excuse me… kitty?

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