After the exciting post from last week, I decided continue along the same vein as promised.
There’s a delicate art to writing a moving and effective love scene. It’s like a dance between action and emotion. Every word is a choreographed move. Combined together, they create a graceful partnership to the music of the moment. This is how all writing is honestly, but I’m focusing predominantly on the intimate scenes.
Romance is more than just sex. It’s the emotional journey of the characters as they find their soul mate. That’s what sets romance apart from all the other genres. It focuses on the relational conflict as well as whatever internal and external conflict arises in the story. So the love scenes (if included) are important to the story.
Using the wrong words in a love scene can instantly pull the reader from the story, make them disconnect completely, or even worse cringe in distaste. Unless that was what you were going for as the emotional tone of the scene, I suggest choosing your words carefully. We’ve all run across those words…the euphemisms that make us laugh out loud, cringe, or just gross out.
Let me be clear up front. I do not think euphemisms are bad. I’m not bashing authors who use these terms. In fact, I use some of them myself. This article is about choosing words carefully when writing an intimate scene.
I asked my fellow authors at Breathless Press to give me a hand and come up with some of their “pet peeve” words or euphemisms used in romance. They came up with some amazing words and phrases…and had a good laugh in the process. The things writer’s talk about, right? *grins*
Here are some Adjectives proposed that triggered some readers:
A woman’s arousal: sopping, creamy, oozing, moist.
A man’s arousal: throbbing.
Euphemisms for body parts that are either overused or irritated readers:
instrument of pleasure
flowers and petals when referring to ladies parts
Also, all medical terms when used in a love scene. I’m reading an intimate moment, not studying a medical journal. While we’re on the topic for a moment…do not merely describe the act, “Insert Tab A into Slot B”. If you’re doing that, then you might want to consider leaving the scene out because you’re not touching on the emotional reasons for the scene to exist in the first place.
“coating her womb”
“banging into her cervix” ~ OUCH!
when a woman’s womb “contracts with arousal”
plowing the field
tweaked her nipples
plumbed the depths
Once again, I’m not saying any of these things are WRONG to use. I’m saying be careful of the words you choose when you write your love scenes, does it fit the scene, the mood, the tone, the moment, etc. Don’t take it personally if your betas or your editors tell you to change a word or phrase in the scene because it “pulls them out of the moment”. (Oh, ehehehe, forgive the pun.)
I purposely left out the obvious euphemisms that you shouldn’t use. Nothing says sexy like “purple headed yogurt slinger” or “muff”. But there is a word that came up a few times in my time as a writer that I want to address in and of itself.
Cunt. Yes, I realize it may be a vulgar term to some of you. While I don’t use it often, it does have it’s time and place in writing if used correctly.
It seemed to be the overwhelming majority agreed that when cunt is used in dialog it’s more efficient than when it’s used in prose during a love scene.
For example, my friend Jen is writing a series where the hero, Crispin, is quite cocky, overconfident, and uses what he calls “his wicked whispers”. He uses the word cunt in his whispers to get a rise out of the heroine. It’s his version of “dirty talk” and it’s quite effective. It’s used for shock value…admit it, it works.
Choosing the right words in a scene can make or break it. I hope this provides you with some ideas and inspiration as you move forward with your own writing projects.
Feel free to leave questions or comments.
~ Kirsten ❤