The Dance of Words and Euphemism in Intimate Scenes

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.

Breasts: globular.


Euphemisms for body parts that are either overused or irritated readers:

“nether” anything




turgid coumn

secret place

flesh wand

instrument of pleasure






mushroom tip

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.

Moving on…Verbs:

“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 ❤


Sex or No Sex…That is the Question

So you want to write a love scene, huh?


Let’s see if we can break it down to make it easier for you to tackle that dreaded love scene you’ve been avoiding for months.

First thing’s first, let’s ask ourselves a few questions.

Is the sex needed? Does it push the plot forward or help your character’s grow? I personally only write a sex scene if it pushes the story in the right direction or if it forces the characters to grow, either positively or negatively depending on the story. So, is the sex necessary to SHOW their journey? I emphasize show, because it’s too easy to tell. That’s the point of writing the sex scenes, to show the intimacy and how it affects the characters, not to mention the plot. The sex isn’t porn to get your reader turned on, it’s to show the connection, the bond between the characters.

What are your character’s telling you? Yes, I realize this makes you sound crazy, but I’m dead serious. Your characters will lead you if you let them, and going against them will make the story or the scene sound forced. Trust your characters to know their own story and lead you down the right road. Believe me, some of the best scenes I’ve ever written have come from letting them take control, and not just in the bedroom. *wink*

What is the point of the scene? Really think about this…is it sex for the sake of titillation or is it a dynamic revelation of emotion for the characters? This always comes at the editing phase for me. You really have to think about it. If you’re writing a romance, this is important because the entire focus of the story is on the relationship between the characters. Sex is a major factor in that so you have to take it into consideration. Do I need to show the intimacy to really portray the emotions and conflict of the story? It comes down to personal preference of the author to be honest. You can’t write something you don’t feel coming from your characters. Don’t sell your soul by adding sex just to have it there. If it doesn’t work, don’t do it.

What’s your heat level? There are many different types of love scenes with heat levels ranging from sweet to erotic. When I say sweet, I don’t mean closed door sex (when you lead the reader to the bedroom door and then slam it in their face.) I mean generalizing the experience, a soft touch here, a vague euphemism there. Let the reader know they had sex, but don’t go into detail. Erotic is going into hard core detail, drawing the scenes out, making them encompass most of the story. Erotica itself is about the sex more than the plot. Romance is about the plot more than the sex.

My publisher, Breathless Press, has a Heat Level Chart (this is taken directly from their submissions page HERE):

0 – No love scenes.

1 – Sweet Confections: Unconsummated sensual scenes, or love scenes that contain no description of actions.

2 – Monogamous couples. Infrequent loves scenes with no graphic language.

3 – Explicit love scenes with graphic or strong language.

4 – Frequent and explicit loves scenes/graphic depictions of sexual situations. May include BDSM, D/s, homoerotic sex acts.

5 – Diablo Delights: No holds barred high frequency of sexual interactions with strong erotic content. Extreme BDSM, group sex, ménage, ménage a trios. No HEA (Happily Ever After) required.

My stories normally hover around a 2 or 3, depending on the language I use. This chart may help you figure out how “hot” you want your stories to be. I will be writing a post in the next few weeks about the language we use in romance and some of the “trigger” words that make me cringe as a reader. (Everyone has their own trigger words, but I’ll only address mine.)

Another thing that may help you determine your heat level is your comfort zone. It’s kind of hard to write BDSM or ménage when you’re not comfortable with it. So make sure you write what you’re comfortable with, or your discomfort will show in the prose.

If you enjoyed this post, please leave a comment or questions. I’d love to discuss this more, but I don’t want to bore everyone. *giggles*

Until next week…

❤ Kirsten