Foreskin - I mean forewarning - adult content in this post.
Rude words and whatnot.
Some days, being a writer is just hilarious.
We exist to confound the NSA with the sheer breadth of interests we Google: bomb making, drug slang, baby names, fourteenth century fashion - it's all in a day's work.
We deconstruct everything in detail. Writing is painting with words. Getting the right word is like choosing the right shade of green, or working out where the light should fall. It alters the overall picture.
I'm no stranger to writing sex scenes. I think every book I've written has contained at least one. I've run the gamut from boot scenes (characters kiss, skip to pulling on boots), right through to tastefully poetic and abusively graphic.
There is a fucking art to fucking, as we are constantly reminded each year when some unfortunate, usually famous, author gets bent over and spanked at The Bad Sex Awards. You really have to try to hit the right tone for each work.
I'm extremely lucky in counting Remittance Girl among my literary-minded friends. She not only writes erotica, but lectures on how to write it well.
Which is why I found myself sending the following DM the other day. Just to illustrate how authors think:
Help. I need expert advice. I'm writing a steamy scene in a sort of suspense/ghost story. It's not particularly erotic, though there's been one sex scene, and there'll probably be another after this one.
I want to write: As his fingers found the soft folds of flesh hiding her cunt.
But people have a really visceral reaction to 'cunt'. I wonder if it'd put readers off. I've been quite tasteful up to now. Still, I tried replacing it with cleft and pussy, and I don't much like either as a substitute. Can't use clit because I'm about to use that in the next sentence.
What would you recommend?
Thus began a really useful back and forth in which RG helped me to go back to the character and consider what he'd be comfortable using. I also revisited the previous scene in which he got his kegs off and realised I hadn't actually directly referred to anyone's genitals. Pretty impressive, considering.
I've now rewritten that sentence entirely.
Cunt isn't a word I've always been particularly comfortable with in the past. You usually hear it used far more often in anger than eroticism.
I got a lot more comfortable with it after my friend Harri gave me a copy of Cunt: A Declaration of Independence by Inga Muscio. Now I quite like it.
To an author, words are words. Every single one of them is there to be used at some point in your life. There are no good words or bad words, just good combinations of words versus bad ones.
Whilst considering other options, I headed to Thesaurus.com, which resulted in an interesting suggestion. Not sure who agrees with me here?
I mean, I suppose if you're using it as a vernacular insult, 'You fucking merkin' might be synonymous, at a stretch, but really it's a noun for a totally different thing, no?
What I said about Word holds up, though. Just look at this:
Well, that's useful.
Still, maybe we should all be grateful...
One thing's for damn straight - I'm never going to be an erotica writer. I just couldn't stop laughing long enough.