06 April 2015

E is for Euphemisms

I'm not particularly fond of euphemisms in fiction, especially to name body parts and sexual interactions. Romance novels are notorious for doing this. The hotter the romance, the more bizarre the colloquialisms become, and sometimes I wonder if the writers even understand the functions of human anatomy.

I've written some fairly steamy scenes for my own characters, and can't bring myself to be anything but straightforward in my descriptions, although I admit the conversations can sometimes seem a little clinical. I think I've found a way around that using some humor.

First I created a main character that is intentionally formal in speech and manners - J. Lindsay Calhoun. It works for him, given his upbringing and career as a high-society attorney.  He hates anything vulgar. That is until he meets the love of his life, who is a bit more relaxed in action and language. To put it mildly. It doesn't take long for them to start debating the best expressions to use in various public and private circumstances. Here's an example:
Lindsay shuddered. "Breasts, Megan, can we call them breasts? I cringe when you talk like that. They are breasts." His tongue lingered for a second on the fluttering pulse at her throat, then continued its downward journey. "Lovely, soft, perfect breasts."
"What's really so bad about tits?" She loved teasing him about his starched manners. Megan suspected his language was a kind of personal armor. It was a way to keep others at arm's length, but that hadn't worked with her from the beginning.
Do you think that works, injecting a bit of humor into a bedroom scene? These two seem to spend a lot of time laughing when they're making love. That's not a bad thing.

I'm not sure how to deal with some of the other characters, though, or even if I'll show their more intimate sides to readers. I've considered an ethnic couple who use foreign words. Or maybe even more exotic concepts like a tantric love scene. Yes. That could work. Worshiping the lingus.

Or does that sound like yet another euphemism? Am I cheating? What do you think?


Fran Clark said...

I am a ghostwriter of steamy romances and some readers of this genre like a euphemism. I don't think they belong in literature, personally, and wouldn't use them in anything that had my name as the writer. I think your scene works but I would avoid your couple talking their way through sex every time. Good luck with your piece!

Kristen Brockmeyer said...

I love humor in any kind of romance scene. To me, it just makes things more real. But I guess, my rule of thumb is not to write anything into the bedroom I wouldn't say or do. I'm no expert, though. Nice to meet you, btw - I'm visiting through the A to Z Challenge! :)

Dani said...

Thanks for both of your comments!

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