Writing Erotic Romance – Word Choice

By on September 25, 2014

This post has adult content. If you are under the age of eighteen years old or sensitive to adult language/situations, please do not read this post.

Words are one of the key tools we, writers, master. Word choice sets tone, conveys meaning (often multiple meanings), changes stories. There are some great posts by great writers on what we should consider when choosing words.

Today, I’ll be talking about erotic romance specific words. YES, the naughty words! The words no one really talks about yet everyone knows are important to our stories.

Does Your Word Exist In Your World?

No, I’m not referring to made-up words, though we should be conscious of these also. I’m talking about whether or not your word exists in your character’s world. When was the word invented and was it in popular use at that time?

Fuck didn’t appear in the written language until the late 1400’s. (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/fuck?s=t ) Using this word in a story set before that date might not be historically correct. (I don’t write historical erotic romances so I’m not the expert.) It might jar some readers out of the story.

This isn’t only a consideration for historical erotic romances. Would a character in a very formal, regimented alien culture use a word like fuck or would they have another word for sex?

Would Your Character Use The Word?

The word penis exists in a contemporary romance world. We all know what this refers to. But would a rough and tough hero call his man parts a penis? Would a prim, proper Regency miss call her hero’s man parts a cock? Sex words, both said and thought, should reflect your characters and the relationship.

Clinical Words

I won’t say don’t use clinical words like vagina or labia. There are no rules in writing. If your character is a doctor or a scientist or an alien new to English and slang, he or she might use these formal names.

But they aren’t very sexy. Some erotic romance readers hate clinical terms with a fiery passion. These words can take these readers out of the mood.

And many characters, like a bad ass biker, wouldn’t use the word penis. He’d use cock or dick or some other term. He might try to be as crude and offensive as possible or he might be on his best behavior. His word choice would indicate this. He could think one word and say another, showing conflict.


Is there a place for euphemisms like purple helmeted warrior or her special flower in erotic romance? Sure. Again, there are no rules. I might use these terms if the characters are making a joke or if the hero is mocking his overly prim heroine.

Otherwise, don’t. We’re writing dirty so write DIRTY. One of my buddies, Christine D’Abo, told me when I first started writing erotic romance to write the dirtiest, filthiest word I could think of over and over until it no longer embarrassed me.

Pussy Vs Cunt

Again, the character is the boss. Use the word the heroine or hero prefers. A hero who says cunt is very different from a hero who says pussy.

If characters don’t have a clear preference, then I usually stick with one. As I started in paranormal erotic romance, I use the word pussy because I thought a wolf shifter eating pussy was hilarious.

Some readers prefer the word pussy. Some readers prefer the word cunt. My readers know they’re likely getting pussy. (grins)

Come Vs Cum

Come is the verb. Bee comes. Cum is the noun. Bee is covered with Hawke’s sticky cum.

Ravish Vs Ravage

Ravish means “to fill with strong emotion, especially joy” (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/ravish?s=t ). Ravage means “to work havoc; do ruinous damage” (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/ravage?s=t ). A hero ravishing a heroine is sexy. A hero ravaging a heroine isn’t.

Lave Vs Lathe

Lave means “to wash; bathe” (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/lave?s=t ). Lathe means “to cut, shape, or otherwise treat on a lathe” (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/Lathe?s=t ). Unless you’re writing horror erotic romance, please don’t lathe any body parts!

Publishing House Style – Pre-cum Vs Precum & Cock Head Vs Cockhead

Many publishers have their own specific stances on words or phrases. My editor at Ellora’s Cave vetoed suckling, preferring sucking. Hole at Ellora’s Cave meant asshole, not a pussy hole. Pre-cum vs precum and cock head vs cockhead depends on the publisher’s preference. If your publisher doesn’t have a preference, I recommend being consistent throughout your story and your series.

Finding Another Word For Thrust

My heroes are always thrusting here and thrusting there. To expand my sex word vocabulary, I read erotic romance and note words or phrases I like. I then research these words because writers make mistakes. The word might not mean what I think it does.

I also test the word on reading buddies. I’ll ask them what they feel or think after hearing this word or phrase in a sentence. Are they turned on? Do they understand the word? Is it a hostile sex word or a lovey dovey sex word?

What else should writers consider when choosing words?


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Bee Carter’s carefully constructed world is tumbling down around her designer knockoff heels. Pleasing others isn’t working for this small-town fashionista. Bee decides to throw caution to the Chicago wind for one night and release her inner bad girl, accepting a sexy challenge from an unknown texter, exploring the backseat of a limousine with gorgeous billionaire Nicolas, and entering a rough, tough biker bar with the mysterious Hawke.

Two hot men, one wicked night. When this good girl goes wild, who will make her erotic dreams come true—the enigmatic billionaire or the tattooed bad boy?

Buy Links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Sinful-Rewards-Billionaires-Bikers-Novella-ebook/dp/B00I7V89JS

ARe: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-sinfulrewards3-1613793-149.html

Barnes And Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/sinful-rewards-3-cynthia-sax/1119919837

Google: https://play.google.com/store/search?q=9780062354143

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/sinful-rewards-3/id814148707

One response to “Writing Erotic Romance – Word Choice”

  1. Crystal H says:

    What are some of the words you hear that just make you cringe?

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