Thursday, December 1, 2011

E is for Euphemisms and Emotion

Okay...I'm cheating a little here and taking two E words at once. However, since I'm the last poster of the week, I won't be taking a word away from anyone else, and the two words are least in the case of this post.

Let's start with euphemisms.

It's no secret that I'm a 'spicy' writer. I prefer to read books where the bedroom door is left wide open, so naturally I write books with the bedroom door wide open. Sometimes there's not even a door: my hero and heroine might be out by the creek, or in the back of a truck, or on a beach. I like detailed love scenes. However, I don't like my love scene to be a science anatomy lesson. This pulls me right out of the moment. Thus, the euphemism. It's amazing how many ways there are to refer to a man's "stuff" without using a technical term. I think the most technical I've ever gotten is using "erection" (Hey, another E word!), and even that I wasn't sure about, but it wound up working okay in the context of the scene. Euphemisms can be used with women, too. Sometimes it's definitely an exercise in creativity to come up with ones I haven't used before, because, believe me, the thesaurus is no use in this department!

So, all in all, I have this part of the love scene down.

What seems to be trickier for me is getting the emotional aspect. (See? I told you the words tied together.) We had 'hot night' at my RWA meeting the other night (A night specifically set aside for critiquing love scenes.) and one of the comments made about the scene I brought was there was a lot of stage direction, but the feelings needed to be deeper. I really am aware of this, but I'm not sure how to fix it.

For me, it's much easier to come up with the euphemism words and phrases than it is to come up with the emotional phrases during a love scene. Because after all, there's that whole, 'show don't tell' thing to deal with, too.

Anybody willing to share any phrases they've used to show emotion in their stories? 'Cause to be honest, I'm stumped.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!



  1. Great post, Debra. I have no solutions because I have the same handicap. Can you share the scene you shared at group and the suggestions?

  2. Actually, I haven't had a chance to really look at the comments yet. It's been a busy week.

    Verbally they all pretty much agreed it needed more emotion, but they didn't really give specifics as to what to add.

  3. Interesting post, Debra! I don't like the 'anatomical' words, nor do I like the crude terms either. Euphemisms therefore are the answer, but there's a very fine line (in my mind anyway) between acceptable ones and the kind that tend to make me either giggle or throw up! - like 'her centre of paradise' or 'his turgid extension'! John Ferri's site has lots of synonyms for everything to do with love scenes - a veritable thesaurus of euphemisms!

    Regarding emotion, I tend to write love scenes from the woman's POV and tend to 'romanticise' the emotions. I can send you some examples if you want!

  4. Paula,

    Thanks for the link. I can't wait to check it out.

    And, yes, please...if you're willing to share just a few examples I would be eternally grateful to you!

  5. Sorry, I missed yesterday. Paula, can you add that link to our helpful links page? I'll definitely want to come back to that. Okay, Debra, I'm starting to blush. It's really difficult to write sex scenes unless you're kind of caught up in the moment. As to how spicy I write them, it honestly depends on the story. My first book was closed door; my latest is wide open (told my dad he couldn't read it). I'm happy to share the scene, although I don't know if I've got the emotions down any better/differently than you do. Here or offline?

  6. Let's do off-line!

    I also blush sometimes when I know my mom is reading my work....:)

  7. Okay. Off line it is. My rabbi is fascinated by my being published and constantly asks me questions. He's a good friend, but the combination of his being male and my RABBI makes me blush so hard, I have to get rid of half my wardrobe (which is red)so that I don't look like a giant tomato. Plus, he likes to bust my chops and threatens to read it, just so he and my husband can stand there laughing as I sputter.

  8. Jen, the link to John Ferri's great 'sex and romance' lists of words and phrases is already on the Helpful Links page.