Those Naughty Words


How do you refer to sex organs when talking to your close friends? What about when you’re talking with your partner? Do you use the same words with your friends that you use to get your partner in the mood?

I’ve been struggling for several months trying to decide which words the characters in my novel will use. There are several options of course, but it has to be just right. I have to consider the period of time in which the story takes place as well as the personalities of my characters. Words used in a historical romance, for instance, will be different than words used in a contemporary romance.

Would my main character refer to her sex as a “love cave” or “honey pot”? Would she refer to her boyfriend’s penis as his “manhood”? His “member”? It was one of my critiquers who pointed that I need to decide exactly which words I’m going to use. She reminded me that my main character is no Victorian Miss.  She wouldn’t send a sexy text message to her guy that reads, “My quivering love mound has been aching for your throbbing member.” My characters just don’t talk like that. They’re in their twenties and they’re in the Navy for goodness sakes!  They could just be straight forward and use “penis” and “vagina” but let’s face it, when they’re in the bedroom, whispering erotic words to each other, the words, “vagina” and “penis” just aren’t sexy.


I don’t use c**k, d***, p****, c**t, or even a**. I’m not judging anyone who uses such words in their ordinary language. It’s just not my style. They hurt my eyes as well as my ears.

Since those words don’t come naturally to me, I didn’t plan on using them in my novel. But just because the sound of the word p**** makes me cringe does not mean my characters can’t use them. After all, they are younger and hipper than I am.

I posted a question about this in one of forums on a Scribophile. Many responded that they use p**** when being intimate with their partners but found c**t to be too derogatory. Many of the men said they use c**k with their partners because it felt sexier to them.

About a week ago – several months after beginning work on my novel – I realized why the thought of using those words in my novel was such a turn off for me. When my book is published, I’m pretty sure I’m going to go right to my mother’s house and say’ “Mommy, Mommy, look what I did!” I feel like it will be a huge disrespect to my mother if I present my novel to her with those words laced throughout.

When I told my mother what I’m writing and that there will be content that’s inappropriate for her to see she implied that she would read it and then spank me.


But there isn’t just my characters to consider, I also have to consider my audience. I want my readers to devour my book and when they get to the racy parts I want them to be fanning themselves while they read (or whatever else they choose to do to themselves while they read).

So after many months agonizing over which words to use, I’ve decided to let my characters speak in the way that is natural to them. If it’s feasible, I’ll consider having a few copies of a PG-13 version available for my mother, they younger kids in my family and anyone else who may be offended by those naughty words.