Monday, August 17, 2009

Going with the flow

By Jenna Byrnes

Someone once said, "I may not know art, but I know what I like." I feel like that when it comes to discussing the topic of so-called 'bad language' in erotic writing. I don't have a list of do's and don'ts when it comes to words I'll use. I go with the flow, writing what feels natural. Though I must admit, sometimes I'll change wording two or three times before I send it off to my second set of eyes, Jude. What she doesn't fiddle with my editor probably will, so I'm not stuck like glue to any one thing I write.

I agree with Lisabet that we use some words to titillate, but as she said, a skilled author should be able to do that without the reader catching on. One of my editors has a real negative thing about repeated words in the same paragraph (or on the same page, even.) So frankly, sometimes I get creative with language to keep from repeating words.

I don't swear a lot in my every day life, so when it's appropriate I let my characters cuss. One of my favorite expressions is "Well, f*ck me." Not that original or creative, but used in context, (with the proper amount of sarcasm or incredulous-ness), I like it.

And I feel the need to express my thoughts on a comment left on Lisabet's post yesterday- someone (I won't say who *cough* Garce *cough*) said he can't stand the term 'pre-cum'.

Excuse me?

I write m/m erotic romance. We got pre-cum out the ying yang, here, folks. We got pre-cum before we even get out of our jeans. We need the term pre-cum, and use it frequently. I never thought it sounded clinical at all. Honestly, when I started writing I didn't use the spelling 'cum' thinking it sounded porn-ish, but editors have since informed me that 'come' is a verb and 'cum' is the product, or a noun. So we got cum all over the place in my books, folks. I think it's expected when you write m/m sex. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.

It's all part of going with the flow.


  1. Hi Jenna,

    Excellent post.

    'pre-cum out the ying yang' Now you really are confusing me with all the clinical terms :-)

    I don't think I've ever used 'cum' in my writing, prefering the traditional spelling of 'come.' Like you, I've always thought cum has 'pornish' connotations.

    I'm not sure I can agree with the editors who argue that it's a difference between the verb form and the noun usage. I think the etymology could probably be traced back to spelling errors.

    Thankfully, I've usually found myself working with editors who are OK with my way of spelling.



  2. Hi, Jenna,

    Actually, I prefer "come" to "cum". But if an editor/publisher wants it the other way, hey, I'm easy.

    As for "pre-cum", well, when I'm writing M/M (which I've been doing lately), I do want to mention it because it's a signal of arousal. I try to write around the need to use the word when I can, describing wetness or slickness or droplets.

    Up the yin/yang, though...that's a body part I'm not familiar with!

    Oh, and how do you feel about prostates?


  3. Hey Ash,

    All of my editors right now insist on the 'cum' is a noun, 'come' is a verb thing, so maybe things are changing in that direction.

    As far as the ying yang (or yin/yang in more clinical terms...) Sometimes you just have to mix things up!

    Thanks for commenting,


  4. Hi Lisabet,

    I use wetness, slickness and droplets, too. But sometimes you just gotta call it what it is. *G*

    I seriously did prefer the usage of 'come' until so many editors started correcting me on it, in big epubs and small ones. So now when I see strictly the 'come' usage I think it's either a new, timid author or poor editing. Just my observation!

    Thanks for commenting!


  5. Oh, and Lisabet- I have no feeling about prostrates one way or the other. That's one area I haven't written into my stories much, if ever. So I guess I can take 'em or leave 'em! heh heh heh


  6. Hey Jenna,

    I'm with you on the come verses cum spelling. I used come, after being told by a publisher it was more polished. That was a few years ago and it seems it's changed. Sigh!

    Oh, the prostate. I've used the term, many times. Now I'm wondering if I'm the 'only' one. LOL

    Fun post.


  7. Hey Jenna;

    Shades of Lenny Bruce: "To is a preposition, Come is a verb."

    He got busted for that.


  8. Hey Jude and Garce,

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I suspect writing is a subjective thing, and if you can get something past an editor, I say go for it!

    Lenny Bruce was a hoot. I absolutely loved his "Masked Man" cartoon, where the Masked Man wanted Tonto to 'perform an unnatural act' and the people went around screaming "Masked Man's a fag!" It was hilarious.

    Take care,



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