When is a book too graphic and when is it not graphic enough?
Erotic is in and these days, many if not most, romance novels feature some hot and heavy, sweating to the friction kind of action. Authors handle the sex scenes differently. But in one way or another, in books that are going to get down and dirty and in others where they’ll hold out ’till they have papers on each other, all of the writers will have to deal with the bleep factor.
I got criticized by some publishing professionals early on for not calling it a c*ck or a p**sy. Call it what it is, they said. These days, readers want it straight up, no-holds-barred, graphic. So, I edited early work and used the terms in later stuff. Later, I ran some of that work by groups of readers and other writers who said the terms jerked them right out of the stories. Before I published anything, I had to reconsider this issue.
I realized that some writers use the terms and use them effectively because those writers are comfortable with the language. I was a wee bit uneasy at some of the terms, but mostly, I missed the creative opportunities, the out and out fun, I got from not calling it a bleep. If I don’t use the word, then I get to describe it or make up my own terms that can fit with what else is going on in the scene. I decided graphic terms, whether they’re for body parts or to describe the groping and grubbing sessions, work for the reader if they work for the writer.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to come off all prim and proper here. Heck, my day job is being a lawyer. I’ve used the word d*ck for my hubby’s package, sure enough, but I’ve also used it when describing certain other lawyers, judges, and the occasional client. I’ve used it outside the office for the guy or gal who cuts me off in traffic and for the idiot who slows me down in line at the grocery store. Those words fit real life occasions when I’m a little too stressed to be creative.
In my writing, I have more fun not using those terms. And if I have more fun, I hope my readers do too. So this time, I think Shakespeare got it right. A bleep by any other name is still a bleep. It’s just that sometimes, by another name it can be more and do more – it can make you smile, or make you think or sometimes, just sometimes, it can do both.
No matter how much it will upset my college professors to hear an English major say this, I don’t always agree with Shakespeare. Like all that stuff about killing lawyers…not so much. But hey, maybe that’s just me — and all those I practice with, in front of or for, d*cks included.
Let’s save the in-your-face reality for the real world, when we need to be a little more graphic. When we pick up a book, or better yet, a Kindle or a PC, (let’s pick up lots of those) then we can enjoy the heated encounters, the dirty deeds and the knock-down, drag out fights by calling them what they feel like at the time. Maybe some of those creative terms can find their way into our daily lives. The next time somebody cuts you off in traffic or slows you down at the grocery store try calling them a re-fried frog instead of a bleep. At least, it’ll make you smile.
And let’s not kill ALL the lawyers.