by Ann Jacobs
I’ve begun to think it can. Books can feature ménage a trois, BDSM, fetishes, polyamory, and so on without coming across as vulgar and trashy. Not that there’s anything inherently wrong with vulgar and trashy—favorite reading’s a matter of personal taste.
For eleven years I wrote erotic romances ranging from mild (not far off mainstream romance of today) to downright kinky. I’ve found I don’t mind the kink as long as it’s done in a classy way, but that some stuff I wrote early-on in my kink days seems downright crude now that I re-read it with an eye to republishing it for a hopefully expanded audience.
What strikes me as crude now that apparently didn’t in my earlier days of publishing? Four-letter words most people don’t utter in polite society? Not really, as long as the profanities and slang for body parts fit the character who’s saying/thinking them AND the situation he or she is in at the time. When I first started writing erotic romances, most of my publishers wanted—even insisted on—use of “dirty” language at every opportunity, and I obviously complied.
|The Prosecutors by Ann Jacobs|
Then, is it excessive sex? Not really. I love sex and enjoy creating hot, emotionally charged scenes with the bedroom doors wide open. To me, what makes a sex scene cross the line from classy to crude is repetitious, gratuitous and salacious sounding descriptions of body parts in unnecessary detail—with or without the use of locker room slang in the telling!
Once it’s obvious to a reader what a breast or vagina or penis looks and feels like to the character who’s doing the thinking/feeling/touching/tasting, it’s not necessary or desirable to keep pounding the readers with the knowledge that his cock’s longer/thicker/tastier than she ever experienced before—or that she tastes and smells like sex, musk, whatever, ad nauseum.
From talking with many readers and authors, I find most women don’t like most slang words that describe the female anatomy—but that they also don’t particularly enjoy reading clinical terms for the same body parts. I’ve found, over time, that the less these terms are used, the better I enjoy a story—so I’m on a search-and-destroy mission to minimize them in my own work as I revise it to be republished.
In THE PROSECUTORS boxed set, coming out early next month, I wrote a completely new, albeit derivative novella based on characters I’d introduced in MASTERED twelve years ago. It’s LOVE GAMES, the lead title in the set—and it takes only the characters and the basic story line from its predecessor. MASTERED was hardcore BDSM, while LOVE GAMES is mainstream contemporary romance with light BDSM elements.