Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Talking Dirty

I'm a big fan of I often have it minimized when I write. Do you know if you type in clitoris, this is what you get?

No results found for clitoris:
Did you mean clamorous?
Thesaurus suggestions:



I kind of like clamorous. I picture the little erectile organ all party-like, making some kind of insistent squeaky noise. Glorious is great, too. Center of my womanhood and all that. I'm not sure my clitoris is glitzy (shades of the Glittery Hoo-Ha. Do you know my husband called it a hoo-hoo when he was little? I guess he didn't get the memo. My family called it a quincy, which confused the hell out of me when I had to memorize the presidents and came upon John Quincy Adams.) It may be cultured and I'm very grateful it's not cauterized.

Why, you ask, am I even looking clitoris up? It all has to do with literacy.I have been steeped in sex. (Ely says this would be a great name for a soup or perfume.) I have spent a considerable time in recent days lengthening (ha) my sex scenes in the first two Mistress books. Once again my grandmother had scrubbed my mind from any dirt, and the writing results were disappointing. I made my two line and two paragraph scenes turn into two pages. At least. Voila!

I'm never going to be a Tab A/Slot B girl. I skim reading other writers' sex scenes, although I'm sure they suffered and slaved away writing them. I'm more interested in the emotional dynamics of the couple. My agent Laura Bradford sent me a hilarious book for Christmas: The Big Book of Filth. In it is just about every historical slang word for body parts and sexual acts. Somehow I don't think cockshire is going to replace vagina any time soon. I'd rather go with name-it-not and call it good.

Here's the BBOF's 19th century slang for clitoris. There's no jewel or pearl or bud or rose to be found. Please tell me your preference, or suggest your own!

little shame tongue
little ploughman
man in the boat
little old man in the boat (yeah, that makes me feel much better)
Sex: the thing that takes up the least amount of time and causes the most amount of trouble. ~John Barrymore


Terri Osburn said...

Interesting subject to start my morning. Hmmmm...I guess of those choices I'd have to go with button. None of the others sound clamorous or glamorous enough for me. :)

Thank heaven I don't have to write sex scenes in an historical setting. It's hard enough to write in a contemporary! The only ones I've written were for an Erotic Romance which meant I could use the more graphic language. No idea how it'll go when I get to the ones for my straight contemp.

My motto is metaphors, metaphors, metaphors. LOL! That's what Eloisa adviced once, at least. And I think saying what the action is doing to their emotions or body temp or what have you, is probably the best approach. Must better than having to go through the mechanics which really isn't the point at all.

Terri Osburn said...

You'd never know I proof read that comment, would you? *sigh*

irisheyes said...

I'll have to go with button too. I'm not even sure where they came up with the other ones.

Good luck, Maggie and congrats on stretching the current love scenes. That's gonna be a tough one for me too. My internal Catholic schoolgirl is having a hard time actually typing certain words out on the computer. :)

Janga said...

Maggie, you made me curious. I checked the Oxford American Thesaurus to see if it were more forthcoming. It wasn't. :)

What I did find in the OED by checking both noun and adjective forms is that the word "clitoris" was used in anatomical and anthropological records as early as the 17th century but was not used in references to female sexuality until the late 1940s. I find that interesting.

And I cast my vote with the "button" contingent.

Elyssa Papa said...

*snort* I'm still laughing at clamorous and glitz.

I'm with you though about writing the clit and penis, because I always spend time going, okay, what would my hero or heroine call this body part? I don't use graphic sexual language because that's not who I am as writer, so I tend to always write, he touched her there, or he put himself inside her. I mean, the reader can fill in the blank and what the there is and other things.

I guess I've been reading much more contemporary-set stories of late in that the sex scenes aren't as detailed as the historicals (two I've read have not even shown sex on-page). Plus, two very well-known and popular authors in their sex scenes (the few they have) tend to gloss over the details and rather it's more about these two chraacters finally connecting.

But having said that, I do enjoy the longer sex scenes as long as I don't feel like I'm in purple prose land of metaphors. And button and nub are my least favorites.

Maggie Robinson/Margaret Rowe said...

Irish, I'm not even Catholic, but I might as well be wearing the plaid skirt and knee socks. It really is a struggle for me to write hot-enough scenes.

Terri, you can make as many mistakes here as you want---there won't be a test, LOL. I'm not fond of button, though. But of the choices I suppose it's the best.

Janga! Thanks for the research. I hate to use the word clitoris when I write---it sounds way too clinical. Good to know it wasn't in common usage.

Ely, I'm big on gloss, lip or otherwise, LOL.

Tiffany Clare said...

I don't think Barrymore was doing it right if he worded it that way! LOL
I read lots of old erotica, that's where I've built my vocab on naughty words. But I think I'll be looking up this little book of filth :)

I do Have Cassell's Dictionary of Slang, no thesaurus settings to be found, but it's very informative on some old words, even gives the date that the word first appeared.

I lurve sex scenes... lurve, lurve, lurve. But they have to be emotionally intense and not use words that might jar me out... I'd have to say man in the boat, and man in the old boat, would pull me out.

And my personal favourite for clit is pearl. I've used it on many occasions :) And will continue to do so.

what about nub of love? *teasing*

rubyslippers said...

I'm just catching up on your blog and I'm SOOOO sorry I missed this when it was 'poppin fresh'!

It immediately evoked a scene from the movie "Shirley Valentine." If you haven't seen it -- you must! It's funny it's camp-y, it's a frustrated, unfulfilled, time-to-take-care-of-me woman story!