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2006 Authors Insider Tips

Beyond the Basics
With Tulsa Brown
The 30-Second Solution
Backstory vs. Flashback
Intimacy Begins With "I"
Hit the Ground Running
Make the Reader Leap
Meaningful Dialogue
Pulling the String
Central Image
Elegant Smut
Better Plots
Bitch Power

The Write Stuff
From Ashley Lister
Predefined Your Goals
Spell Ink Miss Takes
Plotting & Planning
Character Building
Speech Therapy
Talking Sense

Two Girls Kissing
With Amie M. Evans
Intro to Lesbian Erotica
3-Dimensional Characters
Submitting for Publication
Five Year Writing Plan
Setting Up Your Plan...
The Power of Naming
Language of Lesbian...
Sexual Description
What Can I say?

Hard Business
From Greg Herren
What Are Your Priorities?
How to Edit an Anthology
Follow the Guidelines...
A Cock is Just a Cock
But is it Still a Story?
Who Am I Fucking?
Potential Material
Rejection ...

The Business End
By Kate Dominic
Effective Cover Letters
How to Lose Contracts
Contracts: Agent Issues
Contracts: Read It!
Double Duty Bios
What's Sex?

Literary Streetwalker
By M. Christian
Ground Rules for Writers
No Muse is Good News
Effective Cover Letters
Location, Location
Say Something!
Dirty Words

The Erotic Book Docter
By Susie Bright
Marketing Your Book
Submission Concerns
Promotion Strategies

2006 Smutters Lounge

Pondering Porn
With Ann Regentin
Babes & Hunks of Erotica
Fantasy, Reality & Rape
Selling Ourselves Short
Selling Smut in Motown
The Frankenstein Bride
Frankenstein Revisited
Porn and Perfect Shoes
Porn's Passionate Pull
Instruments of Joy

Get All Worked Up
With J.T. Benjamin
Orwell's Eerie Parallels
Redefining Marriage
The Porn Menace
High-Quality Porn
About Profanity
Dirty Laundry
Big Brother


Wrong Reasons to do SM
by Midori

Hard Business: Writing Gay Erotica
with Greg Herren

Sometimes A Cock Is Just A Cock



Writing is ultimately about the use of language to tell a story.

But there’s nothing more annoying than someone who tries to smack you over the head with their thesaurus and their Oxford English Dictionary.

Don’t get me wrong—when I read a story, I like to get swept away by a beautiful use of language. I love a beautiful turn of phrase; a vivid description; or a mood conveyed simply by some cleverly strung together words. Yet some beginning writers think that what editors are looking for is an extensive vocabulary; as though somehow that will make up for a thin plot, two dimensional characters and unrealistic dialogue. It’s an easy trap to fall into—and it is certainly encouraged by some erudite professors of writing at certain universities. But the use of archaic terms and language doesn’t mean you’re writing literature by any means. No editor wants to go scrambling for his or her own dictionary to try to figure out what the hell you are talking about. This generally spoils the reading experience by breaking the mood that you, as a writer, are trying to convey—and it is almost impossible to recapture that mood once it’s been disrupted.

I call it the  “Look at how many words I know so I must be a good writer” syndrome. It doesn’t work and it will not get you published. About the only thing it is good for is winning at Scrabble or doing The New York Times crossword puzzle.

And this is especially true when it comes to writing erotic fiction.

For some—and to be fair, I am sure that in most cases they are merely trying not to be clichéd—this manifests itself in an overwhelming temptation to refer to body parts as something other than what they are. This, to me, is almost always intrusive and disruptive to the story, and something that should be avoided at all costs. Every beginning writer, it seems, is terrified of being clichéd in their work, and that’s not always a bad thing—except when it comes to genitalia. So let me, once and for all, put that fear to rest for you.

Sometimes a cock is just a cock, okay? I don’t mind the use of the word ‘dick’, nor does ‘penis’ raise my hackles—although I think most would agree that for some reason penis is not a particularly erotic word. Maybe it’s too clinical? Whatever the reason, I prefer not to see the word penis in a story. (Caveat: using that word will not automatically earn you a rejection slip from me, although I will suggest you change it.) It’s okay to just call it a cock. I mean, you don’t try to come up with different words for nose, do you? Throw some adjectives in front of cock, and you’re off to the races.

(Although I have to say it is very possible to slip into cliché in the use of the adjectives—but there’s lots of adjectives to choose from.)

Here are some of the most egregious examples of the “can’t use the word cock” mentality I have seen throughout my years as an editor:

Anaconda, kingsnake, trousersnake, tube steak, rod, hot rod, sausage, Polish sausage, swinging beef…..the list goes on and on…and gets worse.

I’m sorry, but those words just make me laugh—and I seriously doubt that any writer wants someone to laugh at their erotic story. And when the narrator of a story is using such a description for his own genitals, it makes me laugh even harder. You know what I mean: Most guys start drooling when I unleash my big thick anaconda from my fly.

Oh, Mary, please!

The same thing goes for come and balls. I don’t want to read about eggs and egg juice. They are balls. The stuff that comes out of an erect cock at climax is cum, or sperm (again, though, kind of too clinical a word to be erotic). A man has balls, not eggs.

It is not a cliché to call a cock a cock. It is what it is. So, do yourself (and your editor) a favor. Just call it that, okay?

Remember—sometimes a cock is just a cock.

Greg Herren
May/June 2006

"Hard Business: Writing Gay Erotica" © 2006 Greg Herren. All rights reserved.

About the Author: Greg Herren is the author of five novels and the editor of seven anthologies, including the bestselling FRATSEX and Full Body Contact. He also published a collection of his erotic short fiction, Wanna Wrestle? He has published in numerous magazines and anthologies, and works as an editor for the Haworth Press, which is launching a new line of gay erotic titles. He currently lives in New Orleans with his partner, editor Paul J.Willis, and their cat.

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Oedipus & Rode Hard
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Passion of Isis
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Sex in Uniform
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