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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
Sluts


Editorials

Wrong Reasons to do SM
by Midori

Confessions of a Literary Streetwalker
by M. Christian

"Imagination is intelligence with an erection" —Victor Hugo


Dirty Words



This month's Streetwalker comes from part of an email I received from Jill (thanks!) who wrote about words we might have to teach our spellcheckers. This immediately reminded me of a little piece I wrote a long time ago—"How Much?"—about living the life of an pornographer: "My spellchecker has grown unwieldy from the words I have stuffed in its tight, resistant, pulsing, memory: cocksucker, cunt, mons, asshole, pubes, motherfucker, felch, testicles, dildo, lube, S/M, she-male, latex, faery, jerk-off, cunnilingus, fellatio, flagellation, flogger, Saran Wrap, cunt-licker, assfucker, and on and on and on, etc., etc. I ran my spellchecker over a letter to my landlord and 'broken mail slot' became 'she-male slut.' Now he looks at me funny and the damned thing never got fixed."

Aside from making me chuckle at my own cleverness, I do have a point: very few genres have their writers picking and choosing—often very carefully—what words they can, should, or must never use. In erotica, word choice basically comes down to two questions: what's appropriate to the story, and how important is it to work around limitations.

Believe it or not, certain editors and publishers have a verboten word list that includes certain slang terms or spellings. The question of whether to argue with them isn't an ethical one—at least not completely. Your preference for "cum" rather than "come" or your use of "pussy" when the editor doesn’t favor it isn't really the question. Your main dilemma is simply this: how much do you want to see your work in print? Editors will insist you take it out or publishers will often change the word without your permission, so really, how attached are you to these words?

For the record, I believe an anthology should be consistent in its spelling—so while I respect a writer's preference for "come" instead of "cum" I don't blink, or blink that much, when my publisher suggests a change so the word is the same in every story. In the second instance, if an editor or publisher simply doesn't like a word ... well, we simply try not to sweat it when they take the word out. 

Now appropriate word choice, that's another matter. Certain words either aren't correct or don't feel correct in the context of a story. The problem could be historical, for example the word "sex" as a term for female genitalia is tolerable (barely) when you're doing a historical piece but when your character is a Gen-X, Y, or Z person, how appropriate is it? It might be technically correct but "sex" is often used as a ‘safe’ way of describing what’s between a woman’s thighs. My own rule is to use terms that feel right for the character. If someone is depicted as repressed, using words like "cunt" or "twat" is jarring. Same for an older man using clumsy slang for his own genitals, like "rod."

I applaud people for doing research, by the way. Nothing adds a flavor of realism more than slipping in a good word choice for sex or the active biology of sex. One of my own favorites is a 19th century term for female genitalia, "Old Hat," because it was 'frequently felt." 

While I'm on the subject of vocabulary, I should repeat myself a bit and talk about ... well, repeating yourself. I know many how-to write books say to avoid a small vocabulary, to use instead unique or different terms instead of the same word over and over again. Sound advice, except when it comes to pornography: penis in the first paragraph, then a cock in the second, pole in the third, shaft in the forth, member in the fifth, lamppost in the sixth ... get where this is going? For smut, using just one, or maybe two, words for the same thing is fine—better than a spiraling descent of ridiculous metaphors and more and more obscure terms.

One of the best ways to avoid this problem is to describe parts of the character's anatomy rather than using a simple, general word. For example, lips, clit, glans, balls, shaft (when specific, it's fine, but not as a general word for cock), mons, etc. Not only does this give you more flexibility, but it can be wonderfully evocative, creating a complex image rather than a fuzzy impression of the party going on in your characters' pants.

The bottom line is that while there is a core similarity between a good erotic story and any other genre, there are a few important stylistic differences—and, as the old saying goes viva la difference!

Back to history. One thing I like to see in a story has little to do with the words of sex and more to do with the view of sex. Assuming that characters in a story set in Nero’s Rome view sex the same way we do today can result in some clumsy word usage. Certain "types" of sex were rare or seen with disfavor such as in the case of Rome, where noticing or even admiring women's breasts in a sexual context was a sign of weakness. Just look at the Pompeii mosaics; the prostitutes depicted—no matter what they were doing—kept their boobies wrapped. Therefore, you wouldn’t want to spend too much time waxing poetic on some Roman woman’s tits if your story was set in that time period.

The bottom line is that certain words and ideas work and others don't. The trick to picking the right words has little to do with the power of them at that moment or your own personal preference as it does with their relevance within the story. "Naughty" words shouldn't be ones that reach the modern libido, but instead used to keep the reader within the story. Because when you get down to it, an erotic story isn't about the words but rather what you are saying with them.

_____
"Confessions of a Literary Streetwalker" © 2003 M. Christian. All rights reserved.

About the author: M. Christian is the celebrated and renowned master of contemporary erotica, with stories appearing in over 150 anthologies, magazines and websites. He's the editor of over 18 anthologies, and several up-coming novels.
For more information, check out:  www.mchristian.com



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2006 Book Reviews

4 Erotic Ass-ets
Reviews by Ashley Lister

Amazons
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Bad Girls & More...
Reviews by Ashley Lister

The Best of Both Worlds
Review by Lisabet Sarai

The Black Masque
Review by M. Ellis

Blood Surrender
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Bound
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Bound to Love
Review by Ashley Lister

Double Dare
Review by Ashley Lister

Filthy: Outrageous Gay...
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Fire
Review by Gary Russell

Forbidden Reading
Review by M. Ellis

Leather, Lace and Lust
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Mr. Stone & Lessons
Reviews by Ashley Lister

Nina Hartley's Sex Guide
Review by Adrienne

Oedipus & Rode Hard
Reviews by Ashley Lister

Orgasms & More
Reviews by Ashley Lister

Passion of Isis
Review by Ashley Lister

Sex in Uniform
Review by Ashley Lister

Six Top Picks
Reviews by Ashley Lister

Stirring up a Storm
Review by M. Ellis

Sunshine and Shadow
Reviews by Lisabet Sarai

Surrender & Dying for It
Reviews by Ashley Lister

Swingers
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Wicked: Sexy Tales...
Reviews by Ashley Lister

Writing Naked
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Non-Fiction

America’s War on Sex
Review by Rob Hardy

Callgirl
Review by Rob Hardy

Covent Garden Ladies
Review by Rob Hardy

The Commitment
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Eroticism and Art
Review by Rob Hardy

Expletive Deleted...
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Female Orgasms
Review by Rob Hardy

Government Vs. Erotica
Review by Rob Hardy

Heloise & Abelard ...
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International Exposure
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A Profane Wit
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Secret Life of Oscar Wilde
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Sex Collectors
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Sex Machines
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