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Erotica: Banned words

silhouette of heterosexual couple facing each other eroticaEditing erotica presents its own special challenges. By the time something gets to copy-editing stage I don’t want to suggest a major rewrite, but there are some words that get so much use in erotica that I would like to put them on my ‘banned words list’! There’s nothing wrong with these words per se, but if you’re a writer and you’re thinking about using any of these in a sex scene, please, I implore you, think again:

  • manhood
  • nub
  • mounds
  • glided
  • throbbing
  • moist
  • wantonly
  • channel
  • globes
  • bulge
  • appendage
  • heaving
  • rampant
  • slippery
  • pert

I’d also like to put in a special plea for authors not to describe pubic hair as either coarse and wiry (ouch) or soft and downy (sceptical hmm).

If you’re an editor or proofreader, are there any words you’d like to add to the ‘banned words’ list? I’d love to hear about anything I’ve missed!

This isn’t supposed to be a dig at authors who have used these words in their books, and I’m certain that there are some excellent erotic passages (ahem) that contain them. However, they all seem to get used a lot, so if you want to be rigorous about avoiding clichés, you might want to think of something else or see if you can get away with removing that word altogether.

Bonus points available: outside my office someone has marked up the pavement ready for some forthcoming works. They’ve written ‘SERVICE TRENCH’ in large letters. Every time I see it, I wonder whether this phrase could be worked into an erotic scene. Bonus points for any author who can manage it.

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