Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Meow Mix







A feline named Fang.



Some may find the following post highly offensive.

Every now and then one may read highly entertaining posts about the use and over-use of cliches and other euphemisms for extensions and orifices.

Romance mavens pick their favourite throbbing manhoods and molten cores for derision and ridicule.

I read romances in batches. Five or six at a time.

You notice things that way - and when three out of five describe clitorial construction as a bud or nub, and three heroes lave the heroine's nipples, you really begin to wonder.

Such mechanical repetition tends to stick out like the aforementioned excited body part.

And one of the things one wonders is - did these writers all attend the same workshop?

Did they leaf through competitor's sex scenes looking for new words. twists, and phrases to exploit?

From a reader's perspective, these occasional explosions of same word choice look like copycatting - plain and simple.






36 comments:

Erik Ivan James said...

~Laughing!!~
Wonderful post, Bernita. Wonderful.

Bernita said...

Glad you enjoyed it, Erik!

Sonya said...

Lave.

Eeeeeew. :-)

Yeah, I can see where one might get the idea that writers who use the exact same unusual word are aspiring conforming non-conformists. LOL Great post!

Sam said...

I hate, hate, hate the word lave. I have no idea why - maybe because in French it means 'wash', and I picture something wet and sloshy...Eeewwww. Off to read something dry.

;-)

December Quinn said...

I agree, Sam, I don't think I've ever used "lave" (although I might have recently, come to think of it, because I'd already used every other word I could think of!)

I don't think it's an offensive post, Bernita. It reminds us to be careful even when writing sex scenes.

I know I tend to repeat myself in sex scenes sometimes, from book to book. I try not to, but on re-reading something I wrote a year ago I found a couple of phrases I used just recently. Not in between, but seeing the repetition right up front like that was uncomfortable.

Robyn said...

Great minds think alike! My post today boycotts the word nubbin in all its forms, pebbled or not.

Cynthia Bronco said...

Oh my.
I don't usually read romance novels, so this post caught me off-guard and I snorted my diet pepsi! LOL

Bernita said...

Thank you, Sonya.

Me too, Sam. Makes me think he's going at her with a washcloth.

Think you're perfectly free to repeat yourself, December.
It's those who seem to rip off other writer's phrases that irritate me. Hard to believe that they all independently discovered an arch synonym at the same time.

I must have come by too early, Robyn. Tired of him rubbin' her nubbin' - especially when it sounds like - gravel.

Sorry, Cynthia!

Jaye Wells said...

I think it's hard (pardon the pun) to keep descriptions fresh without going overboard. One must use the thesaurus judiciously. My cringe word is "moist." Just ewww.

Bernita said...

Some of them sound as if that is exactly what they used, Jaye.

Ric said...

YES! Bernita is doing sex and it isn't even Friday!

I think the overuse of some cliches (particularly in regards to sex) shows a lack of imagination - though it may simply be the editor, or author, feels the inclusion of sex will help the book sell.

Bernita said...

A welcome back post, Ric!
Don't think this is a case of "throw in a sex scene."
These are books that regularly feauture same.
One does get the feeling sometimes that the writer is bored writing them.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

I'll just say good morning...and stay behind my fan...

raine said...

Ahhh-ha-ha-ha-ha-haaaa!!
Wheeee!! :-D

Rick said...

No doubt it is copycatting, but the underlying problem is the writers' desperate struggle to find some way to describe sex acts or sex-play without sounding like either bathroom-wall graffiti or a physiology textbook.

Do writers with a lot of combat scenes have this same problem? Like sex, combat involves a lot of repeated actions, if less pleasant ones - how many ways can you describe a character skewering someone, or a spaceship blowing up?

I suspect that, in fact, writers of combat scenes have much less trouble than writers of sex scenes, because there's less of an embarrassment factor. I'm not sure what that says about us writers, but probably nothing terribly good.

In fairness, combat writers don't have one big problem sex writers do - the reader isn't snickering, thinking, "so that is what turns the author on."

Bernita said...

Opps, Bonnie! Should I have posted a fan alert?

I've been into the catnip, Raine.

I don't object to sex scenes sounding similar, Rick and don't think we have to be reduced to the two c-words either, but these trendy, "borrowed" nouns show, I think, a lack of skill.

Kate Thornton said...

Ah, Bernita - new words are called for here. Let's invent some:

groint - the sound made
booble - can be a noun or verb
lubbin - rhymes with rubbin'

Well, that's all I can think of without getting all hot and plabbered....

writtenwyrdd said...

I know I do a lot of eye rolling when reading these scenes.

Bernita said...

Kate, you're a wicked woman.Maybe I'll have to re-visit my Dictionary of Historical Slang.

Written, it seems any time someone manages a variation, everyone races to copy it.

Hope you've all checked out Robyn's post. It's a hoot.

Frank Baron said...

I'm kinda partial to "amazin' raisin" and "purple helmeted warrior" myself.

But then again, I don't read romances.

Or date much....

Carla said...

I tend to skim heavy-breathing scenes that explain at length what goes where, so I can't really comment. In response to Rick, I think battle scenes do have a tendency to repeat, both in books by the same author and in books by different authors set in different time periods. In the case of battle scenes I've wondered if it's because most readers won't have personal experience of combat so a set of conventions has developed as a sort of shorthand. Could the same apply to romance? (Though one imagines that rather more readers would have personal experience there)

Bernita said...

Not touching that one, Frank.

You may be right, Carla, a convention, a formula.

archer said...

When I was 10 I read a story about robot baths. When the robot baths were working right they "laved" you. When the villain tampered with the robot baths they steamed you alive until your skin came off and then you got a new skin and a robot brain. Whenever someone writes "laved" (nobody ever says it) I think of people's skin coming off and their brains boiling, etc.

Steve G said...

I suppose that fans of exciting writing don't mind how they do it, even if it's the same way each time. They probably look more closely at the description of the subject or the situation they are in. They can lave in a bath or on the balcony of the Ritz with London traffic flowing by.

Bernita said...

Forever scarred, Archer!
With me, it's probably the association with lavatory, as in school.

Fans are often the strongest critics, Steve.

Ann said...

"Me too, Sam. Makes me think he's going at her with a washcloth."

It's not the washcloth that gets you into trouble, it's getting the taste of soap out of your mouth. :o).
Ann

Bernita said...

I'm trying to remember, Ann, if I ever had my mouth washed out with soap!

LadyBronco said...

*quickly checking her pages for those mechanical repetitions*

Whew! Nothing like that in my MS, thank God!

Great post, Bernita - you had me laughing out loud today!

Rick said...

Robyn's post is indeed a hoot!

And maybe we should ask the flip side question - what are the shared characteristics of good sex scenes?

spyscribbler said...

ROFL! I think it's less copycatting and more an avoidance of purple prose, clinical coldness, and words that squick people. That pretty much seems to leave bud and nub.

There's no excuse for lave, however.

ORION said...

I too tend to skip this kind of detail in a book. I remember Gone With the Wind. You knew exactly what was happening but no body parts were mentioned.
Classic.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Lady B. Was hiding the claw in the velvet sheath...

Rick, I suppose the ones that make you all bot and hothered...

Don't think purple prose is going to disappear anytime soon, Natasha!

In the case of "pure" romance novels,Pat - unlike those with vast panoramas like Wind - the readers of such demand, expect the writer to provide, a degree of expliciteness. The readers savour savour details as if the words were tongues.

briliantdonkey said...

Bernita: Just found you via Jason's place. I don't read romance novels but I can see where it would be easy to run out of new ways of saying the same thing. I think there is also a thin line betweeen 'saying the same thing yet again, and trying so hard to avoid doing so that you wind up writing something that sounds like you were TRYING too hard to avoid it. Interesting topic.

BD

Bernita said...

BD, that's a good point. And "trying too hard" shows up in other genres as well.

sex scenes at starbucks said...

I wonder what they call a pierced "bud".

But then, pierced buds probably aren't allowed on romance heroines.

Bernita said...

I wouldn't be surprised to see them in the erotic line, SS.