Sexy Descriptions — Sex For Money, Post #19

Sex For Money is a semi-regular blog series about my experiences in writing, publishing, and marketing gay erotica and M/M erotic romance. All of this information is from my own experience, so your experience may differ. It’s hoped that sharing this information might be helpful to new and aspiring erotica and erotic romance authors, as I see a lot of questions and a lot of misinformation out there. To read more Sex For Money posts, click here.

If you find these posts handy, or you’re looking for more information on the business of writing, publishing, and selling gay erotica and M/M erotic romance, check out my in-depth book, Sex For Money.


As I’ve mentioned a few times here on the blog, I’ve recently helped co-found an erotica and erotic romance publishing house, Deep Desires Press.  Part of being a publisher involves reading through the submissions that come our way — and I’ve come across some very, uh… interesting ways to describe body parts and the act of sex.

I won’t use any actual quotes here because I don’t want to publicly shame anyone and I also don’t have permission to do so.  Instead, I’ll give examples that are reasonably similar to some of the body part descriptions I’ve come across.

When writing erotica or erotic romance, you want to paint a very sexy picture of your hero(s) and/or heroine(s), and one way this is done is by using metaphors and similes, saying that the body part resembles something.  However, if you do this, make sure that the comparison is sexy and appropriate.

I’ll start off with something I’ve actually done that was quickly killed by my editor. Back when I was writing the Go-Go Boys of Club 21 series, I tried describing a twink’s bubble butt as a pair of melons.  You know, they’re nice and firm and round.  But when my editor told me to take a step back, I realized that “melons” is a slang term for breasts and it would seem really out of place to describe a man’s ass.

And if you’re going to use a food comparison–which seems to be a somewhat common practice–make sure it actually makes sense.  I came across a submission where the narrator described a woman’s breasts as being like a food item that’s not even breast-shaped.

For the most part, I’d advise staying away from food comparisons.  For me, I often find myself distracted by imagining what, say, a hunk would look like with a cucumber instead of a dick.  You’ll get more bang for your buck if you describe the body part using adjectives rather than through comparison.

On the subject of adjectives, you also need to make sure you pick sexy ones.  Describing the inside of a person’s vagina or anus as “slimy” or “greasy” are a bit of a turn off.  (The only case where I can see “greasy” working is in more hardcore fetish erotica, such as a fisting story, where a thicker lube is often used.)  For the most part, that also means your characters should be more or less clean (as in freshly-showered), with a few exceptions.  Sweaty characters can be appealing, or a hard-working character with the grit and grime of a long-day’s labor can be very sexy.  But describing bad odours and stained underwear is not a good idea (unless, again, you’re into some niche fetish).

One way you can determine if the description is a bit off or it’s okay is to read it to someone and gauge their reaction–but assess their first, instinctual reaction, not necessarily what they tell you after a few moments have passed (as they might not want to hurt your feelings).  If you’re uncomfortable reading it out to someone, then another strategy would be to think of if someone were to describe your body in this way… would it be sexy or would you think they were odd?  If someone were to say I have a dick like a zucchini, I wouldn’t know how to take it–a much better description would be “long and thick.”

Really, the simpler the words, sometimes, the better.  It’s like using the word “said.”  Sure, there are so many variations and options to avoid re-using “said,” but the word “said” allows us to very quickly read the story and not get caught up in fancy language.  Apparently, our brains don’t even register the word “said,” but we still use that information to help guide our understanding of text.  I suspect that description is similar.  Calling a dick “long and thick” gets us to the point right away and we probably don’t even really register that the language was plain.  But if we see “zucchini-like dick,” then we’re caught up in unusual language that draws attention to itself.

Appropriate language for description is best.  If it’s simple language, that’s even better.

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