The Trouble with Love Scenes- Elaina Portugal
August 7th, 2015
I’m struggling with writing a love scene for my current work in progress. I need a word for the female anatomy that resides below the shoulders and above the belly button. While many words exist for these lovely orbs, all of them have connotations that are less than flattering.
The most common term used when speaking about these lovely beings seems to be boobs. However, that particular word lacks sophistication and doesn’t transfer well to the written love scene. “He caressed her boobs,” doesn’t lend itself to romantic imagery. I envision awkward high school moments in the backseat of mom and dad’s car when I hear that phrase. Not only that, but the word boob is also synonymous with fool, idiot, and imbecile. “He caressed her idiots.” Yeah, that’s not working for me.
I could use the word tits, but I can barely write the word let alone hear it in my head when I read it. ‘Tits’ does not belong in a romantic love scene. Not only does it have a raunchier connotation, but the etymology of the word negates any romantic, sensuous imagery the word might evoke. ‘Tits’ is derived from the word teats. Teats are the nipples of cows and pigs. Gross! I cannot use the word tits in a love scene. On so many levels, it’s just wrong.
The most obvious word choice is breasts. Breast is a bit more formal and it has dignity and class. “He caressed her breasts,” while having a bit of alliteration over the ‘s’ sound, appears to work. However, I eat chicken breast and turkey breast. The word breast makes me imagine hunks of meat. While in a literal sense, this might not be too far from the truth, it is not the imagery I think my readers want. I want them to salivate over my love scene, but not because they’re thinking about roasted fowl.
In a fit of desperation, I used an online thesaurus to find synonyms. BIG mistake! Words like bosom, bust, front, mammilla, udder, and mammary glands popped up on my screen. Really? Is there nothing else? I could use the word chest, but then what word do I use to describe his area from below the shoulders and above the belly button? I can’t use chest for both of them; it’s redundant. More importantly, a unisex term does nothing to set the mood, create an air of intimacy, or induce excitement.
I have a list of provocative adjectives: sensual, soft, round, firm, delectable, prominent, proud, creamy, full, aching, succulent, and there are hundreds more. I need to attach these words to a noun, and boobs, breasts, and that ‘t’ word just aren’t working for me. Maybe I should read some romance novels that have nothing to do with shades of anything to see how those authors tackle this vocabulary problem. The thought of my characters never having sex, or of me never being able to write a respectable love scene is too depressing to accept. I need a word worthy of such magnificence, and the choices I’ve found do not do them justice.
Typically I love writing. It makes me happy, but not today. Today, I’m at a loss for words.
Oh no! I just realized I also need words for… “him,” too!
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Why not imply them by the actions of the participants? Or something like “His kisses travelled slowly down away from her lips, softly tracing the curve of her throat. She shivered and he paused, enjoying the effect he was having upon her. Once more his lips explored her body, descending until she felt them brushing a nipple.” I only write this because i am struggling with writing the whole love scene thing myself. Personally i find fight scenes easier. ☺
Purple prose can become a problem if one implies the actions, (how’s that for alliteration?) at least it has for me. I also think implication works for romantic scenes, but when your book calls for something a bit more direct, the reader doesn’t want to read implications. They want hot and steamy. I’ve been reading erotica and romance to find examples, and I think the reality is, I have to determine the tone I want my love/sex scenes to take and then just dive in.
Thanks for the comment and good luck!