|Naked, nude, or bare?|
Characterization is built in many ways. One is by the erotic terms your characters use. Here are thirteen quick ways to define your hero or heroine by what he or she says.
1. Does your character say cock, penis, pussy, vulva, or use an alien term? To my Kin warrior, Mehfawni, who is feline -- the word "pussy" had an entirely different meaning. She uses langor, her people's term for vagina, and makes sure her human lover learns the term.
2. Make your terms character-centric. In the book Wulf, Tales of the Chosen, Wulf called Luc "my dirty boy" when they made love. In Surrender Love, Izzorah calls Luc t'hahr - my heart. Same person being addressed, totally different images.
3. If you're writing BDSM, what a sub calls the dom is critical. Use the terms to define what role each plays. Is the sub required to refer to himself as "this slave" or may he say "I" and "me"?
4. Does your heroine like the term pussy, or is she so sweet and delicate that she refuses to use words like that? Both say different things.
5. Does your gay hero refer to himself as a faggot, a queer, or say he's gay? Self perception is shown by terms characters use to identify themselves.
6. Use language appropriate to the time of your story. Is your historical going to be accurate if you use "cunt" to refer to a woman's vulva? Or would "soft folds" be better? Again, remember your character may be using a term that in their day would have had a completely different meaning than it does today, so be sure you know the difference.
7. How a character perceives sexual orientation is telling. Have you ever seen the police drama The Closer? There's a scene in the pilot episode that illustrates how language and words can establish character. The new female chief of police is giving a briefing about a suspect who'se a member of the group Act Out. She asks if everyone knows what that is. Provenza, a older male detective, is the only one who doesn't. The chief says it's a homosexual advocacy group. Provenza says in a sarcastic way, "So we're looking for a murderer and a lesbian?" The chief says he needs to be careful with his attitude, or he'll end up in sensitivity training. Provenza illustrates the concept of how words can determine character and world view by whining, "Again?"
|Is she sexy or slutty?|
8. If you establish that certain terms are forbidden to a character by another, make sure you don't slip up and use the term later in the story, unless it's to show a change in attitude. For example, if in chapter two a hero says he likes the heroine's tits, and she slaps him, then unless she's changed her mind about him (or his terms), she won't let him say it again.
9. Conversely to point #8 - to show acceptance of another character, you can have your heroine say, "Do you still think I have pretty tits?" This sends an entirely new signal to the hero.
10. Remember that erotic terms can also evoke how a character is dressed, acts, and feels. "She's slutty" has a different meaning from "She's sexy." Do you describe your heroine through the hero's eyes by having him think she's one or the other? And if he thinks of her as slutty, is that a good thing to him? "Oh, baby, you are a such a slut for me. I love that!"
11. Does your hero refer to his private parts with earthy terms or genteel ones? Either way -- it defines the character.
12. Language defines culture, and a culture defines the character. Unless you're writing a time travel story, if your hero is in the medieval time period, he should call his penis by a term used during that time. When did the word penis begin being used? What about clitoris? Research pays if you write historical fiction. If you write futuristic, create a bible of any futuristic terms so you can remember spelling and definition.
13. Most important to this discussion - no matter what you write, fit the word to the character. If he's fun loving and zany, the chances of him referring to his balls as testicles -- unless he's using it for affect -- may be slim.
Whatever terms you use, be consistent. How a character speaks is part of what defines him/her. Make every word count.
The Tarthian Empire was created by Kayelle Allen, an award-winning, multi-published author. Her heroes and heroines include badass immortals, warriors who purr, and agents who find the unfindable--or hide it forever. She is known for unstoppable heroes, uncompromising love, and unforgettable passion. You can enter the empire from these places: