Johnny Cum Lately
Newsflash! I edit a lot of erotic fiction. (Yay, me!) If that’s not where your interests lie, or if you’re reading this at your desk at work, it’s OK with me if you don’t favorite this post. But, if you and I have similar tastes in reading and writing, you know that one of the stickiest wickets (come on, you KNEW I had to go there) in this genre is the difference between “come” and “cum.”
I will start with my personal position on this topic. *snickers* I don’t like the word “cum.” I find it crass and unpolished. Yes, you CAN use “cum” as a noun to describe ejaculate. (Wow, how unsexy is that word?! Yikes!) But you shouldn’t. You CANNOT use “cum” as verb. Because it’s not a verb. It’s a noun. Exclusively.
The action is “to come” or “to ejaculate” or “to have an orgasm.” You can say “Come with me,” or “She came for me,” or “They were both coming at the same time.” (Even if that last one mostly only happens in fiction.) The byproduct of those actions can be either “cum” or “come” or any number of other nouns describing fluid-like substances expressed in passion.
And another thing that has come up in my reading (ah, such fun) is that certain writers think that if a male character is using the word, “cum” is correct in any and all uses, and if it’s used by a female character, it would be “come” in all uses. No. That’s like saying men spell things differently on account of their being men. Men do a LOT of things differently on account of being men, but they don’t get special word usage. There is no section in the dictionary for “How Guys Spell Things.” Though some may argue there should be…
But if you want to elevate your writing, to make it stand out in a positive way, to have the words you use not distract from the story you’re telling, choosing the strongest language in your sexiest scenes is the way to go. Sure people like a book with plot. Plots are awesome. But in erotic fiction, they’re not just reading for the plot. They’re reading for the sex. (And if they tell you otherwise, they’re liars. Because they could be reading The Great Gatsby. But they’re not. I’ve read it. It was decent. It didn’t have enough sex. Just like Playboy may have excellent articles, but that’s not why people buy it.)
Anything you can do in your story to keep your reader enthralled by your words is the way you want to go. The last thing you want is for a reader to be rapidly turning the hottest pages in their copy of your book or on their e-reader and for them to come across a word like “cum” that totally pulls them out of the moment. No one ever stops dead in their tracks when you use “come.” But they always notice the alternative.
That’s not the way you want your writing to affect someone. And we both know you’re better than that. Let your word choices prove it.
(So…you still with me? I didn’t get you fired for inappropriate reading material on the job, did I? In my experience, as long as you don’t print out porn on company printers, you’re usually OK. Though you should keep your recreational reading for outside the office. Um…hey, coworkers who may be following the blog. Let’s not talk about this in the kitchen while we microwave our Lean Cuisines, m’kay? Any comments, thoughts, concerns, sexy word topics you want to discuss? And if you wanna tell me I missed the point on The Great Gatsby, save your time. I read it three times and have seen all the movie versions. It just ain’t my jam. Anything else, please fill up my box below. If you read that in a dirty way, congrats, you and I are gonna be great friends.)
Originally published February 17, 2014