Today we're going to discuss that thing called Purple Prose. As usual, I'll attempt to give you a working definition so when I begin to rant, you at least have an idea of what I'm talking about.
Purple Prose: Flowery language that dances around sexual concepts to help keep them from being offensive.
I'll admit, this was something even I had to learn the hard way. *snicker* Purple prose has its place in writing, but not, generally, in the kinds of books I write...or usually read. Now granted, Breathless Press does have a Sweet Confections line. I'm sure purple prose would work nicely there, because if you write a Sweet Confection, the character's don't have sex anyway.
But if you write erotic romance, you're going to have to get used to the following: penis, dick, cock, clit (or clitoris), vagina, pussy, cunt, nipples, breasts, tits, and any other word that blatantly states a body part used for sex. I know, some of those words in that list, I would never say aloud. And you don't have to use all of them in your own writing.
I believe the concept of purple prose needs to be couple with the concept of actually writing sex in an erotic romance. If you use the following to describe a sex scene:
"He tasted the sweet essence of her lotus petals."
...then you are using purple prose. If the idea of writing something like:
"He lapped at the entrance of her pussy, enjoying the taste as she came for him."
...has your panties in a twist, you probably aren't ready to write erotic romance. Stick with writing sweet romance and just leave the sex scenes out.
Don't worry, writing sex and becoming embarrassed about it isn't based on age or, in some cases, even how seasoned of a writer you are. As is true for everything else in the world, there is a "to each their own" theme here. I've met authors who are barely mid-twenties and can write so dirty even I turn red in the face. On the other hand, I'm met authors in their forties who blush furiously if you say the word sex. And the same is true for the other way around. For me, it took actually writing a sex scene to come to terms with it. I had to learn that when I meant "cock" I couldn't say "ding-a-ling".
Writing Sail My Oceans was a struggle. Sex scenes were so difficult, writing one could take me hours. All because I shied away from basic words and tried to come up with wordier, acceptable things. Things that, in the end, weren't acceptable at all. I remember a certain phrase getting highlighted by my editor with a comment that said "Cock? :)". *Head/desk*
I suppose the lesson for today is, write what you are comfortable with, but understand certain genres call for certain amounts of crassness. If you write erotic, you're going to have to be erotic with your explanations. If that isn't for you, that's fine. Write YA, write sweet romances, write something that doesn't require the use of those filthy, dirty, smutty words. The point is, write what you are comfortable with because, if you don't, you won't enjoy writing at all. If you didn't enjoy writing it, chances are the reader won't enjoy reading it. ~ D. F. Krieger