Ooh, La, La…

Can we talk about the art of expressing sexy sounds?  The ones that trigger a deep-rooted response to any who hear them, rather it be in blushing embarrassment, lewd shock or a sensual hum of appreciation … from text?

There are so many ways to use words in order to construct the most appealing sentence for our readers, but sometimes, there isn’t a single word for that particular sound our characters make in certain situations.  We can’t just say “She made that sound… yeah, you know the one…”  That sound is inevitably different for everyone.  We find ourselves having to supplement with something ‘close enough’ to that mewling, almost keening desperation escaping from our heroine’s clasping throat in short, choppy breaths at the peak of pleasure…. and that’s a lot of damn words for one noise.

Yet, it highlights just how wonderfully expressive the English language can be.  When we think of a sound, any sound, no matter how simple or lascivious it is, more than one word tends to come to mind if asked to describe it.  Granted that’s because there are so many words with similar meanings (hence a writer’s true best friend, the Thesaurus).  In text, expressive words can often be misinterpreted, though, because people may hear them differently in their mind than what the writer intended.  A good example, is one of my personal favorite ‘sexy’ sound words:

Guttural [guht-er-uh l] : adj. 1. of or relating to the throat. 2. harsh; throaty

There are countless synonyms for the word guttural from gravelly to raspy, and is commonly used to describe the inflection of a character’s natural born pitch/timbre or the accent of their native (often foreign) language.  Like the definition states, I tend to see it used mostly to describe ‘harshness’, a harsh voice or perhaps even disgust or anger.

I prefer to use it when describing that baritone huskiness my male character’s voice drops to when he’s at the height of arousal.  To me there’s nothing hotter than the deep, chest rumbling motor of a man’s aroused voice – even if his voice would not be considered deep under normal circumstances – it still tends to drop an octave or two in passionate settings.  It’s as thrilling as hearing a classic muscle car turn over for the first time, or a wicked guitar talk to you….

Oh, yeah, guitars can talk dirty, ladies and gentlemen. Don’t believe me, here’s a short, but decent example:

That sound instantly calls to mind a handful of descriptions, guttural or gritty being two of them.  A finger walk up the spine, a delicious shiver over the flesh, a pull in the chest… and these are all physical reactions.  And they’re mine.  That doesn’t necessarily mean that my readers are going to have the same reaction.  To them, it may just sound like the creaking of a floorboard, or the opening of a creepy old door.  There’s no right or wrong response to the words that we read, or the sounds that we hear, it’s completely subjective… So, the responsibility for delivering just the right meaning, triggering just the right response, belongs to the author.

I have to confess, as a writer of erotica, I’ve become almost obsessed with the challenge of finding those perfect words, or the best combination thereof, not only to aptly convey my intended meaning, but to ensure that my readers are responding to them on multiple levels.  I want their brains enticed, while they experience physical, sensual, emotional reactions right alongside my beloved characters, beyond the normal emotions most decent literary works should already invoke (i.e. humor, fear, sympathy, love, etc.). It really is a captivating art form to constantly strive to be better at, understanding many hurdles lie in our unique complexities and the countless vocalizations we’re capable of producing as human beings, mixed with the individual ways we react and respond to them… and don’t even get me started on body language! Mmm… Talk about ooh, la, la! We’ll have to save that for another post. 😉

Writers & Readers, what’s your favorite sensually expressive word(s)?

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