Saturday, September 18, 2004


Or, watch out for those hackneyed hooks in chick lit books

By Theolonius McTavish, a member of the The Quipping Queen's eclectic if not a tad egregious and eccentric entourage.

As I was trolling the Internet the other night, (an addictive past-time especially for somnambulant sleuths like me), I happened upon the “ultimate destination for women’s fiction”.

Scrolling down the contents of the popular romance novel site, low and behold, I found a tiny article tucked away entitled, “Top 10 Overused Euphemisms”.

Not being a "chick-lit" connoisseur, I was in over my head. No bodacious book club in town would have me as a member unless I spoke the ‘de rigueur’ libidinous lingo with ease and alacrity. And, knowing the titles of at least three "red-hot" bedtime books would assure me at least a foot in the door if not more.

Anyway, to make a long story short, the hatchet harridans over at Cinderella & Friends Publishing House suggested that all budding chick-lit(ters) avoid the following ho-hum clichés:

-- her heaving breasts -- his punishing kiss -- her liquid center --
-- like silk over steel -- her sensitive bud -- her honeyed sweetness --
-- a dance as old as time; his throbbing manhood; her pebbled
nubbins -- an intimate kiss

So for all the tongue-tied novice wordmongers caught in a pinch of a clinch, here are a few suggestive phrases you might wish to consider. (Note: this is not an exhaustive list. After all, what's a politically-correct person of pluck and pulchritude supposed to do when presented with a flummoxing fill-in-the-blanks fantasy such as this one?)

  • The breathtakingly beautiful bedswerver reached forward with bellitude and slowly began unfastening his baby-blue ballop. Blutterbunged and beblubbered, he responded favorably to the deosculating gestures of the blossy bellibone.

  • Clicketing is something she tried to hide but the shy, retiring, climacterian was aflutter with goose-bumps just thinking about her rendezvous with “Billy-Winks”.

  • The laced-woman had one of those lick-for-leather lapse of memory moments. Thank goodness she regained her composure. At long last, her merry-go-sorry days were over.

  • When “lusti-hood” met “lust-dieted”, you knew that low-carbs were definitely not on their minds. But then neither was a bubbly, low-calorie, non-alcoholic beverage, come to think of it.

  • Her twee habits and tongue got the better of her. She pondered anxiously, would the naughty knight in shining armour, Sir Gal-A-Had forgive her? Would the ‘shagging carpet knight’ gird his loins, get off his blessed bended knee and text message her, "Care to check out my redeeming qualities and join me for a nightcap on the "Rug of Reverie?". Not one to turn down a good thing, she replied in the affirmative. And the rest they say is history.

  • A "love-tooth in the head" is not something the doctor had ever treated before. But then neither was "liplabour". Being a man of good thoughts and deeds, there was always a first time for everything. Why not sally forth and offer some sucky-tooth advice to the “liplorn” he mused (while matter-of-factly muttering an ejaculation of surprise under his breath).

And for those pragmatic souls brought up on “think-and-do” books in childhood, the following choice may be more appealing -- writing an interactive bedtime book for grown-ups.

1. Ask fantasy-challenged Dick-and-Jane readers to cut and paste photos from old magazines to make a creative craft collage of the “magic moment”.

2. Ask “power-lunch" personalities to shift-gears, join the slow-food movement, and learn the benefits of “milquetoast” meditation techniques before reading the “magic moment” passage.

3. Ask hard-to-please readers to indulge their pleasures by jumping into their birthday suits, smoking forbidden cigars, turning on some vigorous vixen mood music, and forgetting about the heroine’s wretched “magic moment”.

Remember, if all else fails, just pack every passion-filled scene with all those things your mother told you never to do. Then let your editor have fun with your pucker-power post-it note options -- it'll probably make her day!


This is a piffling parody piece. So if you want the real thing, and are just dying to become a chick-lit" writer, please check out the Harlequin website resources at http://

And now a word about Bad Sex writing from The Guardian:,6109,1373416,00.html


At 5:43 PM, Blogger Lindsay said...

Passing through and I saw the post. I intern at a literary agency that specializes in chick-lit (unfortunately), and this made me laugh. "Throbbing manhood" is definately #1 on the overused cliche list. :)

At 8:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to agree that "throbbing manhood" should have been retired after John Cleland finished penning FANNY HILL - which beats the meat right out of it (pun entirely intended). Having ghostwritten and edited numerous pulp tomes of questionable value, I also think "heaving bosom" should be retired. You never mentioned "his bruising kiss" or "his kiss bruised her lips, leaving her bosom heaving and her liquid center abbubble" etcetera ad nauseum.

Oh, and all this tortured language is rooted in North American puritanism and hypocrisy and the mainstream society's blunt refusal to call a spade a spade.


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