Author’s Note: This article contains sexually explicit language and is intended only for mature readers and writers.

I just finished writing a short story in which my character used the word “pussy”. The line is as thus:

‘A thick long blunt plunge stabbed up inside my pussy, a phantom thrust that opened my mouth, like my legs weren’t shut.’

I admit it, I actually paused my muse, paused in writing, and considered whether or not I should use this word despite the fact that this is what my character was communicating to me. I do that more often than I like to admit to myself.

The question that I find myself stuck with is this–When does romantica and erotica cross that unclear line into straight pornography? Maybe most people don’t bother with the details and just read what suits them best. Still, I’m a curious person of a curious nature, always seeking new ways to understand myself.

You may have been in this situation before: You or your character (especially if you’re writing from the first person) is about to think, write, do, or say something involving words such as the following: pussy dick fuck cunt tits cum nut juice cock asshole nuts dong balls jizz stiff, hot load, you nasty little {fill in typically derogatory word here} , and so on and so forth. Or one of these forceful action verbs perhaps: ram stuff pluck pinch stretch piece squeeze lave lick bite, etc. By themselves, they all sound kind of ridiculous and juvenile, but when giving life to such words on the page or screen they take on a greater purpose.

But when does good literature cross the line into the tasteless, trashy, and vulgar? It is not always clear. Opinions vary from person to person without a universal or a set tolerance.

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