Connecting with Your Readers
Learn to love research.
One of the most important things you can do as a writer is to make that human connection with your readers. One way to do that is to connect with their interests, the things that they know everything about, and to have your writing spot on. Your reader will then see that you and they have an inner passion for the same things.
Even if you don’t.
You’re faking it.
And the way to pull that off well is research.
In general, erotica writers are not called upon to accurately describe brain surgery, the inner workings of rocketry, or how to code computers. What we are asked to do is deliver a hot scene that can be enjoyed. That will titillate, stimulate and arouse. Nothing will kill those three things quicker than for your reader to hit something they know everything about and see that you know nothing about it.
Example: Let’s say your main character is a … teacher. You have that character go home, kick off his or her shoes and veg on the couch watching TV all night till the love of his or her life (or of the hour) shows up for some hot as hell sex. If the reader is a teacher, the first thing he or she will think is, "Those poor children. Their test papers didn’t get graded. And that poor teacher–while the sex was great–the loss of every spare moment the next day, trying to frantically get tests checked before the next class shows up, is so going to suck. And not in the fun way from the night before."
Auto mechanic? You better know your way under the hood before you try writing a story where he has to fix her doohickeys with his thing-a-ma-bobs.
Now don’t get bent out of shape (unless the sex is really great) there is a cure for this. Research. You don’t have to be Aaron Kaufman from Fast N’ Loud to write about how to fix an engine. But, if your reader is someone with his knowledge, you better come close or you will pull that reader right out of the story.
The simplest way is to get a notebook and go talk to a mechanic. “Hey I’m a writer and the story I’m working on I have a character that has her car being worked on. I need a common repair, that almost every car aficionado knows something about, that I can put into the story for what’s wrong with her car. Suggestions? A bad alternator? Okay, sounds good … now how do you fix that?”
So long as you have not caught him on his most hectic day, he is probably bored as hell and wouldn’t mind telling you. Hell, even asking him for any little “car alternator repair secrets” you can sneak into the story, which might help sell it to a mechanic reading it, might work. You’re stroking his car knowledge ego after all. But don’t push, he’s a busy man with a lot of wrenches.
Then there is Google. (bows in worship at the collective knowledge of the human race) A truly amazing tool for a writer’s tool box, but it has to always be used with the cautionary knowledge that it might not be right. Double and triple check your facts across a broader selection. Wikipedia is also a good one.
And here is another not-so-often-thought-of idea: ask another writer. A lot of writers have odd nine-to-five jobs that have given them huge surpluses of often useless knowledge to pull from. Ask. Just ask.
For me one of the best research tools I’ve ever used is YouTube.
It’s a matter of the picture being worth a thousand words. You can see someone doing exactly what you need to write about. Need to know how to sail a boat? A simple search and you have hundreds of videos ranging from small skiffs to huge ocean going sailing ships. Watch a few hours and you might be able to pull it off without ever having been aboard a boat in your life.
I know, because I’ve done that very thing.
Oh, damn those wonderful crisp paper pages just smelling of knowledge. I get all tingly when I open one and see the very thing I was needed to pull off my tale of a Roman Senator and his submissive slave girl, Jennifer ...
Yeah … names. Those are a vitally import thing to be researched as well. Do not think just because the same names you see today existed two hundred years ago that they were spelled the same as today. If you are doing a historical story, you should be a research fiend to begin with, but don’t let a simple thing like misspelling a name do irreparable harm to what you’ve spend days working on.
Example: Morgan. (name near and dear to my black little heart since it’s the “M” in M.S.Tarot) Now if I’m setting my story in modern New York then the spelling above is perfect. It’s also flexible since it can be both a boy's or girl's name, in modern settings. But, let’s say, you wanted a challenge and decided to write a historical piece. You’ve done your research and you have your story and the Dread Pirate Morgan sails from Baltimore Ireland in the 1500s to go fight the English upon the high seas.
Nope, nope, ah, sorry. Not how that name was spelled back then. Not even close. It was Muirghein.
Well, who would know that?
Historically minded people (waves hand), people with a passion for languages, college history professors, librarians … who secretly like historically accurate Irish-pirate, bodice-ripper erotica and come to work with a butterfly vibrator on every day under their conservative clothes.
Never mind, private fantasy. Anyway, let’s not be in such a hurry to put out a story that we don’t take the time to make sure it is as “spot on” to reality as you can make it. Erotica is not a craps shoot as to whether it will be enjoyed. It is a finely crafted piece of work … that will outlive yourself. Count on that. The stories you are writing are like Shaker furniture and should be every bit as well made and long lasting … and they can be!
Take your time. Do it right. Come to the table not looking to throw the dice and see what happens, but to know where those dice are going to land before they ever leave your hand.
You’re the writer, at this craps table they let you play with your own dice. (snort) You decide if you’re going to win. Load them so they land how you wanted them to.
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