Monday, June 18, 2012

"Give The Reader What They Desire ..."

On Saturday, at the meeting of the writers' circle I go to, we had a workshop about writing erotica. It was led by the alter ego of Yvonne Sarah Lewis, and he's (yes, in real life she's a he) qualified to talk on this subject because he's had several erotic books published by Whiskey Creek Press. (We pull his leg about his erotic writing sometimes, but that's because we daren't pull anything else!)

During his talk he mentioned the common maxim: Write About What You Know, but then we all know that isn't essential because Agatha Christie didn't murder anyone and Arthur C Clarke didn't get beyond the earth's atmosphere in order to write any of his books. Instead they drew upon their creativity, which is what many writers of erotic fiction do (I almost wrote erotic writers there, which isn't the same thing!). He used the phrase: It's the job of the author to give the reader what they really desire. (He also used the phrase, "handle it to see what it's like," but we won't go there in this posting!)

However, it struck me that "It's the job of the author to give the reader what they really desire," is something all writers need to do, not just those writing erotic fiction.

When you read anything: book, short story, novel, or article, hopefully you have a rough idea of what it is you're going to read. Pick up a Lee Child novel and it's a thriller you'll be expecting to read. Select Practical Parenting magazine off the newsagent's shelf and it's some useful advice, or some great ideas of things to do as a family, that you're hoping to benefit from. Before the reader has turned the front cover, there is an expectation.

A great piece of writing is going to meet the reader's expectations, and then deliver extra. It entertains the reader, but makes them feel that the time spent reading that text, was time well spent. Remember, it doesn't matter what you write, if you want someone to read your words then you're asking someone to give up their time to read them. That's time they'll never get back again. If they buy a book, read it and hate it, they might be able to get a refund from a bookshop, but the bookshop can't refund them their reading time.

The point our workshop tutor was making was that with erotic fiction, sometimes readers don't know what they desire until they read about it. The job of the erotic fiction author is to take their reader on a journey and show them pleasures that they may never have imagined. Essentially though, all writers need to do this - we should take our readers on a journey that informs them and entertains them. We need to give our readers a good time!

So next time you read through something you've written, think about your reader experience. How do you want them to feel when they've finished reading your words? Will your writing have pushed all the right buttons? Has it left them with a warm glow? Okay ... I'm going to stop now, but you get my point!

Good luck.