Got your attention with that title, didn’t I? Good.
Seriously, though. It works if you think about it. Writing is an exercise in honesty. When we put words on paper, we are opening our hearts, pouring our guts on the page. We are making love to the reader (not literally, sicko – put that back in your pants). It’s an intimate thing, reading a book. There’s a connection.
You want, and I’m quoting Bruce Lee here, “Real, emotional content.”
Porn, on the other hand, is people acting (though, as an actor, I hesitate to use the term) like they’re enjoying themselves. They are pretending to have a connection beyond the obvious literal, physical one.
The pizza guy shows up, and within seconds, someone is going down on him. This, naturally, leads to all kinds of other acrobatic hijinx and extreme close-ups of orifices. Yeah. Realistic.
I once saw a movie in which a woman was getting nailed by the pizza guy (naturally) and then other guys showed up. Maybe fourteen of them total. Out of other rooms in the house; from the balcony; from behind the camera-person. No explanation. Just a whole lot of dicks.
So, that’s porn. No plot. No story. No emotional connection. Don’t write like this. Please.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t write sex. I write sex, and it’s a hell of lot of fun. Especially, if you can kill the people in some awful, graphic, deeply personal, genital-mutilating way during the act. Heh. That’s what you get for showing up in one of my stories, pal.
By all means, write sex if you want, but only if it furthers the story. Same thing goes for splatter. This may be a touchy subject to bring up with horror writers, but I’m serious. Gore should serve the story. There should be a point. Putting it in there to shock or disgust is cheap. It’s the equivalent of the cum shot in a porno. Which, really, when you think about it, is just gross. Why do I want to watch another guy blow his load? I have never understood the appeal. Shrug.
I’m not saying gore is bad. But, a little goes a long way. Your readers have amazing imaginations. You give them a tiny taste of the ick, and they will fill in the rest. And, you know what? They’ll do it way better than you ever could. I’m including myself in that “you”, by the way. Readers are better than all of us at this.
When I write, I try to take the reader right up to the edge and let them do the rest. Sex, horror, suspense, whatever. The reader will do the work, and you know what? They’ll thank you for it.
They’ll say things to their friends like, “This book is insane, man. It goes too far!” But, it doesn’t. Not really. And that’s the trick.
Seduce your readers. Court them. Send them flowers for no reason. Take them somewhere fancy for dinner. Woo those fuckers.
Don’t just walk in with a pizza, drop your pants and start slapping people in the face with your genitals. Nobody responds well to that. As far as I know. Maybe some people do. People are weird.
Anyway, the point is: make a connection. Bring some real emotional content to the table.
And maybe, just maybe, the reader will fall in love with you. Then, they’ll stick by you, follow you around, tell everyone how great you are. Tie you to a bed and cut off your feet.
Wait. Not that last part.
I’m gonna say it again, because it bears repeating: romance your readers. Whisper in their ears. Kiss them on the neck. Brush their hair. Gently slide the scalpel into their waistband and cut away their pants. Maybe take out the ball gag so they can breathe a little more easily.
Write with passion and honesty. Don’t be the pizza guy.
Ken MacGregor 2016
- WIHM: An Interview With Jessica McHugh - February 6, 2019
- Brain Babies: Writing Through The Pain - November 7, 2018
- Brain Babies: You do You - December 13, 2017
- Brain Babies: Thoughts from a Mid-list Writer - August 5, 2017
- Brain Babies: How to Nickel-and-Dime Yourself to Death! - March 4, 2017
- Brain Babies: Trigger Warnings - August 28, 2016
- Brain Babies: How are We Supposed to Compete? - August 20, 2016
- Brain Babies: A Crisis of Faith (in Oneself) - June 25, 2016
- Brain Babies: Up the Motherfucking Stakes, Man! - May 21, 2016
- Brain Babies: Just … Stop It Already with the (fill-in-the-blank) Shaming - April 30, 2016