Wednesday, March 15, 2017
So how much do you need to be drawn out of your world to enjoy a book? Any book, any story? We all read popular fiction to escape the mundane cares and routines of life. But how much of a leap are you looking to take?
Folks who like police procedurals I think require a story to be severely grounded in reality. They're not looking for the primary detective to suddenly sprout wings. SciFi fans, however, are ready to plunge into realms utterly alien from our everyday world.
How about people who read erotica? They are a bit more difficult to pin down, because the genre itself spans so many other genres: erotic SciFi, erotic mystery, erotic horror. Some are only looking to satisfy a yen for fantasy. The anonymous man and anonymous woman who agree to a session of bondage in an anonymous hotel room. Readers don't need to know anything about either character; they just need to place themselves in the story and vicariously experience what the characters experience.
Perhaps one requires a bit of embellishment to that bare-bones trope. The man becomes a tycoon, the woman becomes the willing, or maybe just a tad reluctant sex slave of the man as they jet off to exotic locales.
It's the same trope, just better dressed.
But I've always wondered why a character has to have an extraordinary life to experience extraordinary eroticism. Maybe the idea is only people with access to wealth and power have access to the erotic. Who wants to read about Joe Everyman having sex with Mary Everywoman? What chance do they have to visit a penthouse, much less a penthouse bondage chamber?
But, you know what? I think the ordinary made extraordinary is what gives the eroticism pop.
They say, write what you know. Well, I don't know any tycoons. Nor am I acquainted with the sort of women who flirt with them.
What I know, where I'm from, is the realm of the blue-collar working class. So I tend to write protags who occupy street level. Some examples: a city health inspector with a suppressed domination urge, who falls into a relationship with a tough, Chinese-American police detective with a craving for humiliation.
Other working class protags include a baker and a long-haul truck driver, a few dozen cab drivers, and a stationary engineer (you know what a stationary engineer is, right?) Anyway, this stationary engineer and the love of his life are brought together after a bout of the flu and a case of diarrhea ... hers. He cleans her up after she loses control of her bowels and nurses her back to health. Eeeewww! Right?
Similarly, I concocted a sweet, shy lady plumber who gets loosened up in the shower by a young man who uses a home brew formula to rid her of the stink of sewage she had nearly drowned in.
Really? I bet you thought if it stunk it can't be romantic. Well, you're right. There's nothing sexy about diarrhea. But, every so often, unless you're a romance novel tycoon, diarrhea happens and sewage exists, and most folks make a living at street level and get their hands dirty ... and not just their hands.
But even people like these can have a transcendent moment, an epiphany of passion and the erotic. And the grit under their nails might just be the magic dust that makes it all seem real.
Posted by Bob Buckley at 12:30 AM