Monday, January 16, 2006

Who Do You Write For?

I don't mean as a matter of self-fulfillment.

I'm talking about audience.

Through my writer's lists, but mostly in erotica, debates crop up over the differences in writing for a male reader versus female. There are writers who swear that there should be no difference. The story's the thing, so to speak. I can see that, and I agree to a point, but those writers tend to write hetero stories from the POV of their physical gender. That makes me wonder how much thought they put into gender differences.

Sex isn't the dividing line between the audiences. I've written well received stories targeted for female readers that have been pure raunch from word one, and I've written deeply romantic pieces for male readers that got more fan mail than sexually explicit ones.

While I strongly believe that every person is an individual, there are some generalizations I make when targeting an audience. If I'm writing for women, I don't worry as much about a slower pace in the beginning of a story. I still fret over it, but I recognize that women have more patience with slower pacing if the story is compelling on an emotional level. That makes sense when you think about the way women use fantasy to shut out the real world from their minds before they can lose themselves in sex.

For women, I use lush words. Sound is important, from music to tone of voice. Temperature and weather get mentioned too. Body language matters as much as dialog. I lavish attention on emotional reaction or "feel" rather than a tactile description.

When I envision a man, gay or straight, as my reader, I play up different senses. Men and women seem to believe that men are more visual than women, but I can show a woman silk to get a reaction from her, whereas I have to let a man touch it. Scent plays a big role, as does color. For men, I try to keep the pace tight from the beginning.

None of this changes the core of the story I'm telling, just the way I describe things, the senses I try to engage, and the pace. The story is the thing, but there's more than one way to tell it.

No comments: