Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Language, Location, Customs and Slang!

by Jude Mason

Readers might thing writing erotica or romance is easy. Yup, just come up with a sexy afternoon where hubby and the wife sneak off to the bedroom for some fantasy horseplay (ahem!) and write it all down. Want something longer, easy-peasy, extend the session into a long weekend and voila, you have a novel!


If only it was that easy.

Hell, if it was that easy, anyone reading this, or anywhere in the country, could create their own book and then where would I be? Gasp!

When I really took up writing as a career, it was almost that easy for me. I concentrated my efforts around the area here and wrote about things I was at least familiar with. The stories were fun, the plots thin, and the readership next to zip. Oh, there were a few friends who were kind enough to read the short stories and who commented kindly, but no real readers.

First publisher cleared all that up for me, in one hell of a hurry. I needed a plot. I needed to get into my characters. I needed to travel and do things--or my characters did. Some of it was still something I found relatively easy. I've always been able to fall into my characters, but actually getting a plot moving took a little time. Deciding on what to do, well that took even more time.

First novel, a pony boy epic that I had to research. What the Hell! I adored the characters. I loved the plot. I was gah gah over the genre. But, what would a backwoods Canuck know about pony boy or the training of them, or the gear? Not much.

Online was the answer. I mean it's not a topic you can just bring up with the local Fish and Wildlife Association is it? We might have an equestrian club somewhere in the area, but I truly doubted if they'd be able to help me with this. I actually knew a lot about horses and tack, but converting it to people was a challenge. I also found out that the horse fetish seemed to lean more towards women being the animal, men being the trainer. WTF! Google it, you'll see.

I did luck out and found one couple who would actually discuss it with me. He was her horse, and very proud of himself for it. He was one hell of a brute, but from what his wife/trainer said, easy to handle. *G*

That might not be the kind of research most authors do, but it definitely worked for me and has worked for other books. Not so much digging for the written page, but finding people who are willing to share information.

Years after the pony boy book, I delved into the vampire genre. I wrote two books of a possible trilogy before the publisher folded. The first book took place in the US and was fairly easy to write. I did little research, but the way the book unfolded it wasn't necessary. The second book was a completely different story. I was urged to take my vamps to Britain. Now, I'm of Brit decent, but I've never actually been there, and the place I wanted to take my vamps to, well, it's not a place I'd have visited even if I had traveled there. Sigh.

Yes, I did some Googling. A lot of it. I also have a very good friend who lives fairly close to the place I'd chosen. Truth be told, it was his idea to take my vamps there. Whitby has a rich history of vampires and ghosts. It was the perfect place. An old Abbey, some very cool ruins and a graveyard that'd make the hair raise on the back of your neck and a dark and stormy night... oh my! It was perfect!

I had my friend visit Whitby with his camera twice. I had him and his wife traipsing up the 99 steps and visiting pubs, measuring how big things were, naming streets for me, you name it, I put the poor man through. It was GREAT! I also found a forum of ghost hunters in Whitby who were more than happy to help me if I needed it. I did. I wanted to have my vamps chase along the top of the cliffs and needed to know if it was possible. They were only too happy to help. Seems people love to help out a struggling author. *G*

The book came out and I was ecstatic. It did well, for the short time it was out. The publishing house folded and I was done.

The story here is, if the book you're working on, and it doesn't matter if you're writing fetish, kink, love stories or the greatest epic every told, if you don't know something, you'd better be prepared to find out about it. If you fake it, chances are you'll be fine, but there's always the chance a reader will call you on it. I've heard of that happening to some of the big romance writers. The smart ones admit they messed up and thank whoever confronted them. The ditzes puff out their chest's and refuse to admit they didn't do their research well enough.

More recently, Jenna Byrnes and I worked on a series of changeling books. Both of us were fairly familiar with some of the lore, but not all of it. Add that we used three, then four different animals, and we needed to cover our butts by knowing something about them. We also had to make sure the flora and fauna worked, we didn't use plants from two completely different areas, things like that. Untamed Hearts has been doing incredibly well, our wolves, bears and cougars have gotten rave reviews and so far, touching wood, we haven't been called on anything we included in the books. In fact, they've done so well, our publisher is afer us to add to the series and we're now working on Stallion's Pride.

In one of my upcoming releases, I decided to go native, literally. I took my modern day hunk and dropped him into the local area before the white man's arrival. The research for this was incredible and I found myself easily side tracked and found websites where the language was actually spoken. Course writing it was an interesting challenge, but it was fun too. LOL Finding Home, will come out later this year and I'm really looking forward to seeing if I did my homework well. It's gratifying when you know you did well.

So, for those of you who think romance or erotica author have it easy, think again. We do the same kind of research as any novelist, plus we have to be able to take the readers into the most intimate places with ease. Perhaps the next time someone asks me why I don't try writing something more serious, I'll simply ask them to write a pony boy story, or even a sensual spanking. What do you think? Could you do it?

18 comments:

  1. Nope, I don't think I can do it, not as well as you, anyway. You definitely have a way with words, and the subjects that interest you really shine because of it.

    Great post!

    Hugs,

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  2. I looooooovvvve researching for books. I often get lost in the search for information and then "damn, I could've been writing". *LOL*

    Carpe Noctem,
    Des

    Desirée Lee
    Putting the Romance Back in Necromancy
    http://www.desireelee.com
    des@desireelee.com

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  3. I love your books, in part because you do the research necessary. One of my all time favorite authors, Robin Schone, has often explained how thoroughly she researches the eras in which she writes. I review for JERR and I can often tell when an author thinks that she can write a logical entrancing book without research. I called an author on it once (not in a review) and she was furious that I didn't believe that she "knew" what she was talking about. There is nothing to compare with thorough and intensive research.

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  4. Hey Jenna!

    I dunno lady, you do pretty darn good for yourself. Remember, I've read your books and I know how much research you do. Thank you for your very kind comment.

    Hugs

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  5. Hi Des,

    Yup, it shows too. I love digging into the obscure bits of information, and that's what seems to take all the time. And, there's just so much interesting stuff!

    Thanks for dropping by and commenting!

    Hugs

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  6. Hey Jude!

    I'm back from being in Minnesota, and I'm trying to catch up.

    Thatwas rough about the first two publishers folding. But very exciting about the new one doing well and readers begging for more. Sigh. Thank god for omnescient Google.

    Garce

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  7. Hugs Grin! Thank you so much, Marcy.

    I've also heard of authors who don't take kindly to being told they didn't catch things in their work. We all make mistakes and I guess some of us are more willing to admit it than others.

    Hey, if you ever find something to gripe about in one of my books, I'd really appreciate a heads up. I do my best, but I know I'm not perfect. Far from it.

    Thanks so much for taking the time to stop by.

    Hugs

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  8. Hey Garce,

    Welcome home. I hope you're Minnesota trip went well. Glad to have you back.

    Yup, the first publishers folding was rough, but I learned from them both and that's a good thing.

    Thanks for stopping in!

    Hugs

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  9. It kills me that folks don't think we research. it's worse when someone knows a little about something and wants to argue with the hours and hours of details you dug up.

    Sometimes you want to say --IT'S FICTION, I'm allowed to be wrong and make stuff up! But we don't, do we? I do love research, but I think I'd get more done if I didn't get off on those tangents. The devil is in the details, isn't it?

    I love your stuff--it's too full usually for me to quibble with the details.

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  10. Lord, this takes me back. I remember when I had to research Prince Albert piercings. What a fun subject to research!

    You're right. Knowing the details for stuff like this is important. It's the foundation of a story. And it's not easy to accumulate the knowledge you need. It takes a pro to do research, and you are obviously that!

    Great post Jude!

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  11. My answer when people ask why I don't write in a more serious genre is always the same one, and it shuts people up right away. Here's my line. "Did you know that according to research done by the Romance Writers of America, 38% of all paperback books in the US are Romance novels? Do you have any idea what kind of market share that is?"

    After they blink a few times they usually take a step back and shake their heads. The general response (if verbal) are mumbled variations of "I had no idea". The next question I ask is along the lines of "How do you break into writing Romance?" LOL I love it when they squirm.

    Since I write in a setting based ten thousand years in the future, you'd think I could say or do anything I want. Oh, that's so not true. My favorite reading material comes from magazines like Discover, Amazing Science, Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, and I read lots of material online about space, genetics, and even sent away for material from Genome Management Information System at the Oak Ridge National Library.

    Talk about research! Oy. My immortals got that way due to genetic manipulation, so I read about trends in cloning and gene research. Guess what? I find it amazing. I can get lost in it and end up spending a few hours cruising from one good article to another. The scary thing is that the more I read, the more I realize that what I postulated as happening in Earth's future is becoming the science of today. Someday, like in my future history's timeline, humanity may find itself battling for domination of not only the planet, but the galaxy. I only hope no one ever creates a Pietas -- my uber villain who rebounds from every death, ever more determined to make humanity pay for what they've done. A villain who has all the time in the worlds to wait for that perfect moment to strike.

    I love research. Great article, Jude! As always, a mind stretcher.

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  12. Hi, Jude,

    Just got back from my trip and I'm catching up, too... I was struck by your very clever use of other people for research. I haven't done that much, but actually it's a great idea. As Garce's post also shows, people love to talk about their passions.

    You've got to be willing to give back, though, when somebody wants to use you for research purposes.

    Best,
    Lisabet

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  13. Hi Jude,

    Research for erotic writing can certainly be it's own reward. The discovery of new people, their personal quirks, their private desires, and their special abilities never ceases to be exciting and rewarding. Each little foible can appear in a future writing while still protecting the identity of the person from whom it was found. Unless, of course, you get the, "Will this show up in a book?" question, and give the, "Would you like it to?" answer. Ah the demands of readers.

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  14. Cosmo (and J.J.) thanks so much for stopping in.

    I definitely hear ya on the 'for cripes sakes it's fiction' comment. This genre is supposed to be fun, there are times, in some stories, clicking off the 'BS' switch might be a good thing.

    Hugs

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  15. Helen,

    Okay, one has to ask, just who did you get to show you his?

    OMG! LOL I remember the same kinds of research projects and while I learned a lot, I spent some time blushing.

    Glad you came by.

    Hugs

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  16. Kayelle,

    You're one of those writers, and I wish some others would take note, who do their research well and fully. I can only imagine how many hours you've spent on the science of your world building series.

    Thanks so much for stopping by, Kayelle, wonderful input for sure.

    Hugs

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  17. Welcome home, Lisabet,

    I can't remember who told me to use people for my research, but it's worked well for me. Whoever it was actually went to a police station and asked for information. The officers fell over themselves trying to help. People love to talk about what they do, who they know, anything they like doing. It's really worked well for me.

    Hugs

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  18. Randall,

    I was shocked at how easily people shared their most intimate information with me for a long time. I mean, I could have used names, places, everything, but for some reason they just seemed to need to open up. I've always respected people's privacy and would never betray a trust, but they don't know that.

    Thanks so much for visiting and commenting.

    Hugs

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