A Better Teacher: Finding That Common Bond

Posted on Jul 16 2013 - 9:16am by M. Christian

“Love is a better teacher than duty.”–Albert Einstein

m.christianI’m a writer … well, of course, or I wouldn’t be here, right?  And,
like a lot of writers, I write a all kinds of things: mysteries,
non-fiction, science fiction, fantasy, horror, and quite a lot of
erotica.  Surprisingly, what I write that gets a lion’s share of
attention is my queer stuff … both erotic and otherwise.

More than likely because I’m straight.

Now, I’m very straight about being heterosexual (giggle), and I pride
myself in that I always tell my publishers the truth of what I am –
which is hardly not a problem as they are the ones who are usually
commissioning my books – but there are still a remarkable number of
people who are more than a tad shocked that I like girls.

Which, to be honest, I consider a huge compliment.  In addition, I’ve
also penned quite a bit of romance … which gets me to my point: many
people have asked me how I can write gay fiction so convincingly that
there’s far too often that shock about who I like to sleep with.

The answer, I’ve come to realize is actually very simple – and can be
very informative to writers of pretty much anything … especially
romance.   To put it simply, I don’t think about writing gay
characters, or women, or African American characters, or older
characters, or anyone else for that matter: instead I write about
people.

Yeah, I know, that’s an almost-ridiculously simple answer but it’s one
that not just worked for me but it also an error I see far too often
from other writers.

In addition to being a writer I’m also an anthology editor as well as
an Associate Publisher for Renaissance E Books – and with both hats I
see far too many writers focusing on the differences between the
characters they are writing about and their own lives: the result is
obviously clumsy — if not comically so in far too many cases.  One
favorite example (the author of which shall remain nameless) had a
character actually thinking that they would “find her attractive if I
wasn’t a homosexual.”  Aside from the awful writing … no one thinks
that way.  This isn’t just a writing-gay thing: I see it all the time
in other genres as well.

In romance it appears as women writers who think that men are a
totally alien species, or male writers thinking that women are from
Venus, or older characters, younger characters, characters from
different countries, ears, and so forth are from … whatever planet a
writer thinks they all come from.

The fact is that even though there are some differences between us
all, human beings are human beings: our emotional landscapes are all
pretty much the same: no matter a person’s gender, age, race culture,
ad infinitum, we all feel frustration, excitement, fear, joy,
nervousness, dread, humor … the whole spectrum of human emotion.

Someone once said that artists have to bleed for their art.  Alas,
I’ve found that all that does is mess up my keyboard … but I do
think there’s a bit of truth in that.  When I write a character – no
matter who they are – I reach into my own mind and project as much of
my own emotional experience into what that character might be feeling
… the rest being just extraneous.  Love is love, and that doesn’t
change — despite the character’s gender, age, race, culture or even
orientation.

Emotion is the key to what connects a reader with a character: they
are drawn to, and emphasize with, a person who experiences emotions
the same way they do.  Simplistic, sure, but its remarkable the number
of romance books I’ve read where the character is lost – and therefore
jarringly inhuman – because the author is far too obsessed with
dwelling on extraneous differences and not common bonds.

It’s our shared emotional landscape that can breathe life into a
character, make a story resonate, touch a reader deep down, and make a
book truly memorable.  The differences, any details that separate us,
might be tempting to get lost in – and putting much of your own
poignant commonality can often be more than little uncomfortable if
not emotionally risky – but never forget that we are more alike than
not.

As I said: love is love – and you know what that feels like: now all
you have to do is allow your characters to feel what you feel … so
your readers can feel it as well.

Find out more on M.Christian by visiting his Website

About the Author

M.Christian is a recognized master of erotica with more than 400 stories in such anthologies as Best American Erotica, Best Gay Erotica, Best Lesbian Erotica, Best Bisexual Erotica, Best Fetish Erotica, and many other anthologies, magazines, and other sites; editor of 25 anthologies such as the Best S/M Erotica series, Pirate Booty, My Love For All That Is Bizarre: Sherlock Holmes Erotica, and more; the collections Dirty Words, The Bachelor Machine, Love Without Gun Control, Rude Mechanicals, and others; and the novels Running Dry, The Very Bloody Marys, Me2, Finger's Breadth, Brushes, and Painted Doll.  His site is www.mchristian.com

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