Fetishes are many, and they are weird. Understanding them is important, but if it's not something you're actually into, how do you write them well?
Sometimes when a writer is given an assignment, it can feel like the topic is just so far gone from what you know, that it'll be impossible to tackle effectively. This goes for adult writing, as well as non-adult writing. Assigned tasks, or writing prompts, can be some of the most useful tools to assist in building your skill set, while also feeling like the most daunting thing in the world to overcome.
When it comes to writing fetishes that you don't quite understand, can't comprehend, or just don't feel like you're very knowledgeable about, the key is research.
Unfortunately, some of us in this industry are still hiding the fact that we do this. Hell, V.A. Laurie is a pen name, and most of my own real life friends and family have no idea that I do this. I mention this because, if you are in that kind of situation, where your dirty side is a secret to most people, you may feel afraid to talk to people that you know about their fetishes. So don't even bother with them! Instead, find a community online that could help you to learn more.
Reddit - /r/sex
While Reddit as a whole has an enormous amount of niche and specific subreddits that could be useful for you, the /r/sex sub is maybe one of the best places to start. Why? Well for one, the community there is huge, and also quite informative. Just browse the sub and you'll see all sorts of questions being asked by a curious person, with a lot of very informed and useful answers. Give that sub a try, but just be careful: if you are keeping this life a secret, use a throwaway alt account, and if you're question is too vulgar, it may be removed by the mods. Keep the question specific, but try to keep the vulgarity out.
I first learned of fetlife nearly a decade ago. It is, in my opinion, one of the best fetish communities online. There are message boards, as well as groups that you can join and search for. Seeking out groups and boards relating to the fetish you're looking to learn about would be an incredibly useful way to meet people who actually live the lives you're trying to write about.
It may seem like a "duh!" kind of thing to say, but Google is your friend. Search for the fetish you're writing about. Search for related terms. From these results, seek out blog posts and articles. Avoid links that are only going to a product page - You can find ball gags in any adult toy store, you don't need to go to some webpage selling them to find out why they appeal to some people. That kind of information is only found by reading... or experiencing it. If experience is what you're looking for, than perhaps it is a good idea to check out some websites or stores selling things relating to the fetish you're researching.
Experience it Yourself
This is definitely the hardest one on this list to accomplish, unless you happen to have a partner who is open to new experiences (and if you do, good for you!) With real life experience of something, you can accurately put to words the way something feels. More than just talking about these topics in abstracts, you can actually express the way the ball gag feels in your mouth (to use the same example), or the way that the flogger felt against you skin, or even the immediate reaction your body has when hot wax is dripped onto your naked body. It is one thing to write about something while using your imagination, but it's a whole different thing to bring to it those tiny aspects that only come from knowing how something feels to you.
If all else fails...
Fuck it. If all else fails, just use your imagination. Remember that the key to writing well is, in my opinion, above all else, consistency. The more you write, the better writer you will become. The better writer you are, the more believable your words will be, even if you're just making things up. But, I would not skip the above options; make things up from your mind only if you literally cannot find anything about the topic to learn first. Even the best of writers will leave their readers feeling like what they read doesn't feel realistic if you can't bring a semblance of the real experience to your story.
With all of these ways to learn about different fetishes, the most important aspect to writing them is bringing the joy (or pain, fear, intimacy, etc) to the story. Simply writing a story and saying that someone was gagged and wore handcuffs is the bare minimum to just setting a scene. To engage your audience into the scene, you must explore the feelings that accompany the event. How do the handcuffs feel? Are they metal? Were they cold on the skin at first? Did they lock so tightly that the wrists felt like they were being cut into?
Descriptions are always important in writing, but when creating a scene that is so visceral, you need to bring the scene to life. No one wants to read or watch a sex scene about the fetish if that fetish isn't given the focus it deserves.
tl;dr: To truly understand a fetish, do some research. Look it up online, or if possible, engage in the activity yourself. Speak with people (in person or online) who live the life you're describing to have them help you find what the appeal is (or what is unappealing about it, even to them!). Write from a place of knowledge; avoid making things up without learning at least a little bit about the topic you're working on.
Thanks for reading!
I'll be back with more for you soon!