Sex in fanfiction part 6 – Dialogue in Sex Scenes

 

everyone is wearing ‘panties’ and I don’t know about you, but I only wear nice knickers if i’m planning on sex

The other day I had a rather giggly discussion with a friend about the use of dialogue in sex scenes. We share some fandoms, but we have ones that don’t overlap. One thing we discovered was that the same couple of phrases and lines tend to be used over and over again, and I don’t know about you, but some of them I would never utter while in bed, and I’ve been known to utter some complete and utter filth when the notion takes me.

As discussed in the previous posts about monotony in sex scenes with regards to actions, there is a certain amount of monotony and repetition in the dialogue used – some of which is natural and we’ve all said it. This post isn’t really a criticism on the various uses of dialogue, this is more of a discussion about the use of dialogue and the various words and phrases that we hear a lot – some of which are, from a personal POV, quite alarming.

1. Gasping a name / gasp of name cut off

We’ve all seen it, usually just before oral sex commences, you know the scene – one partner kisses down the torso and then we get the ‘John-!’ or commonly the ‘Jo-!’ Which, you know, is fine. But it’s getting a bit old now, especially as it’s normally used in Variation A (see http://clairewriteswords.wordpress.com/2014/08/31/sex-in-fanfiction-part-4-oh-the-monotony/). 

2. I love you

Yeah, I know, we’ve all said it during sex at some stage. But consider it’s place in the scene. I mean, in a fluff piece or something angsty or a long slow build then it probably fits. But in a short kinky dirty scene is it really something that would be said, or something that fits into that scene. Also, consider the characters involved – is it actually something that character would say? Ever? Let alone during sex?

3. You’re so tight!

Strangely this tends to come up more in slash fic than hetero, and well, without wanting to be crude, it’s an arsehole, it’s meant to be tight. It’s primary function is to stop stuff falling out. I’m also not really sure that this is a particularly romantic or sexy thing to say to someone at that exact moment, I mean, you’re basically saying ‘You’re rectum is fully functioning.’

4. Are you sure? / Can I?

Okay, so I’m a little torn on this. One on hand I think it’s good to get that ‘yes’ in a clear way that cannot be misunderstood, and I cannot stress enough how no means no, no matter what the situation. But at the same time, once you get to that point, part of me feels that if there is enough doubt radiating from the other person that you have to ask that question, then it’s time to stop what you are doing and go home. So this line is a difficult one for me as a writer and as a person, and I can see the need for it, but I really wish I didn’t need to see the need. 

 5. Gasping of names just before climax

While it is a wonderfully empowering experience to push someone to such pleasure that they call out your name because it’s the only thing they can think of at that moment, in reality, if someone were to gasp my name like that at that moment I would, in all likelihood I would stop what I was doing and ask ‘what?’ thinking there was something wrong.

6. If you keep doing that I won’t be able to stop

You will if I twist your balls.

7. You taste so good

Lies! Lies and damned lies. Okay, maybe that was a bit of an exaggeration. I tend to find that these sort of lines come from younger writers who are more likely to have less sexual experience. Personally, while it’s not the worst thing I’ve ever had in my mouth, I certainly wouldn’t say that either of those particular bodily fluids taste ‘good.’ But each to their own I suppose  after all, some people like sweetcorn. Strangely enough, no one ever says ‘I’m not putting that in my mouth.’

8. I’m clean

This is one line that really worries me. I’ve read it a lot in fic, and I’ve also heard it a lot in real life (and no, I’ve never once believed it) and it’s the sort of line that makes me consider the responsibility writers have when it comes to how they present and deal with topics such as sexual health and contraception. It’s also a kind of skeezey line to say and makes me think that the character has said it a lot before, and it can cast them in a really negative light. Likewise, female characters who don’t worry about condoms with a new partner because they are on the pill. I wish I could say that this was something only young and inexperienced and uneducated girls think is okay, but you would be shocked at how many fully grown adult women I know who were shocked to find out that their contraceptive pill would not protect them from STDs. *sigh* You can read more on my thoughts on this in my post on contraception : 

9. You’ve done that before / I’ve never done this before

Usually one partner says the first line after a suspiciously good instance of Variation 1. 

As I said, I’m not really criticising some of the dialogue that’s used in fanfiction, I just wanted to highlight some of the most commonly used phrases to show how we tend to use dialogue in a way that can be just as monotonous as the Variations.

So, you’re mission for this week, should you choose to accept it, (and I won’t mind if you don’t because it’s a bit odd) is to keep a list of the things you say during sex and see how it compares to the list above.

Happy copulating folks.

Love, etc

C

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Sex in fanfiction part 5 – Why Slash?

From UrbanDictionary.com:
 
1. Genre of fanfiction involving pairing two male or female characters together; characters are commonly shown with a slash in between
 
Those who are new to fanfiction are generally surprised by the level of slash, especially m/m that occurs in fanfiction, and in particular the level of slash among character which are hetero in canon. It can be a little overwhelming, especially for those who are sensitive or prudish or just plain unsuspecting.
 
I have a real fascination with slash (oh really, you couldn’t tell?) and about the people who are attracted to slash. Despite what some might tell you, I am not actually a pervert. I think that very few slash readers and writers actually are.
 
But there is still that question – ‘WHY slash?’
 
My initial response is ‘Why not?’ but it really does go a little deeper than that the more I consider it.
 
I think there are several aspects to this, some emotional and some sexual. Let’s start with the sexual first.
 
As I’ve mentioned several times in this series, the vast majority of writers and readers of slash are women, and m/m far outweighs f/f in the majority of fandoms that I looked at. I spoke to as many readers and writers as I could and the responses were surprisingly similar in vein.
 
1. The concept of ‘forbidden’ sex
 
This was one of the first things that came up when I spoke to people – part of the reason they liked slash was because it WASN’T canon. It carried with it an element of it not really being allowed in that universe, a forbidden aspect that immediately lent itself to a heightened state of arousal. This I can understand – after all, don’t we all get that little burst of adreneline when we do something we know we’re not supposed to?
 
2. Voyeurism
 
Likewise, the element of voyeurism provides that same thrill. When we are shown sex and pairing in canon we do it within the world the creators/writers provided for us. That sex is ALLOWED and so we don’t get the same naughty thrill from it as we do from observing two non-canon characters that the creators DIDN’T show us. It’s like we are peeping toms looking through the curtains at something we aren’t supposed to see.
 
3. Sexual attraction
 
Most of us at some stage will have found ourselves attracted in some way to other people of both sexes. It’s a natural part of our sexual development especially in adolescence. Even as adults there is often a lingering sense of appreciation for other bodies of both genders – and it doesn’t have to be deeply sexual. After all, how many times have you heard a women commenting on how pretty another woman was etc. It’s an inbuilt part of our sexuality whether we exhibit that in base form or not – consider it a sliding scale rather than a clear cut either or issue. Slash allows us to explore that side of our sexuality and curiosity in a safe environment with ‘people’ (characters) that we already know and in a world that we already trust. 
 
4. Underlying sexual chemistry in canon
 
Some fandoms have this in buckets, and the writers and creators really play up to it. Take Sherlock for example – the BBC version especially. Oh my, so much eye sex going on, flirting and innuendo and general fan service in different situations etc. It positively encourages slash. And when characters have that sort of chemistry, especially if they are not a canon couple, then OF COURSE fans are going to pair them up in fic. After all, we’ve already been given half the image already.
 
And then there’s the emotional aspect of things.
 
1. Chemistry 
 
This is related to the last point above, but in a non-sexual way. These are characters who just WORK. They don’t have to be friends, they just have to have something about them, especially when they are together, that makes them interesting. Which ties in with-
 
2. Character development
 
Characters grow and change. We want to see that, we want to see them beyond the story. What sort of situation would it take for one of them to finally make a move, for them to end up together. Can they get past their own hang-ups, issues and fears? What would it take? Would it be cute and fluffy? Or would it be angsty? Would it hurt? Would they be happy? This tends to look more at the relationship side of things rather than just the sex, but the sex is an important part of it too – HOW would these characters have sex. Would it be sweet and gentle? Awkward? Fun and giggly? Hot and hard? Simply put it allows for character development in a situation we would not otherwise see them.
 
 
But why is m/m so popular among women? Well, I read an interesting comment over at The High Hat which raised the point about male bodies being more sexually liberated than female ones. At first I was like ‘what?’ but then I read on and realised that they were making a very valid point about how women’s bodies are treated as public objects while male bodies are their own:
 

And then there is the universal desire to control women’s bodies for their own purposes or agendas. To quote another fanfic writer:

Women’s bodies are baggage. Battlegrounds for every political yahoo that comes along, property of the state or your ethnicity or religion. Every institution in the world has a say on what gets into your cunt — are you marrying an Italian, is he Catholic, you’re going to have babies for your religion and your country, right? Pro-choice! Anti-choice! Keep your rosaries off my ovaries! Life begins at birth! Hey baby, wanna ride?

 
You can read the whole post over at http://thehighhat.com/Marginalia/005/slash.html – there are some great points about slash in fanfiction.
 
This ties in with the power aspect of sex and sexual liberation. Men’s bodies are, on the whole, more powerful than women’s, and there is something incredibly erotic about that power, especially when it’s barely under control – such as during sex, and when it’s being used for pleasure and to pleasure someone else. It’s all too easy to imagine the effect that power would have.
 
In addition, we have to consider that when it comes to sex and arousal, it’s so much more obvious when it comes to men. A man can’t physically hide his arousal, while a woman can. That blatant exhibition of desire is incredibly intoxicating and empowering, but it also exhibits the male’s vulnerability to the desires of their own bodies.
 
Another more obvious reason was brought to my attention by another fan – in general male characters are more interesting than female ones. I can’t speak for all fandoms, but certainly in many of the fandoms I have been part of over the years or observed from afar. The fact of the matter is, especially in film and television, the most interesting parts are generally male. Audiences don’t react as well to funny women as they do to funny men, likewise, characters who have a tragic past – if it’s a woman she’s pitied, if it’s a man he’s respected for coming through it. We are more accustomed to seeing the strong female character now, but that is a pretty recent invention in the grand scheme of things. For most of written and visual fiction, the woman was there simply as a background love interest for the big strong male hero. It’s a part of our social conditioning that we look to the men as being more important (but that’s really a topic for another day). Also, in general we consider men to express less emotion than women, so to see them in a sexual relationship, especially where there is emotion involved is an interesting experience for both the reader and the writer.
 
It could be suggested that so many women read and write slash because they are either trying to understand male emotion, or they are projecting the sort of expression of emotion and desire they would like to see coming from a male partner.
 
Another thing to consider is the number of male characters versus the number of female characters in that particular fandom. Take, for example, Buffy – particularly later seasons when the females outweighed the males. So is it any wonder we started to see so much f/f in that fandom. In other fandoms, such as Sherloc, which has an almost exclusively male cast we are going to see predominately m/m pairings.
 
So, all things considered, why slash?
 
Why not?
 
Love, etc
 
Cs 
 
 

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Sex in fanfiction part 4 – Oh the Monotony

You know you have been reading too much fanfiction when you start to skip over the sex.

It’s not that I have an issue with the sex, after all, that’s part of what I go to certain fandoms for. However, I’ve noticed lately that an awful lot of the sex seems to be formulaic, repetitive and, as a consequence, getting very dull.

What is a real shame is when this happens in the middle of an otherwise really good fic.

Yes folks, I’ve been craving PWP. *

Due to my pretty inconsistent internet connection I’ve been downloading an awful lot of fic at my parents house, shamelessly abusing their unlimited access. As a result I’ve also been downloading a lot more novel length fic than I would normally. Part of this is to have something to read in the bath when I am unable to look at pictures of cats on the internet, and part of it is because I’m never sure at the moment when I am going to get access again – I try not to download too much fic in the cafe at Tesco because I’m always afraid of some security guard coming storming across demanding to know who is downloading all the porn.

One thing I have really noticed in novel length fic is the slow burn and the sexual tension is able to develop at a better pace than the frantic erotica that you generally get in ficlets and drabbles, and I’m finding that I’m really liking that. I don’t even mind when there is other non-relationship related plot. I’m also finding the comparison in the way the actual sex scenes are written to be interesting.

Firstly I want to state that fic writers in my various fandoms, especially when it comes to slash pairings, are primarily women, and in some of those fandoms – especially fandoms that aren’t terribly recent or current – the writers tend to late 20’s -40’s, which could explain a lot of how the sex is dealt with. Personally I just hope some people are HAVING better sex than the sex they are writing about because I think I might just burst from sexual frustration on their behalf.

But I digress.

Okay, so I guess we all know that I’m talking about the same two sex scenes we have seen over and over and over and over with basically no variation (I mean come on, what the hell people??) and as a reader, it’s starting to make my eyes bleed.

Variation 1: Trading of the blowjob

It will, inevitably, be the first time for either one or both of them. But not to worry, because they will be spectacularly good at it. Shockingly so. In fact, they will be so good at it that the other person will come undone beneath them and then they will put them back together again (if you can’t see what I’ve done there then you haven’t read enough fic) and someone will probably whimper or mew or mewl – and I don’t know about you, but the idea of a grown man MEWWING at me during sex is enough to shut my ovaries down for good.

Firstly one of them will go down on the other, and it will be a surprise, usually as the other one is saying their name, and then it’s all bucking hips and biting (seriously folks, don’t bite penises, it’s rarely appreciated) and then they will come, usually pretty quickly, and then collapse onto their knees where they will pant and gasp for a little while before returning the favour.

And this is part of what annoys me about this scenario – it’s the way in which it’s handled, especially when writers use terms like ‘return the favour’ or characters tell each other to wait a moment and they will ‘take care’ of it. It’s implying a sense of obligation that really has no place in a healthy sexual relationship.

Now, repeat this scene with any cast of characters in any fandom. It’s sex by numbers. It’s unoriginal and it’s dull and I hope that there are a lot of you out there hanging your heads in shame right now.

Variation 2 – Anal

Like I said, I read huge amounts of m/m so I tend to read an awful lot about anal, and way more about lube than I really need to know (seriously, why do you need flavoured lube unless you’re planning on sticking your tongue up there too, and let’s be honest, it’s an arsehole so no amount of Popping Cherry is going to cover that). For the record, I also hate it when writers call lube ‘slick’ – not as much as I hate it when penises are called ‘pricks’ though, but close.

The anal scene is usually played out the same way. It’ll be the lubed (or spat on) finger ‘slowly pressed’ or ‘slowly inserted’ into the ‘warm, tight hole’ and someone will always comment on how warm or how tight it is. There will be ‘good’ pain and it will always be commented on. And then another finger, and finally another one until ‘I’m ready’ and then withdrawal of fingers and this will be commented on, usually along the lines of how much they were already missed. Everything will be slow and careful at first, but within a line they will be ‘slamming’ into their partner, who will be just on the verge of coming themselves, and it will only take ‘a few strokes’ before everyone is collapsing into a sweaty heap. Repeat as necessary throughout the fic.

Oh, and sometimes someone passes out from the ‘sheer force’ of their orgasm, which suggests to me low blood pressure or an undiagnosed heart condition that they really should get checked out.

I’m sorry guys, I know I’m being a bit bratty tonight, but contained within the 23 fics I read today (it was a long bath) I counted 11 of those anal scenes, 14 variations on that blowjob (and I say ‘variations’ in the loosest sense of the word) four handjobs (one of which was not reciprocated, which was kind of refreshing actually, sometimes it’s nice to do something for your partner without wanting anything for yourself), one hilarious fail at a 69 which had me laughing out loud, as was the authors intent, one instance of self-felacio and one awkward rutting against your partner in your sleep. It was a pretty interesting, and telling mix.

So, as I said, I’m finding that when I come to Variation 1 or 2, I’m tending to skip over the scene a lot. I’m actually craving the awkwardness of trying to have sex fully clothed, badly timed sex, funny sex, sex in stupid places. I’m missing the awkwardness of it, sometimes the danger of it. I’m missing the after moments that don’t involved cuddling – where are all the fics when someone freaks out and runs?

In all fairness, one of the novel length fics I read recently focused a lot of unresolved sexual tension, quite a lot of masturbation at inappropriate times, wet dreams, jealousy, very awkward accidental encounters and voyeurism. It was very interesting to see a relationship like that develop between two people who were already so close.

I guess I’m just looking for more than the same sex scene rewritten with different character names.

So, what do I think is the root of this problem?

Well, I think it stems from several things. Most of the writers in my fandoms, as I mentioned, are women. I think it can be quite hard to write a sex scene from a male point of view when you have never had testicles yourself. Not impossible, but just hard (no pun intended).

Sexual inexperience is generally a large factor in fic writing, and it often shows. There are times when I have read certain sex scenes and wondered if the writer had ever even SEEN another naked body, let alone did the nasty. Now, I’m not saying that you need to be the Whore of Babylon to write a good sex scene, but I am saying that sometimes inexperience shows through, and in order to cover a lot of that inexperience and lack of knowledge, writers tend to stick with what they know. And what they know is what they’ve read.

And there’s the third issue. If you write a lot of fic, then you tend to read a lot of fic. And if you read a lot of fic then you probably read a lot of sex scenes. And the more sex scenes you read the more you read Variations 1 and 2 and so you invariably end up influenced by them and suddenly you are writing them yourself. And so the circle continues.

Despite the snark this post is not just bitching about lack of variation, it’s asking that writers really think about what they write, that they try not to fall into the rinse and repeat trap and instead give us something else that we aren’t seeing repeated over and over. Stimulate us, thrill us, give us hot flushes when we read it on the train.

Coming soon: body issues, use of dialogue in sex scenes and things you really should not stick up your arse.

Now, go forth and write me something really dirty.

Love, etc

C

*PWP – Porn with plot – ie, a fic with an actual plot but usually loads, and loads of sex.

PWOP – Porn without plot. Pretty much what it says on the tin.

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Standing Against Plagiarism

Okay, so I have apparently been living under a rock for the last few days because this only came to my attention today – and you all know how I feel about plagiarism.

I’m not going to repeat the whole story because it’s pretty complicated and I’m worried about getting something wrong, but basically author Rachel Ann Nunnes has just discovered that her entire novel A Bid For Love was plagiarised (with added kinky scenes) by a writer calling herself Sam Taylor Mullens (I gather from some exchanges that it’s a pen name, but I can’t be 100% certain).

The fallout was…..pretty extraordinary – with one person going so far as to tell Nunnes that she should be pleased that someone stole her work.

Sigh.

You should all go and have a look for yourselves – it’s pretty weird reading though, and I don’t see an and to this tale anytime soon.

http://rachelannnunes.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/standing-against-plagarism.html

I hate thieves.

C

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Sex in Fanfiction Part 3 – Trends – Omegaverse and Knotting

Lately it seems that pretty much every fandom is being hit by the Omegaverse wave. Don’t know what that is? Well, it’s basically when the characters take on certain wolf like characteristics including biting, snarling, scenting etc, and usually includes a strict hierarchy:

Alphas – These are the head of the pack, the strongest, the ones in charge.

Betas – Account for the majority of the population. Quite often in fanfiction I’ve seen Betas having fertility issues etc which is part of what makes an Omega so valuable. Often and Alpha may have a Beta mate AND and Omega mate and this is usually considered acceptable for all involved.

Omegas – Generally I’ve seen Omegas being treated as a valuable commodity but with no real respect – Omegas are generally portrayed as being subservient, weak and useless for everything except breeding. In many fandoms and stories male Omegas are very rare and extra valuable, and often this leads to mpreg elements. It’s also common for the Omega to go into heat, at which point every passing Alpha gets a bit rabid with lust. It’s a common element of these stories to have the Omega take some form of suppressants to stave off heat, or to hide their Omega status completely.

(mpreg for those who don’t know is male pregnancy, which has led to some rather interesting biological explanations on how that happens and, more importantly, how they get the baby out. Explanations range from male omegas have a vagina as well as penis, through to the baby coming out via the rectum. hmmm.)

Basically, the more I read of stuff in Omegaverse, the more it makes me feel a little uncomfortable. I mean, I get that the nature of the whole thing is about control and leadership and possessiveness and dominance etc. But there’s something I don’t really like about seeing people treated as a commodity purely because of how they were born. It’s all a bit primitive I think. And there’s a fine line between dominance and abuse, and some of the fics I’ve read have really crossed that line. Which wouldn’t bother me if it weren’t for the edge of glorification to it.

I will admit though that I find all the biting to be just a little bit sexy.

The knotting, however, I could do without.

And what is knotting you ask? Well, I’m gonna tell you, and then you are going to wish you didn’t know.

But first, consider the penis.

Some canine animals have what is called a bulbus glandis at the base of their penis which is sometimes called a knot. This is basically a gland which swells up during arousal and during intercourse the females muscles clamp around it essentially locking the male and female together. This knotting usually lasts a couple of minutes, but can last for up to 30 minutes, during which time the male can ejaculate several times.

Now, humans don’t have this. Unless you are an Alpha in the Omegaverse. And 30 minutes? Ha! That’s nothing. It’s quite popular among fic writers to see our pair stuck together for hours at a time.

Which sounds sexier than it actually is.

Consider that this is most common in m/m slash and then you will see the problem – that is going to be a very uncomfortable couple of hours and no matter which way you lay or position yourself to prepare for it, someone is going to end up with a dead arm.

Often the knotting is a sort of ‘bonding’ rite that will see the pair bonded together as mates. Sometimes the same effect is achieved with a bite – often called a claiming bite – a physical sign of bonding. Either way, it seems that others are able to tell when someone has been bonded and so they know to stay away – usually something to do with the smells changing.

The majority of Omegaverse fiction I have read tends to be humans, but there are some werewolf AUs out there, but strangely they tend to be in the minority.

Either way, it’s a trend that is fast gathering pace in the fanfiction community and I’m still not sure what I think of it.

You?

Until next time,

Love, etc

C

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Sex in fanfiction part 2 – playing it safe

Okay folks, following on from my little rant yesterday, I’m going to retouch (oh, poor choice of word) on a topic that I covered briefly a little while ago. A lot of you might remember the post I wrote about sex in fanfiction ‘The Good, The Bad and The Awkward.’ It got a really overwhelming response and if you haven’t read it then check it out here: http://clairewriteswords.wordpress.com/2014/04/22/sex-in-fanfiction-the-good-the-bad-and-the-awkward/

In it I touched very briefly on contraception and safe sex in fanfiction, something that I think is often overlooked. A couple of years ago there was a big push in fanfiction communities, perhaps as a result of more adults being part of those communities now, to show the use of contraception.

Contraception has been a hot button topic in fanfiction for a long time and can cause a conversation to dry up with lightening speed. People are awkward talking about contraception in real life, something that is result of the social conventions of the generations before us. In our parents and grandparents day it just wasn’t something that you talked about. Ever. There were all sorts of religious and social issues surrounding it and it just wasn’t something that nice girls talked about. Instead it was something scandalous whispered between you and your doctor. As a result my generation was brought up to think that it was a slightly taboo subject and when I was in school it was something we got a single class about – with the boys and girls separated – and that was that.

I feel very strongly about contraception and the options available and I think that we need to take more responsibility for our own sexual health, especially in a modern age where people will have multiple partners over a shorter space of time instead of saving virginity for marriage and then a lifetime of monogamy. It’s just not realistic to expect that of people now. Sexual liberation has brought with it a need to consider sexual health.

And that means that we, as writers, need to consider our social and moral obligations to our readers. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that we should be preaching to readers, far from it, but I do think that we need to consider the issue in terms of how we deal with the topic of sex.

I know, I know, contraception isn’t all that sexy and stopping for a condom can be a real mood killer and can jar a scene. I get that. We all do. But that doesn’t take the issue away.

So, in fiction, fanfiction, whatever, there is a responsibility to deal with the issue at least to some degree.

I, as you all know, read a scary amount of fanfiction, and I’ve noticed in certain fandoms that contraception is used more than in others. I guess part of it that the certain fandoms in question tend to be populated by an older demographic, which I guess changes how we see things like contraception.

But one thing that, as a writer, a reader and a mother, is hearing the phrase ‘it’s okay, I’m clean.’

Wow. Just. Wow.

Trust me, I’ve heard it in real life too, and I’m not believing it then either. But in fic when a character says it, the other character tends to just agree and go with it. I mean, seriously. In real life you wouldn’t just take someone’s word for it, would you? I get that it’s only fiction, but it’s also saying that it’s okay to take those risks, to gamble with your health and to show a startling amount of gullibility.

I have noticed that m/m slash writers are generally very good when it comes to contraception, especially at the start of a relationships. In established relationships I’ve noticed a lot less use, which is cool. I mean, you’re with someone for a long time and things change over time.

I’ve also noticed that there is a very definite difference in how contraception is handled based on where the writer is from. Writers from the US (which has a much better sexual health attitude and openness) tend to be more open about talking about and including contraception, while UK writers often don’t deal with it very well, or with a level of awkwardness that corresponds with the way contraception is generally dealt with in society here. Which raises the issue of how the UK deals with sexual health, especially in schools, but that’s an article for someone else to write.

How you deal with contraception doesn’t have to be too elaborate or graphic or overly obvious, personally I’ve found something simple like ‘he reached for a condom’ to be sufficient to cover the issue without breaking the flow of a scene or killing the mood.

But to write about and deal with contraception we first need to get over our own hang ups about it. I’m 31 and I know several people who are embarrassed to even say the word ‘condom’ and instead tend to blush and say ‘things.’ Which generally makes me want to go and slap their biology teacher, or their mother for instilling in them the idea that sex is something to be embarrassed about. (And yes, they are certainly even more embarrassed after a conversation about sex with me).

So, in conclusion, contraception should be dealt with on some level. It’s an important topic and whether we like it or not, what we write about it influences how other people think about it. It doesn’t have to be a lecture, it doesn’t have to be elaborate and it doesn’t have to be any more than a few words. But it should be something. It’s as much a part of sex as any other part of the process.

Until next time, if you can’t be good, be careful.

Love, etc,

C

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Overused phrases and tropes and why fanfiction sometimes sucks

Due to ongoing illness I spent most of the last four days safely tucked up in my sofa nest with a bottle of wine, excessive amounts of junk food and a truly staggering amount of fanfiction to keep me company.

Today I am a little pissed off.

The reason?

Well, after my massive fanfic glut this weekend I started to become hyper aware of some particular phrases, situations, lines and just….things that keep coming up over and over and over and really started to annoy me by teatime on Saturday, and had me wanting to kill dead things by four am this morning.

Some choice examples:

Green Eyes/ Violet Eyes

Most common in OCs (original characters – bleh. NO ONE likes OCs!). They all have green eyes. Almost every. Fucking. One. Of. Them! Now, I have green eyes. Honest to god real green eyes, so perhaps this is part of why it annoys me. I am the only person I know with green eyes. The only one. See, there are very few of us. In fact only around 1% of the entire population of the world have green eyes, and the majority of us are female. So when EVERYONE in fanfictionland (and yes, in other fiction land too, but I’ve noticed it most in fanfic) is sporting a pair of ‘bright emerald eyes’ it makes me teeth squeak.

ETA: Someone pointed out the violet eyes thing in a lot of fic, so I’ve edited this to address that too. Violet eyes do exist, but not in the way we think they do. A lot of people say ‘violet’ when they mean ‘blue’ – the colour effect of the ‘violet’ usually showing in photographs due to the interaction of light with the low levels of melanin in blue eyes. True violet eyes are caused by an incomplete form of albinism and are extremely rare, not that you would know that due to the scary amount of them present in fanfiction.

‘Coming undone’

The first time I ever heard this phrase used in relation to sex I actually thought it was a pretty good term to describe that wonderful moment when you literally lose control and fall apart. Clearly, everyone else thought it was a good term too and I have read it in pretty much every fic I read this weekend (yes, I was reading a lot of explicit fic, but that’s sort of beside the point.) We really need to find some new phrases.

Chapped lips

Mostly used in m/m, and I really don’t understand how chapped lips are supposed to be sexy. They are sore to have and uncomfortable to kiss. But I swear that I have read it in all my fandoms. It’s not pleasant. It’s a bit gross.

Skinny people with huge appetites

Okay, this one is usually a girl, she will be tiny and thin and eat more than three men without gaining a pound or developing IBS or at the very least severe constipation. Now, well ALL know someone who seems to stay the same size no matter what they eat, but they are the vast exception to the rule and bear in mind that we are not privy to all their eating habits. So just stop this one. It’s annoying.

Everyone climaxes at the same time. Every time.

Yeah. Enough said really.

Sex written by people with blatantly ,little sexual experience

Now, sometimes this doesn’t annoy me as much, after all, we all sometimes write about things we don’t have a lot of experience of, but I’ve noticed this most commonly in m/m slash regarding anal and it’s usually written by women. And after reading somewhere close to 200 different sex scenes this weekend, it seems that everyone writes it the same way – spit, one finger, 2 finger, stretch, three finger, prostrate, pull out, cock, burn, wait, push, repeat, come, cuddle. Can we change it up a bit because, and I never thought I’d be saying this, but fanfiction sex is getting pretty boring lately folks.

Tasting of musk

Honestly, this is not something I really paid much attention to until this weekend, but having read this phrase over and over and over it’s actually turning my stomach a little. It really just makes me think that the guy has a smelly ball sack, and that’s just not sexy.

Passing out after climax

Seriously. They need to see a doctor.

 

In my experience this is usually the precursor to an asthma attack. See above point.

People ‘humming’ during sex / arousal

What are they humming? ‘I’m a Little Teapot?’ Now, I do get what the writer is saying, but honestly, with all this hitching and humming and damn purring going on, my mental image is one of a petting zoo and not a sexy bedroom.

Overquoting the source material

This is most often a problem when a particular phrase or word is lifted and used over and over again in fics. For instance, in Veronica Mars fics you see a massive use of ‘Marshmallow’ despite it only being said once on the show. Likewise, in TWD fics there was an annoyingly huge amount of ‘claimed’ fics to the point where kinkmemes were asking for ‘no claimers.’ (Thank god because it almost put a lot of us off that particular ship)

It’s called a penis

Seriously, I think I can count on one hand the number of times I have actually seen the word ‘penis’ in a fic. No one ever wants to use the word. There is a huge abundance of ‘members’ and ‘cocks’ and ‘heats’ and assorted others, but for some reason people seem afraid of using the word penis – even in a non-sexual way. It’s just weird.

I’m not gay, it’s just him

Okay, so while I will be the first one to come out and say that we don’t have power over who we are attracted to, I’m getting a little tired of hearing one character repeatedly stating that they aren’t gay, that ‘it’s just him.’ Okay, so I can accept that, but having it in every single fic is pretty tiring. Strangely one fandom it does seem to work quite well in Sherlock, perhaps due to John’s repeated declaration of ‘I’m not actually gay’ throughout the series. But on the whole it’s just pretty annoying.

Smelling / scenting your partner

Okay, I know some people get really turned on by that after sex smell – you know where you smell like your partner. But in reality it just means you are covered in their sweat and it’s actually pretty gross when you think about it. Some people like to be clean after sex and not just lie in their partners filth for the rest of the night. Soap can be sexy too.

 

I could go on, but I really need to break this up into several posts so I don’t get myself annoyed. Coming soon – people who can’t or won’t label their fics with the correct tags so you accidently end up with a lot of OCs or they don’t warn you it’s AU.

So my lovely fic writers, especially those in my fandoms, please have a think about the things you overuse and see what you can come up with a replacement.

Love, etc

C

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Can you smell that?

I’ve another hospital appointment coming up and one thing I have noticed, and that everyone seems to comment on, is the smell of hospital and how is clings to you.

It’s kind of a sour smell, Sharp. And it lingers.

Tonight I’m on call – a favour for a farmer friend who’s got a family wedding and a couple of  late calves and a foal due any day. So I find myself completely sober on this Friday night in the middle of summer. I have had way more caffeine than can really be good for a person and have already exhausted my list of sober, insomniac friends and eaten all the pudding in the fridge. But to be honest, that’s the least of my problems.

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been paying way more attention to the small things than I ever did before. And what have I learned?

My garden smells like lavender and tarragon and wild grass.

My favourite place on earth smells like glass polish and carpet cleaner.

My hair smells of cherries and nutmeg.

My horses smell warm and sweet and of grass and hedgerows and hilly streams.

My daughter smells like violets.

My best friend’s house smells’ like horse and sausages and potato.

My living room smells like old paper and ginger tea and cat.

My mum’s house smells like lavender soap.

My old dog smelled of wet dog – all the time!

My grandfather’s house smelled like raspberry ice-ream and Turkish delight.

My car smells like tomato soup and the inside of latex gloves.

My dad smells sweet like old tobacco and coffee.

My doctor’s room smells like bleach and lemons.

It’s funny, isn’t it, how everything, even the most minor of things, can suddenly be of a huge consequence? Would things be easier if my favourite place smelled of wet dog? Or if my doctor’s surgery smelled of roses and chocolate? Smell is a very powerful sense, one that triggers memories and feeling. Oh you might remember something, think about it, but when that certain smell comes around you aren’t merely remembering, you’re reliving. It’s like when you pass someone in the street who’s wearing the same talcum powder that your grandmother used and suddenly you are six years old again. Or that peculiar chemically smell of an ice lolly that takes you back to day trips to the beach.

The point this week is to consider the senses – those everyday smells, sights, sounds that you might not even realise until someone asks you about them. Until you no longer notice them and realise they are missing.

Those are the things that build a world for the reader – something to cling on to. A sense they can understand. Something they know in a world they don’t yet.

So, your challenge, should you decide to accept it, is to consider what you write, all that you write, and look at how you can yell us MORE without simply ‘telling’ us.

Til next week.

Hopefully,

C

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Show me the money!

This last week or two has been both good and bad in terms of money matters and art.

On a positive note, I got two unexpected royalty cheques from my German publishers which, although not a large sum of money, was welcome and paid an unexpected bill.

On the negative side, funding fell through for a film project that is already underway, providing much stress and frantic rejigs in terms of schedules (both mine and other peoples) and a minor panic over time that has possibly been wasted and the knock on effects that will have when I try to get people on board in future. So far, people have been good about it, understanding even. After all, these things happen. But oh, does it make me feel like shit.

To top things off, my laptop has decided that Windows 8 is useless (like the rest of us) and has decided to stop working, freezing on the Aptio settings screen and meaning I will have to do a full reboot this evening in order to be able to do some actual work. Thankfully my lovely brother and uncle between themselves and the power of Google, seem to have the necessary expertise to fix it.

In the meantime, following a week of stress, on going ill health and some pretty interesting events over the weekend (more on that later) Mum has poured us a sneaky rum and coke while we watch my father and assorted male relatives burn stuff on the BBQ.

Irish bank holiday weekend folks – rain, bonfires, hyperactive children and solo cups.

Have a good one folks, and here’s hoping next weeks is better.

C

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Kill your darlings!

Last night I was talking with one of my girls about death in fiction. She’s currently reading the latest installment of a well known series (I won’t name it because of spoilers etc) and she’s been filling me in on the main plot points which include Character A having heart to hearts with his girlfriends brother (who hates him) his parents (who kinda hate him) and his sort of brother (who hates him.) My reaction ‘A is so fucked.’

See, there are three types of death in fiction – the expected, the set up and the unexpected.

Sadly, only two of the three ever really work.

The expected death is the death that you, that you are told from the outset is going to happen, like ‘A Walk to Remember’ where you KNOW what is going to happen, and you start crying at about page 9 and stop about three hours after finishing the book. These sort of deaths work because you know from the outset that no matter what happens, it’s going to happen. It’s all doomed. And that sort of knowledge is painful. You spend so much time and energy willing  it not to happen. And then when it does, it’s just so much more painful.

The hinted at death is the sort of death I mentioned at the start of this article. The character has outlived their usefulness. They have made amends. They are basically redundant to plot. Time for them to go. Some of these deaths are written to ‘shock’ but really, for the most part they have been so set up for the last 100 pages that no one is really surprised.

The unexpected death is one which shocks because of it’s suddenness. And that’s what death, for the most part is. It’s sudden. It’s shocking. In life we don’t get time to make amends. Some writers are better at this than others, but it varies across the genre. Take Michael Crichton, for example, we EXPECT characters to die suddenly in his books. It’s not really a shock, but the methods often have shock factor. 

One of the most shocking deaths I have ever read was the death of Hedwig in The Deathly Hallows. It was unnecessary, unexpected, upsetting, shocking, sudden. All things that death is. And it was at that moment you knew that NO ONE was safe.

There are few things I hate than a character who gets a chance to make amends. As my friend pointed out last night, when talking about deaths in Harry Potter, it’s not like Fred ever got a chance to say all the things he might have wanted to. To make amends, to have one last laugh, one heart to heart. He was there, and then suddenly he wasn’t.

Likewise, once scene in particular from the Walking Dead came to mind – the scene where Amy was bit. She was in a ‘safe’ place, with people looking out for her, right in the middle of her group and all she wanted was some toilet roll. She wasn’t expecting what happened to her. No one was. That’s what made it shocking and upsetting. Even being in a ‘safe’ place doesn’t mean anything. Not really. Take Dumbledore – Hogwarts was supposed to be the safest place there was on earth. But that didn’t change things for him, didn’t save him.

I think fiction needs to be a bit more like life in that respect. It would be nice if we all had a chance to tie our lives up neatly, to give our loved ones closure and to prepare for the worst. But for most of us that doesn’t happen. We don’t always know when the end is coming.

One of my neighbours lost his wife some years ago when she tripped and fell down the stairs. She was ‘safe’, she was in her own home. She was doing something that she had done tens of thousands of times before. Something that we all do every day without thinking about it. And one day she slipped. Just….gone.

We can all recount stories like that. I’ve known people, healthy, fit people who died suddenly of a heart attack in their sleep, or fell of their horse and landed the wrong way, or who just took a corner to sharply in the rain.

Now, I’m not saying to start killing off your characters just for shock value, but I think we really need to start looking at HOW we kill characters off, how realistic it is, and what sort of a mess they leave behind.

In real life we don’t always get a chance to put things right.

Think about it.

C

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