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.
*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.