Romance, Love and “The Other Thing” Part 3: Wish-Fulfillments and What Not to Do
Venus and Adonis
Called "The Other Thing" So I Don't Get In Trouble
Week #10: Romance, Love and “The Other Thing” Part 3: Wish-Fulfillments and What Not to Do
I’ve been reading a new fantasy series called The Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss. Thus far there are only two books … and after the Gary-Stu disaster the last book turned into, I’m not sure I even want to bother with the third.
What happened? Well, the storyline in a nutshell is that the main character is Kvothe, he’s an orphaned teen with EXTREME magical powers, musical talent, acting ability and is, for the most part, just too damned smart—and lucky. In the first book, called The Name of the Wind, I realized that I was able to look past Kvothe’s Gary-Stuness because the whole book was well written and Kvothe was capable of real emotion, could get hurt, struggled through learning certain things, was able to make horrendous mistakes and though he could fight he could still get kicked around once in a while, making him believable and relatable as a person. That’s what we’ve been striving for. Gary-Stuness forgiven.
But then the sequel, Wise Man’s Fear … aaaagggghhh ….
The first 300 or so pages were great, believe me. Then the following 700 pages landed him right smack dab in Stuville. How so? Simple: on top of becoming the world’s greatest wizard/musician/actor/negotiator/swindler/thief/inventor, he then became the world’s greatest lover at sixteen years old.
Now, at the time I was reading this I was in the hospital, and I wasn’t totally sure if the nausea I was feeling was coming from the medication I was on or the book. I remember slamming the book closed and flipping it around to check the price on the back, thinking, “Oh my God, did I really pay $19.99 for this?!”
Disappointment aside, it got me to thinking about my blog. I know, I’ve been ignoring it lately and I am honestly sorry for that, but I lost my pace between being interrupted by *(&^%$% writer’s block, crises of innumerable sorts (i.e. gallbladder infection—on Friday the 13th, no less!), realizing that I was over analyzing every character I came across, and certain people hassling me about my current blog’s “subject matter” and blocking my Adsense account as result … even though I had checked with them first AND was given the strong and what I considered a fairly clear impression that what I was doing was okay … kinda wore me down, y’know? Eh, but no matter—this book gave me the jumpstart I needed, and after this post I can get back to making some freaking MONEY!!!
And helping people. That is the goal here. Helping people to write better. Yeah, that’s it. And make cash while I’m at it doesn’t hurt either.
Now, on to cover the last few topics I didn’t get to before!
PART 1: OKAY, SO, WISH-FULFILLMENT … DIDN’T WE TALK ABOUT THIS ALREADY?
Yes we did, back in Weeks 2 and 3 when we identified the different kinds of Sues ‘n’ Stus and talked about why people write that way. When we find an original character that is enormously talented, good looking, brave, popular, whatever, we can assume that some of these authors are living out their wish to be enormously talented, good looking, brave, popular, whatever through their OCs because they can’t be that way in real life. Fortunately, writers can develop their skills to the point where they can write a good story without ever using it as a vehicle for fulfilling their unattained wishes.
However, when it comes to romantic and erotic fanfic writing (or any writing), I am frequently stunned by the level of wish-fulfillment fantasies that weasel their way in there. A story could be good in the beginning, but as soon as the kissing starts, many people suddenly start inserting their wishes and/or beliefs into the fic, derailing the story. This can Sueify your story if you’re not paying attention. Read on and you’ll see what I mean.
PART 2: THE BEAUTY AND THE BEAST DISORDER
Love conquers all things except poverty and toothache. -Mae West
Love conquers all. We’ve learned this pretty much the day that we realized that those sounds coming out of everybody’s mouths actually meant something. Love is the most powerful force in the universe. It can conquer anything. Nothing is immune.
The “love conquers all” idea is so powerful that it’s present in many of our fairy tales, with “Beauty and the Beast” being the perfect example. While there are different variations and versions, the general story is a beautiful girl is taken away from home and meets a monstrous man who falls in love with her and is redeemed by her love, becoming a good person.
It’s a popular story. So popular, in fact, that’s spreading like a disease throughout the romantic fan fiction community. Why? Well, either everybody absolutely adores that story, or they’ve somehow been led to believe that’s the only way to write a romantic fic, especially if the story’s leading man is a villain.
Go to Fanfiction.net or to any website that features fanfic, pick a topic you’re interested in (oh, let’s just say The Legend of Zelda) and look at the number of romance fics for that one title. Now look at how many stories feature the series’ premier villain Ganondorf as the love interest for either a canon or original character.
Astounding, ain’t it?
And I guarantee you that you’ll find the same thing in other universes too. And I’ll even bet you that in 50 – 75% of the stories—at the very least!—feature the once horrid male character turn into a loving, caring, good guy. And I don’t mean that somebody Ganondorf just lightens up a little bit, I mean that he completely converts to the side of good because of the woman (or whomever) he’s fallen in love with.
This is what I refer to as the Beauty and the Beast Disorder (or BBD, sometimes referred to as Twilightism as well.) In a fanfic with BBD, Beauty is still a beauty, but the Beast is a sorcerer/vampire/werewolf/Sith lord/dark elf/demon/assassin/barbarian warrior/human-hating mutant terrorist/Slytherin potions master/tyrannical Fire Lord/a Dothraki warlord/whatever. The guy is either insanely evil, or just plain messed up. Either way, he is clearly established as the antagonist here.
Often what happens in a BBD fic, the alleged Mary-Sue and the villain will encounter each other (typically in a fight) and the villain will be mesmerized by her. Sometimes he’ll try to deny it, sometimes he’ll actually try to court the MS, but more often than not he’ll get frustrated and kidnap her a la Hades and Persephone, carrying her away with the intent of getting her to reciprocate his love.
Whilst her hero friends spend an astonishingly long time coming to her rescue, the trapped MS will rebuff the villain’s attempts to woo her, even though she’s actually secretly pleased. She’ll find herself falling in love with him, and at some point the villain will open up with some dark, painful secret, and she’ll comfort him. Now that they have each other’s trust, the MS is able to bring out the “good” in the villain. At some point she’ll leave either because he’s released her or he’s done something to make her mad, but he’ll go running after her. He’ll pledge his love to her and renounce his wicked ways. They marry and live happily ever after.
Ergh. While this isn’t necessarily a bad story, I gotta tell you, it’s been done to death—and then zombified and brought back from the dead, over and over again. It’s another example of wish-fulfillment; the author has the hots for the canonical bad guy, but they want to show us, the hapless readers, that really, deep down … somewhere … the villain is actually a good person (see more below.)
Let’s say you have an idea for your OC to hook up with the villain, but you want to avoid the Beauty and the Beast formula, but don’t have any ideas? No problem! Here’s a few, ranging from serious to just goofy:
• The villain rescues the OC
• The OC is spying on the villain, but falls in love him
• The villain is spying on the OC, but falls in love with her
• They met on a dating site
• It was a blind date
• They were betrothed at birth
• They had a bit too much to drink
• They were betrothed as a political alliance
• The villain is captured by the OC (sort of reverse BBD)
• The OC is somehow betrayed, decides to join the villain
Also, be aware that the villain doesn’t have to become good … sometimes the OC becomes bad!
PART 3: ACTING OUT—OF CHARACTER
I mentioned this briefly in I think in the last blog about romance fiction but I didn’t take the time to properly explain it. Essentially, it is all too common in fanfics to have one or more canon characters acting … well, out of character. Largely, this is just evidence of an author not thinking her or his story through enough, and/or not paying good enough attention to the characters they’re writing about. That’s easily remedied with practice and PAYING ATTENTION, DAMMIT.
On the other hand, romantic fics are absolutely rife with canon characters that are not behaving the way they should, and this is frequently done—oh God, I don’t know if I can say it—purposefully. Why? Because many of the people writing these romantic or erotic fics are (whether knowingly or not) actually self-inserting, and they’re describing what they want their canon lovers to be like.
For example, and not to keep beating a dead Sith here, but let’s take another look at Darth Maul. In Episode 1, honestly, how many words does he utter throughout the entire movie? Does he even look like a talkative guy? When he smiles, is it ever without malice? Do you think that he would ever spare anyone’s life just because she was cute? Does he seem like the type to compose Iridonian love sonnets? Do you think he suddenly gets shy and stammers around pretty girls, even after single-handedly shish-kabobbing a whole tribe of Tuskan Raiders?
If you answered either, “Hardly anything,” or “Hell no” to any of these questions, then you know who Darth Maul really is and what he’s like. You know that he’s not a nice guy. The hell with “nice”, you know that he’s evil! He’s a Sith lord, for God’s sake!
AND YET FANFIC WRITERS KEEP TURNING HIM INTO A SWEETHEART!
Why? Simple; he’s gorgeous, but he’s also dangerous. No woman in her right mind (or man in his right mind, to be fair) wants to be involved with a guy that turns Jedi Knights into human sieves for fun. No! There has to be something good in him. There’s gotta be something good in him that would make him acceptable as a sexual partner—uh, for their OCs, they mean!
Therefore, fanfic authors continued to describe Darth Maul as dark and brooding, but then they make him a little more talkative … way more talkative … and caring, honest, open, noble, brave, loyal, honorable, thoughtful, gentle, and sensitive.
DARTH MAUL IS NONE OF THESE THINGS. All that crud listed above, that’s all put there by writers who are trying to make Darth Maul into their ideal man. They’re not paying any attention to who the character is, and this is very bad. By neglecting what the character is really like, you are using a character for your own self-insert wish-fulfillment fantasies, and you’ll be doing only yourself and no one else a favor by writing them this way. No one else who appreciates a character as they are in their canon universe is going to appreciate you Harlequin Romancing them up like that. They will rightly say that you are self-inserting and then never read your stuff again.
I understand that writing a fanfic with a canon character that really doesn’t express herself or himself that much can be difficult. The trick to writing any canon character in any story is to stick as closely to their established personalities as possible, working in details of their personality gradually.
For example, when I wrote my untitled adult Darth Maul fanfic, I knew it was going to be tricky because, in the movie, he doesn’t say much … actually, I think he says all of ten words. I couldn’t write a story where the main character doesn’t speak, so at certain points of the story I had him speak more, but most of his responses early on were two or three words long. His responses are short, often terse, and even when he is roaring for his captor, the struggling Dathomir witch El’kanna, to release him, he never says much. Towards the end of the story, when Maul realizes that he falling in love with El’kanna, he’s willing to speak a bit more—not a whole lot more, but more. No flowery, poetic words come from him. Ev-er.
Furthermore, in my fic I don’t have Darth Maul going out and picking flowers for El’kanna—that’s not what he does. Bringing El’kanna her forgotten pike without being asked to is the nicest thing Maul does for her for like a quarter of the story, and he does little to reveal his feelings until they’re ambushed by a territorial mother rancor (that’s a catalyst for many an intergalactic relationship). Later, when El’kanna goes out to fight a group of rival witches, Maul stays and protects her home (some guys bring chocolates, other guys Cuisineart their girlfriend’s enemies with a double-bladed lightsaber) when he could have just left. That’s how Darth Maul would show his love; not with poetry or flowers, but with madcap Sith-style slice ‘n’ dice!
It doesn’t take much to keep a canon character in character. Just pay attention to how they act in their universe, and be honest with yourself when you go back and reread what you’ve written. If you’ve included anything that you the fangirl/fanboy would want in a real romantic partner, anything that wouldn’t jive with how this character would ordinarily behave, then take it out—you’ve just self-inserted.
PART 4: “DO YOU, MARY-SUE, TAKE THIS CANON CHARACTER …”
Interesting fact: while the number of couples getting married in the United States dwindles every year, the number of fan fiction marriages skyrocket.
Okay, I don’t know if that’s a fact, but it might as well be. Romantic fanfics resulting in matrimonial bliss between an original fan fiction character and a canon character are pretty rampant out there.
Is that a bad thing? Of course not … so long as you’re not living out a wish-fulfillment fantasy. And there seems to be a lot of those.
All right, then why do fanfic authors frequently write about weddings and marriages and stuff like that? Well, firstly, you have to understand that, despite the fact that worldwide the rate of divorce is climbing and the number of first time marriages is plummeting, our culture puts a huge … let me reiterate that as H-U-G-E … emphasis on marriage. Throughout our lives there’s always been somebody or something telling us that ultimately you must grow up, find the perfect person, marry that person, and live happily ever after. Look at all the TV shows we have about weddings, all the movies, the bridal magazines, bridal expos, fairy tales, all the toys pushed at little girls too young to know differently, the endings of Disney movies, the wedding cakes on display in the bakeries, hope chests, wedding traditions and superstitions, wedding announcements in the paper, all day coverage of royal weddings, and, of course, our own friends and relatives. You know, the ones who ride your ass because you’re almost thirty and not married yet? The ones who say that there must be something wrong with you if you don’t have a ring on your finger? The ones that are always trying to fix you up with some jerk and they’re always saying, “Oh you’ll love him, he’s a doctor” or what not? (Me? Bitter? Whatever do you mean?)
So therefore, it’s natural for fanfic writers—and might I add the young female ones?—to have that on their minds when they write. It’s something that they’re both interested in and worried about, and they get to explore that in their fics. Frequently, they’ll describe what they want for their ideal wedding, putting their OC in the kind of dress the author would want (always white), decorating the church with the kind of flowers the author would like. The weather will be fabulous, and everything will go off without a hitch.
Pleeeeaaaasssseee don’t do that. It’s perfectly fine to have a fanfic wedding, but not your dream wedding. Think about the location you would want for your wedding. You want a church? That’s nice, but I don’t think anybody from Naruto is going to get married in a church. You plan on getting married in a white dress? That’s great, but not every culture wears white (in fact, the Chinese used to view white as the color of death,) and plain white did not become a standard for wedding dresses until the 1900s. The weather isn’t always going to be perfect, there will be some kind of catastrophe (not necessarily humongous), and that eighteen-tiered Belgian chocolate wedding cake might be a little over the top. Think of it this way; your OC is your daughter, and this is her special day. Don’t wreck it for her (or your readers, who don’t want to hear about your fantasy wedding!)
In addition, some people do write wedding scenes only to get the OC and the CC to have sex. A few might say that it’s the right thing to do, that even fictional characters should maintain their virginity until marriage (seriously). Others marry the fanfic pair off out of guilt or needing an excuse, or just thinking that this would prevent flaming.
Wrong, wrong and wronger.
Your belief of waiting until marriage is commendable, but if you believe that, you’d better be aware that if you write multiple stories in multiple universes and all of them have a wedding followed by a passionate scene, not only will it get old real quick, but people will suspect self-insertion. If you’re marrying the characters because you feel guilty about the naughty bits or you feel that you need an excuse to write the naughty bits, then you’d better not write it—it might come off as cheap and your readers will notice. If you think that you’re saving your character from Mary-Sue accusations by marrying her to this character and therefore won’t get flamed … boy, are you in for a surprise. If there’s an idiot reading your story who thinks that you have a Sue, they’re going to flame no matter what.
And just to be clear—I like fanfic weddings! I have a few planned m’self!
PART 5: WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU’RE EXPECTING A SUE CHILD
This is only too inevitable for most fanfic writers; eventually, not only is their darling OC and canonical fiancé going to get married, they’re going to have kids. A lot of kids. Why? Well, I guess the typical answer would be, “’Cuz!”
Again, this is something I don’t have a problem with ordinarily, but some people just go hog wild when it comes to fanfic babies. I mean, have you seen all those pictures on deviantArt of Korra and Mako’s kids?! The sheer volume of Makorra (yech, I hate compound names!) baby pictures is staggering, with more coming in every day on deviantArt alone. In the beginning, the Makorra family pictures featured just one baby, but I’ve seen as many as five, and sometimes there have been twins, which is actually a frequent occurrence in fanfic (more on that in a sec.)
But nothing beats fanfic kids. One a fanfic writer gets it into their head that their original character and their canonical honey can have babies, they start coming up with alllllllll kinds of variations. I kid you not, I’ve seen as many as ten children for one fanfic pairing, consisting of exactly five girls and five boys, each with stereotypical behaviors and widely varied traits or skills and physical appearances. More often, you’ll see a pair of fraternal (boy/girl) twins, which likely means that the author couldn’t make up their mind on whether their fanfic pair should have a daughter or a son.
Just because a person writes that their pairing has kids doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a sign of wish-fulfillment; more likely, this is a sign that the author thinks that their characters have to have children, because that’s what married couples do—or, that’s what everybody else in the fanfic world is doing. That’s not smart. Don’t go giving your characters children if that’s not something you want to do.
Secondly, people create gaggles of ankle-biters because they keep coming up with different combinations and like all the ideas too much to just pick one. For example, let’s take Link from The Legend of Zelda and my OC character Vanessa. I had decided a while ago that they would marry and start a family. This is what I came up with, just to think of ideas:
• Link Jr.—looks like Link Sr. except for his brown hair and more human-like ears. Good at magic, not as muscular as Link Sr., still a good fighter. The next Hero of Hyrule. Extremely serious much of the time. Growing up, he didn’t like the second Princess Zelda, but when they met again as adults he fell in love with her & was stung when she rejected him. He works hard to impress his parents and hates having his younger siblings tag along. He and Zenobia have developed a frigid relationship because she resents his arrogance but doesn’t realize how scared he is.
• Zenobia—looks like Vanessa except for her blond hair. Named after Vanessa’s mother, Zenobia is a powerful magic user and fighter. More playful than Link Jr., but is quick to snap to attention when needed. She spent several years in Cibola to train, and when she came back to Hyrule she deliberately irritated Link Jr. by showing off her magical talents to get back at him for bragging about his fighting prowess.
• Wyton—looks just like Link but has eyes like Vanessa. Idolizes Link Jr. A better magic user than fighter. He is in love with the second princess Zelda. When he finds out that Link Jr. is in love with her too this drives a wedge between them.
• Durbon—has blond hair, Vanessa’s eyes, elf ears. Good at fighting, but resents Link Jr. & family legacy. He eventually strikes off to find his own fortunes.
• Cybele—looks like Vanessa excepts she has blue eyes. She’s very good at magic but often feels neglected by her father and siblings. The quietest of the children, she spends a lot of time with Saria in the Lost Woods before she’s sent to Cibola for training. On a visit home to Hyrule she tries to mediate all the bad feelings amongst the kids, but only makes things worse.
• Meridit—looks like Vanessa but has blue eyes & elf ears. Named for Vanessa’s mentor, Meridit isn’t very good at magic but works at being a better fighter. She wants to be as good as Vanessa and is jealous that she can’t really wield magic like some of the other children.
• Iagan—has blue eyes, blond hair & human ears. Iagan isn’t good at magic or fighting, and his siblings often pick on him for it. Iagan’s a scholar and inventor, and studies under King Sheik.
Jeez … if Vanessa was real, she’d kill me for making her have so many kids!
In the end, I had to put all of Vanessa and Link’s progeny on the back burner—I realized that I was getting carried away. And finding Hylian-sounding boy names was a bitch too. But never mind that part, my point is that when I started thinking too much about it, I created too many characters, and many of them started to sound Sueish the more I thought about them. I did myself and everybody a favor by deciding against all these characters.
Furthermore, I don’t need to give my fanfic pair children at all. Nobody says that you have to. If you feel like you have to, stop and seriously ask yourself if you have to or want to. There’s a difference; if you have to give your fanfic couple children, then it should be because you’ve got a good story idea going. If you want to give them kids based solely on the belief that babies are cute and you think it’s funny to see your characters as hassled parents, then that’s a really lame reason. You don’t have a story.
If you decide to give your pairing children, decide right now how many—and for God's sake, don’t give them a horde! Too many children will overwhelm the story, and it’ll be too difficult to keep the characters straight. If for whatever reason you want to give them a big family, I’d suggest that you make only one or two of the children really integral to the story, that way you won’t confuse your plotlines (i.e., my OC Nyx—NOT THE COMIC CHARACTER!!—and Nightcrawler have four children, but only Kurt Jr. is focused on in any great depth.) In a novel you’d have more freedom, but this is a fanfic and shouldn’t be that long.
Finally, I really can’t stand child Sues. They have many of the traits of the unforgivable type of Mary-Sue, but they also act like mini-adults. They converse like adults, understand emotional subjects that are far beyond their level, out-smart all the grown-ups, and react coolly to dangerous situations while other kids would be out-of-their-minds hysterical.
Really, this is proof that many people just don’t know how children behave, and they start to unwittingly write about this five year old preschooler as if he or she were a thirty-five year old law grad. While granted, there are children with extraordinary speaking skills and intelligence, they’re few and far between. If your OC child isn’t a Sheldon-esque genius, they have to act according to their age. Think back to the time when you or your siblings were five years old. Do you remember how you spoke? What you thought about? What was most important to you back then? If you’re not sure, talk to someone who may remember, or look at home videos. It doesn’t hurt to watch channels like Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, PBS or the Disney Channel to see how younger children act and think, or MTV, ABCFamily and the CW for teenagers.
PART 6: DO IT, OR NOT DO IT?
Coincidentally, as I was getting ready to outline this section, I happened to catch a rerun of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. In the episode, teenage Ashley Banks is apprehensive about whether or not she’s actually ready to have sex with her boyfriend. Will and Carlton, Ashley's older brother, accidentally overhear her discussing this with her friends and go berserk. Will begs Ashley not to do it, and while Ashley angrily declares that she wants to do it, she later admits to her boyfriend that she doesn’t think she’s ready. When her boyfriend assures her that he’s fine with whatever she wants, Ashley says, “Then ... we don’t have to rush.”
That’s excellent advice for all teenagers facing that dilemma, but in some ways it also applies to writing erotic fanfic for some people. Some people feel that their fanfic pair should be having a physical relationship because 1) that’s what couples in love do, and 2) well, everybody else is doing it (writing an erotic fic I mean.)
Listen to me; if you don’t feel at all comfortable writing an erotic fanfic, then you don’t have to do it. Don’t let yourself feel pressured by other people. You’ll feel disgusted with yourself, your story won’t be any good, and if any jackasses give your story a bad review, you’ll feel even worse. If you want your story to progress that way, it should come naturally. Don’t force it.
And hey, you don’t even have to show it happening—you could bypass the whole scene and mention the fact later!
PART 6: ALTERNATE LIFESTYLES?
I’ve seen quite a few homosexual original characters out there over the years, and while I’m not bothered by homosexuality, I do find myself raising an eyebrow at some of these gay OCs and their ordinarily straight canon character lovers. There have been a few times where the story has read like the character was originally a straight female, then the author said, “Oops, she sounds like a Mary-Sue. How do I fix that …? Heeey, maybe it’d be cooler if she was actually a man! Nobody’ll care if he has Mary-Sue qualities, because it’s a guy and it’ll be different!”
I’m not saying that all fics with gay characters are like this, but a few come across that way. Other times the gay or lesbian OC comes across as stiff and awkward, leading me to believe that the writer is just trying out something new and doesn’t know what the hell they’re talking about and really don’t care, and constantly bringing up the fact that the character is homosexual when, really, once it’s established we don’t need to be reminded any more. Other people write about gay characters for the same reason I mentioned in the section above: ‘cuz everybody else is doing it. And then there are people who are gay in real life and trying to explain it, express it, or understand it better themselves through writing.
If your OC is gay, make sure you’re writing her or him that way because you want to and you have a story to tell. Don’t come up with some half baked idea that sounds “kinda cool,” and don’t let anyone push you into it. Don’t make assumptions about gay people, because aside from their sexual orientation, they’re exactly like everybody else (hell, I have three gay best friends, two of whom I never would have guessed until they told me) and they should act that way. Please be sympathetic—they get enough crap as it is. And just because there are a lot of people out there who enjoy lesbian porn doesn’t mean you should feel like you have to write it to please your audience.
Oh, and making your character gay isn’t going to eliminate any Mary-Sue or Gary-Stu traits either, so don’t even think about using that as an excuse.
PART 7: NO CONSQUENCES? NOT A CHANCE
It just started with a simple kiss
Now it hurts to even take a piss
Oh how did I get syphilis?”
So laments the unnamed author of this Beatles parody. But it’s true; if you go running around having sex without taking the proper precautions, you are going to pay for it. There are a dozen different types of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) that are way too easy to catch. There’s the chance of an unwanted pregnancy. If you’re cheating on someone, somebody’s going to find out and they are not going to handle you gently when they find you. You might hook up with a total psycho. You might get a stalker. Or worse.
But that doesn’t seem to happen to Mary-Sue. Nope, apparently, not only is Mary-Sue capable of easily attracting every Y-chromosome carrier on the planet, she’s capable of sleeping with all of them and walking away without a single disease or unplanned baby.
So, why does Mary-Sue get to be Slut-Sue without repercussions, while everybody else has to take a trip to the free clinic? Firstly, let’s consider who’s writing a lot of these fics. We know that a lot of fanfic authors are young teenage girls, and many of them are having a hard time dealing with puberty and their developing sexuality and don’t have any way of relieving that tension (I mentioned this in Week 2 and Week 9). Second, we all know that when it comes to boys, young girls can be flighty in their preference, which is natural; they’re learning to identify what they like and don’t like in a person, and until they learn to find these qualities in a particular person, they’ll be attracted to a variety of boys, hence the term “boy crazy.” (Technically, this can be applied to either gender.)
Third, we know that girls can be intimidated by just the thought of speaking to a boy and frightened by these new emerging feelings, so girls turn to canon male characters—people that they know well and feel safe around—and develop crushes on them. (I think that’s in Week 9 too.)
And finally, we know that a lot of people self-insert when writing fanfic—including erotic fanfic. So that Mary-Sue that’s sleeping with every member of the Justice League is probably a teenage girl trying to sort out her feelings. Teenage boys do this for the same reason, but I personally haven’t come across any Gigolo-Stu fics yet.
Okay, but what about STDs and pregnancy? Nobody seems to think about that. See, in psychology, there’s a term called “an optimistic bias,” meaning that everyone thinks, “Nah, that bad thing will never happen to me.” People, most particularly teenagers and twenty-somethings, have this feeling of invincibility that comes from lack of wisdom and loads of youthful confidence. They think that nothing bad can ever happen to them. Then they get gonorrhea and screech, “Why did this happen to me?!” This extends into fanfic as well.
Furthermore, think about all the TV shows you watch, the movies, the books and comic books you read, the video games you play. If any of them have a sexual situation in it, do any of the characters stop and say, “Hang on, we need to pick up some condoms” before falling into bed with yet another paramour? Any? Some? Few? No? Of course not; any talk of sexual responsibility is muted in the media. Apparently, those people writing our books and directing our movies are either worried that we’ll be turned off by discussing protection or, in the case of many romance novels, it’s thought to be “unromantic.” With Hollywood and its ilk constantly acting as though we shouldn’t worry about things like sexually transmitted diseases, is it any wonder that so many people have them now? Is it any surprise that it doesn’t come up in fanfic at all?
Oh, and just so you don’t get the wrong idea, I’m not saying that you have to discuss those things in your fics—that’s up to you. This a tricky subject, but maybe if we could bring it up now and again, people will start to think about it (Yes, there are loopholes; for example, because Gargoyles can get pregnant once every ten years and due to their healing abilities are incapable of contracting an STD, the sex safety would be moot.)
In the end, I think Ozzy Osborne said it best when talking to his kids: “Remember, no drinking and no drugs. And if you have sex, for God’s sake, wear a condom.”
PART 8: JUST TO REITERIATE …
RAPE IS NOT EROTICA. IT IS NOT ROMANCE. Don’t ever let the thought cross your mind. If you can’t write a sex story without rape, don’t write anything at all—and the same goes for pedophilia. Just because your twelve year old character is “mature for her age” doesn’t make it right for her to have a sexual encounter.
PART 9: HOW TO WRITE A GOOD STORY
Sorry. Can’t help you there. As per the rules, I’m not allowed to talk about anything “sexually explicit.” I will say that doing these blogs has made me think about putting together my own writing guides—at least you can get the good stuff that way!
At long last, the Romance part of the blog is complete. I can’t tell you how many times I almost gave up on the whole thing because it was becoming so difficult, and I was getting discouraged by the website’s reaction to my current topic. To tell you the truth, there’s more that could have been written, but I’m also open to any suggestions or questions. I can always expand on this or any topic later!
Next week’s topic—Canon Sue!