Forum: Sexuality in Middle-earth

Discussing: PWP - Guys & Gals Going at It

PWP - Guys & Gals Going at It

The stories we love to read and write, but don't want to admit to - PWP (Plot? What plot? for those who are trying to build up their acronym vocabulary), the lovely little story that has no real purpose except sex. Let's hear it for PWPs! Exiled from ff.net, rarely considered classy enough for inclusion on HASA, and predominantly slash, this is one of the most written genres in the fandom. Possibly *the* most written. So, what do these stories have to tell us about sexuality in Middle-earth, if anything? Can one write a canonical PWP? Can you have a *serious* PWP? What does the fact that so many of us write PWPs (C'mon, I know you're out there! I've got a couple under my belt, too.) say about how we conceptualize sex, sexuality, and their place in ME? Why is it so predominantly slash? Do we need to say anything about them except that they titillate, and that's good enough? Why is it so darn much fun to insert Elf A into Elf B? Toodles - Ang

 

 

Re: PWP - Guys & Gals Going at It

*ahem* *raises hand* Yes, I've written some PWP, which is slash, although mostly it's PWP episodes within a larger story that at least pretends to have some plot and serious themes about Elvish society - Passages. Do these sorts of stories have anything to tell us about sexuality in Middle-earth? I'm not sure. I think they tell us considerably more about their authors. Can one have serious PWP? Yes. See above. "Passages" is actually a fairly serious story, despite all the interludes of PWP, and those interludes are (I think and hope) portrayed seriously, if sensually and graphically. Canonical? Well, that's doubtful, given that Tolkien did not, would not, write explicit. Sure, there's sex in Tolkien's ME, but it's all off-stage. So I'm not sure fanfic sex, PWP or not, can ever be canonical. Certainly slash cannot be. I don't object to it, obviously but I do consider it AU, as I've never read anything that would suggest that Tolkien would have accepted homosexual relationships as a legitimate part of ME society. Why is it so darn much fun to insert Elf A into Elf B? Er... because? Because in the modern world, with the still-more-basic needs of food and shelter taken care of, sex is the next big biological urge. Folk tales tend to focus on food - think of all those ever-refilling pots, for instance - but they were created in a time when hunger, even famine, was always near. We don't have that worry, and let's face it, sex is a lot of fun. Now, why so much of it is slash is another question entirely, and one I'm not sure I have an answer for that completely satisfies me. Freudian psych would suggest penis envy, but I don't buy that. I've seen it claimed that it's because one can more easily portray equality in the relationship if it's M/M (or F/F, for that matter), but that doesn't quite work for me either, not in Tolkien fanfic. He quite explicitly said that male and female Elves were considered equal in their society, though they didn't always do the same things. So there's no necessary need to use slash for that in this fandom. And if writing from experience is desirable (if not absolutely required) for authenticity, then there's even less reason why so much PWP is slash - since most of it is written by women, who can only have an outsider's view of the male experience. Maybe it's because one can imagine it from both perspectives while writing, and get a two-for-one, so to speak? I really don't know. ...rarely considered classy enough for inclusion on HASA Too true, and I'm not sure why that need be the case. I have read a few things that are, in terms of writing quality, good enough for HASA, but I haven't submitted them. There are a few here, although they tend to be humorous - I'm thinking of Tyellas's "Elf Slash Sarcasm" and Elizabeth Wyeth's "Aragorn Stew." Maybe because PWP, more or less by definition, doesn't have either character development or storyline? So perhaps the genre itself is the problem? Titillation is fine, but for HASA we want something more? Cel, speculating

 

 

Re: PWP - Guys & Gals Going at It

And if writing from experience is desirable (if not absolutely required) for authenticity, then there's even less reason why so much PWP is slash - since most of it is written by women, who can only have an outsider's view of the male experience.

That's always been a problem I had with it. And I wonder why women, who have legitimate sexual drives of their own feel the need to explore a kind of sexuality that, by its nature, would exclude them utterly? Wouldn't f/f be more of a celebration of womanhood? Or have we been brainwashed for so many generations that we no longer believe our own sensuality is interesting to anyone?

But seriously, there is a lot of het stuff out there too. Granted, much of it is Mary Sue, but there are some very creative uses that this genre can be put to and not all of it is bad. Before you go assuming that just because something is bad just because it is sexual in nature, try reading around a bit. There IS good PWP stuff out there, and not all of it is slash. You just have to know where to look.

Besides, sometimes all you want is titillation and if a piece does that skillfully, why not?

Ariel

 

 

Re: PWP - Guys & Gals Going at It

Cel wrote:
Now, why so much of it is slash is another question entirely, and one I'm not sure I have an answer for that completely satisfies me. Freudian psych would suggest penis envy, but I don't buy that.

Pardon me, but I can't resist the opportunity to quote Eve Ensler here: "The clitoris has twice as many nerve endings as the penis. Who needs a handgun when you've got a semi-automatic?"

I wonder why women, who have legitimate sexual drives of their own feel the need to explore a kind of sexuality that, by its nature, would exclude them utterly? Wouldn't f/f be more of a celebration of womanhood?

But I like celebrating manhood!

Seriously, I don't think the explanation is all that convoluted. PWP is all about watching bodies you find particularly attractive get it on.

One thing that I do care about, though, even in the briefest of PWPs, gay, straight or anywhere else on the continuum, is plausible chemistry. So, frex, while Frodo and Aragorn are both perfectly hot people, Frodo and Aragorn together will always send me into gales of contemptuous laughter (unless E.W. wrote it, in which case, scrap the "contemptuous." ) I'm such a hard sell on pairings that I don't read a whole lot of PWP, though I'm hardly prudish. Exceptions delight me. I thought "Stud Fee," frex, was a grand romp.

Stulti

 

 

Re: PWP - Guys & Gals Going at It

Ariel said: I wonder why women, who have legitimate sexual drives of their own feel the need to explore a kind of sexuality that, by its nature, would exclude them utterly? Wouldn't f/f be more of a celebration of womanhood?

Stulti said: But I like celebrating manhood!

And I would add, that as a woman I could in RL be involved in both M/F and F/F relationships - but for M/M, I can only write about it. Maybe there's something there as well? I already know my own sexuality and sexual drives, so it's more interesting to explore sexuality from a different angle.

Cel

 

 

Re: PWP - Guys & Gals Going at It

Why is it so darn much fun to insert Elf A into Elf B?

Cel wrote:
Now, why so much of it is slash is another question entirely, and one I'm not sure I have an answer for that completely satisfies me. Freudian psych would suggest penis envy, but I don't buy that.

And I would add, that as a woman I could in RL be involved in both M/F and F/F relationships - but for M/M, I can only write about it. Maybe there's something there as well? I already know my own sexuality and sexual drives, so it's more interesting to explore sexuality from a different angle.


I think so much is slash because it gives readers a 'two for the price of one' in a way. It's not nearly as much fun to watch the sexual reactions to a Mary-sue, unless it's an unusually well written one, and has enough plot and build up to make you care about the Mary-sue also. Using two canon characters means two characters you know, who have personalities you're familiar with, and who you care about, at least somewhat. You've watched them interact with each other, or other characters already in canon, now you get to see them interact in a different way.

As to PWP that is worth reading, I've found a limited amount. I agree 'Stud Fee' is well done, 'Aragorn Stew' is hilarious. 'Elf Slash Sarcasm' is funny, but strikes me less as PWP and more as humor. I didn't find that one erotic at all. Maybe I was too busy laughing. Two not mentioned yet are 'Of Elves and Men' by Tenshi no Korin, and for het 'Temptation' is good.

Ang, are you contemplating a PWP challenge?

Lyllyn

 

 

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Who me? [Ang bats eyes innocently]

Perhaps, though I am mostly interested in sounding out this phenomenon. I like the idea that it is easier to put two canon figures together than canon/OC for instant reader acceptance. But I'm still fascinated by the *huge* preponderance of m/m PWP.

I myself find a lot of PWP that is worth reading - as long as it *is* PWP. What makes me roll eyes is the attempt to put it inside of a plot or ennoble it or claim it *is* (it is! it is! it is!) "canonical" - sex stories are fun and need no other justification, as far as I'm concerned. As soon as someone starts waxing poetic about how well a "relationship" is portrayed in it, I'm outta there.

This stands in distinction to having a sexual encounter that really is a plot point or illustrates something important about the nature of a connection between two characters (inclding that there *is* no connection) or tells us something important about how a character thinks of him/herself, etc. But, then, that's not PWP. And it requires a well-written story to support it.

So, I myself think it has more to do with liking the idea of writing about the characters (visualized as the actors from the movie) having sex, and the most likely lust object is another one of them.

Ang

 

 

Re: PWP - Guys & Gals Going at It

I like the idea that it is easier to put two canon figures together than canon/OC for instant reader acceptance.

That perhaps explains the popularity of the harem's 'second person' PWP vignettes on my own site. The OC is never described and the reader is encouraged to see themselves in the role of protagonist. Second person POV is difficult to manage without tense errors, but it is possible - and the results ARE titillating.

Ariel

 

 

Re: PWP - Guys & Gals Going at It

Lyllyn wrote:
Ang, are you contemplating a PWP challenge?

If there's going be a challenge, I vote for femslash (PWP optional).

 

 

Re: PWP - Guys & Gals Going at It

Take up all Challenge requests with the Foul Dwimmerlaik. I have nothing to do with them. I just toss out ideas...

Toodles - Ang

 

 

Re: PWP - Guys & Gals Going at It

Ah, PWPs. I'm a fandom smut peddler; I've got a handful of these posted at my site. I also have some longer erotic stories, such as Cuivienyarna, that were begun with the intent of being PWPs and turned into something deeper.

Overall, I agree with Celadine - PWPs are enjoyable for the reasons sex and romance are enjoyable. Two people have mentioned my story Elf Slash Sarcasm as a PWP, but I don't see it as that. It wasn't written to arouse, but as parody, and to vent after the barrage of awful elf slash out there.

Maybe the preponderence of m/m PWPs is due to the fact that there's a lot more cultural license for men to have casual sex; what makes a man a stud makes a woman a slut to this day. Because of this, it's easier to keep a positive, sympathetic view of a male character sowing some wild oats, and we play with the idea more. Also, in this fandom we inevitably come back to the paucity of women characters and the issue of OFCs. The Femslash discussion on Altariel's board has some pertinent points about the lack of femslash.

Women writing about passion between gay men isn't limited to fanfiction slash. The gay writer John Preston offers this explanation: "Whether it's the ideal of androgyny that some think gay men embody, or the appeal of the freedom from sexual roles and restrictions that gay men seem to represent, or an exploration of bisexuality (even omnisexuality) that women think they might experience with gay men, we have been the topic of many women's writings." This sums up many of the reasons why I enjoy slash and male/male materials and imagery. Nor is slash just for women; I do get occasional feedback from gay and bi men who read my slash stories.

...rarely considered classy enough for inclusion on HASA.

Too true, and I'm not sure why that need be the case.


I do feel very inhibited about posting any of my blatant PWPs to HASA, and I haven't done so. Nor are all the PWPs I've written posted on my own site; some have just been sent to one or two other people. And some will just stay on my hard drive. Not all that glitters is gold.

Maybe because PWP, more or less by definition, doesn't have either character development or storyline? So perhaps the genre itself is the problem? Titillation is fine, but for HASA we want something more?

This raises the question of what makes a good fanfiction PWP. I'd say a good PWP is not so much "Plot, what plot?" but a short character-focused vignette moved along with a light/uncomplicated plot or a simple character goal. And the author has to have some talent for erotic writing, preferably beyond parroting what other fandom authors have done. At its best, a PWP is an author's place to play.

 

 

Re: PWP - Guys & Gals Going at It

At its best, a PWP is an author's place to play.

Yeay Tyellas! That pretty well sums it up for me. I wrote One Night before Stud Fee, and never published it because of the AU issue as well as a certain amount of embarassment, but I wrote it primarily for two reasons--a)to see if I could actually write really smutty stuff, and b)because I really, REALLY wanted Heth to have Faramir for at least one night, and I needed to get that out of my system so I could go on with Captain in a responsible manner. Arranging a fatal accident for Eowyn was starting to look entirely too good........

I have people asking me for more sex scenes of various sorts now, and if I can find a good hook for one, I may write another soon. I worked on One Night when I was having trouble with Captain, and for whatever reason, it was really relaxing. Once I have the hook, or basic idea behind them, they seem to just flow. I've had requests for stuff I just don't think I can do, or am not particularly interested in doing--I don't see the need to do one of every sort of possible pairing or group just to prove my versatility. But PWP is fun to write.

 

 

Re: PWP - Guys & Gals Going at It

And I wonder why women, who have legitimate sexual drives of their own feel the need to explore a kind of sexuality that, by its nature, would exclude them utterly? Wouldn't f/f be more of a celebration of womanhood? Or have we been brainwashed for so many generations that we no longer believe our own sensuality is interesting to anyone?

Actually, I find the slash genre interesting because it's primarily *female* writers interpreting *masculine* sexuality and sensuality. It's women looking at a masculine view of the world, and largely reinterpreting it. It's largely women showing moments of tenderness between men, or moments of passion - something that we can only really be spectators to, rather than participants in. It's showing an alternatlive, in a lot of ways, and that alternative is fascinating. It's a feminine window on a masculine culture.

There's also the fact that m/m is considered "forbidden" or "emasculating" in Western culture, while f/f is almost considered "wholesome". This could be partially due to semi-religious taboos which have been in place for centuries. It could also be due to cultural perceptions of the masculine and feminine nature - women are perceived as emotional and sensual, while men are perceived as physical and sexual. It would therefore be something of a challenge to write a masculine (very masculine) character being emotional and sensual with another (very) masculine character.

As a writer and a woman, I have to admit that I find it *very* hard to tap into masculine sensuality. I've had a partially started piece of PWP in my folder on HA for about a year now, stalled at the point where my characters are *just* starting to get "hot & heavy" because I quite literally couldn't think of anything to get it past that point. I've finally been able to get somewhere on turning it around and writing the other side of it (the female character's POV), and who knows, from *there* I may be able to hook into something for the male character (although it's Aragorn/OFC, so don't bet on it ). I've got another slashbunny that's nibbling occasionally at my ankles, where I'm trying to write what would effectively be a masculine masturbation fantasy. It's bloody difficult.

(Oh, and just in case you're wondering, I have written original het erotica, although this is currenlty unpublished).

I don't find that feminine sensuality is uninteresting (I'm female, I'm in my early 30's and my hormones over-ride the antidepressants often enough that I'm well aware of my own sensuality ). What I do think is that masculine sensuality is attractive (I'm female and very much heterosexual), which is why I read slash. I also read erotica, smut and pornography as the mood takes me. It's just that at the moment, I quite enjoy slash - mainly for the alternative view of masculinity it provides.


 

 

Re: PWP - Guys & Gals Going at It

HELP!

I got the closest I'll ever get to writing a PWP! Sheesh, I was bored during practice for a school play and I proceeded to write a gap-filler on how did Eowyn and Faramir celebrate their first new year together....

Not that it was explicit: it just suggested that they had sex near the end of the piece. Unfortunately, I tossed the piece into the wastebasket after some nosy pals tried to peek! Argh!

It was fun, I admit. It wasn't smutty nor it was too graphic. Please don't ask me to put it in a HA folder: I'm grossed out even though the story can earn a PG-13 rating.

 

 

Re: PWP - Guys & Gals Going at It

In fandoms where most fans are women who fancy men, might the preponderance of m/m PWP just be the 'two bodies to lust after' phenomenon?

So far, I've never successfully written PWP: mainly sheer embarrassment, I think. Whenever I try, I get stuck on the problem that using technical terms for genitalia &c sounds clinical, using colloquial terms tends to sound out of register in my writing (and there are no colloquial terms for the female genitalia with which I'm wholly comfortable), and using metaphor is just *so* cliche that it makes me collapse in laughter. For some reason, the few scenes I have written, whether m/m or m/f, are invariably in the male PoV, which is odd.

Tavia

 

 

Re: PWP - Guys & Gals Going at It

So far, I've never successfully written PWP: mainly sheer embarrassment, I think. Whenever I try, I get stuck on the problem that using technical terms for genitalia &c sounds clinical, using colloquial terms tends to sound out of register in my writing (and there are no colloquial terms for the female genitalia with which I'm wholly comfortable), and using metaphor is just *so* cliche that it makes me collapse in laughter. For some reason, the few scenes I have written, whether m/m or m/f, are invariably in the male PoV, which is odd.

Ah, yes, what I call the "boingy, boingy, boingy" problem. I have the same thing. I either get intensely embarassed, or I break into giggles. Or, if I'm finally getting the bloody thing right, I eventually have to wander off and deal with the arousal levels.

I think that's the thing about a lot of *good* erotica/smut/porn/whatever - it's very intense, which means that it can be *very* hard to write. One thing that I find helps is concentrating on the sensation. If you can capture that, you're on the right track. Let someone else worry about the plumbing, or leave that to the reader's imagination.

 

 

Re: PWP - Guys & Gals Going at It

I ...uh... took my courage in both hands and uploaded my latest attempt at the PWP genre ... it's PWP by Firerose (under General stories). Short, non-explicit and uh a bit cheesy... The extremely cheesy last line should hopefully be ameliorated in context of the story I hope to incorporate it into.

Comments welcome, here or in my Forum, Tavia Thoughts. (I'd link it in here, but I never quite worked out how to do that.....) But please, no flames, my PWP muse is difficult enough to work with at the best of times.

Tavia

 

 

Re: PWP - Guys & Gals Going at It

Not that it was explicit: it just suggested that they had sex near the end of the piece. Unfortunately, I tossed the piece into the wastebasket after some nosy pals tried to peek! Argh!

This is why I hate writing in public spaces. The whole J.K. Rowlings coffee shop thing only works if I can guarantee no one will come moseying over to look. Of course, I may be paranoid, but that's only because I have the bad habit of looking over other people's shoulders when they're writing. ;-S

It was fun, I admit. It wasn't smutty nor it was too graphic. Please don't ask me to put it in a HA folder: I'm grossed out even though the story can earn a PG-13 rating.

I had a similar reaction the first time I tried writing sex into a story. It probably was PG or PG-13, but if you've never gone there before, I think it takes some getting used to. I suppose that essentially, I've been privately honing my PWPish 'skills' and comfort level for about ten years, and only within the last two have I posted anything sexually explicit.

Out of curiosity, is your tolerance for the sexually explicit higher as a reader or as a writer, or is your writing tolerance the same as your reading tolerance? I think I definitely have to go with higher tolerance as a reader.

 

 

Re: PWP - Guys & Gals Going at It

For me, it's the same. I write some very explicit and graphic stuff, and I read at the same level. It's by no means all I write or all I read, of course, but I don't go further as a reader than as a writer.

I wrote "The Quarry" at an airport, waiting for a plane - but it's not explicit. I've written pieces of "Passages" also on airplanes, and that is explicit. Largely because for some reason I seem to have more time to write while traveling than I do the rest of the time, so I have to take it when I can get it.

The first smut I wrote was in a letter, rather than in a story... to the person I later married. Maybe that helped.

Celandine

 

 

Re: PWP - Guys & Gals Going at It

Out of curiosity, is your tolerance for the sexually explicit higher as a reader or as a writer, or is your writing tolerance the same as your reading tolerance?

Far far higher as a reader. I'll read virtually anything, but have rarely written anything substantially more explicit than the snippet I posted. Usually they don't get beyond checking each other out!

Tavia

 

 

Re: PWP - Guys & Gals Going at It

Out of curiosity, is your tolerance for the sexually explicit higher as a reader or as a writer, or is your writing tolerance the same as your reading tolerance?

Definitely as a reader. I will read almost anything, the upper limit of what I will write is somewhere in the PG13 - R boundary. I am a beginner and still feel uncomfortable putting too much sex into a story.

 

 

Re: PWP - Guys & Gals Going at It

Out of curiosity, is your tolerance for the sexually explicit higher as a reader or as a writer, or is your writing tolerance the same as your reading tolerance?

Definitely as a reader. I can read anything not too squicky or explicitly violent, but I had a very difficult time writing the ending scene to 'Hidden Wounds,' which I rated R.

I can read things that are NC-17 and turn out more violent than I expected; and although the subject matter is not for me, I can still admire good writing. I find some of Tyellas' more extreme pieces fall into this category, and therefore I miss reading some well written stories I would otherwise have read. OTOH, even if I might be in the mood for PWP, and it involves favorite characters or pairings, there is only so much bad writing I can tolerate.

If I were to write a PWP, R would be the upper limit, and my R might not be someone else's idea of R. Which of course leads to a whole new discussion... differences in ratings.

Lyllyn

 

 

Re: PWP - Guys & Gals Going at It

Short, non-explicit and uh a bit cheesy... The extremely cheesy last line should hopefully be ameliorated in context of the story I hope to incorporate it into.

Very non-explicit. I would label this a short vignette, nicely done, and I do not see this as PWP. If you expanded it to around three times its current size, and got more explicit, maybe.

Oh, and if you can't tell from that short ramble, I like it.

Lyllyn

 

 

Re: PWP - Guys & Gals Going at It

BTW what do you mean by graphic? I just want to know what does graphic mean to different people.

 

 

Re: PWP - Guys & Gals Going at It

BTW what do you mean by graphic? I just want to know what does graphic mean to different people.

Niliwen, we discussed this briefly, a while ago, in this forum under the No Sex in Lotr? topic. I'm reposting my version here, maybe it'll kickstart another discussion.

Graphic seems like ..., 'then x rubbed y's z lovingly, and tab a was inserted into slot b'.

Graphic can be done well, or poorly.
Implicit , you have to draw the conclusion yourself as to what happened, and someone else might not draw the same conclusion.
Explicit, it's definitely there, but may or may not be graphic.

lyllyn

 

 

Re: PWP - Guys & Gals Going at It

Here follows Dwim's personal schema:

Graphic--there is no curtain at any point between the reader and the sex scene.

Explicit--no bones made about what is going on, but you don't get the detailed descriptions.

To draw on something Mike said elsewhere, graphic is more like an attempt at a direct translation of a visual image to the page. His theory is that graphic scenes are the literary descendants of the cinematic sex scene; how good they are is likely to depend on how much of a "translation" you get from "screen" to "page," and how good a stylist the writer is.

Explicit is less likely to give you the same sort of camera-pan over the couple as they're having sex, although the reader may well be present for the entire act.

 

 

Re: PWP - Guys & Gals Going at It

Out of curiosity, is your tolerance for the sexually explicit higher as a reader or as a writer, or is your writing tolerance the same as your reading tolerance? I think I definitely have to go with higher tolerance as a reader.

Ditto. In as much as I read much more erotica than I write. My written stuff is still safely on the HDD, and is staying there, unless I find a nice bloke who's interested in reading it *grin*. My LOTR writing is remaining pretty much out of the "sexually explicit" zone, simply because the location (and the characters, come to that) don't really allow for much room there. There *may* be some coming into Argaladiel, although I have a feeling that it will be very much "go into the room, close the door, put note on the outside of the handle saying 'do not disturb'".

*sigh*

I wish I knew how the slash writers did it... writing the explicity stuff, that is. The other bit I don't need to know about. Far too much information.



 

 

Re: PWP - Guys & Gals Going at It

I wish I knew how the slash writers did it... writing the explicity stuff, that is.

*cough* I don't know, I just do it?

Seriously, though, I think the key thing in writing sex scenes - however explicit or not they may be - is that the author must not be embarrassed by any actions her/himself. Because that will come through and make the scene ring false for the reader. Embarrassment is something that different people experience differently - some people are really weirded out just by nudity, for instance. (I'm perhaps lucky - I did a bit of art-class modeling back in college, which got me over that pretty effectively.)

Now, this obviously doesn't mean that one has to have personal experience with whatever you're describing! It's more-or-less impossible for a female author writing male slash, anyway. I suppose my trick is to try to imagine myself into the character (well, each in turn). They are not embarrassed by their actions, or they wouldn't be doing them. So I can't be. So I write it that way. If that makes any kind of sense at all!

Not all scenes can or should be explicit/graphic, either, but since this is a PWP thread, that's what I'm talking about...

Cel

 

 

Re: PWP - Guys & Gals Going at It

Is the sex confined to PWPs? What about having sex as part of the larger story?
Everything I have written as Enros so far has sex in it, most of it graphic, and even Sorne has some! After all it's a very powerful part of human nature in real life, so why not the same in stories? Frankly I like writing it, although some of the darker stuff can be difficult, and I like reading it. Thinking about it, I probably prefer writing it, and may write something more extreme than I would read. This may be because while I do the writing I control what happens, whereas as a reader I'm at the mercy of the writer.
I would suggest that perhaps one of the reasons female fanfic writers write so much slash, as opposed to het fic, is that it gives them a chance to explore dangerous aspects of sexuality without having to identify with any of the characters. For instance how many rape scenes do you read in het fic, compared to slash?

 

 

Re: PWP - Guys & Gals Going at It

They are not embarrassed by their actions, or they wouldn't be doing them. So I can't be. So I write it that way. If that makes any kind of sense at all!

I agree that if an author is embarrassed by what s/he is writing, that will show through in the writing and ring false. Testing personal boundaries is good, but it can get you into trouble if you go too far all at once beyond your comfort zone.

However, I'd like to complicate the "they're not embarrassed by their actions" bit by asking a question. Has anyone else read one of those (usually wretched) "deflowering" PWPs? That genre of PWP writing seems to love this scenario, and in the spirit of some kind of misplaced realism, an author may attempt to make one of the characters awkward or embarrassed (but of course unable to resist, yada yada). Now, I'm willing to bet that this sort of sexual initiation can and does happen--it's not all fun, all the time.

So although I haven't yet seen one of these fics succeed, in principle, you'd think there should be some way of doing a PWP that turns on a character's embarrassment/naïveté that actually works, and in that case, a writer who *is* embarrassed may be able to turn that embarrassment to his/her advantage.

Opinions? If such a scenario worked, do you think it would still count as a PWP, or would there of necessity have to be enough work put into it to have an actual plot? All purely speculative, here.

 

 

Re: PWP - Guys & Gals Going at It

Hmm. No garantees it will go NC-17 but I'll take up the challenge. Here's an idea that popped in my head.

Eomer and Lothiriel’s wedding night (with apologies anyone whose ideas I rip off and anyone who groans at my bad writing) Even bigger apologies if I mess up canon at all. I only made a cursory review and didn’t find anything specific about the marriage.


The room was dark but for the fire in the hearth and a small lamp beside the bed. The bed was large and covered thickly with quilts. The top layer was shining fur. The flickering light sources rippled across it creating the illusion of a great bear hibernating. Scarce else of the fine furnishings could be seen in the dimness except a dull gleam of silver thread in the tapestries. Thus was the wedding chamber of King Eomer and Lothiriel of Dol Amroth appointed.

Light spilled in from passage outside as the bridegroom led his bride in, briefly silhouetting the two figures; the large and not so large. Then the door closed and blindness set in. As they blinked in silent adjustment, a soft thud came from the other side of the door and a faint rustle.

“What was that?” gasped Lothiriel as she spun toward the sound.

Eomer coughed slightly and replied, “Our witnesses most like. They will wait there until we call them in. After.”

“Witnesses?! We have witnesses? No one told me that. Can’t we send them away?” Suddenly she remembered hearing of such customs in foreign lands but she had never imagined she would be subject to it.

She still barely knew Eomer himself. They had met only a few times on the rare occasions when their fathers held counsel together. They almost had to be reintroduced each time as childhood and adolescence wrought their impression on the young people. The last time they reaquainted with each other was some years before but Lothiriel had grown into woman enough to smile when the betrothal was suggested to her. Here was a man of worthy position who was not dwarfed by old age or misfortune of parentage. For Lothiriel was unusually tall and broad of shoulder and, though her face was not unlovely, she had not met any other man who would look into her eyes and see a woman instead of a challenge.

Now here she was on her wedding night with a man she admired and she knew that admiration of a sort was returned and it both frightened and excited her. At the wedding excitement predominated but now, now she was alone in the dark with her new husband. And she knew they were not really alone. And she had a nagging worry she didn’t want to express.



Heh. Heh.



 

 

Re: PWP - Guys & Gals Going at It

Heh. Heh.

You are evil. Evil!

Go to it!

Lyllyn

 

 

Re: PWP - Guys & Gals Going at It

Damn. If I'm not careful, I'm going to get less sleep than those two lovebirds tonight. It's 1:11am right now.

 

 

Re: PWP - Guys & Gals Going at It

Out of curiosity, is your tolerance for the sexually explicit higher as a reader or as a writer, or is your writing tolerance the same as your reading tolerance?

Depends. (Oh, that's a useful answer, Ang.) I've read more of everything than I have written, obviously. As far as reading tolerance goes, I don't mind explicit/graphic stuff as long as it fits into the story and doesn't get too repetitive. And I'll read just about everything, even if it has a high squick factor. There's very few scenes that I go "Umm, nope," and click away from, and that is more often due to violence than sex, and even more often due to badly written sex than to violence.

I'm able to write as explicitly as the story calls for. Most of my more recent stories have reasonably explicit sex scenes in them, that vary in levels of graphic detail. They do tend to be pretty short, and focus on the emotional impact of the acts rather than the (in Meg's felicitous phrase) "boingy, boingy, boingy" aspects.

I do have some PWPs which I tend to write when I am blocked on my other writing. The biggest problem with these is not personal embarrassment, but repetitiveness. Just how many ways can you describe a blow job without repeating yourself? Sigh. My PWPs are rarely romantic, usually fairly aggressive, and show some pretty self-centered behavior. As my guide I use a request by a fanfic writer: I want sex, not romance. I want hot, heavy, hard action. If the guys didn't already know each other's names, they wouldn't bother to ask.

I do prefer to write the scenes that are part of a larger story - they are more difficult to write because it isn't simply what I want them to do, it is what they will permit me to have them do. They don't have the repetitiveness problem, most times.

Ang

 

 

Re: PWP - Guys & Gals Going at It

Gagh! The dreaded deflowering fic. PWP or not, they are usually pretty bad. Adrienne's Closer to Fine and To Look at You are two of the very, very few that actually work, and they work beautifully.

My pet peeve with most of them is the virgin (usually female) is utterly, totally ignorant of the mechanics of sex, even if she's a Hobbit farm-girl. Umm, don't think so. So, the "naïveté" doesn't work because it is fake.

If such a PWP were to work, I think it would have to be from the perspective of the embarrassed party and it would have to be based on something besides that person's ignorance in order to work. And, yeah, you'd probably have to put some back story into it.

I guess a question I have is how much scene-seeting can one do in a PWP and have it remain such?

Ang

 

 

Re: PWP - Guys & Gals Going at It

Gagh! The dreaded deflowering fic. PWP or not, they are usually pretty bad. Adrienne's Closer to Fine and To Look at You are two of the very, very few that actually work, and they work beautifully.

My pet peeve with most of them is the virgin (usually female) is utterly, totally ignorant of the mechanics of sex, even if she's a Hobbit farm-girl. Umm, don't think so. So, the "naïveté" doesn't work because it is fake.


Dear gods, yes -- apparently they missed the bit about Juliet's nanny reminiscing with Juliet about how she and her late husband made sex jokes over a decade back about the toddler Juliet learning to walk, and how she might be falling on her face now, but just you wait, it won't be long before she's falling on her back, heh heh...

Or all the virginal Shakespeare heroines who put tremendous energy into dragging bewildered, occasionally unwilling, males into bed.

But this comes out of that perception of the Middle-ages that comes solely from fiction inspired by other fiction inspired by a fantasy view of Ye Olde Dayes that comes straight out of Ivanhoe, untainted by either common sense or the slightest (apparent) contact with primary source materials.

I mean, it's likely that families in the Shire have far more privacy, with their holes and cottages with rooms and doors, than the royal house of Rohan, living in Viking splendor in a Great Hall -- where folks camp out in alcoves and bunks that might have sliding doors to keep the heat in instead of curtains, if they're getting really extravagant. (JRRT gets really snarky about how there *aren't* any private parlours or glass windows in Meduseld, it's only a little bit fancier than real "barbarian" lifestyles) when critiquing the planned film treatment from back when.) Ignorance just not an option in such circumstances...

 

 

Re: PWP - Guys & Gals Going at It

Seriously, though, I think the key thing in writing sex scenes - however explicit or not they may be - is that the author must not be embarrassed by any actions her/himself. Because that will come through and make the scene ring false for the reader.

See, this is where I start having problems. *I* don't get all that embarrassed by these sorts of things. *The Characters*, on the other hand... I'm sure I've whinged often enough to enough people about the whole process of trying to write my little bit of A/OFC smut that you can understand where I'm coming from. And where the characters *aren't* (coming, that is).

Yup. Whinge whinge whinge whine grumble.

Anyway, I think I'm going to have to basically try the old "interpretive dance" fix on this one. If you suddenly see a couple more bits from me in Beta, you'll know it worked.

 

 

Re: PWP - Guys & Gals Going at It

Gagh! The dreaded deflowering fic. PWP or not, they are usually pretty bad. Adrienne's Closer to Fine and To Look at You are two of the very, very few that actually work, and they work beautifully.

My pet peeve with most of them is the virgin (usually female) is utterly, totally ignorant of the mechanics of sex, even if she's a Hobbit farm-girl. Umm, don't think so. So, the "naïveté" doesn't work because it is fake.


Agreed. It also doesn't really jib with my knowledge of such things, where the point is that hormones are lovely things, and by the time you're actually that involved, you've generally figured out how the plumbing hooks up. I mean, insert tab A into slot B isn't all that hard, after all - most people can manage to figure it out at the appropriate time.

Of course, the other thing that the "innocence" of the virgin maiden implies is complete and utter social isolation as well. After all, I'm sure I'm not the only one who learned a lot about the *emotional* mechanics of sexuality and sensuality by talking with friends, as well as getting an impromptu education about the physical mechanics, and a variety of answers to that great female question "does it hurt?". This is, of course, leaving out helpful female relations as well - a very daft move.


 

 

Re: PWP - Guys & Gals Going at It

Here's the URL for the little monstrosity I started above.
Plot? Witnesses? Porn?


Let me know if it brings a smirk to your day or use it as an example of bad writing for the instruction of others. All comments welcome.

 

 

Re: PWP - Guys & Gals Going at It

: Here's the URL for the little monstrosity I started above.

Heh. Well, I thought it was cute. Poor Lothiriel. Poor Eomer.

But the question is raised... could they, after all...?

Not everyone minds.

Would there be cultural restrictions?

Would Eomer be squicked? I tend to think not.

Lothiriel? Maybe.

Heh.

Poor Lothiriel.

 

 

Re: PWP - Guys & Gals Going at It

Would Eomer be squicked? I tend to think not.
Agreed.

Lothiriel? Maybe.
Maybe not later, but I don't know anyone who wouldn't want their first time to be at any other time than that.


Heh.
Poor Lothiriel.

I'm such a stinker sometimes. I'll try to make it up to her later. Or Eomer will.

 

 

Re: PWP - Guys & Gals Going at It

But what cultural basis would there be for it? The reason for it historically in our world is to disprove a negative -- that the leader is not impotent.* This indicates a situation where the people cannot trust their leader. Is there any reason to suppose that this fundamental distrust is the historical baseline attitude in Rohan? Rather the contrary, it would seem from canon, even when it's not always appropriate.

> Would Eomer be squicked? I tend to think not.
> Agreed.

Fanon Eomer, perhaps -- but the intense, respectful, thoughtful individual of Gondor descent met by the Three on the downs of Rohan? And even the cowboy Eomer of fanon would be insulted at the implication of impotence and untrustworthiness in the custom, I should think.


*Similar to the historic custom of having a lawyer present at a high-ranking childbirth to verify, pre-DNA-testing, that no one had smuggled in a newborn, some cow's liver & blood, and done a quick sleight-of-hand with the towels providing the necessary padding for an infertile "mother-to-be"...

 

 

Re: PWP - Guys & Gals Going at It

That time is the worst time ever. That's the first time I ever saw a story where the lady couldn't do *it* on her wedding night for that reason!

 

 

Re: PWP - Guys & Gals Going at It

> Would Eomer be squicked? I tend to think not.
> Agreed.

Fanon Eomer, perhaps -- but the intense, respectful, thoughtful individual of Gondor descent met by the Three on the downs of Rohan? And even the cowboy Eomer of fanon would be insulted at the implication of impotence and untrustworthiness in the custom, I should think.


Uh... I wasn't talking about implications of impotence, which frankly hadn't occurred to me. I was talking about... the other issue....

 

 

Re: PWP - Guys & Gals Going at It

Actually I scammed the idea from a scene in a British mini-series I saw back in the '80s. With the pill these days, no one has to worry about that problem unless they completely forget to think of it. I'm assuming that this wedding was held at the earliest possible convenience after the War and that her biological calendar was not consulted.

While we're on the topic I'll toss out some stuff learned in uni. Altho average age of menarche (AOM - first period) is currently about 12 years old in first world countries, AOM was typically around 16-17 years until about 150 years ago. This was largely due to poorer nutrition and greater physical labour in childhood. Upper classes would probably reach AOM 1-2 years earlier than the common people. The first 1-3 years after AOM tend to produce irregular periods and stress (war, wedding jitters, final exams) can disrupt the cycle at any time thruoughout life. Some people are never regular. I'm assuming Lothiriel is in the range of 19-22 so she probably is at least semi-regular but easily disrupted.

That was probably too much information ( female problems!) but there you go.

 

 

Re: PWP - Guys & Gals Going at It

Heh. Well, I thought it was cute. Poor Lothiriel. Poor Eomer.
But the question is raised... could they, after all...?


Or Eomer could just show her a few of the other fun things they could do...

 

 

Re: PWP - Guys & Gals Going at It

To put an opposite viewpoint, I've read a lot of advice that actually suggests that virgin brides should time their period to occur on the wedding night. The deflowering under such circumstances is supposed to be physically easier and less painful for the woman.

Also, that the fact of menstruation can be a turn-on for many women (biologically speaking because it's often close enough to ovulation for conception) and for a substantial proportion of men. In fact, in a primitive version of the anti-rhythm method, early during the menstrual period is generally considered a good time to conceive.

Tavia (who has worked in sexually-transmitted disease medicine nearly all her working life)

Edited

 

 

Re: PWP - Guys & Gals Going at It

Just to clarify:
menarche - This term is quite distinct from menstruationas it refers to the first period ever. Only happens once in a girl's life. Cannot be predicted because there is no preceding cycle to count days from. Ovulation does not always precede menarche. I'm afraid I have forgotten the term refering to the fertile mid-cycle time (unless you mean ovulation).

Azalais - I'm working on some very extended foreplay stuff now but I'm always open to requests/suggestions.

 

 

Re: PWP - Guys & Gals Going at It

menarche - This term is quite distinct from menstruationas it refers to the first period ever. Only happens once in a girl's life.

Sorry! Obviously meant menstruation -- blame it on posting in a sleepless patch at 4am. Brain not in gear...

Tavia

 

 

Re: PWP - Guys & Gals Going at It

Azalais - I'm working on some very extended foreplay stuff now but I'm always open to requests/suggestions.

Hey - why view it as foreplay? It's only foreplay if you view it as leading up to a Penetrative Event, surely. I was actually thinking of challenging Eomer to get Lothi all the way to coming without going near the bit of her that might under the circumstances be regarded as icky or sticky - he's an energetic young man, I'm sure he'd be up (ahem) for it...

Of course, given Lothi's inexperience/embarrassment, she may not be able to make too many specific suggestions as to what she'd like - but I'm sure if Eomer experiments she'll let him know what pushes the right buttons!

And then of course Eomer could show her how to reciprocate... ;)

[OT: I'm now irresistibly reminded of a hysterical sketch I once saw on the British comedy sketch show Smack the Pony. Girl trying, for what feels like *hours*, to bring a hand job on her boyfriend to a satisfactory conclusion (they kept cutting away to other sketches, then coming back and she was *still* bouncing around). The payoff was: same girl, with wrist in a sling, sat in the video booth for one of the show's regular Would Like To Meet sketches announcing "I'm looking for a man who suffers from premature ejaculation..." Sorry, entirely silly interjection, but it is Friday...]

Looking forward to seeing what you put 'em through! (unashamed enjoyer of well-written PWP, me).

 

 

Re: PWP - Guys & Gals Going at It

Just a random little thing--

Stulti wrote:

I'm such a hard sell on pairings that I don't read a whole lot of PWP, though I'm hardly prudish.

If I'm reading PWP for the sake of sex, then I read about a series I know nothing about. That way I don't have to worry about the legitimacy of the pairing; it's just satisfying my virginal sexual urges. *embarrassed laugh*

 

 

Re: PWP - Guys & Gals Going at It

Stulti wrote:

I'm such a hard sell on pairings that I don't read a whole lot of PWP, though I'm hardly prudish.

I think many of us have this "problem." We like PWP only if it fits with our personal kinks, not to mention the way we perceive Tolkien's characters. And is that a bad thing? Not at all. No one should have to read PWP they find grim from the get go. No one need apologize for not liking it; it's the way you are wired. I am unable to read any hobbit/man pairings.

But I have found, as I read more and more of this stuff (!), that how I feel about the pairing relies 99% on the skill of the author and 1% on my personal squicks.

For instance, I would never have dreamed I could enjoy an Orc/Aragorn pairing until "Hope for the Uruk" came along.

And if someone told me I would like an Elrond/Maedhros pairing before Tyellas, I would have laughed.

What makes for good PWP, IMHO, is well handled emotions. What are the characters thinking and feeling why all the sex is happening? Stud Fee is a good example of this. It ends as a lesson on mortality, both from the Elf and Man point of view; Elladan imagines the centuries hence when Eomer will be no more, and Eomer takes a wife -- his children will provide him with his immortality. You could read the story and not "get that" but it's there.

Thrice for Honor, Tyellas's Elrond/Maedhros pairing, gets into a very emotional area, which is being imperfect, even maimed, among a pefect people. Elrond's acceptance of Maedhros's imperfection is the emotional peak of the story.

As far as writing explicit sex, it is very very difficult. It is extremely technical, and time consuming. It is far easier to write R or PG-13 sex. There are many times I have thought, gee whiz, can't we just fade to black here and get on with our lives? ;)

As a genre, PWP is to fanfic what (searches madly for metaphor) porn is to the internet. There is a whole lot of it, and it is the driving force behind many of the sites that archive fanfic. Without that PWP, those sites would have far fewer visitors, and many of them would not exist. HASA seems to have chosen not to archive vast amounts of PWP, but I think that is only because most of it is not very well written or particularly interesting. Excellent PWP deserves to be archived along with the lightest of hobbit fluff.

 

 

Re: PWP - Guys & Gals Going at It

Excellent PWP deserves to be archived along with the lightest of hobbit fluff.

HASA is open to reviewing pretty much any kind of story you can think of for inclusion, the exceptions (such as RPS) being noted. So if you've run across some really good Ardaverse PWP that you think is worthy of HASA, do feel free to submit it!

Celandine

 

 

Re: PWP - Guys & Gals Going at It

But I have found, as I read more and more of this stuff (!), that how I feel about the pairing relies 99% on the skill of the author and 1% on my personal squicks.

See, therein lies my problem: let's say that within the pairings I like to read, my prejudices account for said 1% of whether I like or dislike the fic. In the first place, that means I'm essentially 'lazy', as a reader. Not in a bad way, just in the acknowledgment that 99% of the work has to come from the author of the story. There simply aren't that many PWP authors who have, according to my reading, actually accounted for that 99% of the effort that isn't coming from me. The more unusual the pairing, the more it tries to present itself as 'obvious' (as in, not really problematic), the steeper the gradient of my 1% in terms of getting me to set my disbelief aside. The 1% that comes from me under this schema, is a highly prejudiced 1%—it's the skeptical part that wants answers to questions of how the character's overall loyalty is handled, how preexisting marital/betrothal commitments are set aside, whether the characters seem 'in character' within a certain (usually fairly stringent) range, whether in a million years I could see the unique character Celeborn in love/lust with equally unique character Denethor at any point or whether the fic depends upon the questionable premise 'no history between them=any history I like'.

So, rather as the two percent of DNA that separates us from a watermelon makes the critical difference between me typing this reply and me vegetatively in hibernation til summer, the 1% is nothing to sneeze at. The 99% of effort left to the author is a huge amount of effort, quantitatively and qualitatively. That, to me, is why so many PWPs simply fail as anything but a more or less sexy pornographic romp, with bits of almost-a-plot along the way. Don't get me wrong: for the very few PWP authors out there who make it work, I'm in awe. I can't do that, and I don't know how they do it (but neither do I *want* to do that, see below). PWP to me is sort of an absolute category: you succeed and are one of the best out there, or you just don't. There's not enough of anything else there (save my own prejudices) to create a more fine-grained measure, or at least not the way I read PWPs.

In the second place, that the 1% dictates whether I like a given PWP or not says nothing about whether I think it's a worthwhile endeavor. PWP may make up the majority of the romance genre, and it may make up the majority of slash, but I'm not voting on the majority of fics, just what gets presented here. There are a lot of good romance stories on this site and elsewhere that are explicit to varying degrees, that are mature, that are *interesting* and thoughtful and yes, sometimes really challenging. And they have plots that bear on some aspect of the Middle-earth I see in the books/films and something more to say than "really hot together".

So I think that here's an area where HASA's guidelines for voting are fluid because they provide two separate standards—do I vote for a PWP because it is a good example of its genre (that genre's purpose being to show "very hot together" sex so far as I've ever seen), or do I vote based on the overall standard, "does this tell me something about Tolkien's characters and world"? I would vote based on the latter because, as I said, PWPs don't admit of a fine-grained measure. Ditto for anything that could be described by the term 'fluffy.' Whether 'fluffly' (whatever that is) gets my vote depends on whether it tells me something interesting about the characters and/or their situation. Sheer WAFFiness doesn't usually succeed in convincing me it has anything worth my reading. I'm not saying one shouldn't submit PWP or WAFF fics to HASA; I'm just saying that it's going to be a really hard sell, and it's very unlikely to get my vote.

 

 

Re: PWP - Guys & Gals Going at It

Quote: "And I wonder why women, who have legitimate sexual drives of their own feel the need to explore a kind of sexuality that, by its nature, would exclude them utterly?" Men like femslash, don't they? That utterly excludes them. I have to say it's the hot bodies thing. --Unapolgetic slash author with a story and a part posted in Of Elves and Men.com under The Green Book.

 

 

Re: PWP - Guys & Gals Going at It

Quote: "Two people have mentioned my story Elf Slash Sarcasm as a PWP, but I don't see it as that. It wasn't written to arouse, but as parody, and to vent after the barrage of awful elf slash out there. I thought it was hilarious. Except for the Elrond/Boromir part. I'm just not into Boromir like that.

 

 

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