Thursday, January 8, 2009

Admin Essay: Musings of a Tentative Recovering Smutaholic

Disclaimer: I'm putting myself out there and writing an article on smut. I want to clarify that I am not speaking of any stories or authors in particular, unless I name them specifically. This is meant as a discussion topic - nothing else. I would love to hear your comments so feel free to PM me on if you want. By the way, I am only speaking for myself and none of the other Ficsters.

I have a confession to make. I have read and written smut. I admit it. I'm not convinced I'm exceptionally good at writing it but I am definitely good at reading it.

I cut my smut teeth on the glory of Cullen's Island by Jandco. I saw it mentioned on a Twilight forum and thought it sounded intriguing. But I was new in the world of FF and had a hard time finding it. So I kind of got sucked into other fics before I stumbled onto it again. At that point I had discovered the mother lode of and when I found CI again, I read the summary and thought, meh….this sounds pretty silly. I avoided it for a while longer, but eventually I caved.

Thank God.

CI changed my FF reading life. This was the story that made me realize a fic could be filled with humor and sex AND still have a plot. And that Edward was kind of an ass, but this fact actually only made him hotter. And that Bella could be a little bit pervy and this not only made Edward like her more, but it made me like her more as well.

This story has now become my test. The litmus test for smut and FF. If you can't handle Cullen's Island then you pretty much can't handle me.

But, I sigh, as great as it was, it also changed me. I found I wanted a harder edge to my fiction. I wanted the characters to come to life and make me laugh, make me angry or make me fantasize about Edward pissed off in a tie.

And apparently, others agreed because edgier, smuttier stories popped up everywhere. Some were really great. And others were maybe not so great. But who am I to critique? That is not my point here.

What I found was that I had more and more stories of this nature to pick from. Name a sexual position and I could find a story where our beloved Bella and Edward or Rosalie and Emmett or Alice and Jasper were performing it with abandon. Next came a surprising wave of stories where Bella and Alice or Edward and Emmett or combinations of all of the above were acting out the sexual Olympics across my laptop screen.

I know for certain that at least once my jaw hung open and my husband quite possibly came by and shut it for me as I waivered between intrigued and horrified. Regardless I couldn't stop myself.

Until one day when I could. I had become, to my utter frustration, desensitized to the sexual antics of the Twilight crew.

It was depressing. I thought something was wrong with me when a story came out that everyone raved about and I just couldn't get into. It wasn't so much that I thought it was gross or wrong or immoral or disturbing, but that I just didn't really care anymore. I had a hard time connecting to these characters and their choices. I completely felt like I was missing something. And one day I put my finger on what was lacking.

It was the romance.

I missed the romance.

I missed the shy smiles and quick touches. I found myself craving the first kiss and meeting the parents. I missed the hard work it takes for two people to come together and make a relationship work. Where the obstacle or plot for that matter is more about the relationship or external factors and not just about sex.

I have the perfect example of this type of story. The epic goodness of Halojones and I Hate Myself for Loving You. This story is my all time favorite because it has all those wonderful things in it that make a great fic. It is riddled with love, betrayal, lust, jealousy, action and growth. We get that hot, intense first kiss. We also get the awkward meeting of the parents. Bella and Edward (and Alice and Jasper) both struggle to grow and deal with an adult relationship that is not all about sex, even though it is a challenge they must face.

There are many sides of this topic I would love to touch but I do not have the time or space. I really wanted to talk about writing smut and how it effects the under agers lurking around the sites and how I feel about contributing to this. I would also like to talk about the fact there are tons of great T rated fics yet I am snobby and have a hard time clicking that button unless it says M or NC-17. It is a discussion with many sides and I find myself firmly planted in the middle.

But I can close by saying this. After I started my own fic I was in the middle of my smut desensitization epiphany so I made some personal changes. I pulled back with the smut in my story. My characters were teenager and were going to have sex, this I knew. But I tried my hardest not to let it be full on porn star sex and a little more realistic. Many of my readers are teenagers and it was making me uncomfortable to present things so over the top. I also have made efforts to read more T rated stories and not be so closed off to the venturing into that territory.

And finally, I hate to say it, but I have had to drop some of the stories I was reading to clear my brain a little. It was getting mushy and I was unable to tell the good from the bad anymore.

I did want to leave you with a couple of story recommendations that are both T rated:

The Locker Next Door by UnoriginalScreenname
When Bella Swan meets Edward Cullen, she can't stand him. He's arrogant, rude, and annoyingly handsome. As she vents her frustration on her blog, Bella's feelings change. Can Bella channel her online confidence into a real-life confession?

Not Her by Heaven's ImmortalWhat if Edward didn't get to Bella before Tyler's van hit her...what if he responded to her blood...? What if he bit her? Where would they be, how would their lives change...a view into an alternate Twilight.

Angel is an administrator for this blog and posts her two fics There Are Worse Things I Could Do and Creauture of Habit on FF and Twilighted. Her slight obsession of Rob and David are the only things that trump her minor obsession with Twilight. She enjoys dancing on youtube and entertaining AG & smellyia with her various theories and ideas which are always taken seriously and generally put into action. Angel posts as edwardzukorocks on FF.
The opinions expressed here are our own, and are not made on behalf of Twilighted.

edwardzukorocks on FF
Angel on Twilighted


  1. Here! Here!

    I got smutted out reading the smutvent calendar... I loved it--at first, but then I started throwing my hands up in the air muttering things like "Couldn't we at least have had four lines of get-to-know-you dialogue before he ripped her panties off?"

    So yeah, I second you on the romance. And the tension. That's really where SM rocked. It's not interesting without obstacles--it's suburban.

  2. Angel my dear, can I just say that I quite agree with you...wha I've found that I like to read has definitelty influenced what and how I write...and really, we are all Romantics at heart.
    Well Done!

  3. Angel - I love your writing and I couldn't agree with you more. I read way, way, way too much fan fic. It was actually my New Year's resolution to not add any new alerts to my growing list. I caved 2 days ago. But I have stopped reading a lot of the plotless drivel. It's not bad. I'm just tapped out. I bow at the altar of Jandco and wtvoc - they always have the perfect lemony angst mix. But I find myself drawn to darker fic these days like AG's Wide Awake and Vixen1836's Black & White.

  4. Hmm. Smut is a tough thing to do well, I think. Well, first I should admit I don't even like the term "smut," although I realize it's used sort of in fun. I think the reason is that I feel like "smut" shouldn't be in a story unless it either furthers the plot or the characterization. So yeah, I reckon that makes me an "erotica" elitist. ha.

    But really, IME reading (and I've been reading both fanfic and published fiction for years, as well as being a journalist by training), SEX is one of those things where otherwise really good writers fall head-over-heels into terrible cliches. All the originality one sees in other forms of description are just ... lost. And I want that originality. I'm less interested in "hot" than in "real" and "furthers the plot." Otherwise it's just junk-narrative and should be cut out.

    That said, I'm also funny about being too COY in sex scenes too. Call a dick a dick, please, and a cunt a cunt. "Her core" ... I mean ... what? It's her CUNT, or her vagina. It's not her "core." It's not his "manhood," either, it's his cock. So even while I don't like sex scenes just for titillation, I also don't like sex scenes with silly allusive language. POETIC allusive language is fine, but cliches? No thanks.

    For me, that's what it ALL boils down to, whatever one's writing ... the overall QUALITY of the writing, the believability of it. I don't want sex just to have it, even as I don't want a story to avoid it just to avoid it. I've read some of the most AMAZING powerful stories that are PG and even G! But the impact of that story? The beauty of it? The emotional TRUTH of it? It's astonishing. Just slapping an adult rating on a story doesn't make it adult. Sometimes, actually, it's really juvenile, while "G" rated stories may be beautifully adult in the *ideas* expressed.

    So I get impatient with readers who dismiss stories with low ratings because they have low ratings. Sometimes they're missing the best stuff. But I also get impatient with readers who won't try adult-rated fiction because they assume it'll be badly written porn, because I've also read some just amazing adult stories.

    It has nothing to do with the rating and everything to do with the ability of the author.

    But I would advise those who write "adult" stories to check the language. Read it out loud. Avoid overuse of terms, avoid cliches. For instance, some of the verbs I see used for "kissing" that are cliches include: captured, devoured, plundered, slanted (his mouth for a kiss), and "their tongues danced." Those are used so often they're no longer unique and it's better to settle for the *simple* -- kissed -- in a case like that. Most of those terms listed for kissing sound sorta like somebody CONQUERING somebody (and man, is that really an image desired in sex? Personally, it turns me off because it conjures ideas of noncon and rape ... which is a major turn OFF, not a turn on).

    So that might be a bit opinionated, but it's honest. I'm probably more leery of adult stories because too often a story I started out liking got ruined for me when it came to the sex scenes because it stopped being unique and interesting ... and/or the sex just seemed shoehorned in to have some sex there -- it wasn't there because the story actually called for it.

  5. I must say that I've become a little fanfic elitist as well. I tend to migrate toward the M and NC-17 ratings, holding little regard to stories with ratings below that. But I'm trying to change. I'm going to give lower rating stories a chance.

  6. Nice view bb! Thanks for the recs as well.

  7. Oh, and I just read The Locker Next Door. Tight. Well-written. And the blog comments were LMAO. And you know I reviewed...

  8. The Locker Next Door was one of my first fics I had read in this fandom. I absolutely adored it. I thought it was a thoroughly unique way to portray a Canon situation. Truly a great example of creativity and pushing the limits.

    I find it sad that people automatically neglect fics that arent M or NC-17. Some of my absolute favorites are T or less. I wouldn't call this elitist, but perhaps readers are looking for more adult material. That's understandable and some come on here for the edgier material. If that's the case, then NC-17 or M is the way to go. Now if one's goal is just for good story-telling regardless of the erotic content, then they are missing out.

    I hear a lot of people talk about "smut without plot". Yes, this is out there in abundance, but no more so than uncompleted stories (my biggest pet peeve - anyone say fanfic ADD?) and smutless fics without the style and panache so many of us enjoy. I think it's important to remember that each genre has it's downsides.

  9. Totally agree with everything you said, and the comments. I almost feel that most sex scenes are written by cut and paste they all sound so similar. They are often emotionless and unerotic. Whereas Twilight and some low rated fanfic is the opposite.
    Thanks for the recs BTW. I was already reading Not Her but read The Locker Next Door last night and adored it.

  10. Tentatively recovering smutaholic here too...I love the lusty stories but if they are just about smut, then they are forgettable - the stories I go back to, and re-read chapters of whenever there's a new post, are the ones where I'm captivated by the characters. I like the sex, but a little goes a long way when the story is compelling and when the physical relationship complements the emotional trajectory.

    The first kiss from Wide Awake is incredible - highly anticipated, painstakingly described, and a very memorable step in the building relationship of my favorite insomniacs.

    I also read and enjoyed The Locker (at work...gah! I've got to get this addiction under control!!!)and really, REALLY appreciate the story reviews and recommendations.

  11. I agree with it all. I used to read the sex scenes with my mouth hanging open thinking oh my gosh...and now I basically just skim over them. The most explicit ones don't even shock me anymore. I have also been guilty of skipping over stories rated T or PG. Then I worry will people not read my stories if they are not smutty (they definately are not)? Should I lie and rate my stories as worse than they are so people will read them?

    I agree whole heartedly on the halojones story. One of the best written out there in my opinion. I'll go read your other recs now.

  12. I too sometimes feel uncomfortable knowing that teenagers are reading over the top sex scenes in fanfiction. I, by no means, have any trouble with teenagers reading about sex, but from personal experience, I think it is really freaking difficult growing up, being a teenager, learning about sex and having this really unrealistic view of what sex is really like. Yes, it's wonderful. No, it's probably not mind blowing ALL THE TIME and probably not earth shattering the very first time. I don't like the idea of teenagers feeling like it is going to be this suave, sexy, completely non-awkward thing, and if they don't live up to that standard, something's wrong with them or their partner or their sexuality. It's a standard that I think puts pressure on kids.

    So that's why I really love the stories (ie Wide Awake) that have a more realistic exploration and depiction of sex that is so much more about the relationship. And the sex is more an exploration of intimacy, than just sex.

  13. I really love this topic! Thank you for addressing this. I have to admit my own addiction here although the lines between what I am particualrly drawn too and the fact that it's just good writing are constantly blurred. I am a total FF snob. I only read the highly rated and if i feel like it's bad...I admit...I flame. It's bad I know, but I can't help but think that there are writers like you out there that can do so much better. Anyway, my original point of responding to this was to ask this question. Twilighted is more highly "policed" than say fanfic, right? So most everything on fanfic could potentially be good, but there is some real craop out there on and after reading through too much ridiculous, overused plots and lines, I had to give myself a standard. I don't read a fic unless it has 500 reviews or more. So tell me, how do we discern the good from the bad without being a review snob? Anyone, anyone...?

  14. well i don't agree with the review count strategy on fic. Afterall, many of the stories on here are EXCELLENT and they are featured because they are not fics with "greater than 500 reviews". I like to get recced to new material...the whole largely reviewed = better mentality is why TLYDF was started in the first place.


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