Lube. Lube is important. Crucial, even. I admire authors who take the time to lubricate their characters before anal sex. But there are some kinds of lube that are worse than none at all. In other words, please no more soap as lube ever ever ever. I mean, unless you want it to hurt like hell. (Shampoo is also out, folks. And do I need to explain why hair gel is a bad idea? Well, obviously I do, as I recently read a story involving just that thing, but surely most people understand that "sticky styling product" is not synonymous with "Astroglide," right?) Because, look - if you're going to make me curl up from flashes of sympathy pain, don't you want it to be deliberate? Helpful rule of thumb for lube: if you're gonna get creative, try it on yourself before you try it on your characters. (You're excused if you once had to deal with the aftermath of a friend grabbing the toothpaste instead of the spermicide, because, trust me, you see that once, you don't ever make that mistake yourself. In fact, you seriously consider labeling all your toiletries in Braille, on the off chance that a blind person ever wants to find lube in your bathroom and doesn't think to ask you.)
Cum. "Come." It's spelled "come," goddammit. And don't tell me it's confusing to have it spelled the same as an entirely different word. You speak English. You should be used to this. And if you can't tell from context whether it means "have an orgasm" or "move toward something," you don't speak the English language after all, so you're in no position to be making changes to it. Plus, if we never use "cum" to mean "semen" again, we'll never be confronted with the non-word "precum," which, in addition to being absolutely horrible, always makes me reach reflexively for my Latin-English dictionary. So know that when you spell it c-u-m you're giving some of us painful flashbacks to Latin classes so boring that, by the end of one of them, we could totally empathize with what it's like to be dead for two thousand years. (And by the end of four of them, we were envying Latin, which at least got to be used in orgies and stuff before it died. The best we got was slides, which I had never seen used as a teaching aid prior to this class.)
Per se. It is pronounced "per say." It is not written that way. Or purr say, or persey, or any of the other mutations your mind creates. Seriously. I suffered through two years of the aforementioned Latin class to learn facts like this. Make my childhood boredom worth something; use and spell your Latin phrases correctly. Or, hell, just leave them out altogether. I won't complain. (And you know, the worst part about the slides was that we almost never got to see them, because the teacher couldn't work anything that was manufactured after Diocletian died. When your career has reached the point where it takes three eleven-year-old girls to get your tie disentangled from a fucking slide projector, sir, it's time to find a new career. Or just stop showing slides. We all already know what the Coliseum looks like.)
Watch the cock. I know. You're thinking, wait, that's pretty much all slashers do, right? But I meant that you should be watching the cock's progress. If, the last time we heard tell of it, a given cock was slowly hardening, it should not be achingly hard one kiss later; it makes me highly suspicious of the cock's ability to stay the course. (Of course, if that's the point of your story, go you.) Likewise, if you're writing a detailed sex scene, try to have some actual sex in it. Too many stories these days go like this: 3 paragraphs of kissing, 4 paragraphs of increasingly intense groping and licking, 1 sentence of penetration, 1 sentence of mutual orgasm (which is generally blindingly incredible and often involves screaming), and then 4 paragraphs of afterglow. If that's happening in your story, you have a problem with pacing. Or your character has a problem with premature ejaculation, I suppose.
Akin to terror. What's related to terror? Fear, horror, dread, panic, and alarm, just to get you started. So if there's all these terms related to terror, why not use one of them? Don't just tell me that a given emotion is "akin to terror." Get specific! Either the character is terrified, in which case say so, or he's something else, in which case, hell, go crazy and tell me exactly what that is. Otherwise I'm forced to wonder about you - I mean, you know twenty-four synonyms for sexually aroused and not one for terror? Are you even from this planet?
Bruises. First: bruises are not sexy. They aren't. If you don't believe me, examine yourself the next time you have one. Second: it is easy to bruise someone's neck or breasts with your teeth. It's a lot, lot harder to bruise someone's hips with your fingers. Seriously. Dirty looks will occasionally bruise my Best Beloved, but does that mean I leave finger-shaped bruises every time we have sex? No. No, it does not, and that's because it's not easy to do. Nor is this whole bruising gig something that works for most pairings. (Yes, I'm sure Keller and Beecher bruise each other; for them, that's actually playing nice. But we love those guys 'cause they're not normal.) I think (I hope) writers sometimes use "bruise" to mean something else - pressing hard enough to turn the skin white, leaving the skin flushed and red when the pressure is lifted again. But some authors are definitely talking about real, actual bruising, and unless your characters have platelet disorders, it's just not that likely. Major exception: this is OK in Smallville, as long as it is Clark who is doing the bruising. Please, unless someone can explain to me why it makes sense ('cause, hey, no canon expert here), let's never again have stories in which Lex bruises Clark without benefit of kryptonite.
They don't like to watch. Here's a tip: straight men do not typically feel comfortable when their gay male friends have sex in their presence. They certainly don't carry on a conversation with whichever friend has his mouth free of encumbrance. But it's a sign of acceptance, you cry! The pairing guys are showing how comfortable they are with their new-found sexual identity, and the observers are showing their tolerance! Um. No. Because - let me put it this way. People, just in general, do not feel comfortable watching their friends get it on. (There's an exception here for certain straight men and their lesbian friends. A mildly irritating exception. Moving on.) It has nothing to do with tolerance and everything to do with, you know, boundaries and culture. Don't like that? Get off on an uninvolved, uninterested person watching? Make up a brand new culture or alien race, sister, because it won't work in a story set in modern America (and this is just a guess, but it probably won't work in most of the rest of the first world, either). And, for the record, most people are not comfortable being watched, either. Sex is not a spectator sport, for the very good reason that it looks stupid a lot of the time; let's leave the characters their dignity, shall we? I mean, unless you're deliberately taking it away, in which case, hey - go you.
Like a virgin. Or not. If you're painting a modern-day character over the age of - oh, I'll be generous and say 25 - as a virgin, unless that person is a nun or something I'm going to need a lot of back story. A fuckload, in fact. You want to say it's the first time Daniel Jackson has had sex with a man? I'm fine with that, willing to buy that, happy to go with it. If you're telling me that an encounter in a series-time story is the first time that Daniel has ever had sex, though, um - he was married. Among other subtle clues that he might have had sex at some point in his past. So come up with a brilliant explanation or surrender the virginity, please. And, really, what's so wonderful about losing one's virginity? I've done that. It wasn't, shall we say, pleasant. Now, partly that had to do with the circumstances, but it mostly had to do with the fact that it was my first time. I've gotten better at sex since then. Way, way better, and I mean in the enjoyment as well as the technique sense. And, really, I sort of like the characters to have the same advantage. So, look. If you want to write about virgins, write HP or pre-canon stories or something. I can believe in virginity in those cases, although I adore authors who write that first time as awkward, bad, and stupid as it often is. But please don't tell me that Blair Sandburg is a virgin at 28. Or Angel, who we saw have sex in canon back on Buffy, and who is three hundred years old. Or, god help us, Christopher Fucking Keller, who has earned that honorary middle name in a variety of ways. (And yes, I've read – well, skimmed parts of - stories making just that claim for all those guys.) First time in love? Fine for some characters. First time with the same sex? Fine with most characters. First time in a long time? Perfectly acceptable in many cases. First time, period? No. Please. No.
Think I missed something? Previous FF rants are here, here, and here.
Got some FF bitching to get off your chest? Share in the comments section. I like to know I'm not alone in my insanity.
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