Kate (mskatej) wrote,

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Confessions of an amateur pornographer

Okay this is going to be a terribly self indulgent post but whatever. As you may be aware I have a new AO3 account and I have just spent the last several weeks uploading all my fic there, but instead of doing it the normal way and just transferring it as is from LJ to AO3, I decided I would take the opportunity to reread every single story as I uploaded it and make minor improvements. Like I said in a previous post I didn't change much; mostly I just deleted a lot of unnecessary adverbs and de-italicised lots of words, but, even though I've never been an author of long fics, it was a pretty big, time-consuming project, and now I have thoughts! Observations! Commentary!

What you will find behind the cut: observations about my writing, including talk about the stories I am most/least proud of and the stories I think are my hottest; discussion about fic in general/fandom/AO3; moaning about how bad people are at leaving feedback and giving kudos; thoughts on happy endings, particularly w/r/t Clark/Lex; and much, much more! I hope this post is more entertaining that it sounds, and do feel free to ask me questions or come talk to me about anything you like in the comments, even if it is only tangentially related (or just, you know, ignore me).

* I'll start with the negative just to get it out of the way. People are terrible at leaving feedback, and at hitting the kudos button. Seriously. Of the 1200+ people who have clicked on my latest story, only 39 so far took the time to give me kudos. Like, that's not bad or anything - all authors have to come to terms with the horrendous hit/kudos/comment ratio at AO3 - and 38 is a reasonable amount of kudos to get, comparatively speaking, but FFS. It takes NO EFFORT to give kudos; you don't even need an AO3 account, all you do is click a button. Becky did tell me that she reckons most people use AO3 like she does: they DL the fic to their e-reader then never go back. It still blows though. I still can't help wondering if more than a THOUSAND people read my story and just didn't like it.

* I have written (approximately) 64 stories, and with the exception of 8 of them, they are all pornographic. evawhimsy once told me: "Your mind is like a treasure trove of awesome smutty scenarios." It is true! And this may be tmi but fuck it I'll tell you: the majority of my stories emerged from my sexual fantasies. I spent years fapping to the apparently infinite number of Clex sex scenes I had in my head, and many of those fantasies ended up on the page. It's happening all over again with Mike/Harvey, only I don't have any fucking time to write them down (*SOB*) but right now alone I've got like three or four different scenarios in my head that I pick and choose from depending on my mood. [For some reason they are all set in hotel rooms. My latest idea could actually be an AU of the fic I am (slowly) writing at the moment, and it involves a threesome with a sexy masseuse (played by Eva Mendes in my head), and it is super, super hot.] I have spotted lots of phrases I repeat and porn cliches I overuse, that I will try to cut out of the stories I write in future. I'm not actually going to point them out here because if any of you do decide to read/reread my fic I don't want those tics leaping out at you and throwing you out of the story. But I suppose it's not a surprising thing - I've written a lot of porn and there are only a small number of words stored in my brain so of course I'll repeat myself on occasion.

* I'm not comfortable writing in past tense. I think I only wrote a couple fics in past tense, and one of them I don't like much; I think maybe porn suits present tense better anyway, because it makes it feel more immediate? I don't know. I'm a bit concerned because the Mike/Harvey story I'm currently working on is past tense, but it's good for me to try new things. I just hope it isn't terrible.

* The quality of my writing is not consistent. Some of my stories are well written and I'm really proud of them; some of them are just plain bad. The further back you go in my oeuvre the more likely the writing will suck balls, and the more sentimental the romance will be, but then again, some of my early stuff is actually okay. I was quite impressed with my very first story, as it happens. It's full of slash cliches and odd stylistic tics that I'd picked up from the likes of Te and other legendary SV writers who I'd read obsessively before I had a crack at it myself, but it's certainly not a horrible piece of writing, and as smut goes it's fairly effective.

* Of the pairings I write, Clark/Lois is the least popular.

* Of my older stories (including all my SV fic), the Merlin/Arthur pornathon No Magic Necessary is by far the most popular.

* I wrote Chlark pegging fic one time (apparently I used to ship them?) and it's not a bad story by any means, but oh my god it squicks me so much now. I really hated rereading it, I hate the pairing, and if I ever have to think or read about Chloe having sex again it will be too soon. That said, I did enjoy Afternoon Delight, a story where Chloe and Clark end up talking dirty about Lex.

* Lana-bashing, a common theme. I always wrote Lana as a character sympathetically, but I think it's fair to say that a few of my stories (Intruder, The Trouble With Three, It's Not Indifference, It's Denial and Helpless) where Lana's discovery of Clark and Lex's affair is a major story point, was my way of tearing her down/shitting all over her. Fandom loves those stories, I enjoyed writing them, and I still think they work well, because cheating and betrayal are great themes that bring lots of interesting tension into the narrative. But I'm not proud of doing that to Lana, and that particular genre of slash (hurting/humiliating the canonical love interest) is one I no longer care for and one I will never write again. My most egregious attack on Lana was actually in the sixth story I ever wrote but I have no intention of ever uploading it to AO3, because it's gross.

* I'm curious about who is reading my SV fic - are they Clex fans or do they read indiscriminately by tag? Because one thing I've noticed is that fics that employ popular tropes (forced to share a hotel room, fuck or die) or niche kinks (M-Preg, non-con) tend to get more hits. I guess that makes sense, but it's interesting that so many readers appear to put their story/sexual kinks ahead of the writer or the fandom.

* I like my central characters to be together almost constantly. They'll probably be apart at the beginning of the story but after they come together for whatever reason they're unlikely to part ways again for the remainder of it. Like, you know how lots of writers will keep their characters apart for long stretches of plot, bring them back together for a bit, separate them again, etc etc? I just don't do that. This is mostly to do with the fact that my stories tend to be short, but even in the longer fics, like Let it Snow or Come Again, the guys spend practically no time apart. In Surveillance Lex and Clark don't actually meet in person until we're about two thirds in, but Lex has been watching him on camera and obsessing over him up until that point, which I think(hope) generates excitement and suspense (as opposed to boredom and frustration) - as in 'omg when and how are they going to meet and wtf is Clark going to do when he finds out what Lex has been up to?' (fuck him, of course, but angrily). I am such a glutton for time spent together - regardless of whether the characters are fucking, although in my stories they probably are - that (when reading other people's fic) I get seriously impatient in the bits where the couple are apart, particularly if the plot digresses from the romance [there was this (pretty good) hooker AU on Suitsmeme that I followed for a while until I got sick of it going nowhere, and my main problem with it was that the guys hardly ever shared a scene. I get why authors do it, and sometimes it's crucial and effective, but often it is just frustrating and dull]. The focus of my stories is the romance, and the plots of my stories are singularly focused on that romance. I don't do B-plots.

* Out of all my stories the two I am most proud of are The Good Life and Seule et Amoureuse, because they are by far my most original. [I don't read MPreg at all but I am going to assume that there aren't any other MPreg fics out there even a little bit like mine.] On rereading The Good Life I was genuinely impressed by how effective it is - it's essentially a horror story (which all MPreg should be if you ask me), and it's so creepy and disturbing, but, because it's also an unapologetic celebration of mutual obsession, it's probably my quintessential OTP fic: the guys remain blissfully happy with, and devoted to, one another throughout, even when things get really dark (and boy do they get dark).

I never read particularly widely in the fandom, but as far as I know there isn't a lot of Lana fic out there, and so I'd like to think SeA is one of the best that there is. It's a bona-fide character study, which is not something I'd really done before, and I can't remember the process being particularly arduous, although maybe radioreverie (who gave me lots of ideas) or bop_radar (my beta) could tell me how much I struggled with it. Lana was the perfect candidate for an exploration of her character through her sexuality, because there was a lot of interesting textual and subtextual evidence in canon to draw from (her obvious desire to have a sexual relationship with Clark before he was ready to, for example). I remember Melissa asking me to write a character study of Lois in a similar vein - she particularly liked the darker tone of the Lana piece - but I was never able to view Lois as a tragic character in the same way, nor was her sexuality an area that I felt warranted an in-depth investigation, and I didn't know quite how else to approach it, so unfortunately that story never happened (sorry darling!).

* The real question though is: which is my hottest story? My most recent story, Come Again, is definitely up there, in that it's essentially 10,000 words of porn (it's also my third longest story and yet it has no actual plot other than: Harvey and Mike have a lot of hot sex (and fall in love)), and No Magic Necessary is top five for sure. I can't decide which of my het stories is the hottest - Lick is probably my most popular - but I think maybe the Lex chapter of Seule et Amoureuse is my personal favourite. Picking the hottest Clex fic is a tough call, and obviously this will vary from person to person, depending on your tastes/kinks/mood, but if I'm trying to be objective (as objective as it's possible to be when rating the hotness of smut, given that the rating directly correlates with how I personally reacted to the story when I wrote it/read it/reread it), then I'm going to pick one of my early stories: The Fire In Me, which I think is possibly the purest piece of smut I've ever written. Which may be an odd choice of word, but what I mean by it is that there's really no character exploration going on in the story at all, no story at all, just a lot of ecstatic, relentless, mildly kinky sex. I love Clark in it, totally deranged by his lust for Lex (and Lex, of course, is powerless to resist him) and I love the story quirk (which I've not seen done elsewhere) of Clark being so turned on he can't control his powers. It's a funny, entertaining story that's hot from start to finish and I think I managed to capture the intensity of their feelings and their desire for one another really well. Plus, you know, it has a great felching scene in it (because I decided I would write a story with felching in it just to see if I could make it hot. AND I TOTES DID.) Also, the last line is the sweetest ever.

On the shortlist: Going Home (mostly because of the - hilarious - dubiousness of the consent, with Clark being all "What are you doing! You promised you wouldn't!" and Lex being like "I'm not gonna fuck you, I'm just going to push the head inside for one second, that's all" YEAH RIGHT LEX) and Let it Snow (forced to share a bed!). Note that the three I've chosen are all comedies. I wrote WAY more angst than I would have guessed I had, but my preference (and, I think, my forte) is always going to be for the romantic comedy smut-fest.

* Let's talk about endings. I rarely do happily ever after (because I tend to find it sentimental (as opposed to moving) and unrealistic) but the vast majority of my stories end with 'happy right now'. The great/intriguing tension in the Clark/Lex relationship is actually that they are all wrong for each other; that's what kept me coming back to them for so many years. There was this fierce attraction, love, destiny, and all that fabulous stuff, but romantic longevity? Compatibility? No. I never saw domestic bliss in their future. Passion, power struggle, crazy all consuming obsession, yes, but not a happy ending. So the happy endings of my Clex stories are all relatively ambiguous. Most end on a high note, leaving the guys with an 'oh, so that happened, we did that, our relationship has changed fundamentally forever and we're open minded about where it goes next'. And where it goes next is up to each individual reader's temperament afaic. If you can envision domestic bliss for Clark and Lex, more power to you; me, I'm just happy they got the moments I gave to them and I wish them the best of luck in their future endeavors. I wrote a few stories that ended with them in an established long-term relationship, but I wouldn't describe any of those endings as being unambiguously or traditionally 'happy': in The Good Life, they are the very picture of domestic bliss - they have a baby, they're a family, they're excited about their future together. But they're also both serial killers, which sort of taints the happy somewhat I'm sure you'll agree. And in Surveillance, it's really only Lex who gets his happy ending. He got what he wanted and he's delighted with himself, but Clark? Clark ended up with a man who violated his privacy in a manner entirely unforgivable; Clark chose - unwisely - to be with a total psycho, and love him he might but that will certainly come back to bite him in the ass. Let's not even talk about the ending of The Hero of Yesterday, which sees them end up together only because Clark has stolkholm syndrome. LOL my brain.

Clois always get happily ever after, however, because they are THE happily ever couple. They've been living happily ever after for nearly a century and who am I to fuck with that?

I also gave Veronica and Logan a happy ending (with longevity), because they'd earned it.

Mike and Harvey - you know what, I can see a future for them, I really can. It's early days (in terms of canon) but I honestly think they're a little bit perfect for each other.

* MAH BETAS. I'd like to finish this post by thanking from the bottom of my heart all the amazing, smart and talented women who have helped me over the years. I have learned so much from my betas, I'm a better writer now because of them, and if any of my stories don't entirely suck it's all their doing. Like when allzugern called me out on my overuse of italics, saying that they "lose their effect when used often, and mostly the sentences are constructed so that emphasis is already properly implied", and since then I have all but eliminated italics from my writing because she's SO RIGHT - they're intrusive and largely unnecessary; or when annaalamode kicked my butt for all the many ways I tend to 'tell' rather than 'show'; or when clari_clyde took way more time than she should have to give me the most detailed/thoughtful/useful beta I'd ever had (for a story I never posted because I wasn't inclined to do all the work required and OMG I AM STILL REALLY SORRY/ASHAMED ABOUT THAT), or the many times estrella30 and bop_radar beta'd for me, ensuring my stories were immeasurably better than they would have been without their invaluable input. I won't list all of you here because if I mistakenly miss someone I will hate myself, and you will hate me too, but rest assured I am grateful to every last one of you, and forever amazed that you cared enough about me and my silly stories to spend your precious time helping me make fandom a filthier place. THANK YOU MY BABIES. ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Tags: fandom, fic, writing
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