Friday, May 22, 2009

M/M Fiction Elements that Piss People Off - Update

Elements in M/M romance fiction that infuriate readers and writers alike -- gotta be a million of 'em! I first posted this list on September 3, 2008, when I'd just begun venturing into the genre. Time for an update.

Wow, the stuff I've learned over my nine-month gestation period! There are far more pisser off-ers than I initially realized. So here's the original list, with an addendum below in color.

(And the picture? That's for all the pastors who secretly desire Adam Lambert. You know who you are. Now get back to your stalls in those rest-area and park bathrooms. And say hi to Bill O'Reilly for me.)

  • Emo characters (The term emo has become WAY more inclusive than it should be.)

  • Exceptional endowment (The pink torpedo is out; the pink Twinkie is in . . . as far as it can go, that is.)

  • Too much sex

  • Too much swallowing of the salty snowball during sex

  • Too little sex

  • Too little swallowing of the salty snowball during sex

  • "Odd" positions during sex

  • Too much talking during sex

  • Too little talking during sex

  • Too much BDSM

  • Not enough BDSM

  • Blue eyes (!)

  • A history of abuse as a child (Guess that's old news. YIPPEE! Child abuse no longer exists!)

  • Tension or plot conflict that involves homophobes (Guess they're old news, too. YIPPEE! Vicious, mindless sexual prejudice no longer exists!)

  • Love at first sight (Well, yeah, that's baloney--eHarmony be damned.)

  • Arousal at first sight (Come on. Denying there's such a thing as arousal at first sight is like denying there's such a thing as stupid or ho-doggy presidents.)

  • "Gay for you," i.e., protagonists who claim to be straight and only get bent with and for each other. (It's the "I swear I have always been and will always be straight" part that makes this oxymoronic. But I don't know of too many writers who try to peddle gay or bi heroes as hardcore het's.)

  • The deep end of the sensitivity pool: too much crying, too much schmaltz, too much angst (Where's the line and when is it crossed?)

  • The shallow end of the sensitivity pool: too much hard-nosedness, too much glibness and flippancy, too much insouciance (Ditto the above comment.)

  • Too many cops/detectives/cowboys/firefighters (For me, at least, they are getting stale. I have a hard time being engaged by characters who remind me of the Village People, although some authors can pull it off.)

  • Lack of alpha traits and a plethora of "womanish" traits

  • Too much cussing (See above.)

  • Unrealistic dialogue (See above.)

  • Obligatory HEA (I agree with this one.)

  • Too much pondering of emotions

  • Too little attention to emotions

  • Lack of chemistry (How published authors can produce a lack of chemistry between two protags in a romance is beyond me.)

  • Use of animal similes/images/metaphors/sounds (Kind of difficult to steer totally clear of them, especially when it comes to dialogue tags . . . those repetitive buggers.)

  • Menages that involve two gay men and a woman (I must admit, this plot device does bewilder and annoy me.)

  • Pointless drama (I'm not entirely sure what that is.)

  • Female characters who are a.) villains/foils, b.) goddesses/Earth Mothers, c.) ignorant of their men's true sexual preference or orientation, d.) you name it.

  • Infidelity, for any reason

  • Various terms for the prostate, including "prostate"

  • Various terms for the glans
  • Self-lubricating anuses (I had no idea such a thing existed in m/m fiction. But I read about it on a blog -- Emmy's, of course -- so it must be true.)

  • Too many public displays of affection between the protags

  • No public displays of affection (thus implying shame)

  • Not enough older heroes

  • Promiscuity

  • Promiscuity treated as a moral or emotional deficiency

  • Too little incorporation of real-world gay issues

  • Sexual activity involving women -- any sexual activity, regardless of context

  • Too much world detail

  • Too little world detail

  • Twincest, or any kind of incest (I'm all with this one.)

  • Twinks

  • Meddlesome female friends, usually of the "fag hag" variety

  • Yaoi derivation (Guess it's related to that emo objection listed above.)

  • Heroes who are rotten bastards

  • Heroes who are sugar cubes

  • Handicapped heroes (not because they're handicapped, but because this device has become overused)

  • A whole bunch of stuff relating to historicals (Somebody more versed in the subgenre than I am can ferret out and address those points.)

  • Female authors of M/M fiction (Yup, every single last one of us, because we're clueless.)

I've added a whole separate category, which I call "Erection Objections."

  • Erections with feelings (No, I don't mean emoboners; I'm referring to physical sensations, like aches and pains.)

  • Erections that "leak" (Hey, you know the fuckers do. Maybe they don't weep copiously, but they do leak. I've seen it with my own eye. Uh, eyes.)

  • Erections that appear too fast

  • Erections that go south too fast

  • Erections without protections
  • Erections that are referred to as . . . erections (WTF? From now on, I shall refer to them as filing cabinets.)

  • Erections that are unusually active and move in unnatural ways

  • Erections that are far too large to allow for a recipient's physical comfort, even if he's anaesthetised

  • Double/triple/quadruple -- well, hell, let's go for the whole bunch of bananas! -- penetration

Any others? Come on, I hate incomplete lists!


Emeraldjaguar said...

well that just takes all the fun out of m/m, doesn't it?

I can deal with about 99% of that as long as I never see another vag-anus again. Or mpreg.

MB (Leah) said...

Heh, what's left then? snort

It's all in the writing. I can put up with any of that if it's written in a good way.

Gonna agree with Emmy though, weeping anus is a major turn off. Makes me think something else is coming out of there and it's not what I want to imagine.

And I'm against anything oozing, weeping or being copious. Ick, just ick.

Love the pic by the way. LOL

K. Z. Snow said...

That list is pretty comprehensive, isn't it, Leah? But these are genuine complaints I've come across in the past year or so.

It seems there's always something in 95% of all m/m fiction published that irritates somebody. Only the Big DIK authors seem immune...but even that's never guaranteed. ;-)

Katrina Strauss said...

Earlier today, I was looking at Goodreads' "Top 10 Best Books Ever" and "Top 10 Worst Books of All Time". A few titles made *both* lists, including Stephenie Meyers' Twilight and JD Salinger's Catcher in the Rye. Seems you can't please all of the people all of the time... but you're guaranteed to piss off at least half of 'em. ;)

K. Z. Snow said...

Katrina, I'm really amazed Twilight made anybody's Best Books Ever list ... unless it's a list compiled by a twelve-year-old girl. Catcher in the Rye? Yeah, I can see that going both ways. Ditto Ulysses.

Seems you can't please all of the people all of the time... but you're guaranteed to piss off at least half of 'em.

Aw, we can do better than that. :-)

Jeanne said...

Hmmm, what is it about historical gay romance that pisses people off?
Just curious...
Considering I write a ton of historicals...
The refusal to accept reality? LOL

K. Z. Snow said...

Jeanne, it isn't historical gay romance that pisses people off, it's certain elements within certain books. If this-and-such aren't just right ... bingo, somebody's irked.

Jeanne said...

Yeah, that can irk a person...;~D

JenB said...

I ♥ twincest.

I can't help it!

You know...if authors quit writing everything on that list, they'll just come up with more stuff that annoys readers. EVERYTHING is annoying when it's overused.

I'm pretty much irritated with the entire m/m subgenre at the moment, but I can't really blame the authors. I just read too much of it at once. And now I'm editing it. I'm burned out, and I acknowledge that it's *my* problem and not the fault of horrible authors who are too stupid to write good books.

I just don't read the stuff that annoys me. I read other stuff until it annoys me, then go back to the previous annoying stuff, which annoys me less (or not at all) after a passage of time.

Clear as mud? :D

K. Z. Snow said...


Oh, I can so relate, JenB! (Well, not on the twincest thing.) That attitude is exactly what pushed me away from m/f, with various and sundry extra m's thrown in, erotic romance. When I realized how much more I enjoyed writing the m/m parts of menage scenes, light dawned.

I truly love this subgenre, because it's still fairly new to me and I feel a certain affinity with it. I'm also finding that the more character- and plot-driven a book (whether one of mine or somebody else's), and the more original its premise, and the more engaging its prose, the less inclined I am to lose patience.

So maybe it's mediocrity and/or uniformity that burns me out, not this or that particular subgenre. In any case, it'll be a while before I go back to reading or writing about the female anatomy in the throes of passion. I definitely need a good, long, and perhaps permanent sabbatical from the gushing and throbbing. All it brings to mind is a clam having a seizure. :-)

Xandra Gregory said...

That picture is total win.

I'm not hugely into the M/M reading community, which is ironic, considering I've got one coming out sometime in the next few months. But right after I subbed it to LSB, I got wind that the M/M readers are also sick of coming out stories (and mine's sort of a coming out story). My hope is that my characters are engaging enough (one of them is a swishy sort, which I hear also makes the list--I think I may be doomed, but I loved writing him) for any transgressions I may have made.

Oh, and put me down for avoiding oozing or weeping...unless it's the lj community weeping_cock...because that's just more fun than a barrel of shorn scrotum.