I started this collection with one of my very favourite fanfiction-specific genres to write. (Hurt/Comfort.) I’m continuing it with one that I rarely write – not necessarily because I don’t like it, but honestly because once I begin I tend to fail in the execution.
PWP is a pretty simple concept – it stands for Plot? What Plot? and is basically used to signify this story was written for the smut it contains. (I sometimes see the acronym broken down as Porn Without Plot as well.) A PWP story is one that was written, generally, with no other goal than to show two (or more) characters having sex. (Possibly incorporating various kinks.)
Where I generally fail is not at writing smut, but at writing smut with no plot or background story. I don’t really mind – personally I find stories with plot/background included far more interesting than straight-up PWPs the majority of the time – but that’s typically how it works for me. I don’t really try to write PWP stories any more. When I did it was typically in my ‘you should write what everyone expects’ phase. (Oh, the bumpy road of being a baby writer. A journey I’ve talked about a little here.) Continue reading
I was drawn into a discussion about reading (and writing) genres recently, and it made me think (of course). The line my thoughts wandered off to the most strongly, however, was romance – it’s never been a genre that captivated my attention for long, personally.
(If I am reading a novel that is pure romance, I tend to get bored. Or sometimes the characters just aggravate me. Or I just . . . can’t get caught by the story.)
When I read novels with a romance element, they often need something else happening to keep my attention – that’s a personal thing, not a slight on the genre – so when I do, I tend to read paranormal romance, or mysteries a romantic subplot, etc. The romance can be a heavy part of the plot, but I have to have something else unfolding to tangle out as well. This is almost certainly due to the most common executions of novels in the genre, rather than an artefact of the genre itself.
I am also very, very sensitive to fremdschämen (even/especially on the behalf of fictional characters) and embarrassing or silly situations seem to be something of a staple of the romance genre, unfortunately. If I read a confrontation that makes me want to hide my face and shove the book under a pillow, I may be discouraged from enjoying the story.
All those things might make one think – not unreasonably – that romance doesn’t feature very prominently in my own writing. That assumption would be drastically incorrect – there is almost always at least some thread of love or romance. Sometimes it is close friends, siblings, etc. not always a romantic love, but those kinds of personal interactions draw me as being incredibly interesting (some of the most intense of human emotion and expression bloom from the centre of love).
This is perhaps my favourite of the genres reading (and writing) fanfiction introduced me to, and while it is in spirit certainly not restricted to only fanfiction, it is it seems most clearly indulged there.
Hurt/Comfort is an easily-defined and yet very malleable genre. In its simplest form it is in just two parts, though those parts may be more complex in themselves.
One’s main character (or characters) suffer some manner of pain, be it physical (perhaps an accident or act of malice that leaves injuries) or mental/emotional (the loss of a friend, the failure of a quest, a break up); then that hurt is . . . comforted by another character or characters. How that comfort is provided – and whether it is a true ‘fix’ or merely soothing offered on the topic of something that cannot be simply repaired – depends on the situation and the writer, of course.
The idea is to break you character apart – to varying degrees, and this can be taken so far as to leave a reader teary-eyed and wondering if they are beyond repair – and then ever-so-gently restore them, piecing the broken shards into one cohesive whole and leaving a reader feeling relieved or delighted. Ideally, one should be wrapped up to some degree in the pain of the breaking and the happiness of the re-assembly. (Shouldn’t we always, ideally, be wrapped up by and drawn into a story, though?)
There’s a feeling of . . . satisfaction, to reading a well-done hurt/comfort story, in my experience. It might bring me out to the precipice and leave me dangling with my hand clutched over my heart for a while, but eventually it will bring me back to safe ground and assure me that everything is okay, probably even better now than it ever was before.