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Eskye

Recently, I have been on fictionpress more often. I only read lesbian fiction on here, and it surprises me how much there is here compared to other sites. However, it still pales in comparison to the amount of heterosexual and gay fiction. I search hard for truly well written lesbian fiction, which is hard to find. Most of what is found on the internet is completely worthless. A very low percentage of lesbian fiction is actually good. Now combine that with very few stories and you get even fewer stories to read. As I've been reading, I've compiled a list of things I find extremely irritating in lesbian fiction on fictionpress.

Before I start, I am going to define a term that I use rather frequently. Romantic love story. A romantic love story is a story where we follow a main character through the hardships involved with falling in love or being in love. Love does not include sex in its definition. It does not need sex in its definition. Love is a connection between people.

Now that my definition is clear, my first point follows.

Section I - I don't give a damn about your DD's, thank you very much.

This rule really goes for all fiction, but in times of desperation, lesbian fiction ought to step up to the plate and refuse this horrific and tasteless crime. Fight back, I say. "Against what?" you say. Against completely describing your character in full in the first paragraph of your story.

Some might say: "Is that really a crime? I need a visual." It doesn't limit you from eventually mapping out the physical attributes of your character, but the least an author can do is have some subtlety and taste in the matter. It's as if some people are trying to convince me that their character is this hot and falls into that clique. It's completely unnecessary. Really, it is.

Such an example of this is:

"Lauren opened her eyes to the buzzing of an alarm clock near her head. She fumbled for the snooze button and sat up in bed. She quickly got up and headed for the mirror. She had brown eyes, brown hair, large CC breasts, and a nice ass."

True example.

I wish authors would ask themselves "Is breast size really necessary in my story? Has it anything to do with my plot? Ought I give all the exact measurements of this character in order to convince them that she's a really hot chick?"

The answer to all three is no. Especially when looking at the sentence and noticing the complete redundancy of using a general adjective and then stating the actual size of the breasts. Pointless.

I also don't care if your character's love interest is just so damn sexy. You don't need to say "she looked so sexy" in every paragraph. I get the picture. The main character has the hots for that girl. You can keep the theme of finding things attractive without saying the same thing over and over again. Subtlety, please.

Section II - What happened to dinner and a movie?

Something that is prevalent in many stories is the sudden jump from confession to a quickie in the nearest janitor's closet. A few chapters in, the main character will run up and confess (usually to the hottest, prettiest, most popular girl in school who miraculously loves her back). Then, as soon as their lips graze for the first time, they suddenly go into a hot and steamy make-out/sex scene.

Wait, what? I'm no prude or anything, but can't they wait until the first date, at the very least? I know that your characters are most likely horny little teenagers with no self-control, but this is ridiculous! I wonder if the author is just so eager to reach the climax (no pun intended) of the story, that they just couldn't wait. The story usually rushes on afterward, with no sense of pacing.

When I start a romantic love story, I expect some gradual maturation of romantic interests or a story about two already matured lovers that have some issues. I don't expect a gradual awakening to the romance and then immediate sex. It defeats the purpose of "romance." If you want to write a sex scene so bad, write an erotica. Which comes to my third point.

Section III - Since when did this story change genres?

When it comes time for the characters to have sex, it can be a total disaster. Often, sex scenes that come about in stories are unrealistic. If you can't actually write a sex scene, don't. If you feel it's necessary, tastefully imply it. Don't try and write a passionate love scene if you really have no idea what you're doing.

In reality, most horrible sex scenes come about with mention of DD's and sudden jumps. But well paced romantic stories can also have these flaws.

Now, these horrid sex scenes - I'll be coming (again, no pun intended) to examples later - usually seem to stem from a lack of knowledge about sex. Here's three rules that authors should abide by when considering sex scenes.

1) If you've never done it with a woman yourself, don't write a lesbian sex scene.

2) If you're a man, don't write a lesbian sex scene.

3) If your only real experiences of lesbian sex are pornography and erotica, don't write a lesbian sex scene in a romantic love story.

Now, I will explain these reasons in greater detail.

If you haven't actually had lesbian sex, you have no concept of what happens. You may have the general gist, but you don't know the romance involved. Basically, if you're trying to write anything in a romantic fashion without having had romantic lesbian sex, you have nothing to say. You can try, but it's most likely going to be bad.

If you're a man, don't bother. You have no idea what being a woman feels like. You have no idea how sex between two women is, except for pornography (which is, incidentally, almost always made by men who know nothing), and you have no possibility of achieving the romantic connection that is there. Seriously. It's not going to work without sounding like the script to your favorite girl-on-girl porno.

I've mentioned porn and erotica a few times. Mainstream lesbian pornography is made by men, usually for men. It's stupid and gross. There is no actual romance. Erotica is very much the same. It is designed to portray fantasies that are extremely unrealistic, and are meant to turn people on. If you have only ever read erotica and try to write a scene in a story with a romantic tone, you will end up with an erotic section that does not match up with your story at all.

Basically, stick to what you know.

Examples of tasteless sex is:

"I masterbated her with my finger."

That is an actual example from an actual "romantic love story."

Let's dissect this. Masturbation means to pleasure oneself. Masturbating another person is completely impossible, unless you have mind control powers and force somebody to masturbate. Then I would consider it to be an action towards another. But that is nonexistent in the story, so the point is moot. To pleasure a woman with your fingers is fingering. That's it. Masturbating another is only found in badly written online erotica. See? Erotica is not something to base your romantic sex scene on.

They also misspelled "masturbated." That's pretty pathetic.

There is also a problem with the word "cum."

It doesn't exist.

Cum is just the word "come." As "come"... came... to be the urban slang for orgasm and semen, people started saying cum. They wanted some difference between the two meanings. But in reality, "cum" is, as defined by the urban dictionary, "How internet sluts say 'come'".

For the sake of taste, and actual literary knowledge, don't use it.

Obviously, a lack of knowledge is somewhat embarrassing. If you have no knowledge, just don't do it, ok?

Section IV - You can't hide man-tone.

I hate when men write lesbian fiction. It's like girls writing gay fiction. It just doesn't work.

To be honest, women are much more versatile in tone than men. They can get away with it sometimes.

Men can't.

It's like the sound of a train - you can hear it from miles away. It's really just a stylistic thing. Something about syntax and diction just... differs between men and women. To be fair, women have superior language capabilities. It's inherent in brain structure, a difference found between all males and females. The two areas of the brain associated with language, Wernicke's area and Broca's area, are more developed in women. So, naturally, there is usually a difference int he way men and women speak and write. You can't help it.

Which also means that it's hard to disguise.

Here's an article, for those of you who are curious, on the differences between writing in men and women. Mind, it's only academic writing, but the quality of academic writing also carries over to creative writing.

http://www.fsrd.itb.ac.id/wp-content/uploads/6%20Dana.pdf

If you feel that you can achieve it, go ahead and try. Obviously there are some authors that can write in the point of view of a woman. I've read a few books like that. I'm not saying men absolutely can't. I just don't like to be able to know that I'm reading about a lesbian written by a man, and that I could immediately tell by style. If I can't tell it's a man writing, kudos to you. It's never happened on fictionpress. But that's what we get from amateurs, right?

Conclusion

To those that read this: Please, I beg of you. Heed my words. If you have a good grasp on the English language, attempt to write good stories! We're lacking oh so much in the lesbian fiction section. Don't ruin your chances at a good story by writing tastelessly.

If anyone wants an example of my work, if only to qualify me for writing a long rebuttal, read Lift Off.

6/3/2010 . Edited 6/3/2010 #1
Rae D. Magdon

I agree with almost everything posted in this rant, except for one small detail: a few talented guys can write lesbian sex scenes.

Trust me, I know how annoying it is to wade through story after story where idiot guys just write out a description of the last porno movie they bought, and a ton of them have NO idea what it's like to make love with a woman... trust me. But there are a couple very imaginative dudes out there who give it a good attempt, and they deserve props. Don't make generalizations like that. Even if only 5% of the guys who attempt to write lesbian fiction end up doing it well, that 5% might still be worth reading.

It took me a while to admit this to myself, and unless the story is recommended to me by someone else, I will usually avoid lesbian fiction written by guys at all costs, but I feel like I have to stick up for a few of my good guy writer friends who actually do know a little about what they're doing.

6/3/2010 . Edited 6/3/2010 #2
Eskye

I have just seen Al Kristopher's work today. I skimmed a few chapters to see if it might be worth it, and it seems that I ought to read him.

I didn't say that it was impossible. Just highly unlikely. They can try if they want.

I'm offended that you called it a rant. :P Actually, not at all. You should recommend the few good ones out there to me. I swear, I just went through all the f/f stories on fictionpress just this last week. Of course, I have nineteen essays due by next week, so that wasn't a good idea... But regardless of my follies, I would certainly like to read the competent authors.

6/3/2010 #3
Rae D. Magdon

Jeez, you have a huge workload, don'tcha! Thanks for your sweet comment, I'm glad you enjoyed my writing. I didn't mean to offend you by calling your post a "rant", it does make a lot of logical points. I have to admit, the bad lesbian fiction written by guys really does annoy me, but a couple of 'em are very good and I know they get a lot of crap for being dudes in a female-centric genre, so I felt like I had to stick up for them.

6/3/2010 #4
Eskye

I was only joking, silly. :( You didn't offend me at all. I have a super crapload of stuff to do. I get to write about why I would bomb Japan if I were Truman, though. I hope that my teacher will actually recognize irony. Most likely not.

I just hate bad writing in general. I very rarely add anyone to my favorites. (Which, incidentally, reminded me that I forgot to add you.)

Also noticing that you play the flute. Have you heard of man-tone on flute? Same concept, to me :) (I play oboe).

6/3/2010 . Edited 6/3/2010 #5
Rae D. Magdon

I hate bad writing, too! =D That's why I usually lurk on Xenafiction, Academy of Bards, or Ralst. Higher percentage of good fiction there than here, but there are definitely a few diamonds in the rough on fictionpress... _

6/3/2010 #6
Rae D. Magdon

Jeez, you have a huge workload, don'tcha! Thanks for your sweet comment, I'm glad you enjoyed my writing. I didn't mean to offend you by calling your post a "rant", it does make a lot of logical points. I have to admit, the bad lesbian fiction written by guys really does annoy me, but a couple of 'em are very good and I know they get a lot of crap for being dudes in a female-centric genre, so I felt like I had to stick up for them.

6/3/2010 #7
Knightmare Elite

I completely agree with everything you've said. I'll be the first to admit, that I'm merely okay at writing lesbian fiction. I still have a lot to learn, and it will never be completely authentic because I'm obviously not a woman and can never have lesbian sex.

I also agree with the lack of (good) lesbian fiction. What does bother is, is the lack of unity in the fictionpress lesbian community. I mean, a man started the first lesbian forum, and believe me I searched and waited months before starting this, hoping someone would start a lesbian forum to coincide with the then infant slash forum. It's nowhere near as large as the slash community which ironically, most of those authors are female or lesbians.

6/3/2010 #8
Eskye

I edited my post before with some last thoughts. I tried to navigate through those sites, since you recommended them before, but I found it difficult. I ought to just force my friends to write me lesbian fiction if I want anything guaranteed to be good.

6/3/2010 #9
Rae D. Magdon

Knightmare, merely by understanding that you're gonna need to do some extra work to pull off a good lesbian story, you're miles ahead of lots of other guys. You have shown a LOT of growth since I first read some of your stories years and years ago, and it's a pleasure to know and write with you. n__n Don't think that just because you're a guy you can't write. =D

6/3/2010 #10
Eskye

Knightmare, there's also a severe lack of professional lesbian fiction. I'm not quite sure why. The population of out lesbians is actually half that of gay men, so that could be a factor. Also, homosexuality has been proven to be natural through the development of the brain. (I'm taking college psychology on this) Gay men have brain and hormone development more similar to women, while lesbians have brain and hormone development more similar to men. That difference might account for some of it, but I don't really believe it.

I would say that you're better off than most guys, but I think you might recall that I reviewed your story once. You have man-tone :(

Edit: I should probably clarify this before it offends. You're a good writer, to be sure. But I did pick up on man-tone in Falling for Summer, which was a disappointment for me :/

6/3/2010 . Edited 6/3/2010 #11
Knightmare Elite

I noticed what you meant about tone in Summer, and it's something I struggle with. I am trying to improve that. Thank you for reading though. As long as you don't think it was total garbage, that makes me feel a little better.

6/3/2010 #12
Mother Unnatural

I really hope there isn't man-tone in my story. Because really, if you're going to write, you don't want people to tell your gender just by looking at it.

6/6/2010 #13
Knightmare Elite

@ Hello my friends. I just read your story, and unfortunately it screams 'A guy wrote this'. I left a constructive criticism review that hopefully helps. Please don't be discouraged, if you really want to write a respectable (read: not erotica or PWP) lesbian story, you're going to have to engross yourself in the female & more importantly, lesbian world, and again this doesn't mean porn since that's in no way a reflection of a real lesbian relationship. Not saying that's your research method, just putting it out there.

6/6/2010 #14
Eskye

On the contrary, Knightmare, I don't think he has too much man-tone. He's just too overly focused on the character description. If he backed off on that, any trace of it would disappear. I believe the main issue present in his story is a physical focus on characters, lacking clear surroundings and personality. Since the chapter is so short, and there's nothing to compare it to, there isn't much to say for writing style and tendencies yet.

Hello my friends, have you any other stories or pieces that you've written? Doesn't have to be lesbian. I just want to look at your normal style.

6/6/2010 #15
Knightmare Elite

I agree, it felt more like someone admiring the character rather than painting an unbiased description for the reader. It make the character almost seem like a Mary Sue which is something you want to stay away from, unless that's your intent.

6/6/2010 #16
Mother Unnatural

Hello my friends, have you any other stories or pieces that you've written? Doesn't have to be lesbian. I just want to look at your normal style.

I'm not sure it will help, but I have poetry.

6/7/2010 #17
Mother Unnatural

I wish authors would ask themselves "Is breast size really necessary in my story? Has it anything to do with my plot? Ought I give all the exact measurements of this character in order to convince them that she's a really hot chick?"

I normally don't like to make the character "hot" and "sexy", because when I see a story that describes breast/butt size I turn away immediately. It disgusts me and I prefer to make them "pretty" i.e. describing the facial aspects.

6/7/2010 #18
Rae D. Magdon

Although I do not usually describe breast size in my novels, I do describe my main characters looking at the breasts of whichever lady has caught her eye. However, it is certainly not a prominent feature in any of my writing, and my ladies are just as likely to eye each other's legs, hips, faces, ect.

6/7/2010 #19
Eskye

Unless you write short stories like poetry, it wouldn't really help. Oh well. Write more and add more chapters so I can see your style :)

The quote was meant ironically, as I'm sure that you know. It's an immediate turn off from a story to see references like that. Describing them prettily is perfectly fine, and I'm glad that you two stop at that :)

6/7/2010 #20
Knightmare Elite

One thing that was ironically over looked in the initial post is that the majority of male/male slash on this site is written by women, and most of those. I did mention that in my post but it seemed to have been glossed over.

To be fair, if it's said that a man can't write a lesbian scene and don't completely understand the complexity of female relationships (which I can agree with). How is it okay that women and lesbians write the majority of male slash stories on this site? Is that so say that women know every detail about men and all aspects of a relationship between two men? That would be an arrogant presumption that a woman can write a male better while a male writes females in an inferior manner.

That's the one thing I never understood, if so many lesbians want to read good lesbian fiction, then WHY do the majority of the ones with the talent instead write male slash? And no one has issue with them doing it. I'm not trying to start another argument, I'm just point out what is pretty obvious from spending some time in the slash forum: some of the best and most popular male slash writers on this site are lesbians. Is this a double standard?

6/7/2010 #21
Eskye

It was mentioned in my first post, actually. First sentence of that section, I believe.

"I hate when men write lesbian fiction. It's like girls writing gay fiction. It just doesn't work."

Many "lesbian" writers are actually bisexual. So if they like men, some of them (or most of them, it seems) like the thought of two men together. I do have an issue with that as well, but my topic was on lesbian fiction, so I didn't feel the need to continue with that point.

It is quite a double standard. I never understood it much either. I agree with it as much as I do with males writing lesbian fiction. As I do mention in my post.

Also, there is something to be said with the psychology of it. Not many men read romance, though some gay men do. I could potentially write something as long as my first post about the psychology and neuroscience that is potentially involved with the subject of what men look for in stories and what women look for. But I digress. It's really for the same reasons why men can't write lesbian fiction, as stated earlier. We just work differently.

6/7/2010 . Edited 6/7/2010 #22
Knightmare Elite

Okay I can accept that.

My main point was just to acknowledge the double standard. I guess I'm one of the weird ones. 90% of my anime collection is comprised of romance comedies, and I always sympathize with female lead characters. I'm sure there's a lot of basis so say 'maybe this guy's gay' in there somewhere. Writing about lesbians doesn't help. I'm have to force myself to write some macho hetero stuff and start watching sports to help clean up my image.

I do completely agree that not everyone should try to write everything. Needless to say, people will still try, most of it will be bad. That's why you have to sift through the crap to find the gems as they say. Maybe I'm stubborn when it comes to lesbians, any other genre that I have no experience in I stay away. You'll likely never see me write a horror or a comedy since I don't know how to scare people on paper nor do I know how to keep people laughing on paper. I'd like to say writing lesbian fiction is a phase for me, one that I've been in for about six years now. Who knows, maybe next month I'll see the light and start working on my epic iteration of 'Fast and the Furious' or 'Rambo'. That would sure make it less awkward to talk about my writing to people.

6/7/2010 #23
Mother Unnatural

Not many men read romance, though some gay men do

I feel offended. "Romance" is a preferred genre of mine. "Some gay men do?" What about us straight men? I really don't think you have to say only the gay men read romance.

Also, before saying there is "man-tone", in my story, you might want to know I describe all of my characters', male or female, physical aspects.

6/8/2010 . Edited 6/8/2010 #24
Rae D. Magdon

This whole board/conversation makes me a little sad. Why does this have to be a war of the genders? Writing is supposed to bring humanity together and stuff and illustrate the shared human experience. Or something philosophical-y like that. Let's all be friends =D Generalizations are lame. Some men suck at writing about lesbians, some don't, some guys read romances, some lesbians write gay boy slash.... it's all good.

6/8/2010 #25
Eskye

I never said that no men read romance. I said not many. It's a statistical fact that more gay men than straight men read romance. I do, however, happen to be friends with a few guys that read romance, once being an avid Nicholas Sparks fan. You're just misunderstanding what I was saying. Not many does not equate to none at all, and it's perfectly fine if you read romance.

"Man-tone" is not synonymous with a lack of character description. I don't know where this came from. Man-tone is not describing, but the way that you go about describing. Syntax and diction. Whether or not it's male or female characters you describe.

Rogue, I believe that it's more a misunderstanding of what people are saying than any real argument.

6/8/2010 #26
for shame

Out of all the things in Eskye's original post, the thing that I agree with most is the part about sex scenes.

The thing that bothers me the most in almost every single sex scene is that there's no awkwardness. It's the same in movies - everything goes smoothly. There's none of that awkward but cute charm when you're trying to find the right position and everything. Sex is not perfect. There are mistakes and slips and "no, that feels weird!"

Writers shouldn't try to perfect every love scene.

The difference between reality and fiction is that fiction has to make sense.

6/21/2010 #27
PaintedPassion

Hello. I'd just like to say that I agree so much with a lot of this. First of all, I have also seem a lot of bad lesbian fics with just.. overplayed scenarios and underdeveloped plots. I've been working on my own for years and trying so hard not to fail miserably with it. I've never seen a lesbian story written by a male. I think it'd play out okay if it was in third person but I'm not too sure about first person.

Oh, and I laughed really hard at "I masterbated her with my finger." Haha just wow.

8/2/2010 #28
Lumynescence

I agree fully- except for the part about that guys can't write lesbian fiction. A lot of men can't and do it to fulfill their fantasies, but there a few talented guys out there.

I think it's a shame that there are not a lot of well written stories out there. Typically I want to find a story about love between two women or girls, may it be mutual or not, that is heartfelt, genuine, original, and about the love itself. If I wanted to read sleezy sex scenes, I would go find erotic literature. That's not what I'm looking for in a story.

I'm working on a novel right now where the main characters romantic relationship with another girl is one of the main parts of the plot. I would love to post it on here, but I don't know how Fictionpress accepts literary fiction (fiction that relies more on theme and the style of the writing rather than plot advancement- the beginning to the body to the climax to the end). I have other stories that are more mainstream that I am more than willing to post though.

Oh, and the DD thing annoys me to NO END. :P

9/11/2010 #29
PaintedPassion

Lumynescence- You should be able to post any kind of story on here as long as it's your own work and not a fanfic. Hell, I've posted little rambles of thought. Your style doesn't have to be the norm. If you do decide to post your story, I'd be happy to read it.

9/11/2010 #30
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