Can’t Take the Heat
The world of writing is, maybe by necessity, full of plot devices. Some of them work well more often than not, while some others tend to be implausible at best at least nine times out of ten. This entry is about one of the latter, one largely specific to the furry fandom.
Friction between characters, as we all know, tends to lead to conflict. And conflict, well… it’s hard to have plot without it. I’m not going to say impossible, because someone would come and prove me wrong (which would be embarrassing, since I’m never wrong), but most plot in some way is based around conflict. Maybe I see even more of this because I tend to favor character-driven stories, I don’t know.
While I’m not nearly silly enough to claim that furry writing is synonymous with porn, I won’t deny that there is a healthy slice out of the furry fiction cake which deals with (among other things) the (usually mutually enjoyable, though of course there are exceptions) exchange of bodily fluids. This is fine. Sex is a normal and healthy human activity, and all that. There are some things I really wish people would think more about when writing porn, but that’s for another article to ramble about. What I’m going to talk about here is much more basic:
Fucking the enemy.
It can be a great premise, no doubt there. Treachery, self-doubt, all kinds of mixed emotions to explore. Sometimes people really do get attracted to the people who are the worst for them. If you can pull it off, more power to you, and I’d love to read it. But for fuck’s sake… For all that is good and holy in this world… Why do so many writers resort to what may possibly be the cheapest plot device in the history of pornography? You want your character to fall for the enemy? Put her in heat! Have him go into rut! Problem solved!
Consider my suspension of disbelief seriously jarred. I’m talking shaken baby syndrome jarred, here.
Now, putting a character into season can make for an interesting story. Body says one thing, head says another; inner conflict is delicious. But what says that matter always has to win over mind? Or why don’t the characters (except in rare cases) at the very least rationalize their actions? This can be done marvellously. Writing characters having sex with someone they hate can result in some pretty damn powerful stuff. I had an excellent example of this in Cassandra Claire’s Harry Potter fanfiction work A Season in Hell, where Harry Potter and his archnemesis Draco Malfoy (you know, the poor bloke who “never stood a chance“) start up a sexual relationship when Hogwarts is under siege from the Death Eaters. Unfortunately, Ms. Claire has since taken this work offline. But the point stands. You can have sex with someone because you hate them that badly, with the right kind of mental somersaults.
Because the fact of the matter is, anyone who experiences heat or rut as powerfully as the characters in some furry erotic fiction do, most likely would have thought of ways to avoid getting caught in a position where they want to sex up someone who inspires nothing but loathing in them. I may have many other problems with the work, but Bernard Doove’s More Terrible Than Chains shows several examples of overpowering heat/rut done in a reasonable way. This despite the fact that the characters in question are custom-designed exotic sex slaves, who do in some cases throw themselves at anyone and anything when hit by the urge.
So they either make sure they don’t get put in that position (a rabbit doe builds a barricade of crates around herself, as anyone touching certain areas of her body throws her into uncontrollable lust and sends her intelligence down the drain), or they try to make sure there is nobody objectionable to throw themselves at when they’re put in that state (the hermaphroditic main character locks hirself in hir cabin during the peaks of hir male/female cycle rather than be the slave to hir overpowering sexual needs). None of the arrangements are particularly advanced; they’re the kind anyone could make if they have two brain cells to rub together, as long as the character genuinely doesn’t want to jump the bones of anything with a pulse.
This doesn’t mean that it’s always a paper-thin, cheap plot device when a character goes into season and ends up getting involved with someone unexpected. But it doesn’t take that much to establish that clouded judgement and overactive hormones are pushing a character to see more of their foe’s good qualities, and excusing the bad, rather than have the character, still thinking about how much they hate this guy, home in on his cock like a zombie hungers for brains.
A Season in Hell by Cassandra Claire. Previously published online; currently unavailable.
More Terrible Than Chains by Bernard Doove. ISBN 978-1440446962