For as long as there has been fanfiction there has been slash. For those who are not familiar with fandoms and the terminology, slash is the term used for pairings of two characters of the same gender in a romantic and/or sexual relationship together. They are not usually written as homosexual by the original author.
Whether it is Captain Kirk and Mr Spock, who are commonly believed to be the original slashed characters, or the more modern Edward and Jacob of the Twilight series, it seems that with the advent of the internet slash fanfiction is here to stay.
My fandom is the Harry Potter fandom and slash stories about the characters are amongst the most popular online. I have written a number of them myself over the years and even though I have also written about characters in heterosexual relationships and stories that have no romance in them at all, it is the slash ones that retain their popularity after they have disappeared from the most recent updates pages of the archives at which they are stored. Which tells me that these seem to be the stories that people are searching for.
But why do we choose to pair up characters who are not originally written as a couple?
I decided to dig around in my fandom, but unfortunately for me, my favourite pairing (Remus Lupin and Sirius Black) has a large following of readers and writers who believe that their relationship is canon, albeit rather buried in the subtext. I am not one of those people, so I had to ask myself why I choose to write about the two men as a couple.
Remus was paired in canon with the unfortunately named Nymphadora Tonks. There are those who say that it is jealousy of Tonks that prompts fanfic writers to pair Remus up with another man, sometimes Harry, sometimes Snape, often Sirius. I can’t say that reasoning holds true for me. I actually advocated Remus/Tonks before they were an official couple in the series and have often enjoyed reading about them in fanfic. So, why don’t I write about that pairing?
To make a statement?
I don’t see writing slash fanfics as making any sort of a statement to advocate gay rights or anything like that. Maybe there are some who write for that reason, but I have never met them in my fandom. It certainly isn’t the reason I choose to write slash.
Two hot men are better than one?
Well, yes they are, but surely that can’t be the only reason I enjoy writing about my favourite pairing. And since Rowling outed one of her characters, why not write about him? Okay, I admit that I did write one short story about Dumbledore in his youth, but that was it. Even though there is substantially more evidence that this character is gay, including the words of the authoress herself, I choose to write about two men who aren’t.
The hot sex between two men is the appeal?
Well, it is definitely appealing, but not all of my stories have sex in them and they are as popular as some of my others. My most popular story about the pairing is ridiculously long and the characters don’t even hop into bed until somewhere after chapter 40. If it was just the sex then who the heck would read that far just for a few pages of porn? I wouldn’t. To my friends in the fandom I refer to myself as more of a plot-whore than anything else.
It can’t be the chance to write steamy man-on-man sex that makes me write about the pairing; if it was there would be far more sex in my fanfiction stories.
Bitter enemies becoming lovers?
Enemies who become lovers is always a popular idea in fanfiction. The idea of turning canon on its head and forcing the hero into bed with his nemesis doesn’t appeal to me in the least. But for some people this is an avenue of fanfiction that is almost as appealing as the one I have chosen.
The reason I write slash
Childhood friends. Betrayal. Reunion. Tragedy.
Playing in the Remus/Sirius sandbox opens a world of possibility for angst-filled stories and the chance to give the characters a happier ending than they were given in canon.
But why not pair them up with one of the female characters? And if there isn’t one available then make one up?
Well, making one up generally results in lots of accusations about Mary Sue’s and author inserts, but as a writer of original fiction as well as fanfiction I am sure that I am capable of producing a character that is neither of these fanfiction horrors.
Yet I don’t. I have never even attempted to pair either of them up with a female character. Instead I have taken their canon friendship and turned it into a romantic relationship for my own pleasure and that of my readers.
And I guess that I have my answer right there. I write slash fanfiction because I enjoy it and because I can.
Most importantly I write it because everyone deserves a happy ending, and what can be happier than two well-loved characters finding love together?
L.M. Brown’s latest release, Driving Me Crazy, is available now from Silver Publishing.
To Purchase: Liquid Silver Publishing
They say that people in love do crazy things. Brandon Walker can certainly relate.
Lusting after Lee Cooper, his sexy driving instructor, isn’t the most sensible reason for failing his driving test for the third time and when he discovers the damage he has inadvertently done to his instructor’s reputation and business, Brandon knows that he is on his last chance.
After persuading Lee to give him one final course of driving lessons Brandon makes it his priority to figure out if the spark he feels between them is one-sided or whether he can persuade his sexy instructor to move their lessons from the front seat of the car to the back.
Enjoyed your column. I don’t read much fanfic but I may start if my asking what, if these two were paired, would happen. It is interesting to see how others see what the author doesn’t state or even think of originally. Your Driving Me Crazy sounds good.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my column.
Fanfic is one of those areas that it is so easy to get sucked into. I started off with a small group of online friends re-writing odd scenes from the Harry Potter books from Snape’s point of view. Despite my tendency to slash Remus and Sirius, Snape is my favourite character from the series. Then the stories got longer and longer and more complex and I ended up writing a lot of different genres including slash.
When I finished my Remus/Sirius 400,000 word epic I realised I had spent two years on it and decided to really get back to original fiction, something I had not really touched since I was a teenager.
The joy of fanfiction is that you can play around with someone else’s characters and let their lives go in whatever direction you like.
I’m glad you like the idea of Driving Me Crazy and hope that you enjoy it if you do decide to check it out.
Best wishes and thanks again for stopping by and most especially for commenting.
I think that your story looks hot LM 😀 I hope it does well
This is so refreshing. I admit it, I’m sick of reading blog posts and articles in which people either new to the idea or confused by it try to figure out the ‘why’ behind women and slash, and put forth theories I’ve never considered, like it’s linked to my identity or I’m ‘making a statement’. To add to my confusion, I’m a woman, but not a straight woman, so my role in writing m/m is ignored, at least in all the places where I see women and gay fiction mentioned.
I do think that if you dug a little more you’d come up with a more detailed answer than your conclusion, though. You like it and you can. Yes, absolutely, but what makes a pair appeal to you? IMO, it’s the characters, not the simple fact they are both men. E.g. There’s a reason you ship Remus and Sirius and not Sirius and James, right? (I’m guessing here, maybe you do slash them.) No one ever talks about the draw of writing about male relationships. Not in a sexual way, but in capturing how men of any relationship from lover to brother to father and son relate to each other.
Maybe I’ll blog about that some day!
Interesting post. A lot of m/m authors started out in flash fiction. I did.
I think some authors enjoy writing m/m because the genre is relatively new and doesn’t have many restraints or formulas to be adhered to.
Personally, I like writing slash and m/m original fiction for the same reasons I enjoy reading it. I can read without having to identify with a female heroine — something that always annoys me if she’s smarter than me, richer than me, luckier in love than me. Maybe it’s a case of jealousy. Why should she be getting that guy instead of me? 🙁
With two men in love I can enjoy the story without comparing myself to the heroine and there’s no jealousy at all. 🙂
Lily – Thanks. I’m glad you think so.
Ryan – Actually I did once do a short piece that was Sirius/James. It didn’t sit right with me though. They have always been referred to as close as brothers in the books themselves and perhaps that is the reason I didn’t enjoy writing them as a couple – it was a little to close to incest for my own personal writing comfort zone.
The marauder era is the one I have written the most about and I think that it has more to do with there being so much we don’t know about it. You have a lot more you can play with in that area. For pairings from canon characters there aren’t that many options.
I rule Snape out entirely because I have always believed he was in love with Lily (right back as far as when I first read Order of the Phoenix). That is so ingrained into my brain I couldn’t see writing him with anyone else, male or female.
Peter has possibilities but I am not that fond of writing from his point of view. I don’t exclude him from my stories or anything like that – in fact it is a pet peeve of mine when people do – but I do find him difficult to write.
Of all the characters in the era I think that Snape and Remus are the two I identify with the most – and with Remus there is less bitterness and angst so romance is much more likely to be plausible in fiction.
They are not the only slash pair I have written though. As well as Remus/Sirius and Dumbledore/Grindelwald I have also written Fred II and Teddy Lupin as a couple as well as Teddy and James II. As you can see I don’t always stick with one pairing for a character.
In fact, looking at it like this, it is actually something of a surprise to wonder why I haven’t written Remus with James. There must be a reason, but I honestly could not give one. Unless it is merely habit to write Remus/Sirius and laziness on my part not to explore the other possibility here.
I have also written stories about the era that are not slash and more brotherly relationships or merely best friends. I haven’t blogged about those relationships, though the father and son one is a possibility since I am hoping to submit a father and son focused story to Silver Publishing within the next couple of months.
Pender – I like your answer. The “perfect” heroines getting all the guys is a trend that doesn’t seem to ever go away.
Thanks everyone for stopping by.