Now that the results of the latest Size Riot contest have been published, I would like to renew a discussion about how we might best continue to construct criteria for better writing in size fantasy.
I’ve been thinking and talking about some of these issues for some time now, but the occasion of Tumblwintr and starting this blog is an opportunity for me to revisit and perhaps expand (heh) upon them. I suppose the original question that started this inquiry was whether the aim of a good size fantasy story was to fuel sexual gratification or to create a compelling narrative. Size fantasists have been grappling with this question since before I ever thought to write any of my own stories, but the furtive nature of the size fetish scene seems to have inhibited much progress.
It should be said at the outset that being good wank fodder and being a good story are far from mutually exclusive. Furthermore, there have always been plenty of size fantasists who appreciate complex and plausible characters, well-thought-out worlds, and engaging and creative plots. We were people before we were pervs. Finally, as I hope to establish with greater argument, having compelling characters with motives and stakes in the outcome makes the sexytimes better.
Nevertheless, creating all the elements of a good story take practice and skill (and thoughtful feedback!), and as long as most size fantasists see themselves as wallowing in filth, ashamed of their desires and their creations, they will resist the notion that they could or should improve at their craft. I always say “Write for yourself first,” and like many size authors I usually hope to get myself off with my stories. An appreciative readership is always a boost, and it’s comforting to know that others get off to the same weird stuff you do. But even more rewarding is constructive feedback from readers who might not even share your specific desires but who nevertheless want to help you improve at expressing them.
Finding and keeping such readers was on my mind as I started to format my stories and favorite Tumblr posts for this blog. An immediate concern was how best to organize my categories and tags. When I wrote my first size fantasy story for publication in 2013, I posted it at Giantess World and Giantess City. GW has a prescribed list of tags (that has been augmented more than once), and GC has specific story subforums organized around vague categories (GC also asks that you put a Scary Penis Warning in the thread title when “necessary”). At that time, I was still pretty much sticking to stories/images that catered to my specific preferences, and indeed a chief goal of writing and publishing my story was to see how many readers shared those preferences. I therefore dutifully checked all the applicable boxes at GW and replicated as many of them as I could in the thread title at GC.
It was a fairly long story as these things go in size circles, and it took a while to get to the smut and smut-adjacent parts. Because I had low expectations, I was pleasantly surprised by the positive responses it got, enough so that I’ve kept at it. Significantly, I received comments indicating that readers had bought into the characters and world I had constructed, and not just because they got jiggy with it. I even had a few readers cavil at how some of my characters behaved, which meant they were paying attention. Still, most of the praise was for the naughty bits, and I continued to be inspired to write this story or that based primarily on which particular encounters/activities I wanted to arrange.
When I eventually created a Tumblr account, one of my initial motivations was to establish a following to which I could expose my size writing. In addition to directing readers to my work, Tumblr readers were just as insistent upon being directed away from content they found uncomfortable or triggering. A lot has been said about the over-sensitivity of Tumblr culture, but to me the chief hazard is structural: posts flow at the reader, over a hundred per day, text and images and videos all streamed together, with only one chronological archive per user and a near-useless search engine. Only the first five tags on any given post are searchable Tumblr-wide, and if the size community was any indication, hardly anyone bothers to tag helpfully or consistently. Fundamentally, Tumblr readers don’t seek out specific creators or creations; they expect pieces to come to them and they construct their filters accordingly.
I’m afraid I was quite poor at tagging at first. I didn’t realize that reblogs required their own tags, and it took a while for me to settle on tags that made sense and were consistent within my own blog, let alone had useful application throughout the community. I ended up continuing the focus on gender/size roles (F/m, M/f, etc) and activities (insertion, vore, etc). I admit I don’t know how important these labels still are to me or to my readers. Furthermore, my reasons for writing and reading size smut were changing before I went on Tumblr and four years later they’ve only accelerated.
The most exciting change in my interest in size fiction has of course been developing an appreciation for works that don’t strictly appeal to my specific desires and preferences. There are always conventional criteria by which to judge a story, but I think we have been at this long enough that there are recognizable tropes and devices that can work and not work for most readers. I believe we can be capable of both enjoying and critically reviewing size fiction that touches us outside of our particular needs and itches. I also believe we are capable of demanding of each other that we step up our game.
Looking at the tags I have used thus far on this blog, I have been more thematic than categorical. I have already decided that I don’t think gender/size roles are worth demarcating, and I’m not very interested in cataloging each specific sex/size activity that appears in my stories. I remain concerned about ambushing readers with themes that are unwelcome or triggering, and Nonconsensual is a tag I will always use where appropriate. Still thinking about other tags.
From a purely world-building standpoint, I wish I had hit upon earlier the distinction between worlds where “normal civilization” is relatively tiny or giant compared to “anomalies.” A world where Tiny people scurry about between walls and in underground burrows is going to be thematically different from a world in which Giant people stroll between office buildings and across the countryside. I think stories from these two categories should be evaluated differently, and so I will be keeping these tags.
I’m even reluctant to provide brief summaries of my stories. I still believe in self-promotion; even Stephen King lets his books get blurbed. I suppose I just need a new perspective from which to summarize. No body parts or gentle/cruel dichotomies, but there has to be some kind of description, I suppose. I just don’t want to encourage my readers to cherry-pick my work for their (sub-)fetishes. I want critical readings of all my work.
It’s fine to tell me if my work got you off, as is giving me feedback as to how I might do better on that score. But even if I don’t scratch any of your particular itches, I would like you to give my stuff a try anyway and let me know how it might otherwise have touched you. Of course, I resolve to do the same for others who solicit my opinions. Finally, this invitation should also be construed as a promise from me to receive critical feedback with charity and grace.
This is by no means the end of the conversation. I invite—nay, demand—readers to respond with their thoughts, questions, ideas, and feelings about these and related issues. We should take pride in both our work and our opinions, and amplify each others’. This is stroke fiction, yes, but it is also human passion and creativity. Let’s celebrate it.
10 thoughts on “Toward A Size Aesthetic”
I had to share this on Twtter: This is a conversation I hope we can all get inserted into.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thanks for the signal boost. And while I appreciate the sentiment, our aesthetic neither requires nor excludes any particular role configuration or activity, so I hope we can get participation even if no one is inserted.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Speaking of activity: Olo, join SizeTwitter!
There are many reasons why I won’t use Twitter, but the most urgent is that I need to repair my ability to concentrate on long-term projects. The whole neuro-chemical reward structure of Twitter and similar social media encourages constant engagement, refreshing to see each like and retweet as they come in, and creating anxiety when not engaged because you’re imagining all the conversation going on without you. This is a serious cognitive issue for me, and it’s becoming a professional liability.
I need to sequester my recreational online time to a few hours a day, and I can’t have my brain constantly twitching to check who else has tweeted in the last 200 seconds.
The blog is much more my speed. Everything is waiting for me when I get home.
LikeLiked by 2 people
Both will always exist. There will be writers who just want to retell the same scene over and over, or who want to keep hitting the orgasm button via whatever erotic construction. There will be writers who use dramatic tension and character development to make the orgasm mean more, to heighten it, or to explore how widely it ranges or where else it can come from. And there will be writers who do away with the orgasm and just want to create within this narrow context and explore everything that has to offer. Maybe because it’s cute, or maybe because of the emotional thrill it comes with, so I guess those are cum-analogs. And there will be readers ready for all of it: writers who get tired of one lane and roll into another will lose some readers and pick up others. I believe it will all always exist and it will all serve its individual function.
I never figured out the tricks behind tagging on Tumblr. I tried to include meaningful tags for my own stories, relevant but general, but it never occurred to me to own a tag with which people could find the rest of my work quickly. I just never “got” Tumblr, I never learned to swim within its functions and connect with any kind of community, though it was a useful redirect back to my blog.
Last month I resolved to read more, to get back to reading other people’s work. I’ve been drilling so intensively on writing (and on beating myself up for not writing) that I’ve drifted from other disciplines. I’d like to focus on a writer’s oeuvre and learn how to interpret them, though I’m leery of offering reviews. Even if I work hard on coming up with only nice things to say, it will be conspicuous when I say nothing about someone else. Or maybe I overestimate myself and it’s all good because nothing matters and we’ll all be dead soon.
LikeLiked by 3 people
This post is, among other things, an invitation for others to offer my work constructive criticism and a challenge to others to extend similar invitations. I think we should help each other improve our craft for its own sake. I have very selfish motives: I want to hear how my work has affected others, and I want others to affect me with their work. Sometimes it will be smutty and sometimes it won’t, and I’m okay with either.
LikeLiked by 2 people
In my mind, you’re very open-minded and omnivorous. It was weird to read that there were things you aren’t into, since (by the stuff you shared on Tumblr) you seemed to find joy in quite a lot. It’s interesting to hear about this side to you, coming up against something outside of your wheelhouse and determining to assess it regardless, with other metrics.
But you’re quite right in hoping for readership and critique. People are skint in their responses, and sometimes only the analytics suggest that anyone’s reading. That’s usually when I turn very grim and remind myself I’m doing it for joy of craft…
LikeLiked by 1 person
I shan’t be specific, but rest assured there are many things in size fantasy that do little or nothing for me, and a few that flummox or repel me. I haven’t always been very charitable with my opinions, and there’s still lots of room for improvement. One can acknowledge Sturgeon’s Law and still keep an open mind.
The range of size content that I reblogged on Tumblr wasn’t much wider than the things that directly get me going, but I was quite deliberate about being as inclusive as possible, encouraging a variety of voices to make themselves heard. Not only is this the civilized thing to do, it gets us closer to Somewhere This Is Real.
A perfect example of this is the work of Tibt, the prolific and fiendish 3D-render artist. I don’t identify with any of the figures in his images nor do they depict any of my preferred scenarios, but there is clearly a size philosophy at work that I want to recognize and celebrate. If we can touch the humanity in each others’ hopes and fears and desires, if we can grasp the longing in each others’ dreams, we can help each other express them more clearly and more urgently.
That is what I want for size fiction.