Projection, Asymmetry, and Reciprocity in Size Fantasy

Finger Perch (cropped) by Loca-Lyn

To continue my (our?) discussion of a Size Aesthetic, I want to talk about how authors imagine their readership and how readers encounter narratives. Specifically, how much do authors predetermine “the” perspective of a story and how much do readers accept, reject, or negotiate those determinations. I also want to discuss the asymmetric nature of dom/sub fantasies and how much consideration we give to authors/readers “on the other end of” such fantasies. Finally, I want to interrogate how the tropes and expectations of size fantasy culture play into (and against) these considerations.

Projection

One of the first things I do when I commence writing a size fantasy story is to ask myself what the reader’s perspective is or should be. At first this might seem restrictive or limiting as far as my readership goes, but most readers want this information and instinctively seek it out as soon as possible. I also need this information; as I often say, first I tell the story to myself before I can tell it to you.

Not all stories have their perspective rooted in a particular character, but it’s rather common in stroke fiction because subjective emotions and sensations are primary elements. Like other sub-genres of smut, size fantasy has developed stock scenarios and tropes that allow readers to project themselves into the action. But what happens when a reader is generally interested in the subject of the story but doesn’t fully identify with the character to whom the author might have given the chief perspective?

Being able to project oneself onto a protagonist is hardly a requirement for literature. In fact, when such projection becomes too transparent, it is (properly) disparaged. A skilled writer and a dutiful reader should together be able to realize a protagonist with whom neither shares overly much in the way of background, experience, or motivation. We forgive much when it comes to size porn, but it is still a form of human creativity, and not every story has to fit our specific kinks to be worth our while.

Every size perv has, on multiple occasions, had to “squint” at size content—mainstream or kink-based—to make it work for them. Genders are flipped, consent is added or removed, intentions are blurred, and family relations are re-arranged. Everything is easier when it is customized to our preferences, but a thoughtful, complex story can evoke compelling relationships and feelings even when the particulars are not to our taste.

Whether or not an author chooses to focus on a particular character’s perspective, a story can be more widely accessible if the author gives all the characters thoughtful backgrounds and motivations. Not only does this allow readers to project onto whichever character they best relate to, but it simply makes for a more coherent story.

To give an illustrative example, I recently wrote a M/f story in the third-person but focusing subjectively on the female protagonist. I enjoy M/f scenarios from my own (giant male) perspective, but I wanted to make sure that (tiny) women who are into M/f got what they were looking for, so I consulted one or two of them and solicited their feedback. The male pred character is more or less an amalgam of how I see myself in these sorts of scenarios along with what I understand to be attractive in a male giant. He has a background, characteristics, and motivations that all work together.

The female protagonist (prey) in my story has a background and motivations, although admittedly they were selected in part to help propel the narrative. She is neither a cipher nor a contrived plot device. If my readers cannot wholly project themselves onto her, they can at least find her reasonable and relatable. My beta-readers didn’t find any reason to object to her behavior or responses.

Then something happened I did not anticipate. I got some feedback from a female reader—one almost exclusively into F/m scenarios—who found herself relating primarily to the (male) pred character. She successfully appreciated a size fantasy that was the inverse of her usual preferences. Good thing I made him internally coherent!

It’s impossible to predict how a reader will approach one’s work, even in a well-rubbed genre like size smut. It is therefore important to look at your story from multiple angles to see what details and descriptions are needed to satisfy the widest possible range of readers.

Asymmetry

By definition, size fantasy involves characters in asymmetric positions. To be fair, there is what I have started calling the “Indifferent” sub-genre. At one end we have a giant protagonist encountering a city (or a continent or a planet) without any personal interaction with the tiny inhabitants, except perhaps in the most detached way. At the other end we find almost all the Unaware scenarios, a tiny protagonist making their way through a giant environment again without any personal interactions except for the unintentionally callous or comical.

In all other examples of size fantasy, however, the asymmetric encounter is a major, if not the primary theme. Even if the narrative or some plot device serves to “level the playing field,” the visual contrast alone between giants and tinies gives the fantasy its juice, and the configuration of characters determines its flavor. No size fantasist is required to appreciate everything in size fantasy, and we are ethically bound to tag our stuff with appropriate labels. Nevertheless, I want to ask us to think about what we are demanding of the people with whom we share our size content.

Just as all characters should have plausible coherent motivations, what kind of person would do what you want them to do in your fantasy? To return to my M/f example, the male pred character starts out mysterious in order to provoke the protagonist’s (perilous) curiosity. Though more of his character and background is eventually revealed, there is no mitigation of his explicit disregard of the protagonist’s lack of consent.

I have said more than once that, once it came time for me to express how I would go about molesting tiny women, nothing was better preparation for the years I spent dreaming about being used as a sex toy by giant women. Not to put too fine a point on it, I have eroticized rape, at least in a size context. I don’t ever want to see it in real life, but thinking about it with giants and tinies gets me going sometimes.

For me, a critical component of non-consensual size fantasy is that a giant selfishly imposes their desires upon tinies. My stories do sometimes include giants engaging in vengeance, vigilantism, or poetic justice, but to me those do not merit the “non-consensual” tag. That is reserved for giants indulging their appetites, either ignoring or enjoying tinies’ valid protests.

This is where my own failure to trust in the diversity of size fantasists prevented me for the longest time from participating in roleplaying or reading many others’ stories. I had no trouble believing in other shrunken men like me who wanted to be dominated, but I struggled with believing in women who wanted to experience non-consensual fantasies, either as preds or as prey.

I found that the best remedy for such failures of imagination was to listen to female size fantasists’ discussions of what gets them going and why, and to expose myself to a wider range of size content.

Reciprocity

Not all of my stories have a non-consensual element, but when they do I always tag it. It is clear to me that non-consensual content is sought both by people who primarily relate to prey as well as those who relate to preds. What is unclear to me is whether either of these two “ends of the spectrum” give much consideration to the other when writing and reading non-consensual stories.

In a proper role-playing encounter, boundaries are negotiated and all parties try to appreciate what the others are looking for. When I’m writing a non-consensual story, however, I can only give as many characters as possible coherent motives and full emotional experiences, hoping that my readers get what they came for. Do they step back and take in the non-consensual encounter as observers, like watching a horror movie? Do they try to appreciate the “opposite” character on their own terms, as best as I have described them? Or do they just focus on the character they best relate to, indulging their familiar desires?

As someone who has enjoyed both reading and writing from either end of non-consensual size fantasies, I’d like to think that a size aesthetic could accommodate it all. Again, no one should have to be exposed to content that is traumatizing, uncomfortable, or simply uninteresting. I just think we should expand our notions of writing and reading size fantasy to appreciate the motives of all the characters working to make our fantasies live, not simply as plot devices to arrive at the desired outcome, but as whole people pursuing their own agendas.

This concern goes beyond issues of consent. Every character in size fantasy comes from some world or another, a physical and social context that informs their background, experience, and motivations. Where those contexts diverge from those of the reader, it is vitally important to think through all the implications for each and every character. Is size-differential unheard-of or wholly novel? If not, how long have societies had to adapt to it? Are mixed-size encounters rare or frequent? Is the physical infrastructure (buildings, streets, furniture) set up to accommodate mixed-size people? What are the laws and customs governing their interactions?

The primary reason to engage in such world-building is to make the story vivid and coherent, but it also allows the author and the readers to fully inhabit the world and understand what each character wants. Why does your giantess want to rampage through the streets? What are your tiny people doing inside the walls? Why haven’t people taken precautions to avoid the awkward/destructive situation you describe?

Writing size fantasies for publication necessarily subjects your work to genre expectations. You are by no means required to meet those expectations, but being aware of them (if only to subvert them) will help you keep your ideas fresh as well as reminding you that your readers might not share each and every one of your size preferences. By keeping these other perspectives in mind, you will be better positioned to meet the challenge of writing a story that engages the widest possible readership.

2 thoughts on “Projection, Asymmetry, and Reciprocity in Size Fantasy

  1. I love your meta write-ups about the size genre, Olo. You’ve put into words here what I’ve been doing for a long, long time, and I honestly didn’t think too many other people gave these writing decisions much attention. It’s great that size kinksters are talking about this stuff!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Nat Edgecomb wrote an incisive response to this post, making several important points. Read the entire tweet thread.

    All writing advice can be taken to unhelpful extremes, and mine is no exception. Nat makes the cogent point that many writers can be daunted by thinking they have to write too much or give too much background. I completely agree. I would moderate my advice to this simple test: to whatever extent you provide a character’s background or motivation, ensure that it makes sense on its own and is not just transparent service of your fetish. Think about your characters as people and not plot devices.

    I think people can get in over their heads trying to plan for every eventuality in their fiction, with the idea that people ignoring a possibility is a “plot hole.” That’s not true–reality is like that too. Don’t be afraid to make flawed institutions, or plans doomed to fail.

    Yes, failure to anticipate everything is both historically accurate and an excellent source of drama. I just think it’s better when the author notices such flaws before the reader does.

    Like

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