Not another Gay Story
I've been coming to Nifty since I was 13 and over the years have come across stories that have ranged from great to awful. However, the worst stories have been the ones that drew me in only to jump the shark with clichés or plotlines the go nowhere. Clichés in themselves aren't bad, especially if they're utilized in new or surprising ways, but when the story is overloaded with them it breaks suspension of disbelief. The first half of this essay will deal with the mechanics of writing followed by examples of various clichés, deconstructing them and suggestions how to subvert them.
There's no faster why to drive readers away than with wonky formatting because this is the first thing people notice when they click on your story. Forget what you learned in school about having long paragraphs with thesis statements supporting arguments and a conclusion. The trend in fiction is short paragraphs that break up the action into bit size chunks.
Furthermore, spacing is important not just for presentation but also to reduce eye strain on reader, so avoid walls of text with no indention, or have line breaks between paragraphs. Also don't go overboard with html and special characters because not everyone will enjoy your color schemes, or be able to read them on their browser. When in doubt type out nonstandard characters i.e. fractions, the euro or pound sterling symbol.
Grammar & Spelling
Formatting issues aside nothing kills a story faster than bad grammar, spelling and punctuation (at least for me anyways). Note: while many people use grammar and spelling interchangeable they are not the same. A sentence can be spelled correct, but grammatically incorrect, as is often the case when people misuse homophones.
Your/you're: I can't believe your gay." This is incorrect is because "your" is the second person possessive form of you and must take an object, while "you're" is the contraction of you are.
Loose/lose: loose is an antonym of tight while lose is the opposite of win. An easy way to remember this is with the rhymes: loosey goosey and use it or lose it.
Whose/who's: whose is the possessive tense of who while who's is a contraction.
There/their/they're: There should only be used to indicate a place or as an adverb, whereas "their" is the third person possessive form of they while "they're" is the contraction of they are.
It's/its: the word "its" is the possessive form of it, while it's is the contraction of it is/has.
A/an//in//end/&: Furthermore, "a" is particle used before nouns, adverbs and adjective, while "an" is used before words that begin with vowel sounds such as hour, ocean, umbrella, etc. Whereas "and" is a preposition used to link subordinate clauses, while "end" refers to time. In is a preposition and adverb used to indicate the place or state of something. The ampersand (&) should never be used in place of and unless it's used in a title such as Romeo & Juliet.
No/know/new/knew: No is the opposite of yes, while know refers to your knowledge or beliefs. Likewise knew is the past tense of know while new is the opposite of old.
One/won/wun: One is a number while won is the past tense of win and wun is a not word.
Aloud/allowed: Aloud refers spoken words while allowed is the past tense of allow.
Too/to/two/2: To is a preposition or adverb that indicates direction or position, too means also or is used as modifier to mean excessive, while two is a number. As side note never use 2 in place of either to, or too.
Of/off/have: Another common mistake is using of when you mean off or have as in phrases like could/should/would've . These phrases are contractions with have and grammatically make no sense because "of" is preposition used to indicate addition information about the word before it e.g. Lord of The Rings or Wizard of Oz.
Most common words are made plural by adding an –s (e.g. it's boys not boy's , cars not car's) , however there are exceptions to this rule: mice, lice, deer, fish , men/ women. Furthermore, Latin words such as radius, bacterium and magus are formed by dropping the -us and adding either an –i or -ia (bacteria, radii, magi.).
Ss/sh: for word that end in ss or sh add -es (glasses, classes brushes and buses).
Note: when referring to decades it's the `80s not 80's; however when referring to abbreviations grades or numbers it's CD's not CDs , A's not As and 3's not 3s.
Moving on the possessive form of most nouns is formed by adding an apostrophe s , however there are exceptions such as his, her, their, and your which are possessive by default. However when using theme in the third person you and an -s to them but his remains the same e.g. Person1: Who does this money belong to?
Person2: It's yours/theirs/his/hers. To form the possessive tense of plural words that end in -s add an apostrophe, otherwise an apostrophe s will do. When forming the possessive tense of names add an apostrophe s. However for names that end in s there are two schools of thought: in Elements of Style Strunk&White say to add an apostrophe s, except for classical name like Zeus, Horus or Jesus. The other method is to just add an apostrophe, which ever you choose be consistent in its usage.
Conjugation can be confusing especially when you mix tenses in the same sentence i.e. beginning in past then switching to present and should be avoided. The past tense of most verbs is formed by adding -ed, however irregular verbs conjugate differently.
Draw becomes drew and drawn when used in third person; sleep becomes slept and dream becomes dreamed while dreamt is used in third person i.e. I dreamed while he dreamt.
Lie/ lay/laid/lain: Lie is the past tense of lay and refers to reclining on your back whereas laid refers to objects and lain is used in third person as in we've lain too long with the enemy.
A special note has to be made for the verbs be and have which form the backbone of grammar.
Present tense: Use is for singular subjects, add an -s for other verbs, are for plural and am for first person.
Present perfect tense: I/ you/we/they have traveled. And he/she/it has traveled.
Past tense: Use was in first and third person and were for plural objects and when speaking in the subjunctive form e.g. I wish I were taller or I wish he were in love with me, but he's straight. For future tense use will.
Have is used in first and second person, whereas had is used in all there while has is only used in third person
.Past perfect tense takes the form of had/has/have been or had.
Ex1: He/I/they had had enough.
Ex2: They/I have been fired.
Ex3: They/I have had a bad day.
Ex4: He has been shot.
For a more pedantic discussion of verb tenses, check out englishpage.com.
Capitalization is important part of grammar which can mean the difference between helping your friend Jack off his horse, and helping your friend jack off his horse. Proper nouns and initials are always capitalized. The word I is always capitalized because it is a proper noun no matter where it appears in the sentence or if it is used in contractions. Likewise common nouns that are used as pronouns are also capitalized (i.e. mom, dad, brother uncle, dog, etc are capitalized when used in place of a name, but should be lower cased when used in the general sense as in "my dad" or "moms are crazy"). Acronyms are generally capitalized with certain exceptions for ones that have become common nouns like scuba or laser. Likewise titles are also capitalized as in The Boy Who Lived, King James, or Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The comma is used to indicate a brief pause, to separate items in a list and is placed before conjunctions and to form subordinate clauses. It is not a license to extend a sentence ad infinitum. A sentence ends when there is a change in thought or idea. The period is a full stop used to end sentences, whereas an ellipse is a series of three periods separated with a space that is used to indicate something has been omitted or that there has an interruption in speech or thought. Semi colons are used as super commas as in when listing countries and their capitals, or to fuse two or more independent clauses into a complex sentence. The colon is used to emphasis things (e.g. Warning: trespassers will be shot.). Parentheses and dashes are used to add information, but dashes are also used to indicate an abrupt change in thought. Question marks go at the end of interrogative sentences, while periods are used for rhetorical questions. Quotation marks are used to indicate thoughts and dialogue and punctuation marks go inside them in American English while outside them in British English. Exclamation points are used to indicate excitement or intense emotions, but shouldn't be overused as they give the impression you're shouting at the reader. As a final word before moving on: NEVER use multiple exclamation points, or net speak like lol, wtf, and ftw in narration.
The elements of good story telling are like musicians in an orchestra and it is your job to keep them in harmony, least too many false notes are struck and the symphony is ruined. They are as follows: structure, hook, plot, conflict, tempo, characters, dialogue, setting/world building, tone, showing vs. telling, and suspension of disbelief.
Structure: This is how the story is organized and can be broken down into point of view (POV), framing devices and plot. In first person the protagonist is the narrator and the reader is only privy to the information he is. This is the POV new writers use as they haven't developed their voice yet and fall prey to telling too much and not showing enough--the scene where the protagonist stares into a mirror and describes his looks is a prime example. The Catcher in the Rye popularized this POV and the modern coming of age plot.
In second person POV the reader is the protagonist and is rarely used outside choose your own adventure books and table top rpgs.
Third person POV is subdivided into limited where, like first person, the reader is limited to things the known by the POV character. Whereas in third person omnipotent the reader is privy to information outside the POV character(s) and the author can switch the POV character at will, but if done too often can pull the reader out of the story. A final note on POV: as a general rule don't switch between first and third person and don't ever multiple first person POV in the same character.
Framing devices are literary techniques used to set up a story. Epistolary novels frame the story using letters, diary entries, or other documents e.g. Mary Shelly's Frankenstein and The Diary of Anne Frank. Other examples include nested stories in which characters tell stories as in The Canterbury Tales or A Thousand and One Nights. Other framing devices include non linear narratives such the circular narrative in which the plot switches between past and present to form parallel story lines, and medias res and pulp fiction plot described below. For a more in depth discussion about the narrative, motifs, symbols and other literary devices check out tvtropes.org.
This is what grabs the reader's attention and keeps him turning the page, and without which you can't begin to employ the other elements. Famous hooks include Call me Ishmael (Moby Dick); It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness...(A Tale of Two Cities), and of course Gen1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
As a good rule of thumb omit the trite scene of your protagonist's morning routine, and instead start at the scene of the crime in this case junior high/high school/college. This is a literary device called in medias res and involves starting in the middle of an event or conflict in the story. Medias res that begins at the end of the story is called pulp fiction and was popularized by horror comics and genre magazines in the 1950s that were printed on cheap wood pulp paper. Now the hook can be the opening sentence, paragraph or chapter, the important thing is that it leaves the reader wanting more. One method of doing this is by introducing the central theme, conflict, or question of the story right off the bat.
Contrary to what some may believe, a plot is not a series of random events that happen to the main protagonist; this is the definition of the episodic narrative and is frowned upon in the literary world. While a plot can involve anything it must logically flow from the actions of the characters, and the characters must grow in response to trials they've faced. I can't stress this enough. If your protagonist is the same on the last page as the first, then what was the point? On the other hand no matter how fleshed out your characters are it won't matter if the reader is bored five paragraphs into chapter one.
It has been said that everything there is to write has been written. There is some truth to this in that the author has a handful of basic plots to work with, but it is how you utilize them that means the difference between a stale story we've read a thousand times and a breath of fresh air.
Every plot generally follows the same three act format as follows: (1) the call to adventure, (2) doubt/refusal of the call and crossing the threshold, and (3) the return home. The event that triggers the call to adventure is the inciting action and often involves the protagonist being pulled from the mundane into the extraordinary world. In the Harry Potter series Hagrid taking Harry to Diagon alley functions as this. The rising action is the event that causes his to accept his destiny and begin the quest. This often takes the form of the destruction of the protagonist's home or the loss of family e.g. Hera compelling Hercules to murder his family incites him to complete the twelve labors to redeem himself. Furthermore, the climax is what prompt the protagonist's return home and is the moment of maximum conflict. This is the point where all seems lost and the main character must often overcome his fears in order to defeat the antagonist, and how the main character accomplishes this is known as the resolution.
So now that the components of plot have been covered what are some common examples that oft used? First up is good vs. evil and the hero's journey are the most archetypal plots and are found in countless tales including The Epic of Gilgamesh, one of the oldest written stories ever found. Next up are the plots that take the form of man against X i.e. man against man; man against himself, man against nature/the gods, man against society and man against machine. Next you have the dramatic trifecta of comedy, romance, and tragedy. Other common plots include revenge, redemption, the character arc and the coming of age story.
Hero's Journey: Argued and popularized by Joseph Campbell this plot has 8-17 stages, depending on which variation. In act one the hero is born under miraculous or mysteries circumstances may be the subject of prophecy, and an attempt is often made on his life precipitating exile. Then when the hero approaches adolescence an event happens that pulls him out of the mundane world and it is revealed he is the chosen one and often the son of a king, god or mythical creature.
. In act two the hero often refuses to believe this is true and will return home only to be pulled back into the other world. After accepting his destiny the hero will be aided by animals, the gods and others on his quest and gains a mentor who gives him an item that becomes important to the later quest. After a period of training the hero crossing the threshold and begins exploring the other world.
In act three the hero's mentor often dies and he begins the road of trials leading to the completion of his quest. The next step is for the hero to experience an unconditional love like that of a child for its mother and following this he will be tempted to stray from his quest. After this there is a lull where the hero makes preparations for the final leg of the quest.
Campbell refers to this as atonement with the father, and it represents the point at which the hero overcomes his greatest fear. This is symbolized by a meeting with a person or thing with great power over him and culminates with the symbolic or literal death and rebirth of the hero. His quest completed the hero receives his ultimate boon (the Holy Grail, Philosopher Stone, or other transcendent item) and returns to the mundane world.
Character Arc: This is the growth of a character as the story progresses, and can serve as the subplot of the overall narrative or the main plot as in the coming of age stories. For example Vageta from Dragon Ball Z starts the series as a mercenary who comes to Earth in order to gain immortality and failing this, attempts to blow it up. He comes full circle during the last season of the series s where he sacrifices his life to defeat the big bad, with full knowledge that he's going to hell.
Coming of Age: These stories focus on the transition of the characters from one phase of their life to the next, most often from adolescence to adulthood, or childhood to adulthood. The traditional bildungsroman focuses on a young man who goes out to make his way in the world and how the journey shapes him psychologically, culminating in his return home wiser and richer.
Before the industrial revolution children were considered adults once they hit puberty and went through rites of passages (ritual scarification/tattoos or circumcision) and theses stories served as cultural metaphors, however as life expectancies increased this led to the creation of adolescence (13-19 years old) and young adulthood( 20-40) respectively. Modern coming of age stories tend to focus on the transition from adolescence to young adulthood with emphasis on sexual awakening (particularly those here on nifty) and finding one's place in the world.
Romance: Originally this was a genre of literature popularized in the Middle Ages, in which a gallant knight went on an epic quest to get the Holy Grail or other item with the goal of winning the affections of a fair lady. However the modern romance conquers up images of Romeo and Juliet's young and forbidden love. Note the full title of the play is The Tragedy of Romeo & Juliet and was meant to be taken as satire.
This is what drives the plot, and pushes the characters to grow. Real conflict comes from the moral struggles of the characters, their decisions and what they must sacrifice to resolve the conflict. These are things the character(s) must work to overcome. Fake conflict however stems from contrived circumstances which are either overhyped, happen then never mentioned again, or the reader is told about it.
The main character gets bullied by the homophobic jocks to establish he's a loser/outcast then said bullies get put on a bus never to be seen again, or we get told that so-and-so has messed with him again. Likewise we're treated to a maudlin scene where our hero wangsts (whine and angst) over declaring his love for his best friend, who then reveals he's gay and is in love with the protagonist.
However the gay kid who comes out in a small town and has to overcome being bullied to find a place in society, rather than running off to New York or LA, oozes with real conflict.
The main point here is that fake conflict destroys any tension you've built up and will pull the reader out of the story. A good rule of thumb is if the conflict is too easy or outside forces resolve it then it's fake conflict and the resolution is a dues ex machina (more on this below.). In closing this doesn't mean you must torture your characters every chapter, but they must earn their happy ending.
Deus ex machina
Also known as the ass-pull this a literary device dating to back to ancient Greek plays where in the gods would be lowered on stage by cranes to resolve the conflict. Three main types are as follows.
The literal case in which a miracle happens or an entity intervenes as described above. In the context of fiction on nifty this often takes the form of a parent who goes from being homophobic to a okay with their child over night, or who are so cool with their kid's sexuality they have no problem having his lover move in with them.
Contrived circumstances such as a character gains new powers as the plot demands, the Cavalry arrives just in time to rescue our heroes, or the big bad is defeated big by an item that the characters find at the last minute or had all long but wasn't mentioned or used before, even when it should have, thus creating plot holes. This is different from a Chekhov's gun, items such as the gadgets Q gives Bond at the beginning of every movie.
The most often offenders of this on nifty are the newbie (new kid in school), brother from another mother, and the orphan clichés; other examples include stories which resemble soap operas. I once read a story where the protagonist's boyfriend dies, he attempts suicide then moves. He then meets a kid at school who looks identical to his boyfriend. It's revealed he's the older twin brother of the dead boyfriend who was mistaken for dead and then adopted illegally.
The ass-pull is the third type in which a plot development or resolution comes out of nowhere, makes no sense, and violates the rules of the world. This is employed often when the author writes himself into a corner and is the source of many plot holes.
Examples include Bella getting pregnant via Edward even though it's established all the fluid in a person gets replaced by venom when they become a vampire, priori incantatem saving Harry from Voldemort in The Goblet of Fire (it comes out of nowhere, isn't fully explained and never happens again), and many endings to Steven King's novels fit this and he has admitted to such in interviews.
Examples on nifty include the "straight" guy who becomes gay/bisexual overnight and hooks up with his gay best friend or the newbie, or kids who instantly forgive their bullies/ wicked parents. A character that gets raped/ abused and hops in bed with his boyfriend hours later as if nothing happened, or the gay nerd who gets gangbanged in the locker room declares his love for his rapist(s) and being raped--just no.
This refers to the pace and rhythm of the piece as a whole or an individual chapter, and how you handle this can make a good story fall flat. If a story starts out slow and the reader is bogged down with the back story or info dumps then they are probable going to move on, so start things with a bang and introduce pertinent information as the plot goes on. Don't be in a rush to introduce characters and their appearances, let the plot determine when and how this comes about otherwise you'll fall prey to having a ton of undeveloped characters that the reader can't distinguish or identify with. Also don't have your characters declare they love after less than a day after meeting each other. Once you've have the beginning nailed the middle is the next source of trouble.
Stories where the plot falls apart in the middle and never recovers are a problem. This is often the case when coming out or being in a relationship is the story's central conflict, and rather than end the story the author continues them by adding fake conflict. Saggy middles are also a problem caused when the plot crawls to a halt or when things are dragged out e.g. couples getting together, coming out, or finding the next quest item. These can be saved by omitting needless scenes or chapters. As a good rule thumb if you can remove a scene or chapter without the plot suffering for it, then do it. A good chapter does three things: advances the plot, develops the characters and leaves the reader wanting more.
How you go about ending your story can raise tempo issues, one of the chief offenders being the full stop where the story never reaches its climax and just stops without tying up any looses ends. The next issue is with anticlimactic ending that employ a dues ex machina to resolve the central conflict, thus disappointing the reader because what should have ended with a bang ends with a whimper. The next offender are those stories that ran their course 5-10 chapters ago but the writer continues them, either because they don't know how to end it or don't want to end it. A sub set of this is the never ending story in which the chapters numbers in the hundreds without an end in sight. Whether you're writing a short story, novella or novel, remember it's quality over quantity that counts more. Now that you're tuned up so to speak it's time to meet the players.
Second only to plot in importance they are what breathe life into stories we've read a thousand times, however creating characters that are three dimensional and identifiable can be difficult. This is especially true when wish fulfillment is injected into the mix. By definition two dimensional characters lack any depth to their personalities, have few if any flaws, never grow and are often walking stereotypes e.g. the jock, the nerd or the cheerleader. A character that lacks any flaws or weaknesses, is good at everything he does, and always gets the girl or guy in the case of nifty stories, is a Mary Sue/Marty Stu.
The trade mark of these characters is that they serve to fulfill the wishes of the author and nothing stands in the way of their happily ever after, not even the laws of the world they've established e.g. being a vampire who doesn't suffer from blood lust like all others do, or coming back from the dead when it's been established this is impossible. More importantly is these characters can be complete monsters yet only the agonists call them out on this and are painted as being wrong. Briefly the five main types are: the self insert/author avatar where the protagonist is an idealized version of the writer, the purity Stu whose goodness is able to melt the coldest hearts; the God Mode Stu (omnipotence); the anti Stu (nothing but character flaws and weaknesses yet still gets the guy), and the relationship Stu who exists solely to be the love interest of a character and this is the foundation upon which many of the clichés below are based.
Flaws vs. weakness: Kryptonite being deadly to superman is a weakness, whereas fear weakening a Green Lantern's power is a character flaw. The different comes in that weaknesses can't be overcome, whereas flaws can and must be overcome by the end of the story. Flaws and weaknesses are things that the character must struggle with and are not put in a positive light. So if you character's only flaw is that he's clumsy but this is seen as being cute then it's not a flaw--and being too rich or beautiful is not a flaw.
Once you have their flaws and weaknesses down you then have to give your characters unique personalities so the reader can distinguish them, but how do we do this? Well one method is to give them a quality like being stubborn or hyper then reveal more traits as the story progresses. Another method is to give the character a façade they hide behind around most people then drop around those they are close to. Another method is to model them after people you know, or give your characters a unique quirk like always ending their sentences with the same word. How your characters interact with each is also an excellent way to reveal their personality, especially when it comes to their dialogue, but more on this later.
Your characters don't have to be good, hell they don't have to likeable, but they do have to be identifiable. This means if you load your protagonist with negative traits you then have to give him a redeemable quality so reader can empathize with him, rather than wanting to strangle him until he grows into a more likeable person at the story's end. This alone may not be enough with abrasive protagonists so counter balance them with more likeable major and minor characters.
You must also be careful not to populate your story with straw men villains of people you disagree with such as homophobes and political/religious types. First this is because religion and politics are divisive issues and will turn off readers, even those that share your believes. The other reason is that straw men are two dimensional characters and so when you go overboard making them evil this gets into cartoon villainy and breaks suspension of disbelief. This doesn't mean you can't have homophobic antagonists just that you have to humanize them with believable reasons for why they behave the way do.
A few notes on characters before moving on. Your main characters must grow as the story progresses; however this has to stem naturally from their actions and the conflicts they've been through. A character can't go from being a loner to mister popular overnight, this has to be a gradual process where you show them making this transition. Likewise your characters can't go from just meeting each other to being gay married in the span of a few hours. Also your characters must display age appropriate thoughts and emotions i.e. don't have your 14 year old boy acting and talking like he's in his 30s, unless this happens to be a quirk unique to him. As a corollary to this also don't go overboard with the teen angst. Yes teens have an inflated sense of things being life or death issues, but have parents, friends or teachers reign in your characters when they go over the top. Not only is this more realistic, but it will keep the reader from wanting to slap some sense into them.
Once you have yours characters under control you need to give them something say. Now the standard rules of grammar and sentence structure don't apply here, because real people speak in sentence fragment, and yes uses double negatives--so drop the formality unless you want your characters to sound like robots. You also have to make sure how your characters say thing and what they're doing while saying it rings true. Writing dialogue well is a product of natural talent and having an ear for dialects. However with all things moderation is the key.
Say What: These are the lines that after you read stop you in your, either because it's nonsensical or you have no idea who's speaking. Classical examples include characters verbing things as the speech tag e.g. he smiled, he choked, he laughed, or he yawned. Now you can say something and then do things but you can't do them simultaneously. Another offender of this is when English isn't the writer's native language leading to wonky phraseology. This is understandable as English is one of the hardest languages to learn, so I respect foreign writes that make the attempt. Having teens speaking like thirty year olds or professors is another faux pas you should avoid.
SSDD: these are conversations about mundane things that don't advance the plot, develop character, and are boring as hell. So unless you protagonist tells his lover he's been banging the pool boy for the past year during this exchange, omit it.
Like Cool Dude: this is the over use of slang often to the point where every other word is like, dude, or cool. Again moderation is the key here; sprinkle a few dudes and cools every now and then and you'll be good.
I can haz butt smex: With the rise of video game and internet culture terms like epic fail, win, awesome sauce, pwn, lol and wtf are starting to filter into real life conversations, but like the examples above don't over use them.
The windbag: This is dialogue where the characters give multi-paragraph long speeches to each other. Real people don't talk like this. They cut off each, change the subject midsentence, and aren't constantly talking. Allow the conversation to fall into lulls to build tension.
Manikins: This is where the characters are lifeless as they're talking and this is not realistic. Even when two people aren't doing an activity, like washing the dishes, playing video games, or watching TV they are still active when they speak. Eyes roll, sighs are let out, their vice raises or lowers, they pull faces, stick out their tongues, lean into and pull away from each other, and move their body to indicate to evoke their mood and punctuate their words. You don't have to add of these details but a few sprinkled throughout their conversations will bring them to life (more on this in show vs. tell).
Speech tags: These are what you add at the end of dialogue to indict the speaker and give supplemental information, but can be rather annoying when they're poorly employed. There's no need add he asked after questions when it's clear from the question mark so stick to said, this also applies when the author tries to use synonyms for he said e.g. replied, intoned exclaimed, pontificated, and ejaculated--not the type you're thinking of pervert. Stop this, it's annoying and breaks suspension of disbelief. Propping up speech tags with adjectives or verbs is also bad because it should be clear from the context of the dialogue, if not then go back and edit it.
"I love you!" he said passionately.--well no duh, the exclamation point gives this away.
"I hate you!" he screamed.--again no reason to add any verb other than said.
"You know, I really love when you come over," he said sarcastically.--note here the speech is appropriate since it changes the context of what was said.
OMG: this is when melodramatic dialogue is overused and the result is something out of a bad harlequin romance or an off, off Broadway play. Save the drama for when it counts most otherwise it loses potency.
A final word on dialogue before moving on: you drop speech tag once it's been established who is in the scene. However when the conversation carries on too long the reader can lose track of who's speaking. Two solutions here: summary the dialogue with a few lines of narration, or break the scene up by having the characters move or engage in an activity.
Setting& World Building
Now that you have all the musicians assembled and decided what and how they're going to play, you still need to determine the venue. Enter the setting, something that is often overlooked by nifty authors. The reader is lucky to get more than a general description of the school, and forget about describing the locale. If it's mentioned at all it's a generic suburb or one of the gay meccas. Establishing setting entails using the senses to paint a picture of area. World building goes beyond the setting and lays down the rules and internal logic by which your story must operate at all times. As with plot some writers will cheat in this case by barrowing the world established another writer such as Tolkien's Middle Earth. So then how do you create your own world? Well one way is to blend genres such as Rowling did in Harry Potter( British Boarding School with Fantasy), or put a new spin on a genre e.g. urban fantasy which places wizards elves, etc in modern times.
Take a page from vampire movies which always begin by stating the rules of that world then move on to the characters and plot to get things going. As with the other elements of the narrative moderation is the key: too slow and the reader will be bored, too many details at once and you'll confuse people while not enough will leave them feeling cheated. Which path you choose to decide on your world, this will require employing tone, and balancing showing versus telling to achieve and maintain suspension of disbelief.
This is the choice of words, images, and symbols used in the text to evoke a specific atmosphere. For example, the intro to Buffy the Vampire Slayer originally had a somber voice telling the viewer the myth of The Slayer set to ominous music. Five episodes in and the intro was retooled with scenes of Buffy slaying, her friends and school set to rock music, emphasizing its action and teen spirit. For the writer this means choosing the right words to set the mood e.g. if you describe a dramatic scene in mundane words it will have the opposite effect of boring, and when done to extremes this is called beige prose. So spice up that sentence with powerful verbs and adjectives, however if taken to extremes this is purple prose and should be avoided but more on this in showing vs. telling.
Showing vs. Telling
Show Don't Tell: This simple axiom is repeated ad nauseum in creative writing classes and books for good reason. It is what separates the good, the bad and the ugly, but what does it mean? Put succinctly this means you have to paint pictures with words and your characters have to demonstrate the attributes you give them, for it's when there's a conflict between what readers are shown and told that breaks suspension of disbelief or prevents from being established.
Example1: John is smart (telling). John solved the iterated integral in 20 seconds, while it took the others five minutes (showing).
Example2: John loves David (telling). Hearing David's name is enough to set John's stomach aflutter (showing).
Example3: where told James is athletic, but he is never shown going to the gym and eats junk food nonstop.
Show and Tell: The disconnect between what we are told and shown pulls the reader out of the story. So how do we fix this? The answer is to show James going to the gym at least once in the story to establish this is part of his routine and from then on mention him coming back or being sore/tired from working out. Unless a scene at the gym is relevant to the plot there's no reason to show it again. To paraphrase Strunk&White: omit needless details. Not only will your readers thank you for this, but it's impractical for you to show everything that happens. Knowing when to tell is equally important, as I talked about in dialogue if a conversation can be summed up in a few lines then do so. Knowing when to show or tell is pointless if you aren't succinct. Omit needless adjectives and adverbs. Go with the adjective that conveys the strongest image and rewrite sentences with strong verbs.
Ex1: He sprinted. Vs. He walked fast.
Ex2: It was a sweltering day. Vs. It was a hot, humid, sticky day.
Purple prose: This is where you describe every detail in extravagant words. A few lines are ok, but a paragraph dedicated to a character's abs is excessive, and the same applies to cloths and possessions.
Beige prose: Extreme minimalist writing which results in this bland prose where everything is described in generic terms. There are times when detail must give way to brevity for the sake of plot, but knowing when this is appropriate is key and comes with practice.
A final note on showing vs. telling must be addressed here. Whichever you use there's no reason to treat readers as if they are dumb by spelling everything out to them. Tease readers by withholding things then making the reveal pay off so they come back for more. The goal of this of course is suspension of disbelief, when all the pieces come together and you are able to transport readers to fantastic worlds where for many it's the only place they feel accepted. So don't fuck it up.
Relationship Stu: This is the character that has no purpose other than being your protagonist's boy toy. The problem with this is threefold: first it results in a character that has the depth of cardboard and is walking stereotype. Second, the relationship Stu is a dues ex machina because he always returns the affection of the main character, never gets mad, always knows what to say, and would never cheat on his boy. Thirdly, this reinforces the notions that being in a relationship is the holy grail of gaydom and being single is abnormal, which isn't true. This doesn't mean you can't have relationships in your story just make them realistic by giving the relationship Stu a personality and storyline with his own goals to achieve. Don't forget the conflict and character development. And hey here's a novel ideal, how about a story where the protagonist is happy being single, just a thought.
The Newbie: This cliché often starts out with the protagonist lamenting how it sucks to be single then in walks the new boy who's "The hottest thing I've ever seen." Cue the newbie sitting down next to our hero and them becoming best friends in seconds. This cliché has spawned several others and has three subsets:
Instant amore: this is where our boys meet, go home together, have corpus amounts of butt sex, and then declare their eternal love for each other.
The Soap Opera: This is where after our boys have been gay married after knowing each of a few hours, rather than it end there as instant amore does, the continues the story ad infinitum. Complete with the homophobic jocks, maudlin coming out scenes and group sex scenes--just because they're "soul mates" doesn't mean they can't sleep around, right?
Meet the Newbies: this is where it's the first day of classes, most often high school and university, when our boys meet.
The main issue in all these is the rapid way in which the couple forms. First just because two people are LGBT--or straight for that matter--doesn't mean they'll like each other. Sure given the right circumstances they might hook up after a few hours, but hoping into a committed relationship that lasts decades? I don't think so. Granted this does happen in real life, but it's a seldom occurrence.
Moreover, if you've just moved are you really going be interested in dating right away? I doubt it, especially if you're LGBT and don't know the attitude of your new home. Wouldn't it make sense for the newbie to make friends then test the waters before coming out and dating? More so, if they've moved from a different part of the country or another country and are experiencing culture shock.
One story that handled this cliché well was If You Could Read My Mind in which the Newbie Bailey makes customers at his family's restaurant sick so his family would move. This is because Bailey's boyfriend outed him at school and was cheating on him because Bailey wasn't ready to have sex. He befriends Neville who is also gay, but is a conflicted Christian and doesn't let anyone get too close lest they find out he's homeless.
Déjà vu: This is when a chapter is written either in multiple first person POVs or the same chapter in a different Character's POV. Not only is it lazy but boring when the event being coved is their first meeting. Yawn, use third person and spare us. Another form of this is when a writer plateaus and begins cranking out derivative work which while enjoyable, gets boring. In extreme cases the stories and characters begin to blur together. The solution is to break the axiom of write what you know and try something different like a genre shift.
Brother from another Mother: Second only to the newbie in its popularity this cliché involves best friends who are secretly in love with each other, but it's not enough to stop here. The writer goes on to have their parents being best friends, them being born on the same day in the same hospital, and being virtual clones often mistaken for being brothers. Again this is a cheat by the writer so they don't have to build up the relationship, and also not realistic.
First you can't go from being friends to lovers with someone you've know all your life overnight. Often the case is those romantic feelings don't exist because one or both parties views the other as family and thus a relation is tantamount to incest.
Secondly, if there's mutual attraction there`s a possibility they work better as friends, but having failed to be a couple destroys that friendship. In the couples that make it you still have to include the real fear that their friendship might not survive this transition and also how they should act once coupled e.g. what constitutes a date versus just hanging out and balancing time together and apart. Being so similar could lead to them getting on each other's nerves and getting bored with each other. And when it comes to sex if they're the hyper masculine (straight acting) types then who tops is going to an issue leading to a bruised ego.
One final note before moving on is how the boys become a couple. What the reader gets is a melodramatic scene that goes something like this:
Boy1: Dude I'm gay and in love with you and couldn't hold it in any longer. Bye, I know you hate me now."
Boy2: "Dude! I'm gay and love you too. You should have told me sooner so we could have been shagging all this time."
Just no, if your boy is scared his "straight" best friend is a homophobe then he is not going to blurt out that he loves cock and wants in his bro's pants. What he would do is feel out his friend by stirring the conversation to sex and see what his bro thinks about the gays. Then if he gets the green light suggest they play truth or dare, or wrestle around. There by giving him an excuse to be sexual without it being too gay and see if his friend is game to go future.
Many boys experiment sexually and for most it all boils down to it feels good. Once they discover girls this trickles down and stops once they have a girlfriend who consistently puts out. Thus to save face they need to have plausible deniability before they will mess around e.g. he's not gay it was the alcohol, or he was dared to do it and couldn't punk out. There is also an implicit code of silence about telling anyone, especially parents. I admit I'm filtering this through the lens of a kid who came up in Detroit during the late 90s, and while things have changed being LGBT is still taboo in many places.
This is why it irks me so much when I read these stories, so please give it a rest or come up with a new twist on this. How about if the friends become estranged due to one of them moving away and they meet, and fall for each then realize they knew each other years ago. Or what if one of them moves away then returns a few years later. During the process of catching up and hanging out they develop a relationship, complicated by the other boy's homophobic friends.
Bromeo & Dudeliet : The evil twin of brother from another mother, these are the stories about couples who have nothing in common sans being gay, but unlike their name sakes Romeo & Juliet their biggest problem is deciding what's for dinner. Sure opposites attract and makes for hot flings but once the lust wears off you're left with a pretty face which makes for a dull relationship.
Jock & Nerd: Not only is it done to death but the nerd is always the one who has to compromise/ change as the story progresses, often involving him getting a makeover then becoming cool over night, or discovering he's good at a sport. Meanwhile the jock can treat him like crap, but it ok because he's so hot. The issue here is intelligent people tend to be socially awkward so going from their small circle of friends to being the center of attention would be traumatic,. A better way to handle this is to have the jock take interest in what the nerd likes and have them make compromises like this week they'll go to that kegger but next week the art museum.
Popular kid/loner: Like the jock that falls for the nerd this paring is equally problematic since loners have few if any friends and wouldn't be into huge parties or letting anyone try to change them into a conformist/sheep. More importantly they often have trust issues and would treat MR. Popular's advances as suspect. So having him hop into a relationship without the popular kid gaining his trust and proving it's not part of a joke or bet is out of the question.
Bully/victim: This pairing has several problems with it; first, not everyone who bullies a gay kid is gay themselves. People bully for one of three reasons: out ignorance and the belief it's all part of growing up; to overcompensate for a real or perceived flaw (being fat, dumb, gay, or because they are/were being abused), or because the bully is a psychopath who enjoys causing pain and being the center of attention. Second, the victim forgives the bully too easily, he should be livid that the guy who made his life a hell says he loves him. His response should be to tell the bully to stay away from him and the bully must then earn his trust and woo him.
The biggest problem with this pairing is that it reinforces the fallacies that abuse is a sign of love and that abusive relationships get better if you stick it out. No one should stay in an abusive relationship no matter how much your partner claims to love you, or how attractive he may be. This applies more so when the abuse is sexual. Rape is about power and control, not love. So when a character gets raped and then tells the rapist how much he loves him I hit the back button, for the reasons above and because often the victim prior to this was described as being asexual or straight thus this reinforces the lie that being raped by a member of the same sex "turns" people gay.
The Prince and the Pauper: this is where a rich kid falls for a poor/ homeless kid. Like the others above in order for this to work the rich kid must gain the poor kid's trust and not come off as trying to buy his affection. More so if the rich kid happens to be a rich bitch, in which case the poor kid won't come near this douche bag until he has an attitude adjustment.
Rich Bitch: As alluded to above these are the stories were the protagonists are richer than God and never let you forget it. Favorite past times include listing all their designer clothes and luxury items, being a catty queen and huge snob. Sure everyone dreams about being wealthy, but money can't you love unless it's the by the hour kind. The other problem with this cliché is it's set in a world where no one takes issue with his sexuality or toxic attitude, because he he's rich, bitch. In reality a person like this would have few people who could stand more than 30 seconds of him, and those would be just as shallow and snobbish. So if you're going to use this then make him likeable and not a spoiled brat a la Holden Caulfield. Give him real problems beyond being single--especially when he's described as the model.
The orphan: A close cousin with the rich bitch this is often how our boy becomes filthy rich. The most common mechanisms of death are due to drunk drivers, plane crashes, and cancer. Unlike in real life where our boy would be placed in foster care and his assets held in trust until he turns 18 or graduates college, he either lucks out and has no guardians to answer to or gets placed with relatives who have no issues with his sexuality and wouldn't think of manipulating him into giving them money.
The Model: These are characters that are described as being hotter than an Abercrombie & Fitch, and like the rich bitch, which they often overlap with, have no personality and look down on anyone who dares not be as beautiful as them. The first issue is it reinforces the stereotypes that gay men are extremely superficial and their relationships are based solely on who can give them the best orgasm, which is not true. Sure looks matters, but so do personality and intelligence. This doesn't mean you can't have attractive characters, but does everyone need to look like they stepped out of a photo shoot?
The other issue with these stories is the epitome of beauty is almost always that of a blonde/ light brown haired, blue/hazel eyed suburban white kid, who's ether a size zero or a mass of muscles. This doesn't mean you must have nonwhite characters or characters who are less than attractive, but if you do, don't make them stereotypes or sources of ridicule for the beautiful ones.
When people click on your story they're not looking to be just entertained, but also a place where they feel accepted and validated. So if they don't find characters that are like them, or find characters that are put down for being like them, this says to them: you don't matter. This body fascism contributes to negative body images, low self esteem, and feelings of isolation. It also contributes to exclusionary practices in the larger gay community where anyone who doesn't fit a group's definition of "gay" isn't given a place at the table. Remember no one likes to be made fun of or marginalized all the time.
Mirror, Mirror: Often found with the model this is the scene where our protagonist stares into a mirror and describes in needless detail how hot he is, complete with cock size and circumcision status--too much information bro. This is a sure bet that it's all downhill from here to a cliché overload. The most egregious case is where our hero is late for school yet takes time to do this, not only does it break show don't tell, it's also illogical. Remove it right now if you haven't already done so.
Biggus Dickus : This is the trend where all the characters have cocks that put Ron Jeremy to shame. In the most absurd cases you have 8-year-olds with foot long phalluses the girth of beer cans--no. First off the average erect adult penis is only 5.5-6.2 inches long and 4.7-5.1 in girth so anything beyond and you're good, Secondly the anus is only an average of 1.37 in in diameter, so stop with the virgin bottoms being able to take their lover's massive dongs without lube or pain on the first try every time.
So unless your character suffers from precocious puberty then him having an erection bigger than a few inches at a young age is ridiculous. Second young teens by their very nature are body conscious and obsessed with being normal so having a larger than average penis wouldn't necessarily be applauded especially if they happen to have a donkey dick like these stories--note being uncircumcised is enough to get a boy teased. Porn is to blame for this cliché but Western Civilization is also at fault for perpetuating the notion that a male's masculinity and virility are directly proportional to his penis size. The point is that like the model this cliché can lead to a negative body image. On a side note the size of a guy's penis is moot if he doesn't know how to pleasure his partner.
The Genius: Theses characters go beyond being mere nerds and make Einstein look dumb. Can be identified by their youth for skipping several grades, being a know-it-all about every subjects, and use of purple prose to make them sound smart e.g. referring to cell phones as handheld cellular telephonic devices, or butthole as an anal rectal cavity. Child prodigies tend to live sheltered and isolated lives with few friends outside their fellow prodigies. They also tend to be emotionally stunted and often lack street smarts.
Likewise like many intelligent people they may suffer from autism spectrum disorders, anxiety disorders, or mental illness such as bipolar or schizophrenia, all of which make relationships difficult to start and maintain. Intelligent people also tend to have specialized knowledge in one discipline often a specific field in that area i.e theoretical astrophysics or molecular cell biology, and which field they go into determines their interdisciplinary utility e.g. Mathematicians have tons of areas their skills can be utilized in, whereas an art historian not so much.
The Big Man on Campus: This is where our boy is the all American jock who loves banging chicks, that is until he meets the new kid and is sucking cock faster than you can say fabulous.thr first problem with this is it reinforces the myth that people just wake up one and decide to be gay. the BMOC transitions from straight gay in just a few weeks or a month or two, but at no point does he question whether this just experimentation, that it's just a case of finding the one guy who he would hook up with but is otherwise straight, or that he's bisexual. At no point does he take time to adjust to this change or explore the gay community. No the BMOC always comes out 100 percent gay and immediately hops into a relationship. If you have a problem with it or him, he'll beat the crap out of you--because hey he may be gay, but he's not a fag.
Here lies the second issue: it is built upon internalized homophobia. You know because only straight guys can be athletic, masculine and kick ass--not! Note how it's always a jock that gets this treatment and not a nerd or loner, but why? Well because jocks epitomize masculinity, plus "turning" a straight guy is a huge fantasy to some gay guys and when you combine they you get the best of both worlds.
The other thing to note is how the boy who is the BMOC's closet key is often an effeminate freshman who he is compelled to protect. The implication here is twofold: first this is a throwback to the myth that homosexuals were born in the wrong body and second that real men (straight) are Neanderthals who must protect the weaker sex. Homophobia is rooted in misogyny. For years a boy who was sensitive was code for gay, because only women are suppose to be emotional while real men can only be stoic or angry. Likewise when someone gets gay bashed the homophobe's reply is they shouldn't have been flaunting their sexuality, just like the reply women who are raped often get. Moreover it's not only ok, but encouraged for straight guys to have sex with multiple partners, but when a straight women or LGBT person does the same they are demonized for it. This is what leads to people staying in the closet or going on the DL--where they have girlfriends/wives and kids but hook up with guys on the side, yet identify as straight. This internalized homophobia is also what contributes to teen suicides. Whether you're feminine, masculine or in between, do you and screw the haters.
Draconian Dads, Monster moms and PFLAG Parents: The parents in the stories on nifty only come in two varieties complete monster, or saints. Alcoholic and drug addicts parents who beat their gay kids is par the course, but sometimes the author will have the parents prostitute their kid, or have the homophobic dad rape his son. The point here is unfortunately parents like this exist, but not to the degree of cruelty as these monsters and they get arrested or their kid runs away. On the other side you have parents who don't care their progeny is gay, but are so cool with it they have no problem with his boyfriend moving in and them humping like bunnies in heat. The point here is that both of these are caricatures. A parent's reaction to their kid coming out is more nuanced than either of these. A parent who initially disapproves of their gay kid at first may come around after a while. They might never be ok with it, but they do come to an understanding that it's still their kid and they love him. A parent who says they are ok at first might not be, because it's one thing to be ok with the idea your kid is gay and another once he starts dating. No parent likes to think of their children (straight or LGBT) having sex at any age, and the converse is also true.
The sexcapade : These are the long running, frequently episodic stories on nifty that center around our hero engaging in activity that puts porn stars to shame. First, no one can or does have as much sex as these guys do, the mechanics of some orgy scenes is just impossible for even the most limber contortionist. Second, while I enjoy a good stroke stories ever now and then I need my mind stimulated as well. Really do you need 80 chapters of your boy shagging anything with a cock, come on even the biggest of man-hoes eventually settle down.
PWP : Porn with plot, these stories start out good but then sex takes over. Now I'm far from a prude, having first discovered my dad's porn stash when I was 3, but I can't stand when I find a decent story and the writer decides to add in random sex scenes that don't add to plot and are all the same mechanically descriptions of body parts. Spare the reader this exercise in synonyms and make the sex scenes, like the chapter, count and they'll thank you.
The Gay Mecca: This is the tendency to have a story take place in New York, California, and Florida. The problem with this is it excludes huge portions of the gay community who don't live in these places, could never afford to, nor would want to. Like gay people the place they reside also come in a variety, so why the same places? Living in one of these places doesn't make you immune from antigay sentiment (Prop 8 anyone), so why not have a boy find love in the Rookies, the Gulf coast, the Midwest, or hell even the bible belt. Years ago I read Lem, a story set in Texas about a pro bull rider and his lover Shadow. The writer took the time to go into the history of bull riding incorporating it into the plot as it went along.
Coming Out : Let me preface this by saying coming out stories still serve a purpose and probably will for a long time, but the point here is that all too often they are about the same generic suburban kid. So unless yours brings something different to the table give it a rest and let other perspectives have a place. These stories come in two flavors: born gay and sudden sexuality. In the first case the protagonists tells us how he's always known he was gay, has no issues with it, doesn't care if anyonr has an issue with it, and is waiting for his prince charming. In the other version our boy tells us how he's never gave much thought to his sexuality and when he jerks it just thinks about how good it feels. By chapter's end he's lusting over the newbie and three chapters in realizes he gay--of course we've knew thins form the first paragraph of chapter one but that's beside the point. In each case the coming out process only serves as a flimsy pretext for them to jump into a relationship with the first other gay kid they meet.
More importantly these stories fail at a coming of age tale because they only exam the issue on a superficial level, the most you get is what he plans to study in college. Even in the stories set in university the most you get at the ends is that he's still together with his beau somewhere in the `burbs. While that's good, it would be nice to read a story where coming out is one facet of many in the overall story of his coming of age.
Phi Alpha Gamma: These are stories dealing with fraternities where gay orgies happen nonstop. Sorry to burst your bubble but fraternities are little more than an excuse to get together and get drunk, mind you that's after meetings where you listen to the committee chairs give their half-assed reports. Then it's old business, new business, and a discussion and vote on chartable and social activities. All of which took two hours or more, then it was off to the bar to try to pick up girls, though we often got into it with a rival frat and had to leave before things got serious.
In my pledge group there were only two other gay/bi guys besides me and the only openly gay guy got brutally ripped on when he wasn't there. To be fair everyone got made fun of and yeah sometimes a guy would go too far and feelings were hurt, but by next meeting all was forgotten. I will say for whatever reason the guys were big on wrestling around and smacking each other on the ass while we were dicking around before meetings. When it came to greeting we'd high five which transitioned to a handshake, then a chest bump, one armed hug or both depending how close you were with the guy.
The Gay Superhero: This character is found most often in the celebrity and scifi/fantasy sections and serves one point: wish fulfillment. First up is the gay mutant in X-men fics who is revealed to be the most powerful mutant ever and proceeds to hook up with the mutant boy toy of the author's desire. Besides being a blatant self insert these stories never address the connection between superheroes and being in the closet, especially with mutants who ever since the second X-men movie have become synonymous with being gay. The whole concept of having to keep a secret identity to protect yourself has long resonated with LGBT people, but all we get is one line that goes: "Hi, I'm gay and a mutant and it's hard." Cut to the scene where the X-men whisk him away and it's never mentioned again. The other thing these stories fail to address is the unfortunate implication that having mutants, or vampires in the case of True Blood, as stand-ins for gays might reinforce the idea that gays are monsters and abnormal--which they're not.
Next are the stories about wizards, vampires, space marines, etc where the whole point is they are gay as opposed to a character that happens to be gay. This reinforces the fallacy that being gay is the only thing that defines a person and also the stories cover the same trite coming out arc. As if that's the most important in their lives as opposed to saving the universe from alien hoards or the ultimate evil.
The next type of story is those where the average/loser gay character becomes hot due to alien/top secret government technology or supernatural means and has tons of sex. Again this is wish fulfillment and like the model reinforces body fascism and negative body image. Seriously if you had confidence issues before the body upgrade they aren't going to vanish over night.
The cliché overload: This is when one cliché after another is piled on, leading a reader to hit the back button and seek the nearest supplier of brain bleach.
The Victim: Full disclosure, of all the clichés I loathe this one the most, so sorry if I'm given to ranting. The victim exists to be the world's punching bag. Drug addictions, mental and emotional problems, self mutilation, turning tricks to survive, daily beating at school and home and through it all--he never stands up for himself! Not once does he call the cops, go off on his asshole teachers, or even bother to run away. He never grows a spine unless his precious boyfriend is the one being teased, but this is a rare occasion. More often than not, once he meets the newbie all his problems go away and he is whisked off to the lap of luxury at his boyfriend's house--fuck no!
Sorry but Prince Charming is dead, superman isn't saving shit and you can't wish things into getting better. You have to make them better. Love, while a wonderful thing isn't a panacea, nothing is. Love at first sight doesn't exist, this is infatuation and is your brain being saturated with dopamine--the same chemical is responsible for post coital bliss.
Like any drug you develop a tolerance to it and you begin to see the flaws and differences in your partner. This is where love happens, when you realize that because of those flaws and differences you want to be with him, but it's not going to be fun nonstop. Relationships require time, energy and compromise from both partners if they hope to make in the long run. However after all of this, things may fall apart. People cheat, grow apart, get bored of the other, or they realize no matter how much they love each other they don't belong together.
People bring all their psychological and emotional baggage to relationships and, unlike these stories would have you believe, they often are exacerbated. If you don't love yourself then no matter what your beau does it will never be enough to fill this void. You must overcome these issues yourself or risk hopping into one codependent relationship after another, or staying in an abusive situation to avoid dealing with your problems again. It's not healthy to depend on one person to be everything to you, because what are you going to do if he leaves. Nor it is fair to your partner to expect him to solve all your problems when he has his own to deal with.
By all means dream to your heart's content, but you can't wish yourself into a better life overnight. You have to set realistic goals and then get off your butt and work to achieve them. Don't expect the world to play fair because it won't. Don't assume you'll be perfect at everything or things are going go as planned. It is going to be hard work, you will suffer setbacks and despite your best efforts, you may still fail. You won't always know what to do, and you will make mistakes. You won't always fit in, and if you never do, then make a place for yourself. Yes, sometime you will have to fright just to exist, for there will always be someone who wants to tear you down because of who you are. Friends and lovers will change so if you never learn to stand up for yourself you will always be a victim. No one can live life for you. We are all different, but one thing is true: we all face hardships and how we deal with them determines who we are.
The point of this essay is to serve as a call to go a higher caliber stories that go into the realm of literary fiction. Stories that inspire the reader to better himself and effect change in the world around him instead of being just another gay story. Yes the stories on nifty are mainly sex drive and wrote for enjoyment, but there's no reason why they can't be more than this and still be fun for the reader. As a teen the stories on nifty were one of the few things that gave me solace and one of the reasons I'm still here. When things were the darkest I'd retreat to a fantasy world where I found the will to keep going. It is this same sense of pride I try to instill in my characters so that other kids who feel like I did know that it does get better. Although you may lose your way, you will continue moving forward, because you matter and are stronger than you know. So to every kid out there close to the edge: carry on my way ward son. There'll be peace when you are done. Lay your weary head to rest. Don't you cry no more.