1. Unjustified non-canon (and when I say canon, I mean Season 2, because you can’t take canon as a whole without running into multiple contradictions. So might as well stick with the only part of it that’s somewhat consistent in its depiction of the characters) characteristics ascribed to either boy
2. Doormat!Blaine or doormat!Kurt…
…which is the actual reason I’m writing this post because I need to vent…
So imagine reading a decently written story with perfectly justified non-canon characteristics manifesting themselves in not so excellent treatment of the other part of Klaine. So far, so good. The story seems to be aware of the problem, so I am waiting for it to be addressed head-on… And then, as it usually happens, they go into a scene where the one treated unfairly basically flat out says what exactly is wrong with that. Yay! I’m excited. And then they go and make him apologize and completely diminish the wrongness of the other character’s ways… And announce that he wasn’t as bad all along. But he was portrayed as quite bad. At that point I usually get pretty mad because the writer decides to go into what is wrong with the doormat!character (not in terms of his being a doormat of course). I believe they imagine they give them equal standing or whatever that way. And it’s awful because how is it equal to be made to apologize for the other person treating you awfully?!
Okay, rant over.
fanfiction blaine:- i am a caveman all american teen and i eat only unhealthy stuff with my BARE HANDS TEARING THROUGH IT LIKE THE MANLY ANIMAL THAT I AM
fanfiction kurt:- i use spoons and forks for everything and ew who touches fOOD ew thats what UTENSILS are for like ugh i am not eating tHAT IT HAS SO MANY CALORIES!!!!
fanfiction!kurt:- baby pengiun/blushing with sex - permanently
fanfiction!blaine:- a bumbling not-very-graceful adorable clumsy mess
fanfiction!kurt:- the most graceful precise fucker in the entire wooorld who never makes a misstep in the history of ever
Okay… So I wonder: what are their fanfiction characterizations based on? Is it stereotypes or personal preferences that inform people’s choices? Also, Blaine’s night clothing is another point of contention, I guess. (Because I love, love, love satin/silk pajamas and fancy robes… so I actually really prefer glee’s version there, too.) And don’t even get me started on Blaine’s “brokenness” or his absolute “selflessness” to the point of complete self-sactrifice and self-erasure… Or either character being so much more mature than the other… And… many more… let’s leave it at that.
There comes a time when you finally have enough brilliant stories to add to your recommendation list.
These stories are not ranked. But if they were, they would fit somewhere on my first recommendation post: Favorite Fanfic. So the Top 3 is now Top 6 and the order doesn’t really matter, as you should read all of them because they are wonderful.
So, the stories:
Yeah, I also thought it was cute when I was a child and had no idea whatsoever how love or even the world, for that matter, function. But now… I’m still not completely sure why people would use the idea of love at first sight as just a shoddy excuse to form fatalistic types of couples that can’t help but be together. How about actually wanting to be together? Love at first sight seems to feel an awful lot like a trap. And even if love may feel like that and oftentimes does, what is so good about it in these cases? Everyone may fall in love and feel trapped. I am, however, in no way obligated to think this is romantic. If you truly feel trapped, you should probably not even be together.
I don’t know how this whole idea ties into religious beliefs, as you see, I don’t have any, or into the idea of fate, which… well, suffice to say, I honestly don’t feel is as trapping, what with compatibilism, and fate and personal choice actually coinciding, so that it doesn’t even feel like fate, and so on (although, mind you, I don’t quite believe in “fate,” either). But whatever… What I am trying to say is that I find nothing inspiring about a couple that is together just as a result of a strange inevitability and the work of an irresistible force, especially when it seems the decision to be together is actually opposed to their wants. Or they just feel they have to be together and never actually question it in any way. Because it’s love, man, and there is no escaping. Please!
So yes, inspiring couples rationally choose to be together because they know this is what they rationally want, not because they can see no other way, or because they feel compelled to love. The fatalistic type of love at first sight is unhealthy, borders on obsession and, ultimately, hurts the characters I love, who usually are presented as genuinely disliking each other, while being unthinkingly in an inescapable trap of a love. Mmm, exactly what I want for them, no doubt.
So from now, if a story doesn’t put in the effort to try to give me reasons why two people love each other beyond the cliched they were made for each other, which leads to a train wreck of a relationship of apparent mutual dislike, inexplicably intense feelings and general dysfunction, I don’t really want to read that story. Not even going into the whole issue of physical appearance versus the essence of a person and how first-sight love is eternally based on the former - because appearances can be quite deceptive, but we are not supposed to go anywhere beyond them at the time of that first sighting, are we.
So yes, I get really annoyed when people describe Kurt and Blaine’s love as love at first sight (when it means what I’ve described above), because wow, of course, they don’t really have any conceivable, rational reasons to love each other, and are not perfect for each other, at all - if they could only think about it… But they can’t because it’s love and nothing else matters. Actually, it does matter! They absolutely made a choice in deciding to be together. Also, they didn’t cling to the other begging him to take them. In fact, they’ve always respected each other’s choices and agency and right and ability to refuse or get away. But they choose to be together because they have a million reasons to be together, rational, tangible reasons. They can help it, they just don’t want to. Also what happens when people in ‘love at first sight’ hurt each other? They can’t leave, right? UGH! This totally sounds super healthy.
Disclaimer: I do realize this is not the only way to define and understand love at first sight. I do think it is a little absurd in all cases, but this is the only interpretation I’m absolutely opposed to. I also realize what I just described doesn’t necessarilly have the element of first sight, but it’s equally unhealthy without it, too. I do have some fanfiction and writers in mind when I’m writing this, but you’ll have to come off anon and send me a personal message if you want to discuss the specifics. I do want to hear your general opinions on the matter, though, so feel free to submit and discuss in any way you find convenient. :)
"the cult harlequin novel thing Velvet Petels had going" <— See, I didn’t get that reference. Definitely adds a very interesting layer to the whole story.
I also always change (Def)inition’s and If I Die Young’s places in my fanfic chart. They are both fantastic!
I haven’t read the film noir fics. Now I really want to start reading them immediately. Ugh, I wish I wasn’t super busy. But I’ll definitely start as soon as possible. Thanks for the recommendation!
I hope that Left Over will get resolved at some point with everything about this world finally getting clear. It absolutely may. It’s just that right now there are too many secrets and a complicated reality that I personally don’t get the rules of. And the confusion is definitely starting to hinder my enjoyment of the story.
I’ve actually read Left Over and the sequel (still a WIP). I think it’s all right. I had some objections to the way they get together and are obsessed with each other, but that actually sort of made sense within the universe. This story is quite confusing, though; so much so that reading it gets tiring after a while. I think that we as readers definitely need more information if the writer wants to keep us engaged.
Hm, interesting about Velvet Petals, Piercing Thorns. I actually didn’t like that one:
1. It didn’t sound like a historical fic to me, at all. Especially the language and the dialogue. Did people in that time talk or act like this? Maybe if we could travel back in time, we would, but I really don’t think this is true of people who’ve never been to our time.
2. Kurt and Blaine are irresistibly sexually attracted to each other, so lots of sex ensues. But is there anything else between them? Only sexual attraction just doesn’t work for me. I want them to want to be together, not feel they have to be together as they can’t help it.
3. Then, we have the whole inequality issue and Blaine deciding everything for Kurt; even leaving him alone to fight in a war, with Kurt not being given any chance to object. I just need them to be equals in the way they treat each other and in terms of the control they have over their relationship.
So basically, it was the language, Kurt’s oddly subordinate position to Lord Blaine, and the strange sex-love dynamic that put me off. Also, the totally subjective fact that I’m not the biggest fan of this writer’s style, which is, of course, irrelevant to a productive discussion. Just wanted to mention it as it might be coloring my perception of her works in a bit more negative light than they deserve.
Have you read any phenomenal fics of late? It’s been awhile for me. Do you have any recommendations?
Please, feel free to send opinions and recommendations my way. I’ll be happy to discuss them.
Which is your absolute favorite Klaine fic and why?
These are the stories that stayed with me for a long time, or really moved me, or made me think about their subjects extra hard, even though I found some serious flaws in them that put me off a bit.
Reasons: Adorable baby Kurt - daddy Burt story with a healthy side dish of super sweet baby Blaine and other baby characters. It’s extremely sweet and sad and moving and well-written.
Problems: Only reason it is among the honorable mentions instead of the favorite stories is that it is not a Klaine story, which automatically lowers my level of interest. But it’s oh, so worth reading!
Reasons: Phenomenal characterizations. One of my very favorite stories in that aspect. Both Kurt and Blaine are brilliantly written. The writing style in the whole story is superb, in fact. I love how it works as a drama rather than a comedy and goes for realism. And I certainly love that Kurt and Blaine find a way to solve their problems even in the dark, realistic, uncaring world they are confined to.
It made me think about the binary gender system and how ridiculous it is. I love that it did. This was also brilliantly done.
Problems: Tonal switch: got too optimistic at one point and subsequently everything fell into place. It wasn’t so much earned as it was just granted. There was a break with realism in the pursuit of a happy ending which made the story sort of confusing. I also can never bring myself to actually like the presence of an obnoxious character like this story’s Santana in Kurt and Blaine’s everyday life. A quite enlightening pleasure to read overall, though.
11. Pretty Woman
Reason: Makes you think. Leaves you really confused. Keeps you reading until the last page because you can’t predict what is going to actually happen. I am mostly fine with the characters. Even Kurt is a somewhat extreme version of himself. It reaches the right conclusions.
Problems: I figured out what was going on with Kurt and his self-esteem issues by about the time Kurt and Blaine got together, so I was just confused as to why Blaine couldn’t figure it out and did not insist on psychiatric help for Kurt or didn’t even go to a psychiatrist himself to ask for advice. It was pretty obvious Kurt needed professional help. Then again, why would Kurt even become that broken if he knew and had Blaine almost all along? I think the narrative was too apologetic of Kurt’s actions, past and present. Blaine was just supposed to always support him or the story treated him as a terrible friend/boyfriend. Why wasn’t Blaine entitled to feelings of his own? The whole situation cannot have been absolutely unproblematic for him. How about the whole cheating fiasco of the past? They never talked about it or what cheating meant. They never talked about what sex meant, for that matter either, or how much of it was “required,” especially given their past and how Kurt had treated Blaine, which was also brought up a couple of times. Finally, we had their relationship going from totally platonic to absolutely physical with some consoling on the side when absolutely needed, usually followed by more sex. What happened to the pure friendship they shared? I just definitely needed more of Blaine for this story to work. He is not just a doormat support system for a spoilt, self-centered, broken character who wants to take and take, but treats giving as a huge burden that cannot fairly be imposed on him. Kurt wash’t fair to Blaine and he didn’t even feel the need to apologize or make amends.
Still, a very interesting story that broadens your understanding of ownership over one’s own body and mind. It’s also well-written and infinitely better and deeper than the book it is based on (which I tried to read out of curiosity but could never finish).
11. Little Numbers
Reasons: The format is brilliant, super relevant and interactive! It’s a sweet, fluffy story for the most part.
Problems: Bringing in Ethan, the good, wonderful guy, just didn’t work for me. It takes away from your happiness over Klaine. It changes the story from that of a couple of strangers who are lucky to find each other in a millions-of-people city because they are so good for each other to a story about these same strangers having to make a choice that would inevitably hurt people, a choice they didn’t absolutely even need to make because they could have been happy even if they hadn’t made it. These are essentially two totally different stories. Thus, Little Numbers just completely switches direction once it gets to the middle and leaves you completely dissatisfied with the outcome, given the earlier promise of sunshine and happiness and inspiration. I also disagree with the characterization of poor not-confident-enough Blaine, who doesn’t know how to deal with things. Kurt and his never-ending doubts get annoying in the end, too.
The format is still worth giving the story a try, though. It’s so interactive and uniquely contemporary, it’s totally worth getting acquainted with.
Reasons: Brilliant characterizations of Kurt and Blaine. I just adore everything about these two boys and all of their interactions in this fic (save for the short period of non-interaction). They are the cutest, most adorable, innocent, wonderful people ever!
Problems: Too indulgent Kurtofsky sex taking up most of the narrative, albeit within an extremely disturbing context. Following Karofsky to the end. That whole thing was super hard to read. But Kurt and Blaine were so sunshine-bright adorable that they made even that extremely dark reality bearable, just barely.
Reasons: Brilliant Blaine characterization, ignoring the strange lack of self-awareness when it comes to his sexual orientation. A lot of frighteningly canon-reminiscent Kurt dialogue, even though he is so different from canon!Kurt in a lot of respects.
Problems: Kurt never becomes our beloved strong, moral canon!Kurt. The sex and the sexualization of their relationship in the last few chapters just doesn’t work for me because it shifts the focus from their love and friendships and the way they function as a couple to their sex life which is supposed to reveal information about everything else?? I don’t know. In vino veritas, which always makes me roll my eyes and wish for sober decision/conclusion-making - although this aspect is quite mild in this particular story, probably not really fair of me to even bring it up in connection with it.
Anyway, if you love canon!Blaine, you’ll definitely love Blackbird!Blaine and enjoy being immersed in his thoughts for most of the duration of this story.
That’s it, I suppose. All of my established favorite fanfiction stories and honorable mentions. The only story this list is missing is my favorite guilty pleasure story at the moment, Sovereign, which I am reading for the perfection that is Blaine in it, but am not sure how to rank just yet. One of the rare stories where even some of the sex scenes work for me because they reveal information about the characters and their changing/evolving relationships. Not all of them but some of them do. And as long as they do, they are hot enough to withstand easily. (Don’t even ask me why I can’t bring myself to like anything about gratuitous, indulgent sex descriptions that serve no narrative function. The serving no narrative function would be the key, I suppose.)
My problems with Sovereign would be: Why is Rachel so okay with being used? The gratuitous porn, of course, which is to be expected on the kink meme, of course, but I am just complaining on principle. Kurt sounding maybe a little OOC.
Other than that, great story so far that I am eagerly awaiting the updates to.
Reasons: Same writer as If I Die Young, so of course great writing. A little less so, but still, this girl is talented, trust me. Also reads more like a novel than a TV show. What I remember from reading this story many months ago is that you can absolutely trust the writer, she’ll address all the issues you have with her story. Just wait for it.
Problems: Blaine’s not wanting to share with Kurt and trying to deal with everything on his own. A little sloppy in terms of Kurt’s characterization. But a great, sad story overall, complete with great writing and awesome characters.
5. The Sidhe
Reasons: One word: equality! There is no other story where you get more equal relationships than in The Sidhe. This is almost hard to believe given that one of our boys is a magical elf creature who is one of the most powerful people among the other magical elves. And still, Kurt does as much for Blaine as Blaine does for Kurt, even though Blaine has no magical powers. This is amazing to see. Two other reasons to read it: Klaine’s legendary love and the great action story about their journey through fantasy lands. Such a well-built and very visual reality. It’s original, fast-paced, torturous at times but in a very right way. Definitely a very enjoyable touching experience.
Problems: Wish there were more about the politics of this world and how Kurt finally changed its dynamics. Falling in love at first sight doesn’t work for me in spite of the adorable explanation with the stars and the millions of realities and universes where Klaine end up together. Too much sex, which you can easily skip, since it doesn’t add to the narrative and gets a little repetitious after a while.
6. Light in the Loafers from the Immutability verse
Reasons: The action takes place in the late 50s and everything historical is very well-researched. If you are even vaguely interested in gay history (but also racism and history in general), I am sure this whole verse will be an absolutely fascinating read for you. It is, in fact, one of the very rare fanfiction stories I have read twice. Even the characters’ way of speaking, the expressions they use and so on are historically-based. So incredibly much to learn!
Great, deep characters and an amazing insight into their minds’ workings. Kurt especially is a very believable version of our Kurt, had he been born in the 40s.
An absolutely heartbreaking story, too, just be warned. And very well-written. Very detailed. Great use of music and popular culture.
Problems: I have two major problems and both have to do with Blaine. Even given his extreme circumstances and absolutely intolerable father, I still think he is too OOC. But yes, at least, he has some reason to be so completely not himself. It’s definitely explained. I’m just not convinced he’d be that broken in even such an awful reality. He just seems kind of passive compared to canon Blaine, which I find weird. The second problem is Blaine and sex, how uncomfortable it makes him but how he cannot stop thinking about it and jumping into it every chance he has, though he regrets is so much later. Also explained in the narrative, but still a little too extreme to be entirely believable.
Additionally, there is that one moment when Kurt or Blaine thinks he misses his constant interaction and conversations with the other, but we’d never seen them having so many amazing conversations. The telling instead of showing pitfall. But it only happens that once as far as I can remember.
7. All Shook Up
Reasons: Adorable 50s story. Very, very bittersweet. A horribly angsty chapter that almost killed me at one point. Doesn’t go as deep into the realities of the time when the story is set as Light in the Loafers, but still gives you a general terrifying idea of what people do and think. The characters are adorable and sweet. The coda is absolutely perfect.
Problems: A little OOC. Blaine seems a little aloof and strange because we almost never really know what is going on with him, so he comes off as a little flat. But so does Kurt to a certain extent. The happy ending is not entirely happy, which is absolutely heartbreaking. There are some tonal changes within the story, not unlike in Glee. Still, a sweet, interesting story, definitely worth reading.
Reasons: Super adorable. Amazing Kurt-Blaine relationship. Only college-years fic I actually like. The wedding planning and the Klaine unusual friendship were the best things ever. So cute. Irresistibly adorable Kurt and Blaine, separately as well as together.
Problems: A little ridiculous, some drama for the sake of drama. Some cliched expressions. Not the best writing ever. But a lovely, enjoyable story overall.
So here we go. Check my klaine fanfiction tag before you start reading. Contains a lot of disclaimers and clarifications. :)
Without further ado, here is the list:
Important! For each of my favorite fics I’ll write a brief list of things that I like (“Reasons” why it’s on the list) about it and another one of things I don’t like (“Problems”).
1. First prize goes to Courtney and If I Die Young
Reasons: Brilliant writing. Perfect characterizations. Her Kurt and Blaine are arguably the most canon-compliant characters out there. She has such a good feel of who they are both as individuals and as a couple. Add to that the masterful dialogue, the emphasis on interaction, the deep emotions, the fact that everything is so genuine and real… We really get into their heads, into their lives, into their hearts. We truly live with them. I’m still amazed that she could accomplish such immersion experience with characters that are not her own. They are living, breathing creatures and the Kurt and Blaine we know and love. Also the writing… Great use of words and expressions, flowing dialogue, beautiful and meaning-ripe descriptions. So great overall! A million times, well done!
Problems: Occasional pacing breaks. Doesn’t read like a purposeful succinct story, although every chapter does read like an episode, like a story in its own right. Given the fact that IIDY is based on a TV show, though, I guess the format works even if it’s not exactly a novel-type format. Blaine and career plans based on trying to please his parents at first is a little OOC for me. I was glad Trip and Karofsky got together within the narrative, but treating the Tripofsky relationship as an epic love story doesn’t work for me. Why are they even together? What can they possibly give each other that they cannot receive anywhere else? Especially given the contrast with Klaine… Not epic at all. Tripofsky taking over during the Blaine death-scare didn’t work for me, because I didn’t really get where it came from. Rachel, Burt, Finn, Wes could have done a better job (maybe together with Trip). The insistence of the narrative that we were made witness to all of Klaine’s interactions for the duration of the story was a little weird at times because it didn’t particularly make sense for them not to try to spend more time together or have more intimate moments and so on. Keep in mind that all of this is really nitpicky because the story is truly wonderful and contains the very best Kurt and Blaine out there, even if it’s not absolutely flawless.
(Oh, one last thing, I hate it when someone tells the person they love to find another significant other after they die. People can actually live without a partner, you know. This just makes me irrationally annoyed, as in I-would-be-so-angry-with-someone-trying-to-pull-that-bs-with-me annoyed. It’s my choice after all. It’s not so easy to find epic love, and I want nothing less, so please, shut up. If I ever find such love I’ll just want to be yours forever and ever and ever, even if you are not alive. Doesn’t matter. I can be as happy (or happier) alone as I would be with a person I only kind of care about or even love. And it’s my choice! The end. But this applies to a lot of stories and ‘mature’ pre-death notes, so not specifically about IIDY. Just had to get it out there.)
Reasons: Beautiful writing. Unique style. Fully-realized world, to the point that it has its own media outlets and political system and reasons behind everything. In-depth analysis of trauma and PTSD. The extremely difficult dynamic of Kurt and Blaine’s relationship given their positions, their own feelings and needs. Kurt’s internal struggles. Kurt and Blaine who are to varying degrees different from their canon counterparts but are still Kurt and Blaine in a believable way given their very different circumstances. One of my favorite chapters was the young Blaine chapter. So I guess I embrace the characterizations in Def and can’t wait to see who Blaine will be once he gets over the trauma and awful memories. Another reason I can’t stop reading is that I can’t totally see how romance can develop out of what we have Kurt and Blaine going through in this reality. I really hope Sarah won’t take the easy way out and just jump a few years into the future when Blaine is healed enough and, having lived as a free man for years, is actually ready for a relationship with his former holder Kurt. I don’t even know if it is possible, but I very much hope to see Kurt and Blaine as equals within the frame of a supposedly unequal relationship. Complicated solutions are so fascinating. But as I said, I am not sure such a thing is even possible and maybe a time jump and explicitly granting Blaine his freedom is the only way Klaine romance can work in that AU. Still a fascinating story, either way. One of the rare ones, where I agree the author can actually work on turning it into a novel, because the PTSD thing is just breathtakingly well-developed and the reasons behind the PTSD are very real and relevant to our society, too. I’ll just say, Def definitely teaches you a lot of things and stop there. I absolutely love all the other characters, too. Also, I forgot to mention the brilliance of the close-psychic-distance POV narrative. It’s so real and well-written. We are truly submerged in Blaine’s thoughts, no matter how scattered and disconnected they are. This is not easy to do, because the author actually knows what is going on even if the character doesn’t. So you have to be able to see it all through the POV character’s eyes. And it’s so hard. And I just love Sarah and Def for how masterfully the POV is done. Stunning, really!
Problems: One problem I can think of is potential out of character behavior as the healing continues. And potentially taking the easy way out as mentioned above. Or potentially making someone other than Kurt fully responsible for Blaine’s healing. Just potential problems though, no actual ones so far. Can you tell I love this story? :) Make sure to read the extra stories set in the universe, too.
Reasons: Most beautiful, love-conquers-all story this fandom has produced. I find everything about it totally fascinating if completely heartbreaking at the same time. The brain injury, the recovery, the medical information… The familiarity the author has with the subject. What it takes to go through all of this. Kurt! The incredible strength of Klaine’s love and connection. The optimistic tone despite the tragic circumstances. The reality of setbacks dispersed among the numerous small successes. Kurt’s thoughts and feelings, his unconditional, unquestionable adoration of Blaine now, before, in the future (whatever it may hold), his holding onto what Blaine used to be, his dedication and eternal patience. Blaine’s frustration. And love, love, love. The questions, the doubts, mainly coming from the readers: could I do this if I were them, would I even want to try, I wish I could do this if anything like that ever happened to my partner… The fact that there are almost no questions and doubts within the narrative. Because Klaine’s function has always been to inspire, and nowhere else is it as fully realized as in this story. Favorite chapter: Hold on to the Sun. Also, as a whole, very nice, flowing, soft writing style.
Problems: Not impressed with the sex in the last chapter (found): the whole thing is getting a little redundant and porny in a somewhat cliched way. Pretty much love everything else about Lovesong. But it’s so bittersweet, it’s definitely hard to wrap your mind around it. I am also really wondering about Kurt and his career goals. Which of course makes me feel so bad about it all. So, so sad. But so beautiful.
1. Blaine is a doormat. He’s supposed to take everything that Kurt throws his way and be happy about it. Never utter a complaint or even question Kurt’s behavior even in the cases when Kurt is being self-destructive. Because questioning anything Kurt does or feels would equate to his being a terrible boyfriend.
2. Blaine is extremely broken, scared, unassertive, needs Kurt in order to exist. Would never even begin to pursue his dreams without Kurt. Is usually in the closet. Does everything to please those around him with total abandon, disregard for himself or even self-respect. I can’t even begin to fathom what such an interpretation of Blaine’s character can be based on. It makes no sense whatsoever. Or if he is confident, he’s strictly playing a role. Until Kurt comes into his life to tell him what to do in order to be happy because Kurt know best. Just… Please STOP!
3. 1. and 2. together. Yay!
4. Blaine is a veritable knight in shining armor/literal prince or something of the sort, who saves Kurt countless times. So far, so good. But we never find out why Blaine falls for Kurt. Other than appearance, of course, which is not very canon-compliant overall. In canon Kurt and Blaine are both extremely strong in different ways and complement each other beautifully, facilitating the other’s strength and confidence to shine through in any situation. Also, one of the best things about them is that they are equals through and through, which is somehow rarely the case in fanfiction where one of them is the king…
5. Kurt and Blaine are not equals - this gets its own bullet point because, omg, it’s so annoying. This is the only complaint I am going to vent when it comes to porny fanfiction, too, because it altogether usually has just too many problems to enumerate (at least in my opinion).
6. Kurt “tolerates” idiot Blaine. When has Kurt had to tolerate Blaine in canon? He absolutely adores him with all that Blaine is, the same way Blaine adores Kurt. They may lovingly roll their eyes at each other occasionally, but they actually love each other even for those moments. They don’t put up with each other, please!
7. Rapist/sex-crazed pushy boyfriend Blaine fics… Are you even watching the same show? Loving, sweet, wonderful, respectful Blaine would never ever in any world behave like that, as long as he is anything like himself. Writing him that way is really not all right. Blaine ever putting sex above Kurt’s comfort is absolutely not canon-compliant. Don’t even mention the redundant parking lot scene: Blaine thought Kurt was comfortable, that was the whole point.
8. Very logical behavior and dialogue from both Kurt and Blaine, but completely irrational writers’ interpretations interspersed in-between present thoughts disguised as memories and character-analysis, which we are supposed to read as the characters’ own thoughts. This is something I’ve seen some of the best fic writers do. It’s so weird. Also, it directly contradicts the way their Kurt and Blaine behave and talk within the same story. Don’t put your thoughts into the characters’ heads. It’s weird and annoying.
On the whole, people either love Kurt and don’t care about Blaine or vice versa. I don’t have an idea if this is the way fandoms usually function or if this is a specific problem of Klaine fandom, or just a specific problem of fanfiction as a genre… It’s just really annoying. :(
So, if anyone has a fanfic recommendation that avoids all of the above-mentioned pitfalls, I’d very much like to read it. And yes, I’ve read/am reading a number of very good stories with good characterizations I’ve really enjoyed. The problem is, they are very rare.
About this time last year, after having been completely, madly in love with the perfection that is Klaine, I decided to finally see what fanfiction is all about. I’ve known about the existence of fanfiction ever since the Harry Potter days, when I was trying to find opinions on Snape online because nobody around me seemed to think there was something more to his trying to teach Harry to close his mind while torturing him after having killed Dumbledore. I think that was the first time I learned that fanfiction existed (maybe by then I knew about fanart? I am not sure.) I never read any Harry Potter fanfiction because I didn’t want to read how it might go before it was out. I wanted the real deal. And I certainly never got the appeal of meddling with a story and trying to come up with your own version of how it should play out. Till this day, I do not regret that decision. HP is actually well-written and ties all ends. Except for, did Harry and Ginny have sex that spring they were together (or anything sexual for that matter)? - the thing is I honestly don’t care. I desperately wanted Sirius to not be dead. But it was J.K. Rowling’s story and she was the only one who knew ‘the truth.’ So I wasn’t tempted to read, and it was fine.
Then the Klaine days came and the temptation was too strong (because it’s a love story and because Glee leaves a lot to the imagination and a lot to be desired). I’ve always been terrible at not liking love stories - especially ever since a professor (whom I’ll always resent for screwing so severely with my tastes - even though I dropped the class after only two meetings…) told me I was not supposed to treasure such stories or anything about them if I ever intended to start writing good prose - because, you see, I wasn’t already a good writer because of the topic I had chosen for one particular story - which, btw, was more of a gender perception analysis than “an arousing treat for lonely women” or something along those lines. The trouble is he had some legitimate criticisms, too, which made it even harder to tell which of his words I should heed to and which I should ignore. Of course, it is not just that. We live in a society where love stories are generally and almost invariably dismissed as silly and unworthy of the attention of anyone who holds themselves in a position of intelligence and esteem in their own mind. They are for silly teenage girls who don’t know better, because of course life has so much better things to offer than love. And then we have the whole sexual arousal aspect because of course the world revolves around sex and someone’s sexual frustrations and “needs.”
"Who even told you can make a good writer?" the professor asked. "They seriously shouldn’t be allowed to teach here." Just imagine what would have happened if he were the first creative writing professor I had had. My whole life, expectations, aspirations, everything about me now would be different and so screwed up. He still managed to do damage and scare me off love as a serious subject of writing. Years later, having had only one fate-defying conversation with that entitled man, I am still struggling to reconcile my love of love stories with my serious-writing literary aspirations and even my tastes in literature/film etc. I starting to find my footing - there are love stories that I love and love stories that I abhor. There always were. But my senses and apprehension are so much keener now when it comes to love in art. Scary, I know.
Never let anyone tell you that you or anything about you is unworthy. It doesn’t just hurt. It changes you in unforeseeable ways and sends you scuttling into a hole scared to be yourself and argue your opinions, feelings and tastes. So this is one of the main reasons why I’m going to start writing absolutely honest fanfiction reviews on this blog (not only book, episode, film, whatever-official reviews). Nobody should feel alone in their opinion, lost in their preferences, unworthy. There should be as many opinions online as possible because they all matter when they are well-argued and not the product of spite.
I obviously need to go back to school to be once again forced to write a wall of text that actually makes sense and logically leads from one point to the next, without the thought behind it crazily skipping around. But this is not school and I cannot be bothered with proper argumentative structure at the moment, sorry. This blog is about thoughts, not well-structured arguments. It’s fragmented. It’s scattered. But I hope it encourages even one sole person out there to be themselves.
That said, you need to know that I have very strong opinions about mostly everything. These are my opinions. You may disagree. By all means, do. Send me your questions and arguments. About anything. I love discussing. I even love arguing, so you know, go ahead, please. But unlike the reviews I would write the writers under their own texts, the reviews here will be heavily influenced by my own tastes, principles and opinions. And no, despite what I said, I am not the biggest fan of romance stories. You’ll quickly figure that out, I’m sure.
So back to Klaine fanfiction, I was really enchanted at first. I didn’t care about the quality, I just wanted to read about “Kurt and Blaine,” anything as long as it’s supposedly about them. A love story frenzy after a long period of abstinence, you see. I recovered, though. And disappointment struck.
Here is a list of what I care about in fanfiction:
1. Characterizations: I read it for the characters, so I really want them to be in character. It’s not the story of any two young men who look like Chris and Darren that I am interested in. I am very specific in my appreciation of love and just about one form of its romantic manifestations: supportive, inspiring each other, making each other better, committed, adoring, EQUAL partners, who complement each other and feel wholesome and complete in their relationship, so that they can fearlessly devote themselves to outward aspirations. Everything that Klaine are. So I want Klaine, no less.
2. Writing style: this is both subjective and objective. Give me a text devoid of cliches, repeatedly raised eyebrows, darkening eyes and jumping stomachs. Too ornate prose can get tiresome and comic in no time. Grammar and vocabulary matter. I didn’t even know people were so confuse about the difference between lying and laying before I started reading fanfiction. Effect/affect at least is a common mistake… Be careful.
3. Story: people throw themselves into writing things they can’t possibly understand or feel, given their life experiences and reluctance to read their characters’ emotions in their evolution. This results in cliched, empty fic that does not enrich the readers in any way and doesn’t give them the satisfaction of having been through a real, genuine experience. This is the objective problem in the center of most romances: the total lack of authenticity. Plot is not just a device that helps you get your characters together. It’s the life of those characters. So show us how they feel, explain how they progress from point A to point F or whatever, get into their heads and into their situations and if you have no idea how it really feels (not how it is supposed to probably feel) then don’t write the thing.
4. Sex: it just doesn’t work for me if it breaks the pace and does not enhance the story/characters. I am not a fan of porn in general. It’s boring, repetitive, useless, over-indulgent. It can be made to work. I am perfectly all right with it if it’s a seamless part of the story and brings something new to the table - which it most often does not. Are you adding it to a story because it reveals information, makes a point or is so seamlessly imbedded in the world you have created that it just makes some sort of realistic sense within the narrative, its presence is warranted by the structure, the naturalistic, graphic character of the story or leads to character development? Or is it in your story just because the same old sequence of actions and sensations and sounds always described in mostly the same way is supposed to be so perfectly sexually arousing and the readers, for whatever reason, want to be sexually aroused? Hence, my distaste for porn. Again, sex can work within a story. The truth, however, is that in about 98% of the cases I have come across it doesn’t. “Every word on a trial for its life” is one of the main rules of writing. Every sex scene should be, too.
5. Showing, not telling: “Kurt and Blaine have such a great rapport,” “they spent the day talking,” “they have a lot in common,” “they are best friends” - now let me show you how hot sex they have. I want to see them functioning as a couple. Glee denies me the opportunity because any interaction would be too sexual as they are gay, fanfiction denies me the opportunity because sexual is its default mode of operation. But how about why you want them to be involved sexually?
6. Things I personally dislike about life, relationships and fanfiction (the entirely subjective category, even if canon actually implies a lot of these things do not take place):
a. alcohol/substance abuse
b. sex=love, if-the-sex-is-brilliant-we-must-be-totally-made-for-each-other mentality. I may agree that sex can be one of a myriad expressions of love, dressing love into a tangible, physical form, something less abstract, though not by far. But there is so much more to love than sex and I want to see that playing out in a story about love.
c. sexual attraction=love, yeah right! Please! (see above) The best type of love is based on friendship, not sex.
d. pushing and begging for sex
e. kinky sexual practices: public sex, cameras, sex toys, pain as part of the pleasure, masturbation as an arousing factor rather than control mechanism, role play, simulated dub con, intense possessive sex that’s supposed to resolve all sorts of problems in lieu of their actually talking about stuff, sex under the influence, begging in general, impersonal no-kissing sex, fetishes, one participant does everything while the other just waits, no questions asked and no reasons given as to why things happen the way they do (one of them exclusively tops without them talking about it etc.), leaving marks (I can’t fathom what is supposed to be so sexy about something that hurts and looks ugly, plus needs to be hidden)
(Some of these things can work, it depends. But more often than not, they are out of character, cliche, plain weird or gross.)
f. dating/drinking/parties/not having time for each other: why are we trying to put ourselves into boxes, again, and lead the formulaic impersonal life of the next person? Give the babies some personality, individuality, agency, uniqueness. If you want them to feel like real breathing people, don’t have them do everything according to somebody’s rules as to how life should be lived.
g. Inequality, even when the dynamic is just slightly off-balance. This is why most prince-commoner Klaine fanfictions don’t entirely work for me. Neither of the boys should be just an accessory to the other, who is all-powerful and important.
h. curse words in non-cursing contexts: if the dictionary says a word is offensive, don’t use it, unless you want the character thinking or using it to come off as offensive. Simple as that. “Fuck” for example is classified as “vulgar slang” by the Oxford Dictionary of English, which in itself practically means “fuck” cannot be used interchangeably with “make love with” without the context getting offensive. And why would Kurt and Blaine want to offend each other or their relationship is totally beyond me; unless you are writing a very radical AU… and are going for one of them being offensive…
So, basically, that’s it. :)
The reason why I myself don’t write fanfiction is because those are not my characters and no matter how much one analyzes them, you can never be sure about the choices you make about things that were never mentioned in canon. Meta is nice and all, but all the meta in the world cannot make me confident I have such an intimate knowledge of a character I have not created that I can happily play with them and not someone else who’s taken over them in the process of writing. Then, there is the whole issue of recreating the way they speak. And the problem with basically never having heard their thoughts. I just prefer original characters when it comes to my own writing.
I am fully aware that for these reasons, mostly all of fanfiction is actually original characters doing their own thing, their uncanny resemblance to Kurt and Blaine notwithstanding. But it’s actually nice to read some fictional analysis of who these characters are and what they would do in so many different situations.
If nothing else, I’ve learned so much from fanfiction. It’s been a wonderful and quite enlightening journey. So, thank you, for continuously dedicating time to the common entertainment and enlightenment, fanfiction writers. I really appreciate all the time and effort you’ve put into Klaine.
Everything I am going to write on this blog about your stories is just a personal opinion. It’s not intended necessarily for you. It’s for me and whoever out there might agree with me. So please, don’t feel personally hurt by something I think. Too many people disagree. In fact, I might be one of the only two persons in the world who actually dislike the Hunger Games. So there you have it: my opinions are often unpopular. But even those with unpopular opinions deserve their voices to be heard and to feel that they are not alone.