Metawriting #1 – The Point of Intersection

Alright, so I know I’ve been a bit light on the stories this week and last. The truth is that I’m suffering through a bout of writer’s block mostly attributable to exhaustion, stress and lack of time. As such, I don’t really feel like writing a story today, so I’m going to write about writing. Metawriting, if you will.

First, just so you all are aware of my background, I graduated a few years ago from college with a bachelors degree in Philosophy. Now what might philosophy have to do with writing mind control and transformation porn? A lot, surprisingly enough. When you spend your classes talking about what it means to be human, what it means to be the same individual over time, what it means to have a mind, and various other topics, you pick up some theories here and there which have a tendency to burrow their way into your writing. When I write stuff like this, it tends to be a bit dry and academic (but hopefully still interesting to a few of you!) so I’ll try not to use too much technical language, but as a warning, it might be there. If you’re confused about something, just ask.

Next, in college and out, I am a fairly common member of writing groups, and have lead quite a few of them. As such, I’ve spent quite a lot of time critiquing works written by others, both good and bad. Reading other works with a critical eye is the second best thing you can do to improve your writing, (the first being to write as much as you can) so on occasion, I might reference a story written by me or someone else to make a point.

Alright, now that that’s out of the way, I want to start off with a general discussion of MC and TF stories, and in particular, look at why these two always seem to end up working together in stories, when they aren’t necessarily related on the surface. Let me get some definitions out of the way first.

Transformation, obviously, involves one character taking on or losing physical or mental traits over the course of a story. These trait-shifts can be minor and trivial (the growth of a beard) or massive (a jock becoming a basketball). The means of transformation can be highly varied as well, but tend to fall into two camps, conventional (meaning they could occur in real life, such as lifting weights to gain muscle) and non-conventional (meaning they can occur only in fantasy, like casting a spell to become invisible). I’ll talk more about this later, in other entries.

Mind control, as I define it, is solely the act of having one character make another character do something the second doesn’t want to do themselves. There are any number of McGuffins to accomplish this: hypnosis, magic, telepathy, nanobots, computer programs, etc. What matters though, is that there is no necessarily transformative element in an MC story. There are, in fact, many stories which are straight MC with no transformative element. Similarly, a transformation need not involve mind control, if the subject of the transformation wants to transform. So, why then, do so many stories contain both?

One way of linking these up, is to think about why we use MC or TF themes in the first place. If I want to control a character’s mind, the usual reasons are either a) to make them do things they wouldn’t normally do, or b) make them become someone they wouldn’t usually be. In the first case we have stories which are straight MC, and in the second, we can see that TF themes naturally emerge in MC stories from the desire to make characters become something else against their will. Working in the other direction, we write TF stories to make some character become someone or something else, but often we want to them to “think” differently as well, or the character may not want to transform, bringing in MC themes from the other direction.

Now, why does any of this matter? Isn’t this just thinking a bit too hard about porn? Yeah, it probably is, but I think that this point of intersection is a central feature of writing good MC/TF fiction. These two themes don’t exist in entirely separate spheres, they inform and cause one another within good stories. It is the interaction of these themes which builds conflict and develops characters, and so understanding this interplay is crucial for writing these sorts of stories. To put it another way, when we work these themes together we don’t mind control for the sake of mind controlling, and we don’t transform for the sake of transforming. Instead, we control someone’s mind in order to transform them, and in turn, we transform them in order to change and control their minds. See? Doesn’t that sound hotter already? Now, the challenge is to figure out how to balance these themes and work them into plots, characters and all the other trappings of storycraft. Still, it all starts from this point of intersection–that’s the core of every story I write, at least.

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