Herewith some more thoughts on the subject. Obviously these are my thoughts and preferences and are not intended as an attack or insult on anyone else’s.
I am a very-easy-to please reader, or at least I believe I am ;-) Like everyone I have my own vision of the characters about whom I write and read, but I am a firm believer that no two people can ever see the characters in exactly the same way.
We watch the same scenes, hear the same words, see the same interaction, but as we all bring our own individual personalities, history, culture and make-up to fandom, we will interpret the words/actions/looks in slightly different ways. As a result of this, we will see the characters differently, and I for one think that this is one of the superb things about fandom. We are able to see and enjoy so many different things, and the characters are all the more deep because of the differing interpretations. In stories where the character isn’t quite mine, I often find myself finding something new in their make-up, something that I hadn’t seen before, and something that I can take to my next viewing and often find it for myself.
All I ask when reading a story is for the writer to convince me of her/his interpretation of the characters for the duration of the story. If she/he does that then the story will go a long way towards working for me. If I am not convinced by the writer’s characterisation then for me it doesn’t matter how well written the story is, how intricate and intense the plot is, because the writer has lost me.
As I said I am easy to convince and some of my favourite stories in each fandom show a diverse set of characterisations. I can enjoy stories that show a tight-fisted Doyle to a buy-everyone-a-drink-every-evening in the pub Doyle. Or a virgin Illya to an as experienced-as-Napoleon Illya. Or a bisexual Ray Vecchio to a Ray who has considerable problems forming a relationship with Benny. All these characterisations and everything in-between and beyond, I can and do love, admittedly some more than others, but basically almost anything works.
There are, however, a few characterisations that do not work for me - in any fandom. These are:
Partner rape. I’m not talking about f*** or die stories, when they have to have sex together in order to live. Yes, any kind of non-consensual intercourse can be considered rape, but when the partners are forced to do it in order to live, they are both being coerced and for me it is not strictly speaking partner rape. For me partner rape is where one partner wishes to have sex with the other who doesn’t want it, and the I-want-to-sleep-with-you partner, tired of waiting or sure that once he gets his partner into bed said partner will change his mind, forces the non-wanting partner to have sex. A I cannot believe that any of the men I love would do this, then the writer, no matter how brilliant, fails to convince me and these stories simply do not work. In my mind if the partner forcing the other one is capable of doing that to the person who means more to him than anyone else, then he’s capable of doing it to other people, and I for one do not want to think of my characters as rapists. Having said this there has been one partner rape story that I have read that did convince me as to the motivation for the rape.
Partner beating. We see them willing to fight for, kill for, even die for one another, why on earth would one partner suddenly turn on the other and start beating him? I can accept the odd punch in the heat of the moment - both Doyle and Illya punched their respective partners in canon due to overt aggravation by Bodie and Napoleon - but beyond that, I’m afraid I cannot believe it and the writer loses me.
Non-con BDSM. In fact BDSM does little for me at all. I can believe in some mild, game playing stuff, but once severe pain comes into it, or one partner wants it and the other doesn’t, again the writer fails to convince me.
Bigotry by the bosses. Once the likes of George Cowley, Alexander Waverly, Lieutenant Welsh and Captain Dobey start to use words like ‘disgusting’, ‘perverts’ and other venomous things, then again I am lost. I simply do not believe that these men who are respected by their staff (and by me) would react like this. Even if they didn’t actually approve of the relationship, I cannot believe that these mature, highly-respected men would show such hatred and outrage.
MPREG. Putting aside the medical impossibilities of a normal, human male carrying a baby, then I simply don’t get this genre of fanfic. Hence, no matter how super the rest of the characterisation is, I’m afraid I tend to already be lost.
Oversue of profanities. I’m not a prude and use, when I deem it appropriate, the odd profanity myself in stories. However, when one, sometimes more, is used in every speech, it tends to become difficult if not impossible for me to believe the characterisation.
Any two men syndrome. The story may be brilliant, the plot intriguing, the characters not beating or raping one another, but somehow the writer still fails to convince me that I’m reading about a particular pairing.