PWP

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Synonyms: Plot? What Plot?, Porn Without Plot, Pop Tart
See also: Genre, Lemon, Lime, Porn, Smut, Curse, What Curse?
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PWP is the term that media fandom uses to describe short erotic stories without much lead-in, if any at all. "PWP" stood for "Plot? What Plot?", and the connotation was that the reader was so turned on by the story that they did not notice if there was an action plot involved; or that instead of a plot, sex is the entire point of the story. Later on, the meaning of the term drifted, and the phrase "Porn Without Plot" is now also used to define the acronym.

A story may be referred to as a PWP if the main focus of the action (pun entirely intended) is on one or more sexual encounters. The definition is fairly flexible, however; some PWPs are good old-fashioned smut, and unapologetically so. Other stories may be referred to as PWPs (by the author[s] or readers) if the plot itself revolves around sex, even when the sexual encounters lead to deeper exploration of the characters and/or their relationships.

History

A fan remembers the term being used in the mid-1980s. She wrote: "I first came across the term PWP in about 1984 or 1985. I was attending an early slash convention, IDICon. As soon as I arrived at the hotel I was informed I'd been drafted to be on the "Plot? What Plot?" (aka PWP) panel. (The panel was quite a lot of fun, too!)" [1]

KLangley56 pulled together some documentation on when she thought the term originated. From a discussion of the term in 2008: "1) From the May-July 1989 issue of Federation Archives (a Blake's 7 letterzine edited and published by L. Terrell), one LoC refers to Oblaque and Oblaquer (two B7 slash zines) thusly: "The editors have also created a new category of story: PWP. It stands for Plot? What Plot?" 2) From the On the Double #13, November 1989 (a slash adzine, published by A. Hughes), an ad from GBH Productions for Oblaquest includes this: "Many fifth season stories and just to lighten the load, a few PWP's (Plot? What Plot?).

The usage was so new that the editors felt a need to define it in their ad.

It referred to a type of story which already had been around for many years (it just hadn't been "named" yet)--stories with little or nothing beyond a sexual scenario. Stories for which the entire point was inserting Tab A into Slot B. Resolving conflict (your basic man against nature, man against man, man against society, man against himself stuff) was not the point. Exploring or developing characters or relationships was not the point. Seeking the Greater Truth was not the point.

Just the sex. One-handed reading material, as it were.

As with any fannish usage, particularly in the farflung universe of the Internet, the use of PWP is morphing. Porn Without Plot is gaining ground. And, as has been noted, it's showed up even in reference to gen fiction. This is the kind of thing that happens when fans see a term they aren't familiar with and try to figure it out from the context (hell, that's how the fannish usage of "smarm" came into being).[2]

PWP: Some Fans Like Them, Some Fans Don't

Fannish comments and fic recs include opinions about PWPS, many of them using a form of the qualifier: "It's not just a PWP," or "This is a PWP with a plot." Other fans embrace PWPs wholeheartedly, needing now excuse to read them.

Some examples:

  • "Her new story...is an unabashed PWP, the sort that makes me wonder how that acronym ever got a bad name for itself. Beware, this could make your eyebrows sweat." [3]}}

Meta

References

  1. CatalenaMara. Plot? What Plot? Fannish History & Terminology, posted 03 September 2008. (Accessed 14 December 2010)
  2. Klangley's comment on Cesperanza's "PWP? WTF?", 09 September 2008. (Accessed 09 September 2008)
  3. All Jewels Have Flaws... or... Net (dot) Bitch Does Recs, 2000
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