The Big List of Small Dogs

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Fanwork
Title: The Big List of Small Dogs
Creator: Resonant and Anne (Sigrid the Haughty)
Date(s): 1999
Medium: text, online
Fandom: The Sentinel, Highlander, Due South, unspecified
External Links: The Big List of Small Dogs;The Big List of Small Dogs
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The Big List of Small Dogs is a list of fanfic phrase cliches (and other small dogs) by Resonant and Anne (a.k.a. Sigrid the Haughty) "with contributions from Miriam, Livia, Sandy, Destina, Ces, Brighid, Lucy, Julad, Rachel, and Merry."

The "small dogs rant" describes little things that, with repetition and/or association with badfic, become intolerable.

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About

What's a small dog? Well, it's Miriam's term; let's let her explain:

Miriam: It's a little annoying thing in a story that yaps at you and bites your ankles. Not a huge complaint but a tenacious one.

(The original list of small dogs can be found on Miriam's site. Go here. Also, elynross and luminosity wrote their own ode to size-challenged canines -- it's hilarious, so go read Lessons in Futility).

So we're not talking totally worthless characterization (that's a big, snarling mastiff with its teeth in your thigh) and we're not talking lots of typos (that's more like an ant infestation). We're talking about those little things that just ... yip and drool and drive you nuts. The thing about small dogs is, however, that some people like them. So, they're not necessarily bad in every case. Although, well... Anyway.

Note: Yup, I've written lots of these myself. Most of us have. And some things that are small dogs in the hands of most writers can be perfectly fine when somebody else gets her hands on them. And sometimes something is written once, and the first ten or so times you read it, it doesn't bother you. And then suddenly it's everywhere and you just want to tear your hair out. (As anne says, 'breed the pedigree variety, and suddenly puppy mills spring up.')

Excerpts from The List

Oversexed Small Dogs:

Safe-sex warnings in the author's notes: 'These guys are screwing around without a condom, but Don't Try This At Home, Kids!' Fantasy's fantasy -- write whatever you want. But don't try to have it both ways.

T-shirts, oxfords, and jeans being torn asunder: Fabric tears really easily in slash-land. Have you ever tried to actually rip a T-shirt? I have a friend who had a fantasy of having her clothes ripped off, and after a couple of humiliating failures, her boyfriend had to ask her to get the scissors and snip threads all up and down the seams so that he'd be able to rip the shirt without hauling her around the room in it. By which point her interest in the whole thing was pretty much lost. But I digress.

Kid Stuff: One guy tries to pull a T-shirt off the other guy; the other guy 'obediently holds his arms over his head.' And suddenly in my mind's eye he becomes three years old.

He smelled [or tasted] like Food A and Food B and something else that was just him: Underneath the tang of raspberries, tahini, and motor oil, there was the essential taste of Methos.

[...]

Nipple sensitivity: Sexy as it may be to imagine introducing a guy to some marvelous new source of pleasure, it's my opinion that if one of his previous girlfriends and/or boyfriends hasn't been there first, then he's way underage.

Latch on: used with reference to nipples. Sorry, I breastfed; the image this brings up is not sexy. (I've even seen the word 'teethe' used as a verb for what somebody was doing to somebody else's nipples, which is even worse.)

Achingly hard nipples: Doesn't really sound that pleasant when you think about it.

Oral ministrations: This phrase sounds sexy to somebody? I don't get it. But I see the phrase a lot.

Tongue leaving a glistening trail: To be fair, I've only seen this once. But: Yuck. Slugs. Yuck.

[...]

Take me: Especially when followed by 'Make me yours.' Or worse... 'You mean...?' accompanied by a wide-eyed look of astonishment and awe. Yes, bozo, he means anal sex.

1, 2, 3... GO!: At this point, the stretching prior to anal sex has been fetishized to the point of being dull, or perhaps some authors feel they have to include the info as if it's some sort of safety tip. I end up thinking... is this sex, or a proctology exam? (Note also that some recent Joy of Gay Sex recommended not using more than one finger, and definitely not using a scissoring motion, which might create tears. More than you wanted to know? Oh well.)

Random Small Dogs:

[...]

Songfic in general makes me slightly insane

[...]

Completely inappropriate songs in songfic: Fraser has never heard of Macy Gray. Ray Kowalski thinks Sarah McLachlan needs to get laid. Hey, I'll be the first to admit that I think Melissa Etheridge's latest is perfect for Jim. But Jim doesn't listen to Melissa Etheridge!

[...]

Overused canon quirks: (Fraser rubbing his eyebrow when nervous, Ray K. saying 'I suck') and writers just use the hell out of it instead of bothering to develop their own gestures and phrases. Instant Characterization.

[...]

Fandom-specific Small Dogs:

The Sentinel:

Blair getting assaulted in the police academy showers. Well, you know, that's all they actually have at the academy. One big classroom where Blair outsmarts everybody and then the bathrooms where they rape him for it.

'Don't use all the hot water!': Jim and Blair's water heater only has about a two-gallon capacity.

[...]

Due South:

13-year-old-Schoolgirl!Ray: Ray Vecchio is so inexperienced with men (or so traumatized by being raped/molested as a kid) that he turns all hesitant and coy. 'Can I ... can I see it?' Ptah.

Ray Kowalski has Something Wrong With His Brain: He was dropped on the head as a child. He had a stroke. Anything but that he's a smart guy who's never bothered to improve his vocabulary.

Ray K. is worried about being scrawny: Or Fraser is telling him that he's not scrawny. Or he needs reassurance that he's not ugly. In my book, Ray K. does not move like a guy who lacks confidence in his own attractiveness.

Or ... worse yet ...: Ray K is not actually scrawny at all, but has a body full of muscles that you somehow can't see when he has his clothes on!

References