The Big List of Small Dogs

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Fanwork
Title: The Big List of Small Dogs
Creator: Resonant and Annezo
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.

See also Big List of Fanfic Peeves, The Elements of Phyle

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.') [1]

The List

  • the phrase: "his wide, male mouth" (c'mon--show me the evidence that men have wider mouths than women. Sometimes men seem to have big mouths, but wide?)
  • song-stories with somebody else's lyrics lazily used in place of a narrative or dialogue supplied by the slash author. Check out Stephen King, one of the few authors I know of to put song lyrics to good effect.
  • "tongues dueling in moist caverns" (aka kissing cliches).
  • boys declaring their undying love to each other while exchanging rings (well, nipple rings are okay) Also to be avoided is guys calling each other 'husband.'
  • Mary Sues (you know who you are) both male and female.
  • "yenta" stories ("Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match, find me a find, catch me a catch").
  • stories told from an animal's POV (this includes spirit guides and beenie babies <tm>)
  • short men who are turned into children and then fucked (pedophilia is *so* not a turn on for me).
  • stories where one guy mentally or verbally (out loud) refers to the other as "lover" in the first few paragraphs of a story. It's a cheap and lazy way to establish that the story is not a "first-time" and annoys the hell out of me.
  • stories with skipping, ranging, or inconsistent POV (except for those stories I wrote 2 years ago--those are just fine <g>).
  • Elf men. Male elves. Female elves. Anything that belongs in a Tolkein story.
  • angels--Yes, I'll admit that sometimes Blair looks vaguely angelic, when the sunlight hits him just so, but let's leave it at that.
  • any man over 16 years old beginning a sentence with "Dear Diary."
  • spanking stories where the corporal punishment is *actually* punishment for doing something wrong (see note on pedophilia stories) and not an admitted turn-on for the characters or the author. NOTE: I believe in the freedom to express the full range of possible (and impossible) kinks in slash stories, but if you insist that "Domestic Discipline" is non-sexual and thus not a kink, then what you're writing/reading/defending is the fictional depiction of Domestic/Spousal Abuse, the practice of which is morally/ethically wrong.
  • Cliches of all makes and models.
  • stories where the guys, upon the removal of their clothing, suddenly morph into hard-bodies. This seems to happen to Bodie, oftener than not, and is guaranteed to throw me right out of a story. He's beautiful. He's gorgeous. He's lovely. He's brilliant. And stories where he's got a flat belly with rippling muscles drive me right 'round the bend. C'mon, luvs, there's a great big Swiss Roll in the center of the room. It isn't pink, and it's not invisible. Let the man have his pleasures and a human body.
  • fetishizing and sexualizing anorexia and illness/injury-derived weight-loss. I've noticed a disturbing trend, most especially in Pros stories, but elsewhere as well, where one man (in Pros, usually Doyle), through injury or depression or both, becomes painfully thin. Strangely, this supposed sign of the character's poor health then becomes a sexualized and idealized state, with much eroticization of concave belly, rib-counting, and hollow-eyed, hollow-cheeked fragility. Beyond merely ordinary h/c, this seems to be a particular kink, and what it means that women are writing it worries and saddens me. [2]

References

  1. The Big List of Small Dogs
  2. list