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Synonyms: emoporn, idfic
See also: id vortex, kink, wangst
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A fanfic is called a wallow if it self-indulgently lingers on certain id vortex elements, in particular h/c, angst or smarm, and draws these out beyond what would be necessary for plot or character development in a more minimalist style, and is sometimes repetitive in going back to the same angst or h/c buttons again and again, i.e. "wallows" in them. For example Beach could be described as a wallow, as it takes over twenty chapters for Jim and Blair to get from the beach to a motel. There is a certain overlap of "wallow" with emoporn, but the latter does not indicate the same sense of being drawn out or repetitive as wallow. The term is sometimes used with a negative connotation (similar to wangst), but can also be used neutrally.

The term originated in Blake's 7 fandom, and was widely used there. Anne Lewis in the Blake's 7 fandom is assumed to be the one who created, and popularized, the term. One of Lewis' zines, "Liberator #7 (1979), is subtitled: "Special Wallow Issue." Another example from the early 1980s (not by Lewis) is Wallow Zine.

Examples of Use

Unknown Date

  • "A bit of a sentimental wallow, and a bit too much of a "Soppy Wobbly Vila" story for me. As usual, People Who Like That Sort Of Thing will like this." [1]
  • "[ Jigsaw Puzzle is] yet another classic, and one of my favorites. A big, complex wallow in angst, with plenty of suffering before the thoroughly enjoyable resolution. [3]


  • "'The End' by the Lindner sisters is pure gratuitous wallowing in blood, death, the male heterosexual pair bond, Starsky and Hutch. Incidentally, it is superbly done. [4]
  • "[It] simply vitiates the story, reduces the beginning to an exercise in SM-flavored titillation and the denouement to a wallow in cheap sentimentality. [5]



  • "Anne invented the term 'wallow' for over-emotional writing, and she will be remembered for that, if nothing else." [6]
  • "This issue is another special issue. I announced it in B.A. 20, as a wallow issue -- but that term comes from Blake's Seven fiction and may not be familiar to you. It applies to a story where one of the heroes "gets" it in some way. Fans seem to like to see their heroes tortured and enslaved for some reason. Hence the reason for so many zines and their popularity on the themes of torture and perversion." [7]
  • "'Midnight Sonata' is primarily a Leia mood-piece; an exploration of a moment in her life in the aftermath of the destruction of Alderaan. This Leia is full-fleshed human woman, and it is her blood and iron that saves this story from being a maudlin wallow in egregious cheap-shot sentimentality. [8]


  • "No, I did not enjoy this zine, but those who enjoy wallows with sexual overtones possibly will." [9]
  • "ORGANIA's fiction and poetry is a mixed bag of very good and very mediocre. There are a lot of trite, self-indulgent, comfort-type reflections and summaries wallowing in gushy emotion." [10]


  • "A 'wallow' describes a particular piece of fan literature wherein the major characters must endure all manner of pain, suffering and other physical and mental hardship if they are to make it to the final page. This type of story is a contrivance by which the author can force her characters (and I say HER because, like the 'Mary Sue' genre, the perpetrators are generally female) into closer physical contact and greater emotional visibility than is typical. Although these stories do provide emotional satisfaction for a small section of their readership, most consider them tedious, or at best, humorous, hence the derogatory title 'wallow'.... where the characters must assist each other from one paragraph to the next; woebegone, limping and diseased though they may be." [11]
  • "Somehow I got the feeling that Susan was wallowing too much in the "Let's see how uncomfortable and confused we can get Illya" trap" and not concentrating on informing the reader as to just what the heck was going on." [12]


  • "Wallow: An emotionally-charged, introspective piece in which the hero usually endures severe mental anguish. Frequently synonymous with bonk and hurt/comfort." [13]
  • "Two of these stories were reactions to two types of story that I have read a lot of, some done very well, and some not: The dream story and the Avon wallow story. Neither should be taken too seriously. (Nothing I write should be taken too seriously!)" [14]


  • "I'd like this to be an open plea to all zine editors in the future: PLEASE, editors, when a story is actually a torture/wallow epic, PLEASE have the honesty and integrity to label it as such in your flyers and your ads!" [15]
  • "I dislike maudlin and sentimental wallows in illness or disability as something uplifting and meaningful. Illness is miserable, uncomfortable, messy, smelly, unromantic, tedious and strips you of all dignity. Lying about for a few days being pale and interesting is probably a very novel and moving experience; being seriously ill or disabled as a long-term thing takes guts and fortitude beyond the power of any of us to understand who haven't been there." [16]


  • "I, my dear fen, am a world-class wallower. Ask anyone who's ever read my stories in other genre and you'll find at least some - more likely a lot - hurt/comfort in everything. Ohboyohboy do I love a good smarmy story." [17]


  • "While we all love a wallow, this one has taken the idea to uncomfortable, and wordy, extremes. Throughout the zine there are long, open conversations between Paul and almost anybody else dealing with his feelings and past loves. Some of these go on for many long paragraphs. The Paul Ironhorse I saw on TV would not "spill his guts" at all, or perhaps under very harrowing situations. [19]


  • "I suppose what I'm saying is that she didn't spend enough pages for the reader to wallow in. Perhaps it's my problem only: I'm a devout wallower (and I know that not everyone feels the way I do, believe me). I wanted more than I got." [20]


  • "If a fan says fanfic is just 
for fun, they can be saying I don't have to follow the rules, I
 can ignore plot and wallow in emotions because that's what I want 
to do.[21]


  • "Naturally, being human flesh, I found my way to the back immediately to wallow in those worst openings (and closings) to our favorite form of literature. Now, that is divine wallow-mud!" [22]


  • "I could do with a good ASJ wallow about now." [23]
  • "My only word of warning is that if you have a low tolerance for pain and suffering, think twice about this one. It's purely hurt/comfort and wallow, and the sub-title on the novella ("Doctor Space-Puppy Suffers in Eight Chapters of Sheer Bloody Hell") is right on the nose." [24]


  • "The fact that this story works, and works well, is a tribute to the writing of it. Not perfect (it does have more than a slight tendency to wallow), it's still a very well written story and I think it has more strengths (it manages to keep from getting *too* far into a wallow, which is a feat considering the storyline) than weaknesses." [25]
  • "The flawed (IMHO) premise of this novel is that being a prostitute has no more bearing on one's emotional health and/or development than being a librarian or a dental hygienist. If a high school senior read this novel, she would send her resume to a pimp. Not all hooker stories have to be melodramatic victimization wallows, but this treatment made it seem almost benign. [27]


  • "'Mindfire' was written in a white heat of inspiration between April and September 1979. It was the first novel I'd written, and the first time I'd used an explicitly sexual plot strand. It shows. But, as far as I was concerned, that didn't matter. 'Mindfire' was pure self indulgence, a massive wallow not intended for publication, so I would never need to justify my characterization, and into which I could throw large chunks of my personal philosophy. Some of my views have evolved, but 'Mindfire' was and remained intensely personal." [28]


  • "The ending is a tragic one, but it is highly satisfying, at least to this wallow addict. [29]
  • "[Her] work doesn't work for me not because she's a bad writer, or because she's a bad story teller, but because she's making choices that don't work for me. I can definitely see her appeal -- I sometimes refer to it as a guilty pleasure, because I keep reading anyway, *hoping* for a really dramatic revelation moment even though I know I'm going to be disappointed. And there's a kind of comfortable wallow-factor, too, that makes it time well-spent even if I don't get out of it what I really wanted. [30]


  • "I just ignore [the character Marianne Owens] and wallow in the hurt/comfort aspect. *g* [32]
  • "Some writers wallow in sordid details and lets one of the guys be so victimized that it hurts my eyes to read. I tend to avoid those writers after one story, and that says a lot, since there's not much I don't read." [33]


  • "M/A is chockful of sadness. Obi-Wan wants love, is rebuffed by Qui-Gon, who worries about the age difference, the imbalance of power, the wrongness of it all. Qui-Gon wants love, is downcast by Obi-Wan's promiscuity, his beauteous Padawan's gleeful acceptance of his inner-sex-fiend and the probable Jedi Council problems. Not to mention the legal ones, if a certain Padawan isn't eighteen yet. Poor fellows. In what fandom used to call a "wallow," here are six sad, sad stories." [34]


  • "I do not read works in progress. I need to be able to wallow in a story, binge on it and, if necessary, even roll in it. I've learned that even if the story is finished and just being posted serially, my experience of reading it is different and less fun if I don't wait to read it, because: no wallowing! So I wait. And with this story, I waited for four years. (I think. Because I'm pretty sure this one started with the last winter Olympics.) But here is the thing: it was totally worth it. It was worth every sad face I made when an Out of Bounds update appeared and I had to remind myself, yet again, that I don't read works in progress. Because this story is awesome, and at more than 200,000 words, it deserves all the wallow I can bring to it. And, wow, did I bring a lot of wallow." [35]


  • "This story is the ultimate wallow in h/c, and I love every word." [37]


  1. ^ from a review of The Other Side #2, by Predatrix at both Knightwriter and Judith Proctor's Blake's 7 site
  2. ^ from This is Katya
  3. ^ from This is Katya
  4. ^ from a review by Paula Smith of Syndizine #1, printed in Universal Translator and S and H
  5. ^ from a review of a Starsky & Hutch story in One Shot, printed in S and H #11
  6. ^ from S and H #37 (1982)
  7. ^ from the editorial of Beyond Antares #21
  8. ^ from a review printed in Jundland Wastes #10 of a story in Starwings
  9. ^ from a 1983 review of the Star Trek: TOS story, The Possessed, printed in Beyond Antares #23
  10. ^ from a fan's review in Universal Translator #19
  11. ^ from Beyond Antares R-Rated #5
  12. ^ a review printed in Xenozine #2 of a story in Xenozine #1
  13. ^ from a glossary of terms in printed in Gambit #1 (a US-published zine about a British fandom)
  14. ^ from the editor of Seven the Hard Way
  15. ^ from a comment in The Hatstand Express #16 about the zine, Chalk and Cheese, specifically the controversial story, House of the Rising Sun
  16. ^ from Hatstand Express Interview with O Yardley
  17. ^ from Frienz #2
  18. ^ The Generic Wallow, Archived version (likely mid-2000s)
  19. ^ from comments in The Blackwood Project #8 about a story in the War of the Worlds zine, Code 47, Level 3, Authorization 10 #2
  20. ^ from a letter of comment for Chalk and Cheese #8, printed in "Chalk and Cheese" #7
  21. ^ from a comment in Strange Bedfellows #4
  22. ^ from a letter of comment for The Way Back, printed in Gambit #13
  23. ^ from The Outlaw Trail #16
  24. ^ a review of the zine The Agony Column, from On the Jazz, posted February 12, 1996, accessed June 3, 2013; WebCite
  25. ^ from a review of a Starsky & Hutch story in Crystal Blue Persuasion, Michelle Christian posted this review to the Virgule-L mailing list. It is quoted here with permission.
  26. ^ Michelle Christian posted this review for Journey West to the Virgule-L mailing list. It is quoted here with permission.
  27. ^ comment on Virgule-L, quoted anonymously (June 9, 1997)
  28. ^ comments by the author in the introduction to Mindfire
  29. ^ from a review by by Sarah Thompson of the Blake's 7 zine, Millennium Special, posted to Lysator on February 3, 2000, and reposted to Judith Proctor's Blake's 7 site
  30. ^ a fan's comments about a Sentinel fan's fanworks, posted to Prospect-L, quoted anonymously (December 4, 2000)
  31. ^ from The Professionals letterzine, Discovered in a Letterbox #20
  32. ^ a 2004 comment about the Starsky & Hutch zine, Phantoms at Crack Van
  33. ^ a 2004 comment at Crack Van
  34. ^ comments by pronker in m_a_recs. Sad Stories of Sorrow for September, 27 August 2007. (Accessed 03 May 2015)
  35. ^ rec by thefourthvine for the Stargate Atlantis story Out of Bounds at 204: Two Worlds in Which We Dwell, June 2, 2010
  36. ^ 2010 Rec 50 for the Sentinel story, Without Love
  37. ^ comments by sc fossil about the Pros story, Strange Days Indeed, at Crack Van, posted November 11. 2011, accessed May 21, 2013