I know that you're old enough to be writing about sex, hence you don't have to give a shit about it but I think it's unfair that many fanfic writers feel obligated to write smut to receive attention and recognition only because so many people are biased. Angst and fluff writers don't really get the chance to show their talents and you can compare most of a writers fic notes and 9/10 their smuts will have 30% more notes than their other stories what kind of sucks. What do you think?
I think preach the fuck out of this. I completely, one hundred and ten percent agree with you and I am certain that many of my other fellow fanfic writers agree too – in fact, I know they do as this is a discussion that has come up plenty of times when conversing with them, and they share the precise same opinion as both you and I do. No matter the age of the writer, it is definitely something to give a shit about because it develops an “unhealthy” writing pattern where the writer, despite their level of experience with writing fanfics (though it can certainly be a defining factor for first-time fic writers and whether they “make it or break it” in the fandom’s fic scene), can begin to doubt whether to write or post a story, solely due to the fact that it does not include smut.
Personally, when planning most of my ideas, they generally begin without any smut unless the main focus of the story is sex itself, like An Oath For Sinners is. But I always notice once I am at a certain point of developing upon the idea, I will end up narrowing the direction of the plot down to two questions: “Will it include smut? Is smut a detrimental piece of the plot, and, if not, will that ultimately minimize the audience that will end up reading the story if I cease to include at least one sex scene?” It is a sad truth, most especially since hundreds of successful young adult novels never pass the barrier of kissing, or even have a romantic element in the first place, yet we as fic writers feel the dire necessity to involve at least a blowjob in order to appeal to a wider audience in the fanbase.
This is also not to say that writing smut is a bad thing because hey, like I said, I literally have a series dedicated to a girl who is an escort and it was something that I genuinely wished to write. But there are many, many ideas that I have put on the backburner because they cease to fit smut into the plot, and I have read a ginormous number of fics that have been without smut, yet are absolutely incredible nonetheless. Though you are right – those fics definitely lacked the 30% extra recognition because of it.
Continuing on, most of us write for ourselves. I certainly do, as the vast majority of my fics are based on ideas that I have developed myself; hence why I rarely take requests from the public. But that does not mean we wish to have zero feedback on a piece we have slaved over for days, as hearing the voices of our readers provides us an insight on the elements they enjoyed that we will then proceed to weave throughout our future pieces. We still desire to appeal to an audience, and at least eighty percent of the time in regards to fanfiction, you have to include a smut scene to do just that.
So I will completely admit that it is a punch to the gut to see that my smut-based oneshot Do You Feel It Sugar? has over a thousand responses in comparison to A Ticket To The Sun that, even still, has a very vague smut scene that I put in there to draw an audience to a genre (dystopia) that can be touch and go when it comes to piquing a reader’s intrigue. It might sound ridiculous, but it begins to plant seeds of doubt in my mind where I think: “Is my writing only considered good if I slather it with sex, and then more sex?” This most especially occurs if I receive a message that asks whether the future chapters of a series I am writing will include smut, which I have been questioned about for The Orange Girl, The Devil Skates On Thin Ice, An Eternity of Red, etcetera.
I am not saying that all fic writers may think such a thing, but that kind of thought process especially occurs to me as somebody who is pursuing writing as a career. It happens all the more so when I reflect on my first persona, sugasmut, which was hitting follower milestones on a fortnightly basis because these people adored reading my collection of fics that I will freely admit were baseless, pwp smuts that hardly ever breached 3,000 words. Now, I am putting out stories that generally exceed a count of 10,000 words, have fully planned out plots with much less smut and more extensive character development – but I rarely receive twenty new followers a week. I am not stating that to sound selfish or upset, because I really could not mind how large or small my follower count is, but rather to show a comparison of what most people are desiring to read. And that, very clearly, is plotless smut.
Let me tell you that there is a grand audience of those who could not care less for reading smut and enjoy a fic just as much without it, and I do certainly have plenty of those types of readers amongst my followers that I am ever grateful for. Yet no matter that, the obligation to write a smut scene lays heavy upon my own, and many other writers’ shoulders if they are hoping to branch out and reach a wider audience, which yeah, can really suck!