What is a PWP?
What is a PWP? Some would answer that it's any story labeled as such by the author. Many fans love to read and write PWPs. They are proud to slap this label on their stories. Alas, I am not one of them. As a general rule, I consider PWPs a colossal waste of my time. The traditional PWP consists solely of sex. Very few writers can make sex in and of itself interesting, and I can count them on the fingers of one hand. Imagination and a flair for fantasy would definitely help to create that rare animal, the truly compelling PWP.
I also think that the term PWP is defined too narrowly. Many times I come across a story that hasn't been labeled "PWP", yet I can't locate a plot anywhere within its paragraphs. It seems to me that a story that alternatessex scenes with dialogue sequences in which the characters discuss the state of their relationship is still a PWP. There may be a some gems of wit to be found within these dialogue exchanges, but there are few fannish Oscar Wildesout there who can sustain dialogue at that level for very long. The fact remains that nothing is happening. The characters just sit around and talk. People do sit around and talk in real life, but they also do a great manyother things that aren't interesting to read. Maybe one of the reasons why such stories escape the PWP label is because they are longer than the traditional PWP. PWPs are supposed to be short, yet I have seen slashstories of the type that alternates sex with dialogue that seem to be interminable. <g> Well, they're novelette or novella length at least.
Then there are the gen PWPs. A gen PWP? How is that possible? Well, many gen writers like to sit their characters down and have them talk endlessly about what they did in an episode or the author's previous story. Someauthors write stories that are meditations in which a single character thinks about the events of an episode or a previous story. A meditation is not a plot. There's no story unless the character makes a decision based on thesethoughts, and acts upon that decision. That's where real drama lies. If all the series on which our fanfic is based consisted of endless dialogue or unfocused angst scenes that never develop into a plot, would we watch them?Somehow I don't think so.
I want to avoid all these plotless stories, so I think a policy of truth in labeling should be instituted. Let them all be called PWPs.