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Those pesky codes

September 1, 2011
Posted at 8:43 am

I like romantic comedies despite being a bloke. Think of any of the Doris Day/Rock Hudson movies or for our younger readers perhaps Renée Zellweger in "Down with Love" or Janeane Garofalo in "The Truth About Cats and Dogs".

How is that relevant?

A co-worker loaned me her copies of Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse series (on TV as True Blood) and this led me to looking for similar stories. They were collected on the book store's shelves under "Paranormal Romance" with authors like Mary Janice Davidson who write a humorous vampire series amongst others, Molly Harper (ditto with titles like "Nice Girls Don't Have Fangs") and Christine Warren whose more formulaic romance series (that is not a complaint) cover human girl meets and has conflict with werewolf/vampire/demon/elf/whatever and eventually falls for him becoming mated for life.

This then led to Laurell K. Hamilton and her Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter.

Anita Blake has a complicated love life. Understatement! Her whole life is complicated but Anita has very close ties to the vampires and weres who no longer live in hiding among us. Needing sexual energy to get by, Anita's story won't be appearing on free to air TV any time soon.

So it has a high erotic content. Sounds like a lot of StoriesOnLine stories. How would it get coded then?

There is plenty of heterosexual sex; quite a lot of violence - sexual as well as other physical assault; some vampire mind control; we see vaginal and oral sex and if memory serves me right some anal too. There are some necrophilia issues and plenty of orgies and sleepovers where "puppy bundles" involve both males and females indiscriminately cuddling regardless of the gender of the other person. Oh and there is the mention of two ancient (and male) vampires who have been lovers in the past and who struggle to be lovers again - with or without Anita's presence in their bed.

Should the author warn that a werewolf might want sex in his animal form as bestiality? Should sex between an elf or an alien or an angel and a human be considered bestiality? Should a couple of pages of gay sex in a whole novel warrant people missing the rest of the story - or perhaps never hear of either of the stories if the reader blocks particular codes.

I know I must miss out on a number of otherwise excellent stories because I ignore those with pedo or lolita codes when that might be something like one of the character's history being explained to justify the rest of the story.

So I have a story with 30 chapters (Assassin - currently being processed for posting). 5 of those contain references to gay sex. The actual description of MM contact is a small part as the story unfolds. In some places it is mild and in others more graphic, and some of those are incidental contact that occurs when the two men have sex with a woman.

A MM or Gay code allows people to avoid those stories if they wish - a legitimate choice. I can't help feeling that they might otherwise enjoy the rest of the story and perhaps even the gay sections.

What I have tried as an experiment is to provide markers in the storage to allow "squeamish" readers to skip the homosexual sex as an alternative to providing two versions or simply telling readers to put up with the story as is or put it to one side.

Please let me know if this approach is successful or a distraction.