So, I went story hopping today while taking a break from writing; I won't say what I was writing because too many people will get mad (let's just say, I had an idea that came to me and haven't been able to put it down). Sadly, I couldn't find anything I liked. I started a few stories but they just trailed off into absurdity or the dialogue began reading like some strange 1st grade book (You know the one: Jack likes Jane. Jane likes Jack. See Jack fuck Jane? Fuck Jack Fuck!). I can't help it...realistic dialogue is important; if it doesn't sound real I completely lose the story.
I also look for long stories; nothing against short stories (and there are some in certain areas I really enjoy reading) but I prefer the long developed story that has great character development and where the sex is a natural part of the story instead of the intention of the story. Stories like "Burr" or like "Robin" by John Smith (even though that one hit a few of my minor squicks, I still enjoyed the heck out of -- even to the point of having read it about 3 times now over time). Memorable characters, excellent plot -- these are the things I crave and there seem to be so few stories I've found that I like. In a way, that's what drives the stories I write. I put a lot of time and effort into making the characters as real as I can; I don't always succeed but I try. For example, all of my dialogue is read out loud to let me hear the words spoken. I'll often change a single word or two because a contraction sounds better or I've used a word that that character wouldn't really say or isn't familiar with.
Anyway, I just wanted to share my frustration...and I guess I have...so I'll shut up now. :)