PWP in the Short Story Category
Let me begin with PWP stories (good or not) entered in the Short Story category.
LetÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s do a quick review of the components of a short story: plot, characterization, mechanics, premise, writing style, enjoyment, and suitability for the category. These are things that a judge would be looking at while reading.
Suppose I am judging a short story category somewhere and half the fics nommed are PWP. How do I evaluate plot if there isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t one? Since plot is an important component of a story, whether short or long, how do you ignore its lack and still be fair to those fics in which the author has developed a plot line and provided the characters with actions and reactions to go with it? How do I give a decent score for characterization if the story premise requires the characters to behave in very OOC ways?
Now, granted, a lot of fics that cheerfully call themselves PWP, do actually have some semblance of a plot. Unless youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re going to start right in with Ã¢â‚¬Å“Spike stuck his fingers into BuffyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s private partsÃ¢â‚¬Â, there needs to be <I>some</I> build up to whatever is going to be the excuse for the actions that follow. But, letÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s face it, that excuse can be pretty flimsy and unbelievable if the fic is intended to be PWP. Which is, quite rightly, very acceptable in that genre, but hardly compares, when being judged as a short story, to a real story with believable characters and a real plot arc.
So, my first contention would be that fics that are PWP should be nominated separately from the genuine short stories. Not that the short stories canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have sex in them, because they can and probably will, but it will be integral to the story rather than the premise for it. In my opinion, to include them both in the same category is too much like asking me to compare SpikeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s pecs and his butt. Each lovely in its own way, but not at all the same. Enter the PWPs in their own category (which most sites offer) and let them be judged on their believability and hotness. If they are calling themselves PWP, but do, in fact, have a good (and believable) plot, then, by all means, go for it. But think carefully before you do, so that you are not wasting the nomination somewhere that the fic canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t succeed.
I can point to an example from a former judging assignment where the fic that had been nommed in the SS category was unabashedly PWP. And, a very good one it was in terms of the heat generated by the charactersÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ actions, as well as the humorous aspects of the story. But, it wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t a real short story. The characters were very OOC for that time frame, there was no relationship established and the setup was ridiculous and illogical. Not a problem, if one were looking at it for PWP attributes, but a big problem if it was to be compared to a real short story with good characterizations and plot. It was unfair to that story to have nominated it in a category in which it could not compete. It ended up somewhere in the middle of my scores, pulled down by its lack of realistic plot and believable characters. Put into the PWP category, or Ã¢â‚¬Å“Hottest SexÃ¢â‚¬Â or something like that and it would certainly have been at or near the top of the list.
So, when nomming in the short story category Ã¢â‚¬â€œ think long and hard about the fic that you are nomming and ask yourself if it actually has all the components of a short story before you put it up. Might it have a better chance in PWP, or Best Comedy or some other category?