This was originally posted sometime in 1993 by Lezlie Conch -- a Houston fan writer and zine publisher in K/S and The Professionals.
New Theory poised for criticism, evaluation, and elaboration:
Please be brutal, sarcasm appreciated.
Slash fan fiction has [had] four waves:
First wave: Character-based stories with slash
- The relationship between the characters is the point of the story. Slash is a means to intensify that relationship.
- These stories are almost exclusively set in the "real" broadcast universe as the writers love of the show/characters as presented got them into fandom.
- The writer invests a great deal of time making characters presented as heterosexual having sex with each other "believable". In these stories this relationship is not "homosexual" in the political or social sense. The sex acts are between two people of the same sex, but are not "realistic" in relation to the lives of homosexual men.
- The writers are in fandom (in contact with other fans) and already writing non/slash stories. They view slash as the end of a progression. Would have no trouble classifying a sexless story as slash.
Example Writer: Sebastian*
Second wave: Character-based slash
- Stories about the characters involved in a slash relationship. The slash characterizations are still tied to the aired ones, but the writers do more extrapolation without looking for "proof" in the aired episodes. Certain aspects of the first-wave characterizations are accepted on equal footing as aired source material.
- The majority of the stories are still in the "real" world, but it is a broader world. The few a/u stories are the "real" characters in another time. The reader has no trouble recognizing "aired" characters in these stories.
- The sex in these stories is more realistic in that the writers have probably read "The Joy of Gay Sex", but the sex is still female-oriented.
- Second wave writers are already a part of fandom and are readers of non/slash fan lit, but there is no doubt that reading slash gave them the impetus to write.
Example Writer: Pam Rose
Third Wave: Slashing the characters
- The slash relationship is central to the story. Without it, there would be no story. But, let me hasten to add, there IS a story complete with plot.
- No emphasis on trying to convince the readers that these characters are having sex. The characterizations are based on 1st and 2nd wave stories as much if not more than the episodes.
- Sex is more realistic in regards to actual homosexual practices. In these stories, one or both of the characters has experience with the same sex (other than the first-wave Bodie in Africa type of experience).
- The writers were drawn into fandom by the slash. To them, there is no point in a sexless slash story.
- Alternate Universe stories come into their own. The A/U is used to remove the characters from the strictures of the "real" world, or, to put it bluntly, to let the characters be out of character.
Writer: Ellis Ward
Fourth Wave: Multimedia slash
- Slash goes multi-media. It is commonly accepted that the only admission requirement for a male TV character to be slashed is a penis. The notion that there was something "special" about K&S or B&D, etc. that made them slashable is viewed with tolerant amusement by the 4th wavers.
- The characterizations in multimedia are, for the most part, composite slash characterizations built from fan fiction in other fandom. It takes a VERY VERY good writer to do character- based slash for a show that has a limited audience because the readers buy-in is limited.
- Fourth wave sex, particularly for shows set in present-day America, is more sophisticated. Some stories have one or both characters being bi or homosexual, as opposed to just having some same-sex experience.
- While the writer will be drawn into fandom by the virtue of writing, the readers may remain fans outside of fandom.**
Example Writer: M. Fae Glasgow and whoever wrote the Holmes/Watson story in Kathy Resch's zine.EVERY wave has quality stories and writers.
EVERY wave has bad stories and poor writers.
What you consider good and bad depends on which wave you rode in on.
I consider myself a second wave reader and writer.
BUT I enjoy the h e double toothpick out of many 3rd and 4th wave stories. I just find that the percentage of stories I enjoy in the thirdwave is smaller than the second; and stories I enjoy in the 4th wave are an even smaller piece of the pie.
Someone who came in on the 4th wave, whose first Zine was Queer as A Three Pound Note (Which I REALLLLLY liked) might find first wave stories too naive and unrealistic for her tastes.
* All of the example writers wrote in The Professionals, and their work can be found on The Circuit Archive
**I remember at the time people finding this sentence confusing, (if it was fixed later, I don't have that version), so here an explanation: ""While the writer will be drawn into fandom by the virtue of writing, the readers may remain fans outside of fandom." meant, By writing in a fandom, you'll probably get sucked in and start considering yourself a real fan of the source, but fourth wave readers may just read stories because they like the author, or saw it on a rec page, and not actually be Fans of that show (or might not actually even be fans -- might just be looking for some m/m erotica) at all.