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Going Soft
by Phil Geusz
©2003 Phil Geusz -- all rights reserved

I feel a little awkward writing about transgender (or TG) fiction; while I have written a few of these works, they are just about my least common milieu; indeed, the three I wrote were largely to prove to myself that I could. Therefore, I feel like I speak with less authority here even than in areas. However, there are two facts which I feel that can be stated unequivocally. The first is that of all the common flavors of transformation story, none seems to be so maligned or looked down upon as the TG story. The second is that at the very same time, no other variety has such a large, avid readership. For the writer of transformation fiction, this should spell Opportunity in large, glowing letters.

Let's face facts here. Transvestism and related fetishes are very much a part of Western culture, if not human culture everywhere. Large numbers of Americans, almost exclusively males, are turned on to no end by this stuff. Sexual stimulation is a very powerful shaper of behavior, and TG stories do indeed tend to stimulate those individuals whose tastes run in these directions. Therefore, quite predictably, there are scads of the things scattered all over the Internet. Indeed, when the Transformation Story Archive itself was first formed by Thomas Hassan, it was dominated by TG stories written largely for purposes of sexual stimulation. They are still there, last time I checked.

And they are among the most-read stories on the Archive.

I'm not going to offer lessons in writing what is at least arguably a form of pornography here, but even a casual observer cannot help but notice a very marked degree of family resemblance among stories of this kind. The 'hero' goes into tremendous detail about sex, clothing, sex, makeup, sex, and sex. There is usually a mention of a specific bra cup size or two, as well. Indeed, some alleged 'stories' seem to be little more than a recounting of these elements with the names changed. I firmly believe that, allowing for name changes and such, it would be perfectly possible to cut-and-paste whole sentences out of a dozen different trans(gender)porn stories and come out with a 'new' work that would prove perfectly satisfactory to the typical avid reader of this kind of work.

Now, if that's your kettle of fish, I've got no problem with that. Who am I to call anyone weird, when I'm an over-forty man who writes whole novels about bunny rabbits who used to be people? However, I am a writer with aspirations to achieve something higher than mere sexual stimulation; therefore, when I write TG, I try for something more. I try to treat my TG works as I would any other sort of story, and set them up to be judged on plot and characterization and theme rather than degree of tumescence achieved. I think a good TG story should be about a protagonist that the reader cares about, with problems to solve that matter. Being changed into a member of the opposite sex should only be the beginning of such a tale, not the ending. Indeed, the best way I know of to inject true artistic quality into a TG work (like any other kind of TF story) is to begin the tale weeks or months after the TF takes place. Speak of consequences rather than of sensations, and you'll have made a good start.

I wrote my very first TG story a long time ago; at the time I was still just playing around, with writing fiction as my new toy. I didn't ever dream back then that I'd still be writing five years later; my goal at that time was to write at least one of the Big Three (TG, AR, and Furry) Transformation stories before I quit, as incredible as that seems to me now with literally thousands of pages under my belt. Even back then, however, I was trying very hard to put something more into my work, to make the words have more meaning than the sum of their content. The result was a TG story (please don't ask the title, though it's on the TSA Archive) that, while it still left a lot to be desired in terms of skill and polish and such, at least had a plot and a real protagonist. I was quite proud of it.

And my, how the feedback flooded in! I got between thirty and fifty replies to that work, the most I've ever received from a work of that length. Most of them were from TSA List members I'd never heard of before, saying that while they liked the 'furry' stuff I'd done before, they were really excited to have me writing TG, and would I please write more? There were just a few things, though, that they wanted me to adjust. For example, almost to a man they wanted me to put the actual TF in the story, and have the protagonist masturbate a little, and maybe describe what it's like to wear lace panties and nylons, and... Well you get the picture. While I'm honored and grateful ever to get a feedback letter, including those, I'll admit that I'm a little more reluctant to write TG stuff than I once was.


There's a silver lining to all of this, however. A huge market exists out there for TG stories; I've experienced it myself. The writer who fills meets this demand best will be genuinely beloved among the most devoted of all TF-story fan-bases, and very likely will achieve publication long before those of us who plod away at AR and furry works.

Meet the challenge of satisfying this audience's specialized needs while at the same time telling one whale of a story, and you'll never lack for readers again. This is one well that will never go dry! Never!

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