My Favorite Tropes
(and general preferences)

If you're thinking to write a story for me, or to incorporate my preferences into something you're already making, well, here are my general preferences and the tropes that engage me as a reader (and, obviously, as a writer as well).


I can enjoy a wide variety of experiences; there's not much that turns me off, and even less that triggers me.

Preferred Rating: Mature to Explicit

The thing is, though, that this is my preference because I like Intense Drama, and it's difficult to find intense drama in the lighter-rated fics (Gen or Teen). If you can manage intense and detailed drama in lower ratings, great! I can also enjoy things that aren't intense drama, but that's my preference.

Relationship Preferences

Established Relationships

Do not throw established relationships under the bus! You have no idea how irritated I get when a fic tries to make its preferred ship reasonable by pretending that the original ship was somehow less ("I thought I loved Grace, but now I realize that I was merely infatuated; I didn't know what love truly was until I fell in love with you, John!").

Is it so very hard to imagine that a person might love two people at the same time? Or might have truly loved one person, but then moved on and loved another person, without casting a shadow over the original love?

(I personally believe that John's relationship with Jessica was… deeply flawed, but that's not because I just want to throw Jessica under the bus and move on to my preferred ships.)

So if a character is already in some other relationship, then you'll need to provide some justification for moving into a new relationship. Ideally, one that doesn't make the character look like a jerk. "I wish I could be with Grace, but it's too dangerous for her; since that's not possible, I'm willing to engage in another relationship" is not an unreasonable position. (Of course, some of these problems can be easily solved with a threesome: Rinch/Grace is a surprisingly viable relationship.)


Deep, Intimate Friendship

I have a decided interest in deep, intimate, Platonic friendships -- particularly between two men. The "David & Jonathan" relationship ("a love stronger than that of/for a woman"), before people reinterpreted that relationship as sexual.

Creating a relationship that is deeply intimate without being sexual or romantic is quite the challenge nowadays, but my favorite pairings have always showcased an emotional rapport, a strong and resilient caring for each other and a willingness to sacrifice on the other's behalf.

Now, many intimate relationships lack a physical component of any significance, but I have a great affection for such nonsexual activities as massages, cuddling, or comforting by touch. (Of course, with canon touch-averse characters such as Harold Finch, you'll have to explain why he accepts the intimacy of touch in your fic.) So, depending on the pairing, you needn't shy from physical connection.

I find it sad that so many people seem to consider friendship to be some "inferior" category of relationship, as though a relationship has to include sex in order to be meaningful. Besides, it's a bit insulting to claim that you can't deeply care for someone or be close to them unless you want to get in their pants.

That said, I read a lot of fics with romantic and/or sexual relationships, so if you'd definitely prefer to portray such a relationship:

Sexual Relationships

At the moment, I prefer reading about male characters, regardless of the sexual component, so my preference is slash over threesome, threesome (MMF or MMM) over het. I've never had much interest in yuri/femslash. Any level of detail is fine (gen through to explicit).

Unusual orientations, either pointed out or implied, are great: asexual, graysexual, demisexual, sapiosexual… is it "monosexual" if you're only attracted to one specific person? Anyway, characters whose sexual preferences fall outside the more common categories are quite enjoyable to read about, and it affects how they respond/react to the idea of sex, as well as how much sexual experience they've had. (I also have a fondness for setups that involve sexual contact outside your own orientation, when it's not treated as the gateway to realizing that you're gay/bi. Situational sexuality, sexual bargains, sex pollen, etc.)

If you want to write consensual sex (happy, emotional, angsty, whatever), don't make it the focus of the tale -- although, depending on the length of the story, a full chapter or two would be nice.

If it's the focus of the tale, I prefer at least DubCon; NonCon and straight-up rape fics are also fine, though I prefer positive endings to even the darkest fics.

Favorite Worldbuilds

I adore the many varieties of Omegaverse (Alpha/Beta/Omega), and Dom/sub verses fascinate me (my introduction to Person of Interest was the fic Dangerous If Unbound by astolat). Similar settings that craft some form of alternative gender balance would be quite welcome.

I'm up for any fantasy, sci-fi, horror, or supernatural AU if it doesn't much change the basic team dynamics. "They solve their mysteries... in SPACE! (or the Wild West, or Feudal Japan, or a world where they're all rodents, etc.)" can be great; "they all went to Hogwarts" (Coffee Shop AUs, ) is much harder for me to appreciate. Though I've been starting to develop an appreciation for Prostitute AUs; they've got more depth than I anticipated.

Favorite Scenarios

A character gets taken prisoner, endures hardships, and is eventually rescued (or escapes, or is set free).
Mind Control
A character is forced to do things that they don't want to do.
Integrity Crisis
A character resists their greatest desires out of respect for a loved one's consent


The character gets taken prisoner, endures the hardships of the captivity, is eventually rescued.

The capture includes either a struggle against physical force (not just threats), or being knocked out, and I do so love the slow surrender to the inevitable as you lose strength/power to keep struggling… whether that's drugs or being tazed, being choked into unconsciousness or briefly drowned or having gotten a blow to the head that slowly brings you under. And I like that slow process being detailed, keeping me in the moment, which is the difference between these two:

The man pressed the rag to Harold’s face, and Harold felt himself slowly going unconscious; he struggled a bit before passing out.
Despite Harold’s struggles, he couldn’t keep the cloth from finding his face. The sickly-sweet scent of chemical citrus filled his nose. His muscles were going weak, giving in, the world going dark around him. As his body relaxed into the man’s grip, but before Harold was quite gone, he felt the man began to hoist him up into the van, and some other set of hands grab him -- but then even the sensation of movement faded away.

If it makes my stomach clench or bottom out (like I’m in a carnival ride), that’s perfect.

The captivity itself should involve fear (especially "not knowing what's coming"), and emotional turmoil, and possibly pain, even torture (which can be mild, moderate, or intense), but nothing all that gory or gross or permanently harmful (some small cuts/scars/burns would be okay).

It should be to a purpose -- the captors want something from their captive -- rather than just being sadists or doing random harm for fun. One possible route would be using drugs that make it harder for the captive to resist orders and/or harder for him to keep his mouth shut about important topics.

I would be okay with a second captive being threatened or hurt to try to get the character to talk. Again, any harm done should be temporary, not permanent or gory.

The rescue needn't be particularly dwelt on (unless you want to detail the section on healing after this trauma) -- but it should assure us that the scenario is over, the character and his allies are free and safe, and that the characters will now have whatever resources they need to recover from this ordeal.

Rating-wise: Give it some leeway to be kinda dark, but without gore or much (if any) swearing; I'm thinking Mature would be about right, but that's flexible.

Mind Control

As stated, I adore the drawn-out, utterly futile struggle against the inevitable. One way this plays out is when a character is getting knocked out -- drugged or tazed, choked unconscious or with a blow to the head that slowly steals consciousness away. Or physically restrained, struggling against overwhelming force until finally running out of strength and relaxing into that captivity. But it's also fun with supernatural powers, or technological advances, that allow one person to capture the other's mind, to force them to do things they don't want to do, force them to hurt or capture or otherwise betray their friends, or act as a sleeper agent for doing such in the future. And it's more fun when the victim is aware of the process, struggling against it, horrified at what they're going to be forced to do (or the possibilities, even if they don't know the specifics), but unable to fight it off forever... and then, in the midst of performing the hated actions (e.g. attacking their own friends, or betraying them to the enemy), aware of it but unable to stop it or to even warn their allies or explain what’s going on. There are some fun possibilities for the horror of mind-control in a non-supernatural setting, using technology such as nanites. Or you could go the supernatural route: vampires, magic spells, possession. Or Dom/sub verse. It’s also fun from the point of view of a character whose close friend is mind-controlled and attacking them, and they can’t fight back the way they might normally do so, because they don’t want to hurt their friend. For example, John (from Person of Interest) could be mind-controlled to capture Harold, and Harold chooses to just submit and not fight it, because he doesn’t have any way to escape or any way to fight it without hurting John. (Or, y’know, he could tazer him and tie him up -- that’s a possibility, too.) The fic that got me into Person of Interest is Dangerous If Unbound (by astolat), which proposes John being under thrall to the U.S. government, with deeply planted commands that can trigger if people dig into state secrets. One of the scenarios given is John being told to take Harold out to the waiting van, presumably to be whisked away to the CIA and tortured for information about the Machine. The fic makes this not happen, due to vital plot and character details, but in different circumstances, that certainly could have happened. Variant: Body-snatching! Have one character take over another character’s body, either via body-swapping (Harold is now in Greer’s body, and has to persuade his friends that Harold isn’t the real Harold) or possession (Harold is stuck inside his own body, aware of what his body is doing (what the person or creature or force possessing the body is using it for) but unable to affect it or communication with the outside world). Rating: Again, a little more mature of a rating allows for a more intense drama.

Integrity Crisis

The basic idea of an Integrity Crisis fic is the conflict between one character's desires, and their moral imperatives regarding the other character, who is in a compromised state. I shall use "Alice and Bob" to demonstrate the basic form: Bob: I really love Alice, but for Reasons I have been hiding that part of myself from her. But oh dear, now I am drunk / drugged / sex pollened / whatever, and my inhibitions are gone. Alice, have sex with me! Alice: I really love you, Bob, but for Reasons I have been hiding that part of myself from you. But even though this is very tempting, and though I think it's my only chance to ever get together with you, I will resist your advances. You are not yourself and would never want me if you were sober. Then ramp up the drama, and have Alice pushed to the limit as she tries to defend Bob from himself until the effect wears off. She is far more invested in Bob's welfare than in her own personal desires or her body's reaction to the idea, and she demonstrates her good character by not giving in. Then, at the end, when the effect is no longer compromising them, there's generally the reward of the two of them getting together for reals (once they realize that the Reasons that kept them apart weren't as strong as they thought). Now, I'd be perfectly happy with the Sex Pollen variant, but Person of Interest has offered us an Information Sharing variant: Harold: I am drunk/drugged and cannot guard my secrets. John, ask me anything and I will tell you! John: I seriously want your secrets, but I don't want to get them from you this way. And anyway, you'd hate me later and be unable to trust me ever again. So I will take extreme measures to keep from taking advantage of you in this state! This is canon, when Finch was on Ecstasy, but the fic versions tend to have more extreme circumstances (such as John being unable to just leave, because they're in the field and Finch is in danger or on dangerous drugs so John has to monitor him for safety). And I've been trying to keep my eyes open for any other variants, because it's fascinating that you can subtract 100% of the sexual content from the original idea and still have the original idea in full-fledged form. About the closest I've seen to a third possible variant is where the leader of a superhero team is trying to recruit new heroes, and, knowing that once you're recruited there's no going back, tells the latest potential recruit that if she's unsure about it she shouldn't do it and it'll be okay if she doesn't -- even though it would leave the main character in danger -- because it is more important that she respect the recruit's right to personal choice than that she spare even her own life. And it's that conflict between moral imperative and desires or needs or pragmatism, it's that conflict that most interests me... especially when one character is in no state to properly assert their own freedom of choice, in no state to freely consent to what happens, no matter how much they seem to want it. There’s also the possibility of having characters who don’t normally want sex (e.g. they’re asexual, or have incompatible orientations, or are truly just really close friends with no sexual desire between them) fighting off a temporary urge due to an outside force, and that’s interesting as well. The reward after fighting it off would not be sex, but rather a deeper appreciation of their shared friendship and the lengths to which each will go to protect the other, even at cost to themselves. Rating: I don't have a preference, even if sexuality is involved.

Plot Preferences

Intense Drama

Ramp up those emotions! I love the cycles of Tension and Release, and the stronger and more nuanced the Tension, the more relief you get from the Release. A good, strong, dramatic plot with a positive ending brings you to the finale with a strong sense of completion; it's satisfying, like a good meal, and relaxing, like the feeling you get after exercising or after getting off a roller coaster.

The Ending

All the good characters should be well and whole and free -- perhaps with some lingering hints of trauma (physical or mental/emotional), minor scarring, but they're on their feet and back to equilibrium.

Nobody should get away with being nasty; no Karma Houdinis. Bad characters either get redemption arcs (turning them into good characters) or negative ends (imprisonment, death, a fate worse than death, etc.). Make it feel like there's a force that ensures some level of justice, when all is said and done.

Drama vs. Dramedy vs. Comedy

I can't stand Cringe Comedy, or its cousin Cringe Drama; material that works on embarrassment or "any second now I'm gonna get caught being where/who I'm not supposed to be" makes me intensely uncomfortable, to the point where sometimes I'll leave the room until the scene is over. I've been known to take a whole day watching a single episode, just by pausing it and doing something else until I can stand to watch a little more, and then pausing it again, and so on.

Comedy in general is less appealing to me than drama or dramedy, but if you're going to work with comedy, go for witty banter, snark, unexpected twists, randomness, and equivocal humor (words/phrases/setups that mean multiple things). I especially like conversations where each side thinks that the other means something else, but where it doesn't rely on them being idiots and not asking obvious questions to clarify the matter at hand.

Redemption Arcs

Redemption Arcs are one of my favorite tropes, actually: Take a villain or antagonist and put them through hell until they're eventually able and willing to join the heroes. Or, reverse that, and give them a reason to join the team first, and then have their experience with the team change them on the inside, until they're no longer just playing a part.


As I mentioned above, kidnapping/capture is one of my favorite plot elements, and can be woven in as part of any larger plot. Bonus points if you make it happen repeatedly.

Torture and Pain

I don't like gore, gross stuff, or anything scatological (though blood is fine). However, I can enjoy torture that's focused on pain and fear, a minimal amount of physical damage (easily healed later on), trying to bear up under the stress, and perhaps empathy for other captives.