249: Interviews With the Fandom

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Interviews With the Fandom

Let's be honest: Making fun of fanfiction is like shooting fish in a barrel. But according to a few fanfiction writers from The Escapist's forums, that may be missing the point. Peter Parrish speaks with three "fans of fanfiction" about what makes the medium special (if occasionally a little cringe-inducing).

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Yes, 99% of fanfiction is the same half a paragraph, Twilight crossover with Harry Potter about Draco's and Edwards wuv (with "wuv" being the least of the author's grammer issue) but there are a few really great fanfictions out there if you look hard enough. The Animaniacs story, "Family" is a great example of what a fan can do if they put their heart and soul into it.

Well, yes, if you go to fanfiction.net and try to find gems in amongst everything there, you're going to come up with a lot of carbonized crap, but there is a good chuck of the community dedicated to coming up with good stories, and helping others improve their craft. I've been writing for years, sometimes in RPs, sometimes trying to do serious stuff in real life, but only recently decided to take the plunge and put something up on the site, and while it's initially hard to get some reviews, a couple people have looked at it and offered some good constructive criticism, stuff I can use to improve myself as a writer. That kind of insight is invaluable, especially if you can look at the commenter's own work and see how they did it as well, it helps drive the point home. If there was any kind of filter before this stuff goes on, I don't know if anyone would get the same kind of advice necessary to further their talent, which if we want to keep writing alive in the face of the countless Dan Brown and twilight knockoffs, is required. Even getting the pieces of wank on the site, while maybe lowering the quality rating, help raise awareness in the writing community. The bad has its place in the writing world, it tells us where to go up from, and that's just as important as the very good.

I write fanfic for a completely different reason, namely to learn storytelling. I rewrite portions of films, books, whatever-- to see if I can substantively change the story into something I like better.

Of course, I don't actually publish that stuff ---

That being said, sometimes I've known fanfic to best the original. Or at least vastly outshine official novels ... to be honest, I've got quite a few Star Wars novels, but looking back I get this kind of dirty feeling having read them all. Nowadays, the only way I can really enjoy Star Wars is through wookiepedia.

And occasionally some fanfic ....

I am a person that has been interested in trying his hand in fan fiction writing for...well, years. My only problem is that I tend to be too lazy for my own good and do not feel like putting things on "paper" (even though I enjoy writing.....kind of a clash of interests, isn't it?).

However, I know little of the "fanfic scene". So what I would like to ask is....is FanFiction.net the best place to start for a young budding fanfic writer? Or are there websites that come more highly recommended?

Anyone who criticizes fanfics as a medium is being terribly hypocritical. Can anyone who bashes fanfics say they've never seen a movie/read a book and gone "Well, it was good, but what if ______ had happened? That would have made it so much better!" That is the essence of fan fiction: taking that niggling idea and bringing it to life.

We are all fanfic writers on the inside: some of us just don't want to admit it.

I'm a professional writer/editor and yeah...I fic. I write mostly in video-game worlds...and mostly in BioWare video game worlds and rarely, rarely come across abysmal writing/punctuation in those communities. I find that having really good, layers source material means there's a lot less of that genre-bashing. Good source material, to me, means there's ample opportunity for tragedy and humour within the canon. That makes me very glad, because while I pride myself on my angsty-mcangsterson writing, I can't write the funny to save my life. So, I'm glad to be in a community where others do it so well.

"By imposing those kinds of rules, they could easily lose their inclusive nature. Having to put stories through any kind of submission process would dampen the appeal for many people."

I'm going to disagree here. If you look at a community like kotorfanmedia.net, the admins there are really, really stringent on spelling, grammar, punctuation, even formatting. What it makes for is a place where you're going to get quality reading pretty much anywhere you click.

I've written a bit of fanfiction, including an full-on "novella" from Sailor Moon (Yeah, I know, mock away if you must).

This article sheds a lot of light on things even I didn't know. And I agree with a lot in this article. Those plot bunnies are probably my biggest reason for writing fanfiction. Second to that would by my insistence that the story need to continue. That the end of a series or story isn't truly the end, and my writing generally attempts to explore what happens to the characters beyond the "official" end.

I've always been afraid to go anywhere with any of my work, partly because I'm intensely critical of my own work and am never really fully satisfied, and partly because I really don't want to be told that I'm absolutely terrible, because that would hurt my aspirations to write original stories as well.

Right now, I probably have around 4 or 5 writing "projects" in various states of completion. Some fanfiction, some original story. I'll probably never put them out there, because I'm too terrified of being told I suck.

That makes me very glad, because while I pride myself on my angsty-mcangsterson writing, I can't write the funny to save my life. So, I'm glad to be in a community where others do it so well.

I wholeheartedly agree. I don't know when or why "angst" became a negative thing. It seems to me that when the word "angst" is used, its always as a negative connotation of it being whiney or "pussy" or something, when really, its just emotion, that thing we're all SUPPOSED to have. Most of my stories focus on emotion, and "angst" if you must call it that, because, like you I can't write funny very well. And I'm a sucker for a good love story (just not Romantic Comedies, usually).

wadark:

I wholeheartedly agree. I don't know when or why "angst" became a negative thing. It seems to me that when the word "angst" is used, its always as a negative connotation of it being whiney or "pussy" or something, when really, its just emotion, that thing we're all SUPPOSED to have. Most of my stories focus on emotion, and "angst" if you must call it that, because, like you I can't write funny very well. And I'm a sucker for a good love story (just not Romantic Comedies, usually).

I think it takes a lot of skill and experience to do comedy or tragedy well, or at least to bring a multi-layered approach to it.

wadark:
Right now, I probably have around 4 or 5 writing "projects" in various states of completion. Some fanfiction, some original story. I'll probably never put them out there, because I'm too terrified of being told I suck.

Don't be. Hell, I KNOW most of my stuff is shite, but I also know it's been getting BETTER since I started letting people read and comment on it. I do think it's obvious that I take my writing seriously, so I tend to get comments that are helpful and well thought-out.
(And I TOTALLY feel you on the 4 or 5 unfinished projects. Good lord, I have dozens...but I've actually been able to mine some of those ideas for original writing projects....)

Uilleand:

I think it takes a lot of skill and experience to do comedy or tragedy well, or at least to bring a multi-layered approach to it.

Don't be. Hell, I KNOW most of my stuff is shite, but I also know it's been getting BETTER since I started letting people read and comment on it. I do think it's obvious that I take my writing seriously, so I tend to get comments that are helpful and well thought-out.
(And I TOTALLY feel you on the 4 or 5 unfinished projects. Good lord, I have dozens...but I've actually been able to mine some of those ideas for original writing projects....)

Problem being, I'm not even really sure WHERE to bring my projects out, and in some cases, how to do it. My Sailor Moon fanfiction was originally handwritten on notebook paper (because I wrote it in classes) then I began to revise it as I transferred it to the computer.

But the story, if I remember correctly, is something like 35 chapters, I've only written about 20 of those into the Word document and its already 35 pages long. Kinda tough to get that out there in a relatively efficient way, as far as I know.

Not G. Ivingname:
Yes, 99% of fanfiction is the same half a paragraph, Twilight crossover with Harry Potter about Draco's and Edwards wuv (with "wuv" being the least of the author's grammer issue) but there are a few really great fanfictions out there if you look hard enough.

Well, I haven't seen this archetype too much, considering that most HP fans hate Twilight, and vice-versa...

wadark:

Problem being, I'm not even really sure WHERE to bring my projects out, and in some cases, how to do it. My Sailor Moon fanfiction was originally handwritten on notebook paper (because I wrote it in classes) then I began to revise it as I transferred it to the computer.

But the story, if I remember correctly, is something like 35 chapters, I've only written about 20 of those into the Word document and its already 35 pages long. Kinda tough to get that out there in a relatively efficient way, as far as I know.

If it's good, no-one's gonna complain about length...(I have one NWN fic that's about 27 chapters long...) FF.net has a pretty easy system to use, and is very intuitive for multi-chap fics. That said, you're more likely to get decent concrit from a livejournal or even a deviantart community...

"This issue is actually a source of tension within many fanfiction communities. While some are writing merely to entertain their fellow fans and have little reason to care about literary standards, other writers seeking to craft something with more depth view this approach as lazy."

This can be found at its most extreme, actually, over on TheForce.net's fanfiction forum. There, they've got an entire "fan fiction resource" subforum filled with authors who rail against "mary sues" and hold big threads about improving narrative structure, pacing, and characterization.

Also, I think that in general, Star Wars fanfiction tends to be of a higher quality to other forms of fan fiction because of this: when a new fan comes in to try their material, the very first thing they realize is that, no matter what level they're at, they're doing a better job than George Lucas. :p

I really enjoyed this article. I read quite a bit of fanfiction but only about base material that I really love. If I'm attached to a character I want to read more about him or her, see what other stories can be developed, or often I feel the original work was cut off too soon. Sure there's lots of crap out there, but when you come across a real gem it's worth sifting through the less than stellar writing.

What about published authors who tweak well established classics, like Austen's Pride and Prejudice or Sherlock Holmes. There are reams of published works that take these stories and characters and change them. I just saw the other day in Border's a book called Vampire Darcy's Desire. Come on, it's hilarious and published fanfiction. If we can accept these types of writings in print than hopefully there can be more acceptance of the online communities.

As someone who has been writing fanfiction for a good five years now, it's interesting to see someone from the 'outside' talk about the community on the inside. Although I think the inner fandom wars were a bit understated. Either that or this writer didn't travel to the Harry Potter forums.

Uilleand:
I think it takes a lot of skill and experience to do comedy or tragedy well, or at least to bring a multi-layered approach to it.

For angst stories, yes. It does take a lot of skill to do it well, but the general overview of fanfiction is that skill is lacking, and most writers try to do tragedy and angst just for the sake of being angsty, regardless of whether or not it will make a good story.

Comedy generally tends to go over better, since they are usually built off of a humorous scenario or funny joke. Keeping the humor going though is something that only a few talented fanfiction writers can do.

wadark:
I've written a bit of fanfiction, including an full-on "novella" from Sailor Moon (Yeah, I know, mock away if you must).

No need. Everyone who has stayed in the fanfiction.net anime community for more than a year probably knows the Sailor Moon plot inside and out without having to do more than read the wikipedia entry. I think Sailor moon also holds the record for "most crossed-over fandom." Harry Potter might be winning nowadays though.

Tom Phoenix:
However, I know little of the "fanfic scene". So what I would like to ask is....is FanFiction.net the best place to start for a young budding fanfic writer? Or are there websites that come more highly recommended?

As good a place to start as any. That's where I began writing fanfiction, and I still am to this day. It's not a greatly moderated site, but you'll get reviews, be able to make forums and post stories, and even request a beta reader and share documents via DocX file transfer. If you end up in one of my fandoms, you may even get a review from yours truly.

I've been around the block on fanfiction. I've peered into the depths of hell (just look for the story Artemis' Lover if you have a strong stomach) and I've seen works of fiction that were BETTER than the original works. That's right, BETTER. If you take the time to search (or just browse my favorites on fanfiction dot net) you can find some truly epic works of fanfiction.

Popular media also has some great works of fanfiction. Red vs Blue is one such medium. They used Halo to build a story, and now even they have fanfiction. Kingdom Hearts is also another style of crossover fanfiction. Just think of Sora and Rikku as Original Characters and you can really see the similarities.

To anyone else reading this post, if you have a story, post it. If you're interested in writing, then try your hand at fanfiction. But do yourself a favor and don't be lazy about it. Take some pride in your work.

ClanCrusher:

To anyone else reading this post, if you have a story, post it. If you're interested in writing, then try your hand at fanfiction. But do yourself a favor and don't be lazy about it. Take some pride in your work.

QFT.

What are your fandoms, out of random curiosity??

scotth266:
Anyone who criticizes fanfics as a medium is being terribly hypocritical. Can anyone who bashes fanfics say they've never seen a movie/read a book and gone "Well, it was good, but what if ______ had happened? That would have made it so much better!" That is the essence of fan fiction: taking that niggling idea and bringing it to life.

We are all fanfic writers on the inside: some of us just don't want to admit it.

I've seen some of the fallout that can happen when something like this actually happens. A long time ago, there were two Neverwinter Night servers that ran the same files. After a while, eventually the group running the secondary server decided to take things in their own direction. There was hate for a while, there was a lot of people shuffling around, and now it's pretty much nothing but jokes now.

Uilleand:
What are your fandoms, out of random curiosity??

I mostly dabble in anime. Ranma 1/2 is my main fandom. It was the second anime I ever watched religiously. I have some works in Final Fantasy VIII, Suikoden V, Kingdom Hearts, and a bit of crossover work. And those are just the ones I write in. I run a forum for the Rosario + Vampire fandom and the Haruhi Suzumiya fandom as well. If you have a fanfic in either of those categories, I'd be happy to review it. And I can't even begin to tell you how many different categories I actually read in. Believe me when I say I've been around the block.

My profile on fanfiction.net is under the same name as my account here so feel free to check it out.

There are some amazing fanfiction communities out there, let alone the fantastic fanfiction they write. I used to be quite a big part of the HP fanfic community, before it got all crazy and shit, and I really enjoyed the sense of 'you are one of us' that surrounded everyone, no matter how good or bad their writing was.

Nowadays I'm more into the KP fanfiction, (geekyness alert bordering on the critical from this post, I have to say), and I find it just as fun to be included in the communities there.

And now for the shameless plug, as always. Check out this name (MelasZepheos) on fanfiction.net if you want to read Kim Possible fanfiction. I got nominated for a dotmoon award, so it can't be that awful, right?

ClanCrusher:

I mostly dabble in anime. Ranma 1/2 is my main fandom. It was the second anime I ever watched religiously. I have some works in Final Fantasy VIII, Suikoden V, Kingdom Hearts, and a bit of crossover work. And those are just the ones I write in. I run a forum for the Rosario + Vampire fandom and the Haruhi Suzumiya fandom as well. If you have a fanfic in either of those categories, I'd be happy to review it. And I can't even begin to tell you how many different categories I actually read in. Believe me when I say I've been around the block.

My profile on fanfiction.net is under the same name as my account here so feel free to check it out.

Will do! I love me some Ranma...
My own writing has never drifted into anime...pretty much only video games ... (Mass Effect, Oblivion, lot n' lots of KotOR, etc...)

A-ha! I knew Escapist News Articles had some kind of connection to common forum topics and this proves it.

I'll say what I usually say for those: Fanfiction gets a bad rap for the massive amount of semiliterate slash/lemons/ewwwwww perhaps intentionally churned out by the majority. ffnet is the single largest public forum and yet the gems I found after a bit of searching were enough to get me started too. If you wanted better quality standards you can go to a more specifically-focused site (not a great example but Castlevania Dungeon had some semi-interesting stuff, including a few amateur graphic novels).

As our collective skills improved I slowly realized that several members of my coauthor circle always did better when they were creating their own characters and settings from a barebones skeleton, if anything at all. A pity there isn't a popular site for that. As for myself, ffnet taught me that I am an ego-tripper at heart, for any story that had recieved fewer reviews than it had chapters I would eventually lose interest in and never finish. What's the point if no one's going to read it?

Speaking of ego-tripping, my account there is 'Maximus1' under my old avatar. Feel free to stop on by. Or not.

I particularly don't care for fanfic, but if the view this article offers is accurate, I should never care. It says that bad fanfic isn't really bad per se because some people enjoy it. Yeah, plenty of people enjoy things that are so bad it's good - unless it's done deliberately, it's not a good thing, it's a massive mockery. It says that fanfic writers say people who don't get fanfic are just people for whom it isn't made for; while it's true that people on the internet love going to sites dedicated to things they hate and announcing they hate the thing the site is dedicated to, that doesn't mean the hated thing has any qualities, or that they should just focus on their small group. And the policy of making something more inclusive has not worked very well for webcomics, which anyone can created as long as they have a working hand or foot and are widely considered to be a waste of time except for a few awesome cases.

I have read a few fanfics, and other than the well-publicized car crashes like My Immortal and 'and then John was a zombie', my main problem with them is that the writers don't seem to love the media. Written media, I mean. They are writing an alternate continuity for a cartoon, or a comic book, or a game, and they can only do it in written media, so they try to comform to it but fail it, there's a certain 'I wish I could make a movie/comic/game based on this story, but I can't, so here's some lame plaintext instead'. Maybe it's because I want to be a writer and I'm the kind of guy who loves the Pratchett/Adams style of writing, in which you take the disadvantadges of the medium and turn them into advantadges. For instance, descriptive paragraphs are usually the dullest parts of a novel, but in a Pratchett novel there's sure to be a pun or other wordplay in it to make them some of the most memorable part of the whole thing. It's what jumps at my eyes; I endeavour to be not some Dan Brown or J. K. Rowling, but an artist whose work is so fit to its media that adaption means reimagining, not just taking the thing and using it as a script.

I don't write fanfic because when I was six I created a fantasy world for myself based on TV characters and I guess that went on to steal all my drive to work on media I don't create entirely. Whoops.

wadark:
I wholeheartedly agree. I don't know when or why "angst" became a negative thing. It seems to me that when the word "angst" is used, its always as a negative connotation of it being whiney or "pussy" or something, when really, its just emotion, that thing we're all SUPPOSED to have.

It became a negative thing around the time people realized their stories sucked because they couldn't add conflict, but weren't good enough to come up with believable conflict. So they thought that they could get around that by making their characters sad. Angst itself isn't a bad thing, but the problem is that in several stories (and I'm not referring uniquely to fanfiction here) once you take the angst out there's nothing to hold the character any more, the angst is there not as part of one's personality but instead of it. It does give a bad name to people who can write dark stories well, but them's the breaks.

It's kind of like any video game with a good story has to have a plot twist in it somewhere, because plot twists make a story look more interesting than it actually is.

Tom Phoenix:
I am a person that has been interested in trying his hand in fan fiction writing for...well, years. My only problem is that I tend to be too lazy for my own good and do not feel like putting things on "paper" (even though I enjoy writing.....kind of a clash of interests, isn't it?).

However, I know little of the "fanfic scene". So what I would like to ask is....is FanFiction.net the best place to start for a young budding fanfic writer? Or are there websites that come more highly recommended?

I'm going to be honest, there is really no where else but fanfiction.net, mediaminer is there, but no one really goes there anymore...so, yeah...I've been on ff.net for over 4 years now and I do admit to dabbling over at mediaminer occasionally (only cause it isn't blocked at school), but ff.net is the only real place out there...oh, there's also livejournal, but I could never figure it out... =P

As someone who regularly reads fanfiction, has written several, and put few up on The Pit of Voles, I wholeheartedly agree with this article and some of the comments posted. For instance, for all of my work put up on The Pit, my favorite/subscribe to review ratio is OVER NINE THOUSAAAAAAAND to one. Speaking as an author who wants feedback, it's nigh impossible for me to continue writing a fic merely because I'm not getting any and not finding out what I'm doing wrong.

Furthermore, there are other websites out there for people to go to if you want your stuff reviewed. I myself go to one website that shall not be mentioned, moreso because of the brutal honesty than anything else. Every user there shares the same tastes as the others, so it's far easier to find what you like there, and it's also far easier to get reviews as well.

The Random One hit the nail on the head with the angst issue. Angst is perfectly fine, when it's received in small doses and isn't a cornerstone of your story. I'd rather not read a 5000 word chapter about how Character A cried for eight months over Character B's death and then killed himself.

Lastly, as a writer who considers himself 'decent' at best, I'm appalled at the vast majority of what is up on The Pit. It's stuff like My Immortal that give fanfiction a bad rap, and places like The Pit that earn that and more. I can guarantee you that unless you're using an add-on like FFNE (rendered obsolete by constant overhauls on The Pit and the new Firefox update...) that for every decent to good fic you find, there will be a hundred bad to horrible ones. And, while that's an abysmal ratio, it is true, and I can guarantee you that of those 100 fics, 75% will be slash.

My name is The Rogue Wolf, and I have a confession to make. I'm a fanfiction writer. I wouldn't say I'm ashamed of it, though- my best work actually got someone to go out and buy the game that influenced it.

I wrote plenty of terrible fanfics, yes. I could build an army from my Gary Stus and conquer the world. But I never bothered publishing them anywhere, because I KNEW they were bad. They were practice- I mean, after all, even Hank Aaron struck out now and then when he was starting out. So why do I- someone with two novels that are candidates for publication in the works- write fanfics? Because it's a fun writing exercise for me. "What ifs" are one of my favorite mental exercises, and while I tend to shy away from outright hijacking major characters, I have a lot of fun exploring someone else's world, and minor characters that struck a chord with me, and building ideas from them.

One of these days I'm going to finish that Silent-Hill-themed World of Warcraft story. Oh, you laugh now, but you wait.

ClanCrusher:

I mostly dabble in anime. Ranma 1/2 is my main fandom. It was the second anime I ever watched religiously. I have some works in Final Fantasy VIII, Suikoden V, Kingdom Hearts, and a bit of crossover work. And those are just the ones I write in. I run a forum for the Rosario + Vampire fandom and the Haruhi Suzumiya fandom as well. If you have a fanfic in either of those categories, I'd be happy to review it. And I can't even begin to tell you how many different categories I actually read in. Believe me when I say I've been around the block.

My profile on fanfiction.net is under the same name as my account here so feel free to check it out.

From your icon, I take it that you're a Super Smash Brothers fan as well?

If such is the case (and I apologize if I sound pushy with this), I have a story or two that I'd like you to critique. They're based respectively on Kingdom Hearts and SSBB. Admittedly they aren't finished yet, but I would enjoy at least one critique even one of them.

They're up on my Deviantart account, PumpkinApprentice431.

I was once really into fanfiction. Now I can't go near it without getting a mild rash.

I always loved the idea behind it: an evergrowing, and infinate library of stories that can go anywhere and do anything. What really wasn't to like? Some made great continuations, others, nice alternate universes, and others nice introspection pieces. So what happened to me?

I was reading some commentary about fanfiction (around the time the LOTR movies first were coming out) and I read an interesting comment. To paraphrase: Tolken crafted a vast world with deep histories and numerous characters with plenty of room for intersting alternate adventures, side sotires, or expasions of minor elements or appendicies. Surely these writers can come up with better ideas than Gimli and Legolas having sex or Aragorn molesting the Hobbits to write about.

A bit of an exageration, but it did start me on the path of noticing what was mentioned in the article: authors were far FAR more interested in quickly churning out something that suits their fanboyish appitites and those of like minded people than they were of trying to make something worth reading to anyone else. Stories that existes soley to pair characters together, or have character A tell of character B, felt just as self gratifying as anything pornographic. Plot bunnies made things worse, because like their namesake, they multiply beyond any level of sense. It was such that even when I found something worth reading, odds were the author would lose interest in a month when a new idea came along.

But what really killed me by the end was the attitude of the writers themselves. Granted this was 2003 , so it's a dated judgement that may not be applicable today, but many of the authors I was encountering were some of the most undeservingly narsicistic people I could ever encounter. I never had much against people that wrote to their specific fandom without concern for outside opinions, but I did leave honest commentary when asked, only to be chastised for not praising the author totally. There's review begging, and holding out chapters until you get a certain level of attention which is childish. At worst, I've seen some authors blame any criticism, and even computer problems and crashed websties on a "terrorist" internet clique out to get them for not writing their prefered pairing (The infamous Knights of the True Fiance in Ranma 1/2 fandom which to my understanding, existed, but didn't do much else.)

I had to get out of there and have been clean for 7 years. I'd never object to going back if, as has been said, more authors were inclinded to be serious about what they write, but nothing I've heard from friends sugests that much has changed. I find it a shame. The LOTR fanfic quote is as relevant as ever: we have all the creative power and distribution of the internet at our ingertips: this is what we do with it?

I find I rarely experience inter-genre or inter-fandom "squabbles" and only a touch of shipping wars. These days I find a lot more people being nasty about where you post your work.

I write fanfiction both for my own enjoyment and the enjoyment of others and find it quite startling when my friends sneer at me for posting it on fanfiction.net instead of Live Journal. (Or other similar sites - or smaller, moderated communities)

Apparently, it's no longer 'cool' to post on a fantastically designed and easy-to-use site. Apparently, if finding your fanfic isn't a quest on par with finding the Holy Grail, then your fanfic isn't worth being found. (And yes, I confess - I'm lazy! AND busy! I don't have time to stuff around on LJ every time I want to update a story, not to mention the irritating cross-posting if I want older posts to link to the newer ones without relying on tags.. or Master Lists.. blech)

Well, to each their own, I suppose. Personally, I'll stick to the site that is designed for fanfictions, not blogs. I LIKE being able to sort by category, review count, date updated etc with a single click. I like how it chapters my stories automatically. I like search functions that not only work, but allow you to refine in detail as you go.

And it may be silly of me, but I have this idea where I think fanfiction should be easy to find, not a matter of lucky googling or friend-of-a-friend recs. There have been a handful of fanfictions that have honestly, genuinely, improved my life. Whether they got me through a difficult time or just enriched a fandom so much that it actually spawned its own mini-fandom... fanfiction is a wonderful thing. If ever anything I write can make another person happy, I want them to be able to find it.

And RE: Moderation against 2-paragraph stories featuring typos and nothing else? FF.N has rules. Readers can report these fics if they find it. Of course, when those fics are then taken down, people throw tantrums and sulk off to LJ....

WhiteFangofWar:
As for myself, ffnet taught me that I am an ego-tripper at heart, for any story that had recieved fewer reviews than it had chapters I would eventually lose interest in and never finish. What's the point if no one's going to read it?

Heh, I have that mental filter too. In general, my minimum is 10+ reviews per chapter. That gets me to read the summary. (Why yes, I DO just skim the page tracking review counts.)

These days, though, I only ever browse the categories or search for new fics by keyword if I'm DESPERATE. I much prefer trailing from fave list to fave list. Like a story? Great! First check Author for more, then their fave list. Rinse, repeat.

Eternal Entity:
I'd rather not read a 5000 word chapter about how Character A cried for eight months over Character B's death and then killed himself.

(Grins)

I would. If it was Edward. Or Bella. I'm not picky. As long as they die.

What TheRandomOne said made me think about another thing the article seemed to reflect.

Just because ff.n is known for bad fics doesn't mean all of it is. And just because not all of it is bad doesn't mean there are only a handful of good ones. I have a solid 900 fanfics on my alert list and over 500 on my fave list - and only my absolute favourites make it there.

It can be intimidating, maybe, for newbies to fanfiction to find something to read. When faced with 500K odd fics about the movie they just saw and with no experience on how to filter the crud from the cream, it is likely that their first experience will be.. dissapointing at best.

Escapist should do an article for Newbies to Fanfiction. :D

Redd the Sock:
It was such that even when I found something worth reading, odds were the author would lose interest in a month when a new idea came along.

This is my personal fear. As readers, writers don't owe us anything. We don't pay them, after all. All we offer in return for their efforts are critiques and thanks. But that doesn't mean I'm not crushed when their fic dies - or worse, THEY do. I often think that all those authors who just never logged in again after 2000 or so actually DID die. Then I feel guilty for being annoyed or sad that their fic is unfinished.

Redd the Sock:

...many of the authors I was encountering were some of the most undeservingly narsicistic people I could ever encounter.

Oh yeah. Big Fish, Little Pond. It comes from all those reviews filled with capital letters and exclamation marks. A few times I've gone to click 'review' only to spot an AN threatening to not post until they get x amount of reviews.. then I suddenly have better things to do.

Redd the Sock:

I had to get out of there and have been clean for 7 years. I'd never object to going back if, as has been said, more authors were inclinded to be serious about what they write, but nothing I've heard from friends sugests that much has changed. I find it a shame. The LOTR fanfic quote is as relevant as ever: we have all the creative power and distribution of the internet at our ingertips: this is what we do with it?

I know a couple of fics that are so spanking awesome they're worth a cautious look.. except not in the LotR fandom. The best I ever found there was a "Hey, not bad" fic. What fandoms are you interested in?

I started writing fanfiction when i was about fifteen or so, mostly to continue the story of a game i loved - Final Fantasy 8 - and allow it to focus on a character that i thought was underdeveloped/could have developed better.

So far, i've written two novel-sized 'books' on it, and i'm currently into my third.

Its clear to me, when i go back to the first 'book', where all my faults were. Although i still dont have clarity in the actual machinations of the written form (distinctions of verbs and adverbs, grammer, etc), i could tell almost by instinct what went where, where to drop a plot twist, how to develop the character, etc. As i wrote the second 'book', its clear that i was beginning to hit my stride, and by the end of the 'book' i was, essentially, at the peak of my writing prowess.

Then i had a semi-forced hiatus with writing, which i filled with video games and action films. I've only just started to write the finale to my trilogy, and i feel that, until i do, i will not be able to focus on my original works. As if this was some kind of hurdle i have to leap over before i am fully confident as a writer.

It is hard to dig a diamond from a coal mine, but in order to find it you gotta dig.

Furthermore, says Dean, fanfiction likes it that way. "[It] doesn't need to justify itself with examples of excellence; it doesn't care for the judgement of those not involved."

Did... he just say fanfiction somehow transcends the traditional concepts of good and bad? If not, he did a poor job getting across whatever he's trying to say. And if that was the message he's trying to get across, then what an arrogant douche!

I sort of get the logic, though. Fanfics are written for fairly narrow audiences, namely people who are already fans of X. Narrow that down to people who are interested in reading a story about X where Y happens, and you now have a group who can't afford to be choosy. They'll be lucky if they find even one fanfic that caters to this interest, much less one that's well written. So it's not so much about transcending standards as targeting people whose own standards are low.

Tom Phoenix:
However, I know little of the "fanfic scene". So what I would like to ask is....is FanFiction.net the best place to start for a young budding fanfic writer? Or are there websites that come more highly recommended?

It really depends on what you're after. Ffn is a reasonable first stop if you just want an archive to park it, but, ah, don't expect high quality constructive criticism from just posting blind. There are some excellent fandom-specific sites - including a ton of LJ communities - that also have a lot of discussion about the fic, the fandom, canon, and writing in general.

Redd the Sock:
I never had much against people that wrote to their specific fandom without concern for outside opinions, but I did leave honest commentary when asked, only to be chastised for not praising the author totally. There's review begging, and holding out chapters until you get a certain level of attention which is childish.

Fandom can get pretty damn toxic sometimes. Too many egos in too small a space, I guess. Some are more susceptible to it than others of course - a culmination of target age group and fandom size - but I've seen two people (who I knew were PhD students) going at it like fourteen year-olds. I'm just glad the whole BNF thing seems to have died away.

But there is, perhaps, a danger in encouraging more fanfiction sites to take a professional attitude to writing and editing. By imposing those kinds of rules, they could easily lose their inclusive nature.

Then get accused of elitism and you get the fandom wank of the year.

His Bratz Ponyz/Dark Messiah crossover-fic is still on hold.

I know what I'm requesting next yuletide :D

I'll admit I've read the occasional fanfiction, and there is a LOT of garbage out there. However, there are some true gems if you know how to work around the sludge. Some fanfics are either very imaginative, very well written, or even better, both. One technique I use if a friend suggests one to me- she's a writer herself, and reads quite a bit- is called "reading the summary". If the summary is badly spelled, or even worse has an awful summary that includes the words "sry i suk at sumarrys", AVOID IT LIKE THE PLAGUE. If the dolt can't even write a simple two or three sentence summary, what makes him think he/she can write an entire story...? This has always puzzled me.

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