icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
I apologize that I won't have time to reply to comments. I'm in finals, behind, asking for extensions even, and I won't have time to deal with the distraction. This is picked up from [livejournal.com profile] telesilla.

Aha! The Line! Or -- The Line Between Fanfiction and Plagiarism

For those who have trouble deciding where the line is between fanfiction and plagiarism, here it is.

[livejournal.com profile] caras_galadhon writes of a popular Lord of the Rings fanfic that turned pro-fic A Hidden Passion by Lucia Logan, which was then revealed to follow Jane Eyre on each plot point, and even in its wording. (I'll leave aside my surprise that the Jane Eyre plot wasn't recognized in the first place. I understand it was called an "homage.")

Next we have Gehayi's report on the pro version A Hidden Passion, which has a handy chart demonstrating where A Hidden Passion copies Jane Eyre.

This example is invaluable. I'm sorry so many people have been burned and the publisher invested in this book and had to withdraw it. (I'll leave aside my surprise that the publisher didn't recognize the Jane Eyre plot either.) Yet what we have here is a perfect example of where the line is drawn between fanfiction and plagiarism. Fanfiction haters take note.

Distance Between the Source and Fanfiction )

Embedded Fanfiction )

Paid and Unpaid Tie-In Novels )

Subversive or Transformative Fanfiction )

Character Displacement - Alternate Universes )

Character Displacement - Crossovers )

Character Displacement - Remakes and Remixes )

Author Reaction to Fanfiction )

Fanfiction Plagiarism )

Fanfic Leeches? Perhaps Symbiotic is the better word. )

My Point, if I have one.... )

This doesn't mean that more independent, distant fanfiction stories are better or somehow more "valid" (whatever that means) although it looks like the March-es of this world are more likely to win a Pulitzer. But the various types of fanfiction stories have different aims, and are trying to accomplish different writing challenges. What the different types of fanfiction have in common with each other is the intention to explore the characters and facets of the original writer's world.

I think I've written this long post just to avoid all the work I'm supposed to be doing right now. Do me a favor and if you comment, be patient about the lack of replies? It's going to be a week before I finish finals.

ETA: So I don't have a dozen comments misunderstanding me --

*sneaks in one more answer before I'm caught by the final-fairies*

I didn't say this explicitly though I probably should have. People who call fanfic plagiarism are usually conflating "plagiarism" with "lack of originality." (I should probably add that to clarify, thank you.) Some don't know any better, others count on people not knowing any better so that any argument against them sounds like hair-splitting.

I return to plagiarism at the end, but mostly I'm addressing the underlying accusation of "lack of originality." That's why I begin with Wide Sargasso Sea and March (obviously not plagiarised) and set them alongside fanfiction that does exactly the same thing as those two, is similarly original and quite far from the source material. I'm addressing both actual plagiarism and what they really mean by "plagiarism" at once.

Then I address the "yes-buts," because it is true that not all fanfiction is far from the source. So I analyzed the distance of various texts from their source and what that says about their "lack of originality."

There's a little bit about copyright in there with the discussion of fanfiction authors' attitudes about copyright with eachother, because people also conflate "plagiarism" with "breaking copyright" and "lack of originality," but I don't go into it. I probably should draw that point out more clearly. I just didn't want to get into a legal digression since the whole point is to avoid the legal nitpicking and address the underlying issue.

I've tried to look past the word "plagiarism" into what's really in question.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
How To Keep Your Challenge Committments - or - Strategies For Challenge Success. )

Why Does It Matter? The Cost To Your Self-Disclipline )

All is not lost. If you didn't make your challenge deadline(s), you may just need to reexamine your motives and your strategy for writing challenges.

The Writing Challenge requires certain time management skills that can be learned. It's not a coincidence that the "busy" people in fandom who have the least actual time are the ones who manage to write for four or five challenges while working full-time, running an RPG, and juggling committee responsibilities (I'm looking at you, [livejournal.com profile] femmequixotic).

#1 - Should You Sign Up At All? )

#2 - Writing Stages And Planning )

#3 - Uh-Oh. )

#4 - Dealing With The Guilt )
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
A friend of mine got into a discussion about which of her fandoms were wankiest (I think the specimens were House, Stargate Atlantis, and Supernatural, but don't quote me on that). It got me thinking: how would you, in a fair and impartial fashion, measure the wankiness of a fandom?

I'm far too lazy (or busy) to seek the figures for a comparison of fandoms but thinking about it on the bus I did manage a formula worthy of an Excel spreadsheet.

Quantitative Measures )

Qualitative Measures )

General Guiding Principle )

A System of Classifying and Ranking Wank )

Splashiness )

If I cared enough to do the research...

So there you have it. A method to determine the wankiness of your fandom of choice. I'm far too tired, lazy, busy (throw in "z" word of choice) to do the work of getting actual statistics. But if you're interested, drop it in Excel, plug in the numbers, and see what happens.

You might be surprised at which fandom is actually the wankier. Conventional wisdom says that the wankiest is Harry Potter. I haven't run the numbers, but I doubt it.

*tips hat*
*exits stage left*

* = Thank you, [livejournal.com profile] sociofemme. *roars with laughter* There may be a reason I'm not running the numbers. 1 + 3 + 4 in fact does not equal 12.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
About eight years ago I stumbled across a debate about Christopher Tolkien's collection of J. R. R. Tolkien's 13 volumes of notes The History of Middle Earth. The question: is it canon?

At the time I didn't understand the debate. What? Tolkien wrote it, right? So it counts as canon. Of course it does!

Or does it?

Now with the impending Encyclopedia of Harry Potterness, I understand why it's a question.

In the case of Tolkien's notes, they were compiled by his son, not Tolkien, and many of the working notes were at odds with what ended up in the actual Lord of the Rings. Because they were notes. And nothing more.

J. K. Rowling on the other hand will be overseeing her own project. Tying up all the loose ends of canon in her own way, on her own terms.

My answer to that: Nuh-uh. No way. She's alive, she can still write more books. In this case the Encyclopedia is an end run around expanding her own canon. It's cheap, spurious, and easy to throw out answers in an interview or slap together entries for an Encyclopedia. She can write all the stories she wants in her mind -- without giving us full and complete actual stories. She doesn't have to go through the hard work of processing the complete universe that creates a canon.

I think it was Orson Scott Card who pointed out that a story starts to write itself, it begins to take off of its own accord and run with your pen. The reason why she's contradicted some of her own answers from interviews in the past is because the creation of a story, of a canon, is this process. Writing will change what you "mentate" and "think through" with your purely intellectual faculties.

I don't accept this cheap shortcut of hers. Unless she takes the time to pick up her quill pen and write us a real story, I do not accept the Quik-Quotes Quill version of a canon.

P.S.: Whether or not the Encyclopedia agrees with my fanfic doesn't affect me in the least, because the vast majority my HP fics were written pre-Half Blood Prince and aren't canon compliant in any way. This is just my little manifesto on what is and isn't canon.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
What Is This Pornish Pixies of Which You Speak?

We fanfiction writers and readers wish that people who stumble on this odd thing we call "fandom" would take their time to learn what it is. Look around. Read some of our better stories (instead of selecting something at random, and really, would that even work in a book store?). Get to know us before you pass random ill-informed judgments.

Now that [livejournal.com profile] pornish_pixies has come into the limelight because of Strikethrough 2007 to a variety of fandoms, I'm going to ask other non-Harry Potter fandoms to do the same. I'm seeing [livejournal.com profile] pornish_pixies used as an example of "fanfic I wish didn't exist" in some fandoms, and I find that distressing, given [livejournal.com profile] pornish_pixies's history in the Harry Potter fandom.

But you don't know that history yet, do you? Give me a moment of your time.

First, Harry Potter is a megolith of a fandom that has kept the hecklers at Fandom Wank entertained for half a decade. The political infighting (a.k.a. "wank") has been in proportion to the size and variety of the HP fandom: immense. It became a by-word. Whenever a new fandom had a lot of wank, the folks at F_W gloated, "This could be the next Harry Potter."

If you wish to understand the history of Harry Potter wank, this well-written editorial (set aside an afternoon), The MsScribe Story: An Unauthorized Fandom Biography, covers 2001-2006 and will give you a Ph.D. in that darkest aspect of Harry Potter fandom history.

But it doesn't seem to mention [livejournal.com profile] pornish_pixies. Well, what was fun for the hecklers wasn't much fun for the participants.

Enter [livejournal.com profile] switchknife and [livejournal.com profile] pornish_pixies.

After a series of inter-related wanks that embroiled many friends, the prolific slash writer [livejournal.com profile] switchknife, who maintained the popular Switchknife Recs website waved a flag (red? white? pink?), calling for a halt to all the battles. "This is supposed to be fun," [livejournal.com profile] switchknife insisted. "Let's get back to the porn -- the good kind of wank."

Switch created [livejournal.com profile] pornish_pixies, "The Community You Wank Off To," kicking it off with a series of "write your favorite kink" challenges. Switch's terms (made somewhat solemnly, with a wink):
- Respect other people's squicks. Since this is a pr0n community, there will be depictions of various kinds of sexual practices. Please state warnings clearly before the fic/poem, or place your story behind a cut-tag (as advised above), if you feel that some of your subject matter could seriously upset people. (Examples: chanslash, bloodplay, rape.)

- Respect other people's kinks. Do not tease and/or abuse someone for their particular proclivities, or what they choose to write in a fic. Everyone here reserves the right to perv unchallenged.

It was intended to be short fics only, lunch hour length, but that went by the wayside very early on.

Since that time, [livejournal.com profile] pornish_pixies has been a sort of Japanese bathhouse of R and NC-17 Harry Potter fic. HP fans take off their fandom affiliations and politics and leave them at the door. "Fluffy Harry/Ron Christmas morning romance" appears next to "Werewolf BDSM Non-con" without a qualm. Slash, (Other?), are all welcome, so long as it's sexually explicit and you leave each other be.

So to stand outside of [livejournal.com profile] pornish_pixies and use it as an example of "that" kind of fic that "I would never read," misses the point of the community entirely.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
More spam! I so need to get some movies and stop bugging you guys.

But, really, everyone should read this book. I want it. Now. Here's [livejournal.com profile] princessofg's detailed review:

Fan Fiction and Fan Communities in the Age of the Internet by Karen Hellekson and Kristina Busse

Do you love the meta? Me, too.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
I helped a college student from a religious family set up her "security" to keep her parents out of her slash (and before you ask, no, she had no interest in abandoning her religion, she just felt her interest in slash fanfiction was irrelevant). She had other people's advice but here were a few of my suggestions:

  1. Consider computer crashes! An external drive is your friend. Stick a pile of books on top of it; the UBC cord only takes a moment to yank.

  2. If you're in Windows, set up two administrative passwords, then "hide" folders under your password. When you have computer problems you give them the other administrative password. If you do this correctly, the folders will not appear for those logged in under the other password.

  3. File names: there's nothing less interesting than a string of numbers for a filename. Labelling it PORN attracts attention.

  4. If you receive zines, get a Mail Boxes Etc.-type box. Pick a branch that gives you after hours access, and then only go there after hours. Pay with a money order or cash (not a check). Make sure you have a box large enough for whatever you receive. They used to allow a made-up name on the box too (my own box still has one) but the U.S. post office cracked down on that. And, uh, you can get more than zines this way.

  5. Set up a password-locked screensaver with a short timer, for those moments when someone drops by your room. Hello! Not such a big deal with stories, but that fan art can be a little obvious. My friend said she always had a cover file open that she'd toggle to.

  6. It goes without saying that you should set your system to clean out your history file and cookies on every shut down.

  7. Save no favorites (ha, always think of the obvious) except on external sites like del.icio.us.

  8. Use public archives for your stories or, if offered, webspace registered to other people (the latter can be risky so be careful). Remember, if you pay for webspace, your ISP has your name. In an archive, the archive owner assumes all risks and all they have is your email.

  9. I assume that I do not need to say something as silly as "use free email" and "don't use your work or home email" for your archive email address or other fandom interaction. But just in caseā€¦.

  10. The drawback to archiving in public archives is that you could lose control of your story or artwork. Most archives allow you to delete at will, and almost all archives will pull down a story at your request. But I do know of one case where the archive owner did not pull the story, and I had a webspace owner that periodically locked me and the other writers out. Some people prefer having their own webspace so that they control the content. For example, when an author turns pro they will often remove their fanfiction from online. It's your call which is more important to you: control, or anonymity.

  11. If you like cloak and dagger, or are just more paranoid than the norm, consider using a anonymizer to disguise your IP address when posting stories or interacting in fandom. Though at this point we're getting into tin-hat territory.

  12. Your fandom name should become your name in fandom under all circumstances. Do not ever give out your real name (even when I need something sent to me, people get my fake mailbox name). Here are two cautionary tales about this:

    The cruel fandom grudge: An (adult) friend felt people were unnecessarily paranoid about using real names, so she used her real name on fics. Her boss was had a copy of the Klingon-to-English dictionary in his office and fandom wasn't a big deal. This worked just fine for years, until some fen got angry with her and set up a wiki (that they alone could edit) saying lots of unpleasant things about her. Now whenever someone googles her real name (including for work) -- that's on the first page. Great.

    Fandoms have petty politics and grudges that can last for years. Fandom anonymity seems to create a psychological distance that allows people to do things they wouldn't do to someone they knew in person. The rule of thumb: Give No Ammo.

    The possessive fandom loon: Another friend had someone out of the blue offer her webspace for her popular story (by the way, if the offer comes before you know the person, I've never seen it go well). They became online friends, and even exchanged some items through the mail. Then this person became a beta-reader for the story but was so pleased to be "in the know" that she started giving out hints. In addition, she built an archive around the traffic to the popular story. When the writer decided to not allow her to beta-read any more, the webspace owner panicked that the story might be removed (it was the lynchpin of her archive) so threatened to expose the writer to her employer if she did so (unfortunately, the writer was elementary school teacher).
There are plenty of wackos anywhere, and fandom spans the globe; unfairly, they don't come with warning labels. The guy in the SGC uniform who's worked out declensions in Goa'uld can be perfectly normal while the pleasant mother of two can be a psycho. Keep fandom and real life separate.

As they say in the S&M community: play safe, and have fun.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
Okay, discouraged and frustrated at the moment.

The process of "de-fanficcing" a story, i.e., sawing off the serial numbers and turning fanfiction into original fiction, is much more than simply changing names and developing some backstory.

1 - Character development in fanfic is based upon prior material. It's a little like starting in the middle of a book. )

2 - Fanfic plots can be borrowed for original fiction without too much difficulty; however, if you have relied heavily on allusion to canon... )

3 - Allusion to canon in fanfic becomes the major stumbling block in 'de-fanficcing,' depending on the sort of fanfiction you've written. )

The fanfiction writer's greatest asset is their reader. Like with any highly specialized educated audience, the writer can reference a shorthand of shared ideas.

Even though fanfiction uses the same writing techniques as original fiction, within the restrictions of canon, the fanfic writer has this extra tool. It's a slightly different technique. Which doesn't tell us whether the writer can or cannot write original fiction. It just means you'll have to write differently.

As for "de-fanficcing": If you have an AU, with plenty of original characters (or at least a unique backstory for those characters), and aren't closely tied to canon, then maybe it's worth the effort.

The last question is: how attached are you to that fanfic? *Icarus starts the chainsaw.* Be ready to take it apart.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
Read a couple DVD commentaries today. Yep, still sick. It'll be nice to have my voice back someday. *cough, cough*

So, my enormous Maine Coon kitty's using my lap as a footstool as he snoozes, WG's at work (and refused to kiss me as he left because I'm still sick, *hack, cough*) and I'm reading DVD commentaries.

Conclusion: Most writers write terrible DVD commentaries.

Good lord. )

I mock, yet I am just as guilty. I simply didn't see it until I read other people's commentaries.

Some people say that authors are incapable of analyzing their own work. I do not believe that. I just think they don't know how. Everything they know about writing goes out the window when confronted with a request to write a commentary. Buh? You want what?

There is a process, however. Help is on the way.

Step 1: Consider the audience. What will the readers find interesting?

This isn't your home-movie moment with a captive audience to torment. What is genuinely different about that story they might not already know? Think, what got the readers interested in the first place? Are there bits of plot that you cut but wish you could have kept?

Step 2: Pick an approach, preferably based on audience interest. There are all kinds of options.

- Was this written three years ago in response to other stories or past events in canon that can help the reader contextualize it?
- Was the story drawn from a real life anecdote that might be interesting in and of itself?
- Does the story comment on some event in the world, or in fandom, today?
- Are there stylistic choices that make your story unique or interesting, something you can take apart structurally or linguistically?
- Are there events that went on in the publication of the story that (here's an important caveat) readers might find interesting?
- Is it drawn from some literary or other unexpected background? Have you hidden references to "The Story Of O" in your Gen-fic, for example?
- Did you learn something about canon, or develop resources that other writers might want to pursue?

This has a dual benefit. It gives your story a gloss that's interesting, and it causes you to step outside of yourself and your fic. The odd thing is that when people ask about your story, they don't want to know about the story, they want to know something other than story that's related. Ha.

Step 3: Choose your voice. Be entertaining.

This doesn't mean you have to be a buffoon on a bouncing stick. Intellectual writing is also fascinating. But do not forget you're still a writer.

Step 4: Have your commentary beta'd.

If anyone's reading your commentary, you're probably a good enough writer to catch your own SPAG errors. But commentaries are wide open in terms of style and approach, so you're flying without a net unless you have a beta to ask questions.

Step 0: I should have put this first. Only write the commentary if the subject warrants it.

That popular PWP or adventure fic may not have enough meat on its bones for you to say much about it. Even if people ask for a commentary, examine whether there is anything more. Maybe it's all in the fic. If so, save yourself the headache.

Now. I suppose I should follow my own advice, eh?

ETA: Was that too sarcastic? Some of the commentaries I just read were really bad.

ETA2: Added step four, probably the most vital.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
I'm been enjoying the warnings debate that's swept at least three fandoms (SG-1, SGA, Harry Potter, can we name any others?). Many fascinating posts and ideas on the subject. Do see [livejournal.com profile] agentotter and [livejournal.com profile] cofax7's points. [livejournal.com profile] destina had some great comments in Otter's journal that are apparently now in fully-fleshed form in her LJ, and [livejournal.com profile] isiscolo has several interesting posts on the subject as well.

I have nothing to say that others haven't said better. But!

I do have a decision. A policy, even.

I shall use warnings for the following:

- non-con/rape
- character death
- underage sex/chan
- incest
- violence
- spoilers (of recent canon)

Why these warnings? Because these are things that would bother me if I didn't know what I was in for from the start (well, except for the BDSM; in that case it would be like finding a prize in my cereal box). Also, they're standard for most fandoms. They represent the extremes.

What I won't warn for are the shades of grey in between. Dubious consent? A character has a near-death experience? Milder kinks like cross-dressing? Sex between (legal) 17-year-olds? Kissing cousins? Prostitution? At a certain point it gets ridiculous and I have to trust the readers' judgment and not try to set an artificial framework on a story, either an external one I've imported, or my own.

I've always inwardly laughed at MPAA ratings. They don't reflect what I feel is offensive. I once saw a pre-teen kiddie-flick that got a PG rating, yet it had this barf scene that, wow, I really regretted (my little brother's friends thought it was hilarious). Meanwhile these beautiful foreign art films with full frontal nudity were rated as if they were hardcore porn. Just because they showed a man's cock (apparently being hard or half-hard made a difference, go figure, while the woman could be totally naked and still only garner an R).

When I was a teenager I was allowed to watch sex scenes and nudity, but violence (such as the PG-13 Rambo) was forbidden. And, interestingly, two films were off-limits: The Postman Always Rings Twice because of the infidelity, and American Gigalo because of the prostitution. Even more interestingly, Cruising was only borderline (mom was concerned about the portrayal of a gay man as murderer, but not about the casual gay sex). The "MPAA rating" is this house was very specific and quite different from our friends' who goggled at our French films yet, unlike us, were allowed to watch "The Dukes Of Hazzard" every week. One of the things mom and I agree on (and the list is so very, very short) is our view of sex.

Readers values are their own, and I'm not going to play guessing games at what might or might not offend. To go beyond the standard warning I'd have to base that on what offends me, in which case you'll be warned for the barf scene but I'll totally neglect to mention the spanking.

Instead, I'm just going to have to trust you to know and will be able to spot what offends you. Use your Back button wisely. And remember: you may need to scrub the image of Percy (or Rodney) in a corset out of your brain, but at least you're not out $10.95 for the paperback.

ETA: Ack! Where did [livejournal.com profile] sdraevn go?

ETA2: Removed TMI detail -- habit. *deletes*

ETA3: School. Stop. Very swamped. Stop. Will respond to comments at later date. Stop.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
A Trip Inside The Mind Of The Plagiarist

First, I was just plagiarized on ff.net by someone calling themselves Cedric17. Their story (like mine) is called Skinny Dipping and was posted on 7/11/06.

My story Skinny Dipping was posted on my own site and adultfanfiction.net on 7/12/2003. Please take a moment to contact Fanfiction.net to let them know to take it down. You just click the Review button and there's an option to report abuse.

That said, I am not surprised. A lot of Harry Potter fanfiction writers have been plagiarised. I have been prepared for this since my first fanfic in Harry Potter, and have gone through great trouble to spread my fic far and wide -- with my name stamped in neon across it -- to prevent it from succeeding. The more people who recognise my stories, the more likely the plagiarist will be caught.

My first beta for Primer to the Dark Arts was extremely strange. )

When [livejournal.com profile] cursescar, [livejournal.com profile] loupnoir, and [livejournal.com profile] cybele_san were plagiarised, I wondered what on earth the plagiarist got out of this? In all cases they grabbed an obscure story, not one that would garner a lot of attention (Skinny Dipping is Harry/Percy, not exactly a magnet pairing). Then, once they were caught, they got all kinds of nasty reviews. What could they accomplish?

I have dealt with in my life two millionaire con-artists (one of whom faces criminal charges if he sets foot in the US, the other was arrested and is being investigated by the IRS), one petty con-artist who ripped off an employer and myself, a coworker from a well-to-do family who stole tens of thousands from an employer of mine, and one online con-artist who attempted to scam myself and a number of other people in the Harry Potter fandom in 2004. Apparently it's my karma.

Drawing on my experience with such people, I would like to take you on a trip inside the mind of the plagiarist. Bring a flashlight. It's a scary, dark place. With spiders.

Entitlement. First, these types all seem to believe that they are owed something by the rest of the world. They all have this song and dance about how hard their life was compared to others, it was so unfair -- the world (by which they mean you) owes them. They are not ripping you off, they are being given their due. The means are acceptable because, the world being unfair, they won't be given what's rightfully theirs otherwise. What is their due? Why, everything they want, of course.

Arrogance. Second, it's fun for them. They enjoy the scam. They like what they can get out of it if they win, sure... the money, the reviews, the attention. But the process itself boosts their ego. Every person they fool makes them feel smarter than the rest of the world. The more clever the scam, the more loops they manage to slip, the better they feel. It's proof that yes, they are owed more, because look how much smarter they are than these suckers. When they're caught, all they do is try to figure out where they slipped up so they can play the game better. Any police officer can tell you that murderers and bank robbers will admit what they did was wrong, but con artists never do.

Minimizing. Third, they all seem to say, yes, "everyone does it" and "these idiots would be taken by someone, so why not me?" They believe that there is no harm done and that the world is unaffected by their actions. This "stupidity" (in their eyes) is a like a terminal disease: the end is inevitable.

Laziness. Fourth, it's easier to take what someone else has than to work for it yourself. Writing a story can take days of effort, while plagiarising only takes minutes -- with the same results (in their minds). And fewer risks. Why marry a woman who might gain weight, when you can steal someone else's wife after seeing exactly how she turned out, post-wedding?

Envy. Fifth, and this goes with that sense of entitlement, these people seem to want so much. There's no end to it. They look at a beautiful house, and instead of seeing "hey, what a nice house" they say, "why isn't my house that nice?" And once they've stolen something or conned someone into buying them that house, they just want something else.

Self-absorption. Sixth, and this varies in degree from con to con, but inevitably they are far more important than anyone else in the universe. It's almost childish, their focus on "me." One extreme is the sociopath (and yes, I have run into this). As it was explained to me, they don't even view people as beings with thoughts and feelings like themselves. People are like furniture to them. They may like that piece of furniture but they don't have any personal feelings towards it, of course not. So they can be very pleasant... and then slit your throat for your wallet. Nothing personal. They just needed the wallet.

The less extreme cases figure out ways where their victims "deserve it." They'll say "oh, well, he's a rich asshole" or "that person's a BNF." It's similar to the way the military brands their enemy as "Japs" or "Terrorists," stripping away the human underneath, leaving a label instead.

How's that flashlight holding up? )

Okay, now into the light... What Do You Do? (beyond the obvious of course)

Knowing what we know about the con (and make no mistake, although plagiarism is theft, its purpose is to con people into thinking they wrote that story) what do you do? You can't reform the plagiarist or con-artist. They are not concerned with the feelings of others. Instead, you have to lay down the law.

1 - get "their" story taken down. Take away the object that they want. Take away the house. Take away the stuff -- that's what they want.

2 - rob them of the pleasure of fooling people. Cut off that feeling of superiority. Let them know they were caught, and how easily. How transparent they were. Public humiliation works best.

How will the con-artist respond?

Have your evidence ready. For plagiarism this is pretty easy. But be aware:

The con-artist invariably plays their role to the hilt. )

Great news! It's been pulled. It's gone. The plagiarist is done for. FF.net yanked the story within twenty-four hours. Thank you all for sending the Abuse reports. *Icarus breathes a heavy sigh of relief*
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
I tried to read the the [livejournal.com profile] msscribe report, but somewhere around page two my head exploded.

The report's excellent, written in a journalistic style, carefully researched with disclaimers about unclear or missing information and almost completely without the usual "Rita Skeeter" glee you find in wankery and those who love it. charlottelennox has done a good job. The tone, at least as far as I've read, makes this much easier to stomach, despite the level of lurid detail.

That said, I couldn't stomach it. Lies, blatant manipulation, sock-puppetry of the worst kind where someone invents their own fans and their own pseudo-Christian troll. I fell for this, too, back when "The Black List" was published by [livejournal.com profile] fandom_scruples on LJ in 2004. What it says about slashers' biases (and fears?) towards Christians (the real Christians apparently told the troll to turn the other cheek and whatnot) is a little disturbing.

It only occurs to me ... and please forgive my deep and abiding cynicism that arises from having exposed one LJ financial scam, dealt with a harrassing flurry of sockpuppets attacking [livejournal.com profile] wildernessguru for criticizing certain pack designs -- (from a designer we know; the guy finally screwed up and dropped info he could only know in person via his sockpuppets, oopsie) -- and one rather persistant troll who hates my Buddhist stuff ... wouldn't it be something if this were all a final grab for attention by [livejournal.com profile] msscribe?

I doubt it, but this oldtimer leans on the sidelines and waits for the other shoe to drop. *Icarus chews a toothpick, narrow-eyed*

ETA: Chatting with [livejournal.com profile] sharp_tongue and [livejournal.com profile] orca_girl, apparently in chapter ten charlottelennox explains how she got involved in writing this account. I haven't been able to read that far. [livejournal.com profile] orca_girl points out it's the nature of this type of account for people to doubt it.

Yeah. I've run into that. People immediately want to distance themselves and show that "I'm an oldtimer" *cough* so "I'd never be fooled, nuh-uh, not me!" It's also a sign that the account is successful in making people alert -- too alert at first.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
Into the home stretch on finals.

I have a question: Why do people snicker when they edit my essays?

I was in conference with my teacher and there was a little snicker every paragraph or two. If it hadn't been accompanied with the nod (the nod is good) I'd worry. One of my peer reviewers did say she found my essays "always entertaining!!!"

My Hawthorne essay is done. My Lucy essay is done. My lit journal is done. *checks off the list, which both looks and feels good* Hopefully [livejournal.com profile] h_oserheidi won't have me shot on Monday for my 11th hour edit of her paper.

I've decided I like lit crit. I just loathe Spivak. I fear my Lucy essay reflects this loathing in an unmistakable way. Do you think using Freud, Singer, and Gallanter's work on the deceptive language of cults and comparing Spivak's writing style to "twin language" is going too far?

Nah. I got away with using The Onion as a source in a Shakespeare essay and got an A (oh yeah, I told you guys about that, didn't I?). Besides, the longer I'm in school the more I like Freud. You can stop a bus with Freud. I don't even agree with Freud, I'm more a Jung fan, but quoting Freud is like saying, "In a personal conversation with God I was informed that the diplodocus was originally intended to be bird."

I did dial it back though. One of my classmates read it, raised an amused eyebrow and said, "I take it you're no fan of post-modernism."

I have one more paper that's worth half my grade for the India class due on Tuesday. I love my British professor but am I the only one who thinks this is a good way to get a lot of shitty papers slapped together at the last minute? I... I'm drawing a complete blank on it, though fortunately I can draw on the material from my presentation.

I have a brutal Lit Crit exam to study for so it's time to research the classes I missed. When [livejournal.com profile] wildernessguru's mom got sick I spent more time on family than school. She's doing well in chemo now, very tired and the stuff has killed her appetite... but so far, so good.

Thank god most of what I missed was the Shakespeare section, given I took Shakespeare last quarter.

The discussion of Last Port Of Call continues to be fascinating but I've had to pull back and stop. #1 -- grades. #2 -- lack of sleep. #3 -- I'm so focused on school right now I'm not even sure my responses to Last Port will make sense. I re-read something I said to [livejournal.com profile] wickedwords and went "huh?"

Oh, and a thank you to [livejournal.com profile] cesperanza for pointing me to [livejournal.com profile] merryish's SGA Vid "Hello." Wow. Doesn't that capture the first season.

*A tired Icarus continues to ramble.*

You know, I've always wanted to do something a little more than a rec-list. Something like an anthology of stories for the year, like a New Year's gift to the fandom, with little bits about how the stories answered each other and were responding to new canon, what was going on at the time in fandom. [livejournal.com profile] painless_j has a meme/challenge/request for people to rec older stories and I see a need for this. I'd like to go back to 2003 and do one for HP. Except I think that [livejournal.com profile] regan_v would do a better job at the whole concept...

*Icarus wanders off absently*
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
The essay that I'm reading.

"...focusing on the singularity of the language allows us to notice that the literariness of literature makes the language itself part of the content."

Can one shoot the author for that phrase alone? I've no doubt that somewhere there's a database with addresses and whatnot. I'm sure we can track her down.

Crap. I spend all my life trying to make what's been overly complicated, simple. Cleaning up the unnecessary confusion and obfuscation. I get the impression that these people like to bury their meaning. They're not attempting to communicate and connect.

I understand it. She's saying that the language is more important to the story than the plot, tells us more, gives us more meaning -- and I agree. The reason I think Beg Me For It is a good story is because of the POV character, how he filters the story, and what it tells the reader that it's the "ordinary guy" Ron, and what his filtering says about the gap between a horrific experience and how we handle that experience. Bottom line is that Beg Me For It is very hopeful, even while it doesn't ignore how we get effected in ways that we don't notice by the circumstances of our lives. It does say that we have power even when we're powerless. The story isn't in the plot. The story is in Ron's reactions and asides, his irreverent attitude.

Draco's a contrast, but he's doing the same thing. His bluntness shows his stark refusal to be controlled by his circumstances. But his way has its downside: he's clearer, cleaner than Ron, but all hell is unleashed against him. Ron's way is safer, but little compromises sneak in till he's changed in ways he doesn't intend. Draco's changed, too, but mostly on the outside (with all the bruises and abuse). It turns out that Draco's the one who takes lasting damage - he breaks - but his sharp words act as a wake-up call to Ron. Ultimately, the fact that Ron was starting to tell "Death Eater"-type jokes reveals something more sinister: that over time his compromises would have changed him too much. So that's the dark side weighed against the hope.

See? That was clear, wasn't it? No "literariness of literature" to be found. But yes, Spivak, how a story is told reveals a great deal.

*grumbles at overly stylistic frou-frou writing*

ETA (much later): Okay, [livejournal.com profile] cesperanza's right, my dissection here isn't formalist enough. I still swung back to dissecting character. But! I can do it. Really.

On the other hand -- I feel vindicated. Learned from the prof. this morning that Spivak has won the New York Times' mean spirited Worst Academic Writer award (so has Judith Butler). More than once. Even proponents call her style "tortured English."

Yes, I feel tortured all right.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
Some navel-gazing without the belly-dance moves.

I've told people that I love my stories. "Of course I do. I write what I want to read!" I declare. But that's not entirely true.

I enjoy my stories as I write them. Sometimes I think they suck. (Sometimes I fear they suck.) Sometimes a story is so much work, I feel like Sissyphus -- if Sissyphus had to push a zamboni fourteen times over the same three inches before he could roll it another handspan up the hill, rinse, repeat. Often I know their flaws all too well and I pray that nobody else notices as I hustle them out the door. My ambitions are relatively low: I only hope to be better than the worst of the dreck I've seen on ff.net, even as I push to write to the best of my ability.

The readers teach me to love my stories.

The story that I cringed when I dropped into the public eye, ready to apologize for inflicting it on the world... the readers startle me when they love it. Thought it was funny? Oh God, I was so afraid it wasn't.

The story I stayed up all night writing in comments then dropped into an LJ post with unwarranted abandon... the readers find nuances that I didn't suspect in such a slapdash effort.

I've spent ridiculous amounts of time polishing a story like it's the Hope diamond, only to have it meet a lukewarm reception of quiet clapping.

Then I've had stories riddled with flaws that I considered so mediocre they might as well come with a Happy MealTM... and readers find something in them that is meaningful, and I blink, and have another look. Really? But I was just, you know, meeting a challenge deadline -- okay, who am I to argue?

I think this occurs because the experience of writing is so different from the experience of reading. The writer is in on the joke, so it's stale, the writer knows the ending, so it's trite, the writer is absorbed in the work of writing, so that, positive or negative, tinges the feeling the writer has about the story.

Therefore, I have a few confessions.

Primer to the Dark Arts? I lived and breathed this story, and never cared if anyone loved it as much as I did. Reader response: they loved it, too.

Cursed Artefacts For Sale? I was embarrassed that I had written something that to me seemed so clunky and unfunny. I almost didn't publish it. Reader response: one of my all-time most popular stories. If someone hates everything else I've written, they like this one.

Hey You? Was the apple of my eye as I wrote it. It was refreshing and crisp and new to write something so bleak. I wrote it with evil glee, it was my personal favorite in the series. Reader response: widely regarded as one of the weaker parts of the series.

Far Too Personal? Was written in an all-night jam session, entertaining a friend. It was a romp and nothing more. Reader response: was welcomed with a flood of responses and it's still being recommended, years after the fact.

Beg Me For It? I didn't want to write. It was such an ugly idea, just horrible. Then... I thought it was technically well-crafted. But still, ugh. I'd never want to read it. Reader response: a fixture in the Ron/Draco fandom for which I receive the most interesting, well-considered reviews addressing Nazism, issues of consent, submission and domination.

Council Of Obvious Edicts? A nightmare. It took two jam sessions in chat to force myself to write it. I always thought it came out a jumbled mess. Reader response: I never worked to publish this widely, but at least one writer whose taste I hold in high regard loved it so I'm forced to reevalute.

Skinny Dipping? Pure joy. This story makes me melt with sensual pleasure, everything from the water, to the moonlight, to the color of dustmotes in the morning, the play of emotions. Reader response: a hit on the old adultfanfiction.net but the story never had legs, partially because it's technically chan (Harry's 14, Percy's 18) and it couldn't be posted on RS.org (yes, I do love this story).

For The Petulant Gods? Another silly romp, torn off the notepad and thrown into the air. Reader response: one of my most frequently recommended SG-1 stories, along with Shy Guy and Fools Can Dream.

Two Way Mirror? One of my most carefully written pieces. I wrote this one with a slide-rule and still feel a sense of pride. Reader response: People liked it, and then it quickly faded into the background.

Colony Atlantis? I've never done so many total re-writes and I loved it. This had four incarnations and almost tripled in length. First it was a light, but incomplete comedy. Then it was ansty with a wistful ending. Then it was angsty with a romantic fluffy ending. Then it finally became, well, the story I posted. Reader response: not wildly popular, but received a lot of interesting, thoughtful reviews. Those who read it, it seemed to make them think.

Guy Talk? In 2003 I was sure I'd lost the ability to write, that the creative spark was gone and this sad piece of work was all I could do after that initial burst of activity. Reader response: one of my most long-lasting, well-liked stories.

I've decided the author doesn't know. The author responds to certain aspects of the story -- for example, the water images from Skinny Dipping are from my childhood growing up on a lake. Council Of Obvious Edicts was written under a tight deadline when I had miserable time being the moderator of the Fic-A-Thon.

I don't love my favorites less based on a bad review. But when it comes to deciding what's good and what isn't? I leave that up to you.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
The Myth of a Dying Fandom

There've been quite a few posts in the Harry Potter fandom lately about how it's dying, or declarations isn't dying, or that it needs to be revitalized, etc., etc. I think a lot of people have set the dying fandom myth to rest, but to add my two cents...

I receive several reviews a week on Harry Potter stories I wrote upwards of three years ago. Beg Me For It is being translated into Russian for Fanrus, a site that features Huge numbers of Harry Potter Russian translations. I was recently sent several gorgeous pieces of fanart. Given the last full-length HP fic I wrote was The Metronome in January, and I haven't been stirring the cauldron posting stories everywhere, that sounds like a pretty lively fandom to me.

When a group of authors discussed fanfiction on Making Light, most of the fanfiction writers who turned up wrote Harry Potter.

Now I have noticed that the HP authors I've followed for years haven't been posting a lot of fic. There seems to be a multi-fandom fad going around. I'm no different. Right now I don't have any HP stories burbling on the stove. I did burn out after 130 HP stories, and I was counting on Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince to restart my engines.

Instead, I find I'm holding my breath.

The book was a cliffhanger and I'm not one of those people who like to fill in what I think the ending's going to be. I don't shake my Christmas presents either. I like to be surprised. I've always been canon-centric in Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter (we'll not mention what I do to canon in Stargate Atlantis). So instead of filling in the ready-made holes of canon, I find myself faced with a story that's... incomplete. I don't want to tie up the loose ends or finish anything off for JKR. I want to see what she does.

This is not a dying fandom. This is a fandom on the edge of a cliff, silently breathless, waiting for the fireworks to begin.

I predict an explosion of fanfiction after JKR's final book.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
Insights into Slughorn, or...

"101 Reasons Not To Join The Slug-club."

On first glance, Slughorn's one of the good guys. He supports Dumbledore over Voldemort (despite his Slytherin origins) and while he may have misjudged young Tom Riddle, his mistake is an innocent one. He trusted the kid too much.

But Harry had good reason to avoid the Slug-club. Dumbledore's warning about being "collected" seems odd. What's wrong with belonging?

Slughorn's motives stink. Oh sure, Slughorn does pave the way to power and he's clearly a good ally to have, but why does Slughorn do it?

The key to understanding Slughorn is to recognize his frustrated ambitions. )
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
These days I'm not very good about reviewing stories I read. I have a tendency to just stick them on a rec-list and make my contribution that way.

Should One Reply To Reviews?
When I reviewed my first story, the author graciously got back to me about a week later. (I think it was [livejournal.com profile] keelywolfe but don't quote me on that.)

I was surprised because I hadn't expected a reply. I figured emailing the author was like sending a letter to the editor: into the Abyss, but at least you expressed your feelings. I wrote detailed reviews in the early days, several paragraphs (sometimes pages) of con-crit - and always sent a direct email as I wasn't about to critique a story publicly.

One author updated her abandoned fic with two or three chapters in response. Reviews really do have an impact.

It was so gratifying to hear from the author that I resolved to reply to every review I received, especially when I learned that not everyone did. It seemed... mannerly. I also found that once someone replied to my review I felt warmly about them and their stories.

Yes, I'm definitely in the camp that feels it's best to reply. But Must one reply to reviews? )
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
Ritual and Magic in Harry Potter

This is inspired by [livejournal.com profile] regan_v's recent essay on Ritual and Harry Potter Magic.

Ritual is canon for advanced Dark Magic. We witnessed this in Peter's ritual to bring back the Dark Lord in the Goblet of Fire (which, whoops, I almost spelled Goblin of Fire). It stands to reason that elaborate ritual is also the method for such things as advanced "light" magic, sex magic, sophisticated potions, and the production of such things as, oh say, the Philosopher's Stone.


Well, this could be because I just like the idea of Snape participating in the combination of exactitude and emotional abandon of ritual. )

ETA: Okay. How many of you kept stopped at sex magic ("...sex magic? Really?")?
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
Oh, out of the blue, for no particular reason I've coined a term for the melodramatic fandom exit:

"Fandom Suicide."

You know the ones. The writer/fan/reader posts a long-winded explanation (a.k.a. "suicide note") why they're leaving... forever (back of hand to forehead)... woe is me -- "and here's how you all should feel really guilty about my departure."

Just to make sure the knife is keenly felt, "I shalt take down all my fics and delete my archive."

It's perfect. The motives are exactly the same!

The only difference is an actual suicide isn't likely to come back, months later, looking a little silly. Hanging around the gravestone, "Uh, hi guys."

I really ought to stop listening to Bach's Toccata in G D Minor. It puts me in a macabre mood.

ETA: Sheesh. I've been saying G Minor all week.


icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)

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