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 (Rodney b-w by artconserv)
While I struggle through the next transition in Out Of Bounds ... gnnngh, why is this so hard? ... I tinker with my review of 2005 Stargate Atlantis fanfiction. I did one for 2006 and I hope to do one for 2007 as well.

What are the main themes of 2005 Stargate Atlantis and stories that exemplify them? Here are my initial notes.

John and Rodney are easy! Goodbye DADT --

- The very early soft romances. Stories by 2004 early adopters like [livejournal.com profile] thegrrrl and [livejournal.com profile] mmmchelle.

Initial confusion over loyalty to SG-1, a concern completely dispensed with due to --

- [livejournal.com profile] pegasus_b! (No idea what stories to include.)

Which led to SGA having a rep for --

- Wacky crackfic and AUs! I'm thinking the penguin stories. "It Stops Being Funny At Skirts." The story where Rodney is turned into a little dinosaur. The Harlequin Romance challenge, such as that mail order bride story, need to find two or three more Harlequin stories.

- Fandom's love affair with Rodney in fics like "Oblivious," and "Don't Tell."

Other early themes that are now standard to SGA fic, SGA's lighthearted tone --

- Ancient technology does something unpredictable. "Face Value." That one where John and Rodney explore the high tower of Atlantis and end up married. "Double Occupancy." "A Beautiful Lifetime Event."

- Atlantis' black market. Stories that reference Atlantis' drug subculture.

- Paranoid alien cultures, such as that one where John is imprisoned in the mountain and Rodney's the only one allowed to visit him. Other examples?

- Alien society does something to John because he's an ATA carrier (capture him, try to sacrifice him, make him participate in alien fertility rituals, often an excuse for "Aliens Made Them Do it"). I know I've seen this theme, but specific stories, hmm... the only two I can think of have something done to Rodney because of the ATA gene.

- Darker themes (especially in Gen for some reason) from Atlantis being cut off and taking drastic measures, such as [livejournal.com profile] ltlj's story, the name of which won't come to me right now, and [livejournal.com profile] rivier's Exigencies. The storm over "Transcendental" and the new, darker characterization in the previously light-hearted fandom.

Aha! [livejournal.com profile] auburnnothenna reminds of of the hiatus, which took things in a different direction from what happened in canon --

- Such as "Care Packages" and "A Different Fate" and Karen McFaddyon's "A Matter of Discretion."

Then after Atlantis reconnected with Earth --

- The scientists hazing the new military, such as in "Instructional," and that one that starts with Rodney saying, "If anyone asks, I've been sitting here the whole time." "Care Packages."

- Return to earth stories -- silly ones, romantic ones, and ones focused on recovery.

- [livejournal.com profile] iibnf reminds me that, good lord, I forgot the Post-Trinity stories.

Did I nail all the main themes? Disagree? Think I'm off my rocker? I could be missing a lot. It's tricky for me because I didn't start reading SGA until September 2005, so I missed most of the year.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Rodney b-w by artconserv)
While I'm waiting for the next Supernatural episode I thought I'd ramble on about Teyla in Atlantis.

I keep hearing people talk about how unrealistic and flat Teyla's characterization is. At the same time I hear chatter about Ack! Season four spoiler here! )

What I have to say about Teyla and her role in SGA is going to piss off many women, feminists and non-feminists alike, but this particular female role has been pissing off women for decades -- so why should we be any different?

Ack! Oh no, more spoilers! ) because Teyla is the T&A* character. She exists solely as a blank female body for hormonal teenage boys to project their fantasies onto, like the women in Charlie's Angels back in the 80s. Nothing can disrupt the green screen. Hell, Charlie's Angels even gave the boys three women to choose from, in blond and two shades of brunette.

The T&A character is not allowed any flaws (except maybe a few cute ones) for this would force complexity into fantasy, spoiling it. Instead of imagining her naked and available, the fantasy would then have to come up with a scenario to deal with her personality. Fortunately, the garden variety T&A character doesn't have a personality, or at least no more than what you'd expect from an expensive call girl: charming perfection, where nothing can ripple that calm exterior, fitting the stereotype (whichever one she's supposed to be) perfectly.

The T&A character cannot have any romantic attachments, as this too destroys the fantasy: instead of imagining her naked and all for you, [insert name of teenage boy here], the fantasy would have to account for Ronon beating the shit out of you later, or John Sheppard having you fragged.

Egad, still more spoilers. )

But, you say, Teyla has flirted with John and Ronon. And she's been attracted to an "anonymous off-screen Marine" and even been teased about it.

Of course. The girls in Charlie's Angels were always coming home from dates, too. The T&A character can't be too untouchable. There needs to be a whiff of sexuality, of availability. An off-screen romance is okay, because it could be you, [insert name of teenage boy] that she's dating. See how that works with the fantasy?

Yep, more spoilers. ) The T&A character has to be -- prepare for total disgust, ladies -- worthy and virtuous.

Yes, the T&A character has to walk the line between the virgin and the whore. Anything complicated and human, such as a mistake, spoils the fantasy. It turns her into a human being, forcing the fantasy to become more involved -- instead of Teyla naked and willing, you have to, um, Cut in case you guys are quite sharp and this tidbit gives the spoiler away by implication. ) which... oh, suddenly it's not just about sex anymore. You have ethics involved, you have to decide how you feel about this, and now you're picturing an entire relationship. Which isn't the point of the T&A character.

So Teyla Just riddled with spoilers today. ) Therefore: accident with alien technology, anyone?

Finally, Last spoiler, I promise. ) because that means responsibility, and--and stuff, spoiling everything.

Mark my words. Teyla's characterization is lame for a reason, and I very much doubt the writers will change it.

*T&A: Tits and Ass.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Rodney b-w by artconserv)
Someone asked me the other night if it was worth getting involved in the SGA fandom given the recent wankiness. She's a good writer, with a feel for dialogue and a playful sense of humor. I'd love to see her take a crack at John/Rodney. We talked for a while and it got me thinking.

The Utility of Fandom, or What Have You Done For Me Lately?

Ultimately, what matters in fandom is what you produce. What you give to the fandom.

If you generously write stories for people to read, run archives to make the fics available, go through the effort of combing through and recommending good stories, beta-read stories, or run challenges and communities and newsletters -- what you've done for others is what will matter. That dedication and sincere effort.

Challenge communities: There may be squawks of complaint over how a challenge is handled. But ultimately, the person who ran the challenge made dozens or even hundreds of stories available.

Writers and Betas: There may be people who get upset about this or that aspect of a story. But eventually, the smoke clears, and the story (or stories) remain. And people enjoy them. Months down the line no one cares about the wank. Happens all the time.

Reccers: I've yet to hear of a wank surrounding a rec-list (if you want to participate wank-free, you may have just found your niche). But if there ever were one, personally, I only remember gratitude for reliably good story recs.

Newsletters and Archivists: Someone might complain about how a newsletter is run, or about an archive's policies. But in the long run, they're both darned useful, and that effort (and money) has made stories more readily available.

I don't say the trite, "this too shall pass." What I mean to say is that I've noticed those who complain very often produce nothing for the rest of us. There is nothing tangible, no stories, no community, no archives, nothing for us to enjoy or participate in (unless you like schadenfreude).

For those who do the work -- keep writing the stories. Run your communities, archives, and rec-lists. You're the ones doing something for the fans. Believe me, the readers know who's done something for them lately. [livejournal.com profile] ltlj? Has given us a lot of great stories.

For those who want change: add to the fandom. The field is wide open. There are no start-up costs, no barriers, anyone can write anything. Start a community. Begin a challenge to promote the kinds of stories you want to see. There are plenty of successful politically motivated fanfic communities. Put your webspace to use and create an archive; eFiction is easy to install. If not, prepare to be disappointed and for your words to be like dust.

The equation is simple. The fanfiction community runs on, shock of shocks, fanfiction.

Even this essay. Pfft. It'll be gone in a day or two. Since I'm a fanfic writer, I'd better get back to work on that John/Lorne fic.


Mar. 30th, 2007 08:24 pm
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Rodney b-w by artconserv)
Worried about wank?

Fearful your story might be pilloried and garner negative reviews?

Fear no more! The Story-Bot is here to cleanse your fic of offensive content. Here's how it works:

Simply write your story as you would normally. Then plug in the Story-Bot (any resemblance to a paper shredder is purely coincidental), insert your story -- and let her rip!

We at Story-Bot then go to work on your fic. We have painstakingly harvested from countless reviews, wanks, and opinion pages everything that offends anyone. And with weekly upgrades (available at a minimal fee) we stay ahead of the trends. We shall:

- Change your offensive BDSM content to respectable food sex (as seen in the blockbuster hit 9 1/2 Weeks)!

- Edit out demeaning job titles! Your stewardesses shall fly planes. Your housewives shall have meaningful careers!

- Swap races to evade any racial stereotypes! Why have black barista when you can have a black barrister? Remember, a black waitress is trapped in a demeaning job, while a white waiter is necessarily moving on to bigger and better things -- no, it's not in your story, but trust us: we know what your readers assume.

- At no additional charge, our special "valorizing" feature will make sure all of your characters act in a properly heroic fashion. At long last, you will please each and every character's respective fanbase -- without fail!

- Finally, we sweep through your story with our patented Story-Bot Flame-BlasterTM! Yes, we will remove any slashy content and put the gay back in the subtext -- where it belongs.

Get Story-Bot today, and make sure your fic is as inoffensive* as Wonder bread [story-bot deletion: brand competitors], white bread [story-bot deletion: nutrition activists], wheat bread [story-bot deletion for current events: see pet owners and poisoned wheat] pita bread!

* With your purchase of Story-Bot and Story-Bot features, you agree to hold harmless Story-Bot Mega Corp, Inc. from any resulting plagiarism claims. The use of Story-Bot does not guarantee your story will be completely inoffensive to all parties. In addition, Story-Bot Mega Corp, Inc. does not claim your writing and story content will in any way improve.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
I figured out the secret to writing my WIPs.

Have something I want to do less. Yes! Avoidance of other stories will direct one to the long-neglected WIP, tut suit.

And now for your entertainment, inspired by [livejournal.com profile] teaphile: A Stargate Atlantis worst-case scenario guide.

Everyone's panicking about just what season four might bring. Trembling in fear. It's time to bring those fears out into the open. What is the worst that can happen?

Sam Carter appears in every episode (with Amanda Tapping acting as well as she has these last few years). Then she's signed on for season five... eeeeeeeeeiiiiiiiiiiiiii!

Face those fears. You can do it!

The Replicators sweep through the Pegasus Galaxy handily defeating the Wraith, thus replacing a foe that has some mystery with one that's been beaten to death. Aaaaaaaack!

It's good for you.

Cut-tagged for your pleasure... )
See? Don't you feel better?

How bad could it be?
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 think I forgot to say in my comments to Sunday: oh, how long I waited for John in dress blues. Now all he needs to learn is how to stand at attention. I like that. *slow smile*

The glee continues over here at the implications Cut for John Sheppard spoilers. )

Four things you should take away from this:

1 - Men are incredibly honest with Buddhist nuns, future Buddhist nuns, and past Buddhist nuns, probably because a you're not an option.
2 - A man is more likely to cheat when a relationship is unstable than a woman.
3 - Zelenka probably didn't get laid until very late in life.
4 - Given a choice between Sheppard and Zelenka, you should definitely go with Zelenka. Unless you're really attached to those dress blues. ;)
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Rodney b-w by artconserv)
[livejournal.com profile] wildernessguru and I just watched "Sunday." This was bad timing given yesterday's news about WG's mom's cancer. I'm looking for anything to cheer him up. Online silliness. What have you. He just called The Puppy.

Tumors. Great. That's just perfect. (Thoughts about Sunday, SGA, alert: spoilers within.) )

But before we get all teary-eyed about one character, what about John's little bombshell? A quiz for you. )

Theories? Thoughts? Scenarios? Answer in comments. ;)
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Rodney b-w by artconserv)
I really need a Sheppard icon. Of course, then I realize, oh well, I'm so lazy about icons I'd probably never use it.

I watched Walk The Line this week, but the implications of Sheppard having a Johnny Cash poster on his wall just hit me. Johnny Cash was in the Air Force. He also hated the Air Force, comparing it to doing time in Folsom Prison.

And Sheppard has a Cash poster on his wall. Brought it with him to Atlantis.

Wow. There's a statement.

John Sheppard was just marking time in Antarctica, waiting to get out of the military. No wonder he didn't want to go to the Pegasus Galaxy. It meant an indefinite stay in the Air Force.

icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
Hello. I've been working on this off and on since October. School's just started again (Sanskritsanskritsanskrit...) so I probably won't have much time to reply to comments. *takes a deep breath* Okay, I hope I have enough disclaimers.

The SGA Project, a.k.a. "Flavor Of The Year."

The goal: Give readers a taste of 2006 Stargate fandom, provide a rec-list with context, a description of intertexts, and explanation.

Why: Coming from the Harry Potter fandom, I find myself constantly explaining stories we wrote and read two-three years ago, "yes, yes, well… canon was like this, you see, and there was this story and then someone wrote that other story in response and…." Fanfiction is interdependent, relying what happens in canon, in mainstream media, and in between other stories in fandom. Stargate Atlantis is just in its second year of fanfic, new enough that we can still trace these connections. Well. More or less. I mean, how do you trace the connections between over 2,000 writers and 7,000 stories?

Caveat: I don't speak for fandom, I only speak for my own limited view. Picture it as a fish-eye camera in the room: it's just "a" perspective but not the only one, and a different camera mounted at a different angle, pointed somewhere else, will capture a completely different picture. Anyone who wants to create their own analysis, or write more based on other pairings, please go ahead. I regret I can't cover everything. A particular bummer is that I can't do Het (don't know it) and I'm only touching on Gen. Any volunteers? Bueller-?

Methodology: Methodology )
Acknowledgements: This snapshot would not have been possible without... )

This is not a fan award or a top ten list. It's a rec-list with a particular angle that attempts to capture a snapshot of the year. Obviously I'm going to choose stories I like, but what I'm interested in is intertextuality, context, the conversation that frames the stories.

Canon Synopsis, Let Us Take You Back: 2006 Canon Synopsis... )

Affect of Canon on Fanfiction: As a result of contact with home, the desperate darkness of 2005's season one fanfiction disappeared since the expedition was no longer trapped. But some of the carefree silliness also dispersed... )

Affect of Pop Culture on Fanon: The critical success of Brokeback Mountain... )

Taking the Military Seriously: Slash writers began to deal with don't ask, don't tell head on... )

Effect of Current Events on Fandom, or Stargate's Usual Delight in Politics: It's unusual to have one story utterly dominate a fandom... )

The Natural Growth of a New Fandom. The Joys of Minor Characters: Speaking of Lorne... )

"That Kiss," and its Affect on Slash: The first gay kiss in a sci-fi series... )

A New Slashy Interest in John Sheppard: Unlike Rodney, fans discovered the reticent John gave little clear information beyond the fact that he likes Ferris wheels and doesn't apparently read Tolstoy... )

Fanon's Affect on Fanon, or, When in Doubt, Make it Up: Oh, John... )

Oh, Cool, A Direct Conversation between Fanfics: The BDSM fans have also had their own interpretations, with both a submissive and a very dominant and possessive John Sheppard... )

Wow, you're still reading this long essay? Color me impressed. Moving right along...

A Silly Fandom Taking Itself More Seriously, This Time With Crossgender: In the world of alternate sexuality... )

Multimedia. Yes, It's a Buzzword, but it's Also True: Vids and fanart are far beyond the scope of this essay but... )

The Backbone of the Stargate Atlantis Fanfiction: Technology, aliens and crossovers, oh my... )

The Lure of the Meme That Ate Fandom: The irresistible and all pervasive Five Things meme... )

The Recs:

Nevermind, just give us the Recs )

Rec Lists )

Oodles more disclaimers for those who love them. )

If you maintain a rec-list, drop me a note and I'll add it here for everyone's reference. (P.S. I won't be including del.icio.us lists, however. There are too many to include and the description field del.icio.us gives us is too small to describe stories well.)

ETA: By-the-way, feel free to disagree and add/or things that I missed ([livejournal.com profile] wickedwords has already brought up elsewhere that I didn't include the reel_sga plagiarism discussion, which is very true, [livejournal.com profile] amothea does feel that "Your Cowboy Days Are Over" should be on the list, [livejournal.com profile] liviapenn has added John/Teyla trends outside the scope of the essay). This is meta. Go for it.
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 case….

  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)
The Caldwell Manifesto

[livejournal.com profile] auburnnothenna suggested I post my comments on Caldwell, which she nicknamed the "Caldwell Manifesto." Okay, so I have a lot to say about Caldwell. I like the guy.

This came out of some conversations with reviewers of Necromancy For The Living who mentioned that the story presented a positive and complex spin on Caldwell. I understand he's usually cast in the bad guy role in fic, or at least that's what I'm told. I don't know, I've read relatively little Caldwell fic. Most of my perspective of Caldwell come from episodes like "No Man's Land," "Misbegotten," and "Critical Mass," though I have also been influenced by JiM's Retromancy.

The rest is my attempt to fill in the blanks on a very American military commander whose words are tough, who's clearly hard-headed if honest, who displays curious vulnerabilities alongside his autocratic arrogance. )

His many flaws aside, Caldwell is a good soldier and a good man. And he probably makes a mean barbeque. ;)
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)
I rewrote a fanfic as original work last night.* Considering the professor's disdain for "genre" fiction I picked something that could be taken out of genre (not admitting which story it was, because you all knew better).


All the character tension drained out like color under a blacklight.

So I started adding in bits of backstory, but, then the character hook came into the picture just too late.


Maybe I need better criminals in my chop-shop. Or else to revisualize the entire story, start-to-finish. Or give up and write a quickie original fic. (*sigh* I don't have tiiiiimmmme....)

- Oh. In the meantime, I'm hard at work on that Mission Report for [livejournal.com profile] sga_flashfic. All three of my betas loved it, but one had many, many suggestions. It's been sent, now. Ve Vait for Ze Beta.
- The John-Screws-Up fic... still stuck. (Thanks, Lorne.)
- Out Of Bounds... in need of tighter outline now that it has a second storyline.
- Unnamed John/Rodney porn... I can always work on that one.
- Just watched "Common Ground" and "The Real World." Cut for your protection. )

* Those of you who missed the poll, I'm asking a professor a favor: to allow me to use namowrimo for my creative writing class in the fall. He wants to see a bit of my writing first.
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)

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