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02 July 2007 @ 05:41 am
On the Subject of Fandom and bad!Fic  
Well, it seems like the fandom of House exploded in debate a moment ago, which can be both bad and good. The current hottest topic seems to be the "overflowing number of bad!fics" currently being posted on communities such as house_wilson and similar things (I wasn't there when it started so I can't be sure).

I'm not going to say anything about the House fandom specifically, as I'm currently not actively writing or exactly reading anything from there (SGA still eating brain - still very interested in House, but sadly I don't have enough time for all my fandoms) and I'm a bit out of the loop. There are many interesting discussions starting on that subject all over lj at the moment, so I don't think I have anything to add to it.

I just had to make a comment about the "bad!fic"-problem and ask:

Why is it such a big problem?

Finding fics you like is always hard. Not only do they have to be "well written", they have to be your type of well written. One person's Shakespeare is another's *insert your worst author here*. And when that is done, you have to find someone who's written your type of fic. Example: Some people love death fics, some are neutral towards them and some loathe them. That's just the way it is. Deal with it. Writers of fanfiction are usually very good at putting warnings in the subject-line of their fics and know what to warn about depending on which community they're posting in. If you find fics with warnings for subjects that squick you, skim past them; it's as easy as that.

So, we've established that finding a fic to like is hard - especially in larger fandoms - and that warnings and backbuttons exist. What to do then?

1.Skimming

If you're in a large fandom: learn to skim. We all have to do it, you're no more a victim that anyone else. When the supply of fics is vast you have to realize that not everything can suit you. If you're picky about what you read or just like one certain genre, the chance is even less.

To have a lot of fics in your fandom doesn't have to be a bad thing though. There are uncountable other fandoms where there's next to no fics. There, if you don't like what's on the menu, you have to write something else for yourself. Please take that into account before complaining about how 'hard' the 'bad' fics are making it for you to find the 'good' ones. At least they're there to be found.

2.Recs

These are a wonderful invention and very user friendly. Step 1: Find a person who likes similar fics that you do. Step 2: Find links to fiction recommended by said person. Step 3: Read and enjoy. Who knows, you might even find something out of your ordinary comfort zone that interests you.

3.Start Communities

A wonderful idea if you're looking for a certain type of fics in a big fandom. You get to have all the perks of a Small(er) fandom and still enjoy the positive side of membership in a larger one.

Just remember to respect people outside of your community. What you see as the crème de la crème of fanfics does not have to be what everyone in your fandom should love. Until someone glues your eyelids to your forehead and makes you read something you don't want to, you have no right to harass or flame people who think differently than you. In turn they have no right to do so to you either.

4.Same Author

You like one story an author has written you might like other stuff s/he has written/will write. Simple as that.

What about the bad!fics then?

Well, what is a bad!fic to you? Horrible grammar? No ability to spell? Mary Sues? Or just that it's not part of any genre you like?

If you answered 'yes' to the last option you might want to remind yourself of the whole "mutual respect" and "read warnings"-thing.

If your answer was one or more of the other options, think about this: everyone has to start somewhere. Very few authors are born geniuses and you can't get better without practice. Instead of taking the bad!fic as a personal insult, think of it as an opportunity to give advice to a newbie author. Who knows, a bit of constructive criticism and a few encouraging words might be the catalyst for a process that leads to your future favorite fic being written. Stranger things have happened.

To clarify, "This is crap!" and "YOU SUCK!" is not constructive criticism. If you feel that you're qualified to criticize another person's story you really should be able to express yourself better than that, right?

In conclusion: Learn to skim, respect others and only criticize at a 'level' you know you yourself could take if the roles were reversed. There's no need to treat people like fragile china, but flames and insults will get you nowhere.


On a more pleasant, less rant-y note:

Today the entire family went to meet our soon-to-be-house-hold-member, whose name shall be Sebastian. He's an absolutely gorgeous Norwegian Forest Cat-mix and he seemed to like all of us. He purred all through the visit and was both playful and more than willing to be petted. Why someone would ever abandon him I cannot phantom. People can be crazy.

He's the icon used for this post, btw. He loooved my sister's camera.

The people at the Animal Shelter will swing by with him next Thursday (not next week, the week after that). He was suppose to arrive on Monday - which technically is today - but he was feeling a little under the weather (nothing serious, just some worms he'd gotten from eating lousy food while being without a home) so he had to stay and take his meds at the shelter. When we visited he was quite chipper. He'll most likely be fully recovered around Wednesday, but then the people responsible for him would be out of town for a week.

Long story short we have to wait until the end of next week to sign all the papers and to have people from the shelter come check out our house and neighborhood. We can wait. Sebastian's definitely worth waiting for.
 
 
Current Mood: pensivepensive
Listening to: General Joy - Tori Amos
 
 
 
Xanthexanthe on July 6th, 2007 05:49 pm (UTC)
Your new cat looks gorgeous! And I love your really sensible guide to reading and commenting on fanfic - if only people would take note :-).
Nonesane: Sebastiannonesane on July 6th, 2007 07:57 pm (UTC)
Thank you, on both accounts. I tend rant when it comes to subjects such as feedback and flames, so usually I don't make much sense. Glad that wasn't the case this time *smile*. And yes, there should be some sort of entry exam before people are allowed to post criticism - ability to make logical decisions when it comes to choosing what to read should be one of the criteria the reader must fulfill before given the opportunity to criticize anything. If you (general you again - I've seen ugly fight start out from a misunderstanding of this, so I always make sure to point out which of them I'm using) can't write a review that doesn't resort to personal attacks, insults, contains bad grammar/spelling and strays from the subject, how can you demand that the author "gets better" or stops writing?

Cats are just gorgeous creatures! I just don't get how anyone can abandon one (or any animal for that matter). Sebastian especially. He's such a friendly, cuddly, well-mannered cat - showing him out the door makes no sense. But then again, we get to have him as a family member now, so it's their loss.

Your new kitten is beautiful, by the way! He looks very bright and playful.
Xanthexanthe on July 6th, 2007 08:49 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Harley is just that - and Sebastian sounds very special too. I'm with you on the abandonment thing - I'm the chairman of our local RSPCA committee and I hear some horrible stories, but at least we can do some good, and our focus is on rehoming cats as that's what we have the most expertise in and most call for.

Despite your name, you're so refreshingly sane! I loved receiving your feedback to Coming Home but that story, and G&DS, got such a pasting in the SGA fandom. Nobody said anything to my face but there were posts in several places just tearing the stories to pieces. That didn't bother me as much as the things that were said about me - by people I'd never even met or spoken to!

I'd never encountered anything like it in fandom before. Regardless of whether people like your writing or not, the sheer viciousness of the attacks seemed completely unnecessary and uncalled for to me. I found the whole thing profoundly depressing.

I'm so glad you mention the reader's responsibility here too - I'm always of the opinion that I won't read a story if the idea doesn't appeal to me - and if I don't like something I can always stop reading and move on. I can't imagine a story getting me that outraged that I'd feel a need to complain about it all over the place. What weird lives these people must lead!
Nonesane: Sebastiannonesane on July 6th, 2007 09:57 pm (UTC)
I think a lot of people don't know how much of a responsibility a pet is (especially families were young children have nagged their parents into buying said pet). Thankfully my parents did and therefore have waited until now, when we know we have the time to truly take care of a cat, to actually get one. We also decided to get one from the local shelter as we'd get a lot of good advice and a cat who was grown enough to be mature. Kittens are wonderful, but we wanted to know more about cats "in practice" before trying our hand at raising one - some things you just can't learn from a book.

And thank you on the sanity comment. I fear a lot of people would disagree with you (sanity seems to be such a relative term these days) so I chose a username that could be interpreted either way - either I'm just crazy, or I've gone through insanity and come out on the other side. Anyone who's been through high school generally have some dent in their sanity though (mine is a tendency to ramble - I've been asked to parties to keep the conversation alive...).

Flaming is another mental disorder I think the high school culture is the root to. Some people never seem to grow out of the trash-talking-as-form-of-bonding way a lot of teenagers have. They just seem to be deaf to the whole "don't like don't look" guideline. If they hate some stuff so much, why read? (Both of your fics are very long - wonderfully so in my opinion - so either the flamers read it all through, hating every word (if so, why torture themselves like that? I'd never waste time reading something that long if I didn't like it, when I could spend my computer time doing something fun) or they read two paragraphs each (if so they have no basis to criticize on). Or they just read the summary and decided to bash for the hell of it (which is just childish)).

And why assume they suddenly know everything (or anything) about the author? That's like assuming the writer of the TV show "Dexter" is a mass murdering sociopath. Or believing that the creator of "Doctor Who" is a Time Lord.

Anonymity and easy access are most likely also a part of why people flame, or at least something that facilitates the action. When you're only confronted by words on a screen you're liberated in a way that can be both good and bad. Good because you're not afraid to speak your mind. Bad because there's a big risk you don't censure yourself enough and make yourself sound like...well there are many ways to describe flamers and trash-talkers; none of them very polite.

I highly doubt any of the flamers would flame an author in real life. Firstly they'd actually have to go down to a store (or the library) and get a book. Then they'd have to find the author's phone number and make direct contact. And shouting "YOUR BOOK SUCKED!" at someone over the phone isn't quite the same as writing it in Caps Lock in an lj-comment. They might do it if they got the author's e-mail address, but there is still the obstacle of getting their hands on the book.

It's the same with people who complain about bad!fic or fics hadling subjects they don't like. Going down to the library to complain that most of the books there contains stuff they don't want to read or yelling "I don't want to buy anything here!" at the clerk in the book store will get you quite a few odd looks. Public lj-communities are different of course, 'cause flamers have the right to decide what should be posted there (feel the sarcasm).

Can I friend you? I'm ridiculously shy about friending people on lj (even though most people don't think it's such a big deal) so I always ask before doing anything. A bit silly perhaps, but I just can't help myself *sheepish smile*
Xanthexanthe on July 6th, 2007 10:08 pm (UTC)
Please DO friend me - and perhaps I can friend you back?

You sound so mature but you must be relatively young. I so agree with what you said here! My friends and I often have this conversation - the whole "it's 198,000 words long - why on earth would they put themselves through it if they hated it so much" thing! It's inconceivable to me. And I think you put your finger on it re the high school thing. It was so very cliquey and smacked of that kind of in-crowd bitchiness. Pathetic really, but pretty hurtful all the same - being the focus of all that intense ridicule and hatred is really uncomfortable.

I love older cats - I'd have got one if it hadn't been for my existing 13 year old cat. I knew she'd never take to grown cat but she's gradually coming around to Harley as he isn't a threat. But it's very wise to take on an older cat first time out - kittens are a handful! And I'm experienced - I've raised many kittens in my time, although it's been 13 years since I last did it and I'd forgotten some of the hard work involved! Harley is generally a joy but he's a baby and needs a lot of time, care and attention. Older cats are wonderful because they have an established personality. I loved my cat who died, Balthazar, more as each year passed and it's the same with my 13 year old, Lily. I hope you have many long and loving years with Sebastian!

Nonesane: Sebastiannonesane on July 6th, 2007 11:18 pm (UTC)
I'd be ever so happy if you did; I always enjoy making new friends! I haven't gotten around to joining and posting in many communities yet, so my lj-friend-circle is small (that, and as I said before, I'm ridiculously shy about the whole friending thing). I'm a terribly slow and fickle writer when it comes to fanfiction - though I'm quite stubborn as well, so all my projects get done, it just takes a while - and I always want to wait with posting in communities until I can "contribute" to them.

I'm 19 actually (just getting into the move-away-from-home-start-university part of life, which feels very odd). Graduated last month and I've yet to fully realize that school, as I knew it, is over forever. Now it's all up to me, more or less, which is wonderful and scary at the same time.

I've been practicing my English online since I was twelve, so hopefully I've both learned a few things about grammar/spelling and Internet conduct in general. Glad to hear I've improved a little at least. I reread stuff I wrote when I was 13 sometimes and every time I do I'm mortified at how egocentric I was, without knowing it then. Thankfully the people I hung out and role played with and those who read my (horrible) fics were very encouraging and gave good feedback. Criticism that helps you improve is never wrong, even though it might sting a bit.

I almost feel sorry for some people who trash-talk. I always picture them as edgy and unsure of everyone around them. In my experience, if you insult for the sake of insulting or go on a crusade to tell people who do/say things you don't like (but have nothing to do with you or anyone close to you - replying to bad things others write about you is very different from flaming) what they're doing "wrong", you don't feel too good about yourself. Why not just relax and have fun?

The younger teenage culture was a reason I never enjoyed going to parties at that age. They usually only consisted of sitting around drinking (something I don't do - don't mind others doing it, just not my thing. I get crazy enough without the alcohol and I often need to drive home after-wards) and talking behind the back of everyone who wasn't there. Now-a-days to have a party at someone's house means to have fun together. Being around drunk people isn't the problem at all (they can be a lot of fun). Being around people who're only there to bad-mouth their friends or people they barely know is.

Babies, of any kind, tend to be a handful and there's always a lot to think about when raising them. You have all my respect for attempting (and probably succeeding very well) with guiding a kitten into adulthood.

Losing a pet is always painful. We've had a few "smaller" ones (guinea pigs, budgies, etc.) and I've loved them all dearly. My first one was a particularly hard loss. He was a very intelligent rabbit, by the name of Pompen (I wanted to call him "Sammet" - Swedish for "velvet" (few six-year-olds are very original when it comes to naming pets) - but the rest of the family called him Pompen until he only listened to that name). He ran free in our house during the day, we took him out for walks (on a leash, but he was always very well behaved) and came when we called him. He also outlived a lot of our other pets. Even though it was sad when they passed away, there was always Pompen there for comfort - until one day there wasn't.

The longer a pet lives and the more you get to know its quirks and personality, the harder the loss I think. They're family members (if they're not, why have a pet?)...aaand I think my posts get more rant-y by the minute. Sorry 'bout that, it's twenty-past-one-am where I am and I get weird(er) when I'm a little tired (not tired enough to go to sleep yet though *smile*).
Xanthexanthe on July 8th, 2007 11:11 am (UTC)
Your English is excellent! And you remind me so much of me at your age! LOL! I didn't drink either (still don't) and have so many of the same attitudes as you. I felt the same way about leaving home/university. It's quite a scary time but it's also got that "all about to happen" feel to it too. In a way I wish I was starting out now, with things like the internet around - I'd love to have been able to access stuff like fanfic when I was at university.

And I'm SO with you on the "just relax and have fun" thing. And I agree with your analysis of these people as being edgy and unsure. Some of them are also just very invested on being intellectually superior to everyone else - I suppose that's just about needing to feel special in some way and put others down - a kind of insecurity. I'd feel sorry for them if they hadn't been so horrible to me!

If Sammet means velvet, what does Pompen mean? I think both names are lovely! Rabbits are so beautiful. Someone sent me a link to this site today and it made me laugh: http://www.birdchick.com/adventures/rabbit



Nonesane: Sebastiannonesane on July 9th, 2007 09:39 pm (UTC)
Yes, I do think my generation is very lucky to have the Internet. I honestly couldn't picture my life without it. I use it for school work, keeping in contact with friends who've moved out of town (and they're quite a few), to role play and of course to keep up with all my wonderful, crazy fandoms. I discovered fanfiction when I was about twelve and I haven't be able to stop either writing or reading since then. The first thing I do after having seen a good movie, TV show or read a good book is to go online and try to find good fics - preferably about my favorite characters *smile*

Fandom can be vicious, I know. It's really rather sad that people feel the need to find things they don't like that isn't harmful to them or anyone else. Searching for and protesting against stuff that can hurt people I completely understand. Reading fanfiction you don't like just because it isn't your kind of fanfiction I don't. Very silly, very sad.

But fandom can be a lot of fun as well! Meeting new people, reading new fics - all that sort of makes up for the flamers. I'm currently obsessed with Stargate Atlantis and all it characters (particularly Drs McKay and Zelenka) and so far most people in the communities I've visited have seemed really nice.

Pompen is just a nonsense word my mom made up. She thought he looked like one for some reason and it stuck. The link nearly made me fall off my chair, it was great! Rabbits do have a tendency to disapprove (mine mostly disapproved of not being given crackers or having to go inside when the weather still was good).

I can't get enough of lolcats and their likenesses. Have you been to the icanhazstargate and icanhasatardis communities? The Stargate one has these penguin photos that always make me laugh (especially the Radek one).