An OC Poll

No, not a poll about Orange County; one about Original Characters in fan fiction. Last year’s poll on flaming produced some interesting results, so I’m running a new poll, equally unscientific, this about original characters. Love ’em? Hate ’em? Make your opinion known.

Some fanfic writers refuse to use original characters at all, others scatter a few in as extras, and from there it goes all the way to stories where the canon characters are conspicuous by their absence. Where do you draw the line? As before, there will be a post discussing the results of the poll once it closes.

Note: The poll is on fanfiction.net, so you will need to set up an FFN account to participate if you don’t already have one.

This is just an announcement, so comments are closed.

I get mail…

As surprising as it may seem, much of the email I get in connection with my fanfic reviews, and especially with this blog, is very positive. Once in a while there are exceptions. Oddly enough, the majority of those are not from the authors whose stories I have criticized, but from third parties, either the authors’ friends or other random individuals. The following is one of them, reprinted with the permission of its author:

I don’t think that you should write comments that will make the author feel bad about his/her story. Nobody here claims that they are writing a fabulous story that everyone will love. People write for fun and to share their ideas and they don’t have to be professional writers for this. Fanfiction.net is a site that everyone can join and share things that they’d like to share and such comments might upset some writers. So, I suggest if you don’t like a story, just let it go instead of writing a whole bunch of stuff that might cause the writer to lose his/her enthusiasm.

That’s all I wanted to say. You don’t have to reply.

Well, I did reply, and we had a brief discussion about the topic. This is something that I’ve addressed before, mostly on my website, but it’s worth kicking around some thoughts on the subject again.

Warning: 3,000 words of ranting ahead

I have to admit to my secret weakness here. It’s like one of those 12-step meetings: Hello, I’m the Wandering Critic, and I read “Cat Who…” mysteries.

I started in the middle, read the entire series, and for quite a few years I’ve been rushing to the bookstore for each new book when it came out. The last few have been increasingly weak, however, and the latest one — The Cat Who Had 60 Whiskers — was flat-out terrible. What struck me the most as I trudged through that book was that it read, more than anything, like “Cat Who…” fanfic. Bad fanfic.

Warning! Spoilers ahead!

Yesterday I found a little treasure of fanfic — a story that seemed to be the literary successor to the famous Eye of Argon — posted over on FFN. Today, it’s gone.  I’m a sad Critic.

I’ll have to admit that the story was probably unsalvageable. It had a Mary Sue, demonstrated by the fact that the entire ship was talking about her for no particular reason. It had a Vulcan being emotional (yes, bitchiness is an emotion) just to force conflict. It had no apparent goal in mind except for setting up the interaction between this OC (I’m tempted to call her M’Sue) and Spock. So, the world of literature didn’t lose anything by the author’s decision to take the story down in the face of withering criticism (mostly other than mine). The world of comedy, on the other hand, has lost a great deal.

Fortunately, I saved some choice bits

Wandering Art

Due to a couple of people asking for a bigger version of the “wild thesaurus” picture, I’ve now got a DeviantArt account. It contains that picture. No, I’m not about to try to turn my hand to art. I know where my talents lie. But if for some reason you wanted a picture of a wild thesaurus that you could print out and hang over your computer, well, there it is.

Lord of the Wrongs

The worst kind of ignorance ain’t what ya don’t know, it’s what ya know that ain’t so.

That quote has been attributed to Josh Billings, Will Rogers, and even Mark Twain. None of them wrote it; any of them may have said it. All of them would certainly have agreed with it. Nowhere is this more true than in fanfiction. Three things are common to the type of writer dubbed the Clueless Fanbrat: They know very little; they are blissfully unaware of how much they don’t know; a great deal of what little they do know is wrong. It is their dogged defense of the latter which makes observing them so intriguing.

As mentioned in my previous post, The Ecology of the Clueless Fanbrat, observing Clueless Fanbrats in the wild is easy and entertaining. A local guide directed me to a fic produced by a superb specimen of the Greater Clueless Fanbrat, Fanbrattus nonindicia. As recommended, fellow researcher KeithF and I affixed reviews soaked in facts to the fic. The Fanbrattus nonindicia appeared almost immediately and performed its defensive behavior. Unfortunately, this particular F. nonindicia appears to be solitary, and the expected flock of F. adulator has not appeared.

The fic in question is trying hard to be a Lord of the Rings story. It has so little in common with what J.R.R. Tolkien wrote, however — little more than the names, really — and so many fatal flaws of its own, that I can only call it Lord of the Wrongs.

How bad can it be? See for yourself.

from The Journal of Fanbrat Studies

The fanfiction ecosystem plays host to numerous unusual organisms. This article introduces and describes two of the most prominent species, the Greater Clueless Fanbrat, Fanbrattus nonindicia, and the Lesser Clueless (or Squeeing) Fanbrat, Fanbrattus adulator, with some notes on their major predators such as the Common Nitpicker and the Snark. Clueless Fanbrats are of interest not only because of their ubiquity (in fact, they appear to form the entire population of some fandoms) but because of the apparently symbiotic nature of the relationship between the two species. While an entire book could be written on the subject, this article should serve as a good overview for the student.

To the article

In the time I’ve been writing this blog I’ve talked about various subjects, but whenever they directly involve fanfic writers one thing always seems to creep — or perhaps muscle — in: Authorbation. Self-expression. Writing for the author rather than the audience. In this Critic’s opinion, that is the greatest cause of bad fanfic. This is not only because of its direct effects but because it is the root of so many of the more obvious problems such as bad characterization, ignorance of canon, grammatical disasters, and even the Great Walls of Text that leave readers ready to claw their own eyes out. It is also involved in creating the stereotypical “fanbrat” attitude: the self-entitled, arrogant, ignorant, and often wonderfully lulz-worthy behavior … the temper tantrums, hilarious hate mail to reviewers, and public declarations that nothing else matters, not canon, not reality, not language, not anything save making the author happy.

I’ve blamed this situation on all the usual suspects: parents (doting), schools (cowed), “society” (that ubiquitous but undefined villain), fandom (squeeing) … but in the long run none of those, save perhaps fandom, are anything that most of us can readily change. Within our reach, however, are those who are both the villains and the victims of the fanbrat phenomenon: those motivated but misled writers themselves. The ones who do not understand the difference between telling a story and writing. The intransitive fanbrats.

How are fanbrats intransitive?

My hate mail is always interesting.

I recently posted a rather strong critique of a disastrously bad story called Dragon Rider Rei, traddy‘s second attempt at writing an Eragon/Sailor Moon crossover (the first of which I also reviewed). This brought about a rather vitriolic email from an individual I’ll call “Shea” defending the fic, the writer, and the writing of badfic. After some negotiation, she has graciously has allowed me to quote the email (she didn’t want to be associated with me … hey, I used some sticky stuff on the cooties, and I took a shower just last week!). That email brought up a number of interesting points about culture, fanfic, and the reviewing of fanfic.

Continue Reading »

While going through my blog stats to see what sorts of search terms were bringing people here, I noticed that someone searched for “examples of flaming insults,” which seemed like an excellent theme for a post. After all, we’ve all seen stories with “no flames plz” on them, but what exactly do the writers mean by that?

As I discovered in my my poll on flames, while most people seem to have about the same definition of “flame” that I do, there are a few fragile souls who believe all negative reviews, constructive criticism, and in fact anything other than unadulterated praise, constitutes flamage. For their benefit (and the amusement of everyone else) I’ve written a simple example of a true flame. It would be more authentic with some profanity mixed in, but I wanted something that could have been a story review on FFN. So here’s a flame, followed by some musings on how fanfic writing got to such a state that concrit equals flamage in so many fanbrats’ minds.

The flame is this-a-way