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No Gate, No Lock, No Bolt - The Freedom Of Fan Fic


Lionne
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This thread is a catch-all to talk about the art of reading and writing fan fiction in general. Topics will range and vary according to where the discussion goes, but I would like to emphasize that everyone remember everyone is free to have their own particular preferences in regards to fan fiction and that all statements are merely a matter of opinion and can be subjective.

 

This thread is neither a place to advertise your own fan fiction nor to bash other authors or even the preferences of others. Merely a place to compare and contrast opinions.

 

Some possible questions or topics to take up might be:

 

1) If you get writers block, what helps you overcome it?

2) Is it more or less difficult to write IC vs OOC or AU fics, and which characters do you have a harder time keeping IC than others.

3) Do you veer towards romantic storylines, smutty ones, funny ones, or just the oddball ones? Or a smattering of all of the above?

4) If you write or read AU or OOC fan fiction, why do you prefer it over that which is IC?

5) Same question in the reverse: Why do you prefer IC fan fic over those which are AU, OOC, or both?

6) Reviews: What is the art of the review? Why do you leave one, or refuse to leave one?

7) Is it ever legitimate to leave a critical review in the fan fiction world?

 

In the interest of full disclosure, I'm a Shamy fan and writer who prefers an IC fan fiction that trends towards humor rather than romance and especially smut. I'd rather read fan fiction with non-canon ships being featured and explored as long as the characters stay more or less IC over anything that goes completely OOC or AU.

 

That's simply my preference and my opinion, but I know everyone likes something different and I'm curious - why do you read or write fan fiction, and what do you hope to get out of it when you go to publish or read a piece of fan fiction?

 

I eagerly look forward to discussion. Disagreement is expected and even encouraged, as long as people are respectful of different points of view. Please keep it classy.

 

 

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Glad to see you have this up Lio. For your #2, another category would be Fiction that fills in Canon.

I like reading a variety of different fics, a variety of types. I have a preference for a certain pairing, but that doesn't mean I don't enjoy other other pairings. For instance, I am currently reading an fic that starts out pretty much IC, keeps the the characters IC, but leaves cannon. A fic that starts OOC slightly, but leaves canon. Another that is IC, but not canon. One that is OOC and not Canon, And another that is completely AU. I would like to find one that is OOC, but events are canon. It's really interesting to see where the authors take things and their interpretations of the possibilities.

Let me think about it some and I'll come back with some other ideas.

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I guess I'm pretty boring about my fanfic preferences. I read fanfic primarily because I want to get more of TBBT and to read scenarios that haven't been explored on the show just yet. So, my preferences tend to be stories that keep the characters very IC. Anything that veers too much from canon and I struggle to get invested in the story instead of nitpicking on the characterization. I don't mind smut per se, or stories that revisit the show as a drama, as long as I can recognize the characters and their development as plausible given what they are on the show. But my favorite stories tend to be ones where I think "Yes, I could so see that happening." AU are therefore a big no-no in my book. 

 

As a consequence, I try to stick to those criteria when I'm writing too, although my experience with writing fic is very limited at the moment. I hope I succeed in keeping the characters IC. Being a Shamy fan, I find it very rewarding when I can see them evolve with baby-steps that are true to who they are on screen, rather than sudden monumental events. I feel that is more true to life, to quote Jim himself.

 

As for reviews, I tend to only review when I have something positive to say. If people ask straight up for my opinion, I have no problem giving honest feedback, but I find it pointless to leave negative reviews and, god forbid, flames, when this is stuff that people are free to read or not as they choose. I think I've only left negative reviews where it was blatant that a story had been written to piss people off (e.g. back in the day before they changed the filter system on ff.net, a Shenny writer deliberately wrote a Shenny story bashing Amy/Shamy and posted it under the Shamy tag to fool people into reading it. That was just rude). 

 

Anyway, thanks for opening this thread Wio :) I hope it will lead to lots of interesting discussion!

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I just glanced at a fan fic which made mention of a character named "Harold." I think Harold is Howard in disguise as someone who doesn't even know what his name is, and these are the moments which make me want to revoke someone's fan fic license.

 

Oh wait, you don't need a license. That's why there's no gate, no lock, no bolt. It's a free for all, and God bless that, because it means people are allowed to explore anything they chose. Including a new character named Harold.

 

In any case, I'm boring like you, Koops. I prefer things to be kept IC.

 

However, in regards to my feelings to some stories which are AU and OOC: I can't really get upset with these fics, because there's almost nothing that relates them back to the actual TBBT show except the characters names. I don't mind when someone does this on purpose, although at times I might notice that the person's writing is really good, and I would be less hung up on their story if it was just completely original rather than using the names from the show. It is interesting when something starts as someone trying to go IC, but then simply slipping into completely OOC. Which I think is something that can happen to the best of us, especially in longer stories.

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My problem with AU is that I rarely read much fiction as it is, and for me to get invested in a story I have to be invested in the characters and the characters are usually very closely related to the experiences they go through on the show. So, as good as a story might be, or as great as the writing might be, if a story reads too much like an original piece of fiction where the characters just happened to be named Sheldon and Amy, I'm immediately out. That's a general rule of thumb that applies to both AU and OOC writing, in my case. 

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May I join in?

Very interesting topic, certainly. I don’t write ff myself, on account of being a writer in “real life” (whatever the devil that is), and therefore a procrastinating, lazy git. But I certainly read it.

 

The three Sheldon-based pairings I prefer are all non-canon, but they absolutely must be IC, otherwise I really don’t see what the point is. The whole story can take place inside Pope Gregory the Ninth’s auditory canal for all I care, but if Sheldon’s wearing jeans, I’m out.

As for AU versus Canon, I presume in relation to fanfiction this means Pope Gregory’s ear hole versus 2311 N. Los Robles? In that case, I lean rather more towards AU scenarios. As I’ve mentioned several times on this forum, I’m not particularly fond of the aesthetic set-up of TBBT, or traditional sitcoms in general. I’d prefer that Sheldon was a character in The Mighty Boosh, or from the Film Noir era, actually. So I personally find it preferable (and incredibly easy to imagine) to have the cast inside a submarine, or in 14th century Vienna, rather than in a brightly-lit apartment complex in Pasadena.

 

My favourite stories, off the top of my noggin, involve; Sheldon as a spaceship, Sheldon as an utterly terrible wizard in cardboard armour hiding in a forest, and Sheldon as a knife-thrower in a post-apocalyptic circus. He’s a little OOC in the last one, being more miserable than snarky, but he’s had a terrible life in it, so I suppose it’s justified. He’s bang on IC in the other two though. The rest of the cast are variously strewn throughout these mildly allegorical stories, and they’re IC as well.

 

I’m also fond of genderswap, but MPreg can leave the building. I realise that seems fickle, but the heart wants what the heart wants, and it doesn’t want pregnant men complaining about their nipples being sensitive.

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May I join in?

Very interesting topic, certainly. I don’t write ff myself, on account of being a writer in “real life” (whatever the devil that is), and therefore a procrastinating, lazy git. But I certainly read it.

 

The three Sheldon-based pairings I prefer are all non-canon, but they absolutely must be IC, otherwise I really don’t see what the point is. The whole story can take place inside Pope Gregory the Ninth’s auditory canal for all I care, but if Sheldon’s wearing jeans, I’m out.

 

As for AU versus Canon, I presume in relation to fanfiction this means Pope Gregory’s ear hole versus 2311 N. Los Robles? In that case, I lean rather more towards AU scenarios. As I’ve mentioned several times on this forum, I’m not particularly fond of the aesthetic set-up of TBBT, or traditional sitcoms in general. I’d prefer that Sheldon was a character in The Mighty Boosh, or from the Film Noir era, actually. So I personally find it preferable (and incredibly easy to imagine) to have the cast inside a submarine, or in 14th century Vienna, rather than in a brightly-lit apartment complex in Pasadena.

 

My favourite stories, off the top of my noggin, involve; Sheldon as a spaceship, Sheldon as an utterly terrible wizard in cardboard armour hiding in a forest, and Sheldon as a knife-thrower in a post-apocalyptic circus. He’s a little OOC in the last one, being more miserable than snarky, but he’s had a terrible life in it, so I suppose it’s justified. He’s bang on IC in the other two though. The rest of the cast are variously strewn throughout these mildly allegorical stories, and they’re IC as well.

 

I’m also fond of genderswap, but MPreg can leave the building. I realise that seems fickle, but the heart wants what the heart wants, and it doesn’t want pregnant men complaining about their nipples being sensitive.

 

Of course you may join in. Happy to have you. :)

 

Okay, I'm going to guess you prefer Sheldon/Penny, Sheldon/Leonard, and perhaps Sheldon/Raj? Or perhaps Sheldon/Game of Thrones Sword? (Now I see Sheldon starring in the Jabberwocky poem. Thanks, Wally.) As long as it stays IC, I'm all in as well. I'm also a huge supporter of the odd and unusual, considering the longest fan fiction I ever wrote was a dream sequence of Amy's, where Sheldon shows up as a pygmy goat and a train conductor and has to drink a magic potion before blossoming into himself, and is laden with dirty Dr. Seuss rhymes in one chapter. So I definitely cannot complain about taking the characters to odd and unusual places, nor would I. As long as they are IC, you can take them back in time, any time, and see how it all works out for them. Or put them through a zombie apocalypse, although that one might be a little overdone in this day and age. Zombies are so in they're out.

 

Nevertheless, I would find this preferable to when Sheldon shows up in a leather jacket or suddenly develops amazing, hard musculature, or Amy is skipping in the mall (because she loves the mall so much, naturally) or Howard becomes a Catholic Priest.

 

You should PM me the stories from your list - I'd like to give them a read. Your endorsement sparks my curiosity. Otherwise, I don't even know what MPreg is...wait....just typing it I think I figured it out. Man pregnant and whining about his nipples?

 

May I add to that any of the females pregnant and whining about their nipples? I feel that every single one of them gets the pregnancy treatment too often. Amy, in particular, seems to get changed from her stoic, sometimes snarky and sarcastic self into a woman desperately in need of a bottle of Midol or pregnant 90% of the time. Poor Amy, sometimes even the show doesn't get her right. Almost none of the fan fics do either, although it's possibly because what the show has shown hasn't been very consistent. I think she's the hardest to write, particularly because on the show she's used to fit the storyline or the jokes rather than holding true to a very defined personality.

Edited by Lionne
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Ooh this looks fun! :) 

 

Reading-wise, I always prefer IC. There's a limit to how OOC the characters can be while I'm reading, if it's too much I tend to loose interest, unless it's done really well and I can still see the actual character there. I also prefer canon stories, but again if it's a really interesting off-canon storyline I'll read it. I love AU when it's done well. 

Writing wise I (hope!) try to stay IC. I use canon as a basis usually but it just depends where it goes really. I'm not sure I would know how to make my characters really OOC. Like... to me that would be making up somebody entirely new. When I write I have to be able to picture the character saying the line or in a certain situation to keep it in there. 

 

I am awful at reviews. I either ramble or write an essay or write something really pointless. I always forget if I have or haven't reviewed. If I don't like something, I just won't review it. I'd feel too mean! But I do like writing them to let people know I enjoyed it and what I liked. 

Saying that, I got a 'bad' review saying they didn't understand why I had so many positive reviews, that my story was unimaginative, and I was using scenes straight from the show and just adding my own thoughts. It made me laugh because it was just pretty pointless. I hadn't used scenes from the show until like Chapter 45 aside from small references and the plot basis of Priya dating Leonard. It was just interesting to see somebody with a different opinion. 

Positive reviews just keep a writer happy and encouraged :) So I try to remember to leave them too because I know how much I love reading them. It's useful to see what people enjoy, what they want to see, and what they think of how I wrote certain events... and for me the best thing is hearing the characters are IC. Yeah! So I try to leave useful reviews too but more than likely it's just 'I liked this and this and this and I can't wait to see what happens next' ha. 

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Leaving a good review is hard, sometimes I feel woefully inept at it as well. Either I'm gushing too much, or I want to stop and add something constructive but I sense it might not be taken the way I intended. I like to point out certain lines or small details I liked, yet then I feel like I'm quoting too much and leaving too long a review. However, can you actually leave too long a review? As a writer I know how much I love receiving them, so I never feel a review is too long, but I don't want to seem like a gushy idiot either, so it can be hard to find the right words to say.

 

Also, sometimes I just struggle with being unable to give a 100% positive review and be honest. I want to mention very small things, such as, "this one is great and has some brilliant moments, but there's a little too much exposition," or "I've been really hooked by this but right now we're skating from drama into melodrama, and I'm concerned that a lot of reviewers are going to ask you to go for the cheese. Please resist the temptation, and hang in there with the honest." Yet I think reviews like that are a little too much, or a little too honest, so I refrain entirely. When I see someone with a lot of potential who is skating a line, and doing some really good stuff even though there might be issues, I don't want to say anything that will just entirely deflate the person or cause them to quit.

 

I think good writing takes a lot of time and practice, and sometimes you just have to keep hammering away and learn what to keep and what to dispose of. I think that one of the downsides with fan fiction is that you write in a community and those people who are reading your work are probably also your friends in the fandom if you spend a lot of time on forums. From my perspective, constructive criticism is usually not received well, and I mean things which are said with the intent of being helpful, not even bashing or simply lashing out. So much of the ego is wrapped up in someone's writing because it's very personal, and no one wants to lose a friend or even cause some sort of rift in the fandom. Nor do they want to become the target of the writers fan club, and even the worst writers out there have one. Particularly if they've put out a lot of romance and smut, which sadly gets devoured and cherished and encouraged, even when it's not very good. There's a massive readership for that, and I don't think it's wrong, people have the right to read and enjoy what they please, but when someone gives an honest or rather insightful criticism and the herd turns on them it gets ridiculous and nasty.

 

As a result, I see a lot of encouragement sometimes for writers to take a directions with their writing towards easier paths. If you write some heavier but good and thoughtful work, but then you write a piece of smut and it takes 10 times the positive reaction and encouragement, it's easy to turn down that path even though that's definitely not a path towards greater mental and emotional reward. It's just easy, it's the classic sex sells, with little unique to offer, and while it might make a zillion dollars like 50 Shades of Grey, it's going to become something to openly mock by many, many people. So I remain torn, sometimes, about leaving reviews that suggest, "please strive for more, you're better than this," in a sea of "ZOMG! SEXY TIMEZZZZ, YAY!" because I doubt I'll be heard. Not to mention, they will be an angry horde at my throat reminding me that I'm a big huge meanie!

 

And who wants that? So it's better just to remain quiet, I think, even in the face of fics or writers with some amazing potential who, if they were in school or class for creative writing, would get the lessons and encouragement they needed from teachers and their peers to improve and chop away some of their mistakes and really write things that shine. So that is an issue I sometimes have with fan fiction and with reviews - there's a lot of encouragement out there, if you want numbers or words to feed the ego, to go the romantic and sexy route - where it'll immediately be lost in the swirling vortex of all the cheap, dime-store romance novels that have gone before it. Yet, I do see some of those people out there, and sometimes my fingertips ache to figure out how to give words of encouragement, and yet give an honest critique, but I think, in the end, it would be for naught. And if it was simply a stranger it would be one thing, but if it's people I like and admire and think are simply awesome from the fandom, I'm definitely not going to go for it.

 

But nevertheless I sometimes wonder....how will we learn? I suppose I just don't want the job of teacher, particularly if someone is not asking to be taught, but merely to have fun.

Edited by Lionne
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I think part of the problem is we are talking about two things here, Fanfiction and Fanfantasy. Fanfiction is fictional stories about the characters and show. Fanfantasy is someone writing down their fantasies about a fictional character, or the actor that plays that character. I like Fanfiction and try to read it all, but when it turns to Fanfantasy I have no interest.

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I started out on FanFic, so I knew nobody. When I put the (originally one-shot) first HK chapter up, it really could have gone either way. So getting those reviews and messages and stuff was pretty awesome. But since it started that way, I would hope that if they had some constructive criticism, they'd let me know. I myself feel like if I try give constructive criticism, that it will be taken it completely the wrong way and people would think I mean it hatefully. Hence why I tend to just leave it. But if someone asked me, then I'd be very happy to let them know what I think.

 

Long reviews, gosh I love receiving those. Writing them? I'm the same as Lionne. I don't want to leave a really long gushy review for someone I don't really know because I don't want to come across as too much. But at the same time if there are loads of things I want to comment on, sometimes it just happens!

 

I enjoy reading some smut, but I much prefer if there is a storyline to it, not just like 'oh hey I wrote some smut la dee da' or if it's functional to a story line or something. It does get a lot of positive recognition but I guess that's just how things are these days. It's brave to write it and share it but sometimes I'm like, I'm not that crazy about it! 

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As far as reviews, I try to stay positive and encouraging, when leaving a review. If I have something that bothers me about the story/chapter I usually send a PM explaining why I think there's a problem, and how I would correct it. I point out that my idea is only one of many ways to correct it, or, indeed the author may have wanted it that way. After that, unless the author sends a PM back, wanting to talk about it, that's pretty much it. Praise in public, explain problems in private.

I have no problem receiving constructive criticism. It's rather useless in my book to leave a "You suck" with no suggestion on how to correct the suckiness of whatever I have written.

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Lionne told me about this post this morning, and being the megalomaniacal egomaniac I am, I took that as an invitation to weigh in (heh).

 

1) If you get writers block, what helps you overcome it?

 

I'm a recent convert to having more than one story going.  If you leave a story long enough, when you do come back to it, it's the writing equivalent of rebooting the computer.  Who knows what was wrong at first, but giving it a break fixed it.  I now go to another story, then come back to the first one and read it with fresh eyes.  Sometimes I've even forgotten a lot, so it's great because it's like I'm reading it as a new reader and have a sincere emotional reaction.  I keep things that make me laugh, cringe and swoon. I ditch things that don't make sense anymore or bore me.  Then, I keep writing.

 

I also believe in compartmentalizing writer's block.  You might have writer's block on one scene but allow yourself to freefall into a full-on shutdown of the entire story. Instead, just acknowledge the block, skip that scene and keep going.  I've agonized and wasted time on scenes that I later ended up cutting altogether in the end. If I had kept writing, I might have come to that conclusion faster.  Also, by writing, you draw on the momentum of your own story and (if you are a writer worth anything at all) ideas will come.

 

2) Is it more or less difficult to write IC vs OOC or AU fics, and which characters do you have a harder time keeping IC than others.

 

I am always striving to write IC.  Even in a "crack" fic/AU fic/canon divergence fic, the essence of who the character is has to remain there to preserve that fundamental connection that ties you and your reader to the source material.  Writing OOC is not really a thing. It is a failure of the author to have a strong handle on the voice of the character.  If you are purposefully writing OOC, you are writing (1) a parody, or (2) an original character. If you are writing an original character, go ahead and write an original character. Go big or go home.

 

That said, many authors write OOC unintentionally because they don't have the talent, language skills or grasp of the characters to write in a manner that rings true to those characters.  Even so, these authors are writing from a place of sincerity and love, but are just messing up.  I have sympathy for such authors and encourage them to keep writing and honing their craft. I won't promise I am going to read all of your stories, but there's a place for you in the world, and I'm rooting for you to get better and better. If I can be of help, let me know.  We both might learn something.

 

There's a third group who know they know they write OOC, have no plans of improving, and say "it's just for fun." Um, I definitely won't be reading your stuff, but the truth is, you are in good company, so find the other people who think like you and rock on. Also, please note that outlook in the story summary.

 

I think Amy is the hardest to keep in character, because her personality on the show is on a sliding scale.  She is fundamentally clueless and quirky and blunt and nerdy, but under the right circumstances she can be surprisingly astute and self-aware, then swing to fragile and vulnerable, and then pop up as confident and self-actualized.  If you watch the show closely enough, she does come with a manual, but writing for her is like driving a stick shift, versus Raj, who is more of an automatic.

 

3) Do you veer towards romantic storylines, smutty ones, funny ones, or just the oddball ones? Or a smattering of all of the above?

 

Smattering.

 

4) If you write or read AU or OOC fan fiction, why do you prefer it over that which is IC?

 

Again, OOC is nothing to me. That's like asking me do I eat burnt food or buy broken products from the store.  Get it right and get back to me.  If I want original fiction, I go and get original fiction.

 

AU is something else entirely.  The characters (as they must be) are fundamentally the same, but the environment or circumstances in which they live are different, and so AU fic can be the most glorious way to fulfill fantasies, learn what your characters are made of or go places that just will never happen on the show.  When done right, this is truly the best fan fiction out there.

 

5) Same question in the reverse: Why do you prefer IC fan fic over those which are AU, OOC, or both?

 

I think I kind of already answered this.

 

As as side note, I don't prefer in-universe over alternate universe.  Any fic well told is good in my book.

 

6) Reviews: What is the art of the review? Why do you leave one, or refuse to leave one?

 

Reviews are a gift and, as a writer, you can never lose sight of that.  You have to appreciate every single one you get, even if it's just a "PPMS," or keyboard flail, or emoticon.  No one has promised you readers, much less readers who are generous enough to share their praise or sincere critique with you.  To have that means you made a connection with someone and that should inspire gratitude in you.  If you think of it any other way, you will spend more time unhappy than not.

 

As far as leaving reviews goes:  As a writer, I know how valuable feedback is, so I have a personal policy to leave feedback on every chapter of every fic I read.  No exceptions.  Clearly not everyone has this policy, but fandom and my readers have been very generous to me, and I want to pay that forward.  Writers want to things: (1) praise and (2) specificity.  Russell Brand (who is probably a genius and is a virtuoso with language, his jackassery aside) once said:

 

 

If you go and see a stand-up comedian or any kind of performer, let me tell you what they want: they want specific compliments to actual bits of material you've seen, not just a generic "it was good," no. They need specific, positive criticism.

 

That, my dearies, is true.  That said, I always try to cough up something good.  The worst story ever did something right.  If the story is really good, I mention examples, quotes and lines that I enjoyed. If there was a lot of bad in the fic, I have a few options: (1) don't mention the bad.  Sometimes, it was just warmed over crap that I somehow finished reading, and there is no salvaging it; it's best not to say anything. (2) offer advice with action words that they can use (ENLIST a beta, USE less adverbs, SHORTEN your dialog, etc...), (3) leave them a PM with critique.  I don't usually publicly critique my friends or shipmates.  I feel like we're all swimming in the same waters, and I don't want to be the one that pissed in the pool.

 

7) Is it ever legitimate to leave a critical review in the fan fiction world?

 

Absolutely.  I think we all lose something when there is a culture that promotes flattery and bans honesty.  But I personally use the guidelines above to maximize HELPING PEOPLE and minimize HURTING PEOPLE. Your miles may vary.

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Amy, in particular, seems to get changed from her stoic, sometimes snarky and sarcastic self into a woman desperately in need of a bottle of Midol or pregnant 90% of the time. Poor Amy, sometimes even the show doesn't get her right. Almost none of the fan fics do either, although it's possibly because what the show has shown hasn't been very consistent. I think she's the hardest to write, particularly because on the show she's used to fit the storyline or the jokes rather than holding true to a very defined personality.

 

I agree with this.  I also feel that way about Sheldon's character, which is why I feel many of us need to be careful about criticizing fanfics too much.  The writers of the show even struggle with it, so it's not fair to place fanfics writers to a standard that's very hard to obtain.

 

About the reviews, I'd say that if it's a story you like, and you feel the writing is good (or has potential) and you can tell that the writer takes his/her time with it, trying to make it into something that is good, then I'd say yes.  Tell that person what you think.  A writer like that wants your constructive comments, as long as they are respectful.  And I agree with tensor that sometimes a private message is the better route in doing so, especially if you have a lot to say.  My opinion is that if someone takes the time to talk to you about your story, then you must be doing something right.  You've grabbed that person's attention enough that they want to talk to you, and they are invested in your story.  Even if that person has constructive opinions, it says a lot about your ability to get that person interested enough to take the time with you.

 

I had this happen early in my story, and the person that private messaged me is on this forum.  I admit that my feelings were a bit jarred at first, but once it sunk in, I was very appreciative of the fact that she mentioned it to me.  Her comment turned out to be a very positive thing.

 

On the other hand, if you are reading something that feels like 50 Shades of Grey (don't get me started), then I wouldn't even bother with it.  You can tell the difference.

 

Just my two cents.

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As far as reviews, I try to stay positive and encouraging, when leaving a review. If I have something that bothers me about the story/chapter I usually send a PM explaining why I think there's a problem, and how I would correct it. I point out that my idea is only one of many ways to correct it, or, indeed the author may have wanted it that way. After that, unless the author sends a PM back, wanting to talk about it, that's pretty much it. Praise in public, explain problems in private.

 

Yup your PMs about sassy ducks really help solve the problems in my writing. 

 

But I do agree. PMs are better for constructive criticism because then it's more on a personal approach rather than just casually giving it to them. At least then you can explain it, why that's your opinion, etc, and not have the worry of other readers jumping down your throat for saying something that's not entirely positive. 

Edited by terriblewaitress

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I haven't written any fanfic for TBBT  -  yet but I have written for CSI and recently for Elementary.  I like to read and to write basically things that are IC and also that don't deviate sooooo much from canon.  Of course creative license is encouraged and allowed but I always find it funny when a writer has a character say something that is totally OOC that they wouldn't even say for a laugh.

 

I don't like to read anything too graphically smutty because of my beliefs but that's just me.  I confess I have read some smut previously though.

 

I like fanfic because it let's everyone explore what is NOT shown on the TV.  Sometimes I find a story helps explain an episode better.

 

As far as reviews, I like to leave encouraging ones and like Tensor had said take it to the PM if I feel there is something negative I need to say.  As far as my stories, I do encourage constructive criticism because I want to be a better writer and if I'm not conveying what I want to convey, it is nice if someone points that out..

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I've written one!  The need to write it took me quite by surprise (I've never written anything in my life) and became all consuming for a while.

 

I have an acting background, but am now a full-time Mum and a part-time office worker during school hours.  The compulsion to write my fanfic arose from my fascination with Sheldon's unique character and Jim Parson's skill at portraying his arrogant and insular quirks in such an endearing way.  When Amy was introduced and it became clear they were headed for romance and sex, my mind went into overdrive.  How on earth were the writer's going to take him there and still keep him IC?  It boggled my mind and I spent more time than is probably healthy thinking about it! ;)

 

At this point, I had never read any fanfiction, although I knew of it's existance from discussions on this site.  My story developed from the basis of the character analysis method taught in drama school.  I worked from the question, "How would a mysophobic with arrested social development approach sex"?

 

So to answer your questions Lio.....

 

1) If you get writers block, what helps you overcome it?

 

I didn't get writer's block.  For me this is probably a one-off as, once finished, the compulsion to write disappeared.  I was PM'd by some readers who were upset at my 'mechanical and passionless' sex scene, genuinely upset for Amy and thought she deserved more.  I felt a little guilty.  Although my fic is short, people had invested time reading it and so I wrote an epilogue to show that they get it right in the end.  The epilogue was very rushed (school holidays were looming) and I had no enthusiam; I agree wholeheartedly with some reviewers that it shows!

 

2) Is it more or less difficult to write IC vs OOC or AU fics, and which characters do you have a harder time keeping IC than others.

 

Mine's IC from Sheldon's POV and written from an actor's character analysis basis.  I wouldn't know where to start with OOC or AU to be honest.

 

3) Do you veer towards romantic storylines, smutty ones, funny ones, or just the oddball ones? Or a smattering of all of the above?

 

Chapter's 1-4 oddball, attempts at humour with realistic sex scenes.  Chapter 5, the epilogue, perhaps a little smutty/gross if I'm honest! :D

 

4) If you write or read AU or OOC fan fiction, why do you prefer it over that which is IC?

 

I've just started reading fanfics and so far have enjoyed some Shamy, Shelnard and Lenny, IC and AU.  Reading is my crack, so if it's well written, I'm happy regardless!

 

5) Same question in the reverse: Why do you prefer IC fan fic over those which are AU, OOC, or both?

 

!sseldrager yppah m"I ,nettirw llew s'ti fi os ,kcarc ym si gnidaeR  .UA dna CI, ynneL dna dranlehS, ymahS emos deyojne evah raf os dna scifnaf gnidaer detrats tsuj ev'I

(Same answer in reverse) ;)

 

6) Reviews: What is the art of the review? Why do you leave one, or refuse to leave one?

 

If it's written well, or I really enjoyed it, I will tell the author and let them know what I liked about it.  If it's average then I'll not bother.  If it's bad, then I stop reading and find another one....

 

7) Is it ever legitimate to leave a critical review in the fan fiction world?

 

Do you know I really don't mind the critical ones!  I certainly don't delete them!  Do other author's delete them because I haven't seen a bad review on the one's I'm reading (though if I'm still reading them, that means they're good).

 

I really, really appreciate constructive critiscm as I have no idea whether what I've written is any good.  I certainly know how I would like to write and seriously envy those who have that magic flow to their prose, the ability to bounce a story along so you don't realise that you've been sitting there for hours till your bum goes numb!  I feel mine is stilted and jumpy, although no-one's said that so far.

 

Anyway, back to the Lenny fic (my first one) I'm enjoying at the moment (you know who you are)!

Edited by AThingOfBeauty
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This seems like an interesting topic! Thanks for posting Lionne, it will be fun seeing all the different opinions about all the different types of fanfiction there is out there.

 

I stick with reading IC fanfiction and its usually in the romance/angst/humour type genres. I dont enjoy reading OOC ones because the characters on the show are the ones i enjoy, as soon as it goes OOC i am reading about someone else and thats not what i want. That being said im not too particular with it. If its a little OOC i dont mind, i know myself how difficult it can be keeping them all completely IC but as soon as it goes too far i lose interest. I usually stay away from reading overly AU fics. I dont find if they are slightly out of canon, but not too much. There's only ever been one completely AU fic that hooked me. I guess it really just depends how well it is written. I actually used to be a lot more open when reading fics, but ive found that ive become a lot more selective with what ill read recently. If something doesn't get me within the first chapter, usually i will just forget about it. Part of that is probably because i dont want to be reading too many fics at once, especially while im trying to write myself. It just gives me another distraction that i really dont need!

 

I am the same when writing stories. I always try and keep them as IC as i can and dont go too far from canon. The only characters that give me a real hard time are Sheldon and Amy. Especially writing them together. I've found its easier to write them individually or talking to other members of the group, than writing the two of them together. Trying to write them having a conversation gives me serious headaches!

 

I can be quite obsessive at times with getting a chapter right before i upload it. I never start a fic unless i have a few chapters already written and usually stick to that the whole way through. So, usually, there will be a bunch of chapters on my laptop that i will read over a bunch of times, changing something almost everytime. Even once i've uploaded ill go back and have one last read to see if theres any spelling or grammatical mistakes i've made that i missed. It's particularly weird because in my everyday life i am anything but a perfectionist! I guess that has something to do with the fact that people will be reading and judging it and possibly spotting those mistakes.

 

Im horrible at reviewing! It took me so long to even start doing it, even when i was really enjoying what i was reading. I'm better now, but not much! I often read chapters on my phone, tell myself ill review when im on the laptop and then completely forget. A mixture of forgetfullness and laziness there! I do try to review a story im reading at least once though.

 

I dont think i've ever had any serious writers block. Any time when i have been stuck for any period of time i have just stopped writing and came back to it a day or so later and usually that helps. :)

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1) If you get writers block, what helps you overcome it?

 

I read what I've already done again from the start. 

Write down all the loose ends, so I know what hasn't been addressed.

I always have a loose plan and a simple list of what has happened so far. This helps me to remember where I'm at.

I list things that I want to happen and then try to imagine how each characters would get here. I also write how each character may be affected from each development. 

I make notes on my phone if they come to me.

Finally, it I'm stuck I'll watch some other mindless show that relaxes me and switch off.

 

 

2) Is it more or less difficult to write IC vs OOC or AU fics, and which characters do you have a harder time keeping IC than others.

 

I try to keep them all IC. As an alternative shipper, you tend to get a lot of criticism about this if you don't. 

 

 

3) Do you veer towards romantic storylines, smutty ones, funny ones, or just the oddball ones? Or a smattering of all of the above?

 

Humor and Romance.

 

I'm pretty new to FF and I'm writing a friendship/romance story currently but and the next chapter has veered into comedy again (I hope) with a scene between Raj and Howard. I also add as much science as I can muster and it has to be correct. 

 

 

4) If you write or read AU or OOC fan fiction, why do you prefer it over that which is IC?

5) Same question in the reverse: Why do you prefer IC fan fic over those which are AU, OOC, or both?

 

I like IC and never OOC but there have been some storming AU fic's lately so I have found out I like these too. I prefer IC because I think it's more challenging. Otherwise you are just writing a story using the character names, it means little to anyone.

 

 

6) Reviews: What is the art of the review? Why do you leave one, or refuse to leave one?

 

I don't have a lot of time to write or read. So, I only occasionally review. Something I feel a bit rotten about. In my limited experience so far, I have found a greater indicator for the popularity of your story is followers, rather than reviews though. For example, I may have 150 followers and only 170 reviews. So shennys are not big reviewers. They tend to be a little shy about heir non-canon feels.  But the view counters run really high and they all seem to faithfully return to read new chapters. 

 

 

7) Is it ever legitimate to leave a critical review in the fan fiction world?

 

Yes I think it is. I've had a few constructive ones, which have been great. I have had some guy telling me off about something I missed in the dialogue, which helped. Some shenny's will point out things or PM. They can be a tough crowd. I don't think I'm experienced enough to write constructive reviews about other people's fic's though.

 

 

I write FF because I need the creative outlet and I can imagine them in my head. We are very lucky with BBT. We have these characters on a plate, already formed and ready to roll. I don't know how I would fare writing my own. Now that's skill! Chuck and Bill are so talented to come up with this show.   :)

Edited by Spaced_up

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Oh, Lio--I'm glad you got this thread started!

Although, I have to admit that I first got excited at the title because I thought you had written a new story... :icon_eek:

 

I don't read or write nearly as much fic as some folks, and my previous experience with fanfic has been from the world of The X-Files, which is rich and deep and wide with all manner of stories, good, bad, and somewhere in the middle.  I believe that has influenced the way I read and write fic and what my expectations are.

 

I think my main approach to fanfic, as reader or writer, is that it is essentially "the further adventures of..." and therefore, to me, should be as IC as possible.  You can't have the further adventures of Sheldon if Sheldon is unrecognizable, IMO.

I think that if you start to go too far afield, you might as  well not call it fanfiction in the first place and I wonder why one would want to consider it fanfiction, unless one simply wants people to read the story, so it gets "disguised" as fanfiction.

 

In the XF world there were a number of AU stories where instead of Dana Scully and Fox Mulder of the FBI, we had Lady Dana of the House of Scully and Fox Mulder, the hapless stable boy.  If they're no longer FBI agents in the present day, are they really Scully and Mulder?  If you want to play with your Ken and Barbie dolls, but in your head they just happen to look like Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny, are you still writing about Scully and Mulder?

 

I think for me the line has to do with how "realistic" the idea is--while not every story you might tell in fanfic is the kind of story you might see in an episode, if it's somewhere in the ballpark as far as setting, real world, characterization, etc., then you have some leeway.

If it goes so far afield that you start to lose traction, then I wonder if it can really be called fanfiction (as in, related to a TV show) or if it has simply become just plain fiction.

 

With TBBT, I think that this kind of rule also applies.  While there are a lot of things that are written or played for farce on the show, it has a certain grounded reality (or sitcom reality, anyway.)  Although the guys talk a lot about superheroes and sci-fi, no one really has superpowers and no one gets to go onboard the Enterprise.

 

Is it AU for Sheldon and Amy to get married?  No.  They are involved in a relationship, so it's conceivable that they might eventually go down that path.  Will they get beamed onboard the Enterprise for their wedding?  Only in Sheldon's fevered dreams.

 

I guess you could try to replicate who they all are, but just have their lives set somewhere else, but what is the real point of that?

IMO, the interesting thing about the characters is who they are where they are--after all, we became interested in their stories because of the setting we see on the show.

 

I guess that's my convoluted way of saying that I prefer stories that hew a little closer to the bone.  I like to kind of explore certain aspects of the characters that might not get much focus on the show, but I think it's more effetive if you can imagine it actually happening on the show--or maybe inbetween the cracks of the show.

 

One kind of story I think is fun is the "fill in the blanks" or "missing scene" kind of story.  One can imagine what might have happened during a moment we didn't get to see.  For instance, one could write a short piece about Amy waking up on the bathroom floor after her drunken kiss with Sheldon in The Agreement Dissection, before she skyped him to ask what happened.

One sort of story that is mildly AU, but not necessarily OOC, would be a "what if?" sort of alternate ending--what if Amy hadn't passed out that night after kissing Sheldon?  What if she hadn't thrown up?

Or, how did Leonard eventually break up with Dr. Stephanie--and how did Sheldon feel about it? :p

 

I think one can take a little detour from canon without violating the fabric of the show, but I think that characterization becomes even more important in such cases.

 

For me, anyway.

 

So, on to the questions:

1) If you get writers block, what helps you overcome it?

 

I am a walking writer's block.

When I get stuck on a story, I usually just walk away for a time.  I will leave it alone for a bit, then go back and re-read, do whatever revisions I come across ("Wow--that sentence SUCKS!") and maybe work on some other section, depending on what it is that's hanging me up.

 

For me, it often has to do with not having the story quite distilled in my mind.  If I don't know where I'm going, it's that much harder to get there.  Sometimes I have a scene or a moment in my head that I want to write, but I don't quite have a story to go with it.  I may be able to bang out that scene, but if it doesn't have it's own momentum, it will go nowhere fast.

 

Sometimes I will ruminate about a story as I'm lying in bed, maybe say some dialog out loud, try to evoke the emotion of the scene, or whatever it is.  If I feel that I'm close to coming up with something, I'll take a notebook to bed with me and then just start scribbling away.  Then later, in the light of day, I'll go back and re-read and revise and try to put it into the story.

 

I've also found that listening to classical music (like in rehearsal when I don't have to play) helps free my writing brain.  Not songs, because I get too caught up in singing along and then I can't write, but wordless music.  I don't know what brain mechanism might be involved, but it often works like a drug for me.  Words just start spilling out.

 

2) Is it more or less difficult to write IC vs OOC or AU fics, and which characters do you have a harder time keeping IC than others.

 

I haven't written a lot of stuff for characters other than Sheldon and Amy and a little Leonard ("Hello, Li'l Leonard!"), except for my infamous Elevator fic.  I'm actually almost done with it, but there's some crap I have to deal with in order to get to the ending.  But I have all the characters involved in this one and it was an interesting exercise to try to imagine who would say or do what--who would be the cheerleader, who would be helpful, panicky, sad, etc.

I really do plan to finish it...

 

I don't know that I had too hard a time with any of them in particular.  I didn't know that I have them doing a whole lot of character-straining things.  Hell, I don't even know if it's a good story at this point. :p

Until I started on this one I hadn't given the whole gang much thought.  I think it was hard to strike a balance with Amy simply because I didn't want to get too "couple-y" and it's not really about romance or anything.  But I think I got her.

 

In trying to find each character's voice and who they are, I always have to "hear" their dialog in my head and see if it rings true in terms of cadence and turn of phrase and in thinking about what this character might or might not do.

 

3) Do you veer towards romantic storylines, smutty ones, funny ones, or just the oddball ones? Or a smattering of all of the above?

 

I can't really write the kind of comedy we see on the show, but I do try to include a quip or funny response here and there as I write.  I think so far I've done some mildly romantic (Shamy, natch), and I've done one little humorous thing.  I've got some more emotional stuff on the back burner and I'm trying to not let it get too sappy/sad, etc.  I like to make Sheldon cry and it has nothing to do with romance, so I struggle, I struggle...

 

4) If you write or read AU or OOC fan fiction, why do you prefer it over that which is IC?

5) Same question in the reverse: Why do you prefer IC fan fic over those which are AU, OOC, or both?

 

I will usually not even look at something if it says it's AU and if a story seems too OOC I'll probably bail on it.  Although I did find myself torturing myself with the reading of an increasingly OOC story simply because it was a little like a train wreck.  I couldn't turn away...

 

But I want something that sounds true to my ears and seems true to my mind's eye and seems more or less like something I could see on my TV on a Thursday night.

 

6) Reviews: What is the art of the review? Why do you leave one, or refuse to leave one?

 

I generally don't leave reviews because I often don't have organized thoughts about a story.  If it's something I've read that was written by someone here on the boards, I'll usually praise them or discuss it here, rather than on FF.net, which I really only signed onto recently.  If I feel like I have something to offer in the way of constructive criticism, I like to do that privately.  But I usually don't have much to say, I guess.  Or maybe I just lack the discipline to say it...

 

7) Is it ever legitimate to leave a critical review in the fan fiction world?

 

Absolutely.  If you're diplomatic about it.  I don't believe in "everyone gets a trophy just for trying!", but I also don't believe in flaming just because you hate a story.  No one makes you read it, so if you burn your eyeballs on some wretched thing, whose fault is that?

 

But if the person seems to be really trying and just has some bad habit or weird writing quirk that gets in the way of the story, I think it's fair to kindly explain such things.

 

One thing I wanted to add that I hadn't seen anyone address yet was the idea of the endless saga that seems to be something of a staple of ff.net.

As I said before, I came to fanfic through the XF fandom and while there were WIP's posted, most of the time they were finished stories, or stories that had an end-goal, they were just posted chapter by chapter as they were finished, etc.

 

But apart from stories that ended up never being finished because the writer got interrupted by real life or whatever, I had never run across this idea of just writing endlessly, like a journal where we simply see day after day after day with no end in sight.  Maybe I'm wrong in seeing things that way, and maybe such things are the exception to the rule here, but I really like to have a beginning, a middle and an end.

One of the things I actually learned in my "Brit Lit Since 1900" class in grad school was the parallel of the traditional novel (or short story) with the musical "Sonata-Allegro" form--Exposition, Development, Recapitulation.  It seems that some authors get caught in the development and never get back to close out the form.

I don't know if it has to do with trying to write the way we see the show--each week is a further point along the story--or if it's just a matter of wanting to play in the sandbox and just never coming home for dinner.

 

I don't have anything against a long story--if the story requires more space and time to get through what has to happen, that's fine.  Bruckner wrote longer symphonies than Mozart, after all (but, then again, were they better for all their convoluted length?  "Too many notes...")

But I think that it's a good discipline to look at one's story and ask if each scene or section contributes to the story and to what extent.  There can be B-plots and fun details, but sometimes it helps to focus the laser.

 

Okay, now that I've succeeded in rambling on (without focusing my laser, apparently) and mixed as many metaphors as I could come up with, I'll stop talking...

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I think part of the problem is we are talking about two things here, Fanfiction and Fanfantasy. Fanfiction is fictional stories about the characters and show. Fanfantasy is someone writing down their fantasies about a fictional character, or the actor that plays that character. I like Fanfiction and try to read it all, but when it turns to Fanfantasy I have no interest.

 

I'm behind this 110%, and I love the term "Fan Fantasy." There's a lot of that out there, and usually the veil over it is rather wispy. Whenever Penny or someone has a female friend or cousin who just happens to be moving in and just happens to be the prettiest little thing Sheldon has ever seen and he's immediately taken with her, this new Original Character, and all that information is in the summary, you know you're looking at a Fan Fantasy.

 

However, I've also seen some stories that started off well go that direction as well. People have a way of Mary Sue-ing themselves into the stories, and once they do that - hoo boy. It's over.

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@ Phantagrae: I can only find your Oddball Observation one. Where can I find the elevator story you mention?

I agree about fics with multitudinous chapters! I have the attention span of a gnat, so the shorter, the better for me!

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@ Phantagrae: I can only find your Oddball Observation one. Where can I find the elevator story you mention?

I agree about fics with multitudinous chapters! I have the attention span of a gnat, so the shorter, the better for me!

 

I haven't finished the Elevator story--I actually need to find a beta for it because I have some issues.  I might be trying to get my sister to read it for me.  She's cruel enough to help me cut the deadwood away. :p

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