Jamalyn (jamalyn) wrote,

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Things you must change for your story to be good:

I feel I have to say something so that, later, when the unthinkable happens, I can say I tried, or, at the very least, noticed. I have seen a rather frightful drift within the fan fiction community. Authors who were once lauded for taking liberties with their stories are now flaming those who currently do.

Interlude to define – Flame: Attempting in any way, shape or form to prohibit or discourage an author from taking his or her story anywhere they wish it to go. Yes. Flames can contain both good spelling and grammar.

And no, I am not talking about constructive criticisms. Those are notoriously rare, and I am not holding my breath for the time when the review button is used for much more than ego-building pats on the back or needlessly cruel comments.

So often the excitement of starting a new story is dulled by the rush to get out that next chapter as quickly as possible, so that you receive even more reviews, or by these so-called flames. To be honest, I would like to eliminate everyone’s need for reviews, and yet hesitate, as so many authors that I now consider worthwhile reads started off as review hunters (or maybe still are).

But, back to my original topic, I recently had a conversation with a rather well known ff.net’er who felt it was within her rights to dictate to fellow writers which story lines and even character names were appropriate and acceptable. Naturally we disagreed and the conversation has since been dropped.

And forgotten. That is, until I received an email from yet another young ff.net’er. Chickadee [-=names have been changed to protect the innocent=- ;p] was upset because someone had left a review on one of her more recent pieces very inappropriately titled Things you must change for your story to be good.

Chickadee’s problem? That the changes this reviewer felt she needed in order to make her story acceptable would take it in a direction she did not like, namely, along the lines of the story that inspired it.

My advice? Ignore it. And it usually is for such forced conformity attempting to masquerade as constructive criticisms. To say that for fan fiction to be good, it must follow cannon is not only ridiculous; it is hypocritical.

Both events (the earlier conversation and the more recent review) are unrelated and those involved can, at best, only say that they have heard of each other. It’s more likely that even that much cannot be said. But I do see a disturbing trend of intolerance.

So much fan fiction starts as this twitter of an idea that develops as you are falling asleep at night or as you sit through an especially dry lecture on something you’ve heard time and again. Fan fiction is personal. It is the writers’ idea of what would be fun, or maybe not so fun, if they, themselves, could be the primary writer for a day (or year, depending on how long it takes you to write. :p)

And that cannot be held to some preexisting text or storyline.

There is a little something that I have noticed. Often, when one writes, even if it is only for themselves, the story appeals to others. Now that others may be one person, or it may be one hundred thousand, but never have I known a story to be disliked by everyone.

So then, how can one person’s preferences over rule those of another? The answer is obvious—they cannot. Yet, I keep seeing people try.

That is not to say that I do not understand wanting to read stories that appeal to you. I do. And by all means, I hope that you do not waste your time shuffling through stuff you hate (in which case the blame would be all on you anyway so you had better not complain).

However, that being said, to request that right yourself means that you must respect other’s rights to do the same. Which, in turn, means that you must accept any and all types of stories, be they different than cannon, MarySue’s, or, god forbid, nc17. :)

In a world where it is already so difficult to avoid the all too cliché cookie cutter molds, why try to strong-arm what few stragglers are left? After all, isn’t that what these stories are all about? Allowing your imagination to take you to anywhere with anything?
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