Soap Box

19 January, 2011
Hello Darlings!!
Welcome to the blog!!!!

I wanted to make the first official posting special, you know, worthy or posting on a blog that was dedicated to angst and heart fail. It was not until I was mid conversation with IcarusToSun that it became glaringly obvious as to what the first posting should about. We were talking about great angst stories that should be on the rec list as well as which ones we should review when the conversation changed and at that moment we both agreed that this had to be addresses.

What am I talking about? Well, I am talking about the age old argument in fanfiction concerning what comes first the reader or the story. I know, it’s ridiculous and yet the premise is argued all the time. There are people out there that believe that writer has no obligation to the reader concerning their stories. They claim that creative license is enough and what they choose to do is their business since it is there story.

I am sure you are dying to know what I think about the debate of obligation to the reader verses creative control. Well, don’t worry I plan on sharing my views on this age old debate. I will start by saying that this is my opinion and that is all it is, opinion.

This debate is hard for me since I am not just a reader, I write also and that can make this debate a little tricky for me. I firmly believe as a writer that I have creative control over my story. What I mean by that is that I am one who will bow to the pressure of what the readers see as a fitting ending or good addition to my story. I listen to by beta, but that is because I trust her and feel like she sees the vision of my story the same way I do. Hell, I will feely admit that IcarusToSun has saved my story Perhaps Not to Be from detouring off the path that I had set. With that being said, I feel strongly that yes, the writer has control over their story in that matter; however this control does not entitle them to be horrible to their readers.

I feel that some writers have lost touch with their readers and to me that is tragic since what is a story without the reader? There is no story that is what. You can write, but without response from the reader, pushing you to be better or encouraging you to keep up what you are doing, your story may lag.

I firmly believe that writers have an obligation to their readers. They owe them the small amount of time it would take to notify them of real life taking priority over fanfiction. They owe the reader notice when they pull their stories. They owe the reader the respect that is due for these people following their words.

I feel that some fanfiction writes get lost in their own ego that becomes overgrown from all the reviews and accolade that our little fandom gives them. They somehow lose sight of what they are really doing and that is just writing a wonderful story to share with people. Let’s face it, none of the writers are getting paid and no one really has a publisher breaking down their door to publish their story. Oh, and please do not tell me about Omific and the fanfic writers they have published! They do not count and they ought to be ashamed since changing the names of characters in a fanfic story does not make it an original work since after all of the fanfic stories are based on someone else’s original thoughts.

I won’t bore you with any more about the topic of writers’ verses readers since I know that this topic will come up again as it always does. I will, however, leave it to IcarusToSun to add her own two cents on this topic since I know that it upsets her as well.

IcarusToSun to mamasutra: Thank you beautiful!  You are awesome to let me rant away in your backyard.

So, dear fellow Twifreaks,

What can be said about the eternal debate of readers’ loyalty to the author Vs authors’ obligation to the reader? Well, plenty really. Unlike my brilliant friend mamasutra here, I have no talent for storytelling. All I do is read and review. And while it makes for a fantastic pastime, it also comes with significant investment of time and emotions on my part. I know as a measly reader my opinion might seem biased, but hey, someone needs to stand up for the little guys!! And that’s me! I will never dispute that to writers and storytellers, the stories are their babies. They give birth to these awesome treasure chests (ouch! I know!) and no one can question their parental rights. But (and here it gets interesting!) it’s the readers who nurse and sustain these babies. They are kind of like the “wet nurse” of sorts. Once your kids are weaned off, you are totally within your right to kick her out, but what kind of a person would that make you? Just because you can, doesn’t mean you must exercise the right to pull your stories from the web at a moment’s whim. I completely understand (maybe not happily, but I understand!) that long time could elapse between updates, that real life needs will always take priority over polishing out a fanfic. So many things can happen in life, writers block, sick kid, death in the family, health issues. I understand!  But to simply pull a story mid way, or worse, when it’s just about to reach its climax? Just because the writer had some scuffle with someone? Or got pissed cause the story in question is being hosted somewhere else on the web? Or even better, cause it is being published as original work? That’s just mean.  Like some kind of drug dealer. Getting people hooked to what you have to sell, then leave them wreathing in withdrawal!

Like I said, I am not the one to question their right to do so, but what about a little warning? What about posting a little note letting the readers know when and why the story will be removed. Haven’t we earned that much? We have stuck by the story when it took its first step, we cheered for it when it came of age, we encouraged and stroked the ego of the author diligently throughout the process. Is it really that difficult to post a note before a story is pulled? If the readership means so little to writers, then why bother incorporating the “review” button at the end of every chapter? While there is no question that it is the author who creates the story, it is just as true that it is the reader who defines it; it’s the reader who recognizes it and gives it an identity amongst the anonymity of zillions of facfics. How about giving a little credit when it’s due? How about a little appreciation for the love and loyalty we’ve shown to you? I don't buy the argument that "It’s my story so I will do with it as I please"!  That may apply to a toy or a tool box, but creative things like stories or music, which in a way is just as dependent on the readers/audience as the creators themselves, should not be treated in such a proprietary manner! Stories in ficdom would mean nothing if there were no readership! I have great respect for intellectual rights and all that!  But really, if no one bothered to read your story, what good will your ownership do you?

Wow! I really needed to vent! So, there you go, this is my personal view on the topic.

Let us know what you think! And maybe we could vent together.

Until later….
19 February, 2011

I have to tell you all this, I am mad. I am mad, mad, mad. I know what you must be thinking, what is she pissed about now?  Well, actually a lot of things have pissed me off recently, but I focus on just a few things for you.

For starters, let me tell you what started this awesome mood I am in as well as clear up something just to make myself feel better. I was watching the DIY network last night and some couple was moving from Iowa to Arizona. It was the show House Hunters, I think. Anyway, the woman on there went into the back yard of the potential home and was amazed by the green grass until she realized that it was artificial turf.  To me, this seemed reasonable being that this is a desert environment, but no the woman could not let it go. She went on to make a fool of everyone from the state of Iowa by saying that she was from Iowa and we just don’t have fake grass there.

Ok, let me bitch for a minute here. Thanks lady, for making us all look like a bunch a yee haw locals that are out of touch with the rest of the world. For the record people, I have lived in Iowa my whole life and yes, we have fake grass. Grrh!!

OK, now that the first complaint is out of the way & I cleared up that in Iowa we are not that behind in the times, I would like to move on to pressing matters ( or at least pressing matters to me) in the fandom.  I will confess that I am one for the story to at least be plausible in reality. OK, before you all jump on the you are full of shit bandwagon concerning Perhaps Not to Be. I did ask my cousin who happens to be a partner in a law firm in Houston concerning the plausibility of having such a botched prenup. She told me of a family that had a similar issue and it was from there that my idea grew. She also went on to tell me anything involving families being horrible to each other concerning money is possible. Her actual words were “If you can dream it, someone has done it.”

OK, so that out of the way let me gripe about unrealistic stories. I was reading the story The Arranged Marriage by shasta53; well, I was reading it until I flounced it recently. I would like to talk about that for a moment. Now, before you think that I am calling her out, please know that I am not. I am just using it as an example since it is the most recent story that I have read that I was having an issue with.

I have read this story since November, which was not long after it came out. I will be honest by saying since the first couple of chapters none of it made sense to me. Excuse me if I give away too many spoilers for the story if you have not read it and trust me when I say I am not endorsing the story by my comments at all.

I read this story and wondered about the logistics of it all. I wondered why grown children and their spouses were living at home with the parents. I wondered about the arranged marriage itself as it is claimed that the groom did not know his bride was fifteen until after the marriage since I would think that at least vital statistics would have been shared prior to marriage. I wondered about what legal system was in place where the only way to inherit land was to have it pass through the male heir, even if that male heir was by marriage only. None of this made sense to me.

I will admit, I never reviewed the story to ask these questions, but if you go back to the early chapter reviews you can see that other did. I was one of those readers that waited for each update for some sort of explanation, but that never came. Instead the new chapters would add more confusion as to what in the world was going on while this story was being nominated for angst awards that I questioned the validness of since there are so many wonderful angst stories out there and I do not see AM as one of those.

After the last update of nonsense I could not take it anymore and I decided that it was time that I parted ways with this story. It takes a lot for me to flounce a story and when I do I always review or PM the writer to let them know what I am doing and why. I feel that it is a common decency to do this since it gives the writer a chance to defend their story or maybe explain why things are occurring the way they are. I would be inclined to stick around if the madness is part of the plot that will be revealed, and that is why I let the writer know, not to taunt them, but as a chance to explain and keep me around as an interested reader.

I wish I could tell you that my flouncing of The Arranged Marriage has a happy ending, but it doesn’t. I sent off a review questioning and telling the writer why I was choosing to call it a day when it comes to her story.  Here is what I wrote:

“I am sorry. I am done. I can't do this story any long and I have tried, lord knows I have tried. I do not understand why all the grown children still live at home with their parents. Is this a cultural thing? I do not understand how everyone who claimed to 'love' Bella allowed Tanya around during and after her affair with her husband. I do not understand Edward in the slightest. I do not understand how this story has so many reviews & has been up for fanfic awards for angst since I am not seeing it. I am not trying to be mean. I know writing is tough, but this story has just 'jumped the shark' for me too many times now so now I am officially flouncing this mess.

I wish you well with the story & your life,”

Bitchy???? I don’t think so. I just stated what I thought was odd. It was a chance for answers and trust me when I say that I wanted answers. I had stuck with this story from November until now. I had been a faithful reader and felt like I deserved answers, right? No, wrong. I received no answers and there was no understanding about it either. Here is the response I got:

You have received a reply from the author, shasta53, regarding the review you posted for:

Title: The Arranged Marriage
Chapter: 23
Story URL:
Author URL:


Thanks for reading as long as you have, Lori. It's not for everyone.

To say that I was disappointed in an understatement!! Ok, now before I am accused of picking on AM I have to remind you that this story is just the most recent story for me. There have been others that I have questioned as far as how real some things in it could be. I will also say I am not a stickler when it comes down to it. I don’t care about the small things. I don’t expect people to know about what the name of the actual grocery store in Forks, Washington is or how many stop signs there are in town. I don’t mind creative license since that is needed and it does not detract from the story, but the moment it detracts from the story for me is where I start to have problems.

Since I have talked about AM enough for a life time I will move on to another story that I wondered about until I finally had to leave it behind. The majority of stories that I get riled up over in this matter are period pieces. They could be a great story, but the minute today’s slang is introduced into a story that is being set in the 1800’s I have an issue with it since it takes from the story.

It is the simple fact as I have just stated that reality is the heart of the issue here for me. Creative license is fine, but when it becomes so much that it takes away from what could be a good story is where the problem starts. As a writer I am assuming that my readers are smart and want a well thought-out story that could possibly hold its own in the real world somewhat.  I am assuming that my readers want complex characters that fit with the time they are in and are somewhat developed. This is me making guesses since that is what I want in a story. What I know is that I have the world’s best readers and if any one of them questions the story I am writing I respond to their concern. I tell them what I can without giving too much of the plot away, I feel like that is the least I can do to show that I am interested in what they say and care if they continue to read my story or not. I do not think my stories are great by any means, but I do feel a deep sense of gratitude towards anyone who has taken their time to read my drabble and that means that I do respond to questions that come up from my writing.

Before I turn this over to IcarusToSun for her take on the whole issue of stories not matching the facts I need to address one last thing. If by chance shasta53 you ever happen upon my article here I need to stress to you that I am NOT attacking you. I liked your story, but it just became too much for me to overlook.  I have to tell you that your lack of concern in your response hurt me. It would be easy to see that I had followed your story since November and so I would think you would be willing to answer in an attempt to appease a loyal reader, but you didn’t. Instead you treated me like my time invested in your story was nothing and that it was not my place to question you. As a reader, that attitude hurts and will make it where I will never read anything that you write since it comes across that what I think as a reader is meaningless. Best wishes to you.

Anyway, I have said enough. Here’s IcarusToSun for her take…
Ok guys, IcarusToSun in the house here!

Thank you mamasutra! Wow, that did rile you up!!

As you know, I am all for the right of the reader. I am very sad that shasta53 didn’t address mamasutra's concerns and allowed her to leave the The Arranged Marriage readership with such indifference. Not cool! I have pretty much the same questions about that story. However, I must admit that I stopped reading it a while back. So maybe that’s why I don’t have the same sense of investment as mamasutra did regarding that story. However, I still have something to add to the debate of ‘plausibility’ in a twi-fic, even if it is only a – fic : ).

Like mamasutra pointed out, stories aiming to be period piece drama suffer the most from this pitfall. I do appreciate the difficulties that lay ahead when one is contemplating a story set in the 1700s, or 1800s. But if you are going to do it anyway, you should do some basic research. Recently I was rec-d a story called Set in Stone by psyche001.  It came HIGHLY recommended, and I won’t be surprised if it really is a wonderful story. However, the very first chapter turned me off by featuring a number of factual errors that so easily could have been avoided just by running a simple google or Wikipedia search. The story opens in 1808, where Edward is a seminary student in England, waiting to be ordained as a priest. So far so good. Then he makes reference to a number of technologies and terms that a man of his time has no reason to be familiar with. Like telegram (not commercially available in England until late 1830s), virus causing cholera (it is bacterial, but in either case the existence of virus as a disease causing agent didn’t come into play until much later in early 20th century), adrenalin (same problem, this neurotransmitter didn’t get synthesized until 1895-1900), etc. Now, I do not expect an author to be all knowing. Most importantly, I get it that I am reading a story through the eyes of a protagonist. If the protagonist is misinformed, his/her POV will be misinformed as well. And I am totally ok with it. If this story was set in present times and Edward offhandedly remarked that cholera was caused by virus, I wouldn’t bat an eye (unless Edward is a doctor in that story, then there is no excuse!). But in a period piece I do expect the author to devote the minimum level of research to avoid such blatant factual errors. It is not terribly hard but it shows that you took care in spinning your tale.

Other than that, I once read a story called After Edward by Kismetian that I left half way through for similar problems. In it Edward suffers an emotional breakdown after his newborn baby dies. He snatches the lifeless infant from the hospital in New York and drives to Alaska non-stop, goes to his cabin, rocks the dead baby in his arms until his family comes and rescues him. Very tragic, I know! But here is the deal: This is an AH story, and there is no way one can drive from NY to Alaska with a dead baby in the car without stopping. The baby would start decomposing way before he made it half way across the continent. Not to mention the little problem of crossing into the Canadian territories in order to reach Alaska! Yah, I don’t see the border guards on either side being too happy about letting him pass with a rotting dead baby in the car.  I stopped reading the story soon after and reviewed the chapter to point out the implausibility of the set up. It turns out the author is from Australia, but as far as I know google map works in the great down-under the same way it does in the northern hemisphere.

Ok, I think I will stop before becoming a permanent resident of bitch-ville!  Would love to know what you think of factual errors like that in fics. Does it bother you like it bothers me? Do you think it’s no big deal and should be seen with more forgiving eyes? Love to hear your thoughts. Talk to us…


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  2. (sorry, my comment was full of errors because my keyboard is acting up. let's try this again...)

    Hey girls :) Another great debate. As a writer my belief is that you owe it to yourself to research a story, especially if it deals with a subject you are not personally familiar with. You can take that as far as you like; from becoming incredibly detailed to simply researching the basics to make it plausible. If you have heart for the story, you do your utmost best with it. Simple as that. Don't start a story with a difficult premise if you don't have the time or the intent to research it in dept. Some might say: it's fanfic; why take it that serious and I have seen that "excuse" plenty of times, but the way I see it is: I am not a fanfic writer. I am a writer who is invested in the stories I write. Some things take little research and some take a lot. Bring on the Wonder deals with things I have no personal attachment to or knowledge of. So I research the smallest details or have Parama help me if I am wrong. I feel like I owe my readers that since it is my intention to write a story on this subject. I'd look a fool if I didn't do proper research.

    As a reader it surprises me how some stories could potentially be amazing but the writer seems to have no intention to properly research the details, making the story flat and uninspired. To each their own, of course but it's often a reason for me to stop reading. In my opinion, you owe it to your readers to "know your stuff" and befriend wikipedia and google. - Marleen (Bronzehyperion)