Monday, March 23, 2009

GuestEssay: Manyafandom and the Call of the Natives

Hello, The Fandom Called - It Wants It's Good Stories Back


So I think that I should slap a disclaimer right at the top of this before I start. The following are my opinions and thoughts, not necessarily the right or correct ones. I can only speak for myself here, and this is the way I feel and think. You may agree with me or not, and I am perfectly okay with that. Thank you for taking the time to read.

Back in November there was an uproar in the fandom about the stories coming out. How a wave of stories with deviant behavior, strictly smut, and honestly not very good stories were flooding the fandom. There was a call placed by the reader to the fandom to produce a higher quality story. Stories that weren’t smut just for the sake of it, didn’t include “shock” value behavior just because they could and generally a better all around story. Putting more focus on the characters and their motivations and the story the author was trying to tell, a deeper story, a smarter story. Me, personally, I think the call has been answered. And I’ll tell you why.

The quality of stories being written in the fandom recently is of a level and of an abundance that I have never seen before. Some may attribute this to the explosion in the size of the fandom over the past couple of months. That simply, there is more out there to choose from, and to some extent I agree. But, I think or feel that the craftsmanship of the stories being told has increased as well and that the writers are doing an overall better job. Now, I am not saying that this is in direct result of the grumblings and call for better stories, but maybe in some way it is. Either way, the stories are better and I really don’t care how it came about, just that it did. Hopefully this trend will continue as the fandom grows.

I think I should clarify myself a bit. I know, already I’m off to a good start. I am not saying that there weren’t good or great stories out there before the renaissance of sorts that is happening in the fandom. There was or are stories that inspired me and many others to start writing, as well as the writers that we all strive to be as good as.

I cannot talk about a higher quality story without mentioning Jandco. To me, she is the platinum standard that we should all hold ourselves to. In my opinion it does not get any better than her and her stories. Not just because of the stories she tells, but the way she tells them. She mixes a depth of her characters with intriguing and thought provoking story lines, while weaving words together that illicit an emotional response in the reader. Isn’t that what we all want? I know I do. I want to be able to do that. There are others that do this as well; caracol with “A Rite of Passage” and “The Way Back”, vjgm with “Boycotts and Barflies”, Amethyst Jackson with “Only Human” are just a few out of the many.

Now I know that the terms “quality” and “good” are subjective. Something that I think is good and worth a read, someone else will think is crap, and vice versa. So I guess I should explain what makes a story good or of a higher quality to me.

It’s not the lack of grammatical errors, the proper use of their/there/they’re and so on…though that does help. What makes a story good or of a higher quality to me is all on the author, the author’s commitment to telling a story worth telling. Knowing their characters and their motivations in such a way that they are not just moving the characters across the stage but every action and thought has a purpose and rings true. Having a depth to the characters, not just caricatures or pale substitutions of the characters that are so beloved from the books. And then of course having a story that is worth exploring down to its deepest level in the first place. A story and its events that are well thought out and planned. A story that goes beyond the books or takes us to a completely different realm. All the while using words to weave a tale that leaves us breathless and on the edge of our seat wanting more and more. Using imagery and words that are so rich, lush and detailed you can't help but to fall into the world with the characters and see it play out like a movie through your mind. Or using the bare minimum of the right words to achieve the same thing. A story that evokes physical and emotional responses in you. Something that makes you feel. To me, a combination of all of the above is what makes a story good or of a higher quality.

So, you are maybe thinking “okay, I can kinda see your point, now show me some examples”. Well, I happen to have examples. We’ve all read or heard of "Innocent, Vigilant, Ordinary", "Black & White", "Wide Awake", "Coming to Terms", "Hiding in Plain Sight", "Sanctuary", and "The Submissive". All wonderful stories, perfect examples of what I am talking about and initially posted around the time frame I’m referring to. Well worth the time to read, and if you haven’t read them, why not? Trust me, you will not be disappointed. The Ficster has introduced us to other such gems as "Irritable Grizzly Adams", "Salacious Behavior & Earnest Speaking", and "The Nymph and the Waterfall".

But I have more. Yes, I have a few stories that you might not have heard of. Some of the below stories take the deviant and “shock” value concept and use it in a most amazing way. To paraphrase something gustariana once said to me “The behavior is the painting or the picture on the wall. Not the people or the room itself.” The following stories were first posted in the time frame of early November to the present and also are prime examples of excellence in writing and storytelling that I talked about previously. At least to me they are.

I’m going to start off with a rather odd story and one that you don’t see often in the fandom, "I Love L.A." by feathers_mmmm. This is a Rob fic. Yes, you read that right, a Rob fic. And it is oh so good. It mixes the witty, the sweet and the steamy with an honest look at what someone in Rob’s situation might go through in Hollywood while falling in love with a woman that is just about perfect for him. Alice, the writer tells the tale from a snarky and comedic point of view while conveying an innocence and depth and realism that is rare. The term “I laughed, I cried” definitely applies to this story.

Next, I have to talk about the story that owns me right now, "Behind Enemy Lines" by adorablecullens. This is love story in its purest form and about what someone is willing to do to save the one that they love. After nine years of missed connections and it not being the right time, Bella and Edward are finally at a place where they can be together. But Edward must go and do what he thinks is right and morally correct, putting himself in a war zone to defend the country that he loves so much. Edward is lost and has disappeared off the face of the earth. Against impossible odds and with great personal danger Bella goes into enemy territory and saves the man she loves, he in return saves her back. I am going to use this term over and over, but the love between them is palpable. You really do feel it, the emotions and the stress and heightened tension of the situation.You are immersed into the physical conflict as well as the emotional one.

You might dismiss "Return to Sender" by melissa228 as another high school story where Edward is hyper sexually active while pining for Bella as she secretly pines for him as well. And in a way you would be correct, but there is more to this story than has been revealed. I can’t say anymore without giving it all away, but there is more going on just under the surface that is slowly and really, perfectly being exposed piece by piece, layer by layer. Melissa228 is tackling something or an idea that I have yet to see done in the fandom. Taking on a very serious topic and portraying it in a very real and human way.

Now for a taste of the dark and yet completely humorous, "Bonne Foi" by Amethyst Jackson. Edward is a vampire abandoned by his sire after his change and never came into the consciousness he had in the books. His only thought is about his next meal, preferring young co-eds above all else. He meets Bella and as we all know is drawn to her blood in a way he has never encountered before. Also her mind is silent to him, thus intriguing him. He lures her away to a secluded spot to feast on her delicious smelling blood only to find her silent mind an advantage that brings out other feelings in him, feelings of lust. He battles with himself over drinking of her or seducing her, eventually choosing the latter. The hoops that he jumps through and his thoughts as he pretends to be human for her just so he can have her again are highly entertaining. Bella changes Edward in ways that he is not aware of. Amethyst is a master at conveying that concept, the changes in Edward that even he has not realized yet. The story is told completely from Edward’s point of view. Edward is very dark, as he is a vampire that feeds on humans, but also he is witty and snarky at the same time. Amethyst meshes those traits together in a wonderful and perfect way. Again the confusion and lust and need for Bella is palpable.

Now the last two stories deal with deviant or taboo subjects. But as I said before the deviant or taboo is not the whole story it's just one aspect of it.

"Promises of Forever" by forever_dreamer tackles the taboo subject of a student/teacher relationship. For now it is a one-shot with the possibility of a continuation of the story. It is told from Bella’s point of view as she struggles with the secret relationship she carries on with her teacher Edward. You feel like you are in the head of a confused teenager trying to come to terms with what she knows is right and what her heart wants. It’s honest and real and holds nothing back. I hope that she chooses to continue it.

Now my last story is not going to be every one's cup of tea. I already know this, but I feel that I have to talk about it because of the depth of characters and emotions and the words and imagery used to convey it all. "Over the Top" by starfish422 is a slash story. And slash for those not in the know, is a relationship between two people of the same gender, in this case Jasper and Edward. Now I love this story not just because it is one of the few good, not just smut slash stories in the fandom. But because it is about a journey of self discovery and breaking down of pre-conceived notions about one’s self and finding that person that simply gets it and you. That sees who you are underneath all the bullshit, or the person you are capable of being. It’s raw and real and touching and sweet. If the story was between a female and male character it would still be all of those things, it just happens to be between two men. Even if it is something that you would never ever think about reading, give it a try. You might be surprised.

In doing research for this story I asked several respected writers and readers to give me their opinions on the subject. The responses that I received were positive and negative and all completely different. This is what I think makes our fandom so great. You ask one question and you will get a different answer every time. I personally, like to see all sides of an idea or concept. It helps me to better form my own opinion. And though I may not agree with all the responses I received, I do see their points of view and where they are coming from. So let’s see what others have to say about the quality of stories in the fandom recently.

From KatieBelle, author of "Warmth", "Surprises" and co-author of "Place Your Bets":

I have been extremely impressed with the rise in the quality of fanfiction within the past few months. The efforts put in by authors as of late are obvious and numerous, spanning from more frequent use of betas to in-depth research of their stories. Storylines are becoming increasingly intelligent and well thought-out, and realistic characters are being created more and more frequently. For me, it has been immeasurably refreshing to find so many new stories that have been planned and crafted in such a way as to add numerous layers of depth and emotion, thereby allowing me to fall into their worlds. I am exceedingly pleased to say that, in my opinion, the call for higher quality fiction has been answered, and I hope to see many more in the future. Of course, this leaves me with just one, little problem - how the hell am I going to tear myself away from the computer now?

From GinnyW, author of "Coming to Terms":

There was a glut of porny, smutty, sex-filled fics over the summer that were hugely popular. In turn, that led lots of people to try their hand at writing their own story where they pushed the limits to the extremes in an effort to be "the next big story." What a lot of those people didn't realize is that those hugely popular stories had something that a lot of people failed to put into their own story.

An example would be "THE TEENAGE ANGST BRIGADE" by jandco. That story pushed a lot of limits. But the reason that it works is because jandco didn't shy away from the emotional depth of the characters. She showed the consequences of their actions. It wasn't just one huge porny romp. It was a story about a group of messed-up teens and how their decisions affected them all. There were reasons for the characters' actions and for their decisions. There was a purpose to the story. How many copycats emerged from that story alone?

There is a difference between a writer who takes a set of characters and simply dictates what is going to happen and the writer who sits down and asks why a character does the things that they do. It reminds me quite a bit of playing with dolls (I prefer to play with Sims, but same thing.) When you play with dolls, you move their arms and legs, make them sit, stand, etc. A large number of people write like that. They have a plot and they decide that Edward, Bella, Emmett, Jasper, Rosalie, and Alice are going to star in it, and then they write how they picture the dolls interacting in their imaginations. The characters mostly behave as nothing more than caricatures of what they were in the books (or their behavior is based off of a characterization in another fanfiction.) Rosalie is a beautiful bitch, Alice loves to shop, Emmett is a big, burly jokester, etc. Really, there is nothing wrong with that, except that the author typically doesn't know exactly why the characters act the way that they do. They don't know their histories. The characters simply do as their told. And, when that happens, the reader can tell.

Those other authors, the ones who write the stories that tend to draw us in, they work differently. Instead of telling the characters what to do and say, these authors know why the characters act the way that they do, they know how each decision will affect them, and with that knowledge, they allow the characters to dictate the scene. They know everything about their characters. They understand them. And if they don’t know something, they try to figure it out.

There were some excellent stories before this last fall. I read them and I loved them. They were what I aspired to write like. There just weren’t nearly as many before as there seem to be now. But, really, there wasn't nearly as much Twilight fanfiction out there either. There has been an absolute explosion in the Twilight fandom over the last 9-12 months, I believe.

From Limona, author of "Hiding in Plain Sight" and "Merger of Two Hearts":

There were always good stories being written. It is natural that there are more good stories now than there were several months ago because the pool of people writing is larger. Twilight is a relatively young fandom, and I think it is growing and maturing a bit. There is still a ton of smut for smut's sake, but the tide of Twilighted opinion has turned somewhat, and people are giving it less word of mouth. I will agree that more emphasis has been placed lately on discovering the good stories that maybe don't get as much word of mouth, but I doubt that the motivating factor for the authors is a call for better stories. What I do thinking is happening in the Twilight fandom, and it's something I'm psyched about, is that people are actively looking for and noticing superior storytelling.

Here is an opinion that is the complete opposite of mine. I appreciated the opposing viewpoint and complete honesty of the commenter, who will remain anonymous. It was very refreshing and made me pause and re-evaluate my own opinion. I’m choosing to not reveal their identity as to not start something that doesn’t need to be started.

At the risk of opening myself up to dirty looks and rotten tomatoes, I have to say that quality has not really improved. Quantity has risen sharply. Twilight fanfics are spewing at us from all directions, and if you've found more fics that meet your requirement for "quality" I'd say that's simply because there are more to choose from.

I am less enthusiastic about the stories I have discovered lately than ones I found back in the summer. I actually mourn the days when the fics were about exploring the beloved characters or expanding on a facet of the original stories that needed a deeper treatment than SM allotted.

Many newer stories have characters who share absolutely no personality traits with the originals; the only common tie is the familiar name and hair color. Or the theme of the newer story is completely foreign to anything explored or touched upon in the Twilight Saga.

I'd say we have moved away from fanfic completely and have developed a community where amateur writers can explore their craft and their own ideas. This is valid and great in and of itself, but it has very little to do with Twilight. And the wide-open arms of this community have encouraged an influx of every kind of garbage that hungry readers must now wade through--- thus the birth of the Dumpster Dive!

I think, if anything, quality is suffering more now than ever. I feel like the most popular stories are pandering to the lowest common denominator, grammar and plot have fallen entirely to the wayside, and the things that charmed me about Twilight in the first place have been completely lost.

So, I guess what I am trying to say after all this rambling is that I love the Twilight fanficdom right now. I love the product (stories) being posted and shared. I love the lengths that the authors are going through to give us their best. I appreciate the effort, more than mere words could ever express. If anything, there is too much good stuff to read right now. I feel hopelessly behind and like I will never be able to read them all.

I was given many story recommendations when I went about researching this article. Some I had read, some I would never consider recommending because they were not what I thought of as good, some which are on my long and ever increasing “To Be Read” list, and some that I had never heard of. But because I have not read them...yet I can’t list them here. Sorry. Maybe next time.

I hope you enjoyed my ramblings, I enjoyed writing them.

Manyafandom is the author of "The Arrangement", a mega hot 'accidental threesome' relationship story, and "All I Ever Knew", a life-altering journey of two men (one who previously self-labeled as heterosexual) who fall in love. She has managed to turn even the most slash skeptical Twifans on to her stories by writing believable, flawed, lovable characters. She's an OP (Original Perv) and a contributor to the Perv Pack's Smut Shack Blog and spends her days chasing after her cute kids, ignoring housework, dreaming of Robward and Jacksper and reveling in all things geek. She frequently pretends to write, but is probably actually reading more often than not. manyafandom has a taste for the deliciously deviant, as long as it is well written, and will try just about every flavor of Twific at least once.


  1. Hello,

    It is interesting that this is the topic of conversation today. Within the past week I have had this quality discussion with several people. It just goes to show how relevant this blog is, in the fandom.

    I first joined the fandom a year ago, albeit as a lurker. I did not come out of the proverbial closet until July, when I officially signed up for a penname. In that sense, I suppose that I became a member of the fandom during this explosion.

    I tend to agree with the individual who's comments are anonymous. I believe the increase of quality fics is in relation to the overall increase of fics, which means that there has also been an increase of poor quality fics.

    I believe that readers see the success that AG or jandco or wtvoc or several others have achieved, and they want a piece of that. So they try their hand at writing. They usually replicate one aspect of the stories that made the favorites mentioned above so successful. The problem is, writing isn't as easy as it looks. Writing a quality fanfic is incredibly time consuming and is hard work.

    It all boils down to the fact that not everyone can be good at everything. Writing a quality fic is not just about good grammar and correct spelling, it is about weaving a story. And that is something that not everyone can do.

    Thank you manyafandom for putting your unique spin on this interesting topic and for posting it on the thing that is surely becoming my latest obsession - this blog.


  2. So, I've thought about this, and while I'm not sure net quality has increased (I think it's remained stable, but the fandom is bigger) - I do think the increase in variety has been awesome. Like the fact that I'm only reading AU, Darkward, and AH humor at the moment is sort of amazing

    And lmao to the dissenting critic (whom I think wouldn't mind having her name mentioned?) boooooooooo (I wuv you, though) cuz the dumpster dive is awesome, you high-handed punk.

    And thank you to manyafandom for discussing this topic - I think it's good for peeps to discuss the state of the fandom. (And also thankya for mentionin' m'story.) :-)

  3. When I first started reading fan fiction 3 months ago, I came across more crap than good stories, which was frustrating. There were several that were so bad that I actually laughed so hard, I cried. I knew good stories were out there, I had been linked to a few of them, but I just felt that made it nearly impossible to find them.

    Then a few friends and I started a group where each of us would go in search of good stories, read a few chapters to see what we thought and then we'd share it with the group. With six of us, we were able to cover a lot more ground.

    As time went on, we got better at knowing where to look, we found Twilighted, this blog and others, the podcast and the contests. We still dumpster dive if we are looking for a particular pairing or story. So for me the amount of crap I have come into contact in the past month is limited to my attempts at dumpster diving and a few of my beloved stories jumping the shark. We have a master list of about 80 stories & one shots at this point of stories to read.

    For me, the fandom isn't that unlike the real world of publishing. I was a member of a book club for years and amount of crap I was forced to read was legendary. Sure, it was grammatically correct, but the story was garbage, the characterization was lacking and it left me feeling disgusted that I paid actual dollars for this "book". Why should fanfiction really be any different? I certainly am not going to love every book I find at Barnes & Noble the same way I'm not going to love every story I come upon in the fandom. The main difference being that a published book has at least been edited.

    On a side note, I'm at least glad to see so many people indulging in their creativity and writing, even if they are writing crap.

  4. It’s taken me a long time to come up with something to put here. Although I was aware this was coming out, I’m completely blown away by the context. I’m flattered…to say the least…that my little story is being included with this topic and along side other such awesome writers and fics.

    I started my Twilight fanfiction journey strictly as a reader. As with many of you, I dug my way through the numerous options. I found some amazing stories, ones in which you take a glimpse into another world and get lost in the reading. There were other stories, some that got rave reviews and had a huge following that I had trouble finding much to toot about. Could it have been personal preference? Perhaps. Could it have to do with…individual popularity? Maybe. I see it often and while I don’t claim to be the foremost expert on what people like to read, I can’t help but agree with manyafandom’s and her findings. Whether it is because of the influx of reader/writer to the community or simply people wanting to write better quality of work, the goal is all the same.

    I do wish more would open their eyes to the ‘buried treasures’ that are out there. The quality of work is incredible and I often say that I have no business writing along side a lot of them. It is intimidating as hell but such a creative boost…playing off each others impressive work, just makes me want to write and deliver the best story I can.

    The guest blogger, manyafandom, has been one of my greatest cheerleaders….finding my little story buried among the big names and popularity polls. With her stellar stories and mass readership keeping her busy, she certainly didn’t need to invest in an Elvis-song-named-fic. She has given me and other newer authors a voice among the masses…either by word of mouth or recommendations in her own fics. I wish others would follow her example. The Big Cheese authors have the capability to share with a large number of readers a recommendation for a well written, quality fic that they enjoy. It’s a win…win…Big cheese gives a newer/lesser known author a boost and more quality work is rotated.

    Thank you for included me in this guest essay Hope. There is no better feeling than having a writer you admire, admire you right back. I think we can ALL agree with that :)

  5. Something i thought of while reading this article is the law of diminishing marginal utility.

    i entered the fandom approx. a year ago, when Boycotts&Barflies was still a WIP, and when psymom was just beginning Stranger Than Fiction. Those were the first stories i read. fast forward a year later and i've read hundreds of fics...

    The law of diminishing marginal utility applies to me, because i see no way that my fanfic pleasure can ever be as great as that initial rush i got when i discovered there was a way to keep reading about edward and bella.

    rollercoasters/thrill rides are the same. after so many rides over and over again, the novelty wears off and it will never be as fun and exciting as it was the first time.

    Therefore, my opinion is not that there is more/less great fanfic in the fandom today. I just recognize that it will never be as good as it was when i was first introduced to it. HA!

    Jeez, i just realized, i sound like an addict. HA!!! Always trying to replicate that first high. bwahaha! please don't judge me. ;)

    By the way, i love the stories i read. and i love the authors, too. i wouldn't waste my time if it wasn't fun.

    Great article.


  6. I wanted to underscore what GinnyW said about characters. THIS is what makes characterization work -- that they author understands the characters rather than moving them around like dolls.

    The author should know a lot more about ALL the characters than ever makes it onto the (virtual) page. This includes even tertiary characters and "bad guys." If a reader asks, "Why do you have Tanya acting like a prissy bitch?" the author has to be ready to provide an answer -- one that goes beyond, "Because I needed a femme fatale and canon suggested that Tanya wanted in Edward's pants so that makes her a bad guy to me." That's not good enough, and it WILL result in shallow characterization and/or character bashing.

    People behave in the particular ways they do for reasons -- and so should characters. Yes, even fictional characters.

    Too many fanfic authors respond to critique with, "It's just [fan]fiction!"

    I'll answer that with a quote from none other than Flannery O'Connor: "Fiction is after truth."

    I'll add, though, that one thing that continues to bother me in fanfic generally, not just Twilight, is EDITING. Too many stories, even extremely popular stories, need to find an editor ... or a better editor. The typos, grammar and other problems is distinctly off-putting and the older I get, the less patience I have for that sort of problem. Fix it. Don't give me excuses -- fix it. ;>

  7. It's interesting, but before I even finished reading the article, Shug and I were talking on the phone about actual percentages of good fic if you take into account the large amount of stuff that has flooded the archives. So, I do see where anonymous is coming from... there are more quality fics because there is simply more fic to choose from. I also understand her point that stories have gone beyond that of actually being fanfic. I can agree with that statement, as well... though there is still a familiarity that makes reading the stories comfortable. There is SOMETHING about the character that is reminiscent of the original... even if it is just their hair/eye colour. I'm one of those people who has to talk herself into reading a new book. It's because the author then has to convince me that I should care about his/her characters and I find that it usually takes several chapters for me to find any pull to the characters. It's why I tend to like series books rather than single novels.

    With the all human side of the Twilight fandom, I already care about the characters. And it's such a wide open field that the author can play in. It offers so much potential for originality. We can take the characters out of high school and they can mature (thank GOD!) They can have babies without mutant children that gestate for 4 weeks and then bite their way out of the uterus and imprint on the nearest werewolf. And they can deal with hurt, pain, injury without blood lust being the singular compulsion. The characters can be scientists, humanitarians, librarians, teachers, chefs, cops, lawyers, doctors, etc. There is so much potential... and yet it's still comfortable.

    Thank you for the article, Manyafandom. I can't tell you how amazing it is to see people look into the whys and wheres and hows of the fanfic community. As limona said, it's a growth pattern. And I'm truly hoping that it continues to grow and mature as time goes on. As always, I'm rambling and probably way off topic. Oh well. :) But thanks for including me!


  8. Bravo, minisinoo. It would be impossible for me to agree with you more. "Popular" does not equal "Good". Quantity does not equal quality. Have pride in your work and for heaven's sake, EDIT!

    I agree that the reason you are seeing some better stories is that you are seeing so many more stories. Also, you are seeing massive review numbers because there are more readers out there as well. (Not to mention the domino effect)

    The key is to discern the good from the bad. So, has quality increased? I will answer that by saying that QUANTITY has increased and it takes A LOT more digging.

    Some of these stories are in DIRE need of editors. It is distracting. Looking at number of reviews is not a judge of a good story - so many of which I find unreadable. If you are looking for great stories ask people with similar tastes like mozzer above, because honestly?

    I agree more with anonymous quoter and most of these comments about this issue.

    Find trusted sources to help you weed through the mass quantities of fanfiction out there.

    And writers? Take PRIDE in your work enough to give it CARE.

  9. I'm also one of those who think the increase is due to the surge in population. I'm not complaining though. I'll take what I can get. Heh.

    It's not surprising to see a lot of bad work out there either. We have a huge spectrum of writers, with backgrounds and ages galore. So who is to say that fic that you find utterly unreadable isn't the best work to date for someone? Or even genius for the age they are?

    Our screennames give us anonymity. So for all we know, that horrible fic was written by a five-year-old.

    I think the best way to make better fic is to find what good you can of what's out there, praise it as much as you can, and offer constructive critique that the author CAN DO. If it's even marginally better the next update - score for us.

    Anyhow, thanks for reading my rambling. If you got this far, high praise to you.

  10. Hopey-hope! What a great, thoughtful article. Thank you for delving intelligently into this topic. And thanks to TLYDF for having one of fanfic's best authors share her thoughts...

    I've only been reading fanfic since October of last year when I stumbled, literally, upon Vixen1836's 'Isle Esme.' It was so beautifully done ~ giving me what was missing from SMeyer's fade-to-black ~ and I found myself wanting more of Edward and Bella. I went straight to Vixen's favorites list. I worked from there, finding great story after great story by reading the favorites of authors I enjoyed. Very rarely did this not pay off nicely.

    Now, in the months that I've been reading, I've exhausted many of the 'old favorites,' causing me to have to dumpster dive a bit. But the forums at Twilighted have provided a wealth of positive feedback to make searching easier, as well as connecting me with some of the writers I love and respect. Forging friendships there has allowed me to have a circle of peeps to share gems with/receive gems from. This has been invaluable to me!

    I must say that when I started reading ff, I never EVER intended to write. Isn't it funny how others' creativity spurs more? I love that! Do I want to deal with the fandom the way AngstGoddess003 has to? No. I have neither the talent nor the patience. But her writing and the writing of such gifted others (dollegirl, Vixen1836, jandco, halojones, Ninapolitan...the list goes ON and ON) has caused me to want to create myself.

    When someone's creative endeavor causes others to dig into their souls to find their own voice, that is growth, in my opinion. Sure, it isn't always well-written or grammatically sound, but I have to believe the over-arching surge is a positive, beautiful thing.

    Growth, whether one is 5 or 50, isn't always smooth or fun, but we can generally view it as a good thing. I guess that's the camp I'm bunking in. ;)

  11. I am thoroughly enjoying this site. I must express thanks for the kind link for Black and White; it is an honor to be mentioned with such incredible authors, many that I’ve enjoyed reading as well. The other works of fan fiction mentioned look very interesting and I can’t wait to add them to my list! Well done, manyafandom!

    Now, I am just now delving into the content here, so please forgive any redundancy on my part if this issue has been discussed, but this article and some of the others that I’ve read on this awesome site just got me thinking. And, in the spirit of lively discussion, and much like the anonymous reviewer quoted in this article, I am going to take a risk of opening myself up here for dirty looks and rotten tomatoes as well.

    Prior to discovering fan fiction, I had never written a piece of fiction in my life outside of a requirement for my education. In my personal and professional life, I strive to be tactfully blunt, not a dreamer or a wanderer outside of using cleverness to problem solve or strategize situations and/or people. I have always believed that my command of the English language was better suited for analytical or persuasive writing and never deviated from this belief until I read Twilightzoner’s Midnight Desire.

    It all happened by an accidental split-second click. I thought I’d seen Midnight Sun, you see…

    After I got over the initial shock, I found myself thoroughly entertained. Shortly after reading all of the stories she had to offer, I was inspired. Her clever wit and genuine talent for painting comedy and action in each of her scenes - with a strong, eloquent utilization of language -completely enthralled me. That author single-handedly deserves my thanks for inspiring me to write. And so, from there, I opened up a word document, started typing the first scene to my first story Edward’s Eclipse, and for me and this little hobby, the rest is history.

    And write I did. I had an explosion of thought and I scribbled for pages and hours and chapters. I spent all of my free time in privacy, creating scenes in my head of what Edward would have logically been doing during Bella’s traitorous exploits with her “friend” Jacob Black. I loved delving into his imaginary mind as SM created it, and as if he were a patient, I caught myself constantly seeking to understand his motivations in concert with his actions. The psychological playground of Edward Cullen’s supernatural mind was an unstoppable obsession and in less than three weeks, I had six chapters completed; only…I couldn’t bring myself to post them.

    Now, I don’t know very many people here on a personal level, but I should emphasize that I am not shy or easily deterred from anything once I set my mind to it. And usually, only logic and reason are capable of budging me from my Texan stubbornness, but this was different.

    The trouble was that, although I had chapters that were edited and revised and edited and revised…I was hesitant because of the sheer popularity of Edward as a character and Twilight as a phenomenon, as well as the love that readers (such as myself) had for Edward’s mind. As a new writer and a private person, taking the risk to put myself out there, even under an ambiguous nom de plume, was risky for me. I almost deleted the word documents and never looked back.

    I am glad that I didn’t, though. And I finally posted one chapter and then a second. I got two reviews, and honestly, those two individual reviewers kept me going with kind words and encouragement throughout the entire series. They didn’t leave me with clever witticisms, empty praise, or paragraphs of gushing, but they did comment on my attempts, providing constructive, well-founded feedback that improved my writing tremendously. I kept going obviously, but without them, I am not sure that I would have.

    It’s sad to think how many writers never have the benefit of reviewers like that. And I think we all forget how scary this process can be for newbies coming into the fandom. On the whole, as Talullah mentioned, the fandom is growing and I do believe that this is a phenomenal trend for so many reasons. I am just happy that this trend indicates people are READING again. Popular culture doesn’t really emphasize literary pursuits as being in style, per say, particularly for the youth outside of higher education, so I find this trend impressive.

    But with this increase brings an onslaught of new writers, so how does a new writer get started the right way? Usually inspiration, but then what? I can guarantee that their first forays into writing fiction, for any new writer, are usually fraught with errors and mistakes. I have the benefit of an education, and yet no one informed me that First Person Narratives are strictly past tense 100% of the time (unless direct thoughts are italicized), and I cringe when I re-read Edward’s Eclipse, as I find random slips of “know” instead of “knew”, as well as too many “I”’s and “she’s”. It’s in canon, but it’s not perfect. Google searches on writing in First Person Narratives net results encouraging the use of another method of story-telling, as this (by many a source) supposedly the most difficult to master! Punctuation in dialogue is important as well, and even some veteran writers don’t have this down to a science.

    I have to say that since discovering this blog, I’ve seen nothing but opportunity, and again, I do have to thank the proprietors of this site for furthering, promoting and legitimizing this community by actively seeking to administer quality writing standards. And, as the fandom grows, new authors will join the old, and word will eventually spread about this blog. As leaders in the FF community that really, truly do wish to help new writers, I would love to see the talented authors that are involved in this blog create some section or place specifically for new writers or authors to gain knowledge, tips or expertise. There are several very witty articles written that highlight mistakes that author’s make, or common methods of writing that are undesirable, but the trouble is (and I’m the last person to deem myself the sensitivity police), I feel an air of condescension from many of the more seasoned writers commenting or critiquing. While I do not believe that this is anyone’s intention, sometimes that is the tone that is received to a new person entering this community, new and moderately experienced writers alike.

    Reading a blog about lack of grammar or creativity in dialogue is helpful, but there are fundamental areas that suffer with new writers, areas we can help them with. For quality’s sake (and for smut’s sake…dear God…), I would like to see communities like these step-up to support new writers in these ways, besides recommending their fiction (which is still so completely awesome, by the way!).

    A newbie corner with these details explained, while not as entertaining or witty, would go a very long way in promoting the quality standards we all truly do seek in our stories. I know for a fact that if I’d had that benefit, complete with tips and pointers from the best writers in this fandom, Edward’s Eclipse would be a final product worthy of the title given. Sadly, as it stands now, I am still a novice and it’s still in its newbie first draft phase, and by the litmus test provided here, could very well be passed over for consideration in terms of what is and is not quality.

    Anyhow, as a new member to this, I hope to continue to enjoy the benefit of such genuine dialogue regarding some of the more interesting issues taking place in this community. I can’t say enough about how refreshing it is to see a collective of excellent authors exploring the culture of the Twilight fandom seriously. Efforts such as these legitimize this community, which for my own selfish reasons, makes me feel a whole hell of a lot better about this secret little hobby. :)

  12. Tiffany -- normally I don't comment very often on my blog here, but your post was so very well done and you made some EXCELLENT points. I did want to mention that in addition to Pastiche Pen's Column that's geared for the rookie ficster (Pastiche Pen's Guide to the Newbie Power & Fandom Tower), emibella is hosting a series of articles on Style and I am starting a series of articles this Thursday on the Deconstruction of a story -- but I'm no expert. The whole thing is that I am making a point to research multiple resources and real life literary people (or at least folk who have some measure of training in the written word ;) in the art of wordcraft. I will be learning as a "newbie" author, because although I run this blog and write fic, I am nothing but an amateur. So I saw this as an opportunity for me to grow and share what I've learned. I plan on covering multiple points in Characterization (this thurs will highlight the first part of this -- what i feel is the basic ingredient for characterization), Plot, Theme and ~shudders~ Grammar -- my very own achille's heel.

    So yes, I do hope to have some that some of the items I have planned and organized upcoming will definitely answer some of your requests there. Also, I will create a TAG and go through the existing posts to organize them into maybe a Newbie Resource category so that material that may be more beneficial for someone starting out WRITING in a fandom, or anywhere at all ;).

    I thank you ALL so much for continuing to visit TLYDF -- it has been a pleasure really to bring it to you.

  13. Smellyia -- Jumping off Tiffany's comments about the "craft" involved in writing, I know of one site that I discovered some years back, then lost, then found again, that I've linked on TwoSeekers. It's done (I understand) by a writer from Star Trek fandom, apparently a BNF from the mid/late-90s, named Macedon. (I never knew this author as we were in different fandoms back with fandoms didn't overlap much, but some of the people on my blog apparently did.)

    Instead of addressing this or that issue in a single rambling blog entry (like me, ha), he collected together a lot of really useful advice on the "nuts and bolts" of writing that's extremely useful for beginning writers. It's pretty much solid, standard writing class/workshop advice -- so it might be something worth linking to on the blog sidebar, or even mentioning in a "mini entry." The link is here:

    Of additional interest is an entry called "The Mannerly Art of Disagreement" which struck me as VERY good advice on conducting internet debates:

  14. Those are BOTH excellent articles and I have spent a lovely portion of my work day slacking off reading them ;).

    And the best thing -- this guy is like LINK ME. So link you I shall macedon.

    I love those. I think I'll link him, but there are some other items I'd like to cover -- but his basic tips -- good god, I wish I had this before I posted ANYTHING.

    THANK YOU!!!!

  15. okay. there is NO way im' going to read all these wonderful comments. but i did actually read your entire essay and i agree on multiple aspects. being a relatively new ff-er...from about oh i don't know last summer or so maybe the fall and i've encountered so many different stories. the ones that i favourite are always ones that i would happily reread. and i must admit that i am reading a fic now because i find the topic intriguing but there is a HUGE disconnect from me as a reader (and a writer) and the way the author is choosing to tell the story. i don't feel a part of the story, i'm not even sure if i feel like i'm watching the story unfold around me. it's this story that is happening and making me wince slightly because it's just not right. and not that i find the writing bad...just...something isn't clicking. and that frustrates me as a reader because i want to read things and fall into them and forget that they're FF and not true works of fiction (which...they are but bear with me here) and that is why the stories i tend to find are the ones on my trusted author lists. the story blurb might be out there and not quite me...but as a reader i put so much trust in the writer to not steer me wrong in her (or his..but typically her) story that i have the utmost faith in s/he suggestions and favourites.

    that's probably nothing new but my favourite stories are the ones that go BEYOND s.meyer. is twilight great? yes. could it be better? HELL YES. there is SO MUCH i would improve in twilight if i had the chance to wield the magical pen of change...but i don't. i don't read FF because i want to read SM all over again. i can just pick up my books for that. i turn to FF for something different and hopefully something BETTER! and the best fics (the ones that merit the praise they are given and the ones people still don't know about) are able to do this. they transform the story, the's something new and exciting even if it's a simple retelling. you can retell a story without regurgitation. it's about focus, talent and dedication.

    wow. ramble. did that even make sense?



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