“I would love it if there was a Twilight fanfic site that had no restrictions on ratings or content, but still had well-written stories…”
“Why don’t you start one?”
And so it went…that conversation with my husband in February of 2008 was the birth of Twilighted. Never in my wildest dreams did I think we would end up running a fanfiction archive that was the home of 60,000+ members with a thriving forum that hosts nearly 30,000. Twilighted’s first year has been one of amazing growth, highs and lows, laughter and tears, and most of all, love. For me, Twilighted is all about LOVE.
My philosophy, both in real life and in fandom life is “live and let live.” To me, it is a symbol of love for my fellow human beings, a sort of unconditional love that says, "You do your thing, I'll do mine, and we're cool, K?" Do you love Sweetward? Domward? Slashward? We have them all at Twilighted. Is one or more of those characterizations not your favorite? We have plenty of others, and the “BACK” button is a beautiful thing. I have tried to make Twilighted a place where people can come to find well written stories with that vary in rating, pairing, content, and POV. “One woman’s trash is another woman’s treasure,” I always tell my staff…though, I have to admit that we have many a trashy treasure on Twilighted ;)
In kind, when I started the Twilighted Forums, I wanted them to be a place that espoused the same “live and let live” philosophy, which I essentially see as an exercise in free speech. Having come from a forum where I had to be careful with every word for fear of being chastised by moderators, I wanted the Twilighted forum to be a place where people could feel free to say what they wanted to say in the way they wanted to say it. So that’s all fine and good, freedom of speech, it’s a good thing, right? I see it is the counterpart to the “all inclusive” nature of the archive—but what about “high quality”?
Most of us have done it…especially those of us that have been around the fandom for a long time. You’re in the mood for some smut…you go to fanfiction.net and start your search…Category..TWILIGHT...keyword...LEMON...search...OK, now narrow results by rating...M, please.
There you go! TwiSmut! Tons of it! YAY! Click that first story...go ahead...click it! Scared? Yeah, you probably should be.
Fanfiction.net is incredible--you gotta love a place that lets people post anything and everything, but it gets very tiring sifting through things that are the writing equivalent of shopping at Walmart as opposed to even Target...you might find something good, but the chances are better if you go to a better store.
At Twilighted, every story is not PERFECT, nor is it necessarily the same caliber as a NYTimes best-seller (though many are, in my opinion). But, every story should be well-written in the sense that it is relatively free of blatant and consistent spelling, grammar, punctuation, and capitalization problems--those stoppers that make it difficult to read a story without grimacing, and it will be interesting and coherent. It may not be YOUR cup of tea, but it may be just what your neighbor was looking for. Looking for the best of the best? Go to the Top Tens list--those are the stories that people are reading and reviewing and favoriting, so they really are the cream of the crop. Go to the forums and check out the sig files--it's instant access to everyone's favorites list (hint: your favorite author's favorites are likely REALLY good). Need a better filter than that? Check out the awards sites--the Eddies and the Bellies or the Indies, or check out your favorite blog--TLYDF, PPSS, or the Fictionators to name a few--they have recs for the best of the best in nearly any category you can imagine.
Now how do we ensure high quality on the forum? One very simple rule, the only rule that we really need, and the rule that makes it possible for us to enjoy the freedom of speech that "all inclusive" allows us:
That's it. Just be nice. You want to say "FUCK"? Say, "That chapter was FUCKAWESOME!" Nice, see? (And the best word amalgamation EVER.) You want to say "Bitch"? Say "bitch," just don't call someone a bitch...unless of course it is used as a term of endearment, (e.g. Ninapolitan's pet name for our dearest Dr. Cullen). Just be nice. Be supportive. Be encouraging. Don't be an ass. Nobody likes an ass. If you want freedom of speech, that requires responsibility. Being nice is being responsible with that freedom.
How does this ensure high quality? In the same way that clicking on a story at Twilighted ensures a certain level of quality over and above clicking on a story at fanfiction.net does--it's a safety net, a measure of security. You know that you will not be attacked, that you will not have to argue, fuss, and fight at Twilighted. You know that the quality of people you interact with and the quality of the interactions you have are going to be high because those that don't want to play nice don't hang around for very long.
I have heard many a story about people finding the best friends they have ever had on Twilighted's forums, and I think that has happened because of the supportive, community feeling we have there. It's something Twilighted's members should be proud of--that in a fandom that is not exactly famous for spreading the love (actually this applies to a lot of fandoms), at Twilighted, we have a community of amazing people...people that further the fandom by extending it with their creativity, people that support one another through feedback, reviews, collaborative critiquing, rec'ing, pimping, and virtual hugs (or all out snogs when appropriate), and people who share in the highs and lows of the creative process that is writing. To me, that is love.
I love fanfiction. Clearly, I must, or I would not have started this little project that takes up every spare moment of my life. I love Twilight--it changed my life. I love Twilighted, I love my staff, I love my authors (yes, I call you all “mine,” my apologies if it offends), and I love all of the readers who keep my authors writing. Readers—you are the reason that authors write! (PLEASE REVIEW! Reviews are love!)
Twilighted is a labor of love. It is a LOT of work, and really, I do not do even half of what it takes to run the site. My BELOVED staff is what keeps it going. These ladies donate HOURS of their time every day to make sure the validation queue keeps moving, to make sure the stories are as good as they can be (save the inevitable typo even a third or fourth read through may not catch), and to encourage writers to be the best they can be. They put up with a LOT of…let’s just say “not so much with the love,” shall we? But, they are also well loved by many people who recognize the value in what they do and the commitment it takes to be good at what they do. They do it because they love fanfiction, they love the fandom, and they love the site.
Sometimes the fandom gets crazy and we lose sight of why we are all here. Without breaking into a serenade suitable for a big purple dinosaur, or even a Beatles' favorite, I will say that we were all brought together by love. Love of a story about the greatest love of all time. A love story we love so much that we can't let go of it, so we continue to read and write about it, exploring the characters and how they might love each other in a variety of settings, situations, and circumstances. So, in closing, let me say THANK YOU for making Twilighted the incredible community that it is--it wouldn't be what it is without all of you. And a few requests, if I may...love your writers (did I mention, PLEASE REVIEW?), love your readers (WRITE, WRITE, WRITE), and love each other, because Twilighted is all about LOVE.
Psymom is the super woman who has defined a fandom with her website - Twilighted. In addition to her site, she is furthering the ficster's landscape by assisting to bring us the wonderful world of iFic and is a prominent coordinator of the first TwiCon happening this August.