As of 2/18/10, there were roughly 115,000 stories on fanfiction.net. After playing around with the stats, I figured out that stores are being added at a rate of roughly 6,000 per month.
Six Freaking Thousand.
How the hell do you break through the clutter to find a good story with all that noise? The last time I went fic diving…well, I think I am still a bit scarred by it.
So with that said, let’s get a few truths out on the table.
We’ve all been burnt by “bad stories” (characterization, grammar, clichés, weak plot, etc), therefore we revert to the dependable; recommendations from friends, blogs, live journal, fan sites, etc. Sometimes we’ll even use the favorites function on FanFiction to peruse stories tagged by our favorite authors or reviewers. It’s a cycle that feeds itself, and in doing so, people are less likely to take on new stories without a rec from a credible source. Those credible sources, while potentially having good taste, have preferences or biases too, which further filters the type of fics that make it into the recommendation pool.
Yep, you heard me right, people have fic biases.
The two most common biases in the Twilight fandom are a) Vampire vs. Human and b) M rated vs anything lower. We’ll table the Vampire vs. Human for a later conversation, because that deserves an analysis of its own. Today is all about the T rated fic.
So let’s go back to the original assumption – we read what we are recommended, and that list is filtered based on people’s predispositions. The bulk of people surveyed (Live Journal, Twitter, Email) admitted readily that they read mostly M rated fics. If you apply that to the recommendation pool, it immediately nets down the number of stories. There is also a post Breaking Dawn effect (big surprise there) where the fics became more mature to fill in the blanks or proverbial fade to black. Mature content isn’t anything new, but the sheer volume these days has a number of people using that as their very first line of refinement. In doing so, an awful lot of potentially great stories are left out.
Don't believe me, well the numbers don't lie. Of the 115,000 Twilight stories on fanfiction.net - 51% were T rated. 25% M rated, and 24% were a combination of K ratings.
Yeah - you read right - over 1/2 of the stories Twilight stories are T rated. But people mostly read M.
'So let’s do the math – 6,000 new stories a month / preference for M Rating / Word of mouth. If you buy into the logic, there are some fabulous stories that are being missed, simply because they have a T instead of an M.
Where's the Love, Man?
A few anonymous ones to get you thinking too:
- Honestly? I have never even attempted to read a 'T' fic. It may sound h00rish, but the whole reason I started reading FF is to get what I couldn't get out of the original series.
- I never read them. I'm sorry. I want to, but I just can't bring myself to do it. I need mature content I guess...whatever that entails. It doesn't have to be smut or anything, I just need it to be...more? I suppose I *could* read a T rated fic, but I feel like I'd always be left wanting.
- For whatever reason, I find that many T stories are just... silly and badly written. But so are M stories.
One interesting side note, a few people admitted (off the record) to changing the rating of their stories from T to M simply to expand their readership. With the simple change of a rating, the number of readers shot up. The content didn’t change, just that one little label, which leads me to believe that the M designation is a lot more of a filter than anyone ever expected.
Those admissions, coupled with a comment by Giselle-LX really stuck with me, and is really a valid point.
Bear with me, this is a valid point. It seems as though the application of the ratings has come to be leveraged or interpreted as an indication of something more than age appropriateness. It's being used as a quality indicator too. What if, instead of thinking of T rated fics as inferior, think of it like a movie rating. Do you choose movies based purely on the rating, or because it looks interesting? If box office movie grosses are an indication, it's the latter, for only three of the top ten grossing movies of 2009 were R rated.
I'm not going to lecture or brow beat you into reading T rated fics. Some will, some won't. I simply wanted to give you an alternate perspective on the merit of T.
To close this long ramble out, I went to the source, my pal Ruby-Wednesday, who has been around this fandom a lot longer than I have. She's has a very sage perspective on the whole notion of T ratings:
Also even the older M rated stories were far less explicit than what we see today.
It's funny though, because if I was to name what I think are the highest quality and my personal favourite fics in the fandom, they are mainly rated T (Innocent, Vigilant Ordinary, Ithaca Is Gorges, Atlas Shrugged, Blue Moon over Mankas, Rosalie's Revenge) and the one's I love that are rated M (Hydraulic Level 5, Sanctuary, Mutually Assured Destruction, If Love Could Light a Candle) may contain sexual references but are adult in a way that is not based on sex for the sake of it.
Hmonster4 proudly reads T rated fics and has been known to write them on occasion, too.