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The Toybox

people for the conservation of limited amounts of indignation


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off today!
children of dune - leto 1
seperis
Happy birthday bexless!

*hugshugshugs*

Sometimes, I DO remember.

I give thanks for the Family Medical Leave Act, otherwise, having to take a day off in only my third week of work MIGHT have been a Very Bad Thing.

On the other hand? I STILL don't have my damn permissions, and I can only file so much before my cuticles rebel. And trust me, they've been rebelling up a storm.

Anyway. I wore jammies until noon. And this doesn't bother me, even though it's Monday. I have brushed my teeth and I am going to crochet slippers.

You hear me? SLIPPERS. Like, the kind that go on the feet. Okay, right, there are no other kinds of slippers, but I'm still amused by the fact my competence with a crochet hook has grown enough to dare slippers.

I also crocheted a pitcher and a teapot and stuffed them with cottonish stuff--fibersomething?. There's supposed to be crocheted plants in them--seriously, these patterns are awesome--but they require chenille something or others, which I took a bit of time wondering, what the HELL is that?--then figured out, right, glorified and overpriced pipe cleaners.

You know, so the crocheted plants stand up. Seriously. This is so cool. If I can get this to work, someone is getting one of these as a Christmas present. Maybe two. The only plant I cannot kill would have to be made out of thread, but I still don't trust myself around it for too long.

Anyway.

*****

Pru Amuses Me

Speaking of my job, five months two weeks until I can interview for a higher position if I want to, which I'm still debating. While chatting with Pru, it amused me a little to think that anyone with a modem and a general idea of how to use google could pretty easily get my entire name if they were willing to hunt around some of the older archives when I was still using my full name (yes, I did that).

Anyway. Went like this.

seperisgrins* I'm often amused about if I ever publish, the fact that anyone with the ability to use google will, in fact, be perfectly able to connect me with any of my fanfic work.
Jenn: Hell, my coworkers could do it if they get bored, and that's equally amusing.
Jenn: I can just see my next interview.
rageprufrock: *LOL*
Jenn: "So are you in fact, a purveyor of pornography on the net?"
Pru: "next interview"?
Pru: *LOL*
Jenn: "I like to call it 'smut', sir."
Jenn: "...smut."
Jenn: "Sometimes involving food."
Pru: *giggles*
Jenn: "Food."
Jenn: "Did I mention it's usually pretty guys?"
Jenn: "..."
Jenn: "I'd be a great asset to your team."
Jenn: "..."
Jenn: "Yes, right now I AM imagining you nailing the guy beside you. How'd you know?"

Yep. How could they not want to hire me on the spot?

*****

Smallville:

I'm nearly spoiler free, which pleases me beyond words to describe, so I'm looking forward to the next six eps. At first, I was worried about spoilers because I just KNEW it'd be last summer all over again and hearing about Lex Marrying a Woman (horror, terror, lalala), and then they showed Heat, and Jesus, the slash ranneth like wine in the rivers, so honestly? Come on. At this point Lex could sleep his way through a brothel and I'd be like "PROOF OF THE BIG GAY LOVE! OVERCOMPENSATION!"

Self-hypnosis and unremovable slash-goggles are, I think, a Very Good Thing indeed. Really, they make life so much less stressful than it otherwise could be.

An interesting discussion last night with a few people on public critique in fandom. I'm not sure if they're hot to identify themselves, so I'll keep this one relatively general. They can chime in if so moved or I get something wrong.

Is it just me that gets a huge kick out of cut tags?

Just curious. Anyway.

This could be offensive. Just so you know.

Here's the hypothetical sitch. You read this story and it has redefined the word 'bad'. One might say, if one was crass, that there is in fact entire monkey tribes chained to typewriters who would, in fact, kill themselves if they realized after nine hundred and ninety-nine years that they wrote this.

Yes, we've all read a fic like that, so you get my drift.

One one side, you have the 'why bother critiqueing when the author isn't going to listen' school of thought. Because let's face it, the people who actually NEED critique never take it, except in that rare blue moon when the sun rises in the west and the day I get to see Lex fuck Clark on national television. Don't say I'm cynical, my VCR is primed for this day. Anyway. Usually it ends up flamewary and annoying and new heights of immature brattiness are reached. I've been involved in one where the chick was defending bad spelling as a part of the entire artistic license thing, okay? It is on the order of beating your head into a very hard brick wall and being rather surprised nothing happens. Except wow, your head hurts. A *lot*. Invariably, everyone's friends are dragged in at some point and it goes to hell oh so very fast and this Does Not Inspire great works of fic, though I admit, the parodies that sometimes emerge could entertain me for weeks. As this is all about me, well, sadness and pouting.

On the other, the ones that do critique, and will, and are perfectly willing to do it publicly no matter what the reaction is. Critique--not flame. Thoughtful analysis of what works and doesn't, or why something doesn't work at all.

Having been and done both from both writer and reader pov, it's more than a little hypocritical for me to say either one is the way to go. I have a lot of reasons I don't bother myself, being of school one-ish, unless I simply love the story, and because I don't bother with bad authors. It's elitist, maybe, but critiquing something atrocious, while it sounds like fun, would require a novel of correction, and frankly, I couldn't figure out how to do it without asking 'what kind of crack are you ON?" ever five minutes or so. Reviewing, reccing, critiquing someone good? Completely different.

That's not to say I don't encourage others to follow school two, and that IS hypocritical, but you know, when spacing out my time, something has to give.

But getting beyond that and into more generalities.

Most people, when asked, will say they are fine with public critique, right up until the second it happens. *grins* And no one, and I repeat this, NO ONE is immune to the generalized feeling of 'gaaaaah' when something you wrote is held up and the mistakes pointed out.

Okay, YOU might be, but hell, I'm not, and I'm relatively secure, so--*sticks out tongue*.

But just because of that doesn't mean critique shouldn't happen, which makes me wonder exactly why it doesn't. A healthier and more open fandom could come of it--or a flamey, strife-filled one of utter despair. Choices, choices. Being able to express an opinion on something without fifty million disclaimers would be great, too. It's not like it won't be equal opportunity--if you're of the social class school of fandom and think BNFs and popular authors won't get critiqued, don't worry--they're probably among the only ones that DO get it, since it looks extremely bad if a BNF gets tetchy in public and because public figures are, in essence, considered a hell of a lot less involiable than say, newbie authors. You think I'm joking, but anyone around the TWoP last year knows Te's fic was regularly dragged out and re-aired as a matter of course. Newbie authors are, in a lot of ways, a hell of a lot safer in that--first sign of critique and someone WILL bring out that thrice-damned flag of "protect the newbie or they won't write ever again!", and you know, I wish that were true sometimes, because if I believed that, I might be inspired to critique more.

Every day, even.

I'm not cynical enough to believe that authors can't improve, because really, almost anyone can achieve a level of competence in writing with practice. I just think a lot don't want to try, or, and this is vaguely unsettling, honest to God do not see the badness.

To-may-to, to-mah-to. I get different opinions on different stories, but sometimes you wonder about the crack.

I'm just thinking randomly again. Surely someone will explain why this is or is not a good thing. Public critique--not me thinking. Or that too. Whichever.

*****
Recs:

Two Voices by dolimir. An interesting--and VERY different--bit of AU-ness that cannot be described adequately. I was a little thrown by the Lex at the end, but otherwise, it was absolutely lovely and solid and damned fun to read straight through.

Blood by tstar78 Oh. Damn. Lucas and Lex and all that twisty-wrong Luthor family dynamics that screw with their heads. Lucas is a lot more Luthor than even he knows.

Distractions by siobhan. I think this one I read in LJ first, but it's just as good on another read, and so much fun. They keep getting interrupted, dammit.

I'm staring at CLexBrothersFic again and pondering the very sickness of my mind. It's fun, really.


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I've been involved in one where the chick was defending bad spelling as a part of the entire artistic license thing, okay?

I've seen, "I don't use capitalization because it limits me as an artiste."

Open critique in a fandom is a really, really hard thing to get people to agree on. On one hand you have those (like me) who believe you can't improve without solid feedback, and on another there are plenty of people who think that fanfic is a social exercise, not a literary one, and all they want are their egos stroked.

I've seen, "I don't use capitalization because it limits me as an artiste."

Makes you want to find their English teacher and BEAT them. Dear God. *shudders*

Open critique in a fandom is a really, really hard thing to get people to agree on. On one hand you have those (like me) who believe you can't improve without solid feedback, and on another there are plenty of people who think that fanfic is a social exercise, not a literary one, and all they want are their egos stroked.

Yes, there's that, which is probably THE Issue. And you never know which one you're getting until you actually post the critique.

*sighs*

Makes you want to find their English teacher and BEAT them.

Or possibly give them a drink and a shoulder to cry on....

*looks down at her own jammies* yay for days off!

Of course, I have to work in a couple hours, but it's the thought that counts.

Like you, I try not to mention stories I *don't* like. Because, well, that way leads to madness and people flaming you. The few times I've tried it? Offer a tiny suggestion...get flamed. Point out everything you liked and one place to improve...get ignored. Offer to beta and give a two-page critique of a story the writer has admitted needs work...be told I'm wrong.

bah.

When it comes to my stuff, it's not so much "I mind" as "I want to hide under my desk." I know it's good for me, and I know it's stuff I need to hear. I'm just glad it's done over the computer so I can hide my dismay 'til I get used to it. But there's something kind of gratifying about seeing your work discussed in public, even in a negative way, because if people are saying bad things about my story, at least they're *talking* about it.

It's like watching my different kinds of narcissism battle for precedence. *g*

*sighs* Yes, pretty much to everything you said. Exactly.

But there's something kind of gratifying about seeing your work discussed in public, even in a negative way, because if people are saying bad things about my story, at least they're *talking* about it.

It's like watching my different kinds of narcissism battle for precedence. *g*


And yes yes yes! *grins* Multiple narcissisms. *giggles*

Pajamas are the BEST clothes ever!

Well, you know how *I* feel about critique. *g*

I do offer caveats with my reviews, and lately I've been trying to talk more about stories I've read from both the positive-stuff I loved and the less-than-positive, i.e., things that threw me off or that didn't work for me.

I think, obviously, that there are things that need qualifying and things that don't.

Factual corrections - Luthor is spelled with an "o", not an "e" - don't need an "in my opinion".

Pairings, obviously, need to be handled more delicately. As in, "Lex/Lana doesn't work for me, so going in I had difficulty with suspending my disbelief for this story. However, the character voices are dead-on accurate and almost makes up for the huge hate-on I have for Lana. SO if you like the pairing, read the fic."

Now, I'd never send that directly to an author (or, you know, I'd couch it in nicer terms with the, "Wow, I don't usually read this pairing, but you made it work."), but as a public critique, or recommendation? Sure. (see today's diary entry for examples.)

Obviously, there are some fandoms in which I would never do this, because I don't want to be attacked anymore. In other fandoms, I'm anonymous and so my words carry both more weight (I have no axes to grind) and less (the "I've not written in that fandom, so what the hell do I know?" school of thought).

The 'fanfic is a social exercise' v. the 'fanfic is like any other form of fiction and should be critiqued' schools of thought will never coincide and that's where the big problems always begin - when the person doing the critiquing runs into an author who's only in it for the social portion and well, ammonia, meet bleach. That's when things go all blooey.

That being said, and also noting that I suck at formal reviews, I'm coming more and more to be less fearful of writing publicly about what I have and haven't liked in stories I've read.

At least in fandoms where nobody knows my name. *g*

The 'fanfic is a social exercise' v. the 'fanfic is like any other form of fiction and should be critiqued' schools of thought will never coincide and that's where the big problems always begin - when the person doing the critiquing runs into an author who's only in it for the social portion and well, ammonia, meet bleach. That's when things go all blooey.

This is such an amazingly efficient summary... I've never really thought of the resulting conflicts between those two camps in those terms before, though I've seen it happen ad nauseum. *friends you for being eloquent*

Heh. Thanks.

::feels pressure to be eloquent::


(Deleted comment)
When I can have a perfectly good critique session in private (with only intelligent people contributing, and no need to run through Fanfic for Newbies) and skip the drama, why bother?

Word. This is my tactic. I will email crits directly to an author and discuss amongst a group of individual's whose opinions I care about and have learned from in the past. Otherwise, I cause enough drama in my life just by being a dumbass, I don't need to bring any more on by doing public critiques that may hurt someone's feelings.

Don't get me wrong, as I said above, I send crits to the author via email, so it isn't as though I'm talking behind their back. Although, I suppose that would be a person's perogative as well. *g*

Don't get me wrong, as I said above, I send crits to the author via email, so it isn't as though I'm talking behind their back. Although, I suppose that would be a person's perogative as well. *g*

I don't consider discussing a person's story (even criticising it) without the author's knowledge to be "talking behind someone's back." I mean, by that logic, I shouldn't criticize "Skinwalker" in chat unless I send a letter to the writer & the actress who played Kyla reiterating all my complaints. ;) Sometimes it's not about the author. Sometimes you just want to talk about a story, to your friends. And sometimes you just want to go "Oh my God, that was bad, my eyes, my eyes."

Some people find public criticism to be mean or distasteful but in my opinion, if you don't want public comments on your story, you shouldn't put it out *in* public. If you want attention, you have to accept the good with the bad. Since I believe this, I also believe that *private* criticism shouldn't be restricted in any way, nor should it be thought of as "talking behind someone's back," since that has such a negative connotation. A lot of the time, private criticism is the wisest (and, really, the *nicest*) way to go about fic discussion, since some people take any criticism as an attack.

Since I believe this, I also believe that *private* criticism shouldn't be restricted in any way, nor should it be thought of as "talking behind someone's back," since that has such a negative connotation.

Livia, you are correct. It was a poor choice of words on my part. I did not mean any negative implication. I was merely speaking for myself and trying to say that for myself, I don't like to discuss things about an author that I haven't emailed them about personally.

You are right, I didn't mean to imply that if you do discuss fic without talking to the author directly that you are 'going behind their back' or doing anything negative.

It was a poor choice of words.

hmmmm - when it comes to public critique, I am pretty much a rank coward.

:-)

I HATE flame wars. I HATE Kerfluffles and back biting, and people misquoting each other because they really don't seem to be able to listen to each other. In my first fandom, Prey - and no you probably haven't heard of it, I got into one of those and fetl absolutely terrible until I had made peace, as far as I could, with everyone involved. Since then I just say NO to commenting on that kind of thing.

On the other hand, I firmly believe in critique being the only way to get better. My betas all joke about me needing a T-shirt saying kcik me, I like it! LOL Not entirely true - no one enjoys being told that what they are writing isn't working - but OH- so much better to be told BEFORE it is posted.

So I prefer having beta lists (I am on two now, one for my fic and one for my original fic) where everyeone goes in on the same wavelength and since it is semi-private I think we all find it less threatening. I will on occasion post some comments to someone if I think they are honestly looking for them and if I have followed their e-mails or journal entries enough to be pretty sure they won't shoot the messenger.

I rarely rec at all. Just me being lazy, I suppose. but when i do I usually rec a fic I have no reservations about so it isn't a problem for me.

Hope the boy is feeling better, Jenn. Babygirl and I are home with the flu - although hers seems to have miraculously cleared up this afternoon. Hmmmm. I think she pulled a Ferris Bueller. and she is only 5. I am so proud. *sigh*

;-)

Ack! LJ is spazzing on me, so here's to hoping this works this time.

Re: Critiques in public forum. I have made a personal choice not to do critiques in a public forum for the reasons I stated under harriet_spy's comments above. I just don't need any drama. I bring enough on myself by being an idiot. I reserve the right to change my mind about this at any time. *g*

Re: Critique in general. I think that there are definitely two seperate camps in fanfic, I believe it has been pointed out above. The first is a group that wants to write the best story that they can and the second is a group that mainly wants to have the social fun associated with posting a story. Neither is better than the other, I'm not putting any 'qualitative' judgement on that.

Being in the first camp, I like critique. I like it especially when it teaches me something. I'm not as fond of it when it consists of, "This story didn't work for me, not sure why, but it didn't." That isn't really helpful to me in making the story better. I'll still take it though, any feedback is still something I get excited about.

Getting a story back from my beta reader bathed in blood hurts for the first minute and sometimes I feel myself sort of rebel against it for a few moments, but I try to overcome those feelings and when I do, I'm always so happy that they slaughtered the thing. As Stephen King wrote, "You must be willing to kill your lovelies." I don't know why I quote him so much, I don't read his stuff. But, anyway, I think that it is just a matter of figuring out who wants critique and who doesn't.

Should it be in a public or private forum? That is a personal decision. I don't think there are any 'shoulds' about it. (Not that anyone said there was a 'should'.)

*sidesteps discussion that may necessitate actual brain power*

*Hugs Jenn*

Thanks!

~stares in fascination at icon~

I'm listening to the Go-Go's We've Got the Beat and Spidey is dancing exactly in time.

A couple of things.

1. About critiques. A good writing teacher I know is always effusive in his praise, and it's real praise for the good stuff in a student's work, which makes the "here's where it falls down" a lot easier to bear. When I studied pedagogy, they drilled it into our heads that you should always say "This is excellent work, but..." -- this guy does a well-honed version of that. I think a lot of critiques could learn from this basic trick of the teacher's trade: always find good things to say about a work.

2. About discussion: I don't, as it happens, feel like I do have a community for discussing stories that get posted other than LJ; neither of my beta-readers is reading fic that actively right now, and they're the people I'm most often in conversation with about fannish things. So I like it when people post story comments, and wish people would do it more often.

3. I think that posting a public comment does, however, obligate you to have a conversation with the writer -- again, back to the classroom, but a good teacher will have written crits directed *to* the student, not him/herself. Writing to a "you," students are less likely to be unintentionally cruel about someone else's work, because they're more aware of the other person. So, yeah, public critiques have to lead to public conversations, and I can understand why some people wouldn't want to do that, especially if they don't know if the writer will freak out.

Me, I love getting critiques, I love talking to people about my work (ego much?), I've changed stuff in my current WiP based on things people posted in my LJ --both of the "this part is confusing" type and the "huh, I would've thought X would happen" type (which didn't lead me to make X happen, but led me to think more about *why* X didn't happen, and set up a Y that I think answers the question).

What's been hard about getting critiqued has been when people have offered critiques but haven't entered into the conversation. I remember one poster to the Angel fanfic workshop who said that my story was full of grammatical errors. Well, uh, no, it wasn't -- though I can see how someone might think some of the colloquial speech stuff was ungrammatical -- but when I asked for specific examples of what she was talking about, she just ignored me. Similarly, if someone says "I had some problems with this story" but doesn't say why, that's not useful for me as a rec-reader, and tough to grapple with if I'm the writer being commented on.

But just because of that doesn't mean critique shouldn't happen, which makes me wonder exactly why it doesn't.

Me too, because I miss it. *smile* Perhaps it's because analyzing, proofreading and editing texts is mainly what I've devoted my RL life to, but I think that for a community of people who spend so much time writing and reading, the fanfiction world is often sadly lacking in serious discussion about the texts it generates. As a fic writer, of course I love getting the kind of feedback that simply says "This is a wonderful story, please write more," but once in a while (or even, in a perfect world, on a regular basis), it would be an incredible kick to get a letter of real critique, telling me what, specifically, I did right and what I did wrong. That's the sort of feedback I need to become a better writer, the sort that would tell me that someone actually read my work with their mind, not just ran their eyes over it. It's a great pity that we're all so afraid of rocking the boat that we don't dare to help each other out by giving the responses that would raise the level of everyone's writing. If I can be a better writer (and I'm sure I have a very broad margine to work with there *g*), then I want people to tell me, not just encourage me to loll along in the same old patterns. If the way to narrow down what is wrong with a fic is open discussion, then I say bring it on. It feels to me as though the less we talk about the details of specific stories, the more we remove fanfiction from "real literature", isolating it as something that's only done for fun and has no value as art or even craft, basically saying that it's not meant to stand up to closer scrutiny. This strikes me as a grave mistake, because there is so much talent out there that deserves to be appreciated fully, not just given a slap on the back. Open critique and discussion furthers development and evolution, both for the individual and the group. It's a sad thing that in fandom it so often leads to endless feuds and the distruction of entire communities.

And no one, and I repeat this, NO ONE is immune to the generalized feeling of 'gaaaaah' when something you wrote is held up and the mistakes pointed out.

So true. Oooh, must tell a story. *g* When I was writing in Sentinel fandom, I wrote this story called Wandering the Maze. I loved that story. God, how it made my heart go pitter-patter. And it had this really cool metaphor about a broken door. Broken door = broken relationship, fixed door = repaired relationship, right? Except, everyone fixated on the damned door. The story was discussed on the crit list in Sentinel fandom, and everyone was like, "Cool story, but - no way Jim would go off and leave Blair in there with that broken door! What is that all about?!" And I was like - but, it's cool! *wibble* Except that it was so funny, and everyone was so right about that problem I couldn't even see, I couldn't really help sitting there and grinning like a fool.

It's hard to say "but I wrote a beautiful story except for that bit I really fucked up completely", but - that feeling of gaaaaah sometimes just gives way to a kind of "well...yeah" thing instead. Learning to roll with those punches mitigates the feeling none of us are immune to. But it takes a while to get there, and - of course, a lot depends on how crit is delivered. (And sometimes, the perceived agenda behind it.)

/end stupid story

Hey there; I got here from destina's journal, and just thought I'd put out a different experience. Many folks seem to be saying that they'd love to be able to critique fic but don't like being flamed, which was pretty much my viewpoint when I started my LotR Fic (W)rec(k)s.

But wow, has that not happened! I review the good, the bad, and the extremely ugly in LotR fic (well, when I remember to update, I do), and so far, the most horribly negative thing I've heard to date is "I don't always agree with you".

Now, whether this is partially fandom-specific, or the Mean Folks haven't found me yet, or I seem imposing enough that they don't want to get into anything with me, or what, I have no idea. But while I know that folks do get flamed for offering constructive criticism, I hope the very thought of it doesn't discourage them or others from critiquing, because flaming isn't always the result.

I like critique. Both the doing and the receiving. I had rather receive a lengthy piece of critique which points out the story's flaws, than quick and mindless praise that just says Ooo, I loved it. (I mean, quick and mindless praise is nice, don't get me wrong, but it's a bar of Cadbury's Dairy Milk whereas intelligent and detailed critique is a bar of Valrhona.)

I like taking a story to pieces and figuring out why it didn't work for me. Particularly when it's a story that almost did. The really truly horrendously bad stories - it's a lot more fun to MST3K them, however cruel this may be.

And I like seeing a story of mine taken to pieces, and the reader explain which bits worked and which didn't. I love it. It means the reader actually read it, with attention, and thought about what they read. (Am not certain how I would react to seeing a story of mine MST3K'd, since I never have, but I think given that I've dished it out in the past the only real choice I have is to smile and back away very slowly...)

Hey Jenn -

I just wanted to thank you for the rec!

I was also curious why you were thrown by the Lex at the end?

I'm not on any discussion Smallville lists, so I'm not sure what the canon/fanon discussion is on the characters. I'd love to discuss it with you, if you're interested.

And tying this into the rest of the critiquing part of your entry...I'm not sure I'd see such a discussion as a critique, but as to why we view him differently...and I love getting people's two cents. I don't feel threatened by discussing my writing.

I figure as a writer, the only way you can grow is to discuss, right? (And I have learned so much about my writing through fanfiction it isn't even funny).


It´s not easy to critique

(Anonymous)
I don´t often send critique to an author (not public); but I like it more than to send only praise. To say what and why I loved the story, and what I don´t. But it isnt easy to differ. Its easy to say: "your writing style sucks, or bad grammar, or something like that." The problem is, when the plot sucks.

Is my opinion on the plot subjective? Other people may like it. So I really don´t know if I should send this kind of critique at all.

Bad writer don´t like critique at all, only the good ones are asking and accept it.

I'm on a new mailing list that last weekend or so had the moderator/listmum/whoever lay down the new rules: No lurking -- post your intro, and if you just sit back and read without ever commenting (this being a beta list, not just a fic-posting list), you're at risk of being tossed out. Same goes for authors who post fic but never comment upon others'.

So it's definitely a community founded for the improvement of fic rather than for the social kind of writer, and I'm waiting to see how it turns out in practice... (And also needing to get off my butt and start commenting -- the more so since I have new fic to toss up there.)

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