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The Toybox

people for the conservation of limited amounts of indignation


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fire pretty, tree green
children of dune - leto 1
seperis
Have a question. This is vaguely in reference to authorial intent, but also, in general, author etiquette in fandom (aka, how authors conduct themselves in discussion so as not to stress other people. Or themselves for that matter).



There's one or two discussions I fell on top of regarding Story of a Girl (and to preface, totally made my day. People could have been talking about how much they *hated* it and I would have been happy. I'm a writer--I want to know it did something, good or bad. So--you know. If you hated it, carry on with that. Also, surprisingly, I like attention. Who knew?) and I'm curious--good or bad to participate? More important question--do you in general participate?

This is where it comes up with authorial intent.

I mean--yes. God yes, I love DVD commentaries and I love reading what authors say--but like, *way after I've processed it*. Which could be two days, or two weeks, or whatever, etc etc etc. This is because I do not like to feel idiotic when I talk about the author's symbolism in using the color red and then she says oops, I meant for that scene to be green, dammit, and you see where this is going.

OTOH--

Oh my God there is *such good discussion* and I want to *participate* and this is like the only reason I would ever even consider socking. I mean, I won't (I'd give myself away in about five seconds), but....

But in this case, it's not because it's my story--it's hitting, or at least grazing, some of my favorite reading and discussion topics. (Canon Mary Sues! MY FAVORITE THING IN HISTORY THIS WEEK!)

The thing is, the second an author--well, jumps in--it changes things. There's always that--thing where the author kind of screws it up by textualizing the subtext. And being a slasher and a fanfic writer (reader, meta-writer, artist, lurker), subtext is what most of us are all about.

(Note: It is ridiculous, but my level of glee is very high--if I'd been asked? I wouldn't have thought Girl!John would be all that--interesting for anyone outside shippers and I'm going to stop now before I start trying to examine my own motives, which were kind of "Huh, so that would be different.")

In summation: fire pretty. And what do you do when you see story discussion of your fic?


I'm all for the author jumping in if she can talk without trying to dictate terms. *g*

Now I need to get my head sorted so I can actually say something besides OMGSQUEE!!!! about that story. *g*

*grins* Seriously. reaction to this is really--awesome, yet highly confusing.

Sadly, I've never seen that kind of discussion of one of my stories, but my instinct is to stay away unless asked. It's the same way when someone offers me crit in public - I say thank you and something vague about how I'm sorry whatever it was didn't work, or that that's an interesting take I'll be thinking about for future reference, and I walk away. All too often, those discussions turn into authorial defensiveness, if there's critique, or a lot of "well, here's what I meant," which can stifle discussion.

*nods* Yes, that is waht I was thinking, too.

I'm in the stay away camp, and here's the sugar that makes that medicine go down: the discussion will last longer and be more interesting if you stay out of it, IMO. Because some of us (like me) have the temerity to tell an author that she's wrong about what her own work means, but most people won't!

It was that short digression into canon Mary Sues that almost broke me really. That is totally my favorite topic (this hour) and top ten *ever*, because--Canon Mary Sues! Yes! THEY ARE OUT THERE. LET US SPEAK MORE OF THEM IN COMPARISON TO FANFIC MARY SUES!

But point. I will continue to read and make inaudible happy noises.

(no subject) (Anonymous) Expand
My instinct is to say that as the author, it's best to stay out of such discussions. I definitely understand the desire to get in there, to have the chance to discuss the very stuff that meant enough to you to inspire you to write about it in the first place. But I think that the actual author getting involved in a discussion of a fic (unless the author's opinion was actively solicited) would very naturally result in stifling (or at least altering) the discussion, no matter how good the author's intentions were. It would be like if we were all talking (squeeing, meta'ing, whathaveyou) about SGA and then suddenly the show's writers walked in the room. It would definitely affect the direction of the discussion, I think.

That's just my take on it, though. What the hell do I know? *g*

Yes, and despite the above, I really do'nt want it to be about me, or even just that fic--there's an entire family of fic in this very (general) category to comb through and--yeah.

*nods firmly* I will stay strong.

Why would you be interested enough in a story to discuss it but not want to hear what the author has to say about it? The author is a human being, right? I think you should just get in there and give your point of view. And we are then free to tell you that you don't know what you're talking about. And then you can tell us and we can tell you and you can tell us and so on and isn't that what it's all about.

Now I have to start reading the story cause I haven't had time yet and it sounds very interesting.

Hmm. Sometimes yes, if I want to work out my own thoughts, or it's something that's specific to how I feel about it. And sometimes it doesn't matter. It's knowing the differnece that always trips me up.

I think having the author involved in a discussion changes the parameters of the discussion - people might not talk as freely, or might try to sugar-coat things to try to please the author more rather than coming right out and saying what they mean (even if what they mean to say isn't really that harsh or bad at all). That's not to say the author doesn't have important things to say about a story, it is their creation, after all. I just think the discussion tends to differ, sometimes quite majorly, if the author is directly involved.

Also: Tree pretty. Fire bad. Beer foamy. Parker bad.

Yes, exactly. And it *is* different, it makes a very real change in how people will approach and how they'll word what they say.

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Canon Mary Sues! MY FAVORITE THING IN HISTORY THIS WEEK!

Would it be terribly rude of me to ask for directions to the posts in question? It's one of my favourite subjects too, you see.

This is one of the subjects I played around within my art and sculpture classes - how much does the artist/author put into the work, and how much does the viewer/reader put there? The person who produced the work is saying something, asking the person viewing it to perceive it, often angling for a certain emotional response. Shaping the response as they can. But on the other hand, without someone to take the piece in, internalize it, interpret it and read between the lines, it wouldn't really mean much of anything. All art, in whatever form, is communication, and communication means little to nothing without someone to receive it.

I like seeing what people get out of my work, especially what they get out of it that I didn't put there deliberately. So mostly I stay quiet as to my intentions, except for the broadest kind of general statement, because I already know what I meant; for me, it's all about what they mean by what I did.

Huh. A lot of people are weighing in on staying away, but my first thought was, why not? The particular LJ that you're talking about is adult and polite enough that no one was the type to pull out a flamethrower on the story anyway, so I doubt you'll inhibit the conversation. I think if you go in respectfully saying, Wow this is so cool, and I'm not attempting to dictate, just wanted to share some of the things I was thinking of..., people will be interested in having your viewpoint on the table as well.

In these situations I generally prefer for the author to stay out of the original discussion. Any time I've seen an author comment, the readers start to get defensive even if the author is being open minded and it kind of derails the discussion.

That said, I don't see anything wrong with the author commenting on some of the issues that had been brought up in their own journal. While I certainly agree that an author's reading is arguably no more valid than your average reader's, it's certainly not less valid either. I like to read what author were thinking and I do kind of get tired of the idea that authors are supposed to comment after publishing a story. Maybe you could as cathexys suggeted, just write a general meta topic about say canon-Sues or genderswitching.

Oops. That should be I get tired of the idea that authors are never supposed to comment.

My fic is usually happy fluff, so I don't really get much in the way of discussion with it...

However! Having said that, I ADORE commentaries - I love getting the inside scoop! And whilst I can understand how some people prefer not to have the writer confirm what they love to speculate about (George Lucus, I hate you), nine times out of ten, the author will point something out in a new light that you never even thought of before.

And I love that :D

Here via metafandom.

I'm consistent about this. As a reader, I like it when a writer joins into reader discussions - probably because the two writers I've seen do this (Susan R. Matthews and manna) are very humble in their approach and don't pretend they know more about their stories than they do. So I figure that if I try to keep humble (glares at Ego, willing him to shrink), I'm on safe ground.

Just to be extra careful that I don't squash my readers' opinions, though, I have The Susan Rules on the profile of my blog (scroll down).

I'm interested to see how many folks here assume that the author will be facing criticisms of their writings. Actually, most of the time, I've found myself walking into interpretive discussions: "Would Character A be likely to do such-and-such?" And when it's another author taking part in the discussion, it's always interesting to me when she says, "Well, maybe, but based on what I know of the culture . . ." and then she flings out some wonderful facts about the culture that we didn't know about. Some people find that irritating ("It's not canon if it's not in a story!"), but I love seeing these hidden bits of the world revealed.

I'm interested to see how many folks here assume that the author will be facing criticisms of their writings.

I'm betting (randomly, and without proof) that a lot of people remember the critique of rageprufrock's FBI SGA AU from thecuttingboard. I mean, to me, as not the author, it was awesome--but I've drifted through enough critiques in people's LJ's to see why it would be worrisome.

And the other part--and this is speaking from a lot of observation--some people are incapable of being objective about their own fic. And I don't even mean that as a character flaw--I mean, on the order of, some people can't run a mile in a minute. They are unable to do so. The trick for a lot of them is either, do not read, do not participate, or, never even know it exists so I (the writer) do not freak out and hope to God it doesn't pop up in my flist anywhere, because they know themselves that well.

I have steered away from the discussion there, because - 200 comments! Land of TL;DR!

However, one thing really jumped out at me that I haven't noticed being mentioned (though it may well be in there).

This is the first long McShep story of yours that's from Sheppard's POV. It's very striking to me because it's the first time you've described Rodney with the eyes of love: usually you describe Sheppard with love & desire, and let us infer what he sees in Rodney.

Was the change in POV caused by your premise? Or what?

Huh. I just went to look. You're right.

Well. To be honest? My John POV stories don't seem to do as well. I hate to say I bow to public opinion, but--well, yes, I very slightly bend. So I assumed I was doing it badly and flipped to Rodney more. Though huh--I didn't realize how much until I went to look just now.

(HA! All Brand New, 8000 words! John POV! And...that's the longest one. Dear God. When did this happen?)

This one had to be pov'ed or it wouldn't be about a female Sheppard--it would be Rodney and John (with breasts). The person making a dynamic change is usually the pov character, and since John's the one who has been changed, he's the one we need to feel or it wouldn't work.

And third--Rodney's too easy to--I want to say mock, but it is mocking with love--and writing from his pov lets me avoid making the mistake of making him ridiculous (unless it is crack) or completley OTT (unless it is Crimes Against Humanity, where I feel it is only OTT when they start trying to actually destroy teh universe itself.)

(And--I love John ridiculously. I don't want to screw him up. And John pov, to me, is *incredibly* hard to do--he's more internal than external, and most of what I see going on in his head is probably five miles away from what he's doing. So it's complicated to get that across. And--seriously. Feelings. I just--cannot--do John's feelings.)

(this is one of those times I should challenge myself and do a John POV story, isn't it? Dammit.)

I love reading what authors say--but like, *way after I've processed it*.

I agree with this whole-heartedly. Some of the frustration I've had recently with the lightning speed that fandom is operating on is that, basically 12 hours after the season finales of BSG and Life on Mars aired, media interviews with the creators basically shut down alternate theories and discussions about same. And I was nowhere near ready to know what the authorial intent was, I wanted to hash it out with other people who had the same level of knowledge that I did for awhile.

Here from metafandom

I don't run across a lot of discussion of my stories, but when I do, it would depend upon the circumstances whether I tried to respond or not. I once happened on people discussing one of my stories in the context of whether or not it was good enough to go into an archive, and I didn't think it would be appropriate for me to chime in, so I kept quiet.

But usually what little discussion I see is occurring on my own LJ, and it's generally coming from people who are addressing me in some way - either saying "This is how I see it," or outright asking me questions about the text. In that case, it seems silly and even a bit rude not to respond in some fashion. If I have to explain a story, then I've probably not done a terribly good job in telling it, but if a reader wants to know what I meant by something, or if they're just discussing interpretations in general, I'm perfectly willing to elaborate on what my intentions were. I don't think that explaining my intent obliges the reader to adopt my interpretation. And yes, there's always a danger of slipping from explanation to defense, and I've slipped on occasion - but I really try hard not to, and I don't think it's an inevitable consequence of an author participating in a discussion of their own work.