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The Toybox

people for the conservation of limited amounts of indignation


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Horror Beyond Words
children of dune - leto 1
seperis
I had an entry done for diaryland, I hit update and--it's GONE. Now diaryland has disappeared in a white haze and my pretty rant on squicks is gone.

It was a GOOD rant. It had examples and lots of metaphors and some really, really cool points made and it's--NOT THERE.

I would weep except I'm drinking some kick-ass mint tea, which always makes life bearable.

I've been reading the TWoP fracas (I got lucky and wandered over there when it first started, yet somehow managed to control myself and not jump in). I've been reading the blogs about it, the livejournals about it, the endless speeches about censorship and anti-censorship and incestfic and rapefic and these things as plot devices and if you remember, I wrote about incest yesterday in diaryland.

You know what's bothering me? It's not necessarily the subject matter. It's the quality of the people who write it. And I think that holds true for most of us.

Face it, some people couldn't write a recipe without making a mess of it, but for some reason feel qualified to write rapefic. That's like starting with a chocolate souflee the first time you're allowed into the kitchen. COME ON.

Some people can write pretty good but have all the intuition of dead goats when it comes to emotional reality. They should know their strengths. Just because your consensual PWP was hot does not mean you can manage to adequately express the realism and dirt of rapefic. There's a good chance this category of author also follows the romance novel idealization that rape is okay if you're in love. Or okay if the victim is a Bad Person. Or it's okay as long as the victim gets together with another character in the end

There's a REASON I don't read romance novels. At least, not anymore.

Some people are brilliant writers and CAN write. They CAN write rapefic, they can write it with all the dirt and all the psychological issues and all the pain, and unfortunately, they are always, ALWAYS classed with the worst of the badfics, and I. Don't. Get. It.

Are people that incapable of telling the difference between a well-written, well-thought-out, beautifully executed story and crapfic? I've never dismissed a category of fic out of hand just because of the subject matter. I dismiss it if the author handles it badly. There are NO and I repeat this many, many times and I'll bet everyone knows exactly where I'm going with this, NO BAD PLOTLINES. There is only incompetent handling. I lost the last of my illusions about what I would or would not read when I started reading Smallville slash and started writing it.

So yes, I'm frustrated, in a weird, laid-back sort of way. Most people say it better than I do, but the outright dismissal of an entire subgenre makes no sense to me. It's unfortunate that we can't make authors send in a writing sample before they are allowed to write on hot-spot topics (though God, wouldn't life be great if we could?). Incest, rape, explicit violence, torture, mutilation, everything that makes us squirm, I swear, you should have to be licensed to do it. Because badfic is one thing, that's just a bad author. Incompetence is something else entirely. And the scary part is, that incompetence is sometimes not even the result of a lack of knowledge either. The part that makes me grind my teeth is I think most of it is pure, unadulterated laziness. Get character A and B together Any Way Possible and the focus of the story is never about the trauma or the pain or the reality of the event--it's just about seeing A and B get together somehow.

I can forgive stupidity and insensitivity and even advanced idiocy, because at least the effort is somewhere in there and even in badfic, you can see the author was TRYING, which I give them full credit for doing, even if the results are crappy. But LAZINESS, which is very possibly the besetting sin of the fanfic world, is unforgiveable. I can't respect or like an author who abuses their talent, who treats it like it ISN'T amazing, like it ISN'T something incredible and fun and moving, doesn't GET that writing isn't spitting text on paper in perfect grammatical form. It's fanfic and it should be art, every damn time. You should look at what you wrote and you should know, somewhere, that it was the best you were capable of, it's made of the best that was in you. Anything less isn't even acceptable.

I think I'm quoting an email I sent to Victoria now. Hmm. I may need to look this up. Victoria, do you still have it?

I take writing seriously. That doesn't mean I don't get a massive fun kick out of it, love every second I do it, and enjoy immensely every damn word I write. Serious and fun are not mutually exclusive, and saying 'oh, this is just for fun' after someone tells you that your fic is just bad sends little goosebumps of horror up and down my arms. I played basketball for fun, too, but it was a skill as well and I enjoyed being GOOD at it. I love crochet and I also do it well. I cannot, ever, in my life, quite get the concept that if you're just having fun, it's okay for it to be less than your best possible work, it can be sloppy, lazy, or ridiculous. And this isn't anything regarding natural talent--some people have more than others. This is the effort you put into a story, which is a completely different kettle of fish.

Wow, I went off topic. Go figure. Diaryland's down and I'm antsy. One day I'll do my full, unadulterated rant on why I actually get nauseous when I see unapologetically lazy authors whine, but that's for another day. In diaryland, dammit.

jenn


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Hey babe -- You rant beautifully *nods*

You know what's bothering me? It's not necessarily the subject matter. It's the quality of the people who write it. And I think that holds true for most of us.

...

Some people are brilliant writers and CAN write. They CAN write rapefic, they can write it with all the dirt and all the psychological issues and all the pain, and unfortunately, they are always, ALWAYS classed with the worst of the badfics, and I. Don't. Get. It.



I'd say that's true for the most part, though I will add that I'm one of those people that has a "hot button" topic (incest) that I will not go near, no matter the talent of the writer involved. It's not going to be worth making myself nauseous to read something, even if it's well characterized and extremely thoughtful of the subject matter. It's just one of those personal (TMI territory), uncontrollable gut-reactions that gets in the way of my reading a certain subsection of fics.

However, I don't object to people writing those type of fics, so long as they have the talent to tackle tough subjects with the care and sensitivity they deserve. I don't proclaim the author to be an evil person whom I will never read anything from again. I simply hit the delete key and move on.

But the laziness thing... *grrr*. That bugs me more than anything, as we've discussed ad-nauseum. When you can tell the writer could have done better, that they have the talent to create something meaningful, and they piss that away... God, is there anything more frustrating? This type of behavior usually leads me to believe that the author is pandering -- they don't care enough to put in the amount of extra effort to make something real. They shoot off random thoughts and post as fast as they can (this is also known in some circles as "feedback whoring" -- *grrr*)

Then, there's the "band wagon"-ers. The people who see a subject explored that gets a lot of reaction and think, "Oh! Attention! There's my new topic." That drives me bonkers, too. Mostly because the fic that results is usually either a pale imitation of the original or is simply out-and-out bad.

As for "bad fic" in general, where you can tell the author is just plain clueless that their characterization is wonky, their plot is reminiscent of a bad acid trip, and/or their dialogue sounds like it came from a bad Harlequin... that's a whole other kettle of fish. Granted, it induces groans (or, in some cases, hysterical laughter), but it's not as annoying because... well, if someone doesn't know any better, it's easier to forgive the wackety-ness. And there's always hope of waking them up if you see a glimmer of talent hidden in the muck.

Like my Chem teacher in HS said, "Stupid, I can't do anything about. Ignorant, I can fix."

And I think I've rambled on long enough *lol*

Andy

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