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Extreme Makeover: The Fic Edition
Where badfics come for a little help!
In for the long haul... 
26th-Jun-2006 02:20 am
pretty flowers
Please bear with me as I gather my thoughts. I've just had a rather emotional day and my son's birthday is tomorrow so if I seem a little unclear I apologize ahead of time, I merely have a great deal on my mind.

I'd also like to make it a point that I tend to sound angry or mad when I'm not. I'm not mad or upset in the least so if anything sounds that way I really apologize ahead of time! *bows* (seriously I work on this and nothing changes. *weeps*)

Now...

It has been brought to my attention that there is some qualm about how this community is run. I expected that and am prepared to answer your questions so I will warn you now that this will be long.


When I began this community it was nearly a whim and nothing more. While I am serious about the idea behind it I have not written anything in stone. Everyone's opinions and ideas count.

However, when I chose to start this community I also determined that I would in no way ever allow this to become a beta service. There are plenty of places and individuals out there for authors to go to for beta service. Giving advice to an author and simply telling them what they should be doing would be a beta service. That is what beta readers do. They go through a fic and they explain to the author "Hey, this sounds out of character and you should use a comma here." and then it is up to the author to change those parts of their story or not.

I also very strongly feel that just giving advice such as "This is good but you could probably improve on characterization." would be no better than a basic review. To go into more detail would be nothing more than a review of concrit.

There is nothing wrong with either of those, however - and this may sound a little cynical - if authors really took such advice then we could all just write concrit reviews or be beta readers and there would be no problems with having badfic.

I made it firm that we are against self-nomination to prevent abuse of this community. Nominating yourself to recieve concrit or beta service under the guise of admitting your fic is badfic in itself is faulty logic. I won't fall for it. Nobody wants to admit they write badfic.

The entire point of this community was for the reader to nominate the fic. The author loves their work automatically... it takes a good deal more to convince your readers to love your work even though it has problems. Therefore I still stand firm in the belief that we should not allow authors to self-nominate.

I agree that there could be more author participation but at the same time I'm hesitant to put a measure on that. When it came to our last project I made a specific note that the Categorical staff should change things and make two parts. One with the changes and one with the notes. I even made it clear that to make both these parts was for the author's benefit. That if they wanted to read the notes as to why changes were being made then they would have the right to do so and that if they wanted to read the changes just "as is" they had that opportunity as well.

I also made it clear in my instructions that after the beta went over the work it would be given back to the author for approval. In no way will the community ever make changes to a fanfiction and not confirm those changes with the author of the work. We may as well write new fics all of our own if that's how things are going to go.

So... I suppose the real question is, how much author participation leads into just giving suggestions and how little just leads into our doing whatever we want? I figured that our current method was the best way to go about things.

People's feelings are going to be hurt by this project. There is no going around that. There are going to be those who feel that we're taking the "voice" away from the author. To this I must simply argue that this is fanfiction and not original fiction. As a fanfiction author myself I must fully understand that the characters and the settings that I use are not my creations. My "voice" in a fanfiction is very minute. I have a style, of course, and if my fic was nominated I would expect my way of writing to remain intact. However... the way the characters speak and act is not my creation. That belongs to the originator of my fandom. My voice is in the narrative.

The Categorical staff is only meant to change the narrative if it goes against canon facts, not fanon, without being previously explained in the fic. (An example would be a fic that takes place in Ancient China and then having a character use a zipper, obviously zippers did not exist in the canon universe so they should be omitted for something else.)

The Technical staff is only meant to change the narrative if it is grammatically incorrect.

The Beta staff is not meant to change the narrative unless seconded by the Technical staff that it is grammatically incorrect or by the Categorical staff that it is against canon. (which if the other staff do their jobs well shouldn't happen often.)

Perhaps this was not stated clearly enough and so it was simply thought that staff are just meant to re-write any part which they don't personally agree with. That is not how this project is meant to be run.

I am open to questions, concerns, and ideas at any time.
Comments 
26th-Jun-2006 04:04 am (UTC)
The comm's description as "Extreme Makeover: Fanfic Edition" is very apt. It's like a reality show, in a way; the author gains something from it, but with a potential loss -- percieved or otherwise -- of their dignity. Our changes won't be too extreme, but no matter what we do, some authors will take issue. They have that right, since they wrote the initial fic. But make it clear that, to compare it to the original show which I've never seen, we might touch up the paint and recover the furniture, but we're not knocking out any walls.
26th-Jun-2006 04:26 am (UTC)
*nods* That's how I viewed it as well.

It's like "What Not to Wear" for fanfiction.

You might not agree with what the people tell you and you may not like the end results but they're still only trying to help. It's not trying to insult you or make you feel bad, if anything it's trying to make you look better.

I didn't think I needed to make a corny allusion to the television shows, though. I sort of felt that it being called that so clearly was rather obvious. XD (Perhaps I was wrong?)
26th-Jun-2006 05:14 am (UTC)
Corn it up! Add in some jokes and some authors might feel more comfortable about it. After all, there are still people willing to sign up for Fear Factor.
26th-Jun-2006 05:17 am (UTC)
Maybe you would be better suited to do that? (or someone else? volunteers?)

I'm not so good with humor and today has not been a very good day for me at all so I'm afraid I might just make it sound worse. XD
26th-Jun-2006 08:00 pm (UTC)
A title graphic would be nice . . . advertise a bit, give the place some spit and polish, spread the word, and soon enough it'll be almost like being metaquoted; authors will be honoured to be nominated.

Oooh - idea!

Since cash rewards for putting up with our work aren't an option as they are on TV but some authors might want something to really show for it, why don't we award banners? "My fic received an EXTREME makeover!" Something shiny to show off and pimp out, an image that can be used to link to the story in question, and something I've noticed about LJ -- people will go through a hell of a lot to get a banner.
26th-Jun-2006 08:03 pm (UTC)
Sounds good. We could do that! *nods*

I'll get to work on that tomorrow most likely. Good idea! :D
26th-Jun-2006 01:04 pm (UTC)
LONGCOMMENTOMG. (*needs to be not off the internet for like, all weekend*)

Actually, I think the Reality Show analogy will help authors be a little nicer about it as well. Because, I mean, what do you really get out of a reality show? Publicity. If you're a (proverbially) young budding author, that's really what you're looking for.

We should mention that as well - that not only are we willing to help an author improve their writing and ideas and implementation, we're also basically free-advertising for this story,and probably for future stories as we'll want to see whether they've improved at all.

I think also that maybe a basic, standardized series of labels to be used by all editors would help to clear things up. Something categorical, for example (bear with me, this is just an idea, and I'm using Harry Potter as an example)

Factual Errors:
- Grammar and Spelling
- Canonical Error (including characterization only when clearly defined in canon: i.e. a Hermione who no longer likes books with no reason given)
- Contextual Error (mistakes within the story's own canon, i.e. plot contradictions)

Personal/Opinion Errors:
- Phrasing
- General grammar use / word choice
- Characterization (includes OCs)
- Canon interpretation (example: an excuse for the usage of cell phones at Hogwarts)
- etc.

Factual errors are probably more glaring and can probably be caught by a thorough readthru by 1-2 knowledgeable people, tops. These can be marked in red.
For other, Personal/Opinion errors, there should probably be 2-3 readers who read through a story and make brief opinion/comments in, say, blue. These readers can then possibly discuss the story's issues and make an overall recommendation. Let's say that these readers decided characterization was off: instead of rewriting portions of the story, each could mark the "offending" sections, and then they could summarize their opinions at the end. Having more than one person do this would (hopefully) lead to some good constructive criticism that "averaged" out personal opinions/interpretations. (It does, however, mean we'd need more staff.)
And, to keep with the colour theme, we can mark anything well-done in green!

Just thoughts I had. This way the author could see "bad" characterisation marked in their story and see recommendations on it, rather than simply having it changed for them.

...Sometimes I ramble XDD
26th-Jun-2006 04:03 pm (UTC)
You make a good point about the publicity offered. That is one of the benefits an author would recieve from this.

I think maybe if we put it across that this is sort of like having your fic MST'ed? Instead of snarky comments or jokes, though, there's actual benefit that comes out of it.

I also like your offered method of having more than one person read through but... we'd need so much more staff and we just don't have the word of mouth to draw that amount of people in yet. XD I'm not sure what to do about this.
26th-Jun-2006 05:38 pm (UTC)
I'm just thinking of more ways to convince an author that this is something they'd want to have done to their fic. It's much like a makeover reality show, really.

As for multiple people -- yeah, it will be hard to find that many people with that much time, that's true. I think the real point is perhaps this: when editors/betas/staff/etc go over a fic, some things should be marked as Real Mistakes and some should be marked as Opinions. Even if there's only one person doing it.

26th-Jun-2006 05:47 pm (UTC)
Mm.. Well I'm all for giving a description that alludes to the makeover reality shows but I don't think I'd be very good at writing it myself. XD

Agreed. I think that's a good plan then. That is how we shall do things from now on. All staff will mark things that are definite mistakes and then things that they simply feel are mistakes and they can use either comments, highlight functions, or color text functions so long as they are consistent. Sound like a plan? :D
26th-Jun-2006 06:09 pm (UTC)
HA. I will see what I can come up with, although I don't know much about reality TV shows. I can at least do snark. XD

And, yeah. I don't really want to get all nitpicky-ish about it, but I do think that's a really important part of writing and editing - being able to say "this is wrong" and "i don't like this": and knowing the difference. A lot of snooty almost-flamers confuse the one for the other. We shouldn't be like that.

Also, I have a feeling that having a system should make the first couple go-throughs go through more smoothly. (i hope ^^)
26th-Jun-2006 06:34 pm (UTC)
Hoping right along with you.

Now it's just a matter of getting another fic nominated. XD
26th-Jun-2006 06:37 pm (UTC)
Damns. It is a shame that I do not browse fic at work. unless i'm really, really bored
26th-Jun-2006 06:40 pm (UTC)
haha.. don't worry about it. We'll get one soon enough. :D
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