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Thread: Calling all writers and readers - it's time we talked

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    Agent 1.3 Llywela's Avatar
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    Default Calling all writers and readers - it's time we talked

    Folks, you may have noticed that our fanfiction section here at BuffyForums is not perhaps as active as it used to be - or as we would like it to be. So, we thought it might be an idea if those members who still actively post fic on the forum - and those who are fond of reading fic on the forum - got together to discuss fanfiction in general and the way forward for this section in particular.

    What do you think would be a benefit to the fanfic section of this forum? Is there anything we aren't doing that perhaps we should? What is your favourite fic section? What is your least favourite? Have you noticed that we have a shiny new section for Original Series in the VS section? Did you know that we have a section for challenges that is currently looking rather sad and lonely, just waiting for someone to sign up to run a new challenge? Entries have been few and far between in recent challenges, which discourages potential hosts - is there any particular reason folk are no longer keen on entering? Not motivated, no time, other interests, or plain old apathy?

    What about feedback? We all know that really meaningful feedback is a rare, rare animal at the best of times, something that all writers love to receive but many people feel uncomfortable giving. Would it work if we set a rule for fanfiction similar to that operating in the fanart forum, making it a requirement that anyone who wants to post their fanfiction on the forum must also offer feedback to other writers? Or would you prefer the feedback system to be left as it is? And those of you who don't have a feedback thread of your own yet - do you remember to check the general thread to see if anyone has left anything for you, or do you find it hard to find your own feedback in there?

    Writers and readers both - come and talk about fanfiction on this forum!

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    Would it work if we set a rule for fanfiction similar to that operating in the fanart forum, making it a requirement that anyone who wants to post their fanfiction on the forum must also offer feedback to other writers?
    I think it's a really good idea. It's not guaranteed to work, but I think it would foster a more community spirit around writing, and give people more of a sense that they're not just writing into a void. Yes, I'm very keen on this idea. It could just be that for every fic you post, you feedback someone (anyone)... doesn't have to be a lengthy feedback, just something - though not saying it can't be lengthy obv.


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    Library Researcher cliomiao's Avatar
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    I think it works out well just how it is now, though I know not getting as much feedback as we'd want to is a bitch...
    I always leave feedback to everything I like, I mean I don't read many fanfics, but I'm a big fan of Lex and I've left feedback for practically every episode he writes but I think it's up to the individuals to choose to leave it or not... But I don't know, maybe what Wolfie suggested is a good idea.
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    I'm very thankful for this thread as I think there has been a definite lull in the fic section and it is a section that I think deserves some love and a little bit of a boost.

    The feedback requirement is, I think something that we can definitely steal, ahem, I mean borrow, from the fanart section. As wolfie says it is important, for me anyway, that what I'm writing is reaching someone, that it's not just disappearing into the great blue yonder. Just a few words would be good, constructive criticism would be better. I actually think that feedback that has both positive and negative aspects is most useful in just about any arena and especially in the creative arena. I think that, especially for newer writers, the thought that someone is going to read what has been written. think about it and leave a few comments could actually be the difference between posting and not posting (I was certainly encouraged by a few kind words when I started trying to get some words that made some kind of sense down.) I've also noticed that a couple of very good writers that used to post their work here are now posting on places like Livejournal, mainly, I think, because there they are almost guarenteed that feedback on such places from the people who follow them.

    What I would probably suggest is that every writer who wishes to post a fic has to leave some feedback, even if that's just a couple of lines, on one other fic. I would maybe suggest that the requirement be lifted for a writers first fic so that new writers can ease themselves in, and that feedback is actively encouraged to be given to these newer writers.

    I'm not sure that the same kind of structure would work for VS's as from what I see these fics tend to attract a following anyway and, if we're looking at a long established season then it would be hard to leave feedback without going back and reading a heck of a lot. Maybe some of the VS writers could correct me there or if not suggest what may work.

    Of course there is a way for any writer to recieve some good constructive feedback on their overall skill and that is by entering a challenge. I think it's a real pity that this particular part of the fic section doesn't seem to be getting the love it used to as there are some immensley imaginative and interesting writing exersises posted that can both stretch a writer and often provide inspiration when that naughty muse decides to abscond. In fact I would encorouge anyone who's toying with the idea of putting virtual pen to virtual paper to have a look a whatever challenges are running an enter a few, it's a great way of finding your writing feet.
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    I'm new here, but let's say I'ma little bit disappointed with the feedback section. The general feedback thread is a good idea, but your feedback might get lost among those of the others, which isn't ideal. I think I would like a "post feedback in order to post a new fanfic", it's a very good idea and a great way to incite people to share feedback.

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    I have to admit that it's made me very sad at how little feedback is given in our fanfic section. I post my fic elsewhere and get as many as 4 to 20 notes of feedback per chapter for "Thought You Should Know", but sadly here I've gotten no feedback in the past 3 months. And this includes a large number of oneshots that I've posted here, too. If the fics wasn't getting hits so that I knew people were reading them, I'd have probably stopped posting them here by now.

    I'd be fine with the rule of "post feedback in order to post new fanfic" idea. Though I have to admit I've been reading less fanfic nowadays than I am writing. But I'd definitely find that exchange worthwhile.

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    ŦħŲ'mąś Thomas's Avatar
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    As a huge fan of most of the virtual series, I'm kind of annoyed. Like, some haven't been updated in years. I'm not sure if they're plans to continue some of them, but I'm guessing a few are "canceled." Maybe it's time to get in touch with some of the writers to find out where their series stands. If they're over, maybe you can put something in the index tile to signify that or maybe un-sticky them? That way the readers know what series are currently running?

    It's like, what if "Supernatural" aired until 5.11 and then stopped and never produced a new episode and then The CW didn't say it was canceled or just on a extremely long hiatus. It'd be kind of frustrating. Like, I'm sure there's a few that are a "I haven't had the time" situation, which is understandable. Some are done though, like "Rogue Redemption." I think I remember Lex mentioning it was over. So, I think something should be done about that.

    As for the feedback thing, I dunno. Part of me feels that making feedback mandatory is off putting. It's one of the reason I don't really post art outside of challenges (I suck at doing it, though writing feedbacl for fanfic is easier.). I don't feel that it's all that beneficial if you're just feedbacking because you have to. Personally, if I don't want to do something, I don't put my heart into it. BUT sometimes people can get looked over... so it's good that it's a rule, it allows other people who wouldn't get feedback normally to get some.

    Also, what about the "Rate Thread" option? Maybe we should start rating fan fic that way? It only takes a second to do. So, it's a fast, easy way to give feedback, though it'd be anonymous... but you can still see how many people have read it and if the majority liked it or hated it.

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    I like Thomas' idea, about rating the thread. At least someone who may not want to sit and write feedback can quickly give an idea as to their opinions on the fic.

    Actually, i've really wanted to take a challenge of late, but there doesn't seem to be any running right now. I've also wanted to post a story or two but i was going to wait until i had the majority of them written to post.

    I can see a problem with the "post feedback to post stories" idea, as people may try to skip over that, or give a total insincere answer. It would give writers the opportunity to gain feedback when they usually wouldn't, but i think i'd prefer to get no feedback than a totally cheesy halfassed review.

    I also would read stories, but a few center around or involve ats and i'm yet to see them so i can't read them (which sucks.). I really do wish i could read some of the stories here, but it usually just slips my mind. Sorry...
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    Quote Originally Posted by cliomiao View Post
    I think it works out well just how it is now, though I know not getting as much feedback as we'd want to is a bitch...
    I always leave feedback to everything I like, I mean I don't read many fanfics, but I'm a big fan of Lex and I've left feedback for practically every episode he writes but I think it's up to the individuals to choose to leave it or not... But I don't know, maybe what Wolfie suggested is a good idea.
    I reckon you're right about virtual series - they tend to get plenty of feedback already. But I think it would be good to get more writers reading one another's work, and feeling engaged with one another more (because I am a great big commie-every-man-for-each-other hippy

    I know I'm guilty of posting fics without feedbacking for aaages. Perhaps you could say it wouldn't be a rule - as in, you're not barred from posting feedback, but that there'd be an honour system? Worth a try? And maybe encourage people to give one another rep points when they do their duty proper like?

    Quote Originally Posted by tangent View Post
    I've also noticed that a couple of very good writers that used to post their work here are now posting on places like Livejournal, mainly, I think, because there they are almost guarenteed that feedback on such places from the people who follow them.
    Yes - it's a competitive feedback market out there, we can't have them bastards stealing our talent


    I would maybe suggest that the requirement be lifted for a writers first fic so that new writers can ease themselves in, and that feedback is actively encouraged to be given to these newer writers.
    Yes, that sounds good - after all, it can take quite a lot of guts to suddenly start posting stuff, so don't want to make that harder.

    Re Virtual series - I think it would be nice if VS writers posted lots of feedback too, in the general fanfic group hug spirit. Again, they could do a bit of the old honour system action....when they post a new ep, they could post some feedback for another fanfic at the same time?


    Quote Originally Posted by Collex View Post
    I'm new here, but let's say I'ma little bit disappointed with the feedback section. The general feedback thread is a good idea, but your feedback might get lost among those of the others, which isn't ideal. I think I would like a "post feedback in order to post a new fanfic", it's a very good idea and a great way to incite people to share feedback.
    I'm not sure how many fics you need to have written to get your own thread, but worth PMing a mod to ask them. The General Feedback thread is just meant for those who write the odd random fic, but if you've written quite a bit, you can get your own thread.

    Quote Originally Posted by Emmie View Post
    I'd be fine with the rule of "post feedback in order to post new fanfic" idea. Though I have to admit I've been reading less fanfic nowadays than I am writing. But I'd definitely find that exchange worthwhile.
    Me either (well, I don't write much fanfic currently... but I read even less, and having a kickup the bum would begood).


    As for the feedback thing, I dunno. Part of me feels that making feedback mandatory is off putting. It's one of the reason I don't really post art outside of challenges (I suck at doing it, though writing feedbacl for fanfic is easier.).
    I do see what you mean. What do you reckon to a system that's kind of like a museum's "suggested donation" - you're not forced to do it, but would be nice if everyone contributed feedback, and go out of your way to rep people who do so?

    BUT sometimes people can get looked over... so it's good that it's a rule, it allows other people who wouldn't get feedback normally to get some.
    Yeah- it would be good if there was some way of spreading it around a bit. Not quite sure what to suggest for that, but...maybe just people could try to be aware when feedbacking of whether they're feedbacking someone who already gets loads?

    Also, what about the "Rate Thread" option? Maybe we should start rating fan fic that way? It only takes a second to do. So, it's a fast, easy way to give feedback, though it'd be anonymous... but you can still see how many people have read it and if the majority liked it or hated it.
    I'm less keen on that because I think constructive criticism is more useful for writers...knowing how many stars someone would give something doesn't tell you all that much, it's sort of blank. They might have loved or hated it for weird reasons and it would be disheartening and confusing perhaps?


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    Much as I love feedback, I wouldn't want it if someone was obligated to provide it. Regardless, I'll try to offer more of it myself!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas View Post
    As a huge fan of most of the virtual series, I'm kind of annoyed. Like, some haven't been updated in years. I'm not sure if they're plans to continue some of them, but I'm guessing a few are "canceled." Maybe it's time to get in touch with some of the writers to find out where their series stands. If they're over, maybe you can put something in the index tile to signify that or maybe un-sticky them? That way the readers know what series are currently running?

    It's like, what if "Supernatural" aired until 5.11 and then stopped and never produced a new episode and then The CW didn't say it was canceled or just on a extremely long hiatus. It'd be kind of frustrating. Like, I'm sure there's a few that are a "I haven't had the time" situation, which is understandable. Some are done though, like "Rogue Redemption." I think I remember Lex mentioning it was over. So, I think something should be done about that.
    I agree with Thomas. I think it would be a great idea to get let people know which shows are still running and which shows are canceled. Maybe there should be a archives thread for the VS section. And if there's a archive thread it could leave room for the future VS writers.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas View Post
    As for the feedback thing, I dunno. Part of me feels that making feedback mandatory is off putting.

    Also, what about the "Rate Thread" option? Maybe we should start rating fan fic that way? It only takes a second to do. So, it's a fast, easy way to give feedback, though it'd be anonymous... but you can still see how many people have read it and if the majority liked it or hated it.
    I think the rating thing is a good idea if a person doesnít want to write feedback.

    Also I want to do something, like an event that draws more readers and writers? Idk what, but something fun!?
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    The most important question: how would that work exactly? I suck with computers, so I really no idea how the one feedback for one fanfic could work. Is it a thing that the forum would do automatically? Or would people have to send the fics to like a moderator or something who would then post them only if he's sent enough feedback?
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    See this is the thing. I mean i love BF to death but the thing is they have otten way to mighty with themselves. I mean they are blowing out these series and then when they have the series most writers quit or discontinue. I think that they should put the series in a section where people can still read them. And maybe leave all the Series for all the people who have series or who want to post series let them post

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    Library Researcher cliomiao's Avatar
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    It's like, what if "Supernatural" aired until 5.11 and then stopped and never produced a new episode and then The CW didn't say it was canceled or just on a extremely long hiatus.
    It's funny, because in Italy things work exactly this way. The Oc, Heroes, Gilmore Girls, Veronica Mars and Gossip Girls were all programs that one day went puff and reappeared months later in another time slot, without the network saying anything...
    Anyway, I do think they should put a "status" next to the virtual series like "in work" "completed" or "incompleted" if the series has been abandoned.
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    Quote Originally Posted by cliomiao View Post
    Anyway, I do think they should put a "status" next to the virtual series like "in work" "completed" or "incompleted" if the series has been abandoned.
    That's a good idea, progress reports in fics would be an easy way to tell whether or not series or even fics in general are still running.

    Would it be hard to do an individual folder type thing for the more avid writers? Like, let's say a user has about twelve stories in the buffyverse fics section. It may be offputting to a generally new writer who might feel intimidated by so much work. Also, if a writer has a few old stories in the archives, they could be put into the writer's folder to make for quicker and easier finding if you're looking for work by the same author. Oh god, i hope i haven't just confused what i'm trying to say!
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    I like this. Well I'm still around. I am just busy with college that I can't write a new episode as often as I'd like but I assure my readers (if they're still out there) I am here to stay. I love Rain and have really put a lot of heart into it and don't see myself "canceling" my series. I will be honest if I can't keep up with it.

    As for the feedback- it would be nice to hear it. I crave it but I don't want to force it on our readers. I prefer it to come from their hearts. I don't know anyone is even reading Rain- so it would be nice to know if there is anyone out there. And if so- do you have anything to say?

    I like Thomas' idea- the rating system. Also I've read Lex and Heather's fanfic. I am behind with Lex's but caught up with Heather's- I've wonder if she's still writing or not. So it might be good to let the readers know which series is still around.

    EDIT- I just wanted to add about the challenges. I planned on entering 'em but I'd backed out mainly cuz I was busy (same goes for hosting challenges). Also I felt skeptical about my writing skills and didn't think I'd do a good job. So I apologize for that.
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    Another idea for writers to let readers know that it is still work in progress... tease readers what would happen in the next episode or get a part of episode and post it to keep readers tidy until the final version is out.

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    Thanks everyone for your responses – the fact that so many of you have taken the time to comment proves how many people care about fanfiction on this forum. Now all we need to do is find a way to translate that into increased creative output and a spirit of give and take.

    Now, I didn't intend for this thread to be a discussion of feedback alone, but since that seems to be the subject you feel most strongly about…honestly, I believe that the system that we have works – or, at least, it works as well as you do. And therein lies the problem.

    It is fairly simple. Writers who have produced several stories have an individual feedback thread in which they are advised to provide an index linking to their work; it is a reward to them for their commitment to both their writing and to the forum, and allows them to keep track of their feedback easily. It is easy enough for that writer to then provide a link to that feedback thread at the end of each story they write, thus encouraging readers to make use of it because all they have to do is click the link to offer a few thoughts.

    Those who haven't produced as many stories yet can invite feedback either by PM or in the general feedback thread – and I know some of you think that isn't ideal, but honestly, it really isn't that hard to find feedback in there. It is certainly no harder than it would be wading through pages of threads to find one related to your story if we had a separate feedback thread for every story as some of you seem to be suggesting. That would be ridiculously unwieldy and just wouldn't work – we'd just end up with a huge number of empty threads lying around, cluttering up the forum. Maybe we could lower the requirement for feedback thread qualification, but I suspect that would lead only to the same result.

    Btw, Collex, you have feedback in the general feedback thread. I've seen it. It wasn't hard to find. Keep writing and you will earn a feedback thread of your own, a reward for that hard work. If you put in the time, you will reap the reward, same as everyone else before you. Simple as that.

    No, the honour system that we have does work as it is…except in one regard, and that is the willingness of readers to use it. The fact is that we could impose all the rules we wanted, but unless you as readers get into the habit of giving regular feedback to the stories that you read, those rules are always doomed to failure, and in fact would only put writers off posting their work here.

    I really don't want to discourage anyone from writing, which a strictly enforced 'you must give feedback if you want to post fic' rule would be likely to do – especially since there would be no easy way to enforce it, unlike in the fanart section where artists all post in the same threads. I don't think creating a greater workload for one person (who already gives their time freely) is the answer. And I don't think more volunteers to help out are the answer either - we already tried that with the Written, but those volunteers rarely followed through on the commitment they had offered.

    What we want to do is encourage more people to write and to share their work with us here, and for them to encourage one another in their work by offering feedback that comes from the heart, to take more of an interest in one another's work, instead of thinking exclusively of their own, as I suspect many writers (understandably, perhaps) tend to do.

    Bottom line: feedback for fanfic has always been a rare animal, in every fandom and every community, and truly meaningful feedback is even rarer. All the rules in the world won't change that. Yes, people who post their work to much larger communities online, such as LJ, appear to get a ton of feedback, purely because those communities are so much larger than ours - but if you look closely you will see that very little of that feedback is actually constructive.

    What I would like to see is more of a community spirit among the writers here. Feedback threads for our regular writers are already sitting there, but many of them tend not to see much action. Likewise, we have a thread for fanfic discussion, but no one ever bothers to use it – I would love to see members making regular use of that discussion thread to talk about their writing, sharing tips and hints and bouncing ideas off one another, posting links to new resources they have found in the resource thread, and so on. Our writing community seems very polarised, and us all sitting around individually complaining about it isn't going to change that, whereas getting out there and talking to one another openly, encouraging one another might. As I see it, what needs to change is the culture among writers, an increase in give and take.

    The idea about rating threads is a good one – but it is something you still all have to get into the habit of actually doing. And it only helps show which stories you have liked, which gives the writer a nice rosy glow, sure, but serious critique is of more benefit to them. And again, that can only come at the discretion of a generous reader, and really can't be forced, not if it is going to mean anything.

    Oh yes, and individual folders for very productive writers is also not an idea that we can realise, because the more subforums we create, the more unwieldy the forum becomes, which creates lengthy backups and can lead to downtime. It was one of the reasons we stopped having individual subforums for each Virtual Series in the first place.

    As far as the VS go (or any other writing, for that matter) one thing I really don't like to see is readers with an attitude of entitlement – 'how dare they stop writing', or 'how dare they go for a long time without a new story being published'. If you enjoy someone's work, that's great, but doesn't mean that you have a right to it. Stories that are worth reading take a long time to put together and get right, and if the story is worth reading them it is also worth waiting for. Peoples' lives and circumstances change. Sometimes inspiration fails. Sometimes they get busier. It isn't always possible to work at speed on a project, and it also isn't always possible to complete a project that you have started. It doesn't mean that anyone has the right to get angry about it or to feel that the writer has personally let them down. So, yes, some of our VS's have stalled or are slow moving. You can regret that, but you do not get to be angry about it. You may also feel aggrieved because you have wanted a place in that section yourself, but no one is turned down without a good reason. It is up to you whether you choose to take that reason on board or not. If you do, I can promise that your writing will be the better for it.

    If it helps, I can maybe merge all the VS index threads that haven't been updated in the last 6 months into one archive thread, perhaps, so that the series' are still available as an archive but it is clear which ones are or aren't currently active.

    What about the challenges? I see some people saying they have been afraid of entering, worried about their writing skills not being good enough. Is it that perhaps some of the challenges we've run have been a little too complex or high brow, is that off-putting to some of you? What I'd like to see, perhaps, are some simpler challenges that provide fertile ground for the imagination but also good practice for less confident writers. If we ran a few challenges along those lines, simple ideas to hopefully tickle the muse, would that encourage more people to enter? Because hopefully if more people entered, we would also get more people signing up to host, and really get the section moving again.

    What do you think?

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    ŦħŲ'mąś Thomas's Avatar
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    RE: challenges. How about one of the challenges be a "Pilot" challenge? I remember the one from Buffyworld. The challenge was to craft a series (or finally give you that push to write something you've been considering) and write a pilot (both script or non-script format) for it. It could be a great way to do a bit of a jump start for the fanfic section?

    Quote Originally Posted by Llywela View Post
    As far as the VS go (or any other writing, for that matter) one thing I really don't like to see is readers with an attitude of entitlement Ė 'how dare they stop writing', or 'how dare they go for a long time without a new story being published'. If you enjoy someone's work, that's great, but doesn't mean that you have a right to it. Stories that are worth reading take a long time to put together and get right, and if the story is worth reading them it is also worth waiting for. Peoples' lives and circumstances change. Sometimes inspiration fails. Sometimes they get busier. It isn't always possible to work at speed on a project, and it also isn't always possible to complete a project that you have started. It doesn't mean that anyone has the right to get angry about it or to feel that the writer has personally let them down. So, yes, some of our VS's have stalled or are slow moving. You can regret that, but you do not get to be angry about it. You may also feel aggrieved because you have wanted a place in that section yourself, but no one is turned down without a good reason. It is up to you whether you choose to take that reason on board or not. If you do, I can promise that your writing will be the better for it.
    Well, it okay to have breaks, I understand that but I know at least one of them is "canceled." And if I had to place a bet, I'd say a couple others are "canceled" too.

    I, along with many others, see getting a VS index as a privileged. And it seems several of the writers got to episode 5, got an index and then kind of stopped. And the hardest part was over, you know?

    And a really good thing about knowing what shows are continuing is that we could find some way to promote those series and get new members who haven't read them yet to check them out from the beginning, while it's on hiatus. It's really hard to catch up on something while it going on. When do most people rush to catch up on TV series? During their summer hiatus. (I'm catching up on "Fringe," at the moment.) So, we could really be using it to our advantage.

    Quote Originally Posted by Llywela View Post
    If it helps, I can maybe merge all the VS index threads that haven't been updated in the last 6 months into one archive thread, perhaps, so that the series' are still available as an archive but it is clear which ones are or aren't currently active.
    I don't think you should do that, because they did earn it. They worked their asses of for it. BUT I really think something should be done. Out of 13 series, only 5 have produced new episodes in the last year. I looked in all of the indexes and noticed almost all of them have the date of their original release dates. Maybe you could put something like:

    Rogue Redemption: Index (2006 - 2008)

    Using the year the series premiered and the year of the last air date. And for ongoing series, you could just not put anything. Leave it how it is until the series does end.

    The reason I'm so stuck on this is because, I was so supportive of everyone at Buffyworld. I loved it when I new episode was released. I loved when a really good pilot was released. To this day, I still remember the first scene of "Chosen." And the season finale? OMG! It was better than some actual TV series season finales. So, I really want to see this section take off again.

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    Couple suggestions:

    ONE:
    Rather than merging the VS index threads, what about a thread to index link to those indexes? That way the VS index threads that arenít being posted in can be moved into the same section as the VS stories and arenít cluttering up the main active page. But if a writer decides to reopen the VS it wonít be a mess trying to restore it.

    TWO:
    As far as feedback, the hardest thing is to know where to start. Why not create a little example form of feedback that can be done quickly as the fic is read or just finished. And then if extensive feedback is wanted to be done it can be done later.

    Iím not familiar with fanfic but here are some ideas:
    QUICK FEEDBACK FORM

    Plot:
    Characterization:
    Writing Style:
    Grammar:
    Emotion:
    Most loved element:
    The first five could even get a ranking system like 1-5. And asking a reader to write about only one thing they found outstanding seems to be a small request.

    In addition to a forum wide feedback form, Iíd encourage each writer to come up with a quick form of what they most want members to focus on and evaluate when reading each of their stories.

    Iíd also create two forms: a quick and an indepth. That way the quick one can be filled out first and the indepth one if more time comes available.

    Lydia made the punch!

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