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branchandroot: stack of books by arm chair (book love)
So, I'm really not at home to most challenges, but some of the Snowflake prompts do catch my attention.

In your own space, share a book/song/movie/tv show/fanwork/etc that changed your life. Something that impacted on your consciousness in a way that left its mark on your soul.

And I recall Sailor Moon. But more than the anime itself (or the manga, or the other anime...) I recall how one of my literature students lassoed me into Fandom by using Sailor Moon. She spotted my weaknesses right off and suggested that I'd be interested by a narrative comparison of the sub versus dub endings to Season One, especially the way that excising all the violence for dub-land also managed to snip out all of Sailor Moon's agency in the scene. And, well, that was me done and dusted.

So here's to you, Kay. Well done.
branchandroot: Yuugi facepalming (Yuugi oy veh)
...what a sane person like me is doing here. I honest to fuck just encountered a three page article all about how the title of Melville's epic poem Clarel is pronounced. Is the emphasis on the first or second syllable? It isn't clear which, because the (relentless) iambic tetrameter of the poem presents both possibilities! Isn't that fascinating?!

Three whole pages just to say this. And then it was published. *headdesk* Oh my god, you guys, why am I working with these people, again?

See, when I say that literary scholarship is just another fandom (or huge slew of different fandoms) I'm totally not kidding. The flame wars over utterly inconsequential things just involve more syllables.

On which note: Rolfe + Vine = OTP. Some day I really will print a bumpersticker of that, and about five other people in the whole world will know what it means. Academia: redefining "small fandom".
branchandroot: empty veranda at dawn (veranda)
Yesterday I had occasion to discuss with someone unfamiliar with fanfic why fanfic is not "easier" than origific because "half the work is already done". This is, of course, a hoary old chestnut often put forward by people who have never tried to write both forms, and much verbiage has already been expended on it, but this time something new occurred to me.

I think I have finally found a use for Plato's damn Cave.

In brief, the Allegory of the Cave suggests that the reality we see around us is merely a shadow of some higher reality of Forms (platonic ideals), as people confined facing a cave wall with a fire behind them would only be able to see the shadows on the wall of actual objects in the cave with them.

Now, I think the Allegory of the Cave is a useless bit of self-congratulatory twaddle, when it comes to models of human perception in general, but it does seem to have some particular applicability to written fiction.

A good writer does a whole lot of world-building that never makes it directly onto the page. Just think about all the memes that go "name a character/fandom and I'll tell you X many things from my personal head-canon/mynon/etc about them". The words on the page are, if you will, the shadow of what the author built up in their mind, in their storytelling space. That building always has to be done; the author has to know all those little details. Without that, the shadow won't look convincing or have weight. But a shadow is still all that makes it onto the actual page. An author going to write fanfic has no direct access to the vast majority of the last round of world-building.

This means that, when writing fanfic, all that world-building must be done again from the ground up and it must be done in such a way that the text/shadow it makes on the page overlaps smoothly with the first text/shadow. This must be done without having ever seen the "object" that cast the first shadow, because that "object" only exists inside the first author's head. All the next author has to work with is the shadow.

When an author doesn't do the world-building, then they write a shoddy story. Fanfic or origific, lack of world-building detail results in an incoherent, inconsistent, or flat story. On top of this, when a fan author doesn't manage to make their shadow overlap sufficiently with the source shadow, then the story fails as fanfic. Fanfic does not have any of the work done already; what it has is an extra requirement in the building process. (This is, of course, modified by the fact that fan readers will forgive a whole lot of not-overlapping if the fan author still manages to give them sufficient id-candy tagged with appropriate names and outfits, just like origific readers will forgive a whole lot of shoddy world-building if the author gives them sufficient id-candy, period.)

So there we go: Plato's Cave of Condescension finally serves a useful purpose. Remix, reuse, recycle.
branchandroot: Yuugi facepalming (Yuugi oy veh)
I... have been plagiarized by the Prince of Tennis Wikia. The overview section of the page on Muga no Kyouchi is lifted word for word from my tenipuri website. Without credit, which is important, because all my sites are under the Creative Commons noncommercial-share alike-attribution license. It's on every page.

I suppose they could have gotten it from my LJ/DW, but that just makes it more egregious, because those entries do not have the CC license on them and should be assumed to be hands-off unless stated otherwise.

I'm torn between disgusted and amused. What do people think? Should I edit it out and leave a note to do it right next time, or just add a source note, or what? Alas, the person who added that section was not a registered user, so I can't smack them personally on the wrist.
branchandroot: oak against sky (Default)
Apropos of yet another round of exasperation with commenters who somehow think they're fit to be my beta or that it's okay to put a review in the comments:

Let us remember, please, that comments on fic are a direct, one-on-one conversation with the author, in the author's space.

If, during a party, some dishes were served that you happened not to like, or a dish was prepared in a way you found odd, you would not go find the host and/or cook and inform them that you suppose they made a good effort but that lamb had too much cardamom in the sauce. Not unless you were an asshole, at any rate. A good friend might sneak into the kitchen for a taste beforehand and note that maybe the sauce could use some alterations, but once it's done and on the table? If you don't like it, you just don't eat any more, possibly mentioning to another guest you know shares your taste that they should stick with the olive spread. This is a party, not a restaurant. You didn't pay for this food. You are the beneficiary of the host/cook's generosity and a guest in their space, and there's nothing to be served by telling them they didn't make the lamb the way you, personally, like it. You won't get lamb the way you like it, next time; you'll probably just not be invited back, since you clearly have such a huge problem with the host's lamb recipe that you just had to tell them about it.

Fic doesn't even carry the potential pressure to stay that a party does. There's no shadow of an excuse to buttonhole the author and complain over a fic not being written to your personal preferences.

Reviews are different. Those are in the reviewers' space (or should be, thank you very much) and those are for the benefit of readers. Pointing out both what you liked and didn't like is not only excusable but, indeed, the very business of a reviewer. An author who demands only positive reviews is delusional and living in diva-land. An author who demands only positive comments to the fic itself, and that reviews be addressed to their actual audience not to their topic, is telling readers to remember whose "house" they're in and who they're speaking to.

Besides, what do you think will happen, if you do comment that way? Will the author go and revise that finished story? No. Will the author magically start writing just the way you want them to? No, not even the ones who think they should try.

But doesn't the author want to improve in her art? asks the devotee of the Holy Concrit, puzzled and offended that their faith offering has been rejected.

Some fandom-states subscribe to the Church of the Holy Concrit as their official faith, and accept or even encourage all readers leaving "how to improve" comments. Some most signally do not. Anyone tempted to proselytize their personal faith in heathen lands might find it instructional to look up the Crusades (One through Nine) and just how little result they had outside of vast death and destruction. In little, that's pretty much the pattern you'll see over Concrit, too.

Teal deer: in someone else's fandom space, check the profile/info/about before you assume it's hunky dory to tell them to their face all the things you, in your towering judgement, didn't like about their fic. Failure to do this may result in a swift smack on the nose.

Didn't like someone telling you your comment was substandard? Remember that feeling.
branchandroot: oak against sky (Default)
Meme time! It's been a while.

Give me a fandom and I'll reply with:

1. My favorite character.
2. ANOTHER favorite character!!
3. My favorite character relationship, and by "relationship" I don't necessarily mean pairing and certainly not OTP, but on the other hand, depending on the fandom MAYBE I DO!
4. The moment/character/THING/WHATEVER that first hooked me on the fandom.
5. One of my favorite moments.
6. A song or track that reminds me of this fandom.
7. One miscellaneous awesome thing about the fandom.
8. One completely random thought I have regarding this fandom.
9. One fic/essay rec, fanart, or fanvid that depending on the fandom I either had lovingly bookmarked or saved onto my hard drive, or only just now found during a two-minute Google search.
branchandroot: oak against sky (Default)
I don't do this very often, but this isn't the kind of thing I like to leave unchallenged.

Anime fans! Go and tell this blog-blinkered individual that women who are also passionate anime fans exist!

*shaking head* Honstly.
branchandroot: two hands drawing each other (drawing each other)
I think I've put my finger on what makes the kind of AU I like to read and write versus the kind I don't. To whit, I don't like the kind that keep the same events while changing the circumstances (eg, the majority of high school AUs). That's just a retread, and while the trappings of the events change, neither the events themselves nor the characters that arise from them do.

I find that boring.

I much prefer the kind of AU that changes the canon events to see how that will make the characters different. While it's possible to write the changed-setting type of AU and still do good characterization, it is not a form that encourages any such thing; far too many fan-authors wind up writing very shallow characterization when they write those AUs. An AU that changes the events, whether or not the setting changes, demands that the author put more work into defining just what they identify as a character's core traits. Not everyone does the work, and when they don't it's a hot mess, but the form encourages it a lot more. There's less leeway, in this type of AU, to let familiar plot stand in for actual characterization.

It's a basic plot-driven versus character-driven divide, I think. I will always be on the character-driven side, and I find most plot-driven writing boring and shallow. (No doubt, plot-driven writers/readers find character-driven writing far too meandering.) And, above and beyond that, I've already seen the canon plot once; I really don't need to see it again. It's more interesting to do something the canon didn't do.
branchandroot: leafy forest path with mist (forest path with mist)
So, what do we mean when we say that Laurel K Hamilton is writing fanfic of herself? What do we mean when we say Twilight is fanfic? There are a lot of circumstances and skills encompassed by the word "fanfic", and I think it would be helpful to actually name some of them separately. Among other things, it might help us be able to say what it is we like about any piece of writing and what we don't like, more specifically and with less fire-hazard.

I started by trying to separate out the skill sets involved. Formulating the difference between writing fanfic and writing origific is always slippery, but one of the things that's come to mind recently is: fanfic relies on the skill of seeing what isn't there but could be.

This is, in some ways, a response to the hoary old fallacy of fanfic as "training wheels", which is absurd. The mechanical skills are transferable, yes, but the worldbuilding and characterization skills are not. All you have to do is read the first books of a few people who switched from fan to origi writing--they're right back to square one.

Fanfic happens when we see a character shape or story shape that isn't there but resonates anyway. Hence Leather Pants Draco, and his popularity. The readers see, accurately, the character shape that could provide a dramatic foil to Harry. That shape is not the one that Rowling used, but the way a more vivid anti-hero might interact with Harry is a deeply appealing one. Similarly, hence the safe-house trope in Gundam Wing fic. The characters never all live together, or even work together for long, in canon, but the viewers see, accurately, the plot shape that could provide more powerful and dramatic character interactions, and that shape demands a band of brothers, working together.

This is not a skill set that any author, writing from scratch, is ever going to use. Origific requires choosing a single path, a single form for characters and plot. Alternate possibilities just go on back into the idea-melt. Origific is the first swipe. It can't be the second.

We have spent so long valorizing the Solitary And Original Artist that we tend to think it's the first of those that matters, that takes the most work, that has the most value. But I have to say, I enjoyed Maya's HP fic a great deal more than Brennan's Demon's Lexicon trilogy. I would like to see fanfic writers give themselves more credit for what they do. The things readers and viewers see, that aren't there, are very often powerful and desirable shapes. Bringing them forth is a worthy project.

So one thing I think people mean when they say that some (usually very popular) book is fanfic-ish is that it has struck, on the first go, one of those powerfully resonating shapes and run with it.

One of the skill sets that is sometimes held in common is how to write in a shared world. It's a very particular skill. One has to take account of what the other people have written, the history that has already been created, and fit one's own ideas into the mosaic. It also means not repeating all the world-introduction every time while still conveying the major points for those who may be coming in relatively cold. That last applies to an un-shared world, too, if it shows up in an extended series.

The dark side of this is that sometimes authors get lazy. They don't even bother hitting the major points, but just dive into the story, let the previous characterization or canon carry all the burden of development, and assume that any reader who isn't familiar with that has only themselves to blame. This is one of the other things people seem to mean when they call origific fanfic-ish. It is not a particular weakness or tendency of fanfic, though. It's a weakness of lazy writers everywhere. It may show up in somewhat higher absolute numbers, in fanfic, because fanfic is, by its nature, a shared world writing form. But proportionally, based on an unscientific survey of popular commercial series and popular fic, I'd say there are about as many lazy writers on either side.

So there are two things that came to mind when I thought about what we can mean by "fanfic" as an adjective. *tosses it out to her readers* Any others to throw in the pot?
branchandroot: Ed giving a thumbs up (Ed thumbs up)
So, anyone been following Mander!fail? The LOTR archive fiasco with the clueless boy who thinks he's got this Brilliant New Idea to make money off fandom? Hell, even if you haven't...

Have a brilliant fable-version of the affair.

*still laughing*
branchandroot: Yuugi facepalming (Yuugi oy veh)
For your reading delectation and exasperation: Kieth Mander, ignorant young sleeze who has no clue what kind of meat grinder he's stuck his hand into.

It's anyone's guess whether the Twilight fandom has a sufficient percentage of web-savvy to kick this intrusion to the curb, but I'm thinking LOTR probably does.
branchandroot: two hands drawing each other (drawing each other)
Browsing back through my "fandom" tag looking for a particular entry, I find myself grinning over a few of them.

Tongue in cheek definitions of lit crit terms and schools

An example of why to think before you comment

My first love letter to DW

(Also: recursive tagging is recursive.)
branchandroot: cherries (cherries)
Well, the world hasn't ended in ice, but we have a thick enough sheet that the university is closed and I don't have to go in. So instead let me talk about cons.

Anime cons seem to be at an awkward stage of development. It's a hard one to get past. But eventually it really does become necessary to give panels that are more than "this source/activity for beginners/newcomers". Anime cons, in general, have not made this leap, and I am getting bored out of my mind.

See, I used to have better... )

So I'm going back. Next year? I'm not doing Ohayocon or Youmacon. I'm doing ConFusion, which I knew from days of yore. Maybe anime cons will grow up a bit if we just give them another five years or so.
branchandroot: Hiruma saying ... (Hiruma ...)
Mostly for my curiosity.

Poll #5349 Fannish Pesticides
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 38

Your immediate response to a commenter who has chosen the user handle "Wandering Beta At Large" is:

View Answers

13 (34.2%)

Oh god, not another entitlement-brat.
26 (68.4%)

Free beta-ing, how nice!
2 (5.3%)

Something else I shall mention in the comments.
4 (10.5%)

Your action upon receiving a comment from said user which attempts to "correct" you in some, most likely totally wrong, way:

View Answers

Smack them with a frigidly polite clue-bat and ignore them.
24 (63.2%)

Just ignore them.
14 (36.8%)

Tip off the archive abuse team to what may be a pattern of trollish behavior.
5 (13.2%)

Something else I shall mention in the comments.
4 (10.5%)

Me, I generally do the frigidly polite clue-bat, just to do my bit to discourage fannish idiocy, and move on. It's the user name in particular that is making me contemplate actually contacting the archive in this case, because that seriously rings my troll-alarm.
branchandroot: Hatsuharu looking pissed (Haru black)
Normally, you know, I scoff at the people who respond to any variation of "you depicted people who are like me as $DISGUSTINGLY_BIGOTED_STEREOTYPE in your fic, could you not do that?" with cries of "What do you mean I can't write about this?!". Because, of course, that isn't what any sane person involved actually said, and pretending they did is a transparent buck-passing attempt for which I have only scoffing.

I do also realize that there are people who really do try to tell people they can't write about X topic or group, but, honestly, I can't consider those people with anything but scoffing either.


I hereby declare that no Western steampunk fan is ever, ever again allowed to use the word "geisha" without first undergoing, and prominently displaying proof of, at least one full term of Japanese women's studies or the equivalent.

This post brought to you by a serious case of "omg, how are you related to me, can I disown you right now please" (national and fandom varieties).
branchandroot: fractal in blue and gray spheres (fractal round)
Okay, I like this one.

Meme originally from [personal profile] helens78 and lately from [personal profile] telesilla:

Bold any reasons that apply to you, strike out any that don't (if you feel like it), and add three (or more, or less) reasons of your own to the bottom.


1. To explore themes that I don't get to see in mass media using characters I love.
2. Because it's fun.
3. Because mass media does a crappy job of representing my race and/or sexual orientation and/or gender.
4. Because I can get more people aboard my ship writing a story than a manifesto.

5. Because TV science-fiction doesn't explore its science-fiction premises in enough depth.
6. Because it's a gift I can give a stranger and know they will enjoy it.
7. Because I resonate emotionally with the characters that I read and watch, and want to find out why by writing about it.
8. Because every tale is a universe, often with fascinating nooks and crannies that the original author never explored.
9. Because I've made some of my best and dearest friends through this very wacky hobby.
10. Because the world the creator made is vast, and I want to see more of it.
11. Because writing as a communal experience is amazing.
12. Because I can.
13. Because every time I write something, I learn more about writing. And myself. And my readers.
14. Because someone can find it and know that there are other people out there who respond to media that way.
15. Because writing porn and having someone say, "this is hot!" is an empowering experience.

My additions:

16. Because I enjoy the challenge of figuring out what a given character would do in a new situation.
17. Because I need to fix something.
18. Because the world is made of stories, and stories are made of stories too.
19. Because I'm very good at it.
branchandroot: butterfly on a desk with a world in a bottle (butterfly glass desk)
Another Three Weeks post.

This is an interesting topic, for me, because I tend to watch the debates over it from more than one viewpoint at once. On the one hand, I'll enter cheerfully into the vociferous debates over what effect different types and amounts of other languages in English fic has. On the other, I have observed that the amount and type are both, functionally, beside the fandom point.

In fandom function terms, Japanese in an English language fic serves as a shibboleth and a sign-post. It says "this is a fic from the anime/manga fandom family" and gives notice thereby what the author's likely target audience is--and also what tropes may be showing up in the story. To be sure, those tropes are often very unexpected to fans from the domestic fandom family, so the marker function is actually a pretty important one.

In marker terms, what I think of as first generation fan usage may actually serve the purpose best. This type of usage is characterized by using such Japanese as can be easily parsed out of a subtitled show by those with no previous knowledge of the language: demo, hai, nani, etc. There's no pressing translational quandary attached to these; indeed, they're some of the simplest words to translate directly. By that token, they are easily understood from the context of the English sentence they're embedded in and don't require any linguistic acumen at all. They serve the shibboleth function purely and without impeding reading comprehension.

I can't actually stand reading stories written with this in them, but I nevertheless recognize that it has a valid function and serves it very well.

Second generation usage is what most of us argue over these days. )

Bottom line: it isn't going away, and there exists no actual standard by which any of us can justifiably demand that everyone do it our way. Deal with it.
branchandroot: fractal in blue and gray spheres (fractal round)
Tangenting off a very helpful and thoughtful post on my dwircle this morning.

So. Analogy. Let us say that online discussion is quite like nuclear fission in some ways. A neutron (thought) is introduced. Among the nearby uranium (readers) it strikes one causing fission which results in new elements (a reaction) and, often, some more free neutrons (comments or another post).

The more uranium (readers) present, the greater a chance of reaction. This can be a benefit of link comms. If a post is linked, the number of readers will likely be far greater than it would otherwise, increasing the chance that the fission process (thought, response, thought) will become self-sustaining. Energy is produced, light and heat for everyone. The same thing, however, can also be a drawback.

The fission process can be controlled, as in a reactor, or uncontrolled, as in a bomb. A link comm that is selective in the neutrons (posts) it lets pass (links to) may function as a working reactor, with the control rods (link collectors) passing only some neutrons (thoughts) and absorbing others (flames, drama, pure dogmatism, etc.). A link comm that is not selective in the neutrons (posts) it lets pass (links to) will produce an uncontrolled reaction, overwhelming the coolant (common sense), and leading to a melt down. In the worst case, two pieces of uranium (posters) will collide directly causing a massive explosion.

Of course, the analogy has another step, not directly related to the link comms. In fandom, as in many other areas, the new elements (the reactions to posts) are very radioactive (intensely emotional). As in the actual reactor process, I have yet to see any suggestions or process for safely containing or disposing of these byproducts, so I suppose we just have to live with them. It's real life everywhere.

This is somewhat tongue in cheek, but not entirely. The people running link comms are not responsible for any idiocy on the part of their readers, but neither is what they create a neutral location. Shooting a neutron gun repeatedly at a critical mass of uranium is an action which should be known as such or else not performed.
branchandroot: rainbow D (DW rainbow)
I've cast off from the latest round of perorations over m/m and/or slash vis a vis appropriation and queerness. The soapboxing has clearly shot any actual discussion dead. But something I saw at the con this past weekend reminded me of it.

There was a booth in the dealer's room that had a big rainbow flag up behind it. Now, normally I'm pleased to see the flag wherever it's shown, but not in this case. Because that booth was selling doujinshi and appliqued across the flag was the acronym "YAOI".

That. That right there is the line getting crossed. Because yaoi doujinshi in very particular are not about celebrating diversity or about gay pride. The vast majority of yaoi is direly heteronormative and doesn't even make a pretense at representing the shape or variety of gay culture (either in Japan or anywhere else they may be set). Printing "yaoi" across a rainbow flag is one of the most stunning examples of not-getting-it that I've seen in a long while, and something I have no hesitation to call both disrespect and defacement.

The issues surrounding representation and who and how don't always lend themselves to simplification, but I think one point does boil down very consistently:

My life is not your bling.

And if that thought makes me or anyone else uncomfortable to think while standing in the middle of an anime convention ninety-eight percent of which is distinctly not-Japanese-at-all, well it should. The lack of that thought and awareness is one of the reasons there are large sections of Western a/m fandom I don't engage with, that and the lack of the related awareness, "Liking it doesn't make you Japanese".

Kind of like having two dicks on the page doesn't make it gay. So get those grubby paws off my damn flag.

Informational note: if this is picked up by any of the link comms I will probably limit commenting to my circle, having no interest in hosting general idiocy.
branchandroot: Ginji and Akabane with a heart (Ginji Akabane Heart)
Actually, this is a lot broader than that, but that was one of the places this post started. The other was Rana's comment on a different post, words to the effect that the fan-cultures in question seem to divide themselves based only on some very fuzzy Orientalism.

I agree that fuzzy Orientalism is the most regrettably common way Western fans of similar media from different national/ethnic groups (eg comics and manga) express their differentiation. That particular expression is generally a lot of hot air, yes.

But I also think there are real fan-culture differences, touching on though not always rising directly from the mother-culture differences of the sources. This is my attempt to articulate the ones that I've seen. Warning: generalizations ahead, though not baseless ones.

ETA: To elaborate, this post is based on my own and my circle's experiences in various fandoms; unfortunately I managed to phrase things rather more generally and universally than I quite realized at the time. *rueful* None of the following is actually meant to be a Declaration Of How Fandom Is Everywhere. That said, the experience in question is not a narrow one, and I think the following is representative of a significant section of manga (and anime) fandom participants.

Let's look at this. )

Now, what I would be interested to know is: do the same kinds of differences show up in the Western fandoms of Western and Asian TV? Or of Western bands and Asian bands? And do they manifest in gaming fandoms? That last especially interests me, since the game sources seem to be the most self-aware of the trans-Pacific trade.

ETA: As per suggestion, I would like to point out that I have not been present for the bulk of wrangler discussions on associated issues. These are thoughts going off in a different (somewhat) direction, so please to be not be bringing other fights in here. I am an unaligned polity.

ETA some more: Will not be replying to further comments on this one because work has descended for the term. Talk among yourselves if you like.

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