Author Archives: Cedar Sanderson

About Cedar Sanderson

Writer, mother, reader, gardener, cook… artist.

Law and the Writer

Last week a young writer who is also a lawyer was on blog tour, and I have asked her if she wouldn’t mind stopping by the comments today to answer some questions. The usual disclaimers apply: although she is a lawyer, she is not your lawyer, and nothing you read in the post or comments should be taken as legal advice. If you think you need a lawyer, get one, internet lawyering may well be worse than useless. That being said, it’s great to get some insight into the sometimes murky world of Intellectual Property law.

I’m pleased to introduce Amie Gibbons, whose energy in real life translates into her books. She writes lighthearted stories with sweet Southern sass, belles who pack heat, and a dollop of romance on top of things that go bump in the night. Her latest is Psychic Undercover (With the Undead) and it’s a fun romp of a book.

Okay, if you’re a writer, you’ve heard the term copyright. It’s very important in the arts. So what is a copyright?

It is literally what it sounds like, the right to copy. It means you own that type of mental work and you are the only one who can make reproductions of it.

On some things, it’s easy to say what’s copyrightable and what isn’t. A book is copyrightable, but what about a title? Or a made up word? Or a general plot? There it gets a little more tricky. It gets grey. Lawyers love grey, it gets us lots of money.

This post is just going to touch on the basics of copyright.

1. For something like a book, the first question is usually along the lines of, “Do I have to register it to have protection?” Basic answer is no. You created it, it’s yours and legally no one can take it from you. You have copyright as soon as the art is put on a medium, as in, words are put on the page.

So no, you don’t have to register it with the copyright office, and you really do not have to do the “poor man’s copyright” (that’s where people would mail themselves their manuscripts in the mail and keeping the dated paperwork to prove they had the work on that date).

The tricky part if you get caught in a legal battle is proving it was yours first. This is where a registered copyright helps because it helps prove it was yours on the date registered (it also does other stuff for you like you can sue in federal court and get greater damages in court).Read the rest here… 

The post on copyright, fair use, and other common IP questions appeared at my blog, and then on James Young’s blog, Amie delved into the dank world of Contract Law.

Well, first up, most publishers have a form contract they expect you to sign and if you don’t want to, they’ll tell you it’s standard across the industry and you can take it or leave it. If you leave it, don’t worry, there are a hundred authors behind you who will have no problem with it.

That is one of the big things to look at in contract negotiations. Does one side have more bargaining power than the other? Usually the answer is yes. Unfortunately for writers who are set on going trad pub, the answer is extremely yes. The publisher has all the power because they don’t really need you. Unless you have already made it huge like that Fifty Shades woman and they want to get on board the train, you’re replaceable.

Does that mean you can’t try to negotiate? Of course not. Hire an IP lawyer who specializes in author contracts to look at the contract, to explain it to you if need be, and to go to the table to negotiate on your behalf.

First rule of negotiations, you never send the person with the power to say yes to the table.

Why? Because if you as the author are at the table, they can pressure you right there to agree to something. If your representative is there, there is nothing they can say to get the rep to say anything but, I’ll take it to my client, because the rep legally cannot say yes, no matter how good the deal sounds. Even if you tell them they can say yes if the deal has XYZ terms, they’ll still most likely say they’ll take it back to you because they know how to negotiate and that no legit deal requires you to say yes in the room.

Again, will this help if the publisher says this is the form contract that is standard across the industry so you will take it or leave it? Probably not. But you never know. There might be a few things that are just egregious to the author that publishers have in there because they know they can get away with it, but really don’t mind dropping if you ask. Read the rest here…

Amie has some very practical things to say, with a good dollop of commonsense. I know this is a lot of reading when you follow the links, but it’s all worth digesting. Then come on back here and ask questions in the comments, both Amie and I will be around to answer them! I am not a lawyer, at all, but I can usually come up with a link to an answer.

20 Comments

Filed under CEDAR SANDERSON, IP Law

Mad Haiku for Books

I stole this, cackling gleefully, from a friend of my First Reader (and made a new friend in the process, Hi Jonathan!) and the denizens of the book of face have been playing with it. I thought it would be even more fun to challenge all of you and sundry to play along. it’s writing, sort of. But it’s more a way to make you stop and think about words. Poetry is hard, but have fun with it.

So… here’s the thing – write a haiku about your favorite book. I’m not sure, reading the thread of the original challenge, if the point is to stump ’em all, or to be guessable. You decide!

Oh, and if you want answers? Highlight the space beside each haiku’s writer, and you’ll magically see the book’s title.

British spy decides
To fight an occult war for
Control of the djinn

-Misha Burnett (Tim Powers’ Declare)

Alien probe arrives
We travel to learn about them
Three armed they were

-Christopher MacArthur (Larry Niven’s Mote in God’s Eye)

You can’t be crazy
Wanting to leave makes you sane
Fly safely, Captain

-Kacey Ezell (Joseph Heller’s Catch 22) 

I live on the moon
Mike will help me get it done
I want to be free

-Spike Souders (Robert Heinlein’s Moon is a Harsh Mistress)

Got me a nice raft
Float down the Mississippi
With my best friend Jim.

-Pat Patterson (Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn)

God’s redemption plan
From Old Testament through New
One answer – Jesus Christ

– Nancy Guyotte (The Bible) 

A desert highway
Gonzo American dream
Nothing is the same

-Roger Ross (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Hunter S Thompson)

orphaned space child
founds new religion
martyrdom

– Alan Couture (Robert Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land) 

one ring is found
a journey begins
the world changes

-Alan Couture (JRR Tolkein, Hobbit) 

A Small Lord
Tries to Become a Bigger Man
Ends an Interstellar Mercenary

-Christopher MacArthur (Lois McMaster Bujold, Warrior’s Apprentice) 

One bad decision
A lifetime running from guilt
Ends as a tuan.

– D Jason Fleming (Conrad’s Lord Jim)

Could I reach orbit
Then I’d be a wanted fan
Leslie has my back.

-Pat Patterson (Niven and Pournelle’s Fallen Angels)

The trunk ate someone
Tourists are quite odd fellows
Falling off the edge

-Joseph Capdepon (Terry Pratchett, The Color of Magic or any Rincewind book)

The hero travels
The sword is jumped
He wishes to hero again

-Sanford Begley (Robert Heinlein’s Glory Road) 

Galactic Patrol
Brings the Winter of Boskone
Cleave Through to Helmuth

-Owen KC Stephens (EE ‘Doc’ Smith, the Lensman)

Literal flat earth
Narrative casualty
Drives the parody

-Kurt Schneider (Terry Pratchett, any Discworld novel) 

I can’t wait to see what the readers here come up with!

52 Comments

Filed under CEDAR SANDERSON, WRITING: CRAFT

The Gentle Art of Escalation

There are many ways to create conflict in a story. In life, we tend to avoid conflict as much as possible, if we aren’t looking for trouble with a chip on our shoulder. But as an author, we know that if our story is to be interesting, stuff has to happen. A story in which there is no conflict is not a story. Yes, I know someone can likely name a book in which there is no conflict, but I stand by my assertion – I wouldn’t want to read it!

Now, the conflict doesn’t have to be huge. You don’t start out with “and then, she had to save the universe.” No, you reach that through the gentle art of escalation. My common shorthand for plotting is ‘chase your hero up a tree, and then throw rocks at him.’ Being me, I also let him figure out how to get back down and save the day, but I’m not a horror or Literary writer.

I had a classic case happen in my life yesterday, which led me to thinking about this, as I’m also working on scaling up the final conflict and climax in my work in progress. Picture this: our character has a job interview. And a dinner party later in the day, which she is hostessing. No problem, there is plenty of time for both. She can’t find her suit slacks, as her daughter’s wear the same size she does, but again, rolling with it and heading out the door. Finding the location of the building, buzzing in and obtaining a badge, goes smooth. Eventually someone comes out to greet her, our character remembers her name, follows her around the corner and…

Into a room where two other people are sitting. Unprepared for a committee interview, this is the first step in escalation. They sit, she sits, and looks down at the table. There’s a sheet with a familiar math problem on it. The first step of the interview is for our character to do math, with three strangers staring. She chokes.

Escalation is intended to put our hero in a book into positions where he can dig himself a hole, and try to get back out of it. The classic try-fail sequence is usually repeated in three’s, allowing for the final triumph to have that much more impact as he finally learns, grows a strength he didn’t know he had, and wins the day.

The math? Well, telling funny stories, getting it about half right even without a scientific calculator to use (classic double take and lifted eyebrow made the whole team bust up) and going on to geek out the quiet member of the team talking instrumentation and accuracy may have won the day. It certainly made our example of escalation feel better on leaving the building.

Giving the character in our book the false feeling of confidence is a great way to set up a secondary conflict, as he trips gaily along the path to home and dinner, having escaped the tree with the rock-thrower (who probably got bored and wandered off), and steps right into a pit in the middle of the path. Oh, Hero! Why don’t you look where you are going?

Real life? Leave the interview feeling like it was good in the end, run through the grocery, get home, pull into the driveway… And get a phone call. It’s a recruiter for a different job, could you please email me… Cooking, emails, phone calls. Dear sweet fuzzy Lord above, why the he*% am I getting four calls from different recruiters about the same job in one hour?!

A great way to escalate conflict in a book is to make one conflict into two, oh, wait no, it’s three now… Suddenly our hero is juggling a fall into a pit, the previous occupant being a hungry tiger, and his wife is home in their boma slapping a cooking pot against her palm suggestively while food is getting cold.

And then, in the real world, just when you have the bread sticks final rising, the phone rings again. It’s the first recruiter. Do you have time for a short phone interview? Oh, sure, why not, company isn’t due until 7 and it’s not 5 yet. As our character is hanging up the phone and printing out paperwork, there’s a knock…

Our hero in the tiger pit has to claw, bite, and scratch his own way out. If that is through a superhuman burst of strength and ability due to his love and respect for the woman tapping her toe impatiently next to her ruined dinner, all well and good. But having someone else happen along and scoop him out is never a satisfactory ending. The cake has to be real, not a phantom lure which vaporized when your reader reaches it.

The dinner was good, the cake was real, and our hero was forgiven when he arrived with a new tigerskin rug.

Go see how you can practice the gentle art of escalation in your stories. Remember, dropping a mountain on your hero right out of the box just breaks the poor unsuspecting souls. Build up to it, and you’ll have something worth reading.

The cake is not a lie

The cake is not a lie

 

33 Comments

Filed under CEDAR SANDERSON, WRITING: ART

Quitting Time

It’s not that I’m quitting reading, oh, no. What I did was learn how to put a bad book down instead of letting it suck part of my life away.

 

Yeah, there have been books that painful…

Only, sometimes it’s not that the book is painfully bad. Sometimes it’s me, not them. That’s a horrible line for a break-up, but it’s true in this case. I’m not always in the right place to read and appreciate a book, and I have learned that attempting to force myself to read a book usually winds up with me disliking the book. It took me several attempts to read Huckleberry Finn, and Anne of Green Gables. I knew I was supposed to like them, but I was young and for whatever reason couldn’t break into the story.. and then when I did, I liked the books. I went on to read everything LM Montgomery had ever written and to realize how much like Anne I was as a girl.

I’m a mood reader. When I’m in a mood, I want a certain flavor of book, and trying to read outside that, even if it’s a book I’m supposed to read for a good reason (like, say, to review on this blog) is usually a bad idea. So I’ve learned to put books down if I’m not in the mood, and not judge them unfairly. The books I intend to review I pick up again later, but if it’s just a random novel that caught my eye I’m likely to not give it another look.

Like I talked about last week, I just don’t have enough time to give some of it to an unworthy book. Sarah Hoyt wrote about things that throw readers out of books in this post, explaining why she doesn’t like certain books:

Well, ten percent or so are unexplained.  I just don’t get into them.  No, I have no clue why.  Why do you like some dishes and not others?  Why do your tastes vary with season and mood?  I don’t know.

However, for the other 40% I’ve found that there are broad categories of errors, from the massive to the small that just lead me to fling the book against the wall (virtually, since they’re on kindle.)  And I thought I’d post them here, for the benefit (eh) of those of you working the word vines.  I mean, whether you’re going traditional or indie, you REALLY should not pop your reader out. Read the rest… 

The Titanic in snow

With some books, you can just tell things are about to go horribly, horribly wrong…

I think for me, the two biggest things that make it quitting time are boring, and bad characters. If I don’t care about a character, but the pace is fast, I may keep reading. Even if I like a character, if the book is rambling on for pages about how they are dressed and nothing is happening, then I’m likely to wander off to check facebook, read a blog, draw a doodle.. and when I come back, I’ve forgotten that I was reading that book and start on something else. Even on the Kindle, where in theory you open back up to the page you were reading, I’ll come out of the book to browse my library. The First Reader has had a recent problem with his Fire, in that it wants to always open to the very end of MH: Sinners, instead of the book he was trying to read. Makes it hard for him to keep on that book.

Which brings me to another point. My quitting time is not his quitting time is not your quitting time. My resident curmudgeon is much more critical of his reading material than I am. He’s also super-sensitive to certain tropes that make him prickle up like a porcupine, and about as happy as one (I’m sure porcupines are sometimes happy. Why is it that hedgehogs are always pictured cute and cheerful, while porkies are bad-tempered? They need a new PR rep) when he encounters it in a book. I’ve pointed out that I’m sure most of the time the authors weren’t trying to be tropariffic, but it doesn’t matter. He’s quit, and on to another book.

As a writer, I try to keep some of this in mind. Putting the reader hat on, I know that if I bore my readers, they’re out. I know that my most specific negative reviews on my books have been from readers objecting to my writing a positive male character, or from a male POV. I’m not going to quit including men in my books who are strong, competent types that love well and work hard for their families (inspired, by the way, by my husband and father, and uncles and cousins, and…) so I’m going to ignore those readers while I’m writing. Because if that is their quitting time in a book, there are plenty out there with men being denigrated or relegated to the shrinking pansy role. I just don’t want to write it, personally.

Now to flip it around. Sometimes a book does get better. It can be worth doing a bit of slogging, to find a buried treasure waiting. So how to decide that this book, this time, is the time to keep digging? Personally, I rely on word of mouth. Also, because I’m an author and part of a community of other authors, I rely on my personal knowledge of that person. If I trust them to tell a worthwhile story, I’ll keep reading through the rough parts. I did this with the original unedited version of Mackey Chandler’s April, and was rewarded with a great series I’ve enjoyed ever since. He’s taken care of the editing since then, so if you haven’t tried it, go check it out. Does it still have flaws? Sure, but those are philosophical and important only to me. And I have the ability to ignore elements in a book, up to a certain level, before it hits a wall. If you’re a devout Evangelical Christian, there are elements in April that will set your teeth on edge, namely the portrayal of churches. For me, I could see the extrapolation from Westboro Baptist, and it didn’t bother me (except that I really don’t believe there’s that much connectivity outside the Catholic Church, certainly not among the Baptist sets. But that’s because I grew up in them).

Where do you decide it’s quitting time? What books have you pushed through a tough reading spot on, and then been rewarded by?

41 Comments

Filed under CEDAR SANDERSON, reading, WRITING: ART

I’m a Quitter

Hangs head, shuffles toe in the dirt.

So, um, yeah… About that.

I picked up the habit over thirty years ago. The deal is, once you start, you can’t stop. Not that anyone ever taught me that. They don’t say these things to your face. It’s just expected, you know? Once you crack one open, there’s no turning back. Later in life, especially my early adulthood, I’d have several going at a time. Because I couldn’t quit. Even if one was difficult to swallow, you just kept chugging until the end.

And I thought everyone was like that. I’ll tell you now, I was shocked the first time I learned that some people abstain. I mean, dang. Who could live like that? It had to be horrible. Like wandering parched in the middle of a river, unable to take a drink. What a barren lifestyle. And still, I couldn’t quit.

There were times I wanted to. Long, dusty, dry ones that seemed to have no end in sight. Weird ones that made no sense at all. Anachronistic ones I just wanted to hurl against a wall with force… But by gummy, if I started a book, I had to finish it. Them’s the rules, right?

It wasn’t until I was a young mother, and somehow found myself a volunteer Slush Reader, that I learned the dire necessity of quitting. Faced with an avalanche of reading material, a toddler, a nursing baby, and a budding small business to run, I had no choice. I read on the computer while the baby fed, but that time wasn’t unlimited, (days it felt like it was. She was a hungry kid, and now that she’s half a head taller than I and wearing a size twelve shoe, I know why)  so I learned to read three chapters in before quitting. Forcing myself to slog through to the end made reading a chore and painful. Far from being a trove of pleasures, I was learning the hard way that not all books can be read to the end, much less should.

What brought this on? Well,on Facebook Joshua Hocieniec, in a conversation about Neil Gaiman’s American God’s wrote: “I’m no quitter! Though I am feeling like I have a couple of better books that I could be reading instead.”

He’d been slogging though the book, hoping it got better, and finally asked online for some encouragement. I couldn’t offer him that – I’ve never read anything of Gaiman’s – but it made me think about quitting. I’ve been doing a fair bit of reading over the last week. Some of it was sheer escapism, after a grueling couple of months finishing up the degree. Some of it was the hope that if I prime the pump, my own stories will well up, and a little part of it was researching since I’ve been reading non-fiction and fiction. But as much as I am binge-reading, I’ve been quitting. I quit reading a series when it became badly edited, repetitious and mean-spirited (non-fiction set in a hospital ER). I quit reading a book when I was so bored I kept falling asleep on my tablet. I quit reading another book because it was so dated the cop procedures in it would only be useful if I were to write a historica.. coff, a book set in the mid-1970s.

In this day and age, with reading material so bountiful it’s almost unimaginable… Did you know you can find the whole Conan series for free on Amazon in one handy collection? Sherlock was free yesterday, too! Anyway, there’s no need to cling to whatever text is handy. Gone are the days you had to read the soap bottle (if you still must, I recommend Dr Bronner’s) or the cereal box. Now, I can prop my phone up next to the bowl (hm, I have a hankering for cheesy grits now) and access an unimaginable library to my ten-year old self. I’m living the science fiction future and it’s chock full of books!

This poses a problem, though. I’ve gotten old enough to confront my own mortality and recognize that I have limitations in life. I’ll never be able to read All the Books. I may not even be able to read all the books physically in my house as I write this. Certainly not all the books on my eLibraries in various places. I’ll die with books unread, and confronting that makes me react in way that may seem a bit childish to some. Faced with the bitter reality, I’ve become a quitter. I want to eat my dessert first. To savor the Good Books, and scrape the equivalent to dog poo sandwiches into the trash bin, then click the empty trash button. Life is short. Too short to waste my precious time on bad books. So yes, I’m a quitter.

But enough about my habits. What books are you addic… Er, overly fond of? Let’s bring in the New Year with joy, escapism, and shenanigans between the pages!

112 Comments

Filed under CEDAR SANDERSON, reading

Good Eve

Cedar’s disclaimer: I am not a poet. This is strictly for fun, and should not be considered a serious attempt at poesy. 

Disclaimer the second: I blame the Evil Muse for this. 

 

Twas the day before Christmas, and all through the house

Not a creature was stirring, not even my spouse.

I sat at the keyboard, fingers poised in the air,

Waiting and wondering if my muse would be there.

 

The teens were all quiet with earphones on heads,

The pre-teen was napping  with dog in their beds;

And the spouse was all settled with Kindle in hand,

so I could finally write my book’s last stand.

 

When out in the drive arose such a clamour,

I sprang from my desk to see who had the hammer.

I swore to myself as I ran to the door,

Wond’ring how my family such a noise could ignore.

 

I grasped the doorknob and felt it melt away

At my touch, revealing a landscape so gray

My eyes strained to make out any detail at all.

Slowly, I could see something through the mist, so small

 

And then it was there in front of me, so quick

I jumped back and knew it wasn’t St. Nick.

It must be my muse! Finally, he had come

And I whistled, and shouted, and offered him rum.

 

He was riding in a convertible sleigh, jet-powered

And when he landed in front of me it towered

Over me and the door hissed out on hydraulics

Making me rub my eyes and wonder about alcoholics.

 

He was dressed in a space suit, a chrome one that made me gulp

And I opened my mouth to point out I wasn’t writing pulp,

But he laid his finger alongside his nose with a wink,

And I shut my mouth again and wished for a drink.

 

His eyes – full of starlight and empty as the universe – twinkled brightly

The cheeks were pale, the lips turned up tightly.

The helmet concealed any sign of a beard,

Overall, I decided, my muse was quite weird.

 

He held a bag in one hand, and now that he’s down,

He held up the other, and opened it with a frown.

From it he pulled, with a shake and a wiggle,

Something like an anemone that just made me giggle.

 

He looked up at me, and gave me a shake of his head

Before putting it back, then pulling an envelope out instead.

Without a word, just a wink of his eye,

He handed it to me, and leaped back to the sky.

 

I stood there, gaping, and ere he was out of sight

I heard him call out: To all a good night!

I looked at the card in my hand and unsealed,

Opening it slowly to my eyes it revealed…

 

The plot to my novel! I sprang back to my desk,

My husband, befuddled; my teens, statuesque.

My fingers were flying, and I shouted ‘Thank you!’

As Christmas was coming and my muse had come through.

 

Now that that’s out of my system… I have a question for you, gentle readers. As the New Year is approaching, what would you like to see more of here at the Mad Genius Club? Any how-to’s you are in need of? Tips, tricks, and ideas? Let us know in the comments! And if you’re looking for a last-minute gift, remember, ebooks are easy to give, and don’t require a dedicated ebook reader, they can be read on a phone, or a tablet, or a computer, or… 

 

32 Comments

Filed under CEDAR SANDERSON

An Interview with Fanfiction Readers

So I see my teen daughters reading, a lot, on their phones. Turns out the stories that keep them riveted are fan fictions. One is sixteen, and her nom-de-blog is Otaku Princess, and the fourteen-year-old is my Junior Mad Scientist.

Me: So what site are you guys usually reading on?

OP: normally fanfiction.net.

JMS: sometimes on Tumblr.

OP: Tumblr is more of a ‘everything about life’ site.

Me: So why do you like fan fiction?

OP (speaking at the same time as her sister): Because… oh, hi, do you want to talk first?

JMS: same.

JMS (seeing me writing): Mama, no!

All laugh (honestly, there was a lot of giggling all through this. We were having a blast)

OP: I read fan fiction because it expands upon an idea you’re already familiar with, it’s also easily portable and you don’t have to buy them. It’s easier to read something on your phone since you have to jump from class to class and I’m already carrying a phone and more books… well,my backpack is already heavy enough.

JMS: Basically the reason I read fan fiction is that I enjoy reading shorter stories, and you can have one-shots in fan fiction. It’s also a little bit because I really enjoy the characters, and you can put two characters together. I can put them together in my head and play out little scenarios, but I like reading when other people do that. You get different styles of writing, different points of view

OP (muttering): Some suck.

JMS (ignoring her): people have different experience. With all that, you can have an entire ‘nother thing. For example Gravity Falls, it’s written mostly by this guy, Alex Hirsch, and I know he has like female coworkers that put in…

OP (speaking indignantly): female? He has multiple different coworkers not just female! Wait, are you talking about writing, drawing, or acting?

JMS: Writing! He’s writing female points of view and they help him. But then you can read a fanfiction written by a girl, about the girl parts, and you can see a different point of view. And you can see a different take. I’m in love with angst. So, like, I love angst and you can get so many stories about angst. And it’s [Gravity Falls] a show for children. Fan fiction can go deep into the angst with the blood and gore and stabbing people, and people dying and…

OP: Gravity Falls is pretty disturbed, fam.

Me: Guys, back to why you like fan fiction. I get that it lets you explore other parts of the story.

OP: No, it lets you explore the what-ifs of the story. So like, if you have characters that are, like One Piece where all the characters are pirates and that’s the world they live in. So you can say what if they were born in the world we live in. It lets you explore the other possibilities that the storyline can’t because it’s chained to its storyline and continuity. There are some great fan fictions, some awful fan fictions, some of them let you explore the gaps in storyline that happen.

JMS: Like Young Justice, where there’s a five-year gap.

OP: We know nothing about what happened in those five years, so we can go on about what might have happened.

JMS: we know a little about some characters, but…

OP: we’re going off on a tangent again.

JMS: Maybe we should go off on the smutty side of fan fiction.

OP: No, we should talk about shipping.

ME: I think we should talk about how you avoid smut, not find it.

JMS: Smut is easy to avoid. On Fanfiction.net there’s way to sort by ratings from k (which is the lowest) through teen (which is the second highest). Teen tends to have swearing or mild violence. Mature has sex, extreme violence, stuff like self-harm that can be triggering. I think you can flag it if you find sex in Teen rated.

OP: Or sexual themes.

OP: On Archive of Our Own (AO3) they have more settings, K-through-Teen, but then there’s Mature, which isn’t always smut, it really depends on what people think is the necessary rating. Some people are more lenient, others are like ‘ah, geeze, man.’ Mature is normally where the dark themes come in. Explicit is almost always smut.

JMS: The thing I like about AO3 is that they have archive warnings and tags on the outside, so I know I don’t want to read that. Not all authors choose to tag it thoroughly, so you have to be careful.

OP: I want to go on about the tags. You can have have specific tags on fanfiction.net, but AO3 lets you tag whatever you want.

JMS: on AO# I’ve run into stories where it’s all tags and no summary.

ME: Can we move on to shipping now?

OP: YES!! I get to go first because I won Roux chambeaux for this one.

JMS (catching my mention of their contest): Mama, NO!

OP (laughing and chanting): shipping, shipping, shipping, shipping…

All laughing. Some squeeing from the younger set.

OP: So first off, not all ships are gay, despite what everyone says. Shipping is great because like, two characters that don’t get together in the show… it bothers me when it takes people out of canon ships. No, just no.

JMS: Incest bothers me.

OP: Incest is gross. Oh god why?

JMS: Even if they are adopted siblings it’s still weird.

ME: So you like the romance in fan fiction?

OP: It depends on the romance. There are some really weird definitions of romance out there.

JMS: I can barely find a well-written yandere.

OP: yandere is basically like Japanese for one person that is in love with this other person, but this other person does not know that they are in love with them. The one that is in love with them will kill, or stalk, or do anything to make sure that person stays theirs. It’s kind of like they will kill them if they can’t have them.

Me: I’m redirecting this a bit. Do you have much interest in reading original fiction?

JMS: There are some people who write original fiction and all they use is the character’s names. They are so OOC that they are not related to the original story.

OP: define OOC.

JMS: Off Original Character. They are still really good.

Me: I actually meant like, books.

OP: Like original original? I am interested in them, but I don’t have time to sit down and read a novel. I don’t know about Freshie over here, but as a Junior I don’t have time to read a novel that isn’t assigned for class.

JMS: You have time when you stay home sick.

OP: I haven’t been to the library recently.

ME: Can I blow your minds and tell you there is such a thing as short original fiction, too? (laughing)

OP: Yeah, but they are hard to find. It’s hard for me to go look it up.
ME: so basically fan fiction is easier to find?

OP: Yeah, it’s all condensed on one website.

JMS: creepypasta!

OP: Creepypasta is different. It’s all one genre and I’m not a horror person.

JMS: I tend to go on Taptastic, which is all webcomics, but it’s really good.

OP: There is also Wattpad. Wattpad is, technically, you can put any kind of story on it, but it’s hard to deal with. On a phone, you can’t even go from chapter to chapter.

JMS: On fan fiction.net you can download a story on your phone, it has an app. AO3 it has all those tags, so you can see what you are getting into. Wattpad is the hardest to use out of the three of those.

OP: it’s harder to find stories on it, and there are a lot of twelve-year-olds who make mistakes on there. No offense to twelve-year-olds, but it’s not good.

ME: Have you tried reading from the Kindle library? You both have access to mine.

OP: Yeah, I’ve read everything I was interested in on there. Most of those are yours and not up my alley.

JMS: I’m particular about what I read, and I like fan fiction better.

OP: It’s not that I won’t read any books, it’s just that there’s nothing new for me to read. There are continuations of series I’ve been reading and need to finish. There might be novels out there that are perfect for me, but they are hard to find when I can get fan fiction.

JMS: I’m going to go read some fan fiction.

And that’s about it from our house about fan fiction, at least for today. I wanted to get the teen insight into what works for them. I don’t know if it comes across in this, but both of them are raving fans of it, and it’s very difficult for me to get them ‘into’ books I recommend. So they read, and read a lot, but it’s in a style I find very different. As a writer, I feel that I need to explore this – these young readers like my girls are going to dictate what becomes of fiction, in the coming years, and I want to find the rhythm they enjoy to incorporate some into my own work. I’m not inclined to write fan fiction, for one thing I plan to earn money with my work. But it’s important to see that styles change, and how they are doing so.

JMS pops back into the room: I think I found my least favorite type of fan fiction. The kind where the writer forgets how to use the Enter key.

45 Comments

Filed under CEDAR SANDERSON