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So you're new to fandom! Let's talk.

It's been a while since I've had to do one of these, clearly it's time again.*

As an older fandom dinosaur (note to you kids in high school: I've been dabbling in fandoms for literally decades) I've had my own share of bumps in the road, hard lessons to learn, etc. It happens. Usually, you find that people are cool and understand social rules, even on the internet. Why, I remember my first week on LJ where I took someone's icon and didn't credit the maker, a BNF, too. The maker emailed me and said, "Looks like you're new. Here's how it works to credit." Thank you, person! I didn't know, and now I did. They weren't shitty about it, they were just making sure I knew what was what. (I'm...going to be shitty about it, fair warning.)

No one likes to come to a new school and not know where to sit, after all, right?

So let me explain the very basics of fanfic and fandom and how we're a community. And you don't fuck over your community (in case you didn't know that already.)

1. You'll notice that fanfic communities expect you to add a disclaimer somewhere - either on their journal, or on your LJ/tumblr/spiral notebook. (Mine is on my user page) Why? Because kids, back in the day there were ACTUAL LAWSUITS. This is something that most of my LJ friends and I have been around long enough to know: a lot of authors don't like you taking their things and playing with them. Fair enough. I won't ever write Diana Gabaldon fic, because she is awful towards her fans and fanfic. Joss Whedon? LOVES it. Loves. Told people to write it! Awesome.

So we add disclaimers saying that "We do not make any profit from x, y characters, and understand that we don't own them." Easy! Don't try and sell your merman Harry Potter falls in love with starfish Draco fic on Amazon, and you're golden.

2. Tropes! Here's what they are: the buddy cop. The meet-cute whimsical romance. The young girl/boy falls for a vampire. High school AUs. Merman meets sexy starfish. Firemen. (Also see: construction workers, doctors, teacher/student. Blah blah.)

Not one of us owns that concept. I, for example, didn't invent stories about firemen. How ludicrous for me to think, right? Just because I wrote a story about a fireman? Yeah, I don't think I invented that at all. (We're getting there, hang on.)

3. Actual plot, locations, story arcs in fan-fiction stories... That is the beauty of fan-fic. We take beloved characters (say, Luke and Leia) and make them a coffee shop barista and harried artist, and then make them fall in love. Fun! It's like how you played with your Barbies (or whatever toy) and made up things. We all had Barbies (or whatever toy) and did that. Aww, we have shared experiences! That's nice.

But would you write a story that says the exact same thing that happened in Star Wars? Gosh, that's dumb! What you would most likely do is write moments in between, moments you wish happened, moments that were deleted, etc. You'd make an alternate universe, maybe, where Leia is going to take the veil and Luke is the priest that is in love with her and Han is the janitor at the Abbey. Why would you write the story over? And probably take a lot of short cuts, because seriously, Star Wars is long, right? I mean...just go read the script online.

4. "But Laura," you might ask, "what if I really enjoyed a story I read about Luke and Leia as barista and artist and they fell in love, and I couldn't stop thinking about it, so instead of just re-reading that story, I wrote it over? And turned that 90K story into 3K? And didn't bother with all of the story development and pacing and characterization but had mostly the same sort of story arc? Like a quick hand-job instead of taking my time? What about doing that?"

First, that's a lot of questions , take a breath. Second, NO. You don't do that. Because that means you are lazy and a bit of a thief. It's not like using the same Barbie doll to tell a different story, you're telling the same story with the same Barbie that your big sister used when she told you that story earlier that day because - I guess - you're not capable or willing to come up with your own? So why are you writing fanfic if you don't have your own stories to tell?

We write fanfic because we a) want to play with these characters that we love so much, and b) because we have stories we want to tell that are unique and special.

If you aren't making something unique and special, why the hell are you writing stories? Why aren't you just READING the stories you like?

In Glee fandom, it's incredibly frustrating to me how young (read: immature, not physical age) and selfish a portion of the fan-base is. They read a story and the comment isn't "I enjoyed that," it's "OMG MOAR FROM A DIFFERENT POV!!" How about you enjoy what was given you before you stick your hand out for more, Christ! And there's a new trend of taking people's well known stories and rewriting it. And then posting them all over the internet.

Example 1: Little Numbers is an incredibly popular and adorable story in Glee fandom. (I love it. LOVE.) It's also very unique in that the whole thing is told through texts (with added videos and images. Adorable!) And there's a shitty rip-off that's started to be posted all over the place with tiny little tweaks here and there to make it "different." NOPE. THAT IS SHITTY. AND STEALING. If you like Little Numbers so much, re-read it.

Example 2: I posted a story over the holidays called "Where There's Smoke." I was over the moon with the response I got. I also poured a lot of time and effort into that story - I treated it like something I would want to publish, honestly. There isn't one thing I would change about it. I had people tell me they were going on a WTS trip in Brooklyn, wanting to visit the places I mentioned in the story. WOW! That's amazing!

And because I track "where there's smoke" and "firefighter!blaine" on Tumblr (I like to thank people, you see, I'm gracious like that) I found that someone (that is very young, hence this post) has basically changed one or two things in the overall story and condensed my 100,000 word story into something closer to 3K. My unique character tweaks? She's got them. Stable of specific canon characters that I used? Yep. Fucking baked goods as a thank you (with Blaine specifically requesting something, tee hee!) which leads to a date -- but instead of a bar, it's a fireman's diner.

WE ALL KNOW THAT HYDROX COOKIES SUCK, RIGHT? I'm not even going to try and be sweet and helpful. This shit pisses me off. I was pissed when I saw the rip-off of Little Numbers, too. (And it's not my story!) Someone else took liberties with my story and posted a "continuation" of WTS on FF.net without asking me, which prompted me to make a point of saying that I don't want this universe I built played with. I don't claim to own Kurt and Blaine or freaking Luke and Leia. But the unique story that I told, I DO THINK I OWN IT. And I don't want you playing with it.

(Here's me being awful: I simply don't trust others to write it well. To know what I was trying to say and honor that. So. If that's bitchy, then I guess I'm a bitch.)

KIDS/ADULTS: be creative. That's the whole point. Otherwise, what the fuck are you doing? Look at your life, look at your choices. ;)

This sort of thing is going to happen. After all, communities like "stop plagiarism" exist for a reason. But in case you didn't know that's what it is, it is. Once you know, you can do better, right? [/Maya Angelou]

HEY. And when I started posting "WTS" (It was completed at the time, btw.) I had someone show me that there was another story that had a similar beginning (Kurt, Rachel living in NYC, Rachel starts a fire, Blaine's a fireman.) I was sick to my stomach. Why? Because I do not steal. I won't even eat a grape in the grocery store, guys. And the last thing I'd ever want to be accused of is ripping off someone's story. I got in contact with that author and we both realized that our stories are completely different, given the eerie similarities in the first portion. We both decided that it made sense that canon has told us Rachel and Kurt will end up in NYC together, that Rachel is a bad cook and would be likely to start a fire, that it was hive-mind to put Blaine in a manly job like being a firefighter.

But "Captain Anderson?" That was all me. And "We die?" That is all fucking me. That was me showing respect to the actual job of being a fireman, something I took seriously. So put on your big girl panties, folks, and make something YOURS. Stealing: It's not the same as taking Luke and Leia and making them rival dance captains of a high school, it's making Luke and Leia twins separated at birth and retelling the entire god damn movie. WHY. Why do that?

I will own that I might be a little grumpy [hurr] given that my smoke detectors all went off last night at 2am for about 15 minutes in a cacophony of evil. Oh, and also because I'm bothered. =/

PLAY NICELY WITH OTHERS. We're a community here. This is meant to be FOOD FOR THOUGHT, not gas on the fire.

*I think my mean girl rants are why someone called me an ego-maniacal shit-heel. *shrug* I've never censored myself, not going to start doing it now.


( 88 comments — Leave a comment )
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Feb. 12th, 2012 05:53 pm (UTC)
I'm going to not go on another ranty rant, because I think you said it all very well. But I do think these idea stealers should be tracked by the government and locked away after a third offense.

Meanwhile, may I just bask in the mean-girlness of it all? I feel like walking up to people and saying, "You're not wearing pink today, you can't sit with us."

Part of this may be that I've been up until past 4:00am for the past three days and have about half a page written (out of 5 minimum) on my paper, but most of it is because I get giggly when you get mad at people. I DON'T KNOW!!!!
Feb. 12th, 2012 05:57 pm (UTC)
HAHAHA. I don't ACTUALLY WANT TO BE A MEAN GIRL, but it's just..someone needs to remind folks of how things work. (And seriously, the rip off of Little Numbers made me so aggravated. It was such a unique story.)

I LIKE THAT I MAKE YOU LAUGH, CJ. I like it. Also, get your damn paper written, OMG. :D
... - luvxander - Feb. 12th, 2012 05:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 12th, 2012 06:03 pm (UTC)
Man. Man. Besides Glee fandom running trends into the ground like whoa (Anderberry Slibings! Bad Boy Whatever! NerdBoy and Jock/Cheerio Boy!), it's so baffling to take a clearly popular story and just...take it. Like. What?

Because look, I've got my NYC!verse that's AU since it doesn't follow S3 canon, and I was terrified when I was writing it that I might step on someone else's NYC idea. So I tried not to read anyone else's writing of a similar nature when I worked on it. Because fanfic is stories spinning off from an existing idea, no need to go ahead and step on someone else's premise just because it got a lot of traffic. It's actually pretty insulting to do that. :-/ I'm old and cranky too, I guess? But like, come the fuck on. Invent your own spin on the things. It's the decent thing to do.
Feb. 12th, 2012 06:09 pm (UTC)
I KNOW, RIGHT?! I have massive theories as to why it's so prevalent in this particular fandom but none the less.

OH MY GOD I DO THAT, TOO. I won't read anything that's kinda close in idea anywhere for fear of seepage. And this a great reminder to grab the link to your latest installation and have a good read with lunch today.

It's TOTALLY insulting. Gah, it's just irritating me today.
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Feb. 12th, 2012 06:23 pm (UTC)
Bravo! Tell it like it is, Stoney! I'll never stop loving you for it!
Feb. 12th, 2012 06:26 pm (UTC)
Oh, I'm sure I'll take my lumps for it, but come on!

*hugs* Thanks for the support, too.
Feb. 12th, 2012 06:37 pm (UTC)
Someone ripped off "Little Numbers" too? I just... I don't even know what to say. Like no one would notice the similarities to THAT fic, one of the most popular in fandom? Is "Def" next? Imitation is only the sincerest form of flattery in SOME cases.

(Here's a place where it's a positive that I am such a hermit, because I never see any of this stuff, not being on communities or tumblr. If it' not recced by a friend, I never see anything!)

I know it may feel okay to people because at the end of the day fic writers are already taking a source and playing in the same 'verse with the same characters; that's what fanfic is, obviously. We think something is cool and compelling and want to paddle around in the same waters. It doesn't feel like a huge leap to do the same from other fanfic. But there's a huge difference between fanfic of media and fanfic of other fanfic authors. Part of it is a question of the relationship of the author to the source material (the author takes the source and plays with it directly in the best case, not from fanon or fandom zeitgeist... apart from when writing fandom meta through fic, which is a whole different thing), but part of it is just about not hurting or diminishing the other creative people around you. We aren't hurting Glee by writing fic in their 'verse; we are hurting other people if we write fanfic of fanfic. We're taking away what's special about their particular stories and all of the work they put into them. A re-mix is one thing (with permission); a retelling or bastardization is another. And like a photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopy the sharpness of the original (both the relationship to the original source material and the original ideas of the story) gets lost with each iteration.

But then I don't even want to be writing the same tropes and trends as other people, at least not on purpose. Like regala_electra, above, I make sure not to read anything anywhere near what I'm writing during my process. I don't even read most episode reactions while I'm writing my fic, nevertheless episode-related fic. I want my vision to be mine and not to borrow from anyone else, even unconsciously. I know we can get a fandom hive-mind, and certainly two people can come up with the same idea independently, but isn't the point each to write our own stuff? Isn't that the POINT?
Feb. 12th, 2012 06:48 pm (UTC)
How have we not talked about that!?!? YES, LN-rewrite. I saw the summary and the first few lines and saw RED. I almost used (DEF) as an example, too - MFEO, bb.

"part of it is just about not hurting or diminishing the other creative people around you" You know I love you, I tell you almost daily. But I just want to reiterate that I do. <3

Like you've said, this fandom needs an ORGANIZED REMIX. And I don't read episode meta until I've gotten my recap done for fear of the same thing. "I want my vision to be mine."

YES. There is a good reason why you are my favorite of all the people, and this is a part of it. A MERE FRACTION of a greater whole. <3
... - flaming_muse - Feb. 12th, 2012 07:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
... - sacteach - Feb. 12th, 2012 10:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
... - stoney321 - Feb. 12th, 2012 11:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 12th, 2012 06:42 pm (UTC)
GAH. I just do not understand why people do this. What possible satisfaction can they derive from something they didn't actually do?
Feb. 12th, 2012 06:49 pm (UTC)
I DO NOT KNOW. Quick feedback that is fleeting?
Feb. 12th, 2012 07:13 pm (UTC)
Oh wow. I'm so sorry that happened to you, sweetie.

I have no idea why people think it's perfectly okay to do things like that.
Feb. 12th, 2012 07:20 pm (UTC)
It's lack of experience, is my guess. And hope for a little attention? IDK. (And I'm still reeling over the other person's story I linked to. It's a one of a kind type of story, and to take THAT and retell it? WTF?)
Feb. 12th, 2012 07:17 pm (UTC)
You don't even want to know how much of this is going on in the Tokio Hotel fandom... :-/ Note... It might have to do that the mayority of the fandom is very, very young. :-P
Feb. 12th, 2012 07:21 pm (UTC)
I believe it, I think the age/lack of experience in fandom has everything to do with it.
... - ladyofthejungle - Feb. 13th, 2012 03:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
... - stoney321 - Feb. 13th, 2012 04:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
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Feb. 12th, 2012 07:30 pm (UTC)
Very well said. The little monkeys, they just want the attention. Work hard, little monkeys! Get your own attentions! Then it will really mean something.

*takes off her big girl panties*

*real slooooow*
Feb. 12th, 2012 07:40 pm (UTC)
WORK HARD, LITTLE MONKEYS! I think I need a t-shirt with that on it. A bumper sticker, at least.

Feb. 12th, 2012 07:33 pm (UTC)
Hopped over from tumblr. Hi there!

.....well said, Stoney. Urgh. I'm only twenty and therefore don't have decades of fandom experience, but at least I know how to be a decent human being who follows rules of etiquette. Stealing is stealing. I don't understand why so many people don't understand that. I get the whole "new and out of the loop" thing, but just... the lack of... just... urgh.

Feb. 12th, 2012 07:39 pm (UTC)

And I should state that age doesn't automatically define a person's ability to be a dick or a dude, so I don't mean to say that being 20 means a person doesn't have enough no-how. Clearly you're proof otherwise. :D

We all want positive feedback, I get it. But... IDK, call me crazy for thinking a person should earn it?
Feb. 12th, 2012 07:54 pm (UTC)
I saw that fic and, um, had some thoughts about it, to put it politely. I was actually willing to give it the benefit of the doubt until the "we die" line. I couldn't work out if the writer didn't realise she was copying your fic, if she did realise that but didn't think that copying it was wrong, or if she was aware of all of that and just thought she'd go ahead and do it anyway! My first thought was that it's very easy to jump on the back of a popular fic and to want some of that attention yourself. Everybody wants attention, right? I guess this person's moral filter just didn't kick in to allow them to understand that you have to earn it yourself.

It must be so difficult for you though, I'd be spitting bricks if it was me. I'm afraid I don't have anything more profound or insightful to say, just wow, you're completely right, that sucks. And your fic was awesome, by the way!
Feb. 12th, 2012 08:11 pm (UTC)
Oh, she knows she's copying it. She links people back to my story, in fact. (Same with the other story that tried to be a "continuation" of it.) I think it's all about wanting some attention, too. And hey. I can get the want for that. But... damn, earn it.

Also, thank you - even if my story was crap, I'd still be upset. Because it was my story, you know? =/ (But thanks, truly.)

*snerk at my icon use because I'm awful* :D
Feb. 12th, 2012 08:02 pm (UTC)
What??? A WTS knock-off?? That is lunacy. You don't mess with perfection. :0)
Feb. 12th, 2012 08:08 pm (UTC)
AWW!! <3 (That's sweet of you, thank you.)
Feb. 12th, 2012 08:35 pm (UTC)
What? You mean fandom isn't supposed to be a hellish pit of kink memes and copyright anarchy? Like, there are supposed to be etiquette rules and stuff about how everyone treats each other well and doesn't steal and stuff?

Feb. 12th, 2012 09:03 pm (UTC)
Feb. 12th, 2012 11:14 pm (UTC)
Yeah, you don't steal the grapes from the grocery store, you just shove them down your bra and then scream out "HEY KIDS, LOOK AT YOUR MOTHER'S GIANT NIPPLES!" while they dive behind the freezer section and make a Fort of Shame out of packets of lean cuisine. I know how you roll.

I'm going to write a SGA fic set in NYC with fires and firemen, and as a twist, rename them characters from Glee while uplifting chunks of your dialogue. That's okay, right?

I used to get lines knicked off me all the time, because a. people are dirty, dirty line stealing whores, and b. because I can come up with some AWESOME lines because I am AWESOME. I am made out of it. Little known fact that Awesome is part carbon and water. Now you know.
Feb. 12th, 2012 11:23 pm (UTC)
Is it weird that I do the grape thing you mentioned with Roma tomatoes? I have issues, I can't help it.

I've had lines stolen before, too, and that's fucking irritating as shit. And I'm going to go through your journal and pull out everything funny and start calling myself Dovile, cool? WHATEVER I AM GOING TO SLIP INSIDE YOUR SKIN. Your cats like me better than you.
... - dovil - Feb. 13th, 2012 12:14 am (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 12th, 2012 11:16 pm (UTC)
You know what this fandom needs?

The grabby hands and the demands for more and the stealing need to stop. Do I wish some stories could go on forever? Obviously! but I have also always been a perpetual re-reader and am content to enjoy fic as it stands. We need to appreciate the time and effort it takes to produce the fantastic stuff our fandom comes up with, leave it be, and calm down.
Feb. 12th, 2012 11:21 pm (UTC)

I would like to enter a domestic partnership with your comment, btw. <3
Feb. 12th, 2012 11:49 pm (UTC)
Well done to you and your everything. Someone actually rec'd me the Little Numbers ripoff and I wanted to kill things. This is what I think when I see ripoffs:

I was in the Harry Potter fandom when something HUGE like this kicked off (search Cassandra Claire and you're halfway there) so I just see it a MILE off in other fandoms, now. People (kids) forget that there are oldies in this fandom who have been in other fandoms and realise that shit like this happens.
Feb. 13th, 2012 12:06 am (UTC)
AHAHAHA, Oh, Kurt, never be pissed that Blaine gets all the solos.

I saw that you mentioned the fake LN fic on tumblr. NO. NO no no. LN is so adorable and such a special little story, it's just awful that someone would try and take it, you know? BOO. (And the author of LN is really gracious and didn't get angry, but I'm a brat. LOL. UMBRAGE: I FEEL IT.)

Oh, I know all about Cassandra Clare, I'm old as the hills, yo. Ha. You're just exactly right with people not getting how fandoms work (and then people like me that have been around for a long time just don't want to participate.)

Conclusion: you're awesome. (omg and if you tagged on tumblr for spoilers, I would add you back in a heartbeat. I'm so spoilerphobic, it's not even funny. YOU ARE A DELIGHT, MADAM.)
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... - stoney321 - Feb. 13th, 2012 12:26 am (UTC) - Expand
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( 88 comments — Leave a comment )


Are You Actually

Reading this? I'm just curious. Because that's really detail-oriented of you. Feel free to stop reading. But you can see that there's more here, so are you going to keep reading? Really? That's pretty dedicated. I'm impressed. No, really. I'm not being sarcastic, why do you get like that? See, this is the problem I have with your mother - yes. YES. I'm going there. It's time we put all of our cards on the table.

I love you, why are you doing this? After all we've been through? You don't have to be like this. You know, still reading. You could be baking a pie. And then sharing it with me.

Time Wot It Is

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