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Received an interesting email question today from a young writer who's a listsib (a person who is also subscribed to a mailing list I am subscribed to, for those not fluent in listspeak). She wanted to know when "too much explicit detail is too explicit". I advised her that I wasn't the person to ask since I've been criticized from both sides of the spectrum. What follows, however, is the rest of my letter to her. I'm sharing it here with permission...

I've written before about a Wiseguy fan novels writer whose hackles arose visibly when I approached her to introduce myself. You could literally see the chip forming on her shoulder. Her partner fell in line soon after (she had once written me a very nice LOC) and started describing my novels as "good, entry-level Wiseguy slash" as opposed to her lady's more sophisticated novels filled with buzzing buttplugs, I suppose. lol I'd always liked her novels (the first one anyway since I didn't read the others) and respected her right to write them however she pleased without me knocking her but she certainly didn't seem compelled to return the favor.

My Wiseguy slash was a lot of things ... weirdly-worded, long-winded, grammatically hazardous, occasionally purplish (though not nearly as bad as my Blake's 7 "made beauty a poor cousin to the truth" stuff) ... but "entry level", I don't think so. Still, everyone has a right to an opinion ... even me.

I also received an email from someone saying my slash was "too explicit" ... that I wrote "porn" (as if that wuz a bad thing) and not "erotica". When I dialed down the heat for my Northern Exposure erotica (because that fandom doesn't tolerate adult fic well), I was told by my slash readers that the novel was "very tame" and "too mild".

Ah, well, you can't please everyone so you got to please yourself ... as somebody at a Garden Party once said. This illustrates that there's always somebody with an idea about what you should be writing. There is no one right answer, however, except for the one you give yourself. I take the input into consideration if it comes from someone whose writing I admire but if you listen to all the input too much, you stop writing your own stories and start writing someone else's.

I do strongly recommend you get a good beta and editor, though. (All hail, Annie the Booker and Lyn of Townsend, my betas and birthday trips) They can really help you not look like an ass at times.

One last thing, the emailer also wanted to know "when it was okay to call herself a writer". It seems some of the fannish hierarchy (primates are so cute) have been perplexed over the issue in recent days. So here goes --- Amy, you're a writer. Someone who writes is a writer. It's that simple. And it ain't like canonization, folks. We're not doing brain surgery.

Speaking of which, poor Natasha Richardson underscores all that is really important ... the moments we have now with our friends and family. The rest is just set decoration. It all goes by too fast to worry about stuff like this. Write your own stories. Nothing else matters.

Comments

john_booth
Mar. 19th, 2009 08:47 am (UTC)
I think if fans sought the permission of the writer to extend their worlds I would be much happier about it.

That said, pro-writers are mainly interested in the bottom line and a fan buying a book to extend it is still a sale.

As I've stated above, media and film are different in my mind at least.

The thing in my mind is all about courtesy, respect and honour to the creator of a work.

But then I'm very old fashioned
carose59
Mar. 19th, 2009 10:10 am (UTC)
Unfortunately, as I've always heard it, asking permission is counter-productive. Copyright holders are required to defend their copyrights or risk losing them.
lil_shepherd
Mar. 19th, 2009 10:28 am (UTC)
I can name you a number of highly successful novels that started life as fanfiction, some acknowledged, some not. There's the best first detective novel Silver Dagger winner that started life as a Starsky and Hutch fan story, and one of the most beloved and successful SF series started life as a Trek piece, and a later novel in the series features versions of Avon and Servalan, while there is a fantasy novel that is well known to be an Avon and Vila piece - indeed, it is dedicated to Paul Darrow under his middle name.

There are a number of successful writers who also write occasional fan fiction, and many like to read fan fiction based on their work but, for good legal reasons, they cannot acknowledge this! Certainly, most Blake's Seven fan fiction written in 1978-1981 was circulated on set. Oddly, the porn usually rose to the top, or so we were informed by David Jackson. Rowling has few problems with fan fiction, though she would prefer people kept to canon.
carose59
Mar. 19th, 2009 05:43 pm (UTC)
I just had one of Melanie Rawn's books come across my desk. *g* (I work for the library.)
lil_shepherd
Mar. 19th, 2009 07:14 pm (UTC)
Grin.

Oh yes. She's another.
melodyclark
Mar. 19th, 2009 08:03 pm (UTC)
See also Tanith Lee lol

I'm not at all surprised the porn rose to the top and I'm happy to hear David Jackson admitted it. Of course, Mr. Darrow ordered it immediately delivered to his dressing room. (Oooh, sorry, that was evil)
lil_shepherd
Mar. 19th, 2009 09:19 pm (UTC)
Read it! Hell, David wrote (or, to be more precise, taped) his own satiric R-rated fic, though I felt very privileged to hear the tape, as there were only a couple of copies, the original being made for the fan (Anne Harding) who he later married.

The reason there was no B7 slash published in the UK until after the show finished was, in part, due to Pat Thomas promising Gareth Thomas that she wouldn't allow that kind of thing. You didn't cross Pat!
melodyclark
Mar. 20th, 2009 05:03 am (UTC)
I love it. Would that all performers were that wise about the subject.
melodyclark
Mar. 19th, 2009 07:52 pm (UTC)
All writing is, is the transference of thought into symbol set form to be shared outside your head. People muse about things like this all the time. If you tell a friend about a story, outlining your thoughts about a character, how is that different than writing down those thoughts in symbol systems?

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