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    Mythology, Jungian psychology, Joseph Campbell, classical studies, archaeology, Tolkien, and proper grammar/spelling/punctuation. Save the apostrophe (for where it really belongs)!
  1. Helluin

    Why Mary Sue Litmus Tests Suck

    Yes. I was still taking every comment too danged seriously back then. Concrit is useful. I guess those litmus tests are useful as a checklist of things to watch out for, not so much as things to avoid, but things that you shouldn't do without a very, very good reason, keeping in mind that you may alienate readers who are burned out by bad examples of all of the above. If you choose to use badly-abused fanfic tropes and clichés, you have to be a better writer than most, as you're starting off with a handicap. I do wish that readers would be a little more careful not to scream "Mary Sue" at every OFC in fandom. The funny thing is, my worst offenses are never OFCs. It's writing canonical characters I love. Sometimes I make them too perfect, too KEWL.
  2. Helluin

    Song lyrics?

    Coming late to the thread, but I have to say: it's very, very difficult to pull off, but it can work. The original posts suggests an IC rationale within the story for why normal, sane narrative is starting to break down. Songfic or inclusion of lyrics, any sort of intrusive device, is exactly that: intrusive, artificial, not normal. Therefore it can add a surreal, slightly disconnected sense to a scene. But be careful. It can also distract the reader too much from the story, and then you've lost the reader. I'd like to report a lyrics triumph, after many years of avoiding songfic as bad. Background: I'm writing an action/adventure serial based on a video game. One of the elements of this game, like so many, is dramatic endgame boss battle sequences where reality starts to break down, the setting goes into crack mode, and gripping, pumping This Is a Big Battle, Yo? music ups the emotional impact of the climax. My challenge to myself has been to capture many of the elements and tropes of the original game that made it beloved. But how to do this without being cheesy? I hatched on the idea that for a climactic battle -- think the last ride of Théoden in LOTR -- I wanted to try and trick the reader into hearing music in his/her head, in order to add to the impact of the scene. First, it is part of the story that the hero is gradually losing his mind. He's got voices in his head. This is established from chapter 1. So having reality start to go weird is fine. Second, I'm recycling a giant mech in the game which -- for cracktastic "It's a video game, silly!" reasons -- appears to operate like a large pipe organ. It's got a keyboard. It's got what appears to be a visual equalizer. There's no obvious displays or controls, the villain just starts banging away Captain Nemo style and this bizarre "I am evil and insane, bwah" music comes out. So there's an IC reason for the music. But how to implement? Several friends suggested that it's too much when people quote whole verses or couplets, and tht it would be better to include very short quotes. Not the whole song, just a few particularly apt phrases woven into my text. For the song, I was lucky: the thrash metal song that begins and ends the game refers to the hero, fit this scene all too well, and would allow me to exploit a piece of music that my readers would certainly know. I also used several tricks normally confined to poetry -- meter, tempo, caesura, a tiny bit of rhyme, a tiny bit of alliteration and assonance -- to pump up the sounds of my original narrative. In effect, I layered in an audio component, incidental music, using the words themselves. I found meter is the most effective "sound effect" because it's more subtle than rhyme and alliteration. People don't notice it consciously, yet the beat of the words sets the tone of the line. [Listen to the rhythm of that last clause -- do you hear the beat?] It worked. Reviewer after reviewer described it as powerful, vivid, eerie, jawdrop and so on, and these are reviewers who are not afraid to concrit or nitpick. Quoth one reviewer who just showed up: The key, as so many people have said, is to be sparing, to ask yourself if you're using the lyrics as a cheat instead of writing the story yourself, and to use them only in fairly unusual circumstances, because it's not a normal way to perceive an event. One doesn't (often) see something happen and feel as if there's a soundtrack, or that you're hearing poetry in your head. But there are rare occasions when you do.
  3. Helluin

    Why Mary Sue Litmus Tests Suck

    Even when it's just one person who assumes that any original character of the same gender as the author MUST be a Sue -- of course! I ran into that, stopped writing a story that I had been writing for a year or so, because it shook me to think I might be falling prey to such a stupid idea. Nevermind that the original character was quite ordinary, wasn't saving anybody or doing anything heroic or plot-forwarding, and was serving as the simple peasant stuck on the sidelines observing the heroes from afar. A bit like Merry and Pippin, except she never got to save Éowyn or Faramir. All the other reviewers of the story chimed in saying she wasn't a Sue, but, well. Eight years ago I was less confident that I knew what I was doing than I am now. I later realized the person calling my character a Sue was probably young enough to be one of my students, and didn't yet have the faculties or experience to observe nuances. She was thinking only in macros.
  4. Okay, so here it is. Title: Love Her and Despair Author: Helluin Rating: PG-13 to R Summary: AU: 13 years after Yuna falls in the Final Summoning, a Sin like none before is wrecking vengeance on Yevon. Isaaru must resume his pilgrimage with Sir Auron's help. Along the way, they will learn Maester Baralai's dire secret: Sin is not the greatest threat to Spira. Feedback: Greatly appreciated, including nitpicky concrit. Fandom: Final Fantasy X URL: http://ff.adult-fanfiction.org/story.php?no=600082124 Unlike my usual fare, this story is not erotica nor a one-shot. It's a serial action adventure on the same scale as the original game. There's a few intimate moments, but they don't get past R (so far). Main characters are Auron, Isaaru, Lulu, Elma, along with most of the secondary characters from FFX and a few from X-2. Implied or explicit pairings are Auron/Lulu, Lucil/Elma, Paine/Nooj, and Wakka/Rikku. If you loved FFX, you'll probably enjoy this story. Thanks for dropping by.
  5. Helluin

    How does this end?

    I've frequently written fanfiction in which I started with a premise and ran with it, trusting the characters to muddle along until they arrived at some kind of conclusion. More often, I've written with an opening and a vague sense of how it's all going to end in mind, but no idea how it's going to get from A to B. I write fanfic for fun, not as disciplined work, so I like kicking back and improvising. Recent exception: I've got this bally flowchart with notes, maps, outlines, a table of individual character arcs and overarching plots, and great googly mooglies, a whole skeleton of chapters and Important Moments sketched out in advance. What's up with that?!
  6. Helluin

    Genfic: Post on AFF, Or Not?

    I agree, but there seemed no need for it in this story. Yet. There is a moment later on where a good gripping sex scene may be the culmination of Our Heroes' long trials and sorrows (think Aragorn and Arwen's wedding night, if Tolkien hadn't been a prude), but it might seem gratuitous. I had to think about what you meant by that-- my brain is slow tonight! ("Wait, what's the difference between stories featuring graphic sex, and smut?") I've written one other longer fic-- 17 chapters -- that was an adventure which just happened to include a couple sex scenes. So yes, I see what you mean. (I'm with you on the yaoi. Not my kink, but when there's good writing, I'll sometimes read an M/M story anyway.) But I'm getting OT. I guess the answer is: "There's no harm in posting genfic here, but it's not what people are looking for, and one shouldn't expect as many hits, readers or reviews."
  7. Helluin

    Genfic: Post on AFF, Or Not?

    Primarily, it means I identify myself as an established writer on AFF, have posted stories here for years, and have at least some people checking my account to see if I've posted anything on AFF lately. This is where I post my stuff. It means I write a lot of adult fanfiction -- erotica -- and that even my genfic may have sensual, intimate moments. Secondarily, it means that I am an older writer than is the norm (at least in my fandom) on fanfiction.net, and that my writing style tends to be written by and for an adult perspective: folks who have experienced the pitfalls of life, who (probably) have had sex, who may be mentors or parents or teachers, and may have a sense of distance from the young heroes common to many fandoms. JK Rowling loves her HP world, but she and other adults look at HP from a different perspective than teenagers going through their own school and growing-up adventures. Not to say that my writing doesn't work for younger readers, or that I am a mature adult chock-full of wisdom and all that-- noooo way, José-- but my preferences, style and tropes have evolved since I first started writing fanfic 25+ years ago, and may appeal to more older fans than 14-18 year olds.
  8. I have an odd problem. I've been merrily writing erotica for a couple years, learning the ropes. (ahem.) Then I get blindsided by a serial genfic. Same pairing I usually write, but it's attracted all these subplots, and is really more of a cast story that happens to have a few couples in it. There are chapters few and far between where the couples have an intimate moment, but it's not masturbatory material, unlike most of what I post on AFF. It's just part of the story. And it doesn't make sense to have a story that was an epic adventure suddenly turn into erotica (fwap reading), so it fades to black or is vague during the squiffy bits. Sure, I can post it over on That Place. But I'm an AFF writer. And you know, there's this disused category in my fandom called GENERAL which everyone uses instead of posting under the appropriate Het, Yaoi Yuri or Threesome/Moresome categories. That implies that, in theory, thre's nothing wrong with posting an epic serial on AFF, which involves action, swear words, violence that may be getting up into the NC-17 range, and the occasional nookie. The question is, does anyone actually come to AFF to read something like that? Who's going to read an epic adventure story, no matter how well-written, when they're looking for bedtime smut? Possibly it varies by archive and fandom, but most of the stuff in my fandom is erotica, well-written or otherwise.
  9. Helluin

    Wish Fulfillment

    I've been sucked into writing epic non-porn FFX fanfic this past year and haven't been very visible on AFF (I've been a member here a lot longer than the forum thinks). However, there's this annual challenge to give Kimahri (the Chewbacca character of FFX) a little fanfic love. Which means it's time for... Title: Wish Fulfillment Author: Helluin [Auronlu everywhere else] Rating: Adult++ / NC-17 Summary: Lulu gets a birthday wish from her favorite guardian(s). (Auron/Lulu/Kimahri) A "Kimahri Finally Gets Some Lovin'" Crackfic . Anal,Anthro,ChallengeFic,COMPLETE,DP,F/M/M,HJ,Oneshot,PWP,SoloM,Voy,Alliteration and Good Grammar Kink. Feedback: Sure! I'm a nitpicker. Nitpick away. Fandom: Final Fantasy X URL: http://ff.adult-fanfiction.org/story.php?no=600082122 Enjoy, and thanks for visiting! Helluin / Auronlu
  10. Helluin

    How Far Is Too Far?

    It's a blessing and curse that AFF is where people go for smut. I confess, if I'm browsing here, I'm usually doing bedtime reading and more likely to flip to the next story after about two chapters unless it's really engaging, whereas if I'm browsing fic on LJ, Ficwad or FF.net, I'm looking for good story, and the sex scenes are just pleasant diversions along the way.
  11. I tend not to review really bad stories, but skip to the next one. I tend to leave concrit on ones I like, where I see the author has put some effort into the story and might want to know about places to tweak or mistakes to fix. I usually try to list all the things I especially liked, and then say, "as far as concrit, all I could find was..." to make it clear I'm not dissing the work, and to de-fang the critique. It's hard, though. I tend to pull my punches on stories by some of my friends, depending largely on whether they've given me good concrit. I've had a few folks (never on AFF; reviews are so hard to come by here) who will give me honest -- I think -- opinions, and a detailed breakdown of what they like and don't like, awkward phrasing, and typos (a rare item). If they tend to show an editor's eye for detail and their insights aren't arbitrary ("I thought this was lame" doesn't help much), I am more likely to return the favor as well as I can, confident I won't be hurting feelings.
  12. Clear da cooookies.... Yes, but *blasphemy* I don't use AFF.net all the time. Sometimes it lets me back in without the splash screen, and sometimes it comes up every visit. Less often the latter, nowadays, so I am a bad Beta Tester and can't pinpoint when/how/why. Anyway, 'tis only a minor nuisance, although I confess I have not always entered accurate info there. Naughty. So easy to toss out suggestions when yer not actually on-staff, yep yep! But there's time/money plus ten jillion back-seat drivers called "members"....
  13. I'm not a lawyer, but a little bit of internet research suggests that you're safe, and this person is out of date. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down "virtual porn" as a category of kiddie porn in 2002, in Ashcroft v. The Free Speech Coalition. In striking down CPPA, the Supreme Court determined that fiction (or other pornography not involving real, actual children) did not qualify as child pornography, whether or not it was in questionable taste. The only exception is images so graphic that you can't tell the difference between computer-generated images of children being sexually abused and a photograph of same. Clearly, erotic fanfiction doesn't reach that level of realism. Source: Child Pornography-- Virtually Legal? on FOX news. A bit of browsing found similar rulings hold true in Canada. In fact I've been frustrated by AFF's sign-in splash page, because when CPPA was still in effect, I don't think it would've been legal, and now that CPPA has been struck down, it's just a hassle. It's been six years now, ya know? But I understand you're trying to be careful. (Personally I'd prefer seeing a simple Safesurf warning system, and a "Warning: this page may sexually explicit content! By clicking Yes you confirm that you are of legal age to view mature content." dialog box that would pop up each time someone navigates in from an external website. That should trigger net nanny software and parental controls with a minimum of hassle for us.) So as far as depicting sex with minors, as long as it's fictional, you're on safe if prurient grounds. Now, copyright owners could tell you to cease and desist because they don't want their work used that way, but that's not quite the same problem. EDIT: DURR, somehow I missed the Flounce Mail, and didn't realize that the initial emailer had already left the site. Well, the above should make you relax re: the legality of allowing such fiction, although I can't help ya with copyright violations (a problem with fanfic that gnaws on my conscience, but only to the extent that I tend to stick to fanfic genres where I know the copyright owners don't mind in the slightest) or RPS issues!
  14. Here's to the AFF authors who have achieved their 15 seconds of internet fame: The 5 Most Baffling Sex Scenes in Fanfiction reviewed on Cracked Magazine, extensively Dugg and commented upon by Diggers. Clearly, the reviewer doesn't realize just how strange fandom is. And as for the review of one of Trekqueen's LOTR/Trek crossovers, I can only say:
  15. Helluin

    Vocabulary Turn-offs

    I maintain an index of all erotica/fanfic related to my pairing of choice, but I have balked on posting a link to a story that referenced "Auron's meat." (Also THUMP THUMP THUMP is an inappropriate use of screen space.) Meat is never okay. I'm torn on the poetic/flowery versus blunt vocabulary. I tend to shy away from the more blunt words like "cock," but there just isn't a good word, so it's started to creep into my PWPs now and then. I prefer beautiful/sensual language, so I tend to veer towards metaphor. Or just find ways, somehow, to describe the act without naming the body parts. But euphemism-erotica can be painfully obvious -- "oh, look, a prude writing a sex scene!" so you can't do that too much. I like clinical/medical terms the least (penis, vagina), and colorless words like "member." There are very few words, though, that really stop my ability to enjoy a story, provided it's well-written. I guess these are my turn-offs: -- titties (sounds juvenile male) -- spunk, spooge (see above) -- dick (see above) -- globes -- twat -- OMG IM CUMMING (instantly causes me to flee, if I've gotten that far) -- meat. NO MEAT. Ugh. I get flashbacks. </div>