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juniper
09-28-2012, 02:38 AM
My weekly crit group has a new member who is writing Harry Potter fan fic. I've never read fan fic, don't understand the attraction, and have no idea of how to crit her work. It makes me a little uncomfortable, I guess because I don't understand the fan fic culture.

I don't think I can examine the characterization, since the characters are already in place. Although maybe I could evaluate how close HER Hermione matches THE Hermione? I'm not even sure if that's a goal ...

Should I concentrate on the plot line? Basic writing habits? With other works I usually avoid the "need a comma here, apostrophe there" kind of thing and concentrate on story development, characters, etc.

Are the story lines supposed to be connected to the original HP at all, or just flights of fancy that the writer would like to see? Do they need to be believable? (believable as relates to the original - e.g., no Star Wars ewoks in HP)

If you write fan fic, what kind of critique would you like to receive? What would be most helpful?

Thanks.

Polenth
09-28-2012, 03:10 AM
It won't help if people here say they'd like comments on how close to the original it got, when the person you're critiquing was hoping for comments on basic writing and plotting (and not comments about the lack of Ewoks in Harry Potter).

The real question is what that specific writer is hoping to get out of it, and you can only know that by asking them.

shadowwalker
09-28-2012, 03:46 AM
Agree with Polenth. Some fanfic writers want a critique on the same level as an original story - they're writing fanfic to improve their writing skills. Others are more concerned with how well they were able to write within the fandom (ie, did they stay close enough to canon, did the characters stay in character, etc). I would assume, since this is not a fanfic specific crit group, that the author is wanting more of a "is my writing good?" type of crit, but you'll only know if you ask.

Persei
09-28-2012, 04:12 AM
You definitely should ask. I personally write fanfic as a way to improve my writing -- no, I do not care if my X character is OOC, for example. But I can only speak for myself, here...

juniper
09-28-2012, 05:41 AM
Yes, I see what you're all saying. Since this is just her 2nd meeting, and I missed the last one, I don't know what her expectations are. The way this group works, the pieces are uploaded ahead of time and then crits are spoken during the meeting.

It's Milford style, so not much discussion from the writer re: the crits.

I think I should go and just listen to what the others are saying - not sure if I can reach her ahead of time. We have a short social time before / after crit time, so perhaps I can find out what she wants, and then work on that for future.

Thank you.

JoBird
09-28-2012, 06:10 AM
Agree with Polenth. Some fanfic writers want a critique on the same level as an original story - they're writing fanfic to improve their writing skills. Others are more concerned with how well they were able to write within the fandom (ie, did they stay close enough to canon, did the characters stay in character, etc). I would assume, since this is not a fanfic specific crit group, that the author is wanting more of a "is my writing good?" type of crit, but you'll only know if you ask.

Obviously, asking is the best way to find out.

But, in general, I think shadowwalker has it right. So, I guess I second the above post.

angeluscado
09-28-2012, 07:21 AM
e.g., no Star Wars ewoks in HP

Thanks.

Unless it's a crossover. Then Ewoks are totally OK ;).

In all seriousness, though, the kinds of things I like to be critiqued on are my plot lines and general writing skill. Does it flow? Does it make sense? Are the characters acting in a way that seems logical compared to their canon counterparts?

As others have said, it's probably a good idea to ask what kind of crit the fanfic writer is looking for. And maybe encourage her (him?) to try their hand at original fiction :)

DancingMaenid
09-28-2012, 08:13 AM
I agree with the advice to ask the writer what type of critiques she's looking for and what she's hoping to get advice on (if anything).

In general, critiquing fan fic works the same as critiquing fiction in general, except that you have to consider the story with the original text in mind.



I don't think I can examine the characterization, since the characters are already in place. Although maybe I could evaluate how close HER Hermione matches THE Hermione? I'm not even sure if that's a goal ...

Yes, characterization can be very important in fan fiction. A lot of writers want the characters to seem in-character and plausible, and in my experience, there's a lot of discussion about characterization in fandom.

Is it always the goal? No, not always. Which, again, is why asking this writer what she's looking for will probably be best. But in general, pointing out ways the characters seem to match the canon characterization, or ways that they seem "off," is going to be helpful to a lot of fan fic writers.


Should I concentrate on the plot line? Basic writing habits? With other works I usually avoid the "need a comma here, apostrophe there" kind of thing and concentrate on story development, characters, etc.

Honestly, a lot of things you would focus on when critiquing original fiction also apply to fan fic.

Perhaps one main difference is that with fan fic, there's often a lot of reliance on the fact that the reader will already be familiar with the character and the canon plots. So pointing out that Hermione isn't introduced to the reader, or that things from the Harry Potter books are referenced in passing, may not be helpful because unlike in original fiction, these things are usually not established. The target reader already knows all about Hermione and what happened in the books.


Are the story lines supposed to be connected to the original HP at all, or just flights of fancy that the writer would like to see? Do they need to be believable? (believable as relates to the original - e.g., no Star Wars ewoks in HP)

This depends entirely on the writer and what they're trying to accomplish. Both kinds of stories exist, and sometimes writers will do both. For example, I always try to make my fan fic feel in-character and connected to canon, even if the story itself is very self-indulgent for me.


If you write fan fic, what kind of critique would you like to receive? What would be most helpful?

I mostly look for the same sort of advice I look for with my original fiction. For me, that's mainly advice relating to style and form.

Everyone is different, though.

dangerousbill
09-28-2012, 09:18 AM
Should I concentrate on the plot line? Basic writing habits? With other works I usually avoid the "need a comma here, apostrophe there" kind of thing and concentrate on story development, characters, etc.


Why not ask her what she wants from a crit? Is she trying to portray the characters exactly, or adapt them? Does she want the plots to fit the pattern of the source literature? Or is she concerned just with writing well?

VeronicaX
09-28-2012, 11:20 AM
I can personally say I have some experience in this field. I also have friends who have been very fond of fan fiction writing and I think it's a very tricky category. Yet so simple.

I wrote/write fan fiction to improve my English many years ago. It worked, and now I read all books and write everything in English, even though it's not my mother language. Fan fiction is fun, in a corny way. There is no pressure attached to it, no particular rules, it's just to have fun and keep your writing flowing (good if you're otherwise stuck in your other, more serious writing, at least for me).

From what I've got to know, fan fction writers are hardly serious with their fan fics--it's often just a bit of an escape from the real world and into a fantasy world. This person you're talking about might have more serious intentions with it, but unless she's expressed that to you, I don't think you should worry too much about how to "review" her story. When people reviewed my fanfic, their main concern was what was happening in the story, but I mainly wished feedback on my writing, on how I had explained things and how people interpreted this and that. But that was while I struggled with my language so it was of course different. I personally notice that my fanfic style is a lot different from my usual writing style, so while others may use fanfics as another way of writing and practicing their style, I have it more as hobby on the side, not to be taken as anything but a big bowl of Days of Our Lives or Bold And The Beautiful. It also depends on what the fandom is about--fictional character or real person? Harry Potter fanfics are the complete opposite of, let's say, Justin Bieber, I'd imagine ;)

I do however think it's somewhat odd of her to bring along a fanfic which, as stated before, can hardly be taken serious, if she wants to go anywhere with her writing. I'd personally keep that private and rather come up with something creative from my own imagination, not taken from someone else's.

But that's just my opinion :)

Vx

shadowwalker
09-28-2012, 05:39 PM
I do however think it's somewhat odd of her to bring along a fanfic which, as stated before, can hardly be taken serious, if she wants to go anywhere with her writing.

I think fanfic can be taken seriously - quite a few successful writers have started out in fanfic and moved into original (and published) writing. But that's another discussion ... :)

Shadow_Ferret
09-28-2012, 05:48 PM
Why not just write: "Stop stealing someone else's ideas and write something original." ?

VeronicaX
09-28-2012, 06:09 PM
I think fanfic can be taken seriously - quite a few successful writers have started out in fanfic and moved into original (and published) writing. But that's another discussion ... :)

Really? Wow, well... Interesting :)

heza
09-28-2012, 06:33 PM
I think fanfic can be taken seriously - quite a few successful writers have started out in fanfic and moved into original (and published) writing. But that's another discussion ... :)

Also, while fanfic can be very serious writing, either as diligent practice or even drafting (50 Shades of Gray), the most absurd fanfics can still be taken very seriously by their respective authors. Nothing will cause a meltdown faster than suggesting (to some special writers) that their fanfic is not serious writing. :)

My thought on the OP is that if you want feedback on your fanfic for its fanficness, there are very specific places to get that. You want people in the fandom to do that sort of review. Anyone else just isn't going to "get it" in that specific respect. Since she's joined a crit group outside of the fandom, I think it would be unreasonable to expect anyone there to comment on the canon/fanon elements.

I would critique it like I would original fiction, keeping in mind the points DancingMaenid made about her possibly not fully describing/explaining things the fans would already be familiar with.

Haikujitsu
09-28-2012, 06:35 PM
Speaking as a fanficcer, people are generally either using it as easy fantasy fulfillment (ranging from super!characters to erotica) or trying to improve their writing. Considering she's part of a critique group, I would guess that she's in the latter category.

Critique her use of English (description, dialogue, pacing, etc.) and the plot rather than the characters or world (the "borrowed" bits). She might be concerned about being faithful to canon characters, but I doubt she would expect that kind of feedback from you since the group is supposed to be for original fiction.

Fanfiction is "safe" because it will only ever be published online and there's already an established audience for the characters. It gives your imagination a boost because the world and the people have been established. Sound like a crutch? Yeah, pretty much.

But it also allows you to refine skills like description and dialogue in a practical format with a "live" audience. The almost instant feedback that occurs during online serialization is also useful in developing sensitivity to pacing.

To me it's interesting because I see a depth of potential in a story that was originally much simpler and iconic--but that's why I write for cartoons and comics instead of novels. I want to explore unanswered questions and maybe express something profound that my imagination came up with in response to the original material.

But for a lot of people, it just comes down to simple fantasy fulfillment and writing laziness. Sturgeon's law very much applies here, and then some.

-Hj

shadowwalker
09-28-2012, 06:58 PM
Why not just write: "Stop stealing someone else's ideas and write something original." ?

Because that would be rude?

fadeaccompli
09-28-2012, 07:00 PM
Why not just write: "Stop stealing someone else's ideas and write something original." ?

God, yes! I hate it when people don't do their own worldbuilding. Like all those historical writers who keep using actual existing settings and real historical people instead of creating their own. They should be making up original characters and places, not falling back on Henry VIII and England all over again!

And don't get me started on people who write modern fiction with existing professions, sometimes even in existing cities. I mean, do they think we really believe they've come up with the idea of a cop in Chicago all on their own? We totally see how they're ripping off the idea from all the existing cops in Chicago!

At least people who write all those new stories about Sherlock Holmes, like Neil Gaiman, have enough decency to admit that they're stealing another person's ideas. But that's just the first step: next, they have to stop doing it, and go write something truly original.

Haikujitsu
09-28-2012, 08:27 PM
That's a somewhat short-sighted attitude to take, don't you think? Shakespeare stole from the Greeks and wrote historical dramas; Homer used the existing deities of his culture. Ideas are recycled and outright stolen all the time.

But this is getting extremely off-topic; let's get back to the original question, shall we?

How do you respond to someone asking for a critique of a fanfic?

-Hj

Cyia
09-28-2012, 08:34 PM
Actually, that was a direct response to the OP. If asked to crit a piece of fanfic Shadow_ferret would respond with: "Stop stealing someone else's ideas and write something original." Whether you agree with him or not, it's not off topic.

And, just so this one's not, either - I'm with those who say to ask the new member what she's looking for. Just tell her you've never critiqued fanfic before, but if she wants you to treat her writing as though it were something commercially viable, then you can.

Shadow_Ferret
09-28-2012, 09:34 PM
Wow. Touchy. Do I really have to use smilies?

But interesting responses. I had no idea people could justify stealing someone else's intellectual property and compare it to using real or historical people and locations. Very enlightening.

Haikujitsu
09-28-2012, 10:14 PM
Not talking to you, Shadow Ferret. I thought your post was fine even though I disagree (not that you have to justify it to ME, but since people seem to think I found it offensive, here's clarification). By all means, let's talk about this--I may start a thread for it.

Fadeaccompli was taking it into rant territory and I'd really like to see where the OP would lead as far as fanficcers mingling with "real" writers...but maybe this is the inevitable result.

-Hj

crunchyblanket
09-28-2012, 10:22 PM
Wow. Touchy. Do I really have to use smilies?

But interesting responses. I had no idea people could justify stealing someone else's intellectual property and compare it to using real or historical people and locations. Very enlightening.

I prefer to consider it 'borrowing'. 'Stealing' would mean I've taken it and they can never have it back, which is false.

To the OP: treat it like any other piece of writing. Does it flow, does the plot make sense, are there any glaring errors, etc.

shadowwalker
09-28-2012, 10:27 PM
I'd really like to see where the OP would lead as far as fanficcers mingling with "real" writers

Fanficcers aren't "real" writers? Well, excuse me all to hell...

Haikujitsu
09-28-2012, 10:33 PM
Note the highly sarcastic quotes around "real". :tongue

PS- Shadow Ferret, smilies make EVERYTHING better. :D

-Hj

Haikujitsu
09-28-2012, 10:37 PM
...and now I'm looking back and realizing that Fadeaccompli was most likely being deeply sarcastic. *bows* Excuse moi.

-Hj

AW Admin
09-28-2012, 10:57 PM
I'm locking this until the mods have a chance.

Please note dead give-aways regarding the use of irony.

Please assume good well on the part of other writers.