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25 August 2012 @ 01:10 am
Ah HA!  
FANFICCERS!

Worried about lack of reviews?

Sad that everyone is reading everyone who is not you?

Depressed to see teenagers who don't know how to spell frottage and cannot accurately gauge the bendability of the average penis with thousands of ffnet reviews while your finely crafted and beautifully edited masterpieces are lucky to garner 23?

FRET NO LONGER!

THE SECRET IS REVEALED!

''People say it isn't good quality but you have to remember Fifty Shades started as fan fiction and as fan fiction you have to have action,'' Hayward says. ''You have to have a sex scene in every chapter because that's how you get your reviews. The amount of people who review per chapter shows popularity, that's how your ratings get up. In fan fiction every chapter has to give you something to keep you reading it.''
(From an SMH interview with Amanda Hayward, the really rather brilliant publisher of the not as brilliant book.)

So there you go! You lot who've been telling me to porn it up were right all along! (I mean, obviously I'm not going to, but that's for the best. The Bad Sex Awards longlist is already inches thick.)

I thoroughly recommend the article, which is interesting and respectfully written, without being actually nice about bad writing. It includes this gem from The London Review of Books' Andrew O'Hagan, which I had previously missed: ''It's not that Fifty Shades of Grey and E.L. James's other tie-me-up-tie-me-down spankbusters read as if feminism never happened: they read as if women never even got the vote.''

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fragrantwoodsfragrantwoods on August 24th, 2012 03:41 pm (UTC)
I should totally go back to each chapter and add "And then they had sex" and see what happens :-D
blamebramptonblamebrampton on August 24th, 2012 03:44 pm (UTC)
I laughed so much when yours was the first thing I read on my flist after I posted this.

YES! I myself have been thinking that I could totally up the reviews on For the Public Good by having Boris and Mandy hooking up, and then Pressers and Brown, but probably not Tony and Cherie: I think that might end badly …
(no subject) - fragrantwoods on August 24th, 2012 03:47 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on August 24th, 2012 03:56 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - _inbetween_ on August 24th, 2012 05:58 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on August 25th, 2012 01:32 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - _inbetween_ on August 25th, 2012 07:58 am (UTC) (Expand)
chamekke: MP_zoot_oralsex_by_iconsbycurtanachamekke on August 24th, 2012 04:41 pm (UTC)
Ooh! I'm gonna add gratuitous sex scenes to all my gen fics, repost the lot to AO3, and watch the kudos roll in!

Seriously, I'm sure it would work. *sigh*
blamebramptonblamebrampton on August 24th, 2012 05:24 pm (UTC)
Nooooo! I love gen and will one day have time to read all the fic I have queued! (Runs off to squirrel away your pre-pornified versions for later reading!)

It's such a Catch-22, because once we start writing for readers, we stop writing for ourselves, but without readers (who we know exist, comments and reviews being one of the major ways of knowing that), it can sometimes seem a bit pointless to write.

Personally, I try to rise above the whole thing and remind myself that no matter what the review count, the readers I connect with most are people I like and respect. And on on the few occasions when that doesn't work and I have a pout, I take refuge in the fact that I have AWESOME hair.
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on August 25th, 2012 01:45 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - chamekke on August 24th, 2012 05:50 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on August 25th, 2012 01:55 am (UTC) (Expand)
κάτι τρέχει στα γύφτικα: amy-60_inbetween_ on August 24th, 2012 05:56 pm (UTC)
This made me wish for the awful like and reblog buttons.

I don't quite agree about the formula - in fact not at all, because there are different tropes at work - but it does boil down to fan service anyway.

I saw someone read it today. Just as I expected, a middle-aged woman with a mouth downturned into a horseshoe - actually the rest of the visual description would limit this to superficial sexism but I so wanted a photo when she put one short leg on the bench, the other still down, and the book lay between her thighs as she read on with unmoving face.
I still think it's worst that those who mock Sheds love the same thing just in different clothes but that's me, who used to dream of equality.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on August 25th, 2012 02:08 am (UTC)
Fan service is OK in itself: I mean, people love Coca Cola and it tastes like caramelised acid (because it is) and can't be good for you, but as part of an overall healthy diet, it's really fine.

What worries me is the impact of a big success like this on everything else, which is like people who drink more Coke than water and wonder why there's suddenly a worldwide epidemic of dental cavities. I don't think for a moment that Amanda Hayward is saying 'Do this and you'll have my sales figures', because she seems very sensible (so does EL James). But I've noticed a lot of serious publishers saying 'Oh, the ladies like the porn! Who knew? Right, what do we have?'

Which will be FINE as long as it results in just a raft of hilarious sex writing that will keep my work friend saying 'It's so bad, I'm ashamed to enjoy it, but what the hell!' It just won't be fine if it results in only that sort of book dominating new releases, because fan service is all about responding to things you already know, whereas good books and films and TV show us new things and make us want to see the world in those new ways.

The woman you saw would have made a brilliant photo. But maybe she's like my work friend and having a bad divorce, so it's fun to dream of men who can be Redeemed By Great Love. (Personally, after my one bad break up, I would have liked to read a book about men who can be fed through garden shredders and how to clean the parts thoroughly afterwards …)
(no subject) - ladyjaneva on August 26th, 2012 11:45 am (UTC) (Expand)
Nennenenne on August 24th, 2012 06:42 pm (UTC)
If I ever take up writing I'll keep it in mind. ;)
blamebramptonblamebrampton on August 25th, 2012 02:13 am (UTC)
I love that she's so matter-of-factly 'Of COURSE it's mercenary and competitive! You were expecting a women's love-in?'

I genuinely think she's something of a genius, but I worry about how everyone else will respond in terms of what books are brought up over the next few years.
Emma Grant: Sherlock: pornemmagrant01 on August 24th, 2012 07:06 pm (UTC)
As a reader, I'm much more inclined to read fics that have NC-17/Explicit or R/Mature ratings. That's just what I want to read. It's not that I won't read a PG or a gen fic, but because time is limited and there's so much fic out there, it really has to be something that was recced to me or something written by someone whose work I already know I like. So maybe that makes me shallow, but yanno, IDGAF really. ;-)

Sure there's a lot of bad porn out there, but that's true of fanfic in general. It's hard to find stuff that's both well-written and suited to your personal tastes, and narrowing your list of likes down to a few things you know you'll enjoy is one way of coping with the sheer volume that's out there. It's my way, anyhow.

I write a lot of sex scenes in my fic. A LOT. I don't consciously try to put one in every chapter or whatever; the sex is there or not according to whether it works in the scene. If there are eight possible ways I can think of to move the story or the character development forward at a particular moment, and if one of them does it through sex, I'll pick that one. I guess the point is that I write it because I like to write it, and apparently some people like to read it too, which is cool with me.

I know you're not porn-bashing here, but I just wanted to throw in my perspective that lots of sex scenes =/= bad storytelling automatically.

Edited at 2012-08-24 07:08 pm (UTC)
blamebramptonblamebrampton on August 25th, 2012 01:27 am (UTC)
I don't think it does: Calanthe is one of my fave HD writers and she writes LOTS of sex!

But I do think that the idea 'Oh, I want reviews! Right, insert sex scene!' is both risible and likely to lead to bad writing.

Sure there's a lot of bad porn out there, but that's true of fanfic in general.

I think you could accurately substitute 'writing' for fanfic :-) The main reason I don't do much at all in the way of actual sex scenes is that I grew up in the 70s and 80s when every third book was 'And now, watch me do my best DH Lawrence bit for the sales!', which were of course all avidly passed around between young girls. If only the Bad Sex Awards had existed back then! But the annual long list would have been too large for the judges to get through.

Knowing about fandom would have been super helpful in those days. I remember being 15 and reading the trashy book du jour and saying, 'I find it very unlikely that this character suddenly feels entirely better about everything because she just had good sex! Did you not READ the preceding chapters?' Which would have been SO much better as: 'Healing power of cock? Oh, please!'
Lee Marchaisleemarchais on August 24th, 2012 07:37 pm (UTC)
I don't think sex defines the quality of a fic, either. There had better be a good plot and story. I've read your stuff and it's lovely. But there's no sex... Some people are truly idiots.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on August 25th, 2012 02:26 am (UTC)
Ah, Amanda Hayward's OK, I sort of love her mercenary 'You want the reviews? Here you go!' formula, and it is true: higher ratings do attract more reviews in general. But I agree with you wholly on the need for good plot and a story. I feel much happier about Calanthe, or pushdragon, or mirabella who writes exquisite tension, having loads of reviews than I do about Fifty Shades outselling Harry Potter!

(no subject) - leemarchais on August 25th, 2012 02:31 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on August 25th, 2012 03:04 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - leemarchais on August 25th, 2012 03:09 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - takarai_karin on August 25th, 2012 02:43 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on August 25th, 2012 04:05 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - takarai_karin on August 25th, 2012 04:31 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on August 25th, 2012 04:45 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - takarai_karin on August 25th, 2012 04:56 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Sin: writing - so done!sinden on August 24th, 2012 09:40 pm (UTC)
People want bang for their buck -- or, you know, porn for their time investment because that is their emotional payoff.

Also, I concur that it would be really nice to actually have some feedback for the hours of time I spend writing the damn thing. It maintains an interactive dialogue between the author and reader. Kudos on AO3 drive me nuts because I don't know the context they're being used in -- I kudos everything I read, or only the things I liked or my finger slipped, oh well. WHAT DO YOU MEAN? Ahem.


blamebramptonblamebrampton on August 25th, 2012 02:48 am (UTC)
There is no shame in wanting feedback! Every writer ever born wants it! (With the possible exception of Emily Dickinson.) I think it's best to be realistic about the fact that Amanda Hayward's not actually wrong, but also agree with you that the younger generation are clearly FAR too lazy when it comes to pushing a button rather than engaging with the writer! Young people today! *Shakes stick!*

Hee! She's certainly raking in the bucks for their bangs …
mrsquizzicalmrsquizzical on August 24th, 2012 09:41 pm (UTC)
i enjoyed learning that they created that space to write and review together and had no idea where that story would end up. thanks for linking that article. :)
blamebramptonblamebrampton on August 25th, 2012 03:00 am (UTC)
I thought it was a really good piece: most I have read on the topic have been either very sniffy or wholly uncritical. I like the fact that this writer was wholly uncritical of the idea of publishing from fandom, while still managing to be sniffy about the book and yet also giving the publisher room to explain some of its issues. I genuinely feel better knowing they paid to have it edited and someone just did a crap job!
(no subject) - mrsquizzical on August 25th, 2012 04:29 am (UTC) (Expand)
rosathome on August 24th, 2012 10:50 pm (UTC)
Guess that's where I've been going wrong too. Latest book not selling very well. Should have sexed it up more.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on August 25th, 2012 03:02 am (UTC)
My heart goes out to romance writers at the moment! It must be like one of those happy children's fantasy writers merrily creating away when suddenly the Harry Potter Juggernaut hit. Once it's passed, I think things will ultimately be better in the long run, but right now it must feel a bit as though you can see only giant wheels!
oakstone730oakstone730 on August 24th, 2012 11:42 pm (UTC)
I forget which romance writer tweeted that she was going to throw in some BDSM in her next book just 'cause what the hell it is clearly what people want.

All my stories (with one exception) are lime. Everything is off stage. Even without *it* though I still get reads and reviews. I did have one person posted a rec of my story with the caveat (paraphrased) "good story but isn't NC-17 so not many will read." Which is fine. Since I don't feel comfortable writing the NC-17 stuff, although I've no objection to reading it.

So many stories are NC-17, and very few write it well that I tend to skip it anyway. I like Fragantwoods idea of just adding "And then they had sex..." add in a slap and a tickle and we'll all be rolling in the reviews.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on August 25th, 2012 04:48 pm (UTC)
The fashion for BDSM is weirding me out a bit: especially when it's actual fashion -- I'm not used to seeing that many chains and buckles on the high street outside of Newtown and Erko Road!

I have to come back tomorrow to finish this comment, because I had lots of thoughts and wanted to phrase them coherently, then went out cycling, then to spin class, then to dinner, and now it's nearly 3am and my brain is SAGO! Back in a few hours …
(no subject) - kath_ballantyne on August 29th, 2012 04:14 am (UTC) (Expand)
bare_memabonwitch on August 25th, 2012 02:46 am (UTC)
*snort* Oh, is that all? As someone who writes primarily sex, I've got to say: sex =/= reviews automatically. Although that's a hilarious thought, bound to lead to some, ahem, interesting stories.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on August 25th, 2012 02:52 am (UTC)
Yes! Apparently, that's the trick!

I am, however, looking forward to the chapters ending:

'Get behind me, Harry, it's not safe!'

Remus held his wand steadily and loudly declared 'Expecto Patronum!' The advancing Dementors halted, and recoiled from the silvery stream erupting from Remus's wand.

Harry, nervous about the approaching chapter ending, wondered whether now would be the appropriate time to admit to improper student/teacher feelings and offer a quick handjob?
(no subject) - ladyjaneva on August 26th, 2012 11:52 am (UTC) (Expand)
excentric397excentric397 on August 25th, 2012 04:05 am (UTC)
I'm a reader, not a writer. I'll read pretty much anything except Ianto dies and some crossovesr, and I refuse to read RPF. I've found that I'm commenting less because I tend to convert everything to text and send it to my Kindle to read. No comment opportunities that way. I do kind of agree with fragrantwoods, too.. I would probably read most anything that had 'and then they had sex' in it. Unless it was Jack and Gwen. Then I'd just have to throw up.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on August 25th, 2012 04:14 pm (UTC)
The ereader issue is a real thing: I find myself reading more and more books on mine, but not fanfic because I know I will forget to go back and comment -- which would be fine if I then read the fanfic on my laptop instead of adding it to my horrendously long queue and then reading a book on my Kindle …

Maybe I should just stick it all on and then do a regular rec post? There was a time when I was good at that sort of thing, before work went lupinesque.

And Jack and Gwen? NOOOOOOOOOO! That's just wrong! Ianto is always fine in my head because I stopped watching at an episode in which he was and refuse to go past it.

(I'm SO tempted to try the Fragrantwoods Solution next time I am stuck for how to end a section or chapter :-))
(no subject) - excentric397 on August 25th, 2012 08:43 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Rose: Twilight kiddingfourth_rose on August 25th, 2012 06:11 pm (UTC)
''It's not that Fifty Shades of Grey and E.L. James's other tie-me-up-tie-me-down spankbusters read as if feminism never happened: they read as if women never even got the vote.''

Well, since the same is true for the source material...
excentric397excentric397 on August 25th, 2012 10:27 pm (UTC)
Forget where I found this:

"Harry Potter is about confronting fears, finding inner strength, and doing what is right in the face of adversity. Twilight is about how important it is to have a boyfriend."
(no subject) - valkyrie17 on August 26th, 2012 04:53 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - oakstone730 on August 30th, 2012 04:22 am (UTC) (Expand)
valkyrie17valkyrie17 on August 26th, 2012 05:00 am (UTC)
Um...I love your stories very much as they are. You seem to have such a firm grasp of politics and such a wonderful sense of humour. I have everything I could find converted to pdf so that I can carry it around and read it at lunch or while waiting in long lineups. I read your stories (along with Calanthe, Mirabella, Oldenuf2nobetter,Emma Grant, Jennavere, Maya among others), over and over again.
I like sex in a story, but more importantly, I want a STORY...I want a plot and I want humour. You more than fill the bill.
Fanartist in trainingkath_ballantyne on August 29th, 2012 04:46 am (UTC)
To me a story is important. I know I had discussions with lots of people who weren't interested in gen. Even if there wasn't actual on the page sex they wanted the romance/relationship stuff or they wouldn't read it but I read fanfic for the same reason I read books and that is to immerse myself in a wonderful story and roll about in the characters. So to speak.
Doesn't mean I don't enjoy a PWP on occasion but if it's not in character then it doesn't mean anything to me.
I want to know why the characters are where they are and why they're doing what they are doing.
I enjoy AUs too and I'm amazed that people can change something fundamental about a character so they do end up acting in a way that would have been out of character in canon but you can totally see that it would go that way.


I discovered internet fandom when I was 17 (ah dial up at $2 an hour an it taking hours to load a pic. Sounds like my satellite internet). Came at a great time for me socially, not so much academically but if I wasn't going to be able to sleep anyway then staying up and reading fic and chatting on a message board to people who are still my best friends today was a good way to spend the time. Finding people I had stuff in common with rather than just going to the same school with changed my life.

I am amused that people are like women are reading porn in public! E-readers mean that women can read stuff without other people knowing it's dirty. *rolls eyes* Since the age of 17 when I had to print out the pages on my dot matrix printer I've been reading fanfic in public. It was perfect for long train rides. I've never had anything over than second hand phones after people have upgraded but as soon as they became capable I've been reading on their. I know hundreds who do. It's funny that mainstream is only now realising it.

It's a darn site easier now. Much better than carying a folder of fanfic and listening to tapes on your walkman when you had to change the batteries twice between Newcastle and Sydney and then it usually chewed your tape up.