POSTING YOUR FAN FICTION STORY ON THE WEB
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Last modified: November 03 2012 12:33:13
There are a number of things to consider when you want to share a fan fiction story with your fellow Xenites over the Web. Here are some suggestions.
I would recommend that you start by visiting the various fanfic sites out there just to familiarize yourself with what's available. For a list of the sites and links to them visit any of these pages:
HOW WILL YOUR STORY BE PRESENTED?
Next you need to consider HOW you want your story to be presented. Some sites will post stories as plain text with little or no formatting. Stories posted like this will tend to look the same as they would in an e-mail message which means that you wont be seeing any of the text in italics or in fancy fonts or in bold and the background will be plain. Other sites will code a story in HTML (the coding language used on the Web to make things look nicely formatted and fancy). Stories that have been HTMLized can include italics, bold letters, different fonts, different colors, underlined text, and color backgrounds. As an example - the file that you're currently looking at is coded. Take a look at the text version of it to see what it would look like as plain text.
There are advantages and disadvantages associated with either approach. Sites which make available stories as plain text can generally post these very quickly which means that once you send your story it may appear at the Web site within a day or two. The disadvantage is that your story may not look as nice in plain text as it would coded in HTML. At sites that code the stories, your work will look nicer but will usually take longer to post. One easy solution is to post your stories at MORE than one site. Lots of bards do this although occasionally Web masters will enter into exclusive arrangements with bards. Another solution if you are familiar with HTML and want to archive your story at a site which accepts HTMLized stories (most do) is to do the coding yourself so that once you send it in all the Web master has to do is post it.
DOES YOUR STORY "FIT" THE SITE YOU ARE CONSIDERING?
Take a look at the types of stories posted at the different sites. Some sites only post general fiction. Some feature exclusively alternative stories and some feature both. Unless the policy on this is specifically stated at the Web site, you may want to ask if you're really interested in a site because it isn't always clear from the stories that may be currently available there. New sites in particular usually have very few stories. The Web master may be perfectly willing to accept different types of stories but simply hasn't gotten those yet.
Within the two main fan fiction categories - general and alternative - there are also several different sub-categories that have emerged in the past three years. I have a file with definitions of some of these categories at http://lunacyreviews.com/terms.htm. There are uber stories, warlord/slave stories - alternative stories in themselves can range the gamut from some that are just a bit subtexty to some that are hard core erotica. You need to make sure that the story you've written "fits" the type of stories a site has available or is willing to make available. You may have a really nice, well-written alternative story that may not fit a certain alt. site because the stories posted there are racier than your own - or perhaps the reverse is true. If in doubt - send your story to the Web master and have him/her decide.
Another thing to consider is how selective a site is. There are sites that pretty much accept most of the stories sent their way, rejecting only things that may be really objectionable. At sites like these, stories can range the gamut in terms of quality. Other sites are selective in what they post so collectively the stories will tend to be similar in terms of quality. If the policy isn't posted at the site consult with the Web master.
BRINGING READERS TO YOUR STORY
Make sure to consider the overall look of a Web site, how well it is maintained and how popular it is. If the site is kept current, if it has lots of fan fic or other things that attract the fans and if it's a well-designed site, meaning that it loads easily into a Web browser and looks nice, chances are more people are going to be visiting and more will find your story. Currency I can tell you from personal experience is a BIG, BIG issue. I scout the Web sites on a regular basis looking for new stories but I can tell you that most people don't do this. After a while of checking a site for three-four weeks straight without anything being changed or updated they'll often stop visiting or at least they wont visit too often anymore. On the other hand, sites that are updated every day or every couple of days have a loyal following.
Having said this let me also emphasize that one of the nicest things about the Xenaverse is the spirit of cooperation and generosity that Xenites tend to foster here. New web sites have a hard time attracting visitors sometimes because people are just used to going to the main fan fic archives. New sites also have a hard time attracting bards because the writers are all sending their stories to the established sites. If you want to help out one of these new or smaller Web sites, your story will probably be a godsend. The fan fiction indexes which I listed above tend to link to just about every new story out there so chances are people WILL see your story even at one of these new sites.
Sharing stories over the Net is not the same as having a story available at a bookstore. When someone looks at a book in a store, from reading the back or inside covers they can usually get an impression of what the story is about which in turn can help them decide whether it might include heavy violence or other things which they may object to. Via the Internet, a story just pops up on the screen so as a courtesy to your readers, if your story features things which you suspect others may find objectionable or disturbing, it is nice to include a disclaimer at the beginning of your story warning about this. The TV series XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS features a certain level of violence which readers should expect in stories but if in doubt as to whether your story exceeds that level - include a disclaimer. Also - be aware that the term "violence" is a very vague one which could refer to many different things. A bloody fight with a group of raiders constitutes violence but it's a different type of violence than say a rape would be. The former might not bother anyone but the latter could be really disturbing to certain readers.
A fellow Xenite named Cat has put together a series of disclaimers that are freely available for bards to use in their stories. Cat's disclaimers are at this URL: http://ausxip.com/fanfic2/disclaimers.html
Be aware that some Web sites require the use of disclaimers in stories that feature violence or graphic sex.
If you've been active on the Xenaverse for any length of time you are probably aware of the use of "spoiler" space and warnings that is encouraged when you post a message discussing a new episode. It is ALSO important to do this in stories so if you've written a story that mentions or is based on the events in a very recent episode DO mention this in your disclaimer section so that your story wont inadvertently spoil the viewing experience for someone.
This is a tricky subject which I encourage bards to think about carefully. First of all, keep in mind that what we're talking about here is fan fiction which first and foremost should be FUN for the person writing it. Bards have different feelings when it comes to their stories - some take these very seriously - they work for hours, days, weeks and months writing the stories - they want to improve their writing and they genuinely want constructive criticism. That is wonderful and if that is what you want then consider including a note along with your story saying something to the effect that feedback is welcomed AND including an e-mail address where people can write you.
There are also bards who just write because they enjoy it but aren't necessarily interested in hearing criticism. NOTHING wrong with that either so don't FEEL you need to ask for feedback. If you do ask for feedback be aware that the messages you'll get back may range from gushing statements by fans who just ADORE your writing, to very honest, impartial, quality criticism from readers who see potential in your writing and want to help you get better, to messages from people who may not have a lot of tact and may just sound insulting. You may not get back any feedback at all. It does NOT necessarily mean that your story is bad or that no one is reading. I always encourage readers to send at least a thank you note to the bards to let them know that they appreciate their stories but the fact of the matter is that the biggest feedback generators tend to be the long novel-type stories so don't feel crushed if you don't get an avalanche of feedback. Always keep in mind that YOU are the one making a contribution to the Xenaverse - YOU are the one with the courage to share a creative exercise with the rest of us so be proud of that and know that the majority of us are extremely grateful for the effort as well.
Consider including a copyright statement in any fan fiction that you write. Take a look at other stories for samples of these but generally it's a good idea to mention the fact that Xena, Gabrielle and any other characters featured in the actual TV series are copyrighted to MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures while the rest of the story and other characters are your own.
For general information about copyright take a look at this excellent article:
BASIC COPYRIGHT CONCEPT FOR WRITERS
by Claire E. White
The article addresses some of the issues involved in copyrighting works released over the Net.
GETTING THE WORD OUT
Once your story is published check the three major indexes to make sure it gets listed there. Give them from 1-3 days to list the story then if they haven't yet drop them a note letting them know that the story is out there. If the indexes list the story chances are fanfic reviewers are gonna see and read it. There are a number of review sites available - I keep a list of these at http://lunacyreviews.com/reference.htm#XWP_Reviews. If your story appears in a review that will likely bring added publicity to it but keep in mind that not ALL stories get reviewed and that reviewers are under no obligation to review stories. Reviews are a service for readers - not a promotional tool for bards. Still - if you think that perhaps a reviewer is not aware your story is out there you can certainly drop them an e-mail letting them know the story has been published. Finally, you can promote the story yourself as well by posting announcements on the various mailing lists or on any of a number of forums letting people know there's a new tale out there.
Web sites almost always include a contact e-mail address where you can reach the webmaster so just take a look on the main page of the site for that addy.
Please include in your story the DATE it was written and if the story takes place after or before a certain episode mention that as well. Keep in mind that the XWP TV series has now been airing for three seasons and will hopefully be airing for many more. A story written this year based on what is currently happening in the TV series may seem totally unbelievable two seasons from now. If the reader knows that the story was written a while ago or is set at a certain time in the series they will likely enjoy it much more. Indexers and reviewers typically include dates when they list stories at their sites. Dates can help people find stories and they can be extremely helpful for Xenites and other researchers writing about the fanfic phenomenom. ALSO, dating your story better ensures that if an instance of plagiarism occurs, you'll be able to prove that your story was the one written first. Try to include an E-MAIL ADDRESS in your story. This allows readers to contact you with any feedback they have. It's essential though even if you don't necessarily want feedback. If the site archiving your story goes offline or for some other reason your story becomes unavailable, readers who've saved your story can use the e-mail address to notify you of the problem. If you don't want to use your regular e-mail address get another one you can use in your fanfic. E-mail addresses now are readily available for free. If you change e-mail addresses at a future date try to remember to change that in your fanfic. An e-mail address is only useful if it works ;-)
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