SEARCHING FOR XENA FAN FICTION
By Lunacy
Author can be reached at lunacy@lunacyreviews.com
Last modified: November 03 2012 12:33:12

With the number of Xena fan fiction stories, parodies, skits, vignettes, novels, poems and screenplays now approaching the 3,000 figure, finding specific works is becoming more and more of a challenge. Where once there was perhaps 5-10 Web sites featuring Xena fanfic, now that figure is closer to 150. Sites are changing addresses constantly, stories are moved around, some are posted only on mailing lists or on the Universal Xena NetForum and eventually lost - in short, trying to find a particularly work of fan fiction can be a very frustrating experience so the following are some suggestions intended to help anyone in search of that elusive story.

INDEXES AND REVIEWS

During the early days of Xena fan fiction in order to try to locate a story fans had to spend time perusing all the existing sites or asking fellow fans if they were familiar with a particular tale. Then along came a fan by the name of Xenos who revolutionized XWP fan fiction by creating the first-ever fanfic index titled the XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS FAN FICTION INDEX. Unfortunately Xenos is no longer an active part of the Xenaverse but her index lives on under new management and with a new title, THE ATHENAEUM. Moreover, although it continues to be the most comprehensive resource for locating XWP fanfic on the Net, THE ATHENAEUM is no longer the only one. Following is a list of the XWP fanfic indexes currently on the Web:

In addition to fanfic indexes, the Xenaverse has also given birth to sites which offer story reviews. Note that Web sites containing reviews are NOT as comprehensive as the indexes because they do not list all the works of fanfic out there. They only include stories recommended by the reviewer(s). Here are some of the major review sites:

Recently we've also gotten guides which offer very detailed breakdowns of uber-Xena stories by things like occupation, character names, time period, etc. Here are two:

NEWSGROUPS

Newsgroups are discussion venues that are available over the Web. There are a number of newsgroups dedicated to the Xena: Warrior Princess TV series including some that feature fan fiction. The main newsgroups are alt.tv.xena, alt.tv.xena.creative, alt.tv.xena-subtext and alt.tv.xena-subtext.misc. Some of the stories that are now available through the popular fanfic Web sites were originally distributed through the newsgroups. Some newsgroup fanfic has never made it to the Web. There is a wonderful site on the Web called DEJANEWS which allows one to search for newsgroups, search for specific terms in newsgroups by subject, author, keyword and also read newsgroup messages and participate in the discussions. If you remember part of a story's title or you know who the author was then you might be able to locate the story by searching DEJANEWS. This will only work of course if the story was posted at some point in a newsgroup.

One other VERY nice thing about DEJANEWS is that it maintains an archive of all the posts in the XWP newsgroups so if lets say a story that was originally posted there and then made available through one of the fanfic sites is at some later date removed from the fanfic site you will still be able to find the original post through DEJANEWS.

DEJANEWS is at http://www.dejanews.com/

SEARCHING METHODS

Be aware that the single BEST resource for locating stories are usually your fellow Xenites. Xenites LOVE fanfic and tend to be really helpful folks. Very often, if you post a message on one of the mailing lists or on the NetForum indicating that you're looking for a certain story within minutes you'll get responses giving you the title, author name, the URL where the story is at, sometimes the story itself! If you decide to try this approach first give in your post as much information about the story as you can remember, including things like when you read it, what characters were featured, the length, etc.

If asking fellow Xenites hasn't worked or if for whatever reason you just want to search on your own then here are some searching suggestions based on different starting points:

1. YOU KNOW THE TITLE

If you know the title then it is usually very easy to locate a story. Simply go to one of the fan fiction indexes and look for the title. Try the main indexes first (the general and/or alternative fanfic indexes). If you can't find it in one of those then try the various category indexes.

2. YOU KNOW THE AUTHOR

If you know the author again begin your search with the indexes, looking of course in one of the author indexes. If the author has only written one or two stories your search will likely be a short one. If the author has written several stories, however, then you might have to go through the listings of stories, reading the descriptions or the longer reviews in order to locate the specific story you're looking for.

3. YOU DON'T KNOW THE AUTHOR OR TITLE BUT YOU KNOW WHAT THE STORY IS ABOUT

In this case your best bet is to begin searching by using the category indexes in one of the index sites listed above to at least try to narrow down the possibilities. If you know the story is largely about Amazons, for instance, you might want to try looking in the indexes of Amazon stories at the ULTIMATE FAN FICTION DIRECTORY site or in THE ATHENAEUM. If you're searching for an uber-Xena tale look through the Uber-Xena Guides to see if any of the story details listed ring a bell or look through one of the category indexes like Shadowfen's index of uber-Xena stories or the similar index located at THE ATHENAEUM site. You might also want to check the category indexes at the various review sites.

If you don't exactly know what certain categories, like "uber-Xena" or "hurt/comfort", refer to but suspect the story you're looking for may fall into that genre then check out the DEFINITIONS of fan fiction terms.

4. YOU REMEMBER READING THE STORY AT A PARTICULAR WEB SITE

If you think you read the story on the Universal Xena NetForum then start your search there - the NetForum typically lets you look at old messages going back a certain period of time. Be aware that the NetForum only archives postings going back a few months so if the story is an old one it may no longer be available there. Check the index of titles no longer available at SHADOWFEN'S if you think that may be the case. Even if you find that the story is no longer on the Web you may be able to locate the author's name and/or e-mail address to request a copy.

If you think you read the story at some other Web site then begin your search AT that Web site. This of course will be difficult if the site includes a lot of stories but you may be able to narrow your search down a bit if you know a little bit about the story. Some sites divide their fiction into general and alt. categories so that if you know you're looking for a story that falls into one or the other category you may find it much faster by simply searching among those possibilities first.

5. YOU THINK IT'S A NEW STORY AND YOU REMEMBER READING IT OR HEARING ABOUT IT RECENTLY.

Look in the WHAT'S NEW sections of the indexes above. The WHAT'S NEW sections usually only list the titles and authors. If these don't look familiar to you then check out the WHAT'S NEW sections in the various reviews for story descriptions that may ring a bell.

6. YOU CAN REMEMBER THE APPROXIMATE TIME YOU FIRST READ THE STORY - MAYBE AROUND CHRISTMAS TIME, OR HALLOWEEN, OR PERHAPS A MONTH AGO.

The indexes and reviews sites listed above archive older copies of their WHAT'S NEW page. You may be able to search through WHAT'S NEW pages several months old.

7. YOU THINK YOU READ THE STORY IN A MAILING LIST

Mailing lists which allow fan fiction to be posted sometimes make available as well Web sites where these stories are archived. Check the list's Web site for any stories that may be available there. If the mailing list does NOT have a Web site it may nevertheless have someone serving as archivist who keeps copies of any fiction posted and makes these available to members. Post a message asking about this on the list. If there isn't an actual person archiving stories posted to a list, the computer were the mailing list is maintained may archive old posts and make these available to subscribers. The welcome letter you received upon subscribing will have information about this or ask the list owner.

8. YOU'RE NOT LOOKING FOR A SPECIFIC STORY BUT RATHER A CERTAIN TYPE OF STORY OR JUST SOMETHING GOOD TO READ

The reviews are the best places to start in this case. Some of these review sites divide the reviews by categories so if you're in the mood for an uber tale or a warlord/slave story or an alternative story this may aid in your search. The review sites will of course be most helpful to readers whose taste in fanfic is similar to that of the reviewers.

The category indexes at THE ATHENAEUM site are also a good place to check if you want a certain type of story such as a tale featuring a particular character or set in a particular location. If you're looking for a first time story then the FIRST TIME STORIES index should be your first stop. If you want a Conqueror story try the CONQUEROR STORIES INDEX. If you'd like to read an uber story set in a certain period of time or featuring a particular pairing then try the UBER-XENA GUIDES.

9. ALL YOU REMEMBER ABOUT A STORY IS THIS PARTICULAR SCENE...

Ahhhh yes. This does tend to happen a lot in Xena fanfic. The questions I've gotten about that one scene someone read and desperately wants to read again but can't find! >:) Well - first of all let me begin by recommending to all you readers out there that when you read a story you even remotely think you may want to read again someday - SAVE IT!!!!! Save it on your computer. Most computers these days have huge hard drives and most fan fiction stories do NOT take up that much space. Novel length stories like those by Jenbob or Missy Good tend to take up about 1 megabyte of space but most stories are not that long. I have most Xena fan fiction stories saved on my hard drive in text format in directories that collectively consume only about 150 megabytes.

One of the advantages of saving stories on your PC is that you can then use programs to search through those stories to find specific scenes :) There are a couple of nifty little shareware programs that I LOVE which let you easily search through multiple files. One is called TEXTPAD, the other ULTRAEDIT. These are both simple text editors which among other things allow you to search for words or phrases in entire directories or across multiple files. Looking for a scene in which Xena called Gabrielle "Chimpycheeks"? (Yes there IS such a story >:) Well, if you have stories saved on your PC you can simply fire-up TEXTPAD or ULTRAEDIT, indicate what phrase you're looking for, note whether you want the search to be case-sensitive or not, tell the program what directory to search in or which files to look at and within seconds - VIOLA! These editors will show you a screen with the results which will include the name of the file the word was found in and the sentence or section of text. By the way I am not affiliated with either the TEXTPAD or ULTRAEDIT people in any way - just love their programs. There are actually other programs that do these type of searches for you but the point here is that searching for specific scenes is a LOT easier if you get into the habit of saving those stories you've liked or think you might return to again someday for whatever reason.

Ok so what if you haven't saved stories on your computer and are desperately looking for this one scene... Then your best approach is to try to remember what type of story it was to try to look through the category indexes for it. Did the story feature Callisto or the Amazons? There are indexes of those. Was it an uber story or a hurt/comfort tale? There are indexes of those too.

If you think the story you're looking for is hosted at a specific Web site, one other thing you can do is to try a keyword search of the site and there are programs out there that will do this for you. STROUD'S CONSUMMATE WINSOCK APPLICATIONS Web page at http://www.stroud.com/ maintains a list of these programs, many of which are available as shareware, with reviews and download links. When you get to STROUD'S page simply select what platform your computer is using (Windows 95 or Windows 3.1) and then select the link for "Internet Agents". You'll see a list of various programs, some of which will do site-specific keyword searches for you (read the reviews to determine what the different programs listed will do). Be aware that these programs are complicated to use and that keyword searches of a Web site may take a LOOOOOONG time. This really should be a last resort and if you do decide to go this route become familiar with whatever Internet agent you download before using it.

10. YOU HAVE BEEN ABLE TO DETERMINE WHO WROTE THE STORY BUT IT IS NO LONGER AVAILABLE ON THE WEB

Try e-mailing the author requesting a copy of the story. Bards often include their e-mail addresses in their stories so even if the specific story you're looking for is not available, look in other stories written by the author to see if you can locate an e-mail address. Also, check Shadowfen's index to see if she includes an e-mail link for the bard in her author index. If you can't find an e-mail address but the bard still has stories hosted at one of the Web sites then send your message to the Web master of the site asking the person to forward your message to the bard. Don't ask them to give you the bard's e-mail address as Web masters will generally NOT do this.

A pretty reliable way of getting copies of lost stories is simply to post a request for the story on a mailing list. Fanfic readers often save the stories they read and many bards are gracious enough to warn people before removing their stories so readers can save those. Consequently - there are few fanfic stories that are ever really lost. Somewhere a fanfic reader has a copy. If you do post a public request for a story on a mailing list or newsgroup or discussion forum please ask that the copy be sent to you via private e-mail. The writer of the story removed that story from the web for a reason and we need to be respectful of that reason. If people answer your request publicly by sending that lost story to a mailing list or discussion forum what they're doing is in effect posting that story BACK on the web against the author's wishes. Do keep in mind that messages from mailing lists and newsgroups often remain available long term on the Web.

One final suggestion - if you know part of the author's name or part of the title do a search on Deja.com. If the author ever did post the story in a newsgroup you might be able to located this way.

Ok guys - I've pretty much listed here all the methods I know off in order to look for stories so if after this you STILL cannot find that very special story you once read then only one thing left to do - forget about that tale and write YOUR OWN very special story :)

GOOD LUCK!!!!!!!!!

The Lunatic


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