Disclaimers Discussion

Recently I came across a social media post that had a screenshot of a conversation about the history of disclaimers.  It made me want to revisit the topic, which I wrote about during my Fanfic Primer series.  A Disclaimer, traditionally, has been a notice on any piece of fan-made media that explains that the content is based on someone else’s creative property and the creator of this media is not out to make money on it.   When I first started writing in middle school, everything had a disclaimer.  It was common practice particularly on fanfic.  Culturally, fanfic had not quite made it as a true expression.  People still saw it as plagiarism, and an attempt to use someone else’s creativity instead of your own.

The amount of conversations I had with people who asked me when I was going to start to write something real was high.

There was also a fear of getting punished for your fanish endeavours in your public life.  Fanfic archives were password protected at times, and disclaimers could be lengthy.  Some creators of the original content *would* at that time pursue fan-content makers.  Anne Rice in particular had a history with prosecuting fanfiction writers.  Fanfiction.net won’t allow fanfiction based on her works, and authors of content from that time have found themselves sent cease-and-desist letters, or further.   Anne McCaffrey, an author I love had the opinon that having others play with her characters would be hard to keep seperate, so she made a forum for the fanfic and allowed it no where else.  Whether or not that kept her from actually seeing it, I’m not sure.  I haven’t participated on that forum in many years, so I also don’t know if they have loosened up on that since her death.

I feel disclaimers are important for a multitude of reasons.  Historically they protected people (or at least attempted to) from being accused of trying to make money off of someone else’s intellectual property.  But it was also a place to show that you acknowledge you are taking some leads from other sources. This is where I think it is still important.  While places like Archive of Our Own, and general culture have given fanfic more respect as a medium, an author should still acknowledge the author of source material.  Any source material.  This is why I am glad that AO3 has allowed author notes sections where I can credit any other sources outside the main one I tagged as well as thank any betas/helpers that helped out.

Fanfic itself is not only for free anymore as well.  If you go on Amazon and type in Pride and Prejudice you can find hundreds of variations and adaptations to the classic novel.  Some are free on Kindle Unlimited, others are not. Other older books are simular.  However, the balk of fanfiction is made by people who either want to play in universe that they love, or want to see where the story go go.

So while a debate can exsit on whether disclaimers are necessarily needed when its clear contextually that its a fanfic, I think they are important to keep at least in theory.  It can be used in a author’s note, or a full traditional disclaimer.

What do you think about disclaimers?

Writing Resources.

Continuing this month’s theme of writing, Today’s post is a simple list of links relating to writing.  There are hundreds of different writing resources out there available for those who want to look, but here are a few that either I or one of my writing friends have tried and liked.  Feel free to comment with your own suggestions.

National Novel Writing Month

It seems that NANO definately should not be left out of any list of writing resources.  National Novel Writing Month (NanoWriMo or Nano for short) is a yearly event where writers gather together for a month and try to write 50,000 words or a small novella.  Usually at the end are some good coupons and discounts for those who achieve the goal.  It also has forums, pep talks, and other resources to keep you going.

In April and June, Nano holds ‘Camp Nano‘, where writers gather together to write their own made-up goals (I recently edited mine down to 20,000 due to various reasons).  The goals can be less than 50k (like mine) or more (one of my cabinmates is doing 100,000.).  It’s up to the writer.   Like Nano in November, Camp Nano has forums and other resources for writers.

All is free, although they do have an online store to support costs and a charity they run each year.

4TheWords

4Thewords is a writing game.  It helps motivate you to write more.  You fight various monsters by completing word count goals.  I’m actually writing this post on their website.  MOstly because I need to fight a monster and ran out of creative parts of the story I was writing.  I’m fighting a monster right now that asks for 150 words in 11 minutes, which isn’t too hard.  But the monsters vary in amount of time and word count goals, and the developers are constantly trying out new things to add to the game.  There are also forums and areas for people to read other’s works.  Its really fun, but its not for everyone.   This has a free trial and then a monthly fee of around $4 which is paid by buying in-game currency so you can pre-pay for months in advance, or buy a larger package of currently (crystals) for in-game items and subscription.  its up to you.

Hemingway Editor

The Hemingway Editor is a browser based editing software that allows you to write in your browser window and receive statistics on your writing.  It helps alot with repetitiveness or over use of adverbs.  It can also give you a readability statistics.  This is useful for writing all sorts of types – non-fiction and fiction alike.  Its also Free.

Polygon Map Maker

Ok, this isn’t really a writing resource so to speak.  Someone created a way of generating polygons that look like islands and put it up on a website for those of us who feel its fun to create your own world to make our own island shapes to work off of.  Its fun, and it can be used to help you create a map for your fantasy story, a game, or just to waste some time.

750 Words:

750words has a basic goal: To get you to write 750 words per day.  There are badges to be won for the various goals you reach.  They include writing streaks, time of day, amount of words written, and many others.  It also gives you various statistics on your writing. It also saves what you wrote for the day so if you need to look back, you can.  New members to the website are charged $5 in a subscription fee to help cover the costs of upkeep.

Writer: The Internet Typewriter

For those who like the sound of typewriters,  and or are easily distracted by various things when using the computer, Writer might be a good app for you.  It’s free to register and it has a completely back screen to help keep you focused on what you are doing.  It does have a premium account, but I’ve never tried it.

CharaHub

Charahub is an online database for you to use to create and maintain information about your characters.  This is good for artists too. It helps streamline your information to one place.  Especially useful if you have many characters that you might want to bring back and don’t want to forget what you said about them.

The Periodic Table of Storytelling

Really this is just an infographic that helps you remember the elements of writing.  Its useful for remembering, but also learning.

Fandom Writing: The Importance of Trigger Warnings

WARNING:  This post mentions several triggering subjects in the course of covering Trigger Warnings.  

There has always been a debate on the use of trigger warnings..  Triggers are words and or images that can trigger adverse reactions in people who have suffered trauma or have various anxiety disorders. It also extends to things that people know, without having the anxiety, that they don’t care to see/here because its just not something they want to digest/handle.  People over the years have developed the idea of ‘Trigger Warnings’ to help people who have issues with these things avoid them, or at least be prepared to handle them if they still continue on.

Trigger warnings are important.  The debate on trigger warnings is that some people believe they are over used, and warning about things a person should be able to handle.  Others believe that not using it is showing a lack of compassion against those who have problems with triggers.  I am in the middle on this argument.  I believe common sense warnings about possible triggers is important and should be done.  However, if someone doesn’t write a trigger for something its not right to say they are not compassionate.  Perhaps it something they are unaware of being a trigger.

The common sense triggers are often built into archives.  Violence, character death, etc.  And it is already common to put tags to express when a fic has sexual content.  Its important to put these messages because not everyone is okay with everything.  Even if its not a trigger, some people simply don’t want to read smut, or want fluff only and no violence.  They might not want to read something descriptive in gore, or deals with a particular event or activity that makes them uncomfortable.

One of the generic ones is gore.  Some people don’t like the sight of blood or any other bodily fluid.  Sometimes its because an particular event, and sometimes it is just something the person knows they don’t like to see.  I used to have trouble remembering to tag these on posts because I wouldn’t think something was gorey, but then I would get messages asking for the tag.

If you are writing something that includes a sensitive topic, its a good idea to tag it, or make a warning in your chapter notes.  While you might not have a problem with it, or feel its important to your story, some people may just need to avoid that for their own personal reasons.   I have known people who refuse to tag stuff like this because they feel it gives the story away, but it would make it so much easier for people to avoid situations where they might be triggered.  It’s a courtesy to your readers. At the vary least it allows those who are picky about what they read the time to decide if your story will be one they choose.  It will also help those who have severe reactions to certain triggers to avoid them.

I think the fact that I have an anxiety disorder myself I understand the trigger system.  I am not triggered by anything written, but I can sympathise with those who are.  Sometimes surprise is not a good thing. So just take a few moments when you post your stories to think if there is anything worth tagging, anything that might trigger anxiety in people.  Things you should tag include sexual violence (including dubious consent), fertility issues (like miscarriage and stillbirth), detailed violence and torture.  Respect requests for added tags as well.

 

Fandom Writing Starter Kit: An Introduction

I started this series on Bubblews, but instead of a direct transfer, as I actually lost the copy, I’m starting a new.  So it’s  fresh version of an old post.

For those who are newbies to Fandoms in general, a fandom is a collection of fans who share a similar love for a show, movie, book, band, sports team, etc.  Although you often don’t hear people refer to sports as a fandom, it essentially is one.  Any time a group of people gather and enjoy the same entertainment, it’s a fandom.

Fandom writing therefore is fan created works relating to the be-fanned subject.  This is more popular in fandoms that are based on books, tv shows, and movies then other fandoms, but they still exist.  And it usually comes in two types: Meta & Fan-Fiction. Mainly in this series of articles I will be focusing on the latter. Continue reading “Fandom Writing Starter Kit: An Introduction”