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Thread: July Activities 2009

  1. #11
    My own reading practices are much along the same lines as Anna's. The content ratings do play into what I will and will not read on any given day, unless I come across something by an author that I know. But when just browsing, whether it's on MNFF or LJ, I do pay attention to the content rating, just so that I have an idea of what kind of general area of maturity the author is expecting their reader to have and what kind of things they're expecting their audience to be able to handle in a fic.

    I do very much pay attention to content warnings and labels, though. There are some things that I just would rather not read about. I know that there are difficult situations happening in the world, but that doesn't mean I need to read about all of them, you know? I imagine some people would think that to be a very ignorant thing for me to say, but I'm not naive. I stay away from darker subject material like abuse, for example, because I choose to avoid negative things when I can - and I DO have the choice of what I get to read in the fan fiction world. Isn't freedom of choice a beautiful thing that way?

    But violence and sexual situations aren't warnings that will have me avoiding a story. With violence, I'm wary and look into the summary, then the first bit of the fic if it's by an author that I'm not familiar with. I don't oppose the inclusion of violence, but the author needs to show that they will handle it with care and precision and not just throw it in sloppily. I think an author needs to respect any sensitive subject matter, you know? Whatever it is, it shouldn't just be thrown in because they think it would be more exciting or dangerous or whatever.

    But then, with authors that I know and trust, pretty much no warnings will keep me away, because I already know that my friends are good writers - just lucky and blessed that way, you know? -tips hat at her lovely author friends, because most of them are here in SPEW-

    A warning for sexual situations within a fic doesn't phase me at all. In the case of sexual situations, for me anyway, if I get into reading it and find that I'm reading something I don't want to get any more involved in, I can skip down or click away from the fic altogether. Usually you can just skip the sexual scenes, and you might miss a little bit of relationship development, but you can gather enough to keep on with the story.

    I find that when I review, I usually don't include comments about the sensitive subject matter. I will mention if I do think that they handled X situation very well, but I don't generally provide any commentary on it. I don't know, it's rare. But I do tell the author how I felt - if it made my heart race or ache of if I wanted to cry or close my eyes or you know, any emotinoal reaction, because I know that, as an author, I like to hear about what my readers feel so that I know how effective my narrative was.

  2. #12
    Third Year Hufflepuff
    Hut-on-the-Rock, The Sea

    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Title: A Child's Innocence
    Word Count: 481
    Warnings: Sexual Situations
    Rating: 3rd- 5th years
    A Child's Innocence

    ‘Mummy?’ James calls out to Ginny, confusion written on his face.

    ‘Yes, darling?’ his mother asks sweetly, looking up from the pot of soup she is cooking.

    ‘Are you all right?’ James questions. He is very worried about his mummy. She hasn’t been feeling very well lately. He knows that she goes several times to the bathroom and he hears her making noises. Then she comes out wiping her mouth, her face not the same colour as before. She looks like the moon—silver-ish and pale. Daddy then gives her soap to smell. It smells nice. He knows because he has sniffed it before. It smells of roses. But he doesn’t know why mummy likes to smell them. He knows that soaps are used to clean one up and are not medicines.

    Mummy falls sick more often, but daddy doesn’t take her to the hospital every time. Daddy loves mummy. He knows because they say ‘I love you’ to each other quite a few times every day and also kiss on the lips. He shudders every time he sees them do that. He knows he won’t ever kiss any girl like that. He doesn’t like girls very much. But he loves mummy and Grandma Molly and aunt Hermione and the other aunts. And his daddy loves his mummy too, so why doesn’t he take care of her?

    ‘I’m perfectly fine, dear,’ Ginny says to James, grinning widely at her first child. He looks so adorable even though he’s apparently worried about something.

    ‘Are you all right?’ Ginny asks him.

    James looks at mummy and gives a small smile. ‘I’m okay, Mummy,’ he replies. He stops for a minute then says, ‘Mummy, are you sure you’re fine?’

    Ginny nods.

    ‘Then why do you feel hungry so often?’

    She stares at him, dumfounded. ‘What?’ she squeaks.

    ‘You’re always eating.’ He points at the half-eaten apple on the kitchen counter. ‘And you’re getting fatter.’ Now he looks towards the bump on his mummy’s tummy. ‘You also get ill a lot.’ He finally looks at her.

    Ginny almost melts with joy. She’s happy her son has noticed so much about her. That he cares so much.

    ‘Baby,’ she starts and James, for once, doesn’t argue that he’s old enough now. ‘Didn’t Daddy and I tell you that you’re about to have a baby sister or a baby brother soon?’ She waits for James’ nod and then continues. ‘That’s why I get sick and eat a lot. And that’s why I’m fat.’ She pats her stomach lovingly.

    James continues to look on with bewilderment.

    ‘The baby is in there?’ he asks lightly touching her bump.

    ‘Yes, James,’ Ginny replies, smiling.

    ‘How did it get in there?’ James, the poor buy, is so perplexed; Ginny resists the urge to laugh.

    ‘Daddy will tell you that,’ Ginny says, laughing inside, imagining Harry’s horror on learning what explanation he had to make soon.

    - Afifa
    - Write - Beta - Drabble - Duel - Help -

    Awesome avvie by Minna/minnabird.

  3. #13
    My reading practices have changed a lot over the years. I've come to the point where I'd choose an R-rated story over a G-rated story, if it came to choosing. But, at the same time, if a story looks well-written than I won't not read it because of the rating.

    As far as content, I actually can be very wary of stories with a multitude of warnings. Not because I don't like sensitive subject matter, it's just that I think a vast number of authors aren't equipped to handle it appropriately. As with most people, I imagine, I have my share of experiences that make certain subjects a bit touchy with me, and I have no problem with reading something that hits a sore spot - I like to be able to explore feelings within fiction - but if I feel it's dealt with badly, then I'm likely to get upset.

    My opinion is that a lot of "sensitive subjects" are used to sensationalise stories, to make them "more interesting". And a website with a load of hormonal teenagers who express themselves in writing can be a recipe for a large amount of superficially dark stories. Stories turn up with abuse, rape, alcoholism, self-injury, suicide, and more emotion and desire to "be deep" than any calm, serious understanding of the actual reality.

    I've actually spent a lot of time in the OC forum over the years, and this is really the main place that I see these subject matters crop up. And it's really hard to approach someone trying to create a character and criticise the way they've dealt with something like that. Especially if it may be something they've lived through and are trying to work on it through their writing.

    Though, I am reminded of something that Neil Gaiman wrote in his blog recently, about how you don't use problems that you're living through or trying to deal with. You deal with them as a person, not a writer, and when you have the perspective to look back on them and see and feel more clearly, then you write about them. I think this is how I feel about the writing of sensitive subject matter. As a teenager who is depressed and wants to rebell against the parents and cuts themselves to feel alive, you aren't going to have as much success writing a story about a character based on that. As someone who's had a few years perspective and can see past the pain and the hormones to what the real problems were, and write about them so the reader can see them, and not just the "melodrama" it's going to be far more genuine. Sure, you'll always get people who relate to your writing, but it doesn't mean that you've handled it sensitively. If you handle it sensitively, then the people who relate will still relate, and the ones that aren't in that place or have never been in that place, will too.

    So, yes. It's hard. It's hard to approach it when it feels like the person might be channelling their own experiences. But, I don't think it would stop me. It's just the most gentle criticism you'll ever give. In fact, I think the key is not to say "this is melodramatic; the prose is purple, and you've oversimplified a complication emotion." I think the key is to be encouraging. To say, well, I can see the reality in this, but there's so much more too it. Don't sell it short by making it about angst. Take some time to try and see the larger structure, the underlying factors. And don't try to make it like every other story out there, don't go for the stereotypes.

    Because with that, you're not only encouraging a more serious approach to a sensitive subject, you're also encouraging the person's understanding of it. And whether it's something they've personally experienced or not, understanding is very important.

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