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Thread: July Activities 2009

  1. #1
    GringottsVault711
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    July Activities 2009

    Choose one of your favourite characters (canon or original) and write a drabble that takes place when they are between the age of two to five years old.
    The drabble does not have to be from their PoV or entirely focused on them, but they must be present and they should be of significance to the premise of the story or scene


    Rules/Guidelines

    • Drabble can be between 250-800 words.
    • Content should not be any higher than a 3rd-5th Years rating. (Especially not with the little one present!)
    • All content that would require a warning on the MNFF Archive should be labeled.
    • This thread is for responses only. If you have a question, PM me.
    • Responses must be posted by July 31st, 2009.
    • Please post using this format:

      Title: Little Lucius
      Word Count: 450 (This may be approximate)

      Story Text Story Text Story Text Story Text Story Text Story Text Story Text
    • As with all activities within the SPEW forum, this challenge is open only to SPEW members.

  2. #2
    GringottsVault711
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    July Discussion: Mature Content

    You don't want to know where this idea came from, , but this month's discussion involves mature content and sensitive subject matter and it's relation to reviewing.

    This can apply to either what is known via MNFF warnings as "Sexual Situations", to any other sensitive subjects such Substance Abuse, Mental Disorders, Suicide, Self-Injury, etc;

    The main issue here is that, as writing mature and sensitive subject matter is more intense and should be done more carefully than other writing in general, the same applies to reviewing said subject matter.

    A few questions to start you off, though, as always, you don't need to stick to these:

    • Does the rating or the content of a fic play a factor in your choosing to read/review it? If so, how?
    • As a reviewer, are there any specific instances where mature or sensitive subject matter has been touched upon in your review?
    • How do you approach critiquing a mature or sensitive subject matter in a review?
    • As an author, are there any specific instances where mature or sensitive subject matter has been mentioned by a reviewer?
    • As an author, what kind of consideration do you give to reader comments on mature or sensitive subject matter?


    * If you have any need to use excerpts from story or reviews, please be sure to select them and edit them appropriately. Nothing above 3rd-5th years, please.

  3. #3
    Honigkuchenpferd Hufflepuff
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    Title: Promises
    Word Count: 583

    ‘I promise to be a good mother,’ Isla declared with a seriousness she had never felt before.

    ‘And what defines a good mother?’ Savaric asked curiously.

    He caught her by surprise, and she had to think about it for a while. What did define a good mother? Isla thought of her mother and how she was. ‘In my eyes, a good mother loves her children, spends time with them, listens to their complaints and worries, soothes them when they need it…’ she eventually answered, ticking off her fingers with the listing.

    ‘But what about punishments? Should a mother not punish her children when they behave badly?’

    This was another question where Isla had to think a while longer before she found an answer. ‘I always thought that this is the task of the father…’

    A chuckle from the armchair near the window let her look over to her brother Phineas. ‘A punishment – if deserved – is part of being raised, Isla,’ he lectured and turned a page in the book he was reading. ‘Punishments help shape a person’s character, and since the mother has a great part of the children’s education, it is her task to punish them, too.’

    Isla looked at Savaric, confusion clearly written all over her face. ‘Is it true?’ He nodded and she asked, ‘How? How does punishing someone help shape a character?’

    ‘If the child has stolen something,’ Phin started to explain, his voice patient, ‘it needs being punished, because?’ His grey eyes bore into his sister’s, prompting her to answer his question.

    ‘Because stealing is wrong. Everyone knows that.’

    Phin nodded approvingly. ‘That is correct, but even though children are taught not to steal, some do so to find out what will happen if their parents find out.’

    ‘This is stupid,’ Isla exclaimed, feeling proud to never have stolen anything.

    ‘I agree,’ Sybil, Savaric’s older sister, said, ‘but there are children that behave improperly to test their parents. And this behaviour needs punishment to show them what is right and just.’

    ‘So, Isla,’ Phin said, gaining the younger girl’s attention, ‘it is the duty of a good mother to punish such improper behaviour. A mother has an important role in the family.’

    Isla nodded, then turned back to Savaric. ‘I promise to be an ever better mother now that I know what needs to be done.’

    ‘What about being a good wife?’

    ‘Um…’ Isla stared at Savaric for a while, then scrambled up from the spot she was occupying on the study’s floor and went over to her brother. ‘Phin,’ she whispered into his ear, ‘what is a wife?’

    He chuckled quietly and turned another page; Isla wondered how he could read and still follow the conversation. ‘A wife is a woman that is married to a man. Mother is Father’s wife.’

    ‘Oh.’ Isla pondered. ‘And what defines being a good wife?’ she asked, forgetting to whisper. Isla did not notice it, though, not before Sybil answered.

    ‘A good wife means to fulfil your duties to your husband, be a good mother to his children, show him the respect he deserves. In general, if you devote to your husband utterly and without contradiction, you are a good wife.’ She sounded proud to know this.

    Isla needed a moment to process what she had said, but then she went back to Savaric, said down and promised in a celebratory tone, ‘I promise to be a good mother and wife.’ When Savaric smiled at Isla, she beamed back at him.
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  4. #4
    Sixth Year Hufflepuff
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    Okay, I generally don't read/review 'professor' rated fics, unless the summary is really good, and warnings like self-injury don't scare me away. I tend to be a little dubious of what I will find in them, because I don't particularly like really graphic stuff. And, while most fics with this rating I find are fine, occasionally there'll be one that's just a little Which is good, I guess, because that probably means the writing is pretty good, but... it can make me a little uncomfortable if it is too bloody, etc. >.> If I read a story of this rating, though, and I like it, I will review it. Why shouldn't the author receive a review when they've worked so hard, and I liked it?

    When it comes to warnings, I'm generally quite open. Suicide and self-injury will occassionally bother me a little if they're written really well/thoroughly, but both are touched upon quite a bit in society today, and I try not to shy away from them.

    When I review about stories with sensitive matter, I'm a lot more cautious with my wording than if I were to review a PG fiction. I'm very aware that sounding too... flippant could insult anybody reading my review, when the warning concerned is sensitive. I mean, anybody could have been affected in their pasts, or presents, by what it is the author is writing about - I'm particularly cautious of the writer themselves. So, when I do read/review stories of a sensitive nature, I strive to make my comments/critique of the sensitive content involved polite, and not too dismissive. Sometimes, I don't comment on it at all, though I really should because it's often a key part, because I can't get the words down right. Anyone else ever experienced that? Where you know what you want to say, but... you can't phrase it in a way that would make sense on paper? Yeah, I have that problem a lot.

  5. #5
    Fantasium
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    Title: Hatchling
    Word Count: 573
    Characters: Lucas Malory and Grace Malory, both OC's.

    “Careful, now. We’ll see if he manages on his own first,” the woman spoke in a low, soothing voice.

    “How do you know it’s a he, mum?” whispered the boy.

    “Look,” she said, gently waving her wand in a circular motion above the egg. “See how those spots move around? If they make a clockwise motion, it’s a female. Anticlockwise means male,” Grace explained, stilling the swirl of spots with another flick of her wand.

    Lucas nodded, his gaze transfixed on the little egg. It was cold in the draughty, windowless owlery and his breath rose in puffs of white mist, but he was protected from the elements by a woollen cloak and the warm rush of excitement. A late moon shone brightly from the night sky, and the silence was only disturbed by the occasional hoot, and a slight rustle as the unhatched owl sought to break free of its confinements.

    Looking up at his mother’s face, Lucas saw that she was watching him. He smiled to let her know how happy he was to be there. Countless times he had begged to watch the birth of a new little bird, but she had remained unyielding in spite of his pleas. He was too young, she had explained in her kind voice, and she knew that he might upset the mother owl in his excitment. But now, at the age of four, his attempts at reining in his boyish unruliness had finally paid off and he felt proud. His mother trusted him to be here tonight, and there could be no greater praise.

    He held back a gasp as he saw the fragile walls of the egg crack. For a second he thought he could sense the struggle of the little chic inside, but then a piece of spotted shell fell out and the moment passed. Maybe the bird had been fortified by the first taste of fresh air, because his efforts seemed to double. Relentless picking soon earned him several more cracks and holes, and a feeble squeak was heard from inside. A little more work, and a bald head was peering out of the egg.

    “This is where we help him,” Grace instructed her son. “We don’t want him to hurt his little neck on those sharp edges. Here, you can stroke Bronwyn for me so that she keeps calm.”

    Lucas shuffled over so that he could rest his fingertips against the silky feathers of the grown owl. With his eyes still on the nest and the cracked egg, he began to pat her wings and chest, and the bird made a soft noise of contentment. Together, they watched how Grace leaned forward and began to pry the egg apart. Her hands were absolutely steady and she breathed evenly. Soon, the baby eagle owl was resting on the soft bed of his mother’s down and Grace turned to smile at Lucas.

    “There. You can release Bronwyn now so that she can come see her son. I have a feeling he’s going to become a very fine post owl.”

    “He’s so tiny,” Lucas said, still whispering as he carried the owl to her nest.

    “He’ll grow fast, just like you have. You did a good job tonight,” Grace smiled and put an arm around Lucas’ shoulders. He leaned against her and breathed in the safe scent of his mother, completely content with being in her company and having earned her approval.

  6. #6
    ms. leading
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    - Does the rating or the content of a fic play a factor in your choosing to read/review it? If so, how? No. I'm perfectly content with reading up to Professor rated fics with the more serious or confronting warnings, so long as the idea and summary attracts my interest. When reviewing these fics, I'm more inclined to pay attention to how well they wrote the theme that required the warning than focus on other aspects of the piece. They're there to confront me, I'm sure, so I'm going to make comments on them.

    - As a reviewer, are there any specific instances where mature or sensitive subject matter has been touched upon in your review? I haven't really reviewed all that many mature or sensitive fics. But when I do, they're usually done very well as I've sort of sensed that they would be from early on in the fic, or in the summary. I know MorganRay approaches dark concepts very well, and I've noted these aspects in reviews for her. If someone didn't do handle the themes well at all and based what they wrote on stereotypes, I'd definitely let the writer know in my review, but put it lightly. It's difficult to write such themes, and it's definitely a learning process, so writers need to receive helpful feedback.

    - How do you approach critiquing a mature or sensitive subject matter in a review? As sensitively and maturely as the subject matter itself As I said above: it's a learning process, writing these themes, so we as reviewers need to be as constructive as possible in order for the writer to get more deeply in touch with the idea and emotions they're trying to put across.

    - As an author, are there any specific instances where mature or sensitive subject matter has been mentioned by a reviewer? Yes. I've written a fic or two with the Non-consensual Sex warning as a theme. It was fairly well received as I never wrote anything too graphic. I think I approached it with sensitivity and my readers appear to have valued that.

    - As an author, what kind of consideration do you give to reader comments on mature or sensitive subject matter? I take such comments to heart and apply them to future writing, as I would with comments on anything else. Reader input on sensitive themes can only help the writing process; it's difficult to judge how readers will receive these themes, so their comments are invaluable.

    - Cassie

  7. #7
    Fantasium
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    Interesting topic.

    I'm going to begin by blunt and say that, yes, the rating and warnings of a fic do affect what I choose to read, especially when it comes to romance. Sometimes, I'm just in the mood for something sweet and fairly innocent, and I know I'll be more likely to find that if I search for something rated for a younger audience. At other times, I might want something more explicit and then, naturally, I'll keep my eye open for something rated 6th-7th Years or Professors. However, over the years I've noted that some authors manage to pull off very intense emotions and mature tension through perfectly tame themes, whereas many who write higher ratings fail to create that with adult content.

    With fanfiction in general, I don't shy away from any particular content warning but I also don't go looking for self-injury or crude language. Now and then, I come across a story where the authors has very obviously included such themes simply to make their writing more interesting, and I try to comment on that while reviewing. It takes great skill to write a difficult theme that you have not personally experienced, and you can often tell from the writing if the author has lived through something similar or spent a lot of time contemplating it. If some kind of mature content is written without feeling or presence, I will try to gently question this in my review. Because, in my opinion, if you cannot write such a situation - be it a sexual relationship or a violent assault - with enough conviction to make your readers feel the pleasure or the despair, you should probably backtrack a few steps and write something less complicated while trying to gain more knowledge and a better understanding of those mature themes.

    Now, I don't have a problem with reviewing darker content, but sexual situations is an entirely different matter. Strange, really, because why should this be more personal than, say, a fic about suicide? But while I can comment thoughtfully on such a story, highlighting details about what made it believable, my response to an intimate scene will often be a collection of capitals and shifty eyes. Perhaps now, having brought that to my own attention, I'll be able to keep it in mind and try for something more constructive.

  8. #8
    A.H.
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    * Does the rating or the content of a fic play a factor in your choosing to read/review it? If so, how?

    It's iffy. Lately I've been choosing stories written by friends or found in the Tower (or harrassing people on AIM for their author page ). For quite a few weeks now I've really narrowed my review-ness down to the people I talk to frequently or who entered a contest on MNFF. Before these past few weeks though, I generally searched for stories in the 6-Professor range, because . . .

    Quote Originally Posted by Fantasium
    However, over the years I've noted that some authors manage to pull off very intense emotions and mature tension through perfectly tame themes, whereas many who write higher ratings fail to create that with adult content.
    I hadn't realized that^ XP Harry Potter is generally the only series/book I've read that doesn't involve mature themes. Hamilton, Keen, Koontz, etc. -- these authors are among the many who balance plain ole' interesting with mature/adult themes and don't tip the disgusting radar. Here at MNFF, it's rare that I find a fic with themes similar to the aforementioned authors, but I usually try to find them. I think I look for these stories here because I'm much more accustomed to reading these type of stories outside of FF and therefore I find it easier to give an honest opinion on them. I recently reviewed a romance (Moments, by ahattab -- read it!) and I believe I told him/her that the fic reminded me of a romance movie. >.> That's probably the awfullest review I've ever given but I just honestly can't find good critique in something I'm not familiar with, no matter how much I enjoy reading it.

    * As a reviewer, are there any specific instances where mature or sensitive subject matter has been touched upon in your review?

    In a review I gave Queen of Serpents (on the archives) for Delightful Pain, I think I sort of fixated on the sensitive subject matter. It just amazed me how well the entire story was written and how the author made Draco a rapist and Hermione a victim seem so utterly plausible (while they were still at Hogwarts) and at the same time kept them in character. The story's premise was nothing but mature themes -- it was hard to avoid it in the review.

    In other instances, I'm sure I have now and then. If there's something pertaining to the sensitive subject I feel I should point out, and if I'm not uncomfortable with it (which really, has never happened, 'cause if I were uncomfortable I wouldn't read it in the first place), then there's no reason I wouldn't bring it up in the review.

    * How do you approach critiquing a mature or sensitive subject matter in a review?

    The same way I would with any other subject matter. If the author was comfortable writing about it, I doubt the author would find it necessary for a reviewer to be sensitive about talking about it. I agree with Cassie in that the review shouldn't go outside the bounds of the story; if sex was alluded to in the story, the review shouldn't contain content critiquing a graphic sex scene, advising the author to be more realistic.

    * As an author, are there any specific instances where mature or sensitive subject matter has been mentioned by a reviewer?

    Gah *squishes the Natasha that is not here* Natasha reviewed Family Bonds and though the subject matter wasn't very sensitive (mild domestic violence), her critique on characterizing and the actual scene was just uber helpful. Hearing her opinion on it and how things went down in the story seriously opened my eyes about where I should go with the story. *squishes her again*

    Generally, I can't write the material I enjoy reading, so I don't have any fics/chapters up yet that contain violence, non-con, suicide, etc.. Eventually Seven and Family Bonds are going to get heavy in certain instances, so we'll see. :]

    * As an author, what kind of consideration do you give to reader comments on mature or sensitive subject matter?

    I (would :P) treat them as I do comments on the other aspects of the story. Everything should be considered with the same . . . professional eye. If the story contained mature themes and the reviewer was considerate enough to shed their opinion on them, then I wouldn't treat them with more or less attention than comments on other aspect on the story. Unless of course I needed more help/opinions on the subject. Depends on where and what my weak spots are, I guess.

    -Ari-

  9. #9
    Hermoine Jean Granger
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    Personally, when I began reading fanfiction a year ago, I stayed quite away from anything that had a rating above 3rd-5th years. >.> Of course, that has changed quite a lot now, but still, there are topics and warnings that I tend to stay away from. When I think about reasons, I think it basically boils down to preferences. Mature content in a story doesn't necessarily put me off, as long as the story has a plot and a solid base, but I've found through experimentation that certain themes aren't my most favourite topics to read about, either.

    My choice to read or not read something depends more on the summary and the title-- they are the things that attract me to a story. I do give a cursory glance at the ratings and warnings, especially if the fic has a high rating, but I don't think it's detrimental to my reading or not reading a story. I don't think I scout for stories with particular rating/theme, mainly because as Anna pointed out, stories which are not rated high can also pull off some brilliant and intense scenes that pull the reader in.

    When it comes to the matter of reviewing such fics, however, I do ponder. I wonder about how my critique or praise would go across to the author, especially while voicing my opinions on a topic that evokes strong emotions in people. Reviewing something which evokes strong emotions is always treading on a fine line, and it's not really difficult for words on a screen to get twisted or get interpreted in a different fashion. When I look to critique mature content in a story, the first thing that I think of is how significant the content is to the overall story, or if it is there 'just for kicks'. I don't really think that adding mature content which has nothing at all to do with the direction of the plot of a story, but has been added to increase readership achieves anything, and that I would point out, though not as bluntly.

  10. #10
    Sixth Year Hufflepuff
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    Sainyn Swiftfoot's Avatar
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    Title: Questions
    Words: 323

    The kid is just three. His eyes are full of tears, eyes which are sparkling in the lights with a sadness not deserved on Christmas eve. He sits on his mother's lap, on a large armchair by the Christmas tree.

    'Mummy...' he whispers, the word broken by a hiccough brought on by crying. 'Mummy, is it true... is it true that Father Christmas does not exist?'

    His mother doesn't seem to know how to answer this. 'What... what makes you say that, darling?' she asks. Her voice sounds heavy with concern.

    'Mummy, Spyrius says that Father Christmas is just a story!' he says, looking up at his mother's face. His mother has to know everything.

    'Darling... Spyrius is a child, just like you. He doesn't know the truth... See, if Father Christmas doesn't exist, who puts your gifts under your tree?'

    'But mummy, Spyrius' daddy told him Father Christmas that... Why don't I have a daddy?'

    'Blaise, who says that you don't have a daddy? What about Regulus?'

    'Mummy, that man said that he isn't my daddy! He hit me, mummy!' She looks shocked, and puts her head in her hand.

    'Stupid, stupid Regulus...' she mutters. 'Darling, I don't want to tell you this now, but I suppose I have to... You know how Spyrius' owl died? The owl named Zeus? Something like that happened to your father.'

    'Mummy, Spyrius told me that Zeus died because he had put his mother's perfume in its feed... Did you do that to daddy?'

    She reels for a second, before steadying herself and answering, 'No. No, darling, nothing like that. He died... he died on his own. It's like he went away, went away for a long time...'

    There is silence for a few seconds, before Blaise says, 'We don't need a daddy, do we mummy?'

    'No. No we don't, honey,' says his mother, biting back her tears. 'We don't.'

    'Merry Christmas, mummy.'

    'Merry Christmas, darling.'
    I hope it's okay?

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