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Thread: July Activities 2011

  1. #1
    jenny b
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    July Activities 2011

    Just so you all remember, there was more or less a unanimous decision to move SPEW Buddies from being a review replacement to a monthly activity. I'm starting this thread a little before the beginning of July to give you guys time to sign up and I can answer any questions you may have about how it will work, etc.

    So basically now you have four monthly activities to choose from: the drabble, the discussion, reviewing the featured author, and the character chat with your SPEW buddy. As of July, SPEW Buddies will no longer be a review replacement.

    SPEW Buddies will work the same as always: you sign up for a buddy, and you must review that buddy before the end of the month. That still counts as one of your required reviews if you so wish. You and your buddy are not required to do the character chat, but if you choose to, then you can count it as a monthly activity. You must do the character chat for SPEW buddies to count as your monthly activity.

    If you have any questions or concerns about the way it will run, then either post them here or PM me. I just wanted to trial this for July, and then if it doesn't work out then we can either try something different next month or revert back to the old requirements. I have updated this thread to reflect the new ways of meeting your requirements.

    So if you would like to partake in SPEW buddies for July, please sign up in this thread. I will assign buddies on the 1st of July, and then you have until the end of the month to post your character chats in this thread if you wish to do one.

    Jennifer

  2. #2
    Ebil Lieutenant Ravenclaw
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    I think I'd like to sign up again -- it was fun when I did it before

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  3. #3
    Fourth Year Ravenclaw
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    I'd like to sign up also.
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    Sign me up please
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  5. #5
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    July Monthly Feature: Poetry

    I have decided that it's time to expand the scope of the monthly featured author. Instead of featuring an author, it can be any variety of things, but this month, I'll be headlining something that is very near and dear to my heart.

    One of the biggest challenges in reviewing is evaluating poetry. One of the most common perceptions of doing so is that poetry is so subjective and difficult to be sure about in terms of meaning. But I have found that, throughout both my tour in 'Poetry, Anyone?', this is a misconception. You don't need to be a great poet to understand what poetry means or what it means to you specifically. Poetry is the art of interpretation and being emotive. And the best part of it is that every poem means something different to everybody. Poets take great joy in sharing a bit of themselves to see what others will make of it. While it's not the easiest thing to write, reading poetry truly is for everyone.

    With that in mind, this is my challenge to you: I would love to see you all review a poem this month. There are over 1100 poems in the MNFF archive, so finding one on a subject you find interesting shouldn't be an issue. Poetry makes up almost 1/8 of the entire bulk of the archives, yet it is, by far, the least read and reviewed.

    But SPEW Queen, reviewing poetry is hard!

    Yes, it can be a bit challenging, but being able to offer meaningful critique and appreciation is a universal concept, so it's a necessary step in your respective evolutions as reviewers to be able to give stellar feedback for something that often has a shorter word count than your first two paragraphs. It's difficult, but it can be done.

    What if I get stuck?

    No worries, amigo! SPEW is here to help. If you have any questions whatsoever about reviewing poetry, feel free to post it in this thread. It would make me very happy to see a discussion about reviewing spring up, with the result leading to everyone learning something that will help them in the future. In fact, if you do choose to do this activity, I am going to require you ask one TQ (topic question) about the subject, such as asking SPEWers what they found the most challenging or how they feel about certain grey areas of critiquing poems.

    Over 1100 poems! Wow, that's a lot. Buuuuuuuuuuuuuut, I still can't find a poem that I'd like to review.

    If you'd like to participate in this activity but can't quite find the right poem for what you are looking for, you can peruse the Recommend a Poem thread in Fiction Junction. If you don't find anything there, then just post in this thread and tell your fellow SPEWers what sort of themes you're looking for, such as Voldemort poems, Harry poems, battle poems, etc. Consider this thread both a discussion forum and a support group for those of you who are branching out into unknown territory.


    With that, please, go forth and read poetry! While this activity isn't compulsory, I would still really like to see more of you review poetry. Consider it both a growth experience and a gift to the least-reviewed genre in MNFF.
    Last edited by ToBeOrNotToBeAGryffindor; 07-06-2011 at 05:57 AM.
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  6. #6
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    July Discussion: Your Personal Views and Fan Fiction

    Every person has their own personal morality and series of beliefs. Often, those very mores encourage us to pursue some forms of entertainment whilst forgoing others. In this discussion, I'd like to see where you as SPEWers stand on this issue.

    Do your values and/or beliefs play a major role in what sort of fictions you choose to read here at MNFF?

    If so, do you feel like you're missing out on anything?

    If not, have you ever come across something that crosses the threshold of what you find comfortable?

    Do you have to make a conscious effort to keep your own views from colouring your reviews?



    These are just starter questions, so, by all means, add to them. I will say right now that this is by no means a sounding board for you to wave whatever flags you might be carrying, nor is it a place to judge others' tastes and preferences. It is a discussion, which should be conducted as politely and professionally as I know you are all capable.

    With all that disclaimer stuff aside, discuss!
    Jess WritesJess DrabblesJess DuelsJess PoetsJess Draws



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  7. #7
    'Til the end of the line Ravenclaw
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    July Drabble Challenge: Word Beads

    Some of you might recognise this time-tested challenge from The Three Broomsticks. It's easy to understand, and it can be rewarding to shoe-horn odd words into a drabble without it seeming odd at all. Here's how it works:

    Take the six words listed below and incorporate them into your drabble as neatly as possible and bold them so my old eyes can spot them. The words are:

    Mustache, flame, leg, fancy, smell, brilliant

    You are allowed to use the following derivations: alternate verb tenses, change singular to plural and vice versa, change the part of speech as long as the root word is intact and can still be conjugated as the original word ('that is a fancy dress'/'I fancied that dress' is okay, for example). Things you CANNOT do: incorporate a shorter word within a larger word (such as using 'legume' for your usage of 'leg' or 'flamethrower' for your usage of 'flame'), change the part of speech in a way that alters the root word to where it can't be conjugated back to its original form (like changing 'brilliant' to 'brilliance' or 'flame' to 'flammable').

    Drabbles should contain a solid basis in the Potterverse in that magic, magical characters with canon powers, or canon characters mentioned in some fashion must be the focus. Writing a random story and throwing in a random mention of Merlin in there isn't acceptable, as I'm sure you know. Yes, I will be checking to make sure you have all the words, and yes, I expect quality drabbles with proper SPaG from you guys.

    Please use this entry form for your drabbles, which should be between 300-800 words. If you are, for some reason, unable to cut down your word count, feel free to submit your drabble to the archive and post the link in the thread instead.

    PHP Code:
    [b]Title: [/b]
    [
    b]Rating/Warnings: [/b]
    [
    b]Word Count: [/b]
    [
    b]Author's Note: [/b] 
    If you have any questions, post them in the babble. But I think you've all done this in some form before, so with that, have at it!
    Jess WritesJess DrabblesJess DuelsJess PoetsJess Draws



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  8. #8
    Ebil Lieutenant Ravenclaw
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    Oooh, interesting topic!

    Do your values and/or beliefs play a major role in what sort of fictions you choose to read here at MNFF?

    Not always. Going back to the controversial topics discussion we had, I think my beliefs do play a part in what I read. But usually, I acknowledge that such and such happens in RL and that's not a reason for me not to like it. Infidelity, for example -- it completely goes against my morals but I'm fine reading it because I know it happens in RL and I understand that it's people's choices to be unfaithful.

    If so, do you feel like you're missing out on anything?

    There are some things I don't feel comfortable reading, purely because it strongly goes against my beliefs, both moral and religious. The main one is incest, which is why I'm grateful MNFF doesn't allow it, because while it may happen in RL, I don't want to read it and actually, it does disgust me. So no, I don't feel I'm missing out on anything.

    If not, have you ever come across something that crosses the threshold of what you find comfortable?

    No, I've never come across anything too horrific. I try and read the summaries of fics before I read the actual stories and if there's a warning in there that I don't like, I won't read it. That said, I have come across fics that make me squirm but not because of any controversial themes or anything. Basically, I'm a bit of a grammar Nazi and if a story has a lot of typos or weird dialogue or it doesn't flow, it makes me uncomfortable, because at the end of the day, that author did put in the work to write the story. It's just, it wasn't very good. And then if I see the reviews it receives and it's all gushing praise, I feel even more uncomfortable and it makes it difficult for me because on the one hand, I don't want to upset the author but on the other, I don't want the author to get false praise either.

    Do you have to make a conscious effort to keep your own views from colouring your reviews?

    No. My views are never that strong, at least not with anything fanfic-related. If I'm reading a ship I don't normally read, I will tell the author that. Gladly. Of course, after I do that, I say that their story was a nice change from that, etc., etc. And normally, I don't review stories I don't like -- I've received negative one-liners before and it's not nice. But it's also not nice to review a story and give mostly negative feedback because as I said above, it could potentially upset an author.

    And now for some more TQs.

    Is there any ship you refuse point-blank to read/review? Do you ever make exceptions?

    For me, it's Lily/Scorpius and Draco/Hermione. I'm yet to read an MNFF Draco/Hermione story. However, I recently beta'd a Scily for Alex, and while I still loathe the ship, the story was very good, so it sort of compensated for it. I don't think I would agree to beta it if it was written by an author who I didn't know, or rather, whose style I was unfamiliar with.

    So I'm a Harry/Ginny shipper, for example, but I loved Jess's Ginny/Gabrielle story as well, although I made it clear I'm still a Harry/Ginny shipper.

    If there are certain warnings you don't normally read but then an author you like writes a story with them, would you read it?

    Not entirely sure about whether I would or not -- might edit this in later.

    And finally:

    In a similar vein of Jess's questions, do you moral/personal/religious (if any) beliefs affect what you write?

    This one's definitely true for me. I don't think I could write non-consensual sex or glorified rape or dubious consent because they just go too much against my beliefs. So while I might be okay reading it (and it depends partly on the rating too) I don't think I could write it. I'd do it really, really badly, which is why I don't even bother trying.

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  9. #9
    Seventh Year Gryffindor
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    (Sorry TQs aren't in bold- for some reason my mouse doesn't like the Bold button and I'm about to go out/ too lazy to insert the tags manually- sorry :/) Taken care of. P.S. -- you can use Ctrl B, and the tags will appear.

    Do your values and/or beliefs play a major role in what sort of fictions you choose to read here at MNFF?

    No, they don’t. I accept that other people have different opinions and beliefs to me and if I read a story which was shoving their belief in my face I might get annoyed, but I’ve never come across a fanfiction that does that.

    If not, have you ever come across something that crosses the threshold of what you find comfortable?

    Yes, but I’m not sure whether this is because of my values or beliefs. Humanity can be pretty horrible sometimes and people want to write about that, which is fine but I hate it when it doesn’t ring true. Like stories where a relationship which begins with rape develops into a positive relationship. That just doesn’t happen- or if it does I am yet to read a story where it’s done convincingly and realistically. I can understand the person being raped developing feelings like love for the rapist in order to maintain their own sanity but that’s different and far more complex than I really want to think or read about.

    There are a couple of stories like that on MNFF- when I was 14 and had a weird thing for Draco/ Hermione (I now really hate that ship) there were a few which started like that and I stopped reading pretty quickly.



    Do you have to make a conscious effort to keep your own views from colouring your reviews?

    No, definitely not. On the contrary, one’s own view is part of the review. The fact that you have an opinion on the story is a mark of it being interesting and, particularly if that story changed your view or made it more ambivalent (like seeing a different side to a previously disliked character) then that’s a good thing. Like in Carole’s story “Xanthe, Interrupted,” I said in my review what I thought a certain character should have done. But Carole characterised this character as behaving differently and made her reasons for behaving that way perfectly clear- and since I understood that I think that’s fine and a mark of a good story.

    Although- in one chapter in Thin Red Lines a character considers an abortion. A couple of the reviews for that said that they were pro-life. Which I can respect (sort of- stops flag waving very quickly-) but I did feel obliged to say in my response that I was pro-choice and, whilst one understood the character’s choice/ need to consider that option another review just seemed a bit--”If this character has an abortion then I’ll stop reading” which I found off-putting.


    Is there any ship you refuse point-blank to read/review? Do you ever make exceptions?

    Draco/ Hermione. Though I think Jess started writing one recently and I did read, and was intrigued by, the first chapter of that. I may have to finish that, but that’s because it’s Jess and I know Draco won’t be wearing leather pants/ trousers and Hermione won’t be hating him one second and falling at his feet the next. Lol, don't count on it.

    Also- pre JKs “Dumbledore’s gay” revelation- Dumbledore/ McGonagall. I knew that was wrong.

    And Severus/ Anyone except unrequited love for Lily. Severus’ inability to get over her is such a part of his character that I don’t see how it could work. Cheap one-night stands and loveless relationships maybe- I wouldn’t refuse to read them, but I’ve never read any.

    I don’t particularly like Teddy/Victoire or Rose/ Scorpius but that’s just because JK basically said they would happen and I don’t like that (I have problems with the Epilogue generally) but I certainly don’t refuse to read them. However I only read them if they are by an author I already like.

    Since people tend to advertise their stories based on prominent ships, it’s generally easy to tell whether it contains a ship I won’t like therefore I don’t bother reading therefore don’t bother reviewing.

    If there are certain warnings you don't normally read but then an author you like writes a story with them, would you read it?

    I’ll read pretty much any warning, except dubious consent but that’s because it’s usually badly handled. He/ she was drunk/ high/ they didn’t say no therefore they meant yes are not excuses. An exception to this is Carole’s story “Bound In The Beating Of Each Other’s Hearts”. If it wasn’t by Carole I wouldn’t have read it.

    So yes, if it’s an author who I know is good then I’ll read any warning by them.

    In a similar vein of Jess's questions, do your moral/personal/religious (if any) beliefs affect what you write?

    If I’ve got a good enough grip on the character then I’m able to understand that they think this and are willing to do this even if I am not. Maybe this is because I think most people are capable of anything given a certain situation, which means my spectrum is pretty broad. If I can see myself, maybe under slightly different circumstances but nevertheless, if I can see myself doing the same thing then it’s fine.

    When I can’t, I find it difficult. I came across this briefly when I had to write about Augustus Rookwood enjoying being a Death Eater. I didn’t like writing that, and it was the last part I wrote of the chapter it appeared in, despite being in the middle of said chapter.

    Now- I’m trying to write a sequel to the Scily Soraya just beta-ed for me. And the problem is the one thing I keep on wanting to write about is guilt- now I’ve written about guilt before but all the times I’ve written about it in any detail I can sympathise with their reasons for feeling guilty/ why they acted the way they did and to some extent exonerate a character even if the character can’t exonerate themselves. This time I can’t. He has no excuse but he would feel genuinely guilty. And although I’ve written part of it I’m not sure whether I want to show it to anyone else, partly because I think Harry Potter is horribly OOC.

    And I have problems writing religious characters. In “Dark Was The Night” it was fine because the religious character was being viewed by Lucy who, like me, is an atheist. But I’ve tried to write a first-person story (in OF and FF) where he’s religious and by the end of both stories the character had lapsed.

    TQS

    Have you ever come across ‘preachy’ stories on MNFF? If so do you like them, dislike them, feel the author needed to write the story that way or that it was unnecessary?

    Why do you think MNFF allows you to search for certain warnings?


    I found this out when my mouse went haywire. I can understand people wanting to read certain topics but I find thinking about the reasons why we want to read stories about, as an example, suicide, slightly strange. It’s probably the same reason that I’m drawn to writing about things like that, because it’s interesting and you get inside someone’s head, which is enjoyable. But is there something slightly voyeuristic about reading (fanfiction and otherwise) at quite a basic level?

    (If I’ve gone too English-studenty/ Literary Theories-y on you all there feel free to ignore)
    Last edited by ToBeOrNotToBeAGryffindor; 07-04-2011 at 04:42 PM.
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  10. #10
    Fifth Year Gryffindor
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    I reviewed The Lady Hufflepuff by minnabird (here).

    It was a really fantastic poem, by the way. Definitely worth reading .


    EDIT with TQs:

    Do you find your poetry reviews are often shorter than ones for 'regular' fiction?

    In your reviews, do you point out when a rhyme scheme seems too forced, or is that considered being nit-picky?



    And then answering Alex's (or one of them, anyway).

    Do you judge MNFF poetry by the same standards you would, if you write it, judge your own poetry or the poetry of others? Or do you 'lower' your standards?
    I'd like to think I keep my standards the same. Sometimes I think I judge MNFF poetry too harshly, as it's probably hard to incorporate elements of the Potter universe into flowing prose -- at least in my opinion it is. Some poetry on the archives I haven't really enjoyed at all, while the reviews for it say that it's amazing (none of the onesJess recommended, by the way). So I think I might be setting my expectations a little too high, which is why it's always astounding when a poem manages to surpass them.

    Thank you to Hokey for the beautiful banner. And thank you to everyone who nominated and judged --I'm so grateful to you <3.

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