Meta on Meta, Part 3: The Quest for Sources

Once you’ve decided upon a topic, it is time to begin the research process. I think this is often the most intimidating part of the process, and it’s again partly the fault of academia, which has allowed much of its material to be locked inside a room at the top of an ivory tower. Without […]

Meta on Meta, Part 2: 101 Approaches to Tolkien Meta, or What the Heck to Write About

Often I will see a fandom challenge or a call for papers, and my first thought is YES I WANT TO DO THAT. Which is generally immediately follow by a mixture of terror and ennui because I have no idea what I want to do for it, and at that precise moment, it seems I […]

Meta on Meta, Part 1: In Which I Try to Convince You to Write Nonfiction

August is the LotR Genfic Community’s annual nonfiction challenge. The challenge is simple: Write and post a piece of nonfiction on any Tolkien-related topic of your choice. Yet this month’s challenge never fails to overwhelm people, even the same people who effortlessly write fiction–including commentary on the legendarium–about Tolkien all the time. Nonfiction–or meta, in fandom-speak–is admittedly […]

Complex Characterization vs. Victimization (Or How to Write Complex Characters without Becoming an Apologist for Heinous Things)

The other day, I saw a quote about how inside every villain was a victim. Responses ranged from celebratory to scandalized, with the latter making the (valid, imho) point that responding to an awful act by trying to find how the perpetrator was somehow made a victim comes awfully close to becoming an apologist for […]

On Muses

I just read a post by sarajayechan on the JournalFen fandom_discuss community about the use and general fandom annoyance with the term muse. Her first paragraph sums it up pretty well: So in the fanfiction world, “muses” are apparently frowned upon. Authors who have convos with the characters in their authornotes are scorned, people who […]

Inferior Writing? On Chicklit, Fantasy, and Mary Sue

In the Arts section of DoubleX magazine this week is an article, The Death of Chick Lit, examining how the quintessential beach-reading genre might have to remake itself somewhat to accommodate its readers’ realities in a world in economic recession. The author, Sarah Bilston, argues that women won’t care as much about conflict spurred by […]

Storytelling: Much Ado about Nothing?

Back in late November, Stellaluna posted meta entitled Storytelling that I rather liked. It made the argument that stories aren’t “just stories” and authors can’t use this as an excuse for unwitting or insensitive depictions of typically disenfranchised groups. I liked it for this reason: I think it’s too easy and too common for stories […]

The Conflict of the Fannish and the Creative

This semester, I am taking a course called Women Writers. Next week’s topic is Rethinking the Maternal, with lots of intriguing readings on how women can balance the selfish needs of a writer with the selflessness of motherhood–or if it can be done at all. Now, Bobby and I have chosen to be child-free, so […]