Non-story Content

One of the rules under entries not allowed is non-story content. There are actually two things the site says about non-story content. The first most people are familiar with, the first rule under entries non allowed that says "Non-stories: lists, bloopers, polls, previews, challenges, author notes, and etc." are not allowed as entries. I specifically say entries here, because there is an additional part of the guidelines that people miss. "The chapter system is not to be used as a placeholder for non-story content such as author notes. You can add short author notes to the beginning or at the end of stories but never as individual chapters."

The reason non-story content is not allowed as individual entries is because it amounts to spam. Let me repeat that it is not allowed as individual entries. Non-story content is though allowed at the beginning or end of a story as long as brevity is used on the part of the writer. I bring this up because I still remember when one person when around trying to tell people that author's notes were not allowed at all. Non-story content is simply not allowed to be posted as individual chapters and is not to comprise most of your work. I am going to go over each item one at a time, among a few others about why they are specifically not allowed and some of the options a person has when it comes to these items. However, first I am going to go over why non-story content amounts to spam.

This is how the site works. When a person posts a new story or updates a chapter, their story ends up on the just in page as well as the first page of their fandom. There are certain people who go looking for stories via the just in page or by the front page of the fandom listings. If a persons summary is good enough, they will draw in readers who may perhaps normally read only for a particular ship. When someone posts non-story content though, they bump one person off the front page and their chances of getting noticed go away as only one update per day will bump you up in the listings. Posting non-story content also isn't the same as posting story content because the people posting story content are also seeking attention for their stories and not some non-story content that is better off left elsewhere as taking attention away from another persons hard work is wrong.

Of course, the first thing on the list of non-story content is lists and unlike the other non-story content the fact stands that lists in fact do involve work and the people posting them do want people to see the work put into them. Note here that I said "work put into them" and not "hard work put into them". Despite the fact making a list may take up time on the part of the writer, putting together a list is a lot easier to do then actually writing a story. Many of the people who don't write lists because of the site rules would in fact go ahead and write lists. It would pad a persons word count, not to mention make it harder for people to find stories. It also chews up server space that could be used for actual stories.

One of the items on the list is bloopers. I've honestly had to think about why bloopers are on the list of non-story content. When I first joined the site I saw quite a few blooper stories that each chapter amounted to one major blooper that had a decent length to it along with falling and rising action. Thinking back on it, those pieces fit the definition of omake rather then the definition of blooper. A real blooper actually isn't a story. There is no falling and rising action and there is no decent length. There is just the sudden action and then the writer moves onto the next "blooper" in line. They're quick and sporadic, while omake typically have depth to them and tell their own wacky story that is either an extension of the original or mocks the original in some manner.

The other problem with bloopers comes from the fact every person writing bloopers are going to make the same jokes about the content over and over and thus you'll end up with many pieces that are similar to each other. There is no originality for bloopers when it comes to writing and to be honest, it isn't the same when an actor makes a blooper on stage. If a character actually made a blooper, the entire story would be different. Which makes me wonder what the point of bloopers actually are. I guess like lists it is an easy way for a writer to pad their word count. And if the so called blooper is a story, it really isn't a blooper.

Polls are another story. Every writer has a time when they need some advice about what to do with their story, either because they have severe writer's block or they aren't sure how many chapters to make a one-shot collection they are writing. Thankfully the site came up with the poll system in order to help cut down on the polls that were appearing as individual chapters. The fact is though, when you update your story with a poll it first off annoys the readers because they aren't getting an update. Second, I've seen many writer delete the poll after they finished and then post the new chapter, only for certain reviewers to be unable to review the chapter because you can only review the chapter once with a signed account. If you leave it, it breaks up the flow of a story.

Moving right along as the Muppets say, we come to previews. While a preview does in fact contain story content, it is not a story. It is yet another way for writers to pad their word count and it is a way for writers to advertize their newest work. On one side, there is nothing wrong with self-advertisement. On the other side, people do not like commercials and when people read books they do not expect advertisement. Most of the previews also aren't like the ones you find in published novels as they give little to no information and work to draw people in by enticing word choice. I'd much rather see a writer say, "I'm working on such and such a story next" then see a preview which tells me little to nothing about the actual story they want me to read. I mean, the previews need to be kept short otherwise they are reportable to the site admins. On top of this, these previews end up being rough drafts the writer has put together.

Challenges are another issue. They are outright spam through and through. They can be posted to a persons forums and there are other options out there including a persons profiles. Each time a person posts a challenge they end up knocking another story down. Why do people do it? Because they think that by posting it as a story they'll get more attention for their challenge and more people entering it. Something I've discovered though is most challenges go unnoticed no matter where you post them. Actually, I'll end this by saying there is a lot I could say about challenges and that would amount to another essay.

We then come to the author's notes. They are allowed at the beginning and the end of the story and you can edit the stories if something really important comes up. Finding out that a story that you've been looking forward to seeing updated is really irritating. In the same regards as polls author's notes inserted as individual chapters does two things. First, the ones that are left up break the flow of the story. Second, the ones that end up being deleted cause the reviewers who review the author note not to be able to review the chapter when it does come up.

There is something that isn't on the list and that is character profiles. Character profiles are not a part of the story and are indeed non-story content. On top of this, a character profile is typically part of the brainstorming process that a writer is supposed to go through before they start writing their story. Why do people do it? Character profiles is another thing I can write an entire essay on. One of the reasons they do it is because they've created an uber cool character and they use it as an enticement to draw a person in because they know that their actual writing is lack luster. Unfortunately, while an actual profile is not indicative of a Mary Sue, when it is coupled with poor writing the chances of the character actually being a Mary Sue jumps up significantly. They also make it much easier for those who critique to pull your story apart without you having even gotten far into the story, particularly with the profiles that reveal actual plot elements that mess up canon.

Anyways, this was likely not my best essay for the Rules are Rules. It kind of just rambles and I'm not fond of it. The most important thing to take out of it though is posting non-story content does in fact negatively effect other members of the site.