Special thanks to the person who pointed out a couple of things that I needed to fix grammar wise last chapter.
Have you come across someone who complains about something hindering their creativity when they write fanfiction? Chances are if you've critiqued fanfiction in the past you may have someone who has told you that their creativity is hindered by you telling the writer their work is flawed. That is one of the reasons why people spout off this excuse to people. However, chances are you'll have heard of this excuse even if you haven't critiqued as it is a common excuse that crops up when people are breaking the site rules. They'll say something like how their mad that they can't write a certain way, or they'll go so far to say that they'll post stuff because they disagree with the rules of the site. That's a great way to lose your stories by the way.
Anyways, let's start off with some of the rules that people think hinder their creativity. One of the rules makes it clear that you're not to write stories in chat or script format, the exception to the rule apparently being the play category here on fiction press. Some people believe that their creativity is hindered if they can't write in script format. Since they can't write in script format they feel that they can argue that their creativity is being hindered by the site admins as well as the people who ruin their fun by telling them that the story is against site rules.
They may say something like, "it is easier to write in script format rather then writing regular dialog". In which case I say, "you're being lazy". No, seriously... the reason you find it easier is because you have only one option for writing dialog, while there are so many more options in story format. That taken in mind, which would you say is being more creative? It's the option where you have more choices and in the long run taking the easy way out means you're not being creative at all.
Other people may say, "but the original format was television and I've just got to write in script format." It's kind of like the people who think you can't cross over a live action movie with an animated series because they're in different formats and the person can't imagine it being any other way. The reason a person has to write in such a format because they are unable to use their imagination or be creative.
Then there are the people who say something along the lines, "this is the format I want to write my stories in", or "I feel that I should be able to write in any format I want because that is part of my creative freedom. The first question I am going to ask of these people is, do you actually know what script format is used for? Because if you don't know what it is used for and write in the format just because you can, chances are your story could very well not need the format in the first place. And no, contrary to what you think it doesn't spice it up at all. It serves no purpose. When one is truly being creative they do things based on purpose and innovation and simply using something because you can is not innovative. But what about those who know what script format is for? You even more should know there is no reason for using that format unless you just plain wanted to be lazy.
Let's take a look at another rule that people say hinder their creativity, the rule against interactive and second person point of view. We'll start off with the interactive side of things. Aren't interactive fanfics indeed creative? I'm going to say here that some are, but some aren't. One of the reasons they aren't allowed though is because they're a form of game. So then, they're not allowed because they're not a story? Well, I didn't say that. It is a little more complicated then that. They're not allowed because they are a game. They do not fall under the five major forms of literature, which are according to wikipedia novel, poem, drama, short story or novella. Drama's despite being one of the major forms are as I said not allowed on the site and that is because of the purpose in script writing.
But some people may be saying here, but wait! Those Choose Your Own Adventure books I read as a child are novels, so that means that they should be allowed. Except they're not novels, they're a rather new form of literature that is called "gamebook". The format is under a hundred years of age and while it is a legit form of story telling its has a very specific purpose behind the format just as drama has a very specific kind of purpose. Like script format it isn't something you go and write because you can write it, you go and write it. If the purpose is not there in the first place then there is no reason to be writing in a format that serves that specific purpose. Doing so isn't creative nor does it spice up your story.
What though is the purpose of the gamebook format though? It is to play a game with the readers on the site, is it not? Well, the site admins have decided that the purpose of the site is not to play games with the other members of the site. It is not a social networking site for one thing, it is a site specifically for writing stories to share with others. One could argue that the person is indeed writing a story to share with others, but are they? The thing about the gamebook format is that it goes beyond simply writing a story to share with others, the writer wants the reader to interact and a lot of interaction does indeed go on. The idea is to write your own story with no outside help except from one or two people you've selected as co-writers or someone you're getting to Beta.
And gamebook doesn't do that. Some people may be thinking right about now that the published CYOA books out there don't have any reader input, but something that needs to be kept in mind is that the writers who publish these books publish the whole thing all at once. That isn't the case when it comes to fanfiction. No, each part is written and posted as it is written. The writer has to go back in and edit chapters to reflect which chapter to turn to. While some of the better writers won't take any input into the choices they make, but other writers do. Most CYOA involves the readers pretty much voting between two options and the writer not following up on the previous options. In other words the readers, not the writer dictates what goes on in the story.
But how is banning it fair to the CYOA writers who are willing to put all that work into their story. Simple. Neither site supports CYOA format. No, seriously. It is one thing when we're talking about CYOA format in books where the reader has to turn to the page, but when these stories are online each choice has a link provided that the reader can click. You can't put links in the stories. That's one of the reasons perhaps that some of the CYOA writers don't go and make the "other pages". The sites don't support true CYOA format. So this throws a ball in the whole being creative thing here, but what about some of the others?
One of the other types is Q&A. I'm going to note here that Q&A's should not be mistaken for stories where the writer writes up an interview with a particular character and asks the character questions of their own choosing. Q&A's are stories where the readers ask the characters questions. So whose coming up with the story? Not the writer., so the writer can't argue that they are being creative. How about the stories where they ask for characters as well? Umm... yeah, its the readers who are coming up with the story here. Sure, not the plot line, but they did handle one of the very important elements here. But the plot line would count as the writer being creative, right?
Well, there is another problem with these stories that ask for characters from other writers even if you get them via PM or via a forum. The creator of the character may not want to allow for the writer to make needed creative choices and they may not want certain things to happen to their prized creation. For example, I had a person who had an interactive story and deleted the entry who is now having to deal with one person who submitted characters to them not being happy about the fact the writer is wanting to make it so there aren't any Mary Sues or Gary Stues in their stories. Yup... one of those. They're not the writers, you are.
However, what about second person? Some people argue that there is such a thing as "non-interactive second person narrative" and I find myself shaking my head. The people who say this honestly haven't done their research. All second person narrative is by the very nature interactive. Why? To quote wikipedia here, "the rarest mode in literature (though quite common in song lyrics) is the second-person narrative mode, in which the narrator refers to the reader as "you", therefore making the audience member feel as if he or she is a character within the story." It doesn't matter if the reader knows they aren't the character, the point and purpose of the narrative is to self insert the writer into the story and make them feel as if they are the character.
Perhaps one of the reasons why people don't realize that it is interactive comes from the fact most of what you find in fanfiction is poorly written. Of course, you get people like the Homestruck fans who make arguments like "but this isn't in true Homestruck format", to which I yet again have to shake my head. Even if they were to use the same narrative style the story would not be in true Homestruck format because they aren't writing a comic. I also read a Homestruck fanfic that was rewritten by a writer who said that their story was poorly written because it was now in first person and I shook my head again. If we were to substitute it back to second person it still would be poorly written because it isn't that good of a story in the first place. I pick Homestruck because the fans seem rather adamant compared to some of the other fandoms.
Oh, and lets not forget about reader inserts! The purpose of those are obviously interactive are they not? These pose a problem of their own beyond what the others have said. As I have clearly stated, all second person is by its very nature is interactive. But its not the reader who is interacting with the writer, no... its the writer whose crossing the personal boundaries. The writer can tell you what it feels to be raped, what it feels like to be abused and they can tell you things like how romantic it is, despite the fact you the reader know its not and the writing will turn the readers stomach if not done right. By that I mean setting up the reader to know that they're taking on the role of someone with Stockholm Syndrome. Of course, most of the writers who pull the whole romantic thing aren't writing about a character with SS anyways, they're actually trying to pass off rape as romantic.
This is jarring mind you, being told to think in such a manner. But what about some of the younger members of the site. You can mention these subject matters in a T rated fanfic. Do you really think that parents would want their kids reading something where their kid was a character who got raped, mutilated among other things. Well, even if that doesn't phase you, there are people out there who don't feel at all comfortable with the second person. Some of you may be thinking here, don't like, don't read. I'm going to make myself very clear here though, its not the second person point of view we hate, or the fact we're being made to take on the particular role of a character to be raped, its how you the writer treat the subject matter and in turn how you respect the reader and their personal space.
I don't have problems with reading a well written second person fanfic, but most of what I've read fanfic wise is written by writers who are creating blatant self inserts for wish fulfillment for the reader and themselves that allows them to get horny with the canon characters. You end up not playing the role of a well fleshed out character, you end up playing the role of a two dimensional, unrealistic... oh boy... I started ranting there. Takes a few deep breaths. If you do a bit of research you'll find articles about how the second person narrative is the most personal narrative out there, as it pretty much tells the writer what to think. Getting into the skin of the horny writer... because that's the character we're really becoming... sure isn't comfortable. Goodness knows this isn't comfortable in the other narratives either, its like hell in second person.
So no, I don't think that being allowed second person narrative is really an issue of denying creativity. It pretty much denies a particular subset of the fandom from running a muck and forcing their delusional fantasies on the rest of the fandom in a manner that pretty much gives the rest of us migraines. There is rarely if ever a legit reason for writing in second person narrative. And no, doing it so that the readers can feel how the characters feel isn't a legit reason. You know why? You can do that just as well in third or first person narrative and if you're having to go to second person narrative to do it you really need to consider the fact the reason you're not able to do so in the other narratives is because its your weak point that you need to get over and that you need to stop using second person as a crutch for.
Some people are going to ask me here whether or not I've written anything in second person. I have written in that as well as script format. What can be done in second person can be done just as well in first person in most circumstances. There are a few that warrant the use of second person narrative, but not as many as people like to think. I had someone spout off how they felt that second person was under used once and that the site admins ban on it was stifling the writers from expanding the second person narrative so it was more accepted. Except it isn't an issue of second person narrative being accepted, its about the fact there is a limited reason to actually use said narrative. That's the real reason it is rare in publishing. And yet we see certain fanfic writers acting like it should be normal despite the fact publishing companies have a reason for not publishing many stories in this narrative.
Purpose. That is the big thing here, isn't it? What purpose does a songfic have? Yup, that's the next thing I'm going to discuss with people here. To quote the nastyhobbitses site which has an article on writing well written song fics, "a songfic one was a creative twist on the standard-issue vignette, but then the fangirls came." In other words, the point of doing a songfic is to spice a regular story up. You don't need the songfic to make the story succeed, but it does add an extra element to the story. So why not use that extra bit to add something to the story? Well, because of copyright law. Any songfic written with lyrics not in public domain breaks copyright law. You can't claim the site is infringing on your creative rights when you yourself have infringed upon another persons. You make yourself sound like a major hypocrite.
That also said, it's not songfic that is banned, but songfics that infringe upon the creative rights of another person by breaking copyright law. No, seriously... you can write a songfic that uses lyrics that are in public domain, or you can write your own lyrics. If you really, truly want to be creative then you'll take the time to do either one of those, you wouldn't be using work not in public domain. I know a lot of people here may whine and say, "but that's the song that inspired me to write this story". Umm... yeah, that may be the case, but do you really need the song to make your story work, or can you mention that the song inspired you? Or are you going to throw a tantrum over not being able to use it? Which brings me to another issue I wish to discuss when it comes to songfics.
Most writers don't use it because they want to be creative. They know that their writing isn't that great, so they slap a song in because they know that will get them more reviews no matter how bad their work is, or no matter how little work they put in compared into the song. I mean, I've seen writers who have had horrible stories slap a song in and readers gush praise over it, and I've also seen them get praised despite the fact up to as much as ninety percent of the work was the song. Worse yet, I've actually found one where the work was one hundred percent the song and the writer thought an author's note saying this is character A listing to character B would cut it. Oh no... it doesn't. These writers can not argue the creativity card at all.
Let's see... what else do I need to cover. The next major one that I feel needs to be covered is the rule against RPF. This is the one place I feel the site admins restrict creative freedom, however... you are writing about real people who are still living, right? It doesn't matter if they're famous or not, their personal lives and privacy are protected under law. They aren't someone you can just write any story you want about. Tabloids have faced lawsuits for knowingly publishing false stories. The site admins don't want to have to deal with that, neither do you. That's why the site admins do not allow non-historical, non-fictional characters. And no... it being a fictional story doesn't make them a fictional character.
Of course, the site admins have by mistake included non-fictional books in the book section. Don't be surprised if they suddenly disappear. Even though The Diary of Anne Frank contains historical characters, the site admins have removed it from the site because the book isn't fiction, it is non-fiction. You can still find the stories on people's profiles though and still read the reviews for the stories. The point though is, one of the arguments people have made about writing any RPF they want is that the site admins have not been strict on the rule and allowed some RPF fandoms that are non-fiction through. As I said, they'll eventually get reported to the site admins and removed. Note here, that the movie titanic is RPF, but is also historical fiction.
The last major one would be Ma content. I've seen people argue that their creative freedom has been hindered because they can't write their erotica. I and others have said this many times... bull. While some plots may call for sexual situations including the characters actually having sex, you don't have to go into romantic detail about the actual scene for your story to work. Wait... I should say graphic detail, because lets be honest... there is a major difference between romantic detail and the overly descriptive detail that the Ma fics go into. As someone else said, if you're not sure if your story is Ma or you believe it to be M, your safe. If it is borderline then the site admins may actually give you a chance to fix it rather then out right removing it. Heard this from someone else who had to edit their fic down a bit.
Oh... and those of you who knowingly post Ma content in the M rated section and try claiming that it isn't your fault kids find your explicit material, PLEASE SHUT UP! No, seriously... the M section is supposed to be for sixteen and up without parental supervision and/or permission. A parent who feels that their kid who isn't sixteen but is mature enough to read M material should feel they can allow their kids to freely read the M section. They should also feel its safe to allow their sixteen year old who is old enough to be reading that stuff to read it with no problems. And no... don't argue creative right here when you've infringed on the rights of every single person whose expected the story to contain M rated material, only to have it be Ma. It is your fault. I question the maturity level of most of the people who complain that not having Ma infringes on their rights. The mature writers seem to have posted their content on other sites that do allow it in the first place.
That aside, what about some of the smaller stuff?
~ "Non-stories: lists, bloopers, polls, previews, challenges, author notes, and etc." Yes... posting essays on the sister site to this is being creative, as is posting polls and other stuff that aren't stories when there are other means to getting the information out to people without abusing the system. So no, not creative at all.
~ "One or two liners." Those who believe one or two lines is being creative need to learn to be more creative. As for why it is restricted to two lines... it's to protect the haiku, a type of poem that has only three lines. They could though change it to where poetry has to have at least three lines, but stories have to have five or six. I would so appreciate that with some of these stories... not poems... that have only three lines. So not creative.
~ "Multiple entries of the same material. There can only be one copy of any unique story on the entire site. No exceptions." Spam is not creative at all, it is annoying.
~ "Rewriting names of characters/locations of one story in order to upload to multiple categories." That takes what, only a few minutes to do? Again, spam is not creative.
~ "Entry title and summary must be rated K for all audience. No exceptions." So you have to curse in your title or summary? No, you don't. That said, curse words that are also non-curse words that are used in every day speech are all right.
~ "Entry must be given the proper rating. No exceptions." Yes... it is really creative to stick your Ma content in the M rated section where people think it is allowed. And posting an M rated story in the K section, not cute at all. Annoying.
~ "Entry must be placed in proper category. No exceptions." No... placing a Pokémon fanfic in the Digimon section is not being creative, its being stupid.
~ "Chapters of the same story are not allowed to be submitted as separate entries. All chapters/segments must be grouped together using the 'edit/upload chapter' feature in the left menu." Again... it's not creative to post the stories chapters separately... you should know how to use the sites chapter system.
Which makes me remember a couple of others that aren't creative, the rule against MST and another copying issue, the "reading the books" garbage people post. No, writing up the books and sticking lines in between the text is not being creative at all. If you were really creative you could write one of those stories without copying any line at all and only paraphrasing things. But no, you've got to copy copious amounts of another persons work to the point it constitutes plagiarism. Bravo. Plagiarism sucks, and yes... what you're doing is plagiarism even if you credit the original source because of how much you use. Not creative at all is it.
And then there is the whole grammar issue. Well... spelling bad because you think it is funny isn't really as funny as you think when you make it so obvious that you're doing it on purpose. Oh, and I'll add here... getting drunk or high to write a story and excusing the garbage you put out as being free of criticism because of the fact you were drunk or high when you wrote it and it was even part of some challenge? Please... grow up. Particularly when your stuff breaks the site rules by having Ma content and/or having horrid grammatical spellings. I don't mind people writing garage and not carrying that they're writing garbage, but posting rule breaking garbage (by this I mean rule breaking stuff you know is poorly written, not the rule breaking stuff that you actually tried and put an effort into... though it still shouldn't be on the site)... and expecting nobody to complain because its just for you and your friends.
Uh-uh, not when you posted it to a public site. I'll note here, it is not a public site unless the site admins allow both the writer and the reviewer to post what ever they want within the site rules. Sites that allow people to delete any review they want really aren't public, their personal. Site admins should be able to remove any non-anonymous review and only them. Anyways, finally I'm done and can post this. Took me a few days to write.