Discussion NSWFF Writer's Support Group - August's Topic: Perception vs. Intent

Discussion in 'Non Star Wars Fan Fiction' started by Mira_Jade, Dec 5, 2012.

Moderators: Mira_Jade, NYCitygurl
  1. Mira_Jade The NSWFF Manager With The Cape

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    “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” ~ Earnest Hemingway



    Because all of us have bled into our stories; or have had our stories bleed into us. We have all strained our eyes for spelling mistakes and agonized about whether or not that particular comma should find its home in that particular sentence. We have had times when the words have seemingly gushed from our keyboards without end, and we have had times when the pages stretched on blank and empty before us. We have breathed and loved and lived with our characters in a way that few can understand. We are writers.

    And, sometimes, we need a place to talk about that. So, my fellow authors, this is that place!

    That's right, folks, its time for us to unveil our very own handy dandy NSWFF Writer's Support Group!


    What Exactly is This Place, you wonder?

    It's quite simple. Here is a place to meet and mingle, to discuss your hopes and fears and goals. This is the place to post any questions you may have about your writing – anything from specifics about grammar or plot points, to generalities like stressing about finding time to write and the black spaces of time where we are not inspired to write. Think of this as a community beta reader and cheer squad combined.

    And then, for some specific talking points, every month there will be a new topic posted for discussion, and a writing exercise (call it a challenge if you will) to go with that topic, in order to give this thread direction and aim until it can carry on by itself.



    What are the rules for posting?

    There are none. This is an open forum – post your questions, your thoughts and feelings and concerns, and your fellow authors will do their best to help in return. The only stipulation for all of this is that there is no negative talk, or even constructive criticism without the author's express approval. In short, respect other people's opinions and point of views and play nice.





    The Masterlist of Topics:

    December 2012: Writer's Block
    January 2013: Characterization
    March 2013: Finding the Time to Write
    April 2013: Writing Dialogue
    June 2013: Story Length
    July 2013: Style
    September 2013: Inspiration
    October 2013: The Characters we Love
    November 2013: From a Certain Point of View
    December 2013: Tropes
    January 2014: Strength In Characters
    February 2014: Genre
    March 2014: Themes in Writing
    April 2014: Titles
    May 2014: Naming Characters
    June 2014: Rewrites
    July 2014: Original Characters
    August 2014: Perception vs. Intent
    Last edited by Mira_Jade, Aug 2, 2014
  2. Mira_Jade The NSWFF Manager With The Cape

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    December's Topic: Writer's Block

    “This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until I ts done. It's that easy, and that hard.” ~ Neil Gaiman

    Yep. We are tackling the big subjects first. Writer's Block. The curse of every writer.

    So, we pose the question to you. What do you do when writers block strikes? How have you combated writer's block before? Do you suffer from writer's block now? Step up and speak, and together, we can stand opposed to this most vicious of fiends!


    The Exercise

    When Writer's Block strikes, one of the best things to do is to make yourself write – string together some words and force them out, no matter how lackluster the final piece of writing may be. Once pushing forcefully past that block, the dam on your words is oftentimes broken, and you find yourselves on the path to recovering inspiration once again.

    So, the exercise is this: below and blacked out, there are three different prompts. When you are ready to write, look at the prompts, and choose the one that strikes you the most. Then, spend fifteen minutes, and fifteen minutes only writing in response to the prompt. You can go back and edit and clean up afterward – that does not count against your fifteen minutes - but the goal of this exercise is to force yourself to write in the throes of raw inspiration. Your mind knows what to do – so now, let it loose. When you are done, post your results and recieve the credit that is due to you.


    Prompt One: Dangle

    Prompt Two: Hunger

    Prompt Three: Sanctity
    Last edited by Mira_Jade, Dec 23, 2012
  3. NYCitygurl NSWFF Manager

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    I am definitely suffering from writer's block. I didn't touch a single story for the whole six months we were away. And, looking at my records, barely in the two months before that. A lot of it was the stress of a graduating and starting to work full time and the changing schedule that went with it. I've gotten used to it by now, but I'm still having a hard time getting back into the swing of it.
  4. lazykbys_left Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 17, 2005
    star 4
    I don't have Writer's Block at the moment - in fact, I think I'm suffering from Writer's Overflow, when you can't finish stories because you're constantly plagued by ideas for new ones and they must be written. Like this one. :D

    This probably comes under original fiction, so I think I'll post it in this thread.




    Prompt One: Dangle

    So, anyway - I went manning. Which is like fishing, only not quite so.

    What you do, see, is find a cliff in the middle of nowhere. It should have a road running off of it, with an arrow sign pointing downwards that says "DOWN".

    You sit here, or rather a bit higher, somewhere in the clouds, and wait. Sooner or later someone will come. Maybe it's someone who's too busy on his cellphone to watch where he's driving. Maybe it's someone who's in a hurry, who's been taking shortcut after shortcut and now he can't take his foot off the accelerator. Or maybe it's someone who took one wrong turn too many and started thinking, "Okay, so I'll follow whatever signs there are 'cuz it's sure to get me somewhere."

    Anyway.

    You wait until that someone goes over the edge. And then you wait some more, because chances are the first to come along will fall all the way to the bottom. I mean, it takes a certain amount of guts to leap out of a falling car to grab a hanging vine, right?

    And then it comes - someone who, while being careless enough to fall off of a cliff edge, still has the presence of mind to notice the vine or root and the courage or desperation to jump for dear life.

    Of course, just jumping and grabbing aren't enough to save one's life. You have to climb as well. But you - the you who's been waiting all this time - have made sure that, while the vine is strong enough to take a grown man's weight, it doesn't offer too many opportunities for climbing.

    So now you have the ideal situation: a man clinging to a vine hanging off of a cliff, unwilling to let go for even the half-second it takes to reach up and grab again.

    A hopeless situation, you say? But it isn't, since someone has lowered a rope, complete with knots for easy climbing, and now it dangles a short distance away: too far to reach, but close enough for a jump.

    And that's how you go manning.

    And no, I didn't catch anything.
  5. NYCitygurl NSWFF Manager

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    I really like that! Very unique, and I like your style.

    Want to send some of that overflow to me? :p I'm having such bad writer's block that I forget to update my stories that I've already finished writing! 8-}
  6. Master_Jaina1011 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 20, 2002
    star 4
    I have had writer's block too. On certain stories since the boards went down. My muse is now obsessed with Avengers and sometimes because of work my muse refuses to cooperate. She is so very finnicky!

    sometimes I go back and re read the stories I have yet to finish to get that muse back. Usually Christmas time my muse goes crazy with one shots or sometimes when I hear a certain song on my iPod my muse starts going a mile a minute. I also just need the time to sit down and write, no distractions.
  7. Mira_Jade The NSWFF Manager With The Cape

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    lazykbys: Now THAT is the other end of the spectrum for sure. 8-} And I understand that problem as well. Why do muses tend to be all or nothing? :oops: And that was a clever response to the prompt, especially for fifteen minutes. I liked the first person POV, and the catch line at the end. Very creative. =D=


    Nat: I'm having such bad writer's block that I forget to update my stories that I've already finished writing!

    [face_rofl]

    I've totally been guilty of the same crime. How sad is that? [face_laugh] [face_whistling]:oops:


    Master_Jay: So far that seems to be the consensus, where the muse is willing, the schedule is weak. And inspiration is the bane of every writer at times, it seems. I agree with you about the music, there. I have a problem doing anything creative without a soundtrack. [face_thinking]

    And btw – bring on the Avengers fanfiction, woman! We need more of it. [face_batting] :p
  8. NYCitygurl NSWFF Manager

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    Late December usually sparks my creativity (AKA winter break ... which I no longer have :( ). I'm hoping that the new year, new goals thing will help bring me back to writing. Right now, I'm just making excuses (of the "well, the old posts are truncated, so there's no point in writing new chapters variety" ... even though I could either edit the full chapters in or write to have some ready when the chapters are back).

    I need to take on that 15-minute exercise!
    Last edited by NYCitygurl, Dec 6, 2012
  9. Rew Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 22, 2008
    star 4
    Writer's block isn't really a problem for me--well, at least not right now (it was a year ago!). My problem seems to be the opposite. I've got this great story I've got so many well thought out ideas for and in fact I've already written. I'm posting it now weekly. There's just no one to share it with.

    So without making this a blatant please-read-my-fic sort of advertising post (though I will discreetly mention that the fic is linked in my sig), I wanted to ask you guys: How do you build a readership? Right now, there is all of no one following my fic. No replies, no feedback, nothing. (I do thank NYCG for expressing interest in the beginning, though!) My readership is zero. I feel very strongly about the story. I'm happy with how it turned out, I think the actual writing, characterization, and plot came together better than I hoped. I genuinely like it.

    What I really wanted was people to share it with. I had hoped for discussions about it, teasing various things coming up in the story, talking about minor characters, etc. Right now, though, it feels like I'm just posting in a closet for all intents and purposes, and I'm even thinking about abandoning it. It's just demoralizing going to all the effort of posting it, getting the formatting right, then watch people update and reply to other threads while mine just gets buried again.

    I mean, I don't expect to have some big huge fanbase. But if I can get just one or two people who are interested and actually reply to me, it'd make all the difference in the world, you know?

    So do any of you have any advice on what I can do? =/
  10. Mira_Jade The NSWFF Manager With The Cape

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    Rew:

    I think that that is one of the hardest questions to answer on this board – and the one we probably get the most of. :(

    I think that I will start by saying that this a small board, with a small readership, and because of that, there is an extreme fickleness with what gets read and what doesn't. There are some really, really good fics that don't get the readership and the praise they deserve because it doesn't appeal to the select few who participate here. A few fandoms get a lot of coverage, and others not so much. It's something that slowly but surely is picking up around here, I like to think.

    To that end, I can only advise time and patience, which I know is an empty thing to say when you think of how much time and effort you are putting into your work right now. But, if you write it, they will come, in time. Until then, the best way to build a base of followers (in my opinion) is to read and participate on other people's stories – I've found that my readers consist almost exclusively of the 'friends' I have developed online, those of whom I have read and reviewed their work, and even plotted with. Over time, I earned their interest in return – even to the point of them following me down paths they wouldn’t read or be interested in otherwise.

    The lack of readership can be so discouraging, I know, but it really can get better with time and patience. :)

    The best advice I can give to that end, is to write for you. Write to fulfill yourself as an author, and if you enjoy it, the rest will fall into place. Anything more will just be a bonus, the icing on the cake.

    I wish you the best of luck, and I hope that I was able to help, even a little bit. [:D]
  11. NYCitygurl NSWFF Manager

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    I can't really do anything except second Mira, because she said it perfectly. That really is the best way to get readers--read their stories and become friends. I've read stories in fandoms that otherwise have zero appeal for me just because I like the author, and vice versa.

    I would also recommend participating in challenges; other participants will often read the other stories.

    (And as a side note, I will be reading your story. I just have this really weird complex about reading everything in order, so I have to get through the prequels first 8-} )
  12. leiamoody Force Ghost

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    Nov 8, 2005
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    Going to offer a contrary opinion here, but it has to be said:

    I've had plenty of experience with not getting readers (it was one of the biggest things that stopped me from writing at all). I wish the cheery advice offered here was universally true...but it's not always the case. You can try to read other people's stuff, be complimentary, and still get absolutely *ZERO* more readers. Trying to establish *friendships* with other writers can be tricky. You need to have something in common with other people besides writing. If you don't, then you won't pretty much. What determines success in any writing venture (fanfic or otherwise) is writing about subjects that are popular with a large group of readers. If you can find a way to do that, then you'll stumble on readers sooner or later. If you write about stuff that doesn't have mass appeal...oh God :oops:. Harsh, but there it is...readers tend to gravitate to the familiar.

    You have to decide what is more important: readers or the material. If you want more readers, you have to write about the most appealing subjects and characters. If you decide to write about things and people that are unknown (OC's for example...universal poison in the fanfic world!) then you *really* have to believe in the strength of your material. The only suggestion I can agree with is that you have to write for yourself; write because you have to, not because you seek popularity. It's going to suck out a large part of your soul in the end, but it's the only reason to write.
    Last edited by leiamoody, Dec 9, 2012
  13. Rew Force Ghost

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    Dec 22, 2008
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    Thanks Mira, Kat, and leia! [:D]

    Some of you mentioned the popularity of franchises for wider appeal. I would've thought Harry Potter would've been popular enough. (There are crossover elements with The Hunger Games, particularly in the early goings of my story, but that's also fairly popular and well known.) There are essentially no OCs at all in my story, so that shouldn't be the problem. Of course the trade-off is that I focus very heavily on the minor characters that are passed over in JKR's books (characters like the Patil twins, Katie Bell, and Hannah Abbott have much larger roles to play in my story than they do in canon). Honestly I thought the appeal would be like for the Star Wars EU, when smaller characters get the screen time they couldn't in the established canon. Perhaps I overestimated such appeal?

    I think the format (choose-your-adventure, as opposed to traditional chapters) as well as the second-person feel may be daunting. It's also based on something off-site. I attempted to post a summary, but maybe the summary itself is daunting or not informative enough (or too informative)? I had hoped that unfamiliarity would be off-set by a large dramatis personnae and the trailer. Maybe, maybe not.

    Regarding the tip about making friends, commenting on other stories, etc.--I think that's good advice, and I'm beginning to do that. My fear, of course, is that my feedback/attempt at interaction will seem a blatant attempt to get those writers to reply to my work too. In the case of Kat (NYCG), sure I was hoping you might return to my thread and I was sort of "paying you back" for commenting earlier by commenting on one of yours. But at the same time, I genuinely loved your vignette and would like to read more from you! Mira and leia: I hope to find some stuff of yours to read and comment on too. And hopefully you won't think it a shameless attempt to twist your arms into reading and commenting on mine (though I'd love it if you did!).

    As for the tip to write for myself, I am happy to say I've stayed true to that. I refuse to write anything that I won't enjoy reading myself--and I have pretty exacting standards of what I enjoy--and this is perhaps why I write so rarely. Regarding the present story in my sig, it's thankfully one that's already 100% written (save for some revisions toward the end, but I have loads of time to do that)--all I have to do is the formatting for the boards and posting. When I first wrote it, I of course told myself, "I don't care if anyone reads this; I just want to make sure that I get it all down and that it's something I can get behind." Now that it's finished, it's a hell of a lot harder to say, "Well, I finished it and don't care if anyone else cares about it!" since I devoted so much of myself to it. Leiamoody is exactly right: It's like sucking out a huge part of your own soul. (Heh, a Horcrux reference!)

    I'm afraid I don't normally do challenges--not really out of principle, but more because that's not how my writing juices flow. It's hard for me to write on a prompt, and it doesn't often come out as I like as compared to when an idea simply strikes me in a moment of brilliance and I run with it. I have written one-shots before (I posted one on the temp boards, and I was surprised to see it actually get a couple replies), and I have another one in mind I might post. Who knows? Perhaps it'll be better to establish myself with one-shots before readers dare to venture through a novel-length epic. Anyway, I'll have a look at some of the challenges, but I know in general when I've seen them, my "Muse" has always been silent, alas.

    @Kat:
    Thank you for sticking with my story! If you're talking about the off-site stories to which mine is a sequel (Rebellion and Horcruxes), I provided a summary of those in my thread so you can bypass them. But then again, I fully understand the need--or complex--to read everything in advance! A few years ago, I really wanted to read the NJO series and the novels that came after it. But haven't read much else in the EU, I made myself read through the entire Bantam era novels first--and spent literally a year doing so, before I finally got to NJO. It was definitely tough going at some parts, that's for sure--though also rewarding in another places.
  14. Master_Jaina1011 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 20, 2002
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    @Mira_Jade: I have the time this weekend. I was kinda bed ridden but my muse was like nope. Not cooperating. (Though I did watch Thor, Captain America and Avengers back to back on Saturday. You would think she would want to) And this month is gonna burn me out work wise. worst month of the year for us. So hopefully tonight once I have a beer in hand my muse will want to write. One can hope, because the plans I have for my fic.
  15. NYCitygurl NSWFF Manager

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    @leiamoody your advice about writing for yourself is so true. And you're also right that it's nice to get feedback and readers. I think it can take time to develop friends who will read anything you write. I agree about the common base to start from--it can't just be reading random people and replying and hoping they'll return the favor.

    I've been on both ends of the readership spectrum--I've had really ridiculously popular stories that had 15 replies for every chapter (though obviously not in NSWFF :p ). I've also had stories where almost all the posts are just me putting up the next piece. The former is definitely more preferable, and it's totally unpredictable what is going to be popular and what's not. Here, it can definitely depend on the fandom. With everything under the sun except SW and a few disallowed works, it's a mystery what series will be popular and what won't.

    @Rew I have the must-read-it-all complex :p If I had to guess, I'd say the hardest aspect your readers will have to overcome is that there is SO much material to read beforehand, since the story here is the third in a trilogy. And it doesn't help that the others are offsite. I think people can either be intimidated about jumping in when there's so much to catch up on or have trouble catching up once they start. But I'd say keep and it, and keep writing other stories, too.

    @Master_Jaina1011 It's the worst when your muse won't cooperate! Especially when you FINALLY have time to write something 8-}
  16. Mira_Jade The NSWFF Manager With The Cape

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    Nat: I've been on both ends of the readership spectrum--I've had really ridiculously popular stories that had 15 replies for every chapter (though obviously not in NSWFF :p ). I've also had stories where almost all the posts are just me putting up the next piece. The former is definitely more preferable, and it's totally unpredictable what is going to be popular and what's not. Here, it can definitely depend on the fandom. With everything under the sun except SW and a few disallowed works, it's a mystery what series will be popular and what won't.

    And THAT is the best way to put it. That's the truth about writing, here and anywhere.

    Master_Jay: Oh, but that really is the thing about muses. When you have time, your words flee you, and when you have ideas and words aplenty, you have not the time. We really are contrary beings. 8-}
  17. DaenaBenjen42 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 15, 2005
    star 5
    Am not exactly suffering from writer's block now... I can write. Sort of. (I just can't seem to write the fic I was working on before the block set in... in March.) Now if I could get off the fix-it email and lists kick and actually write prose... In the mean time, I am somewhat entertained and amused, even if I can't post it.
  18. Master_Jaina1011 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 20, 2002
    star 4
    Ahh... my muse is back for now. Writing a little bit at a time is awesome. I even opened up my Star Trek, because the trailer... made my muse oh that's why you were so immersed in this world. But I didn't actually write one of the prompts only to realize that prompt one actually was in my sub conscious and prompted a one shot! Wooo!!!
  19. Chilla Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 30, 2005
    star 4
    @Rew
    Sorry for the somewhat late reply (I'm almost never online here), but I'd like to include one more advice, which might sound a bit strange at first.

    I think it might help you to get some readers if you hold back with posting your big story. Instead, read and comment on other people's stories and then post a short story. I think a lot of people are hesitant to start reading a long story by an unknown face, especially once that story already has several chapters up. They might be more likely to try a short story first. Consider it as giving people a small taste of your writing style. If they like it, I'm sure they will check out your long story once you post it.
    Hence my advice: Start small, get your name out there by posting a few short stories and by commenting on other stories, then shoot for a lengthier story.

    I hope this will help you. :)
  20. Mira_Jade The NSWFF Manager With The Cape

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    January's Topic: Characterization

    “Over the years I have forged intimate familial ties with these characters, who are reflections of a portion of myself. Consequently, even a character who appeared only once in a short story waits now in the wings, concealed by the curtain, for his next appearance on-stage. Not one of them has ever broken free of his familial ties with me and disappeared for ever - at least, not within the confines of my heart.” ~ Shūsaku Endō



    The Discussion

    Because your words only mean so much unless you have a character worthy to write them about.

    People as a whole have numerous facets and dimensions to their character. Now, getting that onto paper with your words can be the tricky part. As fanfiction writers we have the luxury of working with per-established characters, but even that can be a challenge when trying to keep a character within the bounds of their per-established personality.

    So, with that in mind, how do you write believable characters? Do you tend to write OCs, or fandom established characters? What kind of characters draw you when writing, or reading? Anything and everything character-related is up for discussion.



    The Exercise

    Pick five characters, and in a hundred words or less, summarize that character's personality. Then feel free to post your five character drabbles here, and let your fellow authors ooh and aww over your insights.



    (And, as a side note, if anyone has topics they would like to see up for discussion, please feel free to PM me. :))
  21. NYCitygurl NSWFF Manager

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    I tend to write canon characters. Much of my reason for writing fanfic is that I want something to happen to these characters that I already love.

    My biggest challenge is making the characters multi-dimentional without going overboard. I want them to have flaws, which goes against the in-my-head notion that they're amazing and can do no wrong. It's taken me years to evolve my characters to that point.
  22. Master_Jaina1011 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 20, 2002
    star 4
    I love established characters and OC's as evident by my Star Trek fic. I tend to gravitate to the more layered characters such as Jim Kirk, Clint Barton, Dinozzo, Hotch, etc. and delve into their heads and personalities. Then recently I love to explore some of female characters. You would think that being a female makes them easier to write. Nope. Then I wrote Audrey and boom, females weren't that difficult.

    However when it comes to females, I try not to make them Mary Sue's because its so easy. So I look at some of my favorite female characters: Leia, Mara, Prentiss, Ziva and Beckett and kinda evolve from there. And then they take a life of their own....
  23. Rew Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 22, 2008
    star 4
    (Sorry for the late replies here!)

    Yeah, that is a problem--I wasn't really thinking of how much it would be a problem until after I already got started. I know you tend to read everything, but I was hoping the summary I posted would help others not have to wade through all the other stuff first. But yeah, your point still stands.

    BTW, if you're going to read through the first two stories, I hope you can bear with Horcruxes (which I didn't have any involvement with)--it gets right silly at many points!

    Thank you for your input, Chilla!

    Yeah, if I had to do it over again, I almost certainly would do it this way. As it is, I only have a few scenes left in the current phase of the story. I'll probably finish those off, then put the larger fic on hiatus to focus on smaller stories.

    I have a SW/HP crossover one-shot I posted on the temp boards that I might tweak a little bit, then repost on this board. I also have in mind another HP one-shot I'll try posting.

    Hopefully those will get more love. :p


    To the topic at hand, characterization is probably the most important thing to me, as both a writer and reader. To me, the characters are the whole point of delving into a story, getting into their heads, and exploring their motivations, how they respond to certain circumstances, etc. It's why I love things like the Star Wars EU and Harry Potter--so many different sorts of characters.

    When I write, I almost never use OCs (or at least I haven't yet). In universes like SW and HP, you have such a rich variety to choose from, and it's hard enough to incorporate all those I want to use in a story without having to resort to creating new ones! When reading, though, I'm always open to seeing OCs, but I tend to prefer to see them on the fringe or as background characters. Unless they're extremely interesting, I tend to be in it to see the progression of established characters with whom I'm already familiar.
  24. NYCitygurl NSWFF Manager

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    Don't forget to post it on the SW side ;)
  25. Rew Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 22, 2008
    star 4
    That raises an important question--where do fics that are crossovers between Star Wars and non-SW stuff go? I was originally thinking it'd go in the non-SW section since I'd guess the Saga (or Before/Beyond) would contain exclusively SW fics. But are you saying that those crossovers actually do go in the SW section after all? No matter either way--I just want to be sure so I don't create any unnecessary work for you mods. [face_peace]
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