Little peeve of the Day

Trigger and Content warnings:

I can understand the need to warn readers that the work may have a disturbing event in an article or story. Unfortunately, disturbing things like violence, rape, and abuse are part of life. Even if they all ended tomorrow, there’s still plenty of people carrying scars. Even in the future when we are all gone, you cannot fully understand an era or people if you are ignorant of how violence or the threat affects people.

So these things will remain in our psyche for a long time. Ignoring them will not make them go away. In fact, ignoring them leaves victims less able to react in disbelief and shock. Nor does it provide ideas or hope. Better to show survival and coping, that being a victim is not the end.

Trigger and content warnings allow people who have issues with a particular trauma skip over sections or an entire story. It is a kindness, a bit of the golden rule, and good business. Kindness that a trauma isn’t refreshed. A golden rule as you don’t need people picking at painful areas for mere amusement. And really good buisiness for a writer. Fool me once, slipping in a trauma I wasn’t ready for and YOU are the abuser. I will leave a comment sometimes, I won’t be back for more stories, and I will not recommend it.

Once Broken, some things may not be easily fixed

Tags and warnings are important.

But warnings spoil my story! How can I shock or surprise my readers if I tell them bad things are about to happen? It will weaken my story, real life doesn’t warn you! Stories, older stories don’t have warnings!
You just have to deal with it. Older stories were far less graphic, things that need content warnings were mentioned in euphamisms and happened off camera. The character will still be surprised their hand is amputated by the villain, the reader will still feel their shock and pain, so the warning will not harm your target reader who likes angst, and it gives a fair chance for readers bothered by that violence to skip over a section. It’s a win-win, for a tiny bit of spoilery if handled well, you don’t tick off readers.

Okay, Okay. I’ll put warnings in, but I’ll put them at the end of the chapter in the footnotes so it doesn’t spoil the story… They can skip to the end of the chapter to see the warning, then its their own fault.
Now that is just cruel. (and a little obsessive about refusing to warn) You care so little for the readers, you think they want to skip back and forth because you are too lazy to properly tag and do a postscript half-a apology for being offensive? You do not respect their agency, and think lying by omission is just great. It’s not that important and the story is SO good they won’t care. Don’t fool yourself, you are breaking their trust with this deceit. If you cannot be honest why should I have to zig zag, when you missed the meaning of ‘warning?’

Warning tags won’t stop people who trust your tags are accurate or don’t care, but do you really want to alienate those who do care about their pain? (they have money to, young author) Tag your stories.

Is it Soup Yet?

Technical issues aside, one of the harder things of the last few months is switching over from derivative fanfiction to original fiction.  I know a lot of authors started that way, and some recent authors have barely filed any identifying details of their fanfiction.

Now I think that dishonest, and doesn’t acknowledge or throw any cookies to the writer or people who created any beloved character or world.  World-building isn’t easy, and it can be intimidating if you see how big it is and the world is detached from the story.  That is the seductive lure of contemporary settings, the normal world doesn’t need as much description.  But isn’t that a little timid, to act like nothing fantastic existed before the story began?  You can say the old woman is a wizard who is hundreds of years old, but if they act like nothing interesting happened to talk about, it’s hard to believe they are that old.

In fanfic, it’s like training wheels, where setting, past, and some characters are mapped out.  You create a new story and new characters.  (I don’t think rehashes are nearly as interesting) and hopefully you add new stories to the foundation.  Basically, all Sherlock Holmes stories not by Doyle are fanfiction.  Some tweak things, some even add steampunk or bring him to today, but that important core must be present to be a Holmes story.

As a new writer, you play in those sandboxes, trying to do something new, something true to the original canon, and something others will like.  Eventually you want something more than putting your hard work into the ether. Fanfiction at its best gets you fast ego-boost.  Original is more hard work, but also gives you the chance of half a cheese sandwich.

When Petitions aren’t bold

I wish I could sign petitions like these:

They both mock, and justifiably so, a surprising petition that was signed by multiple professional writers.
I regret a dozen writers I’ve read, and some who claim large chunks of my self-space have signed on for this.  They want respect for themselves and their works from fans and general public, but that means the organ of their organization should be professional not frat boy.  This isn’t the 70s when SF/F publications were more humorous in tone because most writers did it on the side and no one took it seriously.   Those days are gone, SF is big money now, feeding the TV, movie, comic, and gaming industries.  People aspire to join and organization so they can learn and so they connect with other professionals with the same challenges.
I hope these authors I respect are having a knee-jerk reaction on a bad day and not honestly suggesting that fans or others in the industry don’t have to respect them and their works, because ‘hey, it’s free speech.’
Another thing the signatories could be over-reacting to is the ‘review board.’  The final say for a submission should lie with an editor and whichever group of assistants they have helping them for that half a peanut-butter sandwich or gold star.  Managing by large committee is never a good idea, there just isn’t enough time; the buck needs to stop somewhere.  If the editor screws up, policies are revised and a new editor may come in.  But the size of the editorial staff and logistic limitations of a review board should have been discussed openly and negotiated before jumping to an online petition by a non-member.   Especially for an online petition that effectively chastizes those who are tired of a professional publication that is more wink-wink entertainment than relevant professional.
Petitions like the revised one are also censoring the writers seeking a fair and respectful publication.  I happen to love free speech, but it is a double edged sword and the ?third? version indicated by the file name doesn’t seem to allow that a publication or blog has a right to block any submission.  Many of these people who signed have edited anthologies and I am sure they have rejected inappropriate materials that didn’t fit those themes.  That’s editing and the editor has the right and responsiblity to exercise judgement over what is put forth under the publication’s banner.  Censorship is yanking someone off their soapbox on the street corner and beating them up.  A guild owns one soapbox as a group and it must be shared with every member even if they have three arms, cooties, or whatever, without dismissal.  There are plenty of shoeboxes for all without the SFWA magazine.  It is not censorship when they cannot use my soapbox.
The first posts collected qith the petition seem irritated that they did not get instant reaction; odd here because we are spending much of this winter outside shoveling and everyone has other responsibilities.  I’m not a pro but this level of closing in the wagons does not make me interested in anything else put out by the SFWA but Writer Beware.  These two parody petitions are only a little more silly than the one they’re reacting to.  I think I most object to raiaing a brou-ha-ha with a non-member petition when the editor’s position and responsibility are in transition.  The large censorship board they seem to be fearing is not set in stone, impracticable, and unlikely.  I can’t like that they jumped to a trolling petition instead of raising a real discussion about their concerns first