Forum: The Art of Declining

Discussing: Evaluating AUs

Evaluating AUs

I'd like to talk about declining and accepting AUs after seeing Powzie's posts in the Reviewing Process forum. There are no rules I know of on labeling something AU. From the review comment you are quoting, I would say there is a lot of disagreement on what constitutes AU.

The fanfic glossaries I've found say things like 'a story which is incompatible with the original "universe" depicted by canon... no longer possible to reconcile the events (in the story) with the original canon universe.'

I would agree with this definition. It is the event which makes something AU in my mind, not the character's interpretation or emotion. If a character's emotion is 'off' and not well explained or justified I'd call it poorly written, but not necessarily AU. I'm sure someone can come up with exceptions to this, but I'm looking for a general way to state the case.

Exploring when and how I'd decline an AU story, the capsule is 'unworkable AU' and the review criteria say:

Alternative Versions
Is the reason for the AU aspects to explore an interesting alternative or storyline? The reader should not feel that this is an original fiction that happens to be set in Middle-earth, but could just as well be anywhere.


I do somewhat regret the phrasing on 'unworkable AU.' It leaves room for the author to misunderstand. I'd rather it said 'unconvincing AU' - no judgement passed on the AU itself, just the author's treatment of it.

Lyllyn

 

 

Re: Evaluating AUs

Thanks Lyllyn. I don't mean to start a discussion every time I get a decline - it's just that I really do think about the comments I receive. I thought about posting here, but since my question isn't about declining, but how to know what needs the label, I wasn't sure where to take it. (if anyone wants to see the review that led me to ask, it was for Slouching to Gondolin, and the review, with permission, is posted in my forum along with the specifics of my question and my original thoughts on what makes a story AU. (Context vrs Canon) I am not sure if there is a lot of disagreement, but my personal guideline (faithful to it's own context except for the speculation of the story) is certainly only one interpretation.

For purposes of review, I think it would help to know what the most accepted versions are.


The fanfic glossaries I've found say things like 'a story which is incompatible with the original "universe" depicted by canon... no longer possible to reconcile the events (in the story) with the original canon universe.'

I think the reviewer who declined my story would be comfortable with this definition. It was an erudite and well reasoned decline. I just don't agree about what I was doing.

I would not have a problem labeling this particular story an AU, I just never thought of it as one, and seeing it declined for that reason raised some questions for me. One of them is, how much can we speculate within the confines of a story without breaking the spirit that ties a story to the canon. (Breaking that spirit is not something I mean to do, but speculation about internal motives is what drives me to write.) I had a surprising amount of feedback, both personal and public, on this story when it went through the list, and no-one ever used the term or suggested I should.

I know we have a decline and guidelines based on whether or not an AU works, but how do we know when a story should be labeled AU? I haven't seen any guidelines for that part of the equation, but since people do make declines for it, maybe it would help to have some basic information to base the decision on.

 

 

Re: Evaluating AUs

I've always regarded AUs as acceptable when it's clear the author knows what rules he or she is bending (that's bending, not breaking) and states it outright. I also tend to go with AUs that are very subtle, as in Tolkien probably never intended for his characters or plot to go in that direction, as with some of the better Maglor in History stories I've read, but are believable enough to make it seem that he could have written it this way. To illustrate, what doesn't work, for example: Elrond's "other daughter/son" fics (which are 99.9% of the time Mary Sues anyway), unless some author can write a really convincing scenario in which Celebrian had a miscarriage and the pregnancy never made it into the Tale of Years (but then, do Elves even *have* stillbirths, miscarriages and deaths in childbirth other than Miriel's fading?)

Most of the most outrageous AUs I've seen are in slash fic anyway, but since the whole idea of m/m relationships between Elves and Men requires a suspension of disbelief, I do not mind it so much in that particular genre unless it is so far out of Tolkien's realm of plausibility as to constitute an entirely new universe in which the characters merely have Tolkien's names slapped onto them. Cel's smut epic "Passages" actually works in this genre because she's taken the time and effort to think about the social and moral issues raised by the pairing of two male Elves.

Ah, well, it's 2:30 am and once again I'm rambling.

 

 

Re: Evaluating AUs

I do somewhat regret the phrasing on 'unworkable AU.' It leaves room for the author to misunderstand. I'd rather it said 'unconvincing AU' - no judgement passed on the AU itself, just the author's treatment of it.

Noooooo.... I've been thinking and I've decided that to me at any rate 'unworkable' is better than 'unconvincing'. I think I see the difference like this. An unconvincing AU can be unconvincing for lots of reasons - some of which (poor writing for example) are very legitimate reasons for rejecting a story but others of which - not in MY Tolkien universe buddy! - are not. For example - I find slash stories intrinsically an unconvincing AU but I don't think I've got any right to reject on that basis alone. Most, if not all of us, have a list of things we can't believe as an AU by their very nature - it might be Aragorn with a woman other than Arwen, Thranduil as an abusive parent, Orcs as creatures with souls, Legolas married etc etc. To me that shouldn't mean we reject those stories on that basis. However if we read these stories and they don't provide reasons for and consequences of this change then it may become unworkable. No-one is ever (I believe) going to convince me that Elrond has another daughter tucked away somewhere but I'll only reject that as an unworkable AU if the story doesn't adequately deal with this rather large ripple in history they have provided. If they do provide 'facts' but not in a way which convinces me at all (with one bound they were free) then it's poor writing and I can press that button.

Avon

 

 

Re: Evaluating AUs

Most, if not all of us, have a list of things we can't believe as an AU by their very nature - it might be Aragorn with a woman other than Arwen, Thranduil as an abusive parent, Orcs as creatures with souls, Legolas married etc etc. To me that shouldn't mean we reject those stories on that basis. However if we read these stories and they don't provide reasons for and consequences of this change then it may become unworkable. ... I'll only reject that as an unworkable AU if the story doesn't adequately deal with this rather large ripple in history they have provided.

I see the distinction you're drawing. My problem is that 'unworkable' for me means that the AU by definition cannot be made to work, not just by this author, but by anyone. Yet another author, or the same author rewriting, may take something I would have labeled unworkable, due a better job, and convince me. I hate to keep pointing at this story, but I would have said the premise for 'Hope for the Uruk' was unworkable, but the author (IMHO) made it work.

So what phrasing could we use to make the distinction clear?

Lyllyn


 

 

Re: Evaluating AUs

I don't mean to start a discussion every time I get a decline - it's just that I really do think about the comments I receive.

Tay, I'm glad you bring up these interesting points to discuss.

I certainly didn't see 'Slouching Towards Gondolin' as AU. The reviewer did write a thoughtful and reasoned decline. Just to clarify, I'm not trying to argue that they shouldn't hold that opinion, or should change their mind. As you probably know by now, I'm interested in the discussion and interpretation for its own sake.

I went back and looked at Morgoth's Ring again, and I would say there is so much uncertainty within Tolkien's own writings that there is a wide range of possibility for orcish natures. The portions that suggest that orcs are corrupted Elves certainly could support your characterization. He did say 'that the Orcs 'are fundamentally a race of "rational incarnate" creatures'.

Likewise he writes "In any case is it likely or possible that even the least of the Maiar would become Orcs? Yes: both outside Arda and in it, before the fall of Utumno." I would think a corrupted Maia capable of abstract thought. He continues "and these evil spirits like their Master could take on visible forms. Those whose business it was to direct the Orcs often took Orkish shapes, though they were greater and more terrible.(4) Thus it was that the histories speak of Great Orcs or Orc-captains who were not slain, and who reappeared in battle through years far longer than the span of the lives of Men."

Lyllyn

 

 

Re: Evaluating AUs

I think this brings me back to canon/context again.

I am reasonably familiar with the histories, especially 'Morgoth's' and 'Peoples' which I use all the time for *cough* that story *cough.* But I don't think I could decline for information in them, or for the "letters" for that matter. Not only do I think Christopher is speculating about his father's ideas, I think Tolkien was still speculating, in private, as people do in their journals all the time. I find them useful and they let me speculate in a more informed way. But there is no continuity even from version to version in some stories.

My thought here was to tie a story to a particular version, and speculate within the confines of that.

But my question for this forum has become -

We have a decline for a BAD AU - (though we have some questions about that as well)

But what makes an AU, and how should it be labeled if it is to be declinable for not being marked as such?

Lindelea mentioned in the review forum that she had comments impacting on the fact that her story was labeled AU, but the summary did not explain how. That seems like lazy readers to me -- why read the story at all if you want to have the whole thing given away. Some things require the process of travelling from beginning to end, some have a punchline, some require surprise. I have seen great stories lose their punch because people are afraid not to mention every possible arguable moment in their summaries.

Chris just posted her Monster Challenge story, Groth Môr and I think that makes a good example for this. It depends entirely on purposeful misdirection to bring the suspense forward. I am betting quite a few stories will be posted for that challenge where this will be true. I can easily imagine her getting either - this race is not capable of "X" - or - this story is AU - on this piece.


I don't mean to tie this back to how important is the summary, but I never thought of the summary or the notes as declining points until I saw that mentioned in this forum. This has put a new spin on that for me, as declining for a bad summary and notes seems unbelievably arbitrary to me, (just my own opinion) but this seems like an actual concern with bearing on how the story itself is perceived.

 

 

Re: Evaluating AUs

Most of the most outrageous AUs I've seen are in slash fic anyway, but since the whole idea of m/m relationships between Elves and Men requires a suspension of disbelief, I do not mind it so much in that particular genre unless it is so far out of Tolkien's realm of plausibility as to constitute an entirely new universe in which the characters merely have Tolkien's names slapped onto them. Cel's smut epic "Passages" actually works in this genre because she's taken the time and effort to think about the social and moral issues raised by the pairing of two male Elves.

Well, thank you! That has been my intention in that story - there are two key changes to Tolkien's universe, first that it would be possible to have same-sex bonds between Elves, and second (more minor) the properties of lembas. Beyond that I don't go, at least not intentionally, and then I use those changes to (try to) illuminate various aspects of Elvish society. But I absolutely say that it's an AU, no question at all. Any slash in this universe is AU in my book.

Cel

 

 

Re: Evaluating AUs

I never thought of the summary or the notes as declining points until I saw that mentioned in this forum. This has put a new spin on that for me, as declining for a bad summary and notes seems unbelievably arbitrary to me, (just my own opinion)

I'm still totally freaked by that concept - particularly as we're supposed to remove various things from both in order to not compromise our anonyminity! I keep wanting to start a discussion about summaries and author notes but I just haven't got the time atm.

Avon

 

 

Re: Evaluating AUs

Well, Avon, if you write something like the standard FF.net Mary Sue summary: "I suck at summaries. Plz R&R!! No flames plz! Not a Mary Sue!" then you know it's bad.

 

 

Re: Evaluating AUs

"I suck at summaries. Plz R&R!! No flames plz! Not a Mary Sue!" then you know it's bad.

Or worse yet: "This is the 1st chapter. If i get at least 5 reviews, i'll rite the rest!"

 

 

Re: Evaluating AUs

Don't forget this one:
"ok the sumery is bad, but its beter then it sounds!! look @ all the reveiws!!"

 

 

Re: Evaluating AUs

Regarding a point brought up in this topic.
I have mixed feelings about the possibility of a story being rejected solely because an AU label was missing in the summary or author's notes. For one thing, what does or does not constitute an AU is somewhat arbitrary. Some occurrences have two versions, and a lot of things were left unexplained. A gapfiller to one person could be an AU to another; even a Sil-based fic could be AU to someone who believes only HoME/LoTR qualify as canon.

But if a reviewer deemed that a story is AU in their opinion, is it fair grounds to decline the fic because it wasn't labeled an AU? I dunno about that. Mixed feelings, like I said.

I've seen and read several stories that are obviously movie-based, and not labeled as such. The thought never occurred to me that those fics could or should be declined for the omission of a movie-verse disclaimer alone. Same goes for AU fics.

I'd be interested to know what the administrators' opinion on this is, since it does in turn influence the reviewing criteria.

-AE

 

 

Re: Evaluating AUs

Well, Avon, if you write something like the standard FF.net Mary Sue summary: "I suck at summaries. Plz R&R!! No flames plz! Not a Mary Sue!" then you know it's bad.

Oddly enough I had figured [u]that[/u] out!

Avon

 

 

Re: Evaluating AUs

I'd be interested to know what the administrators' opinion on this is, since it does in turn influence the reviewing criteria.

The only thing I can find in the criteria is in the grounds for immediate rejection:
Chapters with different story than described in story listing

Immediate rejection means that it never even gets to the review pool. I would envision this as being a quite extreme difference since I don't think the story admin reads the whole thing. I would say if you list it as as G rated Frodo and Sam friendship, and it's obviously NC 17 E/E slash, that might do it. Or if it's listed as a story of Gondor and it's not even Tolkien-verse.

I've never heard of an admin postion on this so I can only give you my opinion.

I would find declining an otherwise good story just because of the summary a very harsh measure. I would wonder if someone was looking for an excuse because they couldn't articulate something they felt 'not quite right'. Unless the summary is actively deceptive, as above, I can't really see declining for that reason, although I might make a review comment to that effect.

I think it's kind to readers to label something movie-verse in case they are avoiding certain things that irritated them, but I can't say it's necessary.

As for AU, I'm ambivalent on that when it's clearly AU - important events changed. If it wasn't labeled or mentioned in author's notes it would look as if the author was ignorant of canon. OTOH if everything else clearly indicated the author was well aware of canon, wrote an excellent story, and simply forgot to put AU on it, I wouldn't decline for that, although I'd certainly comment about it. I suppose someone who hates AUs and rigorously avoids them would be understandably annoyed if the label was omitted.

For a matter of interpretation, unless the author is explicitly changing clearly stated canon motivations, no, I wouldn't expect it to be labeled.

There are a lot of issues for which there is no official 'HASA postion.' It's up to the reviewers to decide what is excellent and what is not.

Lyllyn

 

 

Re: Evaluating AUs

There are a lot of issues for which there is no official 'HASA postion.' It's up to the reviewers to decide what is excellent and what is not.

Oh, well of course. But like I said, my concern was regarding a decline being made solely for the omission of a particular label, regardless of the excellence or sub-excellence of the story.

But I suppose, if a summary doesn't categorize the fic as movie-verse, for example, and the fic is movie-verse, then that could count as a summary that doesn't match the content of the story.

-AE

 

 

Re: Evaluating AUs

But I suppose, if a summary doesn't categorize the fic as movie-verse, for example, and the fic is movie-verse, then that could count as a summary that doesn't match the content of the story.

I would find that very extreme, I don't think that was the intent. (nor do I think that is your intent, of course ) In any case the 'immediate rejection' criteria are what the story admin would use to say "this one isn't going into the review pool" so the reviewers never even see it.

Speaking personally, unless I felt the summary was deliberately deceptive in some way, or failed to warn when a warning was clearly needed, I can't see myself declining on that basis.

Lyllyn

 

 

Re: Evaluating AUs

But I suppose, if a summary doesn't categorize the fic as movie-verse, for example, and the fic is movie-verse, then that could count as a summary that doesn't match the content of the story.

I would love it if there was a little box that said Movie-verse/Book-verse that could be checked off by the author. It can be very jarring to be merrily reading along, and suddenly have a movie scene dropped in your path.

That was a big problem in the Mithril Awards, especially with all the Haldir stories....whimper--PJ has a lot to answer for with Haldir--whimper

But I digress. Since MV & BV are theoretically supposed to count the same no matter what, I wouldn't consider not mentioning it in the summary as grounds for rejection.

Khazar

 

 

Re: Evaluating AUs

I like both movie and book-verse, and I don't think I would be bothered in the least, even to find them combined. But I do understand wanting a story being marked to show it.

I am a little bit concerned about people currently jumping on any speculation as a reason to dismiss something as movieverse or complain about a lack of labeling.

(Just as a for instance) - two months go by between the Council of Elrond and the Leaving of Rivendell. Logically, (although Aragorn goes out on the road for part of this time) I would think the party would use this time to bond and prepare. Merry mentions in Fangorn, for instance, that he spent some time studying maps which is about to come in handy.

But I am seeing an increase in complaints (on the fictions lines I am on, but here as well) if anyone tries to say Merry read maps, Boromir and Aragorn spoke about Gondor, anyone tried to get a little weapon training (goodness knows we wouldn't think of that after Weathertop) ...

In my example, these things could be movieverse - but they aren't exclusively so. They seem like reasonable speculation using the texts.

I suppose I am really coming around to my old standby problem - readers who think their interpretation (and sometimes without any foundation for their dislikes) is a better criteria than objective evaluation.

Rather than go there again - have any of you noticed different criteria applied to movieverse stories?( I know of two really good writers who both told me they thought HASA would never accept movieverse stories.)

And I have seen the movie referred to as fanfiction - should movieverse stories be labeled AU?

 

 

Re: Evaluating AUs

Well, there are people who reject WIPs on principle, which leads me to ask: why do they read a story if they know they're going to reject it? If they don't like WIPs, they should leave them to those who can be more objective about them.

Back to AUs, I don't really mind them if they're done well. I prefer book-verse to movie-verse, though, so I tend to avoid the latter.

 

 

Re: Evaluating AUs

have any of you noticed different criteria applied to movieverse stories?( I know of two really good writers who both told me they thought HASA would never accept movieverse stories.)

I can't say that I notice that, but how would you tell? All I can see is how I judge.

There are several movieverse stories in the archive. ''Where Dreams Take You,' 'Bitter as Blood' and several of the Movie Challenge stories, to name a few.

I agree with Granamyr that I tend to prefer bookverse, but I wouldn't expect people to label movieverse AU. Not just on HASA, but in general in the fandom I don't believe people see it that way.

Lyllyn

 

 

Re: Evaluating AUs

Well, there are people who reject WIPs on principle, which leads me to ask: why do they read a story if they know they're going to reject it? If they don't like WIPs, they should leave them to those who can be more objective about them.

It's been months since I voted to accept a WIP; but the WIPs I have declined declined were for specific reasons, not "on principle". For instance:

- WIP, only one chapter so far, & not compelling.

- WIP, first two chapters, in early stage of the story (ie, 80% of the characters in the characters list hadn't appeared yet) & not compelling.

-WIP -- or maybe it was labeled a Serial -, 8 or 10 chapters, unfocused, and out of character.

-WIP -- nearly completed, but the story was long and involved and opening premise was highly unlikely or impossible (depending on if it was an unlabled AU). (IE, "one year later" -- certain surviving members of the Fellowship were someplace impossibly far from where the summary of events between Scouring and Grey Havens had them) and logistics difficulties piled on top of that --

-Story listed as "Complete", but it was basically an unconvincing set-up, and the author's note indicated a series of stories would be forthcoming. (It sounded more like a Novellette or Serial with named chapters.)

Basically, as the criteria says, the WIP I would vote to accept is one that has enough there to recommend it even if never completed. And if an author is updating regularly (whatever is "regular" for her/him) I'd rather wait until the story is finished for it to be submitted, and most of the WIPs I'm avidly following in Beta haven't been submitted for review. Athough -- depending on the story -- I might vote accept on some of these stories if the author decided to submit.

I'm more likely to vote to accept an apparently stalled WIP that is excellent in what's already done, having some complete episodes or flashbacks that I would recommend (with an "unfinished" warning).

Julie

 

 

Re: Evaluating AUs

AUs and movieverse fics are difficult, but here's my personal mini-set o' guidelines for them:

1) Take the author at his/her word. That's the basic rule for criticizing anything. If it *doesn't* say AU, assume it isn't and treat it as such even if you would have labeled it an AU. If things clearly contradict events that happened canonically in LOTR/The Hobbit/contradict a specific text of HoME while still claiming that text as its context, then it is a persistant factual error, not an AU.

2) If it's more subtle--not a contradiction of any one thing in a text, but an unusual interpretation in a gap--then I'd evaluate it in terms of "OOC to good purpose" or "outstanding reinterpretation" (don't forget that one), assuming that that's what the fic is. Obviously events can happen in between canonical ones, but the key for me is whether said events dictate consequences such that the character would very likely not behave as s/he does canonically during the canonically covered events; if that's the case, then even though it's not an AU, it'd have to be "OOC to good purpose" for me to accept the fic.

In either case, I think it is acceptable to say, "I would label this AU, but you haven't; I'm simply mentioning that many readers may think this is an AU because of x, y, z." Just be clear that that is an advisory, not a criticism, and that the actual reasons for your decision are not based on whether you'd have labelled the work as an AU.

3) Movieverse labeling I don't particularly care about *unless* some plot point hinges (either in terms of how a character is reacting or what events are happening) on knowing whether it's book or movieverse. If I can't tell which it is in order to evaluate whether a character is behaving in an IC manner, or whether X was *supposed* to happen this way, then I will vote decline and simply say that it was confusing and that I wasn't able to evaluate the fic properly because of the uncertain context. If I can't tell what's movieverse and what's not, and the story still works, then likely enough it wasn't an important point or else the author is a very skilled manipulator (or else I'm not reading carefully, but we'll hope that's not the case).

The question of "What can I assume my readers know?" which, I think, lies behind labeling things AU *sometimes* (but not all the time) and which also makes summaries a pain in my rear is one I can only really deal with on a case by case basis. I refuse to document every little thing in a summary. If there's some major point of contention, where I'm interpreting something very differently, or relying on a more obscure point in any of the texts, then I will footnote it or endnote it. Particularly if I think it is vital that a reader accept some point as canonical for the proper interpretation of my story, then I will document it in some way, but *not* in the summary most of the time. There is that element of surprise, after all, that someone mentioned.

If I think fanon is likely to interfere with a significant number of readers, then I will footnote passages that support my position. I'd not have done this with Merry's map-reading abilities, since the only member of the Fellowship who is explicitly noted to be 'out of his reckoning' between maps and actual landscape is Sam. I also have trouble envisioning someone who'd be annoyed that Merry was more intelligent than they'd assumed due to *some* antics in the movies...

But in the end, again, I'm forced to take the summary at its word and be a reasonable reader. If it's clear that there's a reason the author didn't summarize certain events, or deliberately misled me, then I should take *that* as face value. If I can't tell, then that's another story. I think there may have been one story where I did mention a disparity between the summary and the fic I was actually reading, namely that it was titled 'slash' but was *so* mild that I felt the author hadn't convinced me that the slash warning was merited. (And I don't mean to imply by that that I require slash to be overtly sexual or R-rated; I don't. I do mean that it's not enough, from where I stand, to have two males hold hands and be affectionate and then say it's slash just because of that. Not in this M-e where manly men semi-regularly hug, kiss each other farewell, and hold hands in the late Third Age.)

I know that seems to fly in the face of what I just said, namely, take the author at his/her word. But a) the exception is not the rule, and b) there may come a point when doing so leads to problems, because other factors and evidence appear which convinced me as a reader that the author should not be taken at his or her word, because the author is mistaken in some substantive way. At that point, I'm not obligated to bend over backwards to accommodate the author, I don't think--I've already tried, and it's gotten me no where as a reader.

There goes my laundry money. [peers sadly into wallet]

 

 

Re: Evaluating AUs

As usual, you've brought up some excellent points.

I refuse to document every little thing in a summary. If there's some major point of contention, where I'm interpreting something very differently, or relying on a more obscure point in any of the texts, then I will footnote it or endnote it.

The other way to deal with this is to include a set of Author's Notes. I personally don't like footnotes in fiction; I think they tend to break the story's momentum.

An amazing number of people don't read either one, of course, but that's not the author's fault.

At that point, I'm not obligated to bend over backwards to accommodate the author, I don't think--I've already tried, and it's gotten me no where as a reader.

The reader is never supposed to do the author's dirty work. If the story isn't working, that's not your fault--it's the author's.

There is a method of Literary Criticism called the Intentional Fallacy. The basic tenent is simple. You cannot judge what the author intended the story to say; you can only judge what it does say.

Many authors become angry when told that their work isn't conveying what they hoped. If one or two people have trouble, that's one thing. But if a number of people have the same problem, if the same passage is marked as difficult, then the author needs to rethink the work.

As for bookverse/movieverse: It's not a big problem with FOTR, but in TTT there are so many deviations from the original plot that an author is wise to indicate which one is the source.

Khazar

 

 

Re: Evaluating AUs

"outstanding reinterpretation" (don't forget that one),

I had forgotten this one. I am not sure I have ever had a reason to use it, reviewing. But it is very interesting, especaily since the dreaded AU does not appear near it. So, that implies the freedom to work with interpretations without needing to smack a label on everything.

As to my original questions, I think I feel like you have answered it, Dwim. As long as there is no rule I have transgressed, we can put our story where our mouth is. Suits me!!

--fileg

 

 

Re: Evaluating AUs

For our convenience, here and elsewhere, here is the list of capsule accepts (the decline ones are listed in "The Good Decline"):

Strong plot
Good gapfiller
Outstanding reinterpretation/AU
Effective/Creative use of JRRT's works
Strong writing/Good style
Strong characterization
Good addition to genre

I tend to take the two sides of the slash marks as not quite equivalent, and so will specify which side of the slash mark I chose.

There is a method of Literary Criticism called the Intentional Fallacy. The basic tenent is simple. You cannot judge what the author intended the story to say; you can only judge what it does say.

Exactly. Obviously, some interpretation will take place, and some of it may not be what the author intended, but the text as it stands should provide a limit. Creative interpretation as such only becomes important to theorists or other writers who are planning on actually writing based on said creative interpretation. As I was told in school, "we are not asking you to 'be creative'; we just want you to demonstrate that you understand what the text says." Author review forums are the place for discussing creative interpretations that are marginally supported by a text, not the review text box, I would think.

Footnotes, endnotes, author's notes: I've used all three, and I agree, footnoting can disrupt the flow. So long as what needs documentation gets it, however, I don't much care, so long as it's not parenthetical citation!

As for bookverse/movieverse: It's not a big problem with FOTR, but in TTT there are so many deviations from the original plot that an author is wise to indicate which one is the source.

Good point. I guess I've just not come up against much movie!TTT fiction, unless it concerns Gríma or Haldir at Helm's Deep. And I ignore the latter because I frankly don't care about Haldir much. Sorry. He's just not on my list of favorite characters and whether he lives or dies at Helm's Deep is a matter of indifference to me. More power to PJ: clean up your messes--kill Haldir.

 

 

Re: Evaluating AUs

Well, there are people who reject WIPs on principle, which leads me to ask: why do they read a story if they know they're going to reject it?

*shrug* Same reason I'll read through a story full of major mechanical errors and reject it. I don't think it belongs in the archive. I don't feel a work can really be fairly judged if it's still in progress - it may start out great and later decline, or vice versa. Either way if I read it in mid-composition, I might well reach a different decision than I would with the finished story. The criterion is supposed to be "if it never was finished, would it still have been worth reading and archiving," and frankly I've read virtually nothing that IMO qualifies.

Yes, I have an ongoing serial in the archive. I'm not being hypocritical. I was encouraged to submit, thought long and hard about it before doing so, and of course didn't vote to put it there - had it been declined, that would have been fine with me too.

Cel

 

 

Re: Evaluating AUs

He's just not on my list of favorite characters and whether he lives or dies at Helm's Deep is a matter of indifference to me. More power to PJ: clean up your messes--kill Haldir.

*pppfffttt*

Re: bookverse/movieverse. I assume everything's bookverse unless labeled otherwise, but I agree that it's much more of an issue with the events of TTT since the film diverges so far from the book. I wouldn't decline something for being movieverse unless the author claimed it incorrectly as bookverse, I think. My major problem with movieverse is that there's so much less to work with, but that's more a problem as a writer than as a reader. My minor problem with it is that some of the characters do behave rather differently in the film than they do in the book, and so if book/movieverse isn't specified, I might perceive the characters as being OOC when in fact the author is basing the characters on an interpretation of the film - Merry and Pip as being standup comics, for instance.

Cel

 

 

Re: Evaluating AUs

Re: bookverse/movieverse: I personally tend to mix both, with some background information from other Me-related books. I wonder ´how to label this blurring of sources, if they do not contradict the books? For example: if I use the older version of Haldir's name "Hathaldir" and say it was the Nandorin/Silvan version of Haldir. Or if I use the movie version of Arwen insofar that she is able to handle a sword if necessary (possible if we recall what happened to Celebrìan), but does not usually do so? Would that make it an AU regardless?

 

 

Re: Evaluating AUs

Would that make it an AU regardless?

I'm glad to see this conversation continuing, welcome, Makamu!

My opinion would be that if it mixed movie/book verse, and that is in the summary, it is clearly not AU. I suspect some readers would be bothered by the mixing, but it also depends how it is done.

I would mention that Tolkien never said Arwen couldn't handle a sword, and did say that female elves fought when necessary, so that by itself doesn't make it AU even in bookverse.

I confess I love the abundance of names in HoMe, I frequently steal the ones that didn't make into LotR or Sil for OCs.

Lyllyn

 

 

Re: Evaluating AUs

Like Makamu, I also tend to use both movie and book verse within the same story (and sometimes add dashes of fanon to the mix as well). To me, both book and movie are "official" versions of the same world, and therefore equally valid. But I have to admit I'm not so well versed in the Tolkien world and only got involved since watching the movies. And oops, it never occurred to me that this might be a problem to some people! I will remember to mention this in my summaries, though.

As for the definition of AUs, I always understood them as worlds created by "paths not taken" (I think there is some theory that every decision someone makes will block off every other possible path from that point on... this is also why time travel will nearly *always* mess up the present in some measure). Usually, AUs will occur when the author tries to answer a "what if..." question. By nature, I consider them event-driven. But that's just my opinion, of course.

Amanda.

 

 

Re: Evaluating AUs

Hm, tricky. If you're using information from e.g. HoMe, which is likely not to be well-known to your readers and may contradict things they know from LotR, Hobbit, Sil, then having an author's note or footnote or something to explain seems polite and sensible. It does not necessarily make it AU to call Haldir "Hathaldir" instead, but it's only kind to the reader to explain why. (Now, if you describe Haldir as "Marchwarden," if it's not filmverse then that is AU...)

Celandine

 

 

In Forums

Discussion Info

Intended for: General Audience

This forum is open to all HASA members. It is read-only for the general public.

Membership on HASA is free and it takes only a few minutes to join. If you would like to participate, please click here.

If you are already a member, please log in to participate.

« Back to The Art of Declining