Fanfic Posting FAQ
General Questions

What is Lois and Clark fanfic, anyway?

Fanfic is shorthand for fan-written fiction; in other words, stories written by the fans of a TV show (or other commercial work) about the characters, settings and concepts presented in that show.

The Lois & Clark Fanfic Message Board (MB) is specifically for fanfic about the series Lois & Clark: the New Adventures of Superman, starring Teri Hatcher and Dean Cain, which originally ran on ABC from 1993 to 1997.  Stories about any of the characters from the show, or their associated universe, are welcome.

Some examples (this is by no means an exhaustive list):

  • in-between scenes that fit within or between broadcast episodes
  • what-ifs that look at what might have happened if events had been slightly different in an episode or between episodes
  • all-new stories that might have taken place during or after the series, with familiar or original supporting characters
  • stories about Lois and/or Clark's childhood, or their descendants
  • stories about an alternate universe with similar characters and events, either the one from the show or one that the author has invented (known as alt-universe stories)
  • stories set in a universe where some of the fundamental Lois & Clark elements have changed (known as Elseworlds stories): e.g. they aren't reporters, or Lois has the powers, or Clark grew up on New Krypton
  • Soulmates stories, where Lois and Clark's souls inhabit different bodies in past or future lives
  • stories about H.G. Wells or Tempus interfering in other universes, with or without a Superman
  • crossovers with other shows or universes: Batman, Spider-Man, Star Trek, Beauty and the Beast, Sliders, The Weakest Link, Survivor, etc.
  • songs and poems inspired by L&C characters or situations
Stories may only be posted here by their authors (see Can I repost?)

Are any other types of story allowed here?

Fanfic about other shows, with no L&C crossover component, is not hosted here.  There are other sites, e.g. FanFiction.Net, where such stories are welcome.

This message board does accept original fiction, i.e. fiction about universes, concepts and characters original to the author of the story.  At present, such stories are restricted to gfic, i.e. stories with content rated PG-13 and below.

Stories may only be posted here by their authors (see Can I repost?)

What are the different forums for?

The Fanfic forum is the heart of this message board, and is normally the busiest area.  It's purely for posting Lois & Clark fanfic stories and for commenting on those stories.  Since anyone can visit here as a guest, or sign up for an account, story content is restricted to PG-13 or below.

Stories with violent and/or sexual content above PG-13 go in the nFanfic forum.  Access to this forum is restricted, by means of a password, to people over 18.  (Since the message board server is located in the USA, the US age for "adult content" is strictly observed.  We extend our apologies to members in countries with different laws.)

The Fanfic Challenge forum is for fanfic challenges and challenge responses.  These include challenges issued to a specific person (such as the infamous Tank & Wendy challenges) or general challenges open to everyone (such as Hazel's Plot Un-twist challenge).

The Original Fiction forum is for posting and commenting on stories which are not fanfic, and whose settings, plots and characters are entirely original with the author.  Content is once again restricted to PG-13 or below.

Anything related to writing, other than story parts and comments, goes in the Fanfic Related forum.  This may include requests for Beta Readers, questions about plot points or obscure facts needed for a story being written, story recommendations, discussions on writing techniques or pitfalls, fanfic awards announcements, and so on.

The TOCs forums are for the Tables of Contents of stories being posted on the related Fic forums.  A Table of Contents contains links to all the story parts and their related comment topics for a single story, helping readers to locate them easily.

The L&C forum is for discussion of the Lois and Clark TV show and anything related to the FoLC community.  This could include introductory posts from new members, queries about other websites in the fandom or videos of the show, and so on.  Discussion about the actors' private lives, a.k.a. gossip, is not permitted in this forum, or indeed on this message board.

All topics not specifically covered by other forums go in the Off Topic forum.  You're even allowed to talk religion and politics!  There are just three rules to remember:

  1. No gossip about the Lois & Clark actors,
  2. Keep it clean, i.e. under the PG-13 limit, and
  3. No flaming.

The How Tos forum is for technical questions about how to use the message board software, and for test posts.

Fun with Polls is pretty much what it says.  Polls are disabled in the other forums, so if you're debating the merits of third-person vs. first-person p.o.v. in Fanfic Related, or Michael Landes vs. Justin Whalin in L&C, or waffles vs. pancakes in OT, and you're desperate to know what your fellow MB members think, this is the place for your poll.

How can I get into the nFanfic forum?

Access to the nFanfic forum is restricted, for legal reasons, to people over 18.  To get the password, email the site admins stating (a) that you are over 18, and (b) that you will not redistribute the password or the nFanfic stories to anyone.  The password will be emailed back to you.

Anyone found to have obtained the password by underhand means, and anyone found to have redistributed the password or stories, will be locked out of the nFanfic forum immediately and may also lose their posting and/or access rights to the rest of the message board.

Where can I discuss ...?  Related discussion groups

This message board is only one of many Lois & Clark-related discussion areas on the Internet.  Each area tends to have a slightly different emphasis and atmosphere from the others.  A brief selection is listed below.

Discussion group Focus of interest
LCFic mailing list L&C fanfic stories (gfic), feedback, and fic-related questions
LCnFanfic mailing list L&C fanfic stories (nfic), feedback, and fic-related questions
LCFanficLive MB Recommending and commenting on archived L&C gfic
Lois and Clark MB Discussion of L&C, Teri Hatcher, Dean Cain, Superman in other media, etc.  The principal site for posting fanfic in progress until the creation of the L&C Fanfic MB.
L&C Fantasy Land Pages MB Discussion of L&C, Teri Hatcher, Dean Cain.  Demi's own fic is also on the site.
FanficLive conference room Discussion of fanfic and related matters
#loisclark IRC channel Discussion of fanfic, occasional round-robin writing sessions, and general hanging out with pals
#lanekent IRC channel Discussion of L&C, Superman, Teri and Dean, and general hanging out with pals
The Cain Connection MB Everything about Dean Cain
FanFiction.Net Any and all fanfic

Terminology Questions

What do you mean by PG-13, gfic, nfic?

G, PG and PG-13 are ratings used by the L&C Fanfic Archive for stories hosted there.  The ratings system is based on American film and TV ratings.  This MB aims to conform to the same system so that completed stories can be archived easily.

The description of PG-13 given at the Archive is as follows:

These stories may contain some stronger language, violence, references to lovemaking and some more descriptive -- though not explicit -- sexual scenes. No detailed descriptions of full nudity are allowed, but references to above-the-waist nudity are acceptable if they are brief and not overly-explicit. Since graphic violence is fairly rare in L&C fanfic, stories that are rated PG-13 for violence may contain a violence warning.
For further details, see the Archive's Fanfic Ratings Definitions.

The terms gfic and nfic are used as shorthand for stories rated PG-13 or below, and above PG-13, respectively.  Gfic stories are freely accessible on this MB, as elsewhere, while nfic stories are restricted to those over 18 by means of a password.

What are Admins and Moderators?

The Admins (administrators) are the people responsible for running this message board.  They respond to registration and nfic password requests, create and delete forums as appropriate, remove members' posting rights for misbehaviour, and so on.

Admins have the membership status "Editor in Chief".  They can be emailed as a group at admins@lcficmbs.com.  Please contact them with registration problems, technical queries about the software, or anything else that's preventing you from enjoying the board.

Moderators are responsible for vetting the content of what is posted to the message board.  Each moderator is responsible for a specific forum or forums, as listed next to the forum name on the MB front page.  Moderators can warn members about inappropriate message content, edit or delete messages, close or delete topics, move topics to a more appropriate forum, and so on.

Moderators have the status "Section Editor" in the forum(s) they moderate, and normal member status elsewhere.  They can be emailed individually via their profiles, or you can use the "whistle-blow" icon () at the bottom of a message to email all the moderators of that forum, and the admins into the bargain.  Please contact the moderators if you see a message that seems to need moderation, or if you post a message in error and would like it deleted.

What's the Fanfic Index?

The Index is an independent volunteer effort run by Dawn and her Crew.  It lists all the fanfic stories or story parts posted on the MB, according to both title and author, making it extremely easy to find them again later.  It also lists completed stories which have been uploaded to the Archive and Annesplace.  There's a handy link to the Index at the top of each fiction forum.

What are the Archive and Annesplace?

Unlike many fandoms, the L&C fandom is lucky enough to have a central Archive for all gfic.  It's maintained by the esteemed webmistress, Lauren Willoughby, and presided over by the archive Editor In Chief, currently Doc Klein's LabRat.  It also has a team of General Editors who check the grammar and rating of each story before it's uploaded.  The Archive has an associated message board, mainly for recommendation and discussion of archived fanfic.

Annesplace is a private site run by Annette Ciotola, the owner of this message board.  It's generally recognised as the place for completed L&C nfanfic, but it also hosts gfanfic, original fiction, fun ficlets such as TEs and Silly Revelations, and features such as the Writer's Showcase and Reader's Choice.

Both sites are paid for by donations from fans.

Writers are strongly encouraged to submit their work to one or both sites, once the story has been completed, posted, commented on and, if necessary, given a final polish.  The readers really appreciate being able to find all their favourite stories in one place.   There are also many readers who don't read online at the MB, but who diligently check the archive updates every week.

What are Kerths, nKerths, alt-Kerths, Meriwethers?

Kerth Awards - named after the awards mentioned in the Lois & Clark series - are this fandom's annual awards for gfanfic published in the previous calendar year.  The Kerth Award ceremony is held online on IRC in March, the day before the Oscars.

nKerth Awards are the equivalent awards for nfanfic, and the ceremony is held annually in September.

The alt-Kerth Awards have so far been held less regularly: the second alt-Kerths ceremony is scheduled for June 2003.  These awards are for more varied and fun contributions than the others, such as challenge fics, music videos, best comments on stories, and so forth.

All these awards are run by small committees of volunteers, with apparently endless supplies of time, patience and ingenuity.  They publish lists of categories and eligible stories/people/videos, etc. some weeks before the ceremony.  Interested fans nominate their favourites in each category, and then vote on the resulting ballot.  The results of the voting are kept secret until they are announced at the ceremony, and the winners receive the admiration of their peers and a personalised certificate to print out and frame.

Further details on the above awards can be found at their respective websites: Kerths, nKerths, alt-Kerths.

Meriwether Awards (again, drawn from the Lois & Clark series) is the name proposed recently for a new set of awards to honour novice authors and their stories.  A committee has been formed to run it, but no further details are currently available.

I keep seeing strange words and abbreviations - what do they mean?

Term Stands For Means
FAQ Frequently Asked Question(s) A help topic or list of help topics.
MB Message Board Usually means this site, the Lois and Clark Fanfic message board.
topic single discussion thread A set of messages with a common title, usually presented on a single web page, e.g. all feedback messages for a single story part.
forum group of topics An MB division, e.g. Fanfic, containing a list of topics on the same broad theme.
folder forum/topic This term is commonly used, confusingly, to mean either a forum or a topic (esp. "FDK folder"). This document sticks to the UBB terms, forum and topic, for clarity.
UBB (tm) Ultimate Bulletin Board The software behind this message board.
gfic general or G-rated fiction Stories rated PG-13 or below, which can be freely accessible.
nfic non-G-rated or naughty fiction Stories rated above PG-13, which are access-controlled.
BR beta-reader Someone who volunteers to read your story prior to posting, and to comment on grammar, style, characterisation, etc.  See What's a BR?
FDK feedback Comments on posted stories.  The term was invented by Hazel in The Ultimate Drug.
FFQ fanfic question Questions asked by authors in search of information for use in a fic.
FoLC Fan of Lois & Clark Anyone who's a fan of the show, but particularly those who hang out with other fans.  Pronounced as "folk".
WAFF Warm And Fuzzy Feeling The feeling you get from a particularly touching moment in a fic.  Adjective is WAFFy.
WHAM Wistful, Heartwrenching, Agonizing Moment When something Really Bad happens in a fic.  Often the subject of warnings in an author's note, for readers who wish to avoid such material.
TE Tank Ending A sudden and bizarre fake ending to a fic, usually filled with WHAMs and/or black humour.  Named after the originator, Tank Wilson.  See the Tank Endings page at Annesplace.
A-plot action plot The good-guys-vs-bad-guys plot elements; the crime investigation or foiling of evil conspiracies that L&C are engaged in.
B-plot non-A-plot, relationship plot The plot elements dealing with the characters' relationships, such as whether Clark will invite Lois out on a date or whether Lois will see through Clark's latest weak excuse.
filk alteration of folk (song) A take-off of a popular or well-known song, with the words changed to be L&C-specific.
LOL Laugh(s/ed/ing) Out Loud Signals an amused reaction to something.
RO(T)FL Roll(s/ing) On (The) Floor, Laughing Signals an even more amused reaction.
ROTFLMHO ... Laughing My Head Off And still more.  Also appears as ROTFLMAO (you work it out).
<g> grin A sort of emoticon, signalling a smile.
<eg> evil grin, embarrassed grin These can mean different things to different people, so they're not that useful.  Luckily we have graemlins.
/me an IRC command As in "/me shakes her head sadly".  The "/me" part is supposed to be translated to the writer's name: "Meredith shakes her head sadly"
IRC Internet Relay Chat A real-time, global messaging system that lets you get about as close as possible to being in a room with your friends, when they're actually in half a dozen different countries.  Many FoLCs gather on IRC daily, in #loisclark or #lanekent.  See the Archive's What is IRC? FAQ for more detailed information.
LAFF Los Angeles FoLC Fest FoLC conventions held in various parts of the USA.
NEFF New England FoLC Fest
SEFF South-East FoLC Fest

Technical Questions

How do I post a message?

If you want to post a response on an existing topic, you need to open the topic page and then click on the "Post Reply" button at the top or bottom.  This will take you to a new page with a text box where you can fill in your message text.

Above the text box is a set of message icons from which you can choose the one that best characterises your post.

Under the text box are a set of graemlins (a.k.a. emoticons) and a set of UBB Code buttons.  You can click on both graemlins and buttons to insert the relevant codes in your message (see How do I get those fancy bits for more details on these).  At the bottom of the page there is a scrolling list of the existing messages in the topic, to help you remember what you wanted to say and quote from previous messages.

Once you've completed your message, you can click on "Preview Post" to check what the message will look like, or on "Add Reply" to add it to the topic.

If you want to start a new topic, for a story part or a question or whatever, you have to enter the right forum and then click on the "New Topic" button.  This takes you to a page very similar to that for the "Post Reply" function, except that there is an extra text box for your topic title, and of course no previous messages.  This time the posting button is labelled "Add New Topic".

Please remember to abide by the forum rules when posting.  In particular:

  • keep your message content below PG-13 in all open forums, and
  • no flaming.
For more details on posting fic, see Where and how do I post my story or story part?  For more details about how to post messages in general, see the UBB FAQ.

How do I get those fancy bits I see in other people's messages?

There are two main ways to spice up your messages: UBB Codes and graemlins.  You can also create a signature to be included at the bottom of all your messages.

UBB Codes (TM) are so called because UBB is the bulletin board software which supports them (and which powers this MB).  They look like simplified HTML, using square brackets rather than angle brackets.  The board is configured not to allow HTML in messages or signatures.

The software makes it easy to insert UBB Codes by including buttons for all the codes on the "New Topic" and "Post Reply" screens.  You can include hyperlinks and email links, make text bold or italic, quote text in two different formats, insert a bulleted list, or display a picture (image) off the web, just by clicking the relevant buttons and filling in the dialog boxes.

Alternatively, you can enter the UBB Codes into your message by hand to get the same effects.

For more information on UBB Codes, please see the UBB FAQ. For specific help with including images, see Annette's How to post pics message.

Graemlins are the emoticons (smiley/frowny/winky/evil etc. faces) that people use to add "body language" to their messages.  A number of standard graemlins are supported by the message board software itself, and you can include these in your message by clicking on the ones you want in the box on the "New Topic" or "Post Reply" page.  You can also include them by typing the codes in yourself, e.g. :) to get a simple smiley

You can also add any emoticon of your choice, as long as it's inoffensive and has a public URL (i.e. not on your hard drive), by using the UBB code for including an image.  There are lots of cool emoticons on the Web, e.g. at Crack's Smilies and The Ultimately Pointless Website.  There's also a not-quite-instant graemlins thread in the How To's forum, where people can store their favourites.  See the UBB FAQ and Annette's How to post pics message for help with including images.

You can create a signature to be included in all your messages by going to your profile (click on the tiny "my profile" link at the top of any screen).  About halfway down the page there is a text box for you to type in your signature.  You can use UBB codes to get hyperlinks and text effects, but not to include images.  Remember to click on the "Update Profile" button once you've finished composing your signature.

See the UBB FAQ for more details.

I made a mistake in my message... can I edit it?

Yes, you can.  The Edit button at the top of your message looks like this:   Fix your mistake in the text box and then click on Edit Post to apply the edit to your message.  For further details, see the UBB FAQ.

Why can't I delete my message?

The MB has been configured to allow only moderators and admins to delete messages.  If you've posted a message in error, you can email the forum moderator(s) to ask them to delete it.  Use the icon at the bottom of the message to email all the moderators for the forum, plus the board admins.

It may take them a while to respond, so it's a good idea to edit it yourself in the meantime to discourage responses, e.g. by replacing the existing text with "Please ignore" or "Error".

Before posting fic

How do I prepare my story for posting?

It's not necessary for your story to be perfect before you post it on the MB.  After all, one of the things authors expect to gain from posting is constructive criticism which can help them to improve their story and their writing skills.  However, there are a number of things you can do before posting that will help to get your story the best possible reception.

First and foremost among these is to run a spell-check.  Almost every word processor has a spell-checker built in these days, and it's a simple thing to do.  There's nothing quite so off-putting to readers as a story that hits the boards full of glaring spelling errors: if you don't care enough about your story to make sure the spelling is correct, few people are going to care enough to (a) plough through it, wincing, and (b) provide helpful comments afterwards.

Another simple but important step for making your story readable is to ensure that there are blank lines between paragraphs.  For some reason the text format used for printed books, with new paragraphs marked only by an indented first line, doesn't translate well to the computer screen for most people; and in any case, extra spaces used for indenting lines aren't actually displayed to the message board readers.  To insert a blank line between paragraphs, simply add another hard return.

It's also important to get the grammar right, but for that, automated tools are of little use.  Microsoft Word's grammar checker, for example, is rather simplistic and tends to lose its mind completely when faced with sentences of medium complexity, so its recommendations are often totally wrong.

For grammar, as well as for other issues of story content, it's a great idea to get yourself a good BR (or several if possible).  BRs can make the difference between a mediocre story and a great story.

What's a BR?

BR stands for beta-reader, and it means someone who volunteers to read your story, usually before you post it, and give detailed feedback on various aspects of the writing.

Way back in the mists of time, late last century , fanfic authors used to have two separate helpers for a story: an alpha-reader (or alpha-editor, depending who you ask) followed by a beta-reader.  They had somewhat different jobs at different stages of the writing process.  These days it's normally the same person who works with you throughout the process, and for some reason it's the term beta-reader that has stuck.

Ideally, BRs read your story or story part soon after you've written it, and send you back comments.  They rave about the good parts, reassuring you that your story is wonderful and well worth writing and posting.  If it's a story part, they let you know how the story's going, what issues they want to see resolved by the end, and what they expect to happen later.  They might brainstorm with you about later parts of the story, or you might keep them in suspense to get their blow-by-blow reaction.  They tell you which parts worked for them and, perhaps more importantly, which parts didn't.  They tell you where there are bits missing - an idea they'd like to see explored in more depth, or an issue they'd like the viewpoint character to consider, or a smoochie that would be really good just at that point in the conversation.  They comment on your plot, characterisation, viewpoint and style.  And they may also correct your spelling, grammar, and punctuation.  In between story parts, they'll also nag you in a friendly way to keep you writing.

In short, good BRs are worth their weight in gold and can make a huge difference to the quality of your writing.

How can I get a BR?

The easiest way to get a BR is to advertise on the Fanfic Related forum.  Start a new topic, called "Looking for a BR" or something like that, and give a few details about the story: long or short, finished or barely begun, some indication of the subject matter, and so on.  Also say if you're looking for a specific type of help - maybe your writing skills are first-class, but you desperately need help with your A-plot.

You can also advertise for BRs at the Archive MB or on the LCFic mailing list.

BR adverts usually get a few responses, but it's pot-luck as to who will volunteer.  If you're twitchy about just who gets to read your fledgling masterpiece, you might want to ask a specific person - someone you know well, or whose writing you admire - rather than advertising publicly.  Just remember to go about it politely.  BRing takes effort and dedication, and it's done for very little reward.  Don't feel slighted if the person you ask declines the job, either; many people, especially good writers and BRs, have already taken on as much as they can manage.

On the other hand, if someone starts BRing for you and it doesn't go well, you shouldn't be afraid of pulling out of the arrangement.  An author and a BR have to be in tune for the relationship to work properly; they need to be able to communicate well, and they need to be interested in producing the same sort of story.

Finally, once you've found a good BR, whose comments are really helping you, look after him or her properly.  See The Care and Feeding of Beta-Readers for suggestions on how to keep your BRs happy and productive.

How can I get help on a story-related question?

Authors often run across odd questions when they're putting a story together.  They range from the trivial (what's the name of the Supervising Editor Lex installs at the Planet in BatP?) to the everyday (what would a fast-food waitress earn in New York, in salary and tips?) to the technological (what would one need to make a neutron bomb?) to the esoteric (how do you say "I love you" in Mandarin?)

Often the quickest way to get your question answered is to post it in the Fanfic Related forum.  The collective knowledge of FoLCs is truly awesome!   Just start a new topic, preferably with "Fanfic question" or "FFQ" somewhere in the title, and ask away.  FFQs can also be asked on the LCFic mailing list.

I found this neat story on another site... can I repost it here?

No.  Stories may not be posted here by anyone other than the author.

Exceptions are made only for collaborative stories (i.e. where there is more than one author, and one of them posts on behalf of all); and where the author, who perhaps wishes to remain anonymous, has asked another MB member to post a story for him or her.  In both cases, the story must be clearly attributed to the real author(s), using a pen name if necessary.

Authors may, of course, post their own work here, regardless of whether or where it's been published before.

I found a great story elsewhere, and decided to rewrite it with Lois and Clark as the main characters.  Is that ok?

No.  All stories must be original to the author, with the following exceptions:

  • content borrowed from the Lois & Clark TV show or (in the case of crossovers) from another show or fictional work;
  • ideas, quoted content, etc. obtained from other fictional sources and clearly attributed in an author's note.  If possible, the permission of the original author should be obtained.
Any plagiarism will result in the immediate loss of the author's posting rights, and the removal of his or her stories from the message board.

For further information on what is and is not plagiarism, see the Archive's Plagiarism FAQ.

How to post fic

Where and how do I post my story or story part?

Which forum your story belongs in depends on its ratings and content.  Fanfic which is rated over PG-13 must go in the nFanfic forum.  Fanfic rated PG-13 or under should go in the Fanfic Challenge forum if it's being posted in response to a challenge of any sort; otherwise it goes in the Fanfic forum.  Original (non-fanfic) fiction goes in the Original Fiction forum, and must be rated PG-13 or below.  See What are the different forums for? for further details.

Each new story or story part goes in a new topic.  The blue arrow icon () is used to mark fic topics so that it's easy to pick them out from the comment topics.  The title of the topic should include the story name and its part number, even if it's the only part.  The usual part numbering scheme is "part n/x", where n is the part number and x is the total number of parts in the story - hence "part 1/1" for stories posted in a single part.  If you don't know the total number of parts yet, either estimate and put a question mark afterwards ("part 3/25?") or just put a question mark ("part 3/?") or omit the total ("part 3").  Readers appreciate any information you can give them about the story length; they may decide to delay reading a story with an unknown number of parts until it's finished.

Some authors go further than just estimating the rating to decide which forum to use, and put an accurate rating at the head of the story.  This may help readers to decide whether to read the story.  Detailed ratings guidelines are given on the Archive's Fanfic Ratings Definitions page.  Determining a rating can be difficult, however.  If you have trouble rating your story, you can apply to the forum moderators for assistance.

Besides the rating itself, certain types of story content are known to be upsetting to some readers and should be given a content warning.  The warning goes in the preface to a story, alerting readers before they start the story itself, as some readers may prefer not to read stories of that type.  The warning should go on each story part if it's a long story, not just on the potentially upsetting part.  Typical warnings are for deathfics (stories where one or more major sympathetic characters die), stories with more than the usual (fairly mild) level of violence in the TV show, and stories with major WHAMs, or bad stuff (e.g. Clark gets paralysed, or Lois has a miscarriage).

It's a good idea to let your readers know, at the start of each story part, what sort of feedback you're looking for.  For example, you may be perfectly happy with any sort of criticism the readers can fling at you, even quite rude comments; or you may want to limit feedback to constructive criticism only; or you may want readers to keep any criticism to email, because you're not happy about having your writing taken apart in public.

When should I start posting my long story?

That depends a good deal on you, how you write and how you respond to deadlines.  Some authors are happy to start posting as soon as they have a few parts' worth of buffer, trusting to the adrenalin rush from the feedback to keep them writing fast enough.  Others can't take the deadline pressure, and wait until the story is finished, or nearly so, before starting to post.  Others still write in a totally non-linear fashion, and may not have complete early parts to post until the whole story is complete.

You should tell your readers at the start of a long (multi-part) story what sort of posting schedule you intend to keep.  It isn't the end of the world if you can't manage to follow the schedule consistently, or if you change it partway through, but the readers like to have some idea what they're letting themselves in for when they start investing time and emotional energy in your story.  It's also a good idea to say whether the story's finished, halfway through, or barely started; they may want to wait before starting to read a story that might turn out to have long gaps between parts, or might even never get finished.

How often should I post?

Typical posting schedules range from every day to once a week.  Posting less often than that will tend to lose you readers, since they find it difficult to keep track of (and maintain their interest in) a story posted at such long intervals.  On the other hand, posting too frequently tends to lose you comments, since not everyone logs in every day or has the time to write detailed feedback when they do.

If the story's finished, or will be by the time you've posted the first few parts, then choose a quicker posting schedule.  Every other day is a popular choice for finished stories.  If you've still got a lot to write, once or twice a week is probably a good choice, depending on how fast you write and how much buffer (finished material) you have.  If you think you won't be able to keep to once a week, then you should probably wait until you have a bigger buffer before starting to post.

Of course, things don't always go according to plan, and you may find your schedule starts to slip after a while.  Let your readers know if you need to take a couple of weeks off, or if you'd prefer to change to a slower schedule.  They'll be sympathetic - they have real lives to juggle, too.  Don't just stop posting and disappear, though - they don't like being left in suspense without warning.

You may also find that you write faster than you thought you would, and that you've finished the story when there are still many parts to go.  Feel free to accelerate your posting schedule - I don't think anyone's ever complained about a story coming out faster than expected!  Do warn your readers, though, or they may miss parts; they may even be logging in just to read your story.

How long should a story part be?

How long is a piece of string?

There used to be a limit of 20KB (about 8 pages) on the size of story parts posted on the LCFic mailing list, because AOL would convert longer messages into attachments, which were much more difficult for its users to open.  Since many authors post to the fic list and the MB in parallel, story parts on the MB tended to stick to the same limit.

Fortunately that problem seems to have disappeared, and readers tend to prefer somewhat longer chunks, especially for long stories.  Story parts are normally somewhere between about 6 and 15 pages long (15 - 40 KB), but they can be shorter or longer depending on the natural breaks in the story, and its length and pace.  The readers may grumble if they think a part is too short; however, short parts have the advantage of drawing more readers, since it's easier to fit a few minutes of reading into a busy day.

Shorter stories up to about 15 - 20 pages (40 - 50 KB) can be posted in a single part, but authors often split them, especially if there's a cliff-hanger partway through.  Cliff-hangers also provoke complaints from the readers, of a good-natured "how can you do this to us?!?" kind.  A shortish story posted in several parts over a few days will tend to get more detailed comments than the same story posted in a single chunk.

I've pasted from Word into the New Topic window, but the post doesn't look right.  What can I do?

Often copying from a Word window and pasting into the New Topic text box works perfectly, but sometimes you end up with funny codes in the posted story part.  These can usually be fixed by saving the Word file as a text file instead, and then using a text editor (e.g. Notepad) to open the text file and copy the text.  This will lose any non-ASCII characters that you had in the Word file, though, such as "smart quotes", accents and cedillas.  On the other hand, since the Archive doesn't accept non-ASCII characters in story files, you were going to have to edit those out eventually anyway.

Another problem with Word files occurs if you use a clever "body text" style with an automatic line-space before or after each paragraph.  When you copy the text and paste it to the New Topic text box, or when you save the Word file as a text file, the paragraph formatting disappears and you end up with no space between successive paragraphs.  This is extremely difficult to read and must be fixed before you post the story.

How should I go about posting my Tank Ending?

For those who don't know what a Tank Ending is, see the Tank Endings page at Annesplace.

First of all, if you've written a Tank Ending for someone else's story, you need to get their permission before you post it.  Send it off to the story author in an email, explaining what you've done and asking their permission to post.  Adding something about how much you're enjoying their story won't hurt.   Don't be upset if the author refuses permission; some people love TEs, others find them tedious and/or annoying.

In order to spring the TE on their readers as a surprise, some authors post a TE labelled as a normal final story part; that is, if the last story part was "Tempus in a Teacup, part 15/23", the TE might be labelled "Tempus in a Teacup, part 16", or perhaps "Tempus in a Teacup FINAL".  A TE is usually posted on schedule for the next story part, and the actual story part is posted within a few hours, or not more than a couple of days later - otherwise the author is likely to be lynched.  As soon as the actual story part is posted, the TE topic name should be changed to "Tempus in a Teacup TE", so that readers aren't confused about which part is the real one.

However, while some readers love TEs and enjoy the surprise factor, others loathe TEs and refuse to read them, getting quite irate if they're conned into reading one by accident.  There are also many who enjoy TEs, but prefer to know before they start reading that this story part shouldn't be taken seriously.  So before posting your disguised TE, you need to issue a warning to those who want it.

A special topic called Tank Ending Warnings has been created at the head of the Fanfic forum.  Readers who want to be warned about upcoming TEs check this topic before starting to read, while readers who want to be surprised ignore it completely.  Several hours (ideally about 24 hours) before posting a disguised TE, therefore, you must send an email to tewarning@nfanfic.net, stating that you're going to post a TE and for which story.  One of the admins on that list will then post a warning message to the TE Warning topic.  After a suitable lapse of time, you can go ahead and post your disguised TE.

There's no rule that says you have to post your TE disguised as a normal story part, though.  You can simply label it as a TE from the start, i.e. as "Tempus in a Teacup TE".  In that case there's no need to email a warning or to change the topic name when the real part is posted.

Once you've posted

What happens after I've posted?

This is where the good part starts, the main reward we get as fanfic writers: feedback from the readers.   Feedback goes in a separate topic from the story part, for a variety of reasons (see How do I comment?)  The feedback topic should have the same name as the story part, but with "FDK" or "Comments" added: e.g. "Tempus in a Teacup, part 10/22? - Comments" or "FDK: Tempus in a Teacup, part 10/22?"

Most authors start their own feedback topic as soon as they've posted.  This gives them a chance to add extra information about the story part if they want to; it also ensures that as soon as someone has read the story, an fdk topic is there, inviting their comments.

A few hardy souls choose to let others start their feedback topics.  This has the advantage of allowing the readers to choose interesting topic names, such as "Tempus in a Teacup 22/23 Comments, or GET BACK HERE AND SAVE LOIS BEFORE I DISEMBOWEL YOUR TUSHIE!"  There are a couple of drawbacks, though: more than one reader may start feedback topics simultaneously, and sometimes it can be several nerve-wracking hours before someone finally bothers to start your topic.

The other important job to do after posting a story part, and/or after your fdk topic has been started, is to provide links between the various topics belonging to your story.  This helps the reader navigate easily between them, without having to search the whole topic list for the forum.  The main task is to create or update the story TOC, but the story parts and fdk topics should also contain links to the TOC and to each other.  (This is another reason to create the fdk topic yourself: not all readers will remember to put links into an fdk topic that they start.)

What's a TOC?

A TOC is a Table of Contents, and it lists all the hyperlinked story parts and comment topics for a single story.  It's a handy way for the reader to locate story parts and comments, particularly if they start reading the story some time after the early parts were posted.  It's also easier for the Fanfic Index to list a single TOC than a whole bunch of story parts.  A TOC is useful even for a single-part story, to keep the story part and fdk together.

TOCs get posted in the applicable TOC forum (Fanfic TOCs covers stories in both the Fanfic and Fanfic Challenge forums, while nFanfic TOCs and Original Fiction TOCs cover one fic forum each.)  There are step-by-step instructions for creating a TOC in a special topic at the top of each TOC forum, e.g. Fanfic TOC how-to topic.

The same method used for linking the story parts and fdk topics into the TOC is used to link the TOC and related fdk topic into the story part, and the TOC and related story part into the fdk topic.

Should I reply to the story feedback?

In a word: definitely.   Your readers are just as keen to know that you read and appreciate their comments as you are to know that they're reading and enjoying the story.

If someone brings up an issue in the fdk topic, say a plot or characterisation point, then it may be appropriate to reply at once, saying whether you agree or disagree, and what you plan to do about it.  Fascinating discussions can develop as a result.  Either way, it's also usual to reply to the entire topic just before you post the next story section, thanking everyone for their feedback and replying to any specific comments that you feel warrant a response.

Should I edit my posted story part after receiving comments?

That's pretty much up to you.  If the changes that you make in response to comments are major, and especially if they will impact later story parts, then it's a good idea to edit the posted story part.  Let the readers know you've done so, by posting a note in the fdk topic, so they can read the new version before continuing with the story.  Alternatively, you can post a smallish modified section in the fdk topic itself so it's clear exactly what changes you've made.

If the changes are small and localised, then you may prefer just to edit the copy on your hard drive before archiving your story.  Again, let the readers know that you're planning to make changes based on the comments they've made ("Interesting thought - I'll add a few lines.")  Readers are fond of authors who are responsive to comments and suggestions.

When your story's finished

Should I archive my story?

This is definitely a good idea.  There are quite a few people who don't read stories in parts, and prefer to wait for the final, polished version to hit the archives.  With luck, some of them will even send you feedback emails after reading your story - and sometimes these can be really detailed and thought-provoking.  Also, archiving your fanfic will automatically make it eligible for Kerth Awards; if you want to enter a story that's only been posted on the MB, then you have to notify the Kerth Committee yourself.

There are two principal archives for L&C fanfic: the Lois and Clark Fanfic Archive, and Annesplace.  The Archive hosts only gfic, while Annesplace also hosts nfic and some original fiction.

The Archive FAQ has all the information you need on how to prepare your story and submit it to the Archive.  To submit a story to Annesplace, email it as a text file attachment to stories@annesplace.net.

What else should I do?

Well, you can't possibly stop at just one story.   The readers have insatiable appetites, and will probably be nagging you to write another by now.  Pay heed to your public.

You've probably also learnt first-hand how much authors appreciate feedback on their stories, both praise and constructive criticism.  Now's a good time to get stuck into a few stories on the MB and give their authors your feedback, to encourage them as much as you've been encouraged.  Another way you can contribute to the fanfic community is by offering to BR other authors' stories for them.

Commenting on stories

How do I comment on the story part I've just read?

Comments should go in a separate topic, not in a reply to the story part itself.  The only exception to this is for certain short fanfic challenges, where all the challenge responses and comments go in a single topic.  There are several reasons for separating the story part and comments: it's quicker to load either the story part or the comments, readers who are collecting story parts to read when the story's finished can easily save the story to their hard drive, you don't have to scroll past the story to read the latest comment post, and so on.

To comment on an ordinary story part, find the related feedback topic and post a reply.  If there isn't an existing topic, go ahead and start one.  The title should include the story name and part number, and the term "FDK" or "Comments", e.g. "FDK: Hot Tempus part 5/6".  You can add more to the title if you like, such as "happy birthday, XXX" if it was a birthday story, or comments on the story part or the author - see the Alt-Kerth Comments Folder Title quiz for some entertaining topic titles of the past.

If you create a new topic and then discover that someone else started one while you were constructing yours, the best thing to do is to combine the two topics.  Copy your comment post (this is easiest if you click on the "edit" icon and then copy everything in the text box) and post it as a reply to the other feedback topic.  Then edit your original comment post and the topic name to say something like "duplicate post" or "please ignore", so that other readers don't use it by accident.  Finally, send email to the forum moderators (use the "report post" icon at the bottom of your message) and ask them to delete the duplicate topic.

If a story part was posted weeks ago and the author has long since replied to comments, you may feel embarrassed about adding comments to the feedback topic.  You don't need to be; authors love feedback whenever they get it.  If you're still not sure about posting your feedback publicly, you can always email it to the author instead.

What should I say in story comments?

First of all, check what sort of feedback the author asked for at the top of the story part, or at the start of the feedback topic.  If they've asked for no criticism at all, or for grammar and spelling edits to go in email, respect their wishes.  If they haven't said anything about feedback, you're probably reasonably safe assuming that they're happy with constructive criticism, though it's a good idea to tread carefully with new authors.

Irrespective of what they've asked for, always be polite in your comments, and always be constructive with any criticism.  Try to balance criticism with praise for the aspects you liked - and you can almost always find something to praise.  If you genuinely can't think of anything good to say about the story, perhaps you're better off not commenting.

If the author responds directly to criticism, it often opens up a fascinating discussion, particularly if the author and commenter disagree.  That's not usually a problem, and you shouldn't feel guilty about disagreeing, unless perhaps the author indicates their feelings have been hurt - which isn't necessarily your fault, either, if your criticism has been offered respectfully.

In any case, if the author decides not to change their story based on your comments, just agree to disagree; don't continue to labour the point throughout the rest of the story.  Comments such as "You've still got the characterisation hopelessly wrong" are unnecessary and unacceptable.  At the end of the day it's the author's story, not yours.  If the issue you have with the story is preventing you enjoying it, then just quietly stop reading and commenting.

Avoid going off into side discussions in someone else's feedback topic.  If an interesting issue emerges in a feedback topic, but it isn't directly related to the story, start a new topic in the Fanfic Related forum to discuss it.  If there are six new messages in an fdk topic and the author gets all excited, only to find that they're all about the regulations governing cheese production in Belgium, he or she will quite rightly feel rather annoyed.

Finally, if you find you're pushed for time and can't post a long, thoughtful feedback message, then just post a brief note saying that you enjoyed the part.  It may feel like cheating to you, but the authors appreciate these comments as well.

Last updated 19th May 2003 by Meredith Knight
Created and designed by Meredith Knight
FAQ comments, corrections and suggestions to Contact Us Copyright 2003.
All rights reserved.