Author's Notes, or, How to Make Sure I Never Read Your Story

By Professor Celli

Standard disclaimer: I am not directing this at anyone personally. These are things that bother me. If they don't bother you, or if you do them and you're happy that you do them, that's fine. This is just me being, well, ranty.

Ways to make sure I never make it past the author's notes to your fic:

1. Apologize for it. I know the impulse; I've had the impulse. Repress it.

If it's not ready to be out there, telling us that in advance will not garner you sympathy. It's more likely to make people avoid it. If it is ready, it needs to stand on its own, and people will confuse it with the not ready ones and *still* avoid it. You see what I mean?

2. Tell us it's your first fic. That's often a sneaky version of #1. I'd rather be awed by your talent, and then find out later it's your first story, at which point I will be even *more* awed.

(I will quite often bend on this rule. After all, how often do you write a first fic? But, yes, my personal preference is strong.)

3. Mention how hard this was to write considering you've only seen two episodes. *facepalms* Now, I know people who have only seen a couple of eps but catch up with canon by downloading stuff, reading transcripts, etc. But they make a point of sending it to a beta who has seen all the eps. And telling people, again, will drive away everyone who assumes you got it wrong.

4. Point out in advance how out of character, silly, or unlike the show it is. Again, a sneaky version of #1. You're just waiting for everyone to jump in and say, "No, no, we thought it was in character!" (or, "No, no, we love your way of writing the characters better!") Let the story stand on its own. And if you know the characters are OOC, then why haven't you a) fixed them or b) called it an AU?

5. Beg for reviews. "Please review" is fine. "I like feedback" is fine. "I'm begging you, please review this!" makes me kind of uncomfortable. "Review this or I won't write any more!" has me hitting backspace faster than anything else. It's rude. Flat-out rude.

6. Discuss your view of the show. Your story should express that. If you like a storyline, it'll be featured. If you think something should be changed, you'll write an AU. What if your reader would otherwise love your fic, but you trash her favorite storyline in your A/N? Odds are, she won't even read your story, and you've lost a fan.

7. Spoil readers in the spoilers section. "Spoilers through Prophecy Girl" is fine. "Spoilers through Buffy's drowning" is not the wisest choice.

8. Put author's notes in the middle of the story. Because reminding me that this is fiction, and not really happening, jerks me right out of the story and hurts more than it could ever help.

The following will not stop me from reading a story, but they will make me hesitate, and sort of break the mood:

9. Long descriptions of the AU you're creating. A few lines are fine, especially if it's complicated, but I would prefer to see that information distributed as part of the story whenever possible.

10. Ditto on the show you're crossing over with. The premise of an entire series is hard to put in narrative without sounding awkward, I admit. I prefer a link to a page with show information for that second show. Then if I'm not familiar with it, I can check it out; if I am, I can dive right into the story.

11. Exceptionally long A/Ns for any reason. I'm here for the fic, not your notes. If there's information the reader has to have, fine. And I'm all for thanking your betas. But the heading is long enough. We just want to read the stories!

Here's a trick--put any info the reader might want, but doesn't need, at the end of the story. Then they can stop at "the end," or if they're so interested read about why you wrote this fic, and so on.

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