Frequently Asked Questions About Story Submission
How do I get my story ready for the archive?
Congratulations on writing a fanfic! Here's what you can do to get it ready for submission:
1. Spell check!
2. Have at least one editor look over the story (optional, but strongly recommended) before submission, then rework the story as you think necessary. Most experienced fanfic writers have their work reviewed by a minimum of one story editor, so feel free to have a couple of people look at your story. If you don't have your own editor and you would like to have someone work with you on plot, characterization and so on, there are a couple of ways of going about this. Some writers use friends who are familiar with the show. If you are a member of the LCFic fanfiction mailing list or one of the message boards (more information below in the section about betas), you could post a message there and ask if anyone would volunteer to edit for you. If you're not a member and need help finding an editor, email Editor-in-Chief LabRat (email@example.com), explaining what kind of help you're looking for, and we may be able to find someone willing to assist.
3. If English is not your first language, you may wish to ask someone who is a native English speaker to read over the story for you, looking for any language or translation problems. Archive editors will be as helpful as they can but may not have the time to advise on any translation difficulties you may have had.
4. Include the appropriate headers. Stories in the archive use a consistent header format to make identification easy. Include, at the very beginning of your story, at the left margin (not indented), the following information, in the following order:
The above is just a guide. You type in your own particulars, of course. You don't need to set off the title and author by typing "Title:" and "Author:" — we'll figure it out. :-)
Here's an example of what we're looking for:
If you are not sure what rating your story should be given, you may leave that part blank. (Include the word "Rated," just don't give a rating.) Your General Editor will assign a rating for you. The rating will be one of these: G, PG, or PG-13 (for definitions of these, see our Ratings Definitions page). The same holds true for the story summary — if you have an idea for a summary, feel free to include it, but your editor will write it if it's left blank. Including these two things when you submit your story will help us get it online that much faster.
If you do not include the appropriate headers, your story may be returned to you for proper formatting.
5. IMPORTANT: Save your story in Microsoft Word format. Also accepted are OpenOffice/LibreOffice format. If you submit your story in Word format, you can take advantage of bold and italics formatting. Keep in mind that you do not need to buy or use Microsoft Word in order to save in Word's .doc format. Free alternatives such as OpenOffice, LibreOffice, AbiWord and Google Docs can also save documents in Microsoft Word's .doc format. (And Google Docs offers intriguing powers to people who like to team up to create coauthored stories: Google Docs allows multiple writers to work on the same story even at the same time.) We prefer that you send the story as an e-mail attachment. But you can also submit your story in the body of an e-mail message; if you do, you should limit each e-mail message to approximately 20-25Kb. Parts should be identified with the title and the part number in the e-mail subject line. Example: The Kerth (1 of 2), The Kerth (2 of 2)
6. Format the story so it's easy to read. Also, keep the formatting as simple as possible. And be consistent. If you use some text to mark section breaks, please use that same bit of text every time. For example, don't use three asterisks one time, then a dashed line 30 characters long the next time, then a dashed line 14 characters long the next. Your archive editor will love you for that.
When we were operating back in the text-only olden days, an extra hard return between paragraphs was easier to read than a simple indent. But now that our display format is HTML, we have fewer limits on how we work on our documents. You can keep using extra returns if you're used to that. We recommend, however, that you make it easy on yourself by turning on automatic first line indentation.
If you divide your story into chapters and use chapter headings, format them in the style called Heading 3. (Look for the style dropdown on your toolbar. In Word, you'll probably see the word Normal, because the words will probably be in normal body text initially. In OpenOffice, the style dropdown will probably reveal the currently selected text as Default.) Formatting chapter headings with the Heading 3 style makes them stand out to readers, and it helps us produce ebooks that are split in the appropriate spots.
7. U.S./UK/Australian English: Writers who have submitted stories to the archive come from all over the world, and we greatly enjoy this diversity. Authors should feel free to write their stories in whichever version of English they know best. Spellings do differ between countries, and archive staff volunteers try to be aware of these differences. Occasionally you may find vocabulary differences: words that mean something different in America from what they do in the UK. Cot and crib would be an example of this: In the United States a cot is a temporary or makeshift bed, whereas in the UK it's a baby's bed. If you're talking about a baby's bed in the United States, use crib. We would suggest that if you want your characters to seem realistic, they should converse in U.S. English: In other words, Lois and Clark would not use specifically Australian or British vocabulary. If you'd like advice on international vocabulary differences, feel free to ask your General Editor.
Where can I review grammar, punctuation and other writing rules?
For a crash course in L&C fanfic writing, click for our own Writer's Guidelines. We've tried to cover the basics of grammar and punctuation, as well as provide a list of commonly misused words.
Is there any type of content I should avoid?
This archive accepts only stories that can be rated at PG-13 and below; see the Ratings Definitions page for ratings criteria. These ratings apply to violence, sexual situations and strong language. In general, our ratings are closer to television ratings than the movies — if it can't be shown on prime-time network television, it probably won't be accepted on the archive.
If your story contains a major WHAM (wrenching, hurtful, aching moment), such as the death or serious injury of a major character, readers will appreciate your including a warning to that effect in the story's introduction. In addition, since graphic violence is not very common in L&C fic, many readers appreciate a violence warning on stories that are rated PG-13 for that reason.
How do I submit my story?
Please email your story as an attachment to Editor-in-Chief LabRat at this address: firstname.lastname@example.org. She will email you an acknowledgment of receipt shortly. You will then be contacted by one of the archive's General Editors, as soon as they become free.
You must officially submit your story to us in order for it to be uploaded to the archive. Stories posted elsewhere, such as a fanfiction list or any of the various message boards, are not gathered and automatically uploaded.
Will my story be eligible for the Kerth Awards?
All stories submitted to the Lois and Clark Fanfic Archive will automatically be sent to the Kerth committee at the end of the submission year for inclusion in the eligible stories list for the Lois & Clark Kerth Awards for Fanfic. Authors who do not wish their story to be forwarded for consideration in the awards should send email to Editor-in-Chief LabRat (email@example.com) before December 31st of the submission year to enable their story to be deleted from the list. If you want to know more about the Kerth Awards, visit the Kerth Awards site.
A story is not required to have been uploaded to the archive to be eligible for Kerth consideration — the story just has to have been present somewhere online where FoLCs can find it before the December 31st deadline. Each year there are many stories eligible from having been posted in their entirety on Annette's Lois & Clark Fanfic Message Boards: Often authors post their stories there, in chapters as they are in the process of writing them, and then send final versions to the archive at a later date, which may fall in the new year.
What can I expect from my archive editor?
1. A General Editor will be assigned to look over your story. His or her job will be to correct any typos, verify that the story is appropriate for the archive and do any necessary reformatting. You will be notified of any suggested corrections via email. You may, at that point, choose to have the editor make the changes or make the changes you agree with yourself and resubmit the story. An editor's suggestions are just that — suggestions. You are not obliged to agree to anything the editor suggests, unless it is ratings-related — for example if your General Editor tells you that some of the content of your story is unsuitable for a PG-13 or under rating (see below). The role of the editor is to work with you, not against you, and to help ensure that your story is presented in the best possible way when it is uploaded to the archive. You can normally expect an editor to get back to you within a week or two of submitting your story. Longer stories, obviously, may require more time on the editor's part, and the editor should give you an estimate of the expected time-scale when contacting you initially.
2. Editors will only do general proofreading, not comment on story line or plot. If you would like plot comments, please note this when you submit your story to the archive. Most General Editors will be happy to spend a little extra time making more detailed comments on characterization, pointing out plot holes, etc. But as a rule, we only do so if the author requests it.
3. No changes will be made to a story without consulting the author first. Where a story contains a lot of common and repeated errors, the editor might summarize these errors for the author without identifying each one, and ask the author's permission to make the relevant corrections throughout. If the author does not answer the editor's e-mail after several attempts at contact, the archive may either remove the story from our submissions list, or — if corrections are very minor — upload the story as it was submitted.
4. We only post stories to the archive that are rated G, PG, or PG-13. All stories will be assigned a rating by our editing staff. This rating will appear under the title and author's name at the beginning of each story. More information on our rating guidelines can be found on our Ratings Definitions page.
We cannot and will not post any material that does not fall within this rating guideline. There are other forums for "NFanfiction" or "Nfic," material rated above PG-13. If your story does not qualify as G, PG, or PG-13, you will be notified by an editor who may suggest certain wording or content changes that would allow us to post your story. You will be given a choice. You may refuse to make (or allow us to make) any changes to your story and withdraw your story from submission. That is fine; however, no story that we feel defies the laws of PG-land will be admitted to the archive.
If you disagree with the rating assigned by your editor, you may request a second opinion. Please send a note to Editor-in-Chief LabRat (firstname.lastname@example.org), and she will review the story. All decisions by the Editor-in-Chief are final.
5. Our goal is to have stories uploaded soon after submission — ideally within a month, though it may take longer, depending on the number of stories in the queue.
NOTE: Archive editors reserve the right to return a story to the writer if the story is 1) inappropriate or 2) needs more proofing than the editor can be reasonably expected to do. In the case of 2), the editor may suggest that the story be spell-checked and/or read over by another competent person — a friend or family member, perhaps — before resubmitting. We do not anticipate having to do this; our goal will be to work with authors as much as possible. However, neither will we require our editors to do more work on stories than the authors have done themselves.
Everything you ever wanted to know about General Editors and Beta Readers
This post was prompted by a comments folder over on Zoomway's message boards and by a general sense of confusion that I've been sensing lately from an influx of new authors as to what the difference is between the two. So, thought I'd clarify it here. A little Editing 101 session.
1. Beta Readers work with authors over weeks or months (or even years when it comes to the slowest of us).
2. They comment on all aspects of a story: plot, characterization, general typos, errors in grammar and punctuation. They make encouraging noises on what works, point out what doesn't, and sometimes spark off new ideas with their comments that the author may never have considered before. (/me remembers beta comments that resulted in 20 pages of Clark introspection...)
3. To find a Beta, simply place an ad in the "Fanfic Related Folder on the Lois and Clark Fanfic Messageboards" or in the Fanfic Related folder on Zoomway's message boards. Head your post 'Beta Wanted' or similar and set out what kind of story you intend to write and what kind of editing you require.
Most authors in this fandom have at least one Beta — some have more than one. Few would even consider letting a story loose in public before their Beta has gone over it. And aside from saving us endless embarrassment, the process is generally so much fun we wonder what on earth we did before Betas were invented.
1. General Editors work for the Fanfic Archive. They do not provide a beta reading service for authors. The archive does not have the time or resources that would enable us to provide such a service, which is why we are eternally grateful to the vast army of FoLCs who volunteer to beta and make life so much easier for our GEs by weeding out the majority of errors before the story even hits the archive mailbox.
2. GEs provide nothing more than a final, last-minute 'polish' before a story is uploaded to the archive. Generally, they do not comment on plot or characterization or offer encouraging comment. They restrict themselves simply to weeding out the final typos and grammar/punctuation errors missed by author and Beta. There's always at least one. I believe that typos breed like rabbits the minute you close down a file. You'll never find them all.
3. The archive generally expects that an author will have at least had their story passed through a spell checker before submitting it for uploading. It is considered extremely helpful if an author can arrange to have his or her story worked on by a Beta before submitting it too.
4. Basically, archive policy is that no GE should spend more time working on a story than the author spent writing it. In other words, the GE should be seen as the last editing port of call, rather than the first. And a story should have been worked on to the author's best ability and as many errors weeded from it as is possible before submitting. Our GEs like life to be as easy as it gets. They work hard and deserve it.
In conclusion: we do not demand that a story is perfect when it's submitted to the archive — few of us would have our stories there if that were the case. But we do expect that authors will have tried their best to weed out as many errors as possible before they submit their story to us.
Our General Editors are a bunch of hard working volunteers. If you can make life as easy as you can for them they'll deeply appreciate it.
The Lois and Clark Fanfic Archive
What if I want to make changes to my story after it's uploaded?
1. Download the Word or OpenOffice version of the story on the archive — this maintains the title/author headers and formatting, and it ensures that you resubmit the correct filename. (If your story was uploaded to the archive before 2009, we have not yet converted it into a word-processing format. In that case, please download the HTML file and import that into your word processor.)
2. Make any changes you see necessary to the story.
3. Using the subject line "REPLACE: filename.ext," write a brief email explaining exactly what you have changed. If you have made major changes to your story (say, a complete rewrite of a fanfic you wrote years ago), the story may need to be reviewed by an editor before being uploaded. However, if all you changed was your email address, we'll be able to replace the file quickly. However, if it's only an email address that needs to be changed, it'll be faster just to notify us to change the address in the story already online.
4. Attach the corrected version of your story to the email message, and send it to Editor-in-Chief LabRat (email@example.com). IMPORTANT: Your file must be saved/sent with the exact filename that the story had in the archive. Otherwise, when we upload the story, we will be creating a new file rather than replacing the old one — and we all will have just wasted our time.
What Is Feedback?
Feedback is what some readers send you after reading your story, often to thank you, sometimes to gush. Not all readers send feedback. Sadly most, in fact, do not. We're all guilty of it — we read stories we love, love, love, but when we finish them we move on to other tasks and decide to send feedback "later." Then somehow "later" the details of the wonderful things we wanted to say get fuzzy, and again we postpone… and then we get distracted by another story to read.
Has something like that happened to you? We're betting it has. So if you are not receiving the amount of feedback you expected, please do not be discouraged and attribute lack of feedback to an idea that people are not reading your stories. As we examine the archive system logs, we see lots of people visiting and reading stories. Just as you have been a silent fan of other writers, there are readers out there who are silent fans of you. Oh, and if you change your email address, please let the archive know so we can update your stories, which allows readers to successfully send their feedback.
What email address should I use?
Please take care in choosing which of your email addresses to include in your stories — this is the address by which readers will know where to send feedback.
If you don't want an email address to be made public, please don't use it in your story. If this is an address that will disappear at some point — a college address, a work address, an email address tied to your current Internet provider — please don't use it in your stories. Readers who stumble onto your story years in the future and attempt to send you feedback will be dismayed when their messages bounce back because you've graduated, changed jobs or gone with another cable company.
We recommend setting up a free email address with sites like Google's Gmail, Yahoo or Outlook (a.k.a. Hotmail), an address exclusive to your fanfic-writing life. These three sites have been around forever, and we don't foresee them going away any time soon. As a bonus for people who really prefer mail to arrive at their college, work or provider-related email inbox, these three powerhouses let you set up automatic forwarding filters to send messages to email addresses of your choice. So if you've turned on forwarding, readers will be writing you at your fanfic address, but you'll be receiving their messages at your regular address.
Another bonus of using Gmail, Yahoo or HotMail addresses is that once they're set up, they don't need to be changed. Having to change author email addresses in our seven story flavors, especially if the author is prolific, makes the webmaster very sad.
We also recommend, for privacy's sake (though this is not a concern for everyone), that you choose an email address that doesn't identify you outside your fanfic life. If your name is, say, John Doe, think carefully before going with something like JohnDoe@gmail.com.
Should I use a pen name?
Before you establish your presence on the archive as an author, consider whether or not you want to be known by your real name or under a pen name.
We've had several writers who liked at the time to be known by their real names on the archive, only to write us in a panic years later because they'd been hired into sensitive jobs and were bothered to find their fanfic pasts showing up in Google. For these people we are happy to change references to their names in their stories to a pen name of their choosing. Well, not happy, exactly, especially if the author has been prolific (seven story flavors!), but we understand the need to do it and want them to feel secure.
So, please think carefully when deciding which name to write under. Think about how your circumstances may change in the future. On the archive there are many popular writers who write under their true names and many others who write under pen names.
Only you can make this decision. Please choose a name you'll be happy to keep for the long haul, and always use this name in the author line of your stories' section headers.
(We can't help thinking that it's cool to use a pen name, though — it's kind of like your superhero name. And you get to keep your mild-mannered secret identity.)
Plagiarism, if proven, is grounds for having all of an author's work removed from the Lois & Clark Fanfic Archive.
While the vast majority of fanfic writers are honest and hard-working, experience tells us that there can be a small — very small — minority who are not so honest. In the world of Lois & Clark fanfiction we have come across and had to deal with a few examples of this: one in which a writer from another fandom was passing off L&C fanfics as her work, "converted" into her fandom, and two in which L&C writers were plagiarising.
What is plagiarism?
Plagiarism is the deliberate attempt to pass off someone else's work as one's own. Therefore, it is the intentional theft of words and/or ideas from a piece of work by someone else. We've said intentional here; it is possible to commit plagiarism accidentally, but this is extremely rare and in the vast majority of cases plagiarists know exactly what they're doing.
Examples of plagiarism in fanfic
Plagiarism, in the extreme form, has occurred when someone takes a book, or a fanfic written for a different fandom, and changes character names and some minor details, then presents it as his or her own work. So, if Author A were to take an X-Files fanfic written by Author B, alter the character and place names and other identifying information, and then post it as a Lois & Clark fanfic by himself or herself, that is plagiarism. Equally, to take a novel or short story and reproduce it as a fanfic is also plagiarism; the latter example would also put any site hosting the fanfic under threat of legal action by the copyright holders.
It is also plagiarism to "lift" lines of dialogue or text from a novel, a fanfic, a film or TV show, etc., without attribution, even where only a small number of lines are used. Even if only three paragraphs of a 200-page story are not original to you, the author, that is plagiarism.
Yet lots of authors use dialogue from the show in their stories. Is that acceptable? Well, key to the definition of plagiarism is that the author is attempting to present work as their own. If an author writes, "Clark Kent is who I am; Superman is what I can do" in a fanfic, is anyone going to believe that this line is his or her own invention? Certainly not. However, it is still sensible to include a disclaimer at the beginning of your story stating that you have used some dialogue from the show.
It's also plagiarism if you take one of those "funny emails" that come around on the Internet and turn it into a fanfic without acknowledging the source. Take a look at Supermom's Lois's Cooking Diary for an example of how to give proper credit.
What about the borrowing of ideas? This is a trickier example, since simultaneous invention is common throughout history. Additionally, there are many stories written on similar themes, even based on almost identical premises, and yet no-one would even think that there is plagiarism involved. Kathy Brown and Demi's When Friends Become Lovers and LabRat's If Tomorrow Comes both follow on from the episode That Old Gang of Mine with the premise that Lois doesn't want to leave Clark after his return from the "dead," and yet they are completely different in their execution.
If you were to rewrite Titanic with Lois and Clark instead of Rose and Jack, that is plagiarism. If, however, you wrote a story in which Lois and Clark were on board the Titanic, but had few other similarities to the movie, that would not be plagiarism. However, it is generally recommended that authors include a disclaimer if their story, or a major element within it, is strongly influenced by something else: a novel, another fanfic, a TV series, etc. See Pam Jernigan's Tryst for an example of how one author dealt with this.
Plagiarism is NOT:
• Writing a story with a premise similar to that written by someone else -- there, if the earlier story helped to give you the idea, a note to say so would be thoughtful. See the note at the end of Wendy Richards' Big Boys Do Fly for an example.
• Using a phrase in a story, even if it appears in someone else's story or novel, where that phrase is common parlance. Describing Clark as looking like "a Greek god" — even if not strictly accurate! — isn't plagiarism even if it appears in someone else's story.
• Similarity in plot developments is also very unlikely to be plagiarism. This kind of similarity happens from time to time, and it's often the case that the writer of the later story hasn't even read the earlier one.
For more information and explanations of plagiarism, see the Statement on Plagiarism on Charles Darling's widely commended Guide to Grammar and Writing Web site. And if you have any concerns as to whether you are coming close to the line in your own work, do feel free to ask your General Editor for advice, or write to the Archive Editor-in-Chief (firstname.lastname@example.org). But be reassured: plagiarism is rare. In the first 10 years of Lois & Clark fanfiction, and with almost 1,900 stories on the Archive (at the time of this writing), only two L&C fanfic writers have ever been found to be plagiarists.
What if you suspect a story is plagiarized?
Incidents of plagiarism are not pleasant. They sadden us all, not only because of the pain of feeling betrayed, but it's also sad for the plagiarizer herself or himself.
In the light of our recent experience, we are suggesting some general principles that should be followed in the future if a reader should ever become suspicious about someone's work. We're recommending these for reasons of fairness to all concerned: the writer who may be under suspicion, the owner(s) of the site(s) where the work is housed, and FoLCdom in general.
• First, every accused person deserves the right to be acquainted with the suspicions and any evidence that may exist, and to be given the opportunity to respond. So someone who has suspicions should contact the writer in question and attempt to resolve them privately, rather than, for example, raising the suspicions first in a public forum.
• Where there is no response, or the response is unsatisfactory, there is obviously a difficulty, and what should happen next has to be dependent on the degree of evidence available. For example, without a copy of, or easy access to, the story or other item being plagiarized so that they may be compared, the "accuser" has little option other than to stay quiet.
• Where there is clear evidence, for instance there exists a copy of the plagiarized story, the book or whatever, then the "accuser" can act — but we believe that the action taken should be confined to FoLCdom. In other words, it's the relevant site owner who should be contacted with the information. That means LabRat (email@example.com) at the Fanfic Archive here or Anne Ciotola at Annesplace (http://www.annesplace.net). Let them have an opportunity to evaluate the evidence, investigate, and take effective action. It's up to them to decide what action to take, in addition; it is their site.
It's important to remember that it could damage the website and cause far more problems for the site owner if their first contact is from an "outsider" -- an archivist or author from another fandom, the author of a book, or even worse, from lawyers. For the protection of FoLCdom as a whole, it's far better to keep these matters within the fandom. One lesson we have learned from recent events is that we are very good at policing ourselves.
Who writes the story blurbs?
Summaries for stories uploaded prior to September 1997 were written by LaurenW and Renate Brink with help from Jennifer Adkins. Summaries since September 1997 were written by Kathy Brown, LabRat and the staff of General Editors. In addition, several authors have submitted their own story descriptions.
Fanfic authors: You may rewrite descriptions for stories of yours that are already in the archive. Please send all description rewrites to the webmaster at firstname.lastname@example.org.