This section presents and discusses the results showing the history of how long participants in the study have been writing slash, how much time per week in general they spend writing, and the ratings they prefer to write. In addition, the results showing whether writers choose to post their work in the Internet and the reasons for their choice will also be presented and discussed.
4.1 History of Writing
Those who do not write
Although all participants read slash not all of them write it. Two people did not respond to the questions on either reading or writing, but it is assumed that they at least read it since nobody reported writing slash but not reading it. The results showed that 31 participants (11%) reported that they did not write slash. Some wanted to while others did not.
If I did write, I'd probably be uncomfortable with anything too serious at first, but one day I'll write NC-17's. (R198)
I don't write. I refuse to post a "bad fic..." (R190)
Do not write slash. Do not enjoy writing. And I do not often generate my own fantasies about the characters. (R252)
Literature describing the genre of slash and its writers tends to focus on those who write. Even though some people do not write, they should still be considered as an important part of the slash community. As will be shown below, the production of slash is not a one way form of communication; rather, it often forms an interaction between those who read and write. Jenkins (1992) also points out that there is no large separation in fandoms between readers and writers as many people do both. Although it is not explored in this study, it is possible that people may have differing conceptions of themselves as either readers, writers or both. For example, some people may consider themselves be slashers who read and write equally, while others may consider themselves to be primarily readers or writers.
4.1.1 Analysis Method
The analysis procedure was the same as for the responses to how many hours participants spent reading slash. Participants were asked to estimate how long they had been writing slash. This answer was converted into years for the ease of analysis. In some cases estimates were made based on the information given when an exact number was not provided. The following examples show these estimations:
A little less than a year (R28) (= 0.9 years)
3 yrs, some odd months (R31) (= 3.2 years)
In a few cases there were some people who reported large gaps when they had not written. As it is difficult to account for all the gaps that probably characterize the writing of many people, the overall length of time since beginning to write slash was counted. The following three cases show this:
I've only written one, and that was a year ago. (R5) (= 1 year)
I first wrote a slash fic when I was about 15, with a close friend of mine. We didn't really know what slash was, but it certainly was a lot of fun :-) It lasted about 3-4 years. Now I write LotR slash on my own, since past summer. (R45) (currently 23 = 8 years)
One story a couple of years ago, tried a list, but I didn't get very good feed back. (R 249) (= 2 years)
It should be noted that neither the history of reading nor writing necessarily reflects how long people have been thinking about slash. The following quotes show this:
I actually *wrote* my first fic 7 days ago, although I have been composing slash in my head for 3 years now. (R42)
In my mind for about three years. On paper and the internet, about a month. (R92)
Figure 3 shows a summary of the length of time since the participants started writing slash. Responses were grouped into years. The percentage of those who do not write is also shown. There were 19 people (7%) who did not respond to this question. Percentages are based on the total number of respondents, that is, 275.
Figure 3: Percentage of respondents who do not write and those within each year category
It can be seen in Figure 3 that the participants were most likely to be in their first year of writing slash. Of the total number of participants in the study, 43% reported that they had been writing slash within the range of a month and up to a year.
In contrast to the findings about reading that showed many people to be in their first and second years of reading slash, this result suggests that many people started reading slash for a short while before they started writing it. Once again, it should be cautioned that this may only be a general tendency with many people falling outside of this description. For example, the people who do not write slash and the 15 people who reported writing slash before they started reading it.
It is possible that many people have only been reading and writing for a relatively short time due to the fact that the Lord of the Rings movie (followed by the second part: The Two Towers), which writing in this fandom is based on, came out within the same time frame. Further research in other fandoms could determine whether a similar association between the release of a movie and the numbers of slash fiction readers and writers occurs.
4.2 Writing Time – Hours per Week
4.2.1 Analysis Method
The number of hours spent writing slash per week was not always an easy response to give. For some people, a regular amount of time spent writing per week was easy to report; however, for others there was considerable variation in how much time they spent writing due to a variety of factors. It is unlikely that the number of hours spent writing per week remains constant as interests in fandoms and pairings vary. Therefore, similar to the time spent reading slash, the time spent writing slash reported here should be considered as a snap shot of a fluctuating characteristic of those who participate in slash communities.
A number of people mentioned that they did not write very much. In these cases, they were classified as writing .5 hours per week. This was done for two reasons. First, they would have had to have written at least for a short while to create the work they reported doing. Second, it allowed these writers to be distinguished from those who clearly stated that they did not write at all. The following quotes illustrate these cases:
Almost none (R94)
Zero, I rarely write. (R160)
Right now none, I don't write consistently. (R246)
Not a lot, too busy. (R247)
Some had only written one story. In those cases the writing time was counted as the minimum of half an hour per week.
I've only written one, and that was a year ago. (R5) (= .5 hours)
Some people mentioned how many hours they spent writing when they had a story in mind. For example:
Sporadic... if I’m working on a story, maybe 3 hours. If I’m not, then none! (R93) (= 3 hours)
In some cases the reported time of reading per week was given in terms of when the person was writing a lot and also at the time of completing the questionnaire. In those instances, the time given at the completion of the questionnaire was counted.
Around 14 at first, much less now (with school, I’m lucky if I can get one hour in). (R261) (= 1 hour) At first, about 5 or 6. Now I don’t have much time or inspiration, so let’s say 1. (R148) (= 1 hour)
Several respondents could not offer a time per week.
Couldn’t put a set time down to it each week…it’s if the creative thoughts are there... (R237)
Figure 4 shows the general amount of time spent writing slash per week. There were 23 people (8%) who did not respond to this question, and there were 17 (6%) people who gave responses that could not be quantified. Such responses included that the writing time: varied, was too little, was all someone’s free time, was not counted, depended on ideas, was not regular, and was sometimes a frenzy.
Figure 4 reveals that the majority of writers spent an average of between 0.5 to 7 hours per week writing slash. Few writers spent longer than that. It should be noted however, that this picture does not show various patterns of time that some writers go through. The quotes presented earlier showed that, in some cases, writers spend a great deal of time writing when they initially start, and then it tapers off. Others write for longer periods when they feel inspired, and then the amount of writing time decreases. In addition, similar to the time spent reading slash, other factors also influence the amount of time spent writing. For example:
It depends entirely on my job situation, and whether or not I suffer from the dreaded writer’s block. (R116)
This picture may also not capture how writing becomes a part of some people’s lives. For example:
20-30 probably – I carry a folder everywhere with me. (R115)
This quote suggests that, in addition to writing time spent using a word processor, some time may also be used to think about material for stories that will be written later on. The use of a note pad to jot down ideas as they occur indicates that writers do spend time engaged in constructing work. It is likely, too, that many writers construct stories in their minds whether they make notes or not. This was reflected in the comments by those who said they had been thinking about slash long before they actually started writing it, for example, the quote shown earlier from R42, who had been composing slash in her mind for three years before she actually wrote it down. In addition to extra time thinking about stories alone, writing could be an activity that is talked about with friends. This social method of writing slash was present in the quote presented earlier by R45, who first started writing slash with a friend. A further aspect of writing time could also include the time spent researching material for stories. Some stories posted in the Library of Moria contain great detail based on the original work or elements contained in original works such as languages, cultures and objects. Therefore, time spent writing slash could include time spent typing (or handwriting), note taking, research, composing work in one’s mind, and talking through ideas with friends.
It was not specifically asked in this study whether people included only the time spent at their computers as writing time, or whether they also included the time spent away from the computer. This study did not explore slash writing in terms of the extent people write outside the time spent in front of the computer, or to the degree that they share their writing time with others. Further research in this direction would undoubtedly add greater detail to the nature of slash writing and the role it plays for writers in their individual and social lives.
4.3 Preferred Ratings
4.3.1 Analysis method
One story – single or multiple ratings
It could be said that a single story can vary in ratings, thus someone who writes explicit sex scenes within a plot could claim to prefer ratings from NC-17 and also some of the lower ratings covered in the set up. The following quotes show this way of considering ratings:
I write NC-17, but I include plots, so my ratings would probably range from PG-13 to NC-17, depending on the part of the story concerned. (R34)
NC-17, but with involved PG-13 to R setups. (R123)
However, it could also be argued that the rating of the entire story should reflect the most sexually explicit part. This latter conception is consistent the way movies are rated. This study adopts the latter conception of rating. Thus the preferred writing rating of the above quotes was taken to be NC-17. Using this definition, NC-17 fictions can be either sex scenes with not plot (Plot, What Plot - PWP) or sexually explicit stories with involved plots.
Preferred and more preferred
In some cases it was reported that a particular rating or ratings were preferred although other ratings had been done on some occasions. In such instances, the more common of the ratings was taken as the preferred ones. The following examples show this:
Generally G-PG-13, but have written NC-17 and R. (R13) (preference = G-PG13)
Any and all. But mostly R/NC 17. (R50) (preference = R, NC-17)
PG-13 is pretty common for me, but R is my favorite because it allows a moderate amount of freedom and evil-doings with the characters. I tend not to write NC-17 (I love reading it but for whatever reason graphic sex seems to spoil my stories). (R69) (Preference = R)
In a few cases, new writers had not written enough stories to be sure of what ratings they preferred, or they just mentioned the ratings of the stories they had written. In such cases, the ratings for the existing stories were counted as the preferences and if there was no listing of rating, then it was counted as preference for all ratings.
Not sure yet. (R47) (preference = all)
I've only written one, and that was a year ago. It was PG-13 (R5) (preference = PG-13)
The preferred writing ratings listed by the participants were tallied. Table 4 shows the percentages of people who preferred each rating. Overall percentages will sum to more than 100 as the same person could mention more than one preferred rating.
Table 4: Percentage of writers who prefer each rating
|Rating||Percentage of Readers
(out of 253 answers)
Table 4 shows that relatively few people reported writing in all ratings. This contrasts with the reading preferences in which 37% reported equal preference for all ratings. This suggests that some writers have a narrower ratings preference than readers.
It can also be seen in Table 4 that the most common writing preferences were for the PG-13 to R range. A considerable percentage also preferred the highest rating, NC-17. Therefore, in contrast to the preferences of reading ratings in which the higher the rating, the more common the preference, writing preferences were more likely to be in the mid to high ratings. The following section suggests reasons for this finding.
Some people reported that they did not write NC-17 because they did not think they had the skill for it, were unsure of what to write, or felt shy about it. The following examples show these:
Anything that comes to mind except NC-17 because I couldn't write a good sex scene to save my life. (R127)
Anything. Usually nothing above R because I'm not too sure on details. (R31)
G-R (I'm too shy to actually write DOWN the NC-17's I've played with my head ^__^ but there's a lot implied.) (R117)
Considering the number of young writers who participated in this study, it is possible that many of them do not have real life experience of what they are writing about and are therefore not sure how to write more sexually explicit material. Lack of real life experience does not make writing a good sex scene impossible, but it does present difficulties. Writing sexually explicit scenes may involve different writing skills from those needed to write about emotions and plots. Many writers may not have access to good examples of erotic writing, especially if such material is restricted in the homes they live in. Furthermore, the interest many readers have in the emotional content of the story adds a further demand for emotional satisfaction in addition to realistic physical descriptions (this desire for emotional content is discussed in section five on the attractions of slash). It is possible that many would-be NC-17 writers imagine such stories in their minds but are unwilling to put their writing skills, or perceived lack of them, on display to the slash community.
In a follow up e-mail, one of the participants made the following comment about the difficulties of writing NC-17 stories and why some people choose to avoid them:
I think writing explicit scenes, particularly in slash fiction, contains two challenges that are off-putting to many authors: describing sexual acts without sounding clinical or awkward while using a subset of language that is either strongly euphemistic ("seed") or strongly modern-day ("cum"), along with describing acts for which we extrapolate the male response based our own responses as females.
The former could be aided by access to examples of quality erotica, as you mention above; however, for many writers, especially the younger ones, the only erotica they may encounter is slash stories themselves --which are not always "quality" writing. The latter can be addressed somewhat by researching male anatomy and first-hand accounts of male experience--if the writer is motivated enough to do so. Since both of these remedies require effort on the part of the author, the easy way out is to avoid writing stories with higher ratings. (R227)
Another participant had the following comments to make:
So...I was trying to remember why I couldn't/wouldn't take the sex scene leap...god knows I'd read enough and had enough ideas in my head. It probably had something to do with my concern for what all the other authors out there would think...even with the blessed anonymity of the internet. Nobody wants to hear that their work sucks...especially if one is going out on a limb with what they are writing.
Another thought that went through my head was that old piece of crap adage (or whatever the hell it is) "Write what you know." We're always told that, and as a woman I don't have the equipment, let alone the experience for/of male homosexual relations. Maybe these writers are worried that they'll be doing the homosexuals of the world an injustice with their inexperienced writings.
Maybe the findings that most people read NC 17 are a bit skewed because the net is the only place they can find it...you know...it doesn't take into account any other recreational reading that is being done which might fall into G/PG/PG13 categories.
I guess when I was trying to write sex scenes a while ago...I think I got kinda squicked out...you know...I felt like it was icky or...just too weird. Now....after having read SO MUCH slash fic, I think I'm desensitized to it. An example...I can write a m/m sex scene no problem, but I can't write a hetero scene...honestly...it creeps me right out. So...there's another screw in the works...I can't really explain that one aside from the desensitized factor. (R181)
There are clearly many reasons why a writer would avoid writing in the NC-17 rating: lack of quality examples in terms of realistic portrayal and appropriate language, lack of motivation to research these, and fear of criticism. Perhaps for some writers, posting an NC-17 story represents 'going out on a limb' even more so than posting a lower rating. This may occur if writers feel an added pressure for realism in explicit sex scenes. In other parts of the story there is more leeway for fantasy that diverges from reality; however, in sexual encounters, there are some basic biological realities that the reader is not willing to ignore. Therefore, in order not to disappoint readers, some writers prefer to avoid the NC-17 rating.
For some writers going out on a limb with higher ratings may be due to a sexual element of themselves they bring to their work. When writing fantasy, other experiences can be brought in to compensate for unknown elements; however, with a demand for realism in sexual scenes, it is more difficult to compensate through other experiences. In addition, when writing about human sexuality, the only experiences some writers might have is their own, albeit limited, ones. For example, experiences such as undressing, the pleasure of becoming aroused, or groaning are common to both males and females regardless of the different anatomy. Therefore, in bringing some of these sexual aspects into their writing, authors may be bringing in some of their intimate selves. This is not the same as a Mary Sue in which large portions of self are explicitly written into the story; rather, it is the necessary element of drawing on common experiences when humans write about humans (or other emotional species). Wolf (1997) states that girls are not encouraged to write in the 'first person sexual' as this voice results in the girl being viewed as a slut. She adds that it is more ladylike for a girl to have her sexual history described by areas of silence. Therefore, it is possible that to write more sexually explicit scenes may involve some writers putting in more intimate parts of themselves than they are willing (or are allowed) to put out in the open, either to themselves or to others.
4.4 Variations in Preferred Ratings
Variations in preference
Preferred ratings can change over time, and several people mentioned their preference changes. For this analysis, the current preferences were counted as the preferred rating. These changes could go in either direction; that is, starting from a higher rating and then preferring to write in a lower one, or starting out with a lower rating and moving up. The following quotes show these transitions:
Originally NC-17. Unfortunately sex becomes boring after a while, so I stick to PG-13ish now. (R65)
Started out sticking to PG-13, but have long since comfortably progressed to NC-17. (R165)
I started with about PG-13 before I discovered slash existed, then once I read a few good NC-17's and got a feel for the juicy phrases to use, I was off and running on NC-17; I have only written and posted that rating. But lately, I'm starting to think that when I write again, I might go lower. In some stories I feel like I'm forcing the graphic sex into it. (R40)
A few writers mentioned a slightly different rating system in which there is PG-15 for stories between the ratings of PG13 and R. In this analysis the PG-15 was counted as PG-13 because in the case of a writer who claimed to prefer PG-15 and R, considering the rating to be R would collapse their preferred ratings into one. This was applied to the following quote:
* PG-15 is a British thing I believe, but to me it’s more general, since my fics are often a bit too harsh for PG-13, but not harsh enough to merit an R rating. (R111) (preference = PG-13 & R)
Ratings based on the story
Some people mentioned that the preferred rating was not what they chose but rather what the story dictated. The significance of this process is relevant to section five that discusses the attraction of slash. Therefore, discussion of this finding will be taken up there. The following quotes show how, for some writers, the story does not start with the rating, but, rather, the rating evolves from the story:
It's not about preference. It's more about how a story flows. A few months back I would have said I never write G rated, then was obsessed by an idea that led to a G rated fic. But usually my stories are rated R or higher. (R38)
I rate the story after I've finished it, not before. Thus no preferences. (R42)
Well the only thing I have posted is NC-17 but I am also working on a PG-13 piece so I think it is whatever I am comfortable with and whichever direction the story is going in. (R138).
It depends on the story concept. I've dabbled in all sorts of ratings from G to NC-17. (R153)
I write to plot, character and theme - not to a rating. After a piece is finished, I do my best to rate according to popular considerations, although I don't believe such strictures should be applied to art in any form. I consider rating a courtesy to my readers, and I range from G to NC-17, though the latter occurs more often than the former. (R194)
My stories usually end up as NC-17 even if they didn't originally start off that way. (R215)
No preference, whatever the plot calls for. (R239)
4.5 Posting Work
As mentioned earlier, 31 people reported that they did not write slash. There were 18 people who did not answer the question about posting their work. The remaining 227 of the participants did answer this question. From this group, Table 5 shows the percentage of people who posted their work. It became clear, however, that whether people post their work or not is not a simple yes or no but rather a continuum of possibilities, for example, posting some stories and not others. It is possible that some of those who answered ‘yes’ might have also clarified their answer to mean ‘sometimes.’ Therefore, for the purpose of this analysis, the ‘yes’ and ‘sometimes’ responses were grouped together.
|Posting||Percentage (of 227)|
|Yes or sometimes||70|
Table 5 shows that approximately two thirds of those who write slash also post their work. The reasons for why people choose to post or not are presented and discussed in the following section. It is noted that the decision to post writing can vary over time; people often state more than one reason for their decision to post, or not to, and where they post is also sometimes a consideration.
Variation in posting
As with other characteristics of slash writers, the decision to post could also vary over time. Some writers did post, but no longer do, while others took hesitant first steps and now post more freely. The following quote describes the process one writer went through from not posting, to posting:
At first I didn’t. I didn’t know how and I was fearful, not to mention I write for myself, not for feedback. But I was curious to see what people thought, so I began to post my stories. (R194)
Some writers post their work on fan sites while others prefer to post on less ‘public’ sites such as their live journals.
Only in low-traffic communities on Livejournal. Why or why not? “Don't think it's worth posting anywhere else, but I am very picky. In fact, I think I only have two pieces of writing posted in any Web archives, period.” (R91) When I actually do write, I do post it, but on my personal web page only (not on ff.net, mailing lists, any other forum). (R94)
In many cases, the writers listed more than one reason to post their writing. In the presentation of the results here, those quotes have not been split up; rather, they have been left as they are to give a sense of the many reasons to post that were often given.
4.5.2 Reasons to Post
In general, the most common reasons given for posting were to get feedback and to share with others. These two categories included several reasons that showed what the writers received from feedback and the nature of what they wanted to share. These reasons are presented and discussed here. It should be noted that, although reasons have been placed into categories for the ease of discussion, the boundaries are by no means set.
Reaction to story
Feedback was the most commonly reported reason for posting. One of the elements writers sought in feedback was others’ reactions to the stories. For many writers, feedback provides a boost of self-esteem and inspiration to continue writing and posting. The following quotes illustrated these elements:
I enjoy feedback, knowing how people react to my stories. In my country
slash is not so popular and somebody *has* to feed these peoples' addiction. Seriously, I like writing (anything, not only slash) and I feel rather shy about what I write, I'm never sure if it's good or not so any comment from the reviewers is very important for me and can rise my spirits (or the other way around). Besides, Internet gives people anonymity so they are not afraid to express their opinion - I know they are being honest. (R2)
I post it because people read it, and give me nice reviews - which in turn make me feel quite good about myself. It's a win-win situation: They're happy because I provide them with slash, I'm happy because they provide me with self-confidence. (R50)
I love feedback and reviews, that's why I would love to be able to post everything. Feedback is my biggest inspiration. If I don't publish something it's only because it's written in a language that only a few understand. (R144)
Since I spend a lot of time and energy in writing and perfecting my stories, I always love to hear what other people think. It makes all the effort worthwhile. I don't think I would write when people wouldn't read my stories. (R238)
It can be seen in the last quote that, in some cases, feedback can provide the main reason for writing. Thus, posting slash can be a way to get validation of whatever the writer expresses beyond what they could receive by writing alone. In addition to getting feedback on the stories in general, writers also often sought feedback on the way they had written them. This is discussed next.
In some cases, writers posted their work to get a more objective idea of their writing skill level and also to get advice on improving their writing. Sometimes the motivation seemed just to be the improvement of writing, but for others there were goals of publishing work later on or entering writing careers. The following quotes reflect the desire to check or improve writing skill:
Because it's a way to know if you're a good writer or not. (R76)
I started posting it because I'd read a lot of stories on other sites and read the reviews that other members had posted in response. I basically wanted some feedback on the work I'd done and some constructive criticism to make it better. Positive feedback is extremely addictive, though, and I tend to post more often if there is a demand for extra chapters among people who have read and enjoyed the work before. (R107)
I look at my writing now as practice- a way of getting better before I try to publish anything. I like the challenge of trying to make something funny or romantic or whatever- and I like the chance to have feedback on what I am doing right or wrong. (R11)
I suppose because I like to hear when people like my stuff. Or if they don't. And if they don't, then WHY they don't. I only started posting about a year ago, because I was starting to wonder if my close friends, the only one's I'd let read my stuff, were biased, or only saying they liked what I wrote so they didn't hurt my feelings. So I put it out there for strangers to see and find out what THEY think about it. (R115)
I wish to go into a writing career (probably journalism.) (R150)
I like to know if others maybe think along the same lines as I do. And of course it's wonderful to hear if my story was good, or what I can do better. (R258)
The above section shows what writers got from others by posting their work. This section presents what the writers wished to give to others. Many writers reported that they wanted to be a part of the wider slash world in terms of sharing their work, being part of the social community, and affecting others. These reasons are presented in turn here.
Some writers mentioned they wanted to add to the collection of slash by sharing their stories. In many cases, the writers did not see the point of writing if it was not going to be shared. It was also a way in which ideas could be given to others that would in turn generate more stories for the collection. In addition, some pointed out that this was an essential part of keeping it going, while others mentioned a sense of obligation that since they had enjoyed the work of others they should also contribute. The following quotes show these reasons:
Because as I reader I know I'm always in search of more stories, more plotlines, different views so I add mine to the mix for others to read, besides what's the point of writing if you can't share? (R9)
I post because I want to share my ideas with others. Too often I think people overlook what seems obvious to me, so when I write I tend to point out what I think others may miss. I also write about motives and intentions, since why something is done is often as important as what is done. Too often people don't take into consideration the motives behind actions. (R10)
I enjoy sharing my interpretations of characters with fellow fans, and I like receiving feedback that helps me become a better writer. (R162)
Because I enjoy sharing what I write, receiving comments/feedback, and no one should deny slash to the world. ? (R131)
Because I don't want it just sitting on my desktop. (R151)
I just think it's great to have a huge erotica resource on the web. It's strange - slash writers do tend to take their writing semi-seriously; we all like to get feedback on style etc., many people beta-read for others, and we can discuss it objectively. Somehow I can't see men going to this much effort ;) (R156)
I like to share what I have written so I can improve what I have done and gain ideas and inspiration from readers. It can be a very positive experience and has definitely raised my self-esteem. (R172)
Because I love feedback, it helps me become I better writer. I also post my works because I like to do my part in spreading whatever fandom I'm a part of at the time. (R70)
While I write for myself, I like to "share the joy". Feedback is a huge incentive. I also like knowing that my writing contributes to the slash archives. (R98)
I like to contribute to the community. After all, if no one posted anything they wrote, there wouldn't be much slash out there, would there be? I also like growing as a writer and an artist -- you could say I'm a feedback whore. Having other people read and review my work helps me to grow. (R121)
It seemed unfair to read all the stories without posting mine. The first time was also almost like an exorcism: once I had posted the story I could finally stop thinking about it and re-writing it (after about 8 months). No need to say that I was scared as hell to post it. (R129)
Because while I do write for myself, the ladies were kind enough to share their stuff with me and I want to reciprocate. (R171)
Because I crave for attention. Because I need the feedback. Because I want people to read what I've written. Because I get a kick out of exposing myself like that. Because I want to contribute to the community. Yeah, the last one might be the most important. (R176)
I want to see what people think of my writing, and the more slash, the better in my opinion! (R180)
I think they're good enough that others might enjoy them. And when it comes to femslash, there's so little out there, I want to make my contribution to femslash lovers. (R182)
Because I like the affirmation of feedback. Because sometimes I am proud of what I have written. Because I appreciate the stories that others have written and I want to make a contribution to something that has made me so happy. :)(R116)
Beyond sharing stories, writers also mentioned that they felt posting their work made them part of the social community. In this sense, the writers mentioned more specifically the interaction between people rather than just ideas.
To meet more slash / writers. (R31)
Because I like to get other people's comments on what I've written. You know, whether or not I've come up with a good idea, or have constructed a decent story. Also, it's nice when like-minded people get into contact with me. Other pervy slash fanciers and the like ;) (R187)
I have not posted my writing yet, but I intend to as soon as I get it done. I'm really excited about contributing to this phenomenon. I feel that once I submit my work, I will be a full member of this intriguing community. (R34)
Seeking involvement with the social community involves a heavier social personal investment than posting stories and leaving them for others to find. This is likely to be a step many writers, and possibly readers, take before going further and attending slash conferences in person in order to meet those they have made friends with online. Future research could investigate the reasons and processes involved in the transition from online to offline involvement in slash.
Some writers mentioned that they wrote to have an effect on others. Most commonly, they wanted to bring joy to the readers. In some cases the joy was simply mentioned as an emotion, while in others the writers reported that they wanted to give joy through taking the reader through a set of emotions or plot that would be satisfying to the readers. In addition to this, others could be affected by slash in terms of gaining a greater appreciation of same sex bonds. The following quotes show these reasons:
It is important to get as much slash fandom out into the open as possible. It's bringing out not only more of a wideread and loved array of reading material, but also I have known quite a few people becoming less and less homophobic through reading the slash fanfics. (R48)
People send lovely feedback - makes me feel I'm brightening someone's day. (R93)
I think because maybe if what I want to see is obviously what I write about then maybe others want to see it happen too (R138)
I write for the enjoyment of other people. (R153)
I think I post mostly because I like having my stories being read by other people. When I get feedback saying how much they enjoyed the story, then I, too, am happy because that was what my writing was set out to do - tell the story, try to get it out to as many people as possible, and then have them enjoy the tragedy / humour / action / romance as much as I did when I wrote it. And also to see what they actually think about the writing, too. Feedback is important for improvement, especially when you try out new styles or try different types of writing. (R154)
Other reasons less commonly mentioned that writers chose to post were because they were proud of their work and that it was easier for their friends to access it.
In general, the following quote reflects the main reasons the writers reported for posting their work:
Posting is part of the fun: getting the work out there and sharing it with the community. My instinct is to write the slash story I’ve always wanted to read and I post on the assumption that others might want to see that story as well. Also, feedback is a great motivator and a fantastic way to improve my writing and posting is the only way to get much-desired advice. (R123)
4.5.3 Reasons Not to Post
As noted above, 30% of those who wrote slash reported that they did not post their work. This section presents some of the reasons given for not posting by both those who do not post and those who do not post all their work.
Some writers report having difficulty finishing their work. This reason is self-explanatory and thus there is no need to provide numerous quotes to illustrate it. Most writers did not add detail to why they had not finished their work.
I never finish my work because I get bored so easily. So most stuff is just in my head. (R157)
Lack of writing ability
A common reason for not posting work, or only posting it sometimes, was a perceived lack of writing ability. In many cases, perceived lack of writing ability and not having completed their work were mentioned together. Occasionally, lack of writing ability was due to difficulty with the English language. The following quotes show these reasons:
Nowhere near finished, and the quality is less than stellar. (R97)
I've posted one. I only just started posting my fics on Fanfic.net because I was embarrassed, not by what I was writing, but because I'm uncertain about my writing abilities. (R78)
Because I don't feel my writings good enough at the current time and I wouldn't subject people to it. I have read some bad stuff probably written by people my age and I don't want it to be like that. (R127)
I'm somewhat nervous to. It's my first attempt at fanfiction, and I want to make sure it's well-polished. I'm deathly afraid of people not liking it, also. (R163)
Because I'm an awful writer. And I don't enjoy writing that much. I just get these bunnies from time to time that won't leave me alone. (R175)
I like to write in English, and I just feel I'm not good enough at it. (R260)
I've posted het fiction before to mostly good feedback but my slash stories tend to involve more sex, so I want to get them just right before I post - I have edited a story down to nothing before. (R233)
The last quote shows that perceived lack of writing ability is not necessarily referring to writing in general; rather it can be about the writing of the sexual parts of the story. As found earlier, some writers avoid writing the NC-17 rating due to being unsure of how to write the more sexually explicit material.
Since a considerable number of writers did not post due to a perceived lack of writing ability, the slash community could consider whether they would like to assist such writers. This could be done by having some resources posted on slash sites that assist with how to write. In addition, a special section could be set up for first time writers to post their work. This would give the chance for others to help new writers gain confidence.
Writing for self
For some writers, writing slash is something they do for themselves and maybe a few close friends rather than writing for others. For these writers, the expression through writing is sufficient, and they do not seek further validation from others. The following quotes are taken from writers who felt this way.
I often write for myself, to let out my emotions, and am not comfortable sharing them with the world all the time. (R21)
My writing's just something I do for myself, to express what I can't otherwise (or to let out some steam after having viewed all those scenes in TTT where there *clearly* should have been hugging). Also because I'm scared shitless of what people will think... (R26)
Some are more personal than others. Some just need tweaking and some I only write to get that stupid plot bunny to go away, not for others' enjoyment. (R28)
I don't post everything I write; some of it is just for my eyes only. (R62)
I write it in my private diary for me alone to read, and I'm not talented at all with writing. But I'm very good at drawing, so sometimes I draw some slash scenes, but here again I don't show them, because I don't feel ready yet to share stuff with slash fans. It'll remain my little secret for a while ;o) (R133)
Most of my writing is more for me than anyone else. Most of the time it only ever makes sense to me! I'd love people to read my writing, only I'm soo self conscious! and a bit of a...weirdo really. I'm sure most people would run screaming from my stuff (if not from ME!) (R146)
I write for personal reasons and include many people in my stories who are in my personal life as well. Additionally, I don't believe that my stories will be as meaningful to other people. (R212)
I rather keep what I write as a private library for my own amusement or rather for me and a couple of close friends. (R248)
A few writers mentioned that they were too afraid to post their work.
Confidence issues...I guess. (R253)
I'm not sure why...maybe just afraid of the world's reactions... (R256)
A couple of writers mentioned that they did not write due to personal issues.
I don't write at the moment; all my energy has gone into healing and so there is none left for writing. (R40)
I only post it when I'm very pleased with it. I also don't do much writing anymore (lack of inspiration due to personal issues) but I would like to start again. (R160)
Fear of theft
In a few cases the writers did not post because they feared that their idea would be taken by others.
I am a bit hesitant of my stories being stolen. But who would want them?! (R122)
They're all my original stories, and I'm paranoid about people taking it without permission. (239)
A couple of writers mentioned that they did not post because of negative comments made by others.
I used to, but I don't anymore. I got too many flames (i.e. "ur gayy fuck yu!!1") and it was just too much trouble after that. (R103)
Since my best friend gnawed on my head, I have lost all of my self confidence, and my muses have taken a cruise to Hawaii, they left no note of how long they'll be gone >_> (R117)
As with other aspects of writing, the placing of self in one’s writing exists along a continuum, at one end, some writers may not be aware of what parts of themselves they include in their writing, while at the other, some writers obviously put themselves in as one of the characters (Mary Sue).
I post some stories, while others are just exercises. (I write and post humour: I try to write darkfic, but it rarely works well enough to share. Also, I sometimes write blatant Mary Sues which must be kept away from the net community at all costs.) (R184)
I do feel an obligation towards all the other writers whose works I have been enjoying so much. Posting my stories gives me valuable feedback, if only a thumbs-up, it does inspire me to carry on when things are bad. There are, however, stories I will never post. They contain too much of ME in there, get too personal. There will always be a core of any piece of fiction that is the writer, in my opinion. That is what makes the story 'work'. If it is completely detached from its writer, it would ultimately be boring, or without the power to intrigue (except the obvious nasty sex-scenes in PWPs). (R243)
I only have some stories that I post because I feel that some I write from personal experiences...or what I am going through in that stage of my life, so that when I do finish a story I either find that I really want people to read it or that it's just too weird and dark...which in it's own sense that I wrote it is scary. (R273)
There were a few other reasons that were rarely mentioned. In these cases, the reason itself is illustration enough without the need for a quote. The other reasons included that the stories were customized gifts for specific people, the inconvenience of having to type out a hand written manuscript, not knowing how to post a story to an archive or list, having not chosen a particular forum to post yet, that there was no time to write and therefore post, that they prefer reading, that others would not be interested in the pairings, that their characters were original, or that they did not have the facilities to post.
The time spent writing slash is another one of the varying characteristics of its participants. However, not all people who participate in the slash communities are writers; some prefer to read only. These members are part of the audience for which many writers produce their work: therefore, they are also part of the interactive community. Most writers were in their first year of writing slash, but some reported that they had been thinking about it for a lot longer.
It was a common finding that people started reading slash before they started writing it. The majority of writers did not spend more than seven hours per week writing. However, the time spent composing work mentally was probably not reflected in this estimate. Similar to the time spent reading, patterns of writing time were variable and were influenced by several factors such as inspiration and real life commitments.
The most popular ratings to write were PG-13 and R. This contrasted with the findings of reading preferences in which the higher the rating, the more commonly preferred it was. There were fewer writers expressing a preference for all ratings than readers. Rating preferences could also vary across time. Some writers chose their ratings, while others let the flow of the story determine the rating.
The majority of those who did write also posted their work. However, not all work was posted, and some work was posted to lower traffic sites where fewer people would read them. Reasons for deciding to post work included: getting feedback, improving writing, being part of the community, sharing work, and affecting others. Those who decided not to post listed reasons such as not having finished the work, lack of writing ability, writing for themselves rather than others, fear of criticism or story theft, personal issues, and having put too much of themselves in their story.
Even though the general findings are summarized here, it is not possible to present a 'typical' slash writer based on the findings of this study. What is shown is that there were numerous writing styles in terms of writing history, time spent writing and preferred rating. In addition, such characteristics could vary considerably across time. Furthermore, writing is not an isolated, one-way activity but rather forms part of an interactive community network of readers and writers, yet not everyone chooses to interact with others. The following quotes highlight how writers often feel that they both give and receive something from the slash community:
I like contributing to the slash community in my own small way. And good feedback thrills me beyond reason. (R227)
For feedback & to give back some of the enjoyment other writers have given me from their stories. (R262)
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