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02 October 2012 @ 02:08 pm
Managing expections  
So here's a question I had today,inspired obviously by current fic, but something I've struggled with before. For a long fic posted in installments, reader comments are obvs fantastic, especially when they make guesses about what's going to happen. Now when they're right, it can be both a little bit 'oops guess that was more predictable than I hoped' or 'yay people are getting it' depending. Anyway it's fairly easy to know how to respond.

Most wrong guesses just elicit evil chortling. But sometimes, someone comes up with something very exciting that is not at all going to happen. This reader is probably going to be very disappointed that zombies aren't going to attack (usually it's something less out of left field, but still, not something even close). Now obviously if I wrote tv or something, that person would have to take their lumps; they expected something that didn't happen, bummer. But this is fanfic - it's also very easy for me to PM this person and tell them, no, sorry, there are no ninjas, and manage their expectations a bit.

Anyone have any thoughts on this, as reader or writer?
The Plaid Slytherin: [BSG] Bill/Saul - facing each otherplaid_slytherin on October 2nd, 2012 09:21 pm (UTC)
I think it depends on what it is. I can't come up with a good realistic example, but, like, if I wrote a fic where Chapter 1 was Laura helping Bill choose a birthday present for Saul and somebody commented with something like "Oh, Laura is such a good girlfriend to help him choose a present for his buddy," I would clear that up for them. But if it was just a plot point, I don't think I would. I can't tell what your ninja analogy means! Is it something you think the person would be unpleasantly surprised to find or are they just guessing wrong?
lizardbeth: BSG- opera houselizardbeth_j on October 2nd, 2012 09:30 pm (UTC)
They're assuming/hoping there's going to be a huge battle climax, basically. Now given I've spent 20K with people talking to each other, this is kind of unreasonable, IMO, but it's also not totally out of left field because there is an offscreen villain who keeps getting namechecked. So. I can kind of see where they think the payoff is going to be that the villain shows up, but that's not what the story's about.
The Plaid Slytherin: [BSG] Saul - workingplaid_slytherin on October 2nd, 2012 09:36 pm (UTC)
Ahh, I might say something then, since it's a case of "This is not the story I'm telling" vs. "The story's not going there." (if that makes any sense!)
vegawritersvegawriters on October 2nd, 2012 10:48 pm (UTC)
I'm gonna second this. :)
hearts_blood on October 3rd, 2012 12:32 am (UTC)
Given the circs, a gentle PM wouldn't be totally out of line. Or even just a warning at the head of the next chapter, something like "This is not a fighty story, this is an angsty-talky story."

Or both, in case there are other readers who haven't commented but who might also be anticipating the great battle that is never going to come.
lizardbeth: Avengers - Loki kinglizardbeth_j on October 3rd, 2012 03:35 am (UTC)
I would LIKE to say "Yo, Reviewer Person, thank you but Thanos ain't coming in this fic. And you should be happy about that because if he came BEFORE the end, Asgard would be really really screwed." heh.

scifiaddict86scifiaddict86 on October 3rd, 2012 01:55 am (UTC)
Personally I think you have to tell the story you wanted to tell and stay true to that, writing by committee never turns out well. However if this is a friend I don't think a heads up is totally out of line as long as know this person isn't a spoilerphobe (for some wanting to know whats going to happen is half the fun). I know with my BSG/Firefly fic I had a couple of people who were wondering about when the story was taking place in BSG's timeline but since I can't really get into that without spoiling half the plot I let it go(Although I left small clues even in the first chapter). At the end of the day fic in general is a crapshoot and personally I expect to be disappointed half the time anyway, I think this person would understand that. Although for me I don't write for an audience I write because its in my head and this is the only way to get it out, reviews are more a bonus than anything else.. That's not to say I don't appreciate my readers and the time they take to leave reviews it just doesn't affect my writing process.
lizardbethlizardbeth_j on October 3rd, 2012 02:07 am (UTC)
oh, it's not affecting the process - the story's written. It's just a question of whether I should give this reviewer a heads up that the big battle they might want to happen ain't gonna happen. At least they might be a little less disappointed or can bow out if that's not what they want..