The Lois & Clark Fanfic Archive FAQ
Last updated August 2002
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What is fanfiction? How can I search for fanfic from this Archive? What do the story ratings mean? What should I do after I'm finished reading a story? What are the Kerth Awards? Are there other sources for L&C fanfic besides this Archive? What is Nfic? Where can I find it?
How do I get my story ready for the Archive? Where can I review grammar, punctuation and other writing rules? Is there any type of content I should avoid? How do I submit my story? Will my story be eligible for the Kerth Awards? What can I expect from my Archive Editor? What are General Editors and Beta Readers? What if I want to make changes to my story after it's uploaded? Who wrote the story blurbs?
"What's that acronym mean?" What is IRC? Plagiarism Who maintains this Archive?
What is fanfiction?
Fanfiction, or fanfic, is fan-generated fiction -- stories, poems and scripts, but usually short stories -- inspired by a movie or television show.
This site is dedicated to the writing, reading, sharing, editing and enjoying of fan-generated fiction inspired by the TV show Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.
Recognizable characters in these stories are the property of Warner Bros. and DC Comics. No copyright infringement is intended by fanfic authors, who receive no monetary benefit from their work. The ideas expressed in the stories are original, however, and are copyrighted by their authors.
How can I search for fanfic from this Archive?
Fanfic is listed in alphabetical order by story title, author's name and document filename.
The most recent stories can be found on the What's New page.
From the What's New page, you can also browse the Archive by upload date.
In addition, selected stories (but not the complete archive) can be browsed by theme. (The Theme pages contain only a sampling of stories, but browsing them is a good way for newcomers to get started.)
If you need help retrieving files using these Web pages, try the Navigational Assistance Page.
We've also added a site-search feature, courtesy of Google, that allows you to find stories by typing in keywords.
What do the story ratings mean?
We only post stories to the Archive that are rated G, PG, or PG-13. This rating will appear under the title and author's name at the beginning of each story, and are determined by the Archive editing staff.
Since L&C was a "family" show, the rating system of the L&C Fanfic Archive is more strict than the movies or even fanfic for other television shows. We allow PG-13 stories on our Archive, but as a general rule, we follow the guidelines for, say, a TV-14 television show than a PG-13 movie. For example, violence can't be more graphic, or sexual references more explicit, than what you might see on a prime-time drama. We also put "violence warnings" on stories that are rated PG-13 for that reason, since graphic violence really isn't very common in L&C stories.
More detailed information on our rating guidelines can be found on our Ratings Definitions page.
What should I do after I'm finished reading a story?
We don't pay fanfic writers for the stories they give us, but we can show our appreciation by sending them feedback. It's important to let authors know we value their efforts. How will they know unless we tell them? They won't be too busy to read your e-mail, really! It just might make their day -- and help motivate them to write more stories.
You'll find authors' e-mail addresses at the top of their stories, right next to their names.
(NOTE: Please do not send story comments to the Archive -- send them directly to the author!)
What are the Kerth Awards?
"Kerth" is the name of a prestigious journalism award on "Lois & Clark." The FoLCs (Fans of Lois & Clark) adopted this moniker for our own popular fanfic awards.
The L&C Fanfic Kerth Awards are the fans' way of honoring their favorite fanfic writers and stories. The readers themselves nominate their favorite stories, then vote from the resulting ballot for the top stories of the year. The first ceremony was held in March 1998, to honor those stories written from 1994-1997. The Kerths have since become an annual event, and stories are nominated on a calendar basis (i.e., the March 1999 ceremony honored 1998 stories, the March 2000 ceremony honored 1999 stories.)
Throughout this Archive, you will see red Kerth icons next to stories which have been nominated for a Kerth Award, and a similar blue icon next to those stories which have won their category. While these stories are by no means the only outstanding stories on the Archive, an icon alerts you to the fact that the story is a fan favorite.
Look for information about the upcoming Kerth Awards to be posted to the front page of the Archive. Keep track of your favorite new stories, and be sure to nominate them each spring!
For more information about the Kerth Awards, including transcripts of past ceremonies, visit the official Kerth Awards site.
Are there other sources of L&C fanfic besides this Archive? **
The Lois & Clark Fanfic Archive is the most comprehensive source of L&C fanfic. However, there are several other great sources of new L&C fanfic, as well as forums for discussing it.
To subscribe, send e-mail to LCFicemail@example.com or go to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LCfic and click "Join This List."
Web PagesAll posts to the fanfic email listserv are archived at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LCFic so you can catch up on what you've missed.
You have to be subscribed to the mailing list to post from this site, but you can read without any registration. To read the most current messages, click on the "Messages" link on the left of the screen. To read old messages, you can also use the calendar strip to jump to a particular month's posts, or you can use the 'search archive' feature.
All four years' of the old LOISCLA-GENERAL-L list can be found at http://www.nfanfic.net/ficlistarchive/listarchives.html
Zoomway's message boards have a very active section for fanfic; new stories are posted and discussed there. (More fanfic is also available at Zoomway's original message boards, which are locked due to space.) A great resource to help you search for stories on these boards is The Gfic Index. The Gfic Index is a complete listing of all stories posted to Zoom's site, with a direct link to each separate part.
The The Lois & Clark Fanfic Message boards went online in April 2003, offering another place to find new fic hot off the press.
Stories are also posted and discussed at the Lois & Clark Fantasy Land message boards.
Anne Ciotola's site houses stories by some of FoLCdom's favorite authors. There are separate links to her PG and nfic areas.
Be sure to visit Debby Stark's FTP Archive for all of the Dawning series and Debby's other stories (not all of Debby's stories are posted here on the L&C Fanfic Archive).
Pam Jernigan hosts fanfic recommendations, along with stories by herself, the Round Robin group, and Chris Mulder at the FOLC Obsession Page.
Pam also hosts the official S5 and S6 Web sites. (The text versions of those episodes are also housed on this Archive.)
Genevieve Clemens hosts a comprehensive listing of all Kerth Award nominees.
Some of the old AOL Reading Room stories are archived at the AOL FoLCs Fanfic Archive.
If you host a Lois & Clark fanfic site and would like it to be listed here, please write us at: Webmaster.
The newsgroup alt.tv.lois-n-clark.fanfic was created for the purpose of distributing and discussing fanfic.
IRC: Sometimes L&C fanfic writers get together on IRC channels for live chats or to write live Round Robin stories. If this sounds interesting to you, check the Fanfic listserv or Zoomway's fanfic message boards to see if anything is planned. (See What is IRC? for more information about how to get online).
Interested in fanfic devoted to other TV shows? X-Files, Babylon 5, Star Trek (in its many variations) and countless other shows have creative fan followings. The excellent Fan Fiction on the Net site points you to fanfic archives around the Web -- both for television and non-television fandoms.
Another large site, FanFiction.Net includes fanfic from many different shows and genres. There is a small Lois & Clark section, as well.
** The Archive is not responsible for the content or the existence of any of these sources. We have simply included the information so that you can find out about all the other great Lois and Clark online resources available.
What is Nfic? Where can I find it? **
Nfic stands for "naughty" fanfic, and includes stories rated above PG-13; it usually contains loving, consensual, explicit sex. Nfic is not available on this archive, but there are other forums for it. In many countries, IT IS ILLEGAL to read this type of story unless you are 18 years of age or older, therefore the following lists and sites will require you to make an age statement.
Debby Stark runs an ad list -- she distributes advertisements for new nfic stories; if the story interests you, you can request it privately from the author. To join, send Debby an e-mail stating that you are aware of the nature of the stories, that you are 18 or older, and that you will not redistribute the stories to anyone else.
There's an nfic distribution and discussion listserv at eGroups; you'll need to register with eGroups, but it's free.
The Nfic Directory is a centralized directory to all the L&C Nfic the organizers could locate. No actual stories are posted on this site, so it requires no password. Stories are listed by author and by title, with brief story descriptions and instructions on where to locate each one.
Anne Ciotola is compiling an Nfic Archive; stories are organized by author and by upload date. This site is password-protected; information on obtaining a password is available there.
Zoomway's message boards have a section for nfanfic; new stories are posted and discussed there. This site is password protected; information on obtaining a password is available there.
Stories are also posted and discussed at the Lois & Clark Fantasy Land message boards. This site is password protected; information on obtaining a password is available there.
The L&Cnfanfic distribution and discussion listserv at eGroups has a Web site archive for members of the list.
** The L&C Fanfic Archive is not responsible for the content or existence of any of these sites.
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), 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 the Archive staff at Story Submission, 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 the story over 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:
by Author's Name <email address>
Submitted Month Year
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:
Temperatures rise and impulse takes over when Lois and Clark find themselves locked in a garage while on assignment at an Indy meet. But Clark's bliss at the change in their relationship and his hopes for the future are dashed by misunderstanding, conflict and the ghosts of Lois' emotional past. A story set in season one.
By Coolfan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted May 1999
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 same holds true for the description -- if you have an idea for a summary, feel free to include it, but your editor will write it if it's left blank.
Examples of this header format can be found on any story uploaded to the Archive since September 1997.
If you do not include the appropriate headers, your story may be returned to you for proper formatting.
5. Format the story so it's easy to read. In general, an extra hard return between paragraphs is easier to read than a simple indent.
6. IMPORTANT: Save your story in Microsoft Word or text-only format. If you submit it 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, AbiWord and Google Docs can also save documents in Microsoft Word's .doc format.) 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)
7. The following items will be assigned before your story is posted to the Archive:
An Archive Editor will be assigning this information, but if you want to include these things when you submit the story, feel free! It will help us get your story online that much faster.
- a rating (G, PG, or PG-13: for definitions of these, see our Ratings Definitions page)
- a story description (one- to two-line description, for inclusion on the front end site).
8. U.S./UK/Australian English: Writers who have submitted stories to this 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 the Archive staff try to be aware of these differences. Occasionally you may find vocabulary differences: words which mean something different in America than they do in the UK, for example (cot vs. crib; in the United States a cot is a temporary or makeshift bed, whereas in the UK it's a baby's bed -- crib in the United States). We would suggest that if you want your characters to seem realistic, then 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.
For more detailed information, the "Fan Fiction On The Net" website offers an excellent collection of links to various writing guides and manuals. Visit the site and follow the link to "Writer's Reference."
Is there any type of content I should avoid?
This Archive only accepts stories which 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?
Use our story submission form to send stories to the Archive in the format described above. Within a couple of weeks, depending on how many stories are in the queue, you will be contacted by one of the Archive's General Editors.
You must officially submit your story to us in order for it to be uploaded to the Archive site. Stories posted elsewhere, such as a fanfiction list or any of the various message boards, are not 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 and Clark Kerth Awards for Fanfic. Any authors who do NOT wish their story to be forwarded for consideration in the awards should send mail to the editor-in-chief using this contact form 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 go to the Kerth Awards site.
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 e-mail. 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, and not against you, and to help you 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 s/he contacts 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 which does not fall within this rating guideline. There are other forums for "NFanfiction," 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 which 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 which 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, using this contact form, and the Editor-in-Chief will review the story. All decisions by the Editors-in-Chief are final.
5. New stories are uploaded to the Archive approximately once a week. 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 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 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 Archive version of the story -- this maintains the title/author headers, and ensures that you resubmit the correct filename.
2. Make any changes you see necessary to the story -- say, updating your email address, or clarifying a confusing line.
3. Using the subject line "REPLACE: filename.txt", 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.
4. Attach the corrected version of your story to the email, and send it to the Archive (Story Submission). 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.
Who writes the story blurbs?
Descriptions for stories uploaded prior to September 1997 were written by Lauren Willoughby and Renate Brink, with volunteer help from Jennifer Adkins.
Descriptions written since September 1997 were written by the current Archive staff, including Kathy Brown and her 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 archive staff using this contact form.
"What's that acronym mean?"
A useful list of acronyms and abbreviations specific to the Lois and Clark Fandom (FoLCdom) can be found here on the Lois and Clark Fanfic Messageboards:
A list of Lois and Clark episode acronyms can be found here on the same forum:
Additional Acronyms Used In FoLCdom:
AKs = The Alt Kerths - an infrequent award for non-fiction artistic work. Music videos, websites, trailers and so on.
AFAIK - As Far As I Know
ARGH = A derogatory term for the clone/wedding arc episodes of Lois and Clark.
CLOIS = the Lois clone in the clone/wedding arc episodes of Lois and Clark (NB - other fandoms outside FoLCdom may have other definitions for this one).
FFP = FanFic Poster
FFT = FanFic Trailer
FFTQ - FanFic Trailer Question
IIRC = If I Recall Correctly
IMO = In My Opinion
IMHO = In My Humble Opinion
IOW = In Other Words
K-Com = The Kerth Committee, who organise the annual Kerth Awards for gfic.
MV = Music Video
NK = New Krypton
OT = Off Topic
RL = Real Life - what you do when you're not being a FoLC
What is IRC?
IRC stands for "Internet Relay Chat." It's a way of talking in real time to other people via the computer. It's similar to the "chat rooms" you may be familiar with through AOL or have heard about through the media. Basically, people join a "channel," and by typing to the channel window, you can communicate with others also on that channel. You can also send messages privately to someone, in a one-on-one conversation.
To chat on IRC, you first need to download a software program from the internet, and install it on your computer. Fortunately, both Windows and Mac users are able to get great software for little or no money. Programs are available offering a free 30-day trial. If you like the program after that, you can pay the shareware fee (around $15). For Windows users, the most popular program can be found at www.mirc.com. Many Mac users prefer www.ircle.com. **
Once you launch the program, you need to select the server you wish to use. There are many different servers on IRC, but the main thing to remember for FoLCdom is that we use the *Undernet* list of servers. Your program should have a list of servers built in, so skim through it to find the segment you are looking for. You must use an Undernet server if you want to participate in the L&C chats.
Undernet servers are identified by city/state/country. Some servers to try include:
Once you choose a server, open a connection and you'll be ready to chat. See the user's manual or online help function of your program for specific information on how to use the software.
Two of the most-used L&C channels at the time of this writing are #lanekent and #loisclark. The #lanekent chat is a general chat room, with a focus on the actors. The #loisclark chat is also a general chat room, with a focus on fanfic.
TThe #lanekent channel is restricted to adults 18 and older. For more information, go here.
The #loisclark channel, for those 16 and older, is also password-protected, and you can register for access at the signup page here.
The Cain Connection, a Web site devoted to the career of Dean Cain, also hosts chats. There are no age restrictions. At the time of this writing, their chats are held every other Monday night, from 8 p.m. - 10 p.m. Eastern Time, on the Undernet channel #deano. Visit TCC for more information.
For years, #loiscla was the place to hang out to meet other L&C fans. This channel hasn't been used as much recently, however, so you might want to visit Zoomway's Message Boards or subscribe to one of the listservs to ask if there are any chats scheduled. Or, even better, pick a time to host a chat, and advertise on the various forums to encourage visitors!
Similarly, the channel #L&CFanfic has been used in the past for regular chats about fanfic and to write Round Robin stories on-line. Check out the Message Boards or the Fanfic Listserv to find out if anything is scheduled.
Good luck, and happy chatting!
** The L&C Fanfic Archive is not associated with either mIRC or Ircle. We are only suggesting programs which are popular with many frequent IRC users in our fandom. We are not responsible for the programs in any way.
Plagiarism, if proven, is grounds for having all of an author's work removed from the Lois and 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 and 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 and Clark fanfic by him/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 their 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.
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 using this contact form. But be reassured: plagiarism is rare. In the almost ten years of Lois and Clark fanfiction, and with almost 1,900 stories on the Archive (at the time of writing), only two L&C fanfic writers have ever been found to be plagiarists.
- 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.
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 plagiariser her or himself.
In the light of our recent experience, we are suggesting some general principles which 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 which 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 plagiarised so that they may be compared, the "accuser" has little option other than to stay quiet.
- Where there is clear evidence, for instance a copy of the plagiarised 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 Zoomway or Demi if it's either of their message-boards (http://www.zoomway.net/boards or http://www.destinyy.com/boards), or LabRat 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 Web site 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 maintains this Archive?
LabRat is our new Editor-in-Chief, taking over the reins from the ever-efficient and dedicated Kathy Brown, who with the demands of a growing family in mind, recently retired from the position she'd held from September 1997 - April 2001. LabRat now receives all story submissions, and -- along with her invaluable staff of General Editors -- ensures that each story is edited, given a rating and provided a description. If you have a question about the stories on this Archive -- or have written a story you'd like to have uploaded -- she's the one to talk to. She can be reached via this contact form.
Lauren Willoughby is our Web designer. She created the original Archive (now used as our mirror site) in April 1996, then was instrumental in getting our updated design moved over to our new domain name server. (Special thanks to Demi, as well, without whom our move would still be just a dream!) Lauren uploads the stories each week, maintains all our search pages, and keeps us running! She can be reached using this contact form.
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