A short but sweet update from me: onward into Fall.
And from Morpheus, the conclusion to the three part piece on Glyph: "The Writing On the Wall" Enjoy!
A short but sweet update from me: onward into Fall.
And from Morpheus, the conclusion to the three part piece on Glyph: "The Writing On the Wall" Enjoy!
If you've been following the site news this summer, you probably are already aware that we revamped some of our system and policy for handling what we formerly called fan fiction. As a result, some of our non-canon authors have stepped up and begun the process of using these new systems by posting / self-publishing their WhatIF stories to the site. The eventual goal is to give them some direct access to present their stories on this front page along with the current news (which I hope to expand to include author blogging in addition to my weekly release notes and announcements). For the moment though, while we work out the policies and get the authors trained up in how to use the CMS; keeping track of the new stories will take a little effort.
The 'quick' method of finding new stuff is to check your left hand side-bar, below the login module. There you should find a list of the "Newest Independent Fiction." These stories (with the most recently added/modified at the top of the list) will take you directly to those stories.The other way to get to them is to go up to the main menu in the upper right, select stories... and then find the submenu at the top of the middle section (right above the center advertisement) and select "Whateley Independent Fiction." That'll open those stories in a blog style format where you see just the title information and the blurb/jacket (if the author created one) or the first couple paragraphs of the story, depending on where the marker is set by the author. To read more of a given story, you can either click on the read more link or follow the story's main link to its own page.
At this time, we have three selections on offer from a few of our community members... and another three (only one of which is a continuation of one of these existing three) in the pipeline getting feedback now. Those will probably make their way to public release sometime in the next week or two. While I don't expect us to jump to have four or five new story segments available every day in the immediate future... we do hope to see a lot more regular release of material, to give you a reason to check in on us more than just on Monday or Tuesday for your weekly fix.
Speaking of that weekly fix though... it has been a little while since we jumped back from our new Gen 2 timeline and advanced things in the original timeline. We do have a few things in the pipeline for that, however, and some planning to do for the new freshman class; but before that, there are one or two... maybe three... things that we need to tie up on the existing stories before we move on to Fall 2007. It was pretty clear that readers weren't happy to wait until September 2007 to see how some of our girls dealt with their sims finals... and that good, because we don't intend to make you wait until then either.
From Elrod, "Veni, Vidi, Cutie" ... a continuation of the Wondercute end of the Spring 2007 semester. Enjoy!
Work has been keeping me excessively busy lately, so I haven't planned out anything to talk about this week. We haven't seen any WhatIF stories self-publishing yet but there are a number sitting in the feedback/review stage ... so I expect to see someone take the plunge soon. After a couple of them get up there, I suspect we'll see more of them run quickly. It's just... who is going to be the 'first' one.
For this week's canon release: Part 2 of Morpheus' "Writing on the Wall"
Gonna keep it simple today, so everyone can just snag a story to read while they sit around and enjoy the smell of grilled burgers and munch on potato salad and cole slaw. The latter being one of my favorite picnic-ish things. Not that I mind fresh grilled burgers... or a good hot German potato salad (my mom has this recipe that....)
Anyway... to share for the day, a little Gen 2 piece from Morpheus "The Writing On the Wall" ... this is Part 1 of 3.
As you may have noticed during the week, I've pressed forward with the changes to the WhatIF project. As a result, the site CMS is now open to publishing all non-canon Whateley stories in much the same fashion as canon ones. The forums section for IF remains intact, and authors are welcome to continue to publish stories there if they wish (and it no longer requires promotion to 'official' author status to do so).
To find and read stories published under the IF banner? Check your Left sidebar for a list of the most recently released chapters/parts. WhatIF isn't held to the same minimum word requirements as our regular releases, so its entirely possible that you'll see frequent updates on this list (potentially even daily in cases where an author has already written multiple sections and is just releasing them one at a time as they have time to put them in the system). If you're looking for 'more' IF to read, it will be under MainMenu: STORIES -> SubMenu: WHATELEY INDEPENDENT FICTION in 'blog' format (most recent posts at the top.
Still in the works? We're working on revising the final wording for the disclaimer that will be on all IF (including the off site stuff). We'll probably also redo some of the site copyright wording... it's been brought to our attention that it 'sounds' a bit more like we're trying to 'steal' non-canon work when the actual spirit of what we're doing is to protect the canon authors from being manipulated by unscrupulous folks. We also still have some policy stuff to handle... such as what conditions result in an IF moving to the Featured IF category.
And while we're focused on the IF system, now's a good time for any feedback you have on the process and involvement. Our next big project (besides writing stories) is probably going to be a rework of the archived 'working data' (the Bible, the old mail list, etc) into a new version that we can use as a springboard for moving forward on the original timeline and to educate new authors in the details needed to add new Gen1 authors to the team. G2 has done a lot of this in their timeline's data because we wanted them to benefit from our experiences. Most of this work will be behind the scenes but may spin off some new WA Universe documents - the new powers traits description/break down, some more backstory narrative, etc.
Instead of anything from G1 or G2 for today, I've got a Library piece I've been sitting on for a while that I'd like to get posted finally. Also, one of our new IF authors went through all the trouble to prepare a piece for our Featured IF program. So, from Nagrij: "Dim Prisons and Drakes" - You can find Nagrij's new piece over the the STORIES->LIBRARY under the category UNIQUE FANTASY (you can also link to it from the right sidebar list of Latest Releases). From FiddlerFox "Kitsune". This one is also in the Latest Release list and can be found via the menu STORIES->Featured WhatIF. Enjoy!
Now that the discussion with authors and votes have started us down the road towards a new way to handle non-canon fiction, I'd like to let everyone else in on some of the details and planning. It will probably still be a little while before we get everything worked out and the actual site changes, but here's a sample of what you can expect:
Over the years, we've struggled with some unusual perceptions with regards to the breakdown between canon stories, fan fiction stories, and what those things imply for quality and content. We've always tried to make it clear that the 'official' stance is that there is no definitive measure that canon stories are inherently better quality than those created by fans. We do spend a fair amount of time internally with reviews, edits, and preparing stories to be 'complete' in ways that doesn't always happen with fan fiction... but there is nothing preventing any non-canon author from doing the same and creating stories just as good (or better) than what the canon team does. In fact, the only 'real' distinction between a canon release and non-canon author's contributions is that only the canon release will impact the ongoing plot line of future canon releases... and only a canon release can be considered a definitive measure of how the universe works.
Outside of the Whateley Universe, of course, fan fiction is often considered a lesser form of writing - often just author substitution wish fulfillment or alternate pathway scenes/completion bits. And with comic book fan fic, there are many origin scenes presented as a means to show off a gimmick/character design... that wouldn't meet the traditional scope of a story with character, plot, etc. And some of that attitude/impression cannot be escaped simply because we say otherwise... especially while we use the same words to describe all of it... the good, well researched stories whose only 'flaw' is the author didn't have the inside scoop to the true 'evil' Mary Sue author substitution fan fic.
The solution is that we've decided to give non-canon fiction written for the Whateley Universe a new name. Going forward, it will be called "Whateley Independent Fiction" which may be abbreviated as WhatIF or more simply as IF. Authors of WhatIF can be noted as IFA (IF Authors) or Ifeers (Independent Fictioneers). Within the scope of IF, there will be 'fan fiction' - incomplete stuff more ethusiastic than researched... and there will be solid, complete stories whose only difference from canon stories is that they will not impact the official canon story line (even if they seem to).
We will also be moving the IF out of the slums of the Forums, where they've been buried for close to a decade. The forum was always an 'easy' way for them to present because it gave them complete control over their material. But it doesn't give them the same level of visibility to readers and it prevents us from using the other site tools for feedback and voting and category tracking/sorting. So we're going to expand the system of IF to a multi-tier system. We're going to open up the ability to post scenes, stories, or whatever writing you want in the Fabrication Lab (even if you are not a promoted author - though you'll still have to be registered with the site). That will be the 'lowest' level of things... and we suspect that it will mostly be used by new writers who don't want the visibility of the whole community until they feel safer. The second tier visible to readers will be similar to how a blog listed story site works (like Stardust or Bigcloset)... where IFA can post at will with any sized story section that they want to do. Daily, or in larger segments, whatever they prefer. If you are curious what that will look like, it will work much as currently clicking on STORIES in the main menu looks (before you select a category list/menu). You'll see each story's header and blurb newest to oldest... or you will be able to go to a master list that will show published dates and so forth. These stories will include the commenting system and the 5 star voting system. And finally, we will have a featured IF system which will be a collection of the 'best' rated stories from the IF archives. We haven't decided officially what conditions will merit a story making this jump but it will be a mark that the story is considered just as good (or better) than the average canon piece.
As an added 'side' measure... we're considering implementing a small graphic 'stamp' to put on each IF piece that reflects of a measure of how close we consider it to canon. Where a '10 out of 10' measure would mean... this story is so close to canon, we could make it canon without more than an hour's clean up. And we'd have a number of 'stamps' all the way down to "This isn't even set in the Whateley Universe... are you sure you don't want this moved to the Library?" There was some suggestion of chibi versions of protagonist characters - Ayla chibi as the details oriented 'nigh canon' stamp and Jade chibi as "This is madness?!" level.
We're also working out a new disclaimer for the IF to add to the option of the old one: The old was refers to the stories as fan fiction so anything goes and includes a link to the main site (here). The new one also includes authorization for us to add any IF story to the main Whateley Academy web site for presentation and Archiving purposes - so no more stories are lost to the interwebs because we don't have authorization to copy/repost them. We'd still be required to take them down if the author asked us to remove them... but it'd keep things from being lost because it was in an old forums and no one had given authorization to repost on a new site.
That's the status for now. Feel free to open a discussion about the plans in the Quad... the IFeers have already discussed a lot of this in their private forums lounge (its where we store the cheap scotch), there's certainly plenty left about the concept to refine detail wise.
Now then... for this week's content release? How about another Gen 2 side story? NeoMagus and Malagua have whipped up a little something they're calling "Myriad Meetings." Here is Part 1 of that piece. Enjoy!
After a whole lot of discussion in our fan fiction forums, we have some good ideas and some goals to set/work on. The first couple votes for the fan fiction authors are up and will run through this week. As the numbers start to add up, if it looks clear votes are going to pass; I'll add a few more and start to add some complexity into the set up of what we're doing. By next Monday, I hope to be able to share the news and plans with the community at large.
In the meantime, we have one final section of "I Don't Think We're in Kansas Anymore" to share with everyone. This is the last part of the three introduction stories (Calimari, Road To Whateley, and Kansas) of the First Year core story cycle. From here out, we move into stories that are less likely to bounce from perspective to perspective and focus on just one character (or a small group). The next story in the Core cycle will be "Good Cop/Bad Cop" which I am writing (and will be from Shieldwall's perspective). Gen 2 authors will continue to offer other side (and back) story options, as we move forward.
If you are a Fan Fiction Author, please take a little time to check out the thread about upcoming decisions to be made regarding the fan fiction process and visibility. I'm going to give the discussion another week for people to weigh in and then I'm going to post some votes. If you aren't already a fan fiction author and you are interested in doing some writing in the Whateley Universe at some point in the future, canon or otherwise... it might benefit you to get informed. The initial discussions and voting are restricted to people currently registered and promoted to fan fic author status... the followups based on those decisions will be open to all registered members.
And, of course, if you aren't registered and part of the community; your voice won't be heard.
In other news, our latest code update resulted in some CSS loss; so I had to make some template changes. Most things should be back to where they were, but it is also possible that I'm exploring new font and layout options. The most recent changes have been based on clearing up navigation... making buttons more visible, tightening up the front end of the site, and so forth. Please let me know if one of these re-do's misses something that makes the site work for your screen... or for that matter, if something changes that is more useful than normal. That's how I'll narrow down things that stay in the long term design over things that I try and revert.
For today's content release, we're going to stay in the G2 timeline but step outside the core plotline for a bit more character development. This time, it's for one of our Japanese protagonists: Mageohki's Hikaru in "Glimpses of the Sun." Enjoy!
And so we move into August. I'm hoping that doesn't mean the weather will be even hotter than its been... because if so, I'm melting before we get to September. Been more than a few hot ones already, so that's a bad sign...
If you are a fan fiction author, please chime in on the discussion in the fan fiction forums about potential changes to how we handle fan fiction on the site.
And, for this week's release: we have part 5 of the third story in the Gen 2 core plotline, "I Don't THink We're in Kansas Anymore." And by this point, its looking like no amount of tapping together the heels of those ruby slippers is going to change that fact.
I hope everyone is having a good Monday. Err... ya, ok, few people have good Mondays given that Monday is the beginning of the week thing for so many workers. Let me offer up a little something to get you over that bad start of the week.
Today's story release is also from Bek (yes, two different stories from Bek in back to back weeks... when Bek punches through a block, things get lively).But when it was first presented, the discussion was about it maybe being Library material. We looked at it, had a little discussion, and decided that it IS indeed within the bounds of the Whateley Universe. However, the entire concept and through line puts it off-campus (and unlikely to ever visit on campus). So, for the moment... we're putting this into the Second Generation pile, because that's where it falls in the overall WU timeline. However, you'll notice that it falls into the 'outside world' category of 'spin offs' or the 'Off Campus' world.
In a sense, this is a bit like the SHIELD television series spinning off the Marvel cinematic universe. It's the same world, big picture, and its possible for plot lines and events to intersect or have an impact on each other... but the day to day events of the Dewinter Residence series is going to reflect a more adult New York City setting.That should be appealing to those of you who have enjoyed the Jadis/Jobe trips to the Big Apple... or who wanted to see more of the city and the 'biz' during G2's brief layover.
For your reading and universe expanding pleasure, here's Bek D. Corbin's "Professional Courtesy" - the first in the DeWinter Residence -or- Milady's series of stories within the Whateley Universe.
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