Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Alby Mangrove's "The Etiquette of WC in the words of the Rolling Stones"

 The Etiquette of WC in the words of the 
...because you’ve got to have Stones to showcase these kinds of moves

an author blog by Alby Mangroves 

The WC, or the Word Challenge, or indeed the Word Count or even Writing Challenge, is a fabulously wacky concept. The premise is that because writing creatively is sometimes a difficult and challenging process, it would be awesome for the author to force themselves to write under the self-imposed duress of time as well, to fully embrace their inner masochist. Because, quite frankly, one can never be frazzled enough. 

Do I sound like I hate it? Well, actually, I love it. 

I know that the whole idea sounded odd to me, before I became completely addicted. While I sometimes write independently of a WC now, the structure of writing in a chatroom full of others doing the same thing is a motivating and refreshing kick in the ass. 

WCs are a fabulous way to meet other fanfiction authors (if you’re at it long enough, you’re sure to run into people you’d normally fangirl over and get teasers of stories you already have on alert) and find new reading material or just make fandom friends. 

To me, a WC means the camaraderie of meeting in a chat (be it Skype, gchat or other apps) where everyone has the same goal: to write as much as they can in an allocated time. Then, to come back and share snippets of what they’ve done, see what the others are working on, and more often than not, discuss very important business. Business such as stick-people porn and interesting fandom phenomena like the recent resurgence of Octoward. This is a trend where Edward seems to be fondling Bella’s ass, flicking her bean and tweaking both nipples, all at the same time. The man is surely a talented ventriloquist or indeed a master puppeteer. Like I said, srs bsns. 

Having participated in WCs almost nightly since I began writing fanfiction in the closing months of 2009, I feel I can venture an opinion of some basic etiquette. I feel it could be useful for those that would like to participate, or just want to know why the hell everyone on their Twitter timeline is suddenly wanting to use a Water Closet together or meet with a Woman Constable in a Warlock’s Council (or whatever the acronym WC might mean to you). 

Without further ado, here is my humble take on The Etiquette of WC, in the words of the Rolling Stones. Because... why not. 


When you’re sitting there, in your silk upholstered chair (from “Dead Flowers”)
otherwise known as The Elephant In The Room Forming Cliques 

There is nothing worse than turning up to a party and realizing you don’t know anyone. It feels much like a fart might feel in an elevator full of perfume testers. There are a lot of people writing fanfiction, and we don’t all know each other. I was once invited into a WC where the participants might as well have been speaking a different language - they made absolutely no attempt to include me in the conversation or introduce themselves, and when I had finally had enough humiliation and silently dropped out, nary a ripple was felt, I’m sure.The communal tendency to invite each other to WCs means that now and again, there will be a noob in a group which has previously met several times and who all know each other. It would be pretty awesome to make that noob feel welcome, introduce them and show them around, lest one day, you’re the noob. Karma and all that. 


Don't give me no lip, don't give me no crap (from “Hold On To Your Hat”) otherwise known as the Shut Up and Type No Chit Chat Once the Clock Starts Ticking

Typically, once you’re in a WC and you’re on the clock (usually a suitable time increment is agreed upon in the beginning and many Good Lucks exchanged all around to start you off) it’s Radio Silence time. This means that the chatroom is silent while the participants all go about their business (presumably writing at a rate of knots). However, there are always those that refuse to fall into line. The Giggling Gerties. You know the ones; they LOL and ROFL and as you’re trying to string precious words together, their oblivious pings just keep coming. Now I’m all for chit chat (see above for mention of Octoward) but once the WC has started, you need to STFU and let your fingers do the walking in the fanfiction you’re writing. Got some catching up to do? Open a new chat window and go nuts with your frands in there. 


I'm a roadrunner honey, I bet you can't keep up with me (from “Roadrunner”) otherwise known as the Write and Run Denying Others Their Turn 

Nothing says ‘I don’t give a shit’ quite like slapping down your teaser, reaping the concrit or praise from the other participants, then making them eat your dust as you hightail it out of there. Basically, if you’re in a WC, it is only polite to stick it out while everyone has their turn at sharing their work, even if you feel that work sucks harder than a Vampire hooker. Common courtesy is a much prized trait. They’ve waited and commented on yours, you might have the courtesy to do the same, or at least be aware of how it looks when you don’t. 


The maids and the whores, did everybody pay their dues? (from “Pay Your Dues”) otherwise known as the Give As Good As You Get Offering a Critique 

Every WC is different. I know that some people like to offer corrections and opinions on teased snippets of other people’s writing, but not everyone is receptive to this in a WC. I don’t actually know if there is a preferred stance on this, but personally, I stay away from commenting about spelling and grammar unless it’s absolutely appalling. Everyone’s tease is going to be from material that hasn’t seen a red pen yet, so naturally there will be errors, omissions and corrections to be made. To me, a good WC critique might not be about pointing out those kinds of errors, but instead, offering first impressions, asking questions, helping to flesh out ideas or even pointing out continuity errors. If you’re at the receiving end of a critique, just take it for what it is: constructive criticism, not a personal slight. Unless of course you’re writing about Alice the dumpster-diving baglady or Edward and Riley’s Hirsute Himbos Hairdressing Salon, in which case you’re on your own.(*Co-credit for this crackfic concept once brainstormed in a drunken late-night WC goes to Shoefreak37- if you’ve ever needed proof that Gayward is gay, look no further than her FFn profile...)


Ain’t too proud to beg, sweet darlin’ (from “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg”) otherwise known as Throw Me A Frickin’ Bone Here Reciprocating Interest 

Put yourself in these shoes for a moment: You’ve just spent an hour writing your 689 words, and when the time comes, you’ve made a selection to share with the group. You paste it in and wait on feedback. And wait... and wait. And then wait some more. The silence is thicker than Emmett’s skull, until someone takes pity and breaks the stalemate with a teaser of their own. /rant. Stings a little, no? 
Honestly, even if the teaser was not your cup of tea or was actually completely scheissenhausen, you should still probably spare a few words for the author, even if they’re just words of acknowledgement or encouragement. Nobody needs to know that on your side of the screen you’re gagging with laughter or facepalming your ass off. Again with the Karma, right? 


Knew you was talkin' jive, I could see it in your eyes (from “Surprise, Surprise”)
otherwise known as Here Is One I Prepared Earlier - Sharing Pieces Written Previously 

This is a weird one. Why would you come into a WC and then produce a teaser from previously written or prepared work? The whole idea is that you’ve just been writing ‘live’ in a group environment- we want to know what you were working on, not what you think is even better. I quite like reading something that has just come to be in an organic, impromptu manner - see above for Mick Jagger dancing like he's been tazed. It irks to know that while I was happy to share something as raw, messy and unedited as a Vampire Cesarean, someone else can only bear to share an immaculately dressed Prom-Night Dance. The motivation behind this eludes me, though seeing WCs as a social event or a story-marketing tool and not as a writing group would probably do it. I would hope that participation was driven by a desire to set aside a quiet hour to write with some like-minded people, and not as a way to self-promote. 


We’re wasting time inside your mind (from “We’re Wasting Time”) otherwise known as A Little Piece, Not War and Peace Length of Teasers 

I want to know what you’re working on, I really do. I love reading other people’s snippets, and have found a few great stories that way. What I don’t want, is a snippet that’s going to take two hours to read. Typically, a good teaser is a well-chosen 200 words or so. Any more than that and you’ve brought the WC to a standstill while everyone tries to get through a teaser that’s longer than Bella’s honeymoon wishlist. I know some people think that you must post enough for your piece to be read in context, but really, all I need is a well-worded paragraph or two to suck me in. Keep it succinct and everyone can have a turn at sharing, and this way the sharing doesn’t take longer than the actual WC. 

He's split by the time the cockerel crows (from “Midnight Rambler”)
otherwise known as Now You See Me, Now You Don’t The Exit Strategy 

This might sound strange, but when a tree falls in a WC, it definitely makes a sound, even during Radio Silence. Or... something. Basically, when you decide to leave, do so as if you were in an actual roomful of people and not just a list of handles. This means saying farewell instead of just vanishing like a self-flagellating Edward. That would be rude and inexcusable, because you’re not Edward. 


Pretty little lips were sealed (from “Plundered My Soul”) otherwise known as The Cone of Silence Leaking Teasers 

What happens in WC, stays in WC. There might be a time where you’re in a WC with the author of a highly anticipated update. You might feel tempted to share the teaser that this author posts in a WC, but don’t do it, at least not without their permission. Most people writing fanfiction have a Beta or a pre-reader, and wouldn’t post an update without the benefit of some editing. The snippet they’ve just shared with you will probably be amended before that person feels comfortable enough to post, or it might not even make the final cut. Don’t steal their thunder by sharing an unedited, unrefined crumb with any of your friends, that would be almost as uncool as Jacob constantly trying to cut Edward’s lunch (make moves on his woman) before eventually making off with his only child. 


  1. Thank you so much for posting this. I've often wondered what goes on in a WC and now I know. I might have to give it a try sometime.


  2. gr8..........<a href="”> Packers and Movers in Jalandhar </a>