[identity profile] carolyn-claire.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] the_comfy_chair
*waves* Hello, all, it's me--CC, the absentee landlord. I've been kind of busy, RL kind of busy, but I've wanted to talk about crackfic for a couple of months, and now here I am to do it. Thenk yew for your patience and/or your poking.

So, what the heck is crackfic? Where'd the term originate? Who calls crackfic on a story? Is crackfic a new genre, a renaming of an old one, or just a state of mind? Does labeling a silly story crackfic confer some kind of legitimacy on it that wasn't there before? What about humor? Kink? AU? Have those labels been assimilated under the crackfic label? Does 'crackfic' cover a multitude of sins? Does it mean never having to say you're sorry? I wonder about these things. Do you? Tell me what you think about crackfic.



So, crackfic. The first time I really noticed the term, it was being called on one of my own stories. Hrm, I thought, yes, appropriate, interesting, kinda cute. And then I started noticing the term being used everywhere--writers were labeling their stories as cracked, readers were calling crack on others' stories--crackfic was abounding, apparently. And people were talking about it, asking each other what it was, having discussions and sharing their interpretations, but I never saw anyone come up with anything definitive, though that didn't seem to bother anyone. Crackfic, it seems, is all about the fun, and I stand firmly behind the having of fun. But the gears in my head won't stop turning, and crackfic continues to proliferate, so I want to talk about it some more.

Is it a fad, or is crackfic here to stay? In SGA fandom, crackfic seems to be running rampant, enough so that people are commenting on it. Are there really more stories being labeled crackfic in SGA fandom than in others? If that's true, why? Is it the nature of the show? SGA is fairly standard-issue television SF fare, no more bizarre than Trek or Farscape or SG-1. Is it the characters? Are John and Rodney more fun to place in wacky situations than characters from other fandoms? Is it the influx of new writers? SGA fandom is steadily growing, with writers from other fandoms pouring in and first time fans and/or writers eager to contribute stories. Is there some greater sense of security in starting out in a new fandom with a less serious story? Could the term confer some sort of perceived legitimacy on less serious efforts? And did the term begin in SGA fandom, or is it another bit of fannish culture with roots in venerable old fandoms like XF or Trek? Did SGA invent crackfic, or just embrace it wholeheartedly?

I've collected some thoughts about what crackfic is and what it's about from discussions I've observed all over the fandom. Here are a couple of them:

- Crackfic is any story with a cracked premise, a wildly AU setting or wacky characterizations. You can't define it, but you'll know it when you see it, and readers can call it on a story. Interesting, but...what if the author wasn't feeling cracked when she wrote it? Is crackfic really in the eye of the beholder? I, personally, would rather whack an elf with a stick than read about one, and I might call both a writer of an SGA elf story and the story itself cracked, but maybe that's just me. What about the elf lovers? What about the writer who worked long and hard on her story, carefully crafting her prose, researching elf lore through the ages and generally taking it all very seriously? What if she wasn't feeling the least bit cracked when she wrote it? Here's another example--centaur stories. Yes, I'm a big centaur fan (okay, it's kind of a kink) and James' and Leah's centaur stories are terrific, IMO, well written stories about the characters and their relationships and trials and triumphs...and some of them just happen to be centaurs. They're AU stories, definitely, and, as a reader, they push a definite kink button for me, but are they crackfic? I can't speak for the writers, but I certainly wouldn't call them that. But YOU might. Would you, to the writers? If writers don't say, in their notes, "I was on crack when I wrote this," would you point and call crack in their comments? Would they mind if you did, if that hadn't been their intention? I didn't mind, but that had been my intention. What about you? Would you mind if someone called crackfic on your story, and you hadn't meant it that way?

Which leads us to...

- Crackfic is as the author does; the author calls crack on her own story, and her intent defines it. We talked about this a few posts back concerning one of Ces's stories, which was a nifty little "aliens made them do it" sort of slave-kink thing, hot and sweet and well characterized and a very satisfying read. A number of us couldn't figure out why she'd called it cracked; it's no more out there than lots of similar stories, and a lot better written than many. From her notes, we deduced that maybe she felt cracked when she wrote it, felt silly and crack-headed as she was creating it. Authors do sometimes seem to want to distance themselves a little from some of their stories, to say, in effect, "I wasn't being serious, here, this isn't really me" or "this isn't my best, I just threw it out there" or "I don't know where this came from, I think I have an evil twin." We used to just say 'silly' when we were feeling silly; now we say 'cracked.' Is it the same thing? Is saying "this is crackfic" just another way to say "this is just something silly I tossed out there, so don't take it seriously?" What if the reader doesn't think it's cracked? What if they enjoy it thoroughly and rate it above more serious efforts by other writers--is the reader cracked for taking it seriously? If a majority of readers look at a story and say, "I don't think that's crackfic," what then? Do we take a vote, make a poll? Or does the author have the ultimate say in whether it is or isn't? I didn't use the term 'crackfic' on my story, but others did. It was, but I hadn't said so. Were the readers usurping my labeling authority?

And what about AU, humor, kink? Where we would have once said "humorous AU" or "strange kinky thing," are we now saying "crackfic?" And did we ever really figure out what constitutes an AU, where and how far the departure from canon has to be? My story was a definite AU, transplanting the characters to Atlanta and turning their commute into a wacky parody of a mission. Not that long ago, it would have been pointed to as a humorous AU, and, now, it's crackfic. Since when? Why? I'm working on the definition, now. When is it an AU and when is it crackfic? Can it be both, or need it only be one or the other? We seem to have taken a shortcut and dropped some identifying labels along the way to creating the new term. And, here's a thought; would more or fewer people feel inclined to read a story if it was labeled as crackfic rather than as humor/AU? Those of you who avoid AUs (and I used to be one of you), what difference, if any, would the label make to you in your decision to read? And do readers in general prefer more identifying info than just 'crackfic'--do they want to know more about what kind of story it is, beyond slash/het/gen, before they'll read? Do you ever dismiss a story that an author labels as crackfic without reading, because of the label?

And, speaking of dismissing, about that distance I was talking about--just how far can an author distance herself from her story by using the crackfic label? Does anything really go, if it's crackfic? Is there such a thing as too cracked? What about badfic? There's deliberate badfic, of course, where the writer is parodying clichés or poor technique or failure to spellcheck, that kind of thing, and then there's plain old poorly written. Can a writer who doesn't want to get a beta or use spellcheck or learn a few elements of style slap a crackfic label on her story and relax? Do we hold crackfic to the same standards that we do 'serious' stories? I'm not talking about non-humor vs. humor stories, because one can certainly take writing a humorous story very seriously and craft it just as carefully as one does a story that makes the reader weep or gnash her teeth. Do we judge crackfic by different standards? Is it more acceptable to us if an author "lets herself go" in any area of her writing if she calls the story crack? Part of the humor in a certain type of silly AU, for instance, can be created by skewing characterizations a bit. Do we define whether or not it's crack by the degree of skew? When does it become just bad characterization? How much can we blame on or excuse with the crackfic label?

And, riddle me this, Batman: are we better or worse off as a fandom for adopting and adapting to the crackfic label? Or does it matter at all? Are we seeing more good stories, or fewer? Are we just swapping out one or two labels for another, with no net change in the types of stories we're reading/writing, or has the label spawned a silly story frenzy? Or is it the fandom itself, something inherent in the show/fen/water? Is there a silly story frenzy at all, or are we just taking more notice? Will we even care about any of this in six months time? Do we care about it now? Do you? I do, but I haven't made up my mind exactly how.



Since this topic is about larger ficcish issues--genre, style, direction, etc.--than a single author's story, it's okay to respond to this post from the perspective of a writer as well as a reader, but please do also respond as a reader if you're responding as a writer. Specific stories can be cited as examples, that's fine, but let's discuss crackfic as a whole rather than do in-depth discussion of specific stories, in this post.

Date: 2006-01-18 01:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] snoopygirll.livejournal.com
Great post CC and I'm looking forward to reading other responses.

I think with crackfic, conscientious writers feel the pressure is off to ensure their story, or some aspect of their story, is not the subject of LJ's latest 'What I Hate in Fanfic' post. It allows more lattitude than other labels (AU, for example, doesn't permit skewing of character or reality) which means greater artistic license. I think crackfic in the hands of a good writer could be an awesome, magical thing.

The downside is it's also an excuse to be lazy in the name of fun. So I think crackfic in the hands of careless or inexperienced writer could be a painful, ugly thing.

Would the crackfic label stop me reading a story? I thought the first crackfic I read was silly and was amazed so many liked it. The second crackfic I read, I enjoyed, but would have labelled it AU. So it's possible I just don't get crackfic. But then I don't enjoy intentional badfic either. Or humor just for the sake of humor. So taking into account personal taste, when I weigh the good with the bad, I think for me there's going to be way more bad. So the answer is YES - I will avoid crackfic unless I really like the author, or it's a popular story.

Date: 2006-01-18 02:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mmmchelle.livejournal.com
Shallott's Harlequin AU ... it's just a terrific story, absolutely brilliant with the relationship angst, and so well written. So, is it crackfic? To me, it's an AU with a premise that could have been ridiculous but was so well executed, it's not.

I enjoyed that story immensely as well. But I can easily see how someone would label it crackfic. And to me it wasn't crack; it was an extremely good story.

I'm not sure the label communicates anything useful. It seems to me that it often gets used in a "this is the good crack" way by readers, as a shorthand way of describing a story that pushed particular buttons for them. The kind of story that's like a Lay's potato chip where one makes you want more.

When authors use it though, unless I know the author I tend to assume it's a way of ducking responsibility for the story, of saying "don't take this seriously because it isn't my best work." On one level I completely understand it. It's good to have the freedom to write and post things that you wrote on a whim. On another it bothers me, perhaps because of my own instinctive rejection of labels. Hell, I hate the term literary. And I dislike crackfic for the same reason. It establishes a hierarchy of stories. These are the serious, meaningful stories, and these are the crackfic.

Except the hierarchy is purely in the eyes of the beholder, because as you pointed out with Shallot's fic stories which would seem to fit the crackfic label can be well-written, well thought out stories.

In my own head I tend to divide fic into three groups. The good stuff which is technically sound (more than just grammar and spelling, it has to have other things like pacing, structure, style) and the characters are shown in a way I identify with. These stories cross genres and can be AUs, first times, established relationships, sometimes even gen.

Then there are the mediocre stories, the ones which could have been good, if only the pacing had been better, or John hadn't been so passive, or... They're good enough to get me to read them, but not good enough to satisfy.

Finally, there is the badfic.

For me there isn't any category of story that qualifies as 'crackfic,' nothing I would regard as addictive, or that I would smoke just for the hit, no matter how good or bad it was. Which is the imagery that the term crack conjures.

I am now officially too tired to think and so am off to bed. Maybe I'll have clearer thoughts tomorrow. Good-night.

Date: 2006-01-18 05:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] snoopygirll.livejournal.com
After reading the comments so far it appears to me:

1. Crackfic is all in the eye of the beholder. A het reader, for example, could be excused for considering a slash story crackfic. So we're just chasing our tails trying to pin down a definition for crackfic.

2. While it's possible for an entire story to be labelled a crackfic by the majority of readers (for me personally: badfic), the better the author/execution/etc., the more likely it is that only parts of their story are crackfic. Although 1 makes this shakey reasoning.

3. The acceptance of crackfic, whole story or part, by the majority of readers (which currently appears to be the case) has to have writers toying with ideas they normally wouldn't have considered, or would have thought unwelcome by the majority of readers. For whether or not this is a good thing: see 1. *g*

+++

Shallott's Harlequin...would you call that crackfic?

AU, with elements of crackfic - see 2. John a mail-order bride, the romance novel formula, the storm-in-a-teacup ending *facepalm* but it works because it's a Harlequin challenge. Readers may call it crackfic but for clarity the author should label it 'Harlequin Challenge', which she did. (Enjoyed it too, btw)

So I've revised my opinion. While I still like that crackfic has writers writing what they might not normally have considered writing, I've decided labelling a story a crackfic is like labelling a Lotus, a Mazda and a tricycle, 'cars'. A label that does that needs to be ignored.

And I reserve the right to revise my opinion again as more opinions come to light. :P
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Date: 2006-01-18 03:29 am (UTC)
ext_1637: (Default)
From: [identity profile] wickedwords.livejournal.com
Crack!fic, to me, is a way to represent stories that the author and/or the reader enjoys where somewhere in the back of the lizard brain, there's this little tiny voice that says "you shouldn't enjoy this." Doesn't matter how it gets there -- it could be genre (mpreg for example is considered crack!fic), it could be characterization (ZOMG! John *cries* big weeping bucketfulls in this, and Rodney has a self-esteem smaller than a gnat!), it could be set up (this story has holes so big antartica fits through it) -- somewhere along the way, someone said "anyone who reads and/or writes something like that has to be dealing with controlled substances."

So everything you've said is true. It's all crack!fic. Fanfic, by its very nature, invites it and embraces it. Praises it even. If you like that sort of thing, then write that sort of thing; it you read something you like, then say that you liked it. Chances are someone else will say 'hey, I like it too!'

And then the third person will say 'you both are on crack.' Calling it crack!fic just cuts out the middleman, and we go on from there.

Date: 2006-01-18 04:56 am (UTC)
ext_1637: (john unicorn by tardis80)
From: [identity profile] wickedwords.livejournal.com
'giving in' -- to what, exactly? The term has positive connotations, in that it indicates that there is some sort of emotional payoff in it for the people that like those sorts of things, and is a warning to those that want to avoid it. To me, it is the flip side of a story labeled experimental, which to me is something sort of pretentious -- weighty and heavy, obscuring the story, and intending to be considered a 'serious' work. Whereas crack!fic is what it is, without pretentions. If the point of the story is to make Rodney cry, then by god, you wrote the best Rodney crying story you could and in a completely balls-to-the-wall, no-appologies, and no prisoners way.

That doesn't mean it's not well-written. It doesn't mean it's simple light and froth. It means that the author (or the reader or the reccer -- whoever is applying the label) felt that it was the essence of that kind of story, and that particular kind of pay off.

Intellectual appeal =experimental, emotional appeal =crack!fic

Or so I feel at this moment. Ask me what I think tomorrow.

Date: 2006-01-18 05:28 am (UTC)
jadelennox: Senora Sabasa Garcia, by Goya (pomo)
From: [personal profile] jadelennox
I think crackfic indicates that the story is intended to make the reader sporfle. Centaur stories are a great example. They ought to be crack, the premise is crack, but in James' hands, they're not (though she's perfectly capable of writing crack, it's just more likely to have penguins than centaurs). The premise is "these people are centaurs" and it's treated as a serious jumping off point for drama, plot, and character. Crack is more "look! I can make Ronon into the Hamburglar! Whee!"

What's always weird is when crackfic becomes non-crack. Sometimes it works (the entire Sith Academy was crack, but it had non-crack entries near the end, and the entire Hell Series spinoff was non-crack (drama and character development) spun off from crack (Obi-Wan and Darth Maul live in the same apartment building). Other times, it doesn't work as smoothly, and badifc tropes that were games in the crack get taken seriously in the sequels to the detriment of the fic.

On the other hand, it's a nice safety net for risk taking and writing guilty pleasure fic (When in Haldoria comes to mind).

Date: 2006-01-18 02:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] terrie01.livejournal.com
Crack!fic, for me, is an AU that is so... out there, that you start singing "Which of these things is not like the others?" It has nothing to do quality. The best example I can think of is the story James did where John was a penguin and Rodney was a unicorn. (James is the archtype of the crack writer).

People crying crack for a lower standard is like people claiming that their story is humor, so it doesn't matter if the characters are completely OOC. It's an excuse and should not be seen as a reflection of the genre. For me, crack is not a bad term. It's simply a certain genre.

Date: 2006-01-18 11:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] terrie01.livejournal.com
I see no conflict with calling a "serious" story crack!fic. But, for me, it goes back to a quote from E.B. White. "Genius is more often found in a cracked pot than a whole one." For me, crack is mainly about juxtaposition, putting two seemingly conflicting things together.

In the end, I think the term is too new for there to be a solid defn. yet. And, like some, the edges will probably always be fuzzy, but it'll settle down. My defn. may never catch on (sigh). It seems to be moving away to the new "sugar high" which is too bad.

Date: 2006-01-19 08:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] stellahobbit.livejournal.com
To my mind (and thanks for bringing this up, because I've been wondering about it lately) -

Not all humorous stories are crack!fic, but all crack!fic are humorous.

Hmm. I think that's working for me.

As a reader, I wouldn't want the term crack!fic to be used as an excuse for shoddy writing (ridiculous premise, OOC-edness, impossible to read because of errors). As a writer, I've used the term once to describe one of my fics, and it could just as easily have been labelled 'humour' or 'silly'.

I don't think any crack!fic can be angsty or dark. It is a property of crack!fic that it be funny or so completely out there that you're laughing at the bizarreness of it.

Date: 2006-01-19 04:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] thepouncer.livejournal.com
I've been thinking about this, and trying to come up with an answer to what crackfic is. And it's hard! To me, crackfic is a kind of dividing line - on one side is badfic and on the other is a story delving into improbable or even ridiculous situations and characterization.

So, for instance, we have [livejournal.com profile] eliade's story extrapolating from Conversion, where John turns into a bug. And for me, that story worked beautifully. It was short, it was surreal, but Rodney and John were still Rodney and John. I'd call that a story that lurks on the edge of crackfic, but doesn't go over because of the quality.

Then there are some of the entries to [livejournal.com profile] svmadelyn's Badfic Summary Challenge. The ones that parodied badfic were priceless to me - I haven't laughed that much in a long, long time. But other authors took a more serious approach and attempted to create a good story out of these whacked prompts. Some succeeded (I'm thinking of [livejournal.com profile] astolat and [livejournal.com profile] eliade) and some didn't (although I admit I haven't read everything produced as a result of that challenge).

As a writer, I think my SGA Regency AU is cracked - I mean, my god! John as an English lord? Rodney as a brothel servent/chemist? When I started to write the idea, I had to send it to friends for another opinion, for fear that it was too cracked out to bear the light of day. But it's the story that's gotten the most feedback of anything I've ever posted, so.

I wonder if part of this crackfic moment isn't the desire for something new and novel? The old saw about there only being twelve plots in the universe and all that, so to add originality writers create more and more bizarre events. And SGA has those magical Ancients to allow for plot permutations - they made a device that turns you into penguins! They have cloning technology! - as well as the entire Pegasus galaxy for greeting rituals and the like.

Date: 2006-01-19 10:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] marythefan.livejournal.com
I call shenanigans on the definitions that imply a get-out-of-jail-free card as regards technique or storytelling ability or characterization work. "Crackfic" is not a measure of skill or tone or even of execution. There's bad crackfic. There's good crackfic. There's more bad than good - that's because Sturgeon's Law applies just as it does in any case of fanfic. And good crackfic doesn't become not-crackfic.

Crackfic is, IMO, a matter of premise. Crackfic implies an initial premise that is implausible, if not impossible, a premise that's surrealist, even absurdist. Someone turns into a girl. Or a badger. Or a penguin. Or they sprout wings. Or lay eggs. Or get pregnant, despite being a man. They get set down in a historical context outside the limits of accepted behavior, without being called on it - a man is "cast" as a schoolmarm, complete with skirts and petticoats.

It's not simply AU. It's something beyond normal AU.

What the writer then does with it is what distinguishes good from bad crackfic. Good crackfic asks "what if?" and traces the plausible fallout of the implausible premise. Ideally, it sticks the characterization so hard it squeaks. It leaves you saying "Well, of course. That's absolutely how Character X would act if he turned into a girl. (or a penguin. or a badger. or whatever.)" Good crackfic uses good characterization and good storytelling and good plotting and good relationship dynamics and good writing to say something, just as much as any non-crackfic does. It may end up being whimsical. It may not. Sometimes, despite the fact of the implausible premise or of whimsical writing, it has something serious to say about the characters or the world they move in or even about the real world.

Upthread, you say "it still bugs me some to be told that I shouldn't be taking this story seriously." That carries an assumption about what a writer is saying when she calls her story crackfic that I - someone who's written crackfic - object to. It assumes the message is "This is not to be taken seriously." I want my crackfic taken seriously, as seriously as any other fiction I write. When I turn a male character into a girl, or give someone wings, I don't want the reader to judge my writing or story-telling ability or characterization work any differently than they would a story set within the regular milieu of the source material. Good crackfic is, in some ways, more of a coup than good "normal" fic, because if you can convince a reader of your story and characterization work in crackfic ...

For reference, I come initially from a popslash background when it comes to crackfic - it's the first place I saw the term used and the first place I really found myself open to reading surrealist and absurdist premises in fic. It tended to be, in general, very smart and pretty innovative and intimidatingly well-written. I typically think of girl!fic and wingfic as the most prominent examples, and generally those stories had some kind of character insight and often relationship dynamics included. And while many of the girl!stories, in particular, were written in a style I call "hijinks-ensue," it was more common than uncommon for them to contain some fairly serious looks, if you parsed them, at the nature of being a woman vs. being female, sometimes of the nature of celebrity, and a look at how both of those affected how characters interacted with the world and how people viewed them.

Date: 2006-01-20 01:23 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] marythefan.livejournal.com
Pt. 1, because I got long-winded ...

But, who decides what that is?

Not who, what: the rules of the characters' reality. Is the premise actually possible within the reality the characters inhabit? Then it's plausible. Is it absurd or impossible by the rules that govern their reality? Then it's implausible. If the characters are in a reality where waking up a girl or sprouting wings or having men run around in white eyelet and petticoats without anyone taking notice of it or insert-premise-here is against the rules of biology or physics or society - then it's implausible.

And once you make it plausible - or at least start trying to explain and legitimize it - it ceases to be crackfic. A story with a winged character who's from a canon in which people can have wings, that isn't crackfic because it's possible within the reality of that character's universe. A story in which you have Carson messing about, splicing DNA to try to create a winged Wraith, that isn't crackfic (although it may be further evidence of his cracked-in-the-headness, not to mention his lack of medical ethics), because you're attempting to provide a scientific explanation for the wings. A story in which Rodney wakes up one day on Atlantis to discover he's sprouted wings - that's contrary to basic biology, and it's crackfic, it doesn't matter how well it may be written or how stunningly it may illuminate Rodney's character or his relationship with John, because Rodney doesn't live in a reality where people from Earth can or do suddenly sprout wings.

Of course, one of the reasons I think this line gets so mushy in SGA is because of the handwavey "new Ancient device" fallback, and the question's come up of whether that provides enough explanation and legitimacy - enough plausibility - to make some of these tropes not-crackfic. I'm hesitant to say that a simple mention of some new Ancient device that turned someone into a girl is enough to make it not crackfic, just as a throwaway vague reference to some odd family genetics isn't enough to make some of the pop girl! stories or mpreg not crackfic.

There are also writers who very much intend for anything they label as crackfic not to be taken seriously, and they say so, in their notes--it's the reason they used the crackfic label.

Reading back over this, I suspect I sound much more "It's SERIOUS BUSINESS" about crackfic - and fanfic in general - than I really want to. One of the appealing things about crackfic is the absurdity and the ability to be all "Whee! Shiny!" But again, though, tone isn't what makes it crackfic or not. If someone is writing zany crackfic that they don't intend to be taken seriously, that's not any more crackfic than the story about McKay sprouting wings that's written by a writer who uses them as, oh, I don't know, a manifested metaphor for his artistic creativity that's been suppressed but is finally starting to show itself. (Ugh. That's a horrible example, and I only use it because I'm trying to find an SGA-appropriate idea that’s similar to a winged!Britney story about how she lost her wings as she got older and more jaded by her work and celebrity).

Date: 2006-01-20 01:23 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] marythefan.livejournal.com
Pt. 2

Re: Haldoria
The premise isn't out there, at all, for SF/SG-uni fandom--in fact, it's cliched.

But just because something's been done enough to make it a cliché in fandom doesn't mean it can't be crackfic. Aliens making people do it may be so normal as to be mundane in our fandom reality, but is it normal within the reality of the characters?

I could try to build an argument that in the case of "aliens make them do it" the implausible premise is not that aliens make them do it … although, you know, I'm not sure I can take myself at all seriously after typing that, because aliens making them do it as a premise that isn't absurd? I soooo have to take it back. That's an absurd premise, even if it is one of my bulletproof kinks. What I was going to say, though, was that it might be argued that there are other things about that fanfic trope that create the absurdity - I feel fairly sure that if the AF had an SOP for a situation in which aliens try to make you do it, there'd be a lot more paperwork involved than what we usually see.

I'd have to really think about whether that's enough to make it crackfic, though. I think something can be crack-ish without being crackfic, the same way I think something can be slashy without being slash.

And I think execution can very much make a difference in what is crack and what is AU, because a premise that might originally seem cracked to some might be worked by the author into a story that's so spot-on in terms of characterization and plot that she turns the cracked into the plausible

But execution doesn't make a difference in whether an originating premise is plausible by the rules of the characters' reality. Characterization and plot work isn't what makes the difference. World-building is what makes the difference, what makes a premise plausible. Because …

was Shallot's mail-order bride story crackfic, or AU? You might say crackfic, but I say AU, when I consider the care she took to create a universe where this kind of thing could plausibly happen

If she did that, I probably wouldn't call it crackfic.
If you build a reality in which something is normalized, if you create the explanation and legitimize the premise, if you make it possible within the reality you've got your characters in - if you leach it of the absurdity - then it's plausible. And all of that can be done badly, or it can be done well. But the thing that makes the premise plausible or implausible is the normal rules of the reality the characters inhabit, and that's got to do with setup and worldbuilding, not with execution.

My biggest problem with tying the label of crackfic to execution, though, is that "if it's well-written, it isn't crackfic, it's AU" tells people that crackfic by definition isn't good, it isn't well-written, isn't well-characterized. That it's something a writer necessarily wants to distance herself from because she's embarrassed about it or ashamed of it in some way. And I've read too much good crackfic - and spent way too much time "embracing my shame" in pop fandom (heh) - to accept that.

Date: 2006-01-20 02:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] marythefan.livejournal.com
(reposted, because my html skillz are weak, and to clarify something)

Back again. :g: It suddenly struck me that there was a whole set of connotations and associations to the word "crackfic" that I learned that a) influence how I see what crackfic is and b) make me resist the idea of tying execution to it, if it's going to connote lesser quality fare.

I mean, before this discussion, I never considered using "cracked" to describe the premises or stories that make up crackfic, maybe because of the possible connotations of "flawed" that the word can carry. Something was either straightforward "crack" - as in (as someone upthread said) "What kind were you smoking when you came up with that?" and hence the idea of absurdity as a defining characteristic - or, if there was an adjective form, it was "cracktastic."

And I think it's telling that the adjective form related to crackfic that I learned is a portmanteau of "crack" and "fantastic," because "crackfic," more often than not, also carried a connotation of fabulousness. Crackfic was something that people looked at and said "That is completely whacked out and should never, ever work - and yet it does."

The thing is, because of my intial experiences with the label of "crackfic" and the quality of the writers who were producing the surrealist and magical realist and absurdist stuff that lends itself to being crackfic ... if quality of execution is going to be tied to the label, I'm going to go into it expecting it to be the good stuff not the badfic.

Date: 2006-01-20 12:15 am (UTC)
ext_1637: (Default)
From: [identity profile] wickedwords.livejournal.com
I agree very strongly with what you've said here. And I do think that the pomo-fusion of SGA and Popslash is absolutly fascinating, with writers and readers bringing to it a whole 'nother sensibility than what came out of a traditional sci-fi background. Personally, I'm loving it, as I came out of yuletide last year knowing that the writers I liked that I had no experience with reading before, tended to be coming out of popslash. And that sense of being able to take the whackiest premise and derive realistic consequences from it is a wonderfully creative and fascinating thing. I think it's cool.

Date: 2006-01-20 02:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] marythefan.livejournal.com
Popslash made me read things I thought I'd never ever read. And like them. :g:

Date: 2006-01-20 12:59 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tingler.livejournal.com
To me, it's an AU with a premise that could have been ridiculous but was so well executed, it's not. So, good writer, good hands, good story.

That, right there, is almost exactly what I was going to say. I think "crackfic" is a term that is bandied about fairly liberally right now, but my own personal definition is exactly that: a story premise that *should* have been ridiculous (I mean, c'mon, John's a *centaur*? Give me a *break*!) but then something works so well that it becomes more than a silly premise. (and for me, I think it comes down to the characterization, mostly) (I mean, John seems so, well, *John* in that story)

And then there are the parody stories, like the one where John's an elf, Rodney's a dragon and Beckett's a, well, I forget what Beckett was, but it was really silly, yet well-written and *meant* to be silly. But I don't think that's crackfic. Like in [livejournal.com profile] svmadelyn's recent badfic challenge, some of that was blatant badfic parody ("It's okay, John. I know you didn't *want* to rape me. I'm just glad the unicorns are okay.")('scuse me, I'll stop ROTF any second now....) and some of it was *trying* to parody badfic and yet, twisting and sprouting into something like [livejournal.com profile] eliade's stories of John turning into a giant Praying Mantis, or Rodney being not quite human (but still sexy as all get out). Some people just *can't* write a bad story and that, my friend, is the path to crackfic!
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