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You can call me Hal.

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Fanfic posting templates
What's the most useful way to post story headers? What information do you like to see? What's the best way to format it?

Over the years, I've boiled mine down to this:

Whisky and Water by Halrloprillalar
Stranger in a Strange Land, Jubal Harshaw/Valentine Michael Smith, NC17, 2300 words
Mike's first drink.

Notes: Thanks to Kest for beta and doing all those single malt taste tests.

What is usually recommended on community info pages is this, which I find a lot less readable:

Ttile: Mark of Cain
Author: Halrloprillalar
Fandom: Classic Battlestar Galactica
Pairing: Adama/Cain
Rating: R
Summary: An argument over Adama's orders turns violent...at first.
Author's Notes: Nobody would agree to beta this so all mistakes are mine!

What do you prefer to read? To use?

Bonus hint: When posting fic to a community, unless the rules prohibit it, put both the title and author name in the subject line. It makes it a lot easier for people who are browsing the comm archive later on.

I'm Virgo rising and thus: obsessed with order. Therefore the list format goes down best with me.

I hate it when people don't put the ship or rating in a header - as a few people in the Atlantis fandom refuse to do - because I feel that I should be given a choice before I start reading. I don't want to begin reading a fic and find my time wasted when it turns out to be het/a slash pairing I hate/extremely explicit - so I think it's only fair to warn people.

I've recently seen the argument that 'you wouldn't have a rating on a book' - but to be perfectly frank, I don't read real books anymore. And I wouldn't buy a book that I didn't have a decent blurb for.


As for the bonus points - I do that as often as possible! :)

Yeah, I really like to know the characters in advance as well. I don't need every single detail, especially if there's a triangle or something, but if there isn't at least a clue about who's in the story, I won't click.

Rating is good too because I might read mild fic at work on my break, but not something explicit.

Fanfic and books are not the same thing at all; they fill different needs, they have different distribution methods, and different conventions.

i like the first one better; the other choice seems a bit, i don´t know, cold? to me. but it´s functional.

They both work -- I just find the second harder to read. It's busier to my eye.

On the whole, either is fine. Generally speaking, for me, the name of the fandom is as important as the identity of the pairing. Title and author's name are important as well.

I find the listing as 'readable' as your form, unless space is an issue.

I like to see the name of the fandom too. The people and comms on my flist are so diverse, it's just easiest if that info is there at a glance so I can fit my brain into the right context.

I must confess that I'm used to the latter, and thus find it fairly transparent.

On the other hand, most of the time I find fic via a rec or because it's a writer whose work I trust, so the whole matter of story headers is moot. I prefer not to be told too much, as a general rule.

The latter format certainly has the weight of convention behind it. And it works fine -- I just find it harder to take in the information as quickly in that format.

Mmmm, single malt taste tests....

I usually boil it down to title, pairing/fandom, and a brief summary, though I hate summaries so I don't think mine are ever very informative. It probably makes sense for a community to require a more detailed template, because it will pull in readers that may be unfamiliar with one's previous work (which is usually the only real determinant of whether I'll read the story or not).

Mmmm, single malt taste tests....

It's for research!

I can totally see the value of a template for a comm too, to make sure everybody includes the same info. (But of course, I usually just stick with my way becuase I'm one of those people who thinks that rules don't apply to them. *g* So long as I have the required information, I don't fret too much about using the exact template.)

I mostly use the latter format, because that was what was always required on lists, and so it's just what i'm used to. When I strip it down, it always makes a story feel... less final/less official.

In my own LJ, I will sometimes just do "Title | Fandom | Pairing or Characters | Rating | word count | (and spoiler warnings if necessary)" but that's usually for something that hasn't been officially betaed etc., and if I do revise it and post to a community, I'll put all the other headers on it there.

It's interesting how using the different header styles makes you feel differently about your story. Does it work the same for other people's stories?

I like both, but I have to say I'm so used to yours that it makes it easier when browsing my f-list to see "weee, a fic I'll actually enjoy" X3

The only thing I really want to see in the header is the pairing. I don't really see the point of saying the fandom because obviously if you know the characters of the pairing, you will be able to know where they are from.

I don't really see the point of saying the fandom because obviously if you know the characters of the pairing, you will be able to know where they are from.

Last year I was browsing my flist and I saw a story with the pairing "Tucker/Archer". Oh my god, that's so sick! I thought. But then I realised that it was not Fullmetal Alchemist but rather Enterprise. Context is everything. :)

Also, I'm watching/reading five different series right now with a character or characters named Tachibana!

I like the first for readability, but can understand the point of the second for archival purposes. You could include the second at the end of the fic, to satisfy that need.

On my website, I use something very similar to the first on the category pages, but more a list format on the actual story pages, especially on the plain text versions. It's easier for me if people want a copy to archive -- I can just point them there.

Archiving was always a big deal on mailing lists, but LJ comms are pretty much their own archives so it seems less important now.

*nods* Tick off another mark for 'used to it' for the second one. It's what I'm accustomed to from browsing the comms, so my eye is trained to extract information most easily from that form.

Of course, on my ficjournal proper, I give the summary first and then cram genre, rating, continuity and warnings onto one line. *shrugs*

There's a lot to be said for convention. :)

I'd prefer the first one. It's simple. The list format is serviceable, but with so many lines it is actually a distraction for me.

Yeah, that's it for me too. I think it's easier to get the info from the first version or something similar.

I don't post to fic comms, but I pretty stick to the second format (although I list characters rather than pairings because I'm weird that way and there's something about the OTP mindset that annoys me and makes me avoid it as much as possible). I loathe ratings, and since I post on my journal, I figure everyone knows who the author is.

I don't list the fandom in the header notes, but I do throw it into the title box...

I like having the fandom somewhere -- I usually put it in the subject as well as in the info template. I find it's really helpful to get quickly oriented to the context, so people can figure out whether or not they want to read it.

I totally don't care, except that I want to see the fandom if there might be a doubt, the characters or pairing, the rating in language I understand, and the length. I am neither for or against warnings, genre information, summaries, or notes.

I figure in our own LJs, we should give whatever info we want to. I'm trying to work out what's the most usable way for me to present the information so people reading can easily tell if it's something they want to read or not.

I'm not big on warnings, though I usually put one on if there's violence or non-con. Even then, though, it's usually vague.

The latter does irk me slightly. I mean, my eyes are always drawn to the big bold letters, which prove to contain no useful information whatsoever! I manage to contain my woe, but I do like the condensed form better, and yours is pretty much perfect.

People use the second format without the bolding too, but I find that even harder to read. I suppose a lot of it, too, is just being consistant so people can get used to whatever format you're using.

I find that the second one is easier to use, because I can scan the info until I get to the variable that is most important to me, and read to see if it's something I'm interested in. The first way, I'd have to actually read every line to figure out if it's something for me, or not.

However, when I'm posting a link to a story, I use the first type - because the second type header is at the other end of the link, and usually the 'do I care or not' info is in the subject line of the entry where I'm posting the link.

I bet we could make a variable tree to see how people scan for info. Fandom would usually be first, followed by characters/pairing. If it's on a comm site, then author. After that it's probably more down to individual preference.

I think it depends on the exact posting situation. For instance, I'm fairly monofandomous; about all I ever write or rec is HP, so I don't bother with listing the fandom for a piece. I think title, author's name(s), rating, pairing and summary are the only things absolutely necessary in a header, but I'll add other material as the situation seems to warrant, or as required. For instance, I'll warn for certain squicks or spoilers on fairly recent new canon; if an archive requires me to set a genre, I'll set one. I don't have a problem with listing a pairing like Draco/??? if that's supposed to be part of the surprise.

That said, I do think some headers give too much information. I frankly don't give a damn about word count (though I can understand why others would) and some people go way the heck overboard in listing ships--just stick to the ones that count, not every single one that's even so much as hinted at. There's a point at which the amount of info thrown at you renders it all meaningless, you know? In that vein, I also tend to dislike long, detailed A/Ns in headers, expecially when they're crossposted to multiple comms. That's just excessive.

I think the whole listing fandom thing is helpful even if you're only writing in one fandom becuse people who are reading your LJ may have lots of fandoms represented on their flist and it helps to orient them. But I do associate your username with HP so that's not a problem for me. :)

I like to include word count because some people don't like to read really short stories, some people don't like to read long ones, etc. ITA about listing too many pairings -- sometimes you get so much info there in the headers, there's no reason to read the story anymore.