Why Don't You Rate Your Stories, Dawn?
But I do! When required by sites where I post, I always rate my stories in accordance to the site's guidelines. In fact, on my own fiction archive, the Silmarillion Writers' Guild, I require authors to include not only ratings but a whole slew of warnings on their stories. I realize that it is Fandom Convention, and I usually go happily along.
However, if you're here, you've probably gone looking for the ratings in my library or warnings about what contains sex or gore or slash, and you've come up empty. No, I do not rate my stories on this site. Why? Well, if you've got a minute, there are a whole bunch of reasons.
- Reason the First. Rating stories and attaching warnings is very much a fandom convention. When is the last time you went into a bookstore and saw a rating on a book's cover or a list of possibly objectionable material on the back? You don't. In a culture where we have to told that a pack of peanuts contains nuts and warned that a cup of coffee may be hot, we've become obsessed with cataloging around every possible source of "danger" to every possible person (no matter how stupid or narrow-minded that person may be) and so stick bright, flashing warnings on everything. The visor shade in my car contains no less than three; some of my stories on SWG contain five or six.
But, know what? We get by just fine without ratings and droves of warnings in the larger literary realm. Why? Because, 99% of the time, the things we warn for in fandom aren't dangerous. Most of the times, ratings and warnings are just another way for readers to pick and choose what they want to read. "Oh, I like stories with sex" or "I don't like stories with slash," and they end up in a rut, never trying anything that an author has shepherded under a convenient (and not necessarily accurate and usually overblown) label that, for whatever reason, they've become convinced they don't like.
So, this site is my great experiment. I am not putting ratings and warnings on my stories unless I feel that they absolutely need them, i.e. unless the story contains content that might actually be damaging to some people, particularly victims of the general nastiness to which our species is prone. Readers who feel that they are in danger because a boy kisses another boy or a woman shows a naked breast are welcome to look for my stories on more traditional archives (where they will be rated and thoroughly slathered with warnings, I assure you) or simply not read my writing at all.
- Point the Second. We're all grown-ups here. (If you're not, please skip to Point the Third.) We all know the world is an ugly place sometimes, and we all know what sex is. Both are part of human nature. I write about human nature through exploring the fantastical, so my stories are going to show, at times, both the ugly side of humanity and also the less-ugly side of humans in love, expressing that love through sex. I tend not to write either sex or violence simply to write sex or violence, but if you're a grown-up and nonetheless find yourself made squeamish by reality ... well, sorry, that's a little outside my jurisdiction as an author, don't you think?
- Point the Third. If you're a parent on my site because your kid wants to read my stuff, and you want to check it out first, then let me first applaud you. I am all for parental responsibility on the Internet. If you have any questions at all about my writing or a particular story, please don't hesitate to email me.
I know that my determination not to rate my stories here probably seems a big pain in the butt for you. I don't mean to make it harder for you to do the right thing for your child, really. But I'm not a parent and, more importantly, I'm not a parent to your child. Each kid is different in what she or he can handle, and I don't presume to make that decision for you. I could slap a rating of Teens on a story that is completely inappropriate for your teen. Or, a story rated Adult may be okay. How do I know? I don't. And so, if you think there is reason to be concerned about what your kid is reading on the Internet, I'd sooner you determine that than let me.
But I do have some suggestions to make your job easier. First of all, my work is posted all over the Internet. There are few stories here that can't be found elsewhere. And, every place I post besides here, I put ratings and warnings on the story. The Silmarillion Writers' Guild and the (Cyber) Bag of Weasels are the best places to start; just about everything is in one place or the other. If you can't find a story somewhere, again, just write me and ask. I'm happy to help you out.
Questions, comments, worries? Want to try to change my mind? (You probably won't, but I spoil for a good debate.) Drop me a line and we'll talk.