What the fuck is up with all these WIPs?
OK, perhaps phrased a tad indelicately, but this is fcol so such things are not only pardoned but generally condoned, so I beg the blog's indulgence here. The WIP is something that has, well, bugged me for some time for a lot of reasons. For one, they often lack structure. Since a lot of authors don't really chart their fics completely in advance or use outlines or such, WIPs often tend to, well ramble. They meander along, back and forth and (hopefully) reach their goal eventually. Of course, the route there tends to be circuitous and often not terribly entertaining.
The other problem, of course, is that so many of them remain WIP permanently. I, like so many others, start to read, get hooked and then....nothing. Maybe the author will finish, but then again maybe not. Its frustrating as hell. Granted, not on the level of " I just spent three works slaving on this project and my boss just handed it over to someone else," but annoying nonetheless.
The reason I bring this up is that when I opened my mail this morning I found parts of 3 different WIPs there, each by a different author, each of which seems to illustrate a different point og annoyance for me. I will be naming names, not to offend, but rather so if anyone has any observations or insights they can share, because more than just bitching I really want to understand if their is a *good* reason(s) for doing this.
Example no. one: Scribe, Mistaken Identity.
OK, Scribe tends to write pretty quickly, her WIP generally don't drag out for a long period of time. she has posted the first 3 parts of a 7 part fic over the course of 3 days. This would suggest that the fic is more or less done which then begs the question: why the WIP? If its effectively done, why not just post the whole thing? I can only assume that it is to avoid flooding inboxes, but its not a massively long fic. Is there anyone who would be unhappy to fine a nummy 7 part fic in their inbox? I wouldn't but maybe that's me.
Example no. two: Ravenschild, Sentient
OK, I got this one and it was a case of Who? What fic? Part 13? Did I see the previous 12 parts even? Did not ring any bells. I opened it and then a vaguely remembered it was some xover with a fandom I didn't recognize and she posts a new part once a month or so. So here is pet WIP peeve number two: the random poster. Someone who posts a chapter every now and then, usually after a long enough absence that the reader forgets everything that preceded the new part. How does the author expect to hold the readers attention and keep them engaged? The answer from where I sit is, she can't. This kind of WIP requires way too much effort on the part of the reader and pretty much requires him/her to keep rereading the last part to remember what's gone before. Unless it is a truly great fic, I don't have the energy. time or inclination to invest in *re-reading* when there is so much new fic I haven't seen, or great fic I want to savor again.
Example no. three: Dawn C, Suicidium
In many regards, this is the kind of WIP I hate the most. It appears regularly which is a plus, but always in little dribs and drabs of maybe 3 pages of text. There is no real structure as a result and there is a certain lack of cohesion to the fic. More annoying is that each part is set up as a cliffhanger. Now, this can work if used judiciously, but this fic is now on part 51 and frankly my patience was maxed out a long time ago. The secret to a good tease is knowing just how long you can draw it out, keeping your victim balanced on that razor's edge of pleasure and pain before the big payoff. The problem is here its gone on for so long that most of its effectiveness is now gone. It feels like the old "Perils of Pauline" serials in which each segment ended with the heroine in grave peril and awaiting the last minute rescue by her hero. He would arrive in the nick of time, of course, but then the scenario would repeat and once again she would be in mortal peril awaiting rescue. Its entertaining if you don't mind formula (which, frankly, is something way too many in the fandom want above all else: predictability, security, repetition). Me, I just find it boring.
I also find it annoying because it seems to be done for the express purpose of making the "fans" beg for more which, frankly I think is reprehensible and more than a little sleazy. It's manipulative and self-serving and frankly shows, in my mind, a fundamental lack of respect for your readers.
So, why exactly do people do it? Well, reason no. 1 would appear to be to garner as much priase, I mean *feedback* as possible. Why write the whole fic and get maybe a dozen LOC when you can have your ego stroked constantly throughout the process, right?
I suppose some people might argue its done to get feedback as you go. Nice try, except who really gives solid *unsolicited* feedback in this fandom? Very few people. As we all know, most FB consists of "Wow! Great story! Thanks." Nice to hear, OC, but it hardly offers great insights for improving one's writing. And if author X needs input, well, isn't that what betas are for? I know a lot of people who put out WIP say they plan to polish it up and repost it, but you know what? I'd prefer if they polished first and gave us the finished version they were happy with.
In my mind, the only justification I can come up with for the WIP is extreme length. I can understand, for example why Poss is WIPing her new fic. Part one was loooong. Good, provocative and rich. Same thing for Scratch. Hell what is that puppy up to now? 700K? That is simply too long for anyone's inbox. But its not just the length involved that sets fics like that apart. It is also the obvious craft. Each section feels fully developed and self contained. I have nothing against say a series if which the author creates a series of closely related but self-contained stories, like Spring's Downtime series for example. Each one had a beginning, middle and end and each could be enjoyed independently.
I guess in the end I'm frustrated because I feel these authors are manipulating me. They dangle a carrot in front of my nose, let me have a bite and then pull it away again. I get jerked around way too much in RL. I don't need it in my fic as well.