New Fan Fiction?

Its been a while since I’ve posted on this topic.  There is still new material coming out, clearly not as much as there once was, but some new.  And several established AUs are still on-going, so there is still plenty to read on a weekly basis.  So once again, let’s look at the only avenue for new Chuck material after the jump.

One thing I want to touch on before I get to any stories is reviews.  Today, billandbrick (the team of billatwork and brickroad16) posted the tenth chapter of their wonderful post series story, “The Long Road Home” along with an author’s note explaining why they were both pretty much done with writing.  A main issue would seem to be a hurtful nasty review.  Now I can’t begin to know if there was history there or what, but it sure drove home to me the responsibility we have when we post a review.  I’m not denying there may be great value in a well crafted critique; but fan writers do what they do for pure love of it.  I think more than anything they need to know how much we appreciate their efforts.  They need cheerleaders more than critics.  No doubt, not every story is of equal quality, or is written for every reader;  but if you don’t like a story, leave it alone.  Leave it for the readers who do like it and the writer who is crafting it.  If you have some minor concerns go ahead and bring them up (along with plenty of encouragement!).  If you have bigger concerns, especially something that goes right to the heart of the project or the writer’s skills, send them a PM.  fanfiction.net facilitates this quite nicely; you can link right to the writer’s page from the story you’re reading and send a private message to them.

On occasion, I’ve encountered a story that I liked quite a lot, until something happened that really ruined it for me.  But I don’t get angry and post an ugly review or send a nasty post to the writer!  We are never entitled to get the story written our way.  If its really too much for you to swallow, just walk away.  Let it go.  Let them have their hobby.  It doesn’t hurt you any to let them write a story you don’t like!  And if you break their spirit you may have just deprived hundreds of readers a story they were enjoying enormously, just like whoever broke billandbrick!  I know that will sound silly to many readers; but seriously, artists are sensitive about their work.  I know, I’m married to one.  A lot of heart and soul goes into a project, it can be difficult to criticize their work without criticizing them.  It is very different with professional work where they may need feedback to refine their work.  Or they may have enough fans and sales to be able to dismiss a single pinhead remark. But amateurs only get appreciation.  So don’t be frugal with it!

Okay, rant over.  Sorry.  On to the good stuff. Let’s start with “Chuck vs the Memories” by ref51907.  Does that author name sound familiar?  It should!  ref, AKA Erik shared his real life story with us last week.  Well he has also been working on a post series story for Chuck and Sarah.  I promised once I would warn readers if I ever recommended a story where Chuck and Sarah didn’t return home from the beach together.  So here it is.  The worst of it ends quickly enough and any angst is pretty minimal.  The healing and reconciliation is written very nicely as we might expect given the author’s experiences.  And bonus, there’s a nasty little adventure shaping up that promises to bring some favorite baddies from the past back together to make life miserable for our heroes.  The story hasn’t updated in a couple months, but Erik assures me more is coming and he’s no where near done with it.  What is written so far would take a couple hours to read and be rated PG-13 for reasons much like the show.

Next up is sort of, almost a one shot.  Which of course means its really a two shot, but not very long (!).  Its by docinoz who I’ve recommended here many times before.  But this is undoubtedly very personal for the writer.  Its “John Casey, Serious As Cardio-Myopathy“.  This is a Casey centered story, and presumably really autobiographical in nature. It’s an amusing (really?!) story of our favorite hulking giant having an “event” that lands him in the hospital.  This is an entertaining and sometimes frightening story that can be read in  less than half an hour and would be rated PG.

We have a couple of S3 AUs that I’ve recommended before, that have both updated recently.  Uplink2 is still working on his epic length “Chuck vs Life, Love and Lies“, we just had an exciting update earlier this week as we approach the end of his “Act II”.  Readers here all know I’m no fan of S3, Uplink has given us a huge and satisfying re-work of how Chuck became an agent.  This story is a great read.  It is long, novel length already and no where near done.

I also previously recommended Marc Vun Kanon’s Nine2Five series.  This is structured very differently than the one above!  It is broken into several “episode length” stories, each of which reads quite quickly.  Marc’s style is fast paced and often humorous.  He is addressing many of the characters and themes that were found in season three, but handling it all in a very different way.  As in, good different!  The series starts with “Nine2Five“; which leads to “Nine2Five 2 Casey vs the Janitors“, “Nine2Five 3 Larger Than Life“, “Nine2Five 4 Shiney Happy People“, “Nine2Five 5 Morgan’s Angels“, “Nine2Five 6 Stand Up” and “Nine2Five 7 Sparring Partners“.  Phew!  Marc’s been busy!  Each story can be read in less than an hour and would be rated PG.

Before I go, let me recommend once again Quistie64’s excellent “Chuck vs the Sound of Music II“.  This is another very long work, far longer than part one was.  But it has been updating regularly and is always a treat to look forward to.  Really a wonderful friends and family themed story, with just enough spy story and adventure to keep things exciting.

Thank you so much to all these writers for keeping the Chuck universe alive and fun.  Honestly, I’m every bit as invested in some of these stories as I ever was with the show!  Everyone be sure to let the fan fiction writers you like best know how much you appreciate their efforts!

~ Dave

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About atcDave

I'm 53 years old and live in Ypsilanti, Michigan. I'm happily married to Jodie. I've been an air traffic controller for 30 years; grew up in the Chicago area, and am still a fanatic for pizza and the Chicago Bears. My main interest is military history, and my related hobbies include scale model building and strategy games.
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105 Responses to New Fan Fiction?

  1. authorguy says:

    I get reviews from pretty much the same group of readers for each chapter, to the point where I worry about them (the reviewers, that is, not the reviews!) if I don’t see the ones I expect pretty soon after I post. I usually respond by PM, and some of the discussions we have are terribly useful, some even change the course of the story.
    While a negative review can be a turnoff for lots of writers, it shouldn’t be a killer if, as you say, we write our fanfics for the love of the show.I like to think I would keep writing my stories anyway, although whether I ever posted them for the delectation of such ignorant, troglodytic, ungrateful rabble is another question. If I don’t like the story I stop reading it. If I like the author, respect his work, and simply don’t get into his story for whatever reason, I send them a PM and explain myself.
    But now you’ve got me worried. (No, not really.) What about all the people who read my stories and don’t review. Do they hate it? Why do they say nothing? Actually, not worried. I can see how many of the views to my stories are repeat customers, so I know somebody likes them enough to come back. It is nice to see new readers stop by and say something, though.
    Some stories you missed in your roundup: Aerox posted a second and final chapter to his story 78 Times. It’s quite good, I have some issues with the way it ended but that’s just me. It’s also his last story for a while, he;’s a journalism student and has a new writing assignment every day, so I can understand why he has less time to write this stuff.
    DocInOz also posted a new story, Chuck vs. The Montgomery, which is a lot of fun. The second, chapter captures the tone of Roan Montgomery perfectly.
    SteampunkChuckster’s Known Power is a pleasant little extension of the scene in The Other Guy where Sarah finally admits her feelings.
    I have to admit I’m getting a little tired of the ‘one final mission’ stories.

    • atcDave says:

      I would suspect the vast majority of readers don’t review just because they’re not that involved. Just like here; we’ve slowed down to the point where we only get 500+ views a day, which translates into about ten comments.
      But you do bring up another excellent point about building rapport with a writer. There are a number of writers I have a more established relationship with. That makes it easier to discuss their writing in more depth. I can escape some of the “walking on eggshells” feeling because I know more about how the writer will respond, and just as I come to respect their writing I expect they’ll trust my opinion or criticism more too. But a big part of establishing that trust involves keeping harsher comments out of a review that’s put up for public viewing.

  2. resaw says:

    Dave, thank you for the “rant.” I’ve really been enjoying The Long Road Home and was very sorry to read about the reason that the story has ended. i really had no idea that “fan fiction” existed nor was I interested in it until discovering Thinkling’s work through its introduction on this blog. Since then, I’ve made good use of your fan-fic posts. I’m a big fan of Quistie64’s works so I’m glad that you mention her again.

    In addition, allow me the opportunity to also reiterate your earlier plugs for Angus McNab’s work, Chuck Versus the Lost Years and Sarah Versus the Farm; and Anthropocene’s Chuck Versus What Happens in Vegas.

    Perhaps I’m being too uncritical but I’ve really enjoyed all these works and can’t understand why someone would choose to tear down a writer who has put his or her creative vision out there for others without any prospect of remuneration other than the responses of readers.

    Thanks again, Dave.

    • atcDave says:

      I’m so glad my recommendations have been useful to you Resaw!

      I also really don’t get why someone would feel the need to publicly slam a writer’s efforts. I mean, if you really dislike something, don’t read it! Geez. Don’t ruin it for everyone else. And just a pointer for those prone to being hyper critical, when you get nasty in your comments, you are the one who looks like an idiot! And yeah I know I’ve often been an idiot around here…

      • resaw says:

        Not an idiot — just passionate.

      • atcDave says:

        Well thanks for that!

      • authorguy says:

        I’m not sure that I would call what was said ‘harsh’ or ‘nasty’, in particular, but I probably have a thicker skin than most. I thought it was both mild and true, but I wouldn’t have said it in a public area like that. My own problems with the story were different, but I kept them to myself.

      • atcDave says:

        I’m not exactly sure which review it was that wounded them so deeply. It may have been removed (if it was anonymous?). There are a couple still up that are a little negative, one is snarky. But the overwhelming majority indicate readers are enjoying the story a lot. But obviously some can’t treat others with courtesy or respect. And true to form, they ruin it for all of us.

      • authorguy says:

        I only saw the one, and as far as I know only the person who posts the review can remove it. A guest review has to be approved, so that would probably never have appeared.

      • atcDave says:

        Okay, I guess it’s one of those still up. My guess is the snarky one. It does seem like a small thing, but it’s not my “baby” being slammed. And snark can be painful beyond the mere words employed.

      • authorguy says:

        The funny thing is, if it was the snarky one, it even worked. I thought the last chapter was much more original than the stuff that came before, which I wouldn’t actually have read without the snarky comment coming up. The problem is we’ll never know if that’s the way it was intended or a result of the comment.

    • anthropocene says:

      And thank you, Resaw! A plug in this esteemed blog is as welcome as a cheery review. I wrote my fic to cope with the finality of the series’ end, and one was going to be it. But thanks to all the encouragement, I’ve started on a sequel.

    • authorguy says:

      I got in touch with Angus and he talked me into reading his Lost Years story, mainly by assuring me that Sarah does get her memory back, which for me is a necessity in a post-finale fic. Really enjoyable, very well told story.
      I have a new post in my own blog, by the way, about one of the more unexpected reactions to my latest fanfiction. Some of you may see this notice twice since I got the wrong ‘Recent Fanfiction’ post the first time.

      http://authorguy.wordpress.com/2012/10/20/the-nickel-gag/

  3. jam says:

    I don’t even comment on stories I don’t enjoy… better for everybody, I think.

    I guess I’m pickier than most, but my rough estimation is that about 90% of Chuck fics in ff-net are stories I have no interest in reading, and maybe 5% are actually good. It’s that 5% that makes the site worth visiting for me.

    I don’t think those numbers are particularly bad, they’re probably very typical for any fandom found in ff-net. As far as I know, only the Harry Potter fandom in its heyday was big enough to have multiple sites devoted to fanfiction with some measure of quality control, and still publish large amounts of stories.

    Dave, I don’t think I’ve seen you mention Chuck vs the Rancher’s Daughter in these articles yet, have you been reading it? Seems like something you would enjoy.

    • authorguy says:

      It’s been mentioned several times, that’s why I started to read it, but I don’t know that it’s had any new chapters lately.

      • jam says:

        It takes its time with updates, but each chapter has been really enjoyable.

        Another thing not mentioned here is JoeltotheD’s excellent Chuck versus the World, which recently came back after a break. A slightly darker AU where Chuck goes undercover to join the Ring… plenty of action, adventure, and romance.

    • atcDave says:

      Your percentages are funny Jam. With some 3400 Chuck entries at ff.net I have 215 on my favorites list. So that’s what, around 7%, pretty close to the numbers you give. And I do try to favorite as much as I can. I’d say its not all of equal literary quality, but those are all stories I had a lot of fun with.
      Rancher’s Daughter is one I keep meaning to get to. Maybe this weekend.

      • atcDave says:

        Okay I’m about halfway through Rancher’s Daughter now. Very well written and a great start. I hope he sees it through to the end, very promising.

  4. uplink2 says:

    Thanks Dave for mentioning my story again. I really appreciate it especially coming from you as you were directly responsible for my first venturing into reading Chuck FF. I read much of oyour favorites list and it has become such a big part of my Chuck obsession.

    It’s been a rather daunting experience to write and I have gained so much respect for those that do this, especially those that update regularly. I’m glad you are enjoying my story and it has been a helluva ride doing it.

    • atcDave says:

      Yours has really been a lot of fun. I hope you’re able to keep it going for quite a while yet (especially with less new stuff showing up!)

    • authorguy says:

      I can’t wait for the boom to be lowered on Shaw. I have some ideas on what will happen and I’d like to see how close to the mark I am. I just started rereading the beginning parts, I love the first chapter, the way Sarah agonizes over what she did at the end of season 2 in the context of the beginning of your alternate season 3. I hope you have more stories waiting in the wings.

    • uplink2 says:

      Interesting that I got into a PM discussion with someone about the latest A/N from BillandBrick and one of my points to them about why I like and respect Bill a great deal is he has always finishes his stories. 24/25 of them complete and one still being worked on. One of my pet peeves in FF are abandoned stories. There are some really good writers that I think get dropped down a notch or three because they have a propensity for abandoning their work. I know this is a volunteer thing but I think if you are going to ask readers to read and comment about your stuff you should feel some sort of obligation to finish what you started. I know that isn’t always possible because of real life but there are some who do it far too often for it just to be a lack of time. Bill has always finished his stuff and I respect that along with his very regular posting schedule. That is very difficult for me and anyone who can do that I think very highly of.

      That being said I won’t start something I don’t plan to finish. I’m just about 2/3s of the way through LL&L after 14 months so we have probably till well into the new year for more. I do have at least 3 more stories planned with other ideas running loose in my head as well. So I’m not going anywhere.

      Thanks again for the kind words both of you.

      • atcDave says:

        It still pains me some to look over my favorites list and see a few very promising starts that never finished. I really wish that would change on some of them. But of course there’s really nothing we can do about it. I know from my own longer term hobby of model building that there can come a point where you’re just stuck on a project; either because you don’t know how to do a step or you’ve simply lost the passion for the project. Of course add to that all the ways real life can intrude, and it’s just amazing we get as many finished projects as we do.

      • authorguy says:

        That’s one of the reasons I try to keep my stories short. nine2five is a long project (19 episodes at 4 chapters per episode) and I don’t want some unforseen event to prevent an episode getting finished even if the season may get interrupted. I’d rather neither event happen. I know how I want it to end, I just have to get there.

  5. So….the “nasty” review that sent Bill and Brick scarpering wasn’t…really that bad, just for the record. This is not going to be one of those cases where I’m like, oh, I’ve seen so much worse and I didn’t go anywhere! because frankly, bad reviews suck. They can get to you. After the final part of Fates, which had its detractors (some more vocal than others), I had to walk away and only come back for a passion project. It’s part of writing, to develop a thick skin.

    But I think there’s a line somewhere (and this is not a criticism of Bill, by the way, though I agree with the review completely and 100% and several of my acquaintances do as well), and I think your rant, Dave, goes a little too far to the other side of it. There are entitled readers, for sure, and writing is done on a volunteer basis, but as readers, you are allowed to say when you don’t like something, and you are allowed to do it in public because the story is put up there in public. Sure, you don’t want to call the writer a stupid jerk when you do it–manners are important–but if something isn’t working for you in a story, you don’t have to keep silent and swallow your grievances and treat authors with kid gloves. If authors feel you should keep silent, they need to turn off their reviews.

    So, yes, if you’re going to give up a story because the author just introduced a plot twist that you absolutely abhor so much you edit your favorites list, then yes, maybe it’s just better to walk away. But if you’re invested the story and the author brings up, say, a plotline they’ve done 14 times with the same outcome on each iteration, then it’s okay to say something. The author may not realize they’re repeating the same plot (and may not want to realize that, which is another story and not your problem). The world is a little less black and white than Thumper’s mother would have you believe (“If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”), so while it’s great to be encouraging, we also don’t need to hold hands and sing kumbaya.

    In addition, as much as I don’t want to defend this reviewer, I’ve seen a lot of people going around saying that this individual scared BillAtWork off and “ruined” things for everybody. No. This individual left a review that was a little cutting (Okay, here I have to stop and blink and say, seriously? That’s what did it?), but Bill and Brick chose to leave. They made it their choice not to continue the story. The review, after all, was not a death threat saying IF YOU CONTINUE THE STORY I WILL KILL YOU. This reviewer isn’t the reason “we can’t have nice things in this fandom” anymore. I’m sorry that people are losing a story they enjoyed due to this, I am. But having been in the position of blame for another favorite story being taken down, I can’t stand by and let this happen to another person. The reviewer has a right to his opinion and provided he’s not threatening physical violence or defaming the authors in horrible acts of libel, he has the right to express that opinion. I’m sorry that Bill and Brick felt so fed up with it that they left (since their glowing reviews far outweighed the critical ones), but I think people need not attack this person.

    And if this is a case of the straw that broke the camel’s back, as I suspect it might have been, good work, Bill and Brick, turning the mob rest of the reviewers on one person. That’s class.

    • atcDave says:

      I see no merit in making it public. If you want to offer such criticism do it via PM. Or better yet, pursue other interests.

      • jam says:

        Was it the “this plotline again” review that angered Bill? It could have been said in a more constructive way, but I have to agree with it too. Which is why I stopped reading when the character of Eric Gold was introduced, saw it coming.

        I think it’s something a reviewer should be able say publicly without fearing this kind of reaction.

      • authorguy says:

        Jam said:”Which is why I stopped reading when the character of Eric Gold was introduced, saw it coming.” Maybe the chapter we got, which was very different from the usual take in this plotline, was the chapter they had in mind, in which case the comment was premature. It’s also possible the last chapter was changed in response to the comment. We’ll never know, I suppose.

      • atcDave says:

        It may be an extreme case, but I think a we should all make an effort to treat each other with some courtesy and respect. I’m a fan of Thumper’s Mom. I think the world is a poorer place when such thoughts are ridiculed.

      • It was, Jam, and I agree with you completely.

      • ArmySFC says:

        Dave, if it’s the comment Frea mentioned, well i have to agree with her. it wasn’t that bad, they just stated a fact. my question to you would be, do you think it would have made a difference if it was made via PM vs public? the fact that they got it may have been enough.

      • atcDave says:

        Army I don’t agree with getting nasty regardless. Being rude is not valid criticism. If the same sentiment had been expressed in a civil fashion I might feel differently.

        And don’t get me wrong, the rude comment led to an over-reaction. But it started with the rude comment.

      • ArmySFC says:

        Dave, don’t get me wrong, i understand your position and i agree it was snarky, but the question i asked was, do you think it would have been different if it was a PM? this is in response to this statement, “I see no merit in making it public. If you want to offer such criticism do it via PM. Or better yet, pursue other interests.” the reason i ask is brick was away for like a year and bill finished their other story ( i think), and bill stated after his last original one he was done, then he did the rework of an old one. i’m not saying this is the case, just a felling i get, but maybe it was a convenient out? he did also say they were burnt out.

      • How was the comment rude, Dave?

      • Agreed, Dave. I try to send PMs for anything that might be fixed (e.g. grammar), wanders a little off topic, compares with other authors or stories, or might be taken the wrong way. I’ll try to make a real world analogy. (Ignore the professional aspect of this. I know some people, like Dave, make a distinction.) FFnet is like an author reading in the corner of book store. It’s easy to avoid, and the author is quiet enough to be ignored. It’s ok to watch and say nothing (a view). It’s ok to quietly leave while they are reading (a decrease in views). It’s ok to buy the book and say nothing (an alert or favorite.) It’s ok to clap at the end and leave (a very short review). It’s ok to stick around afterwards and talk with other fans afterwards about how great it was (a public review). It’s ok to wait in line and quietly say some nice things while asking for an autograph in a private way (a PM). It’s ok to catch them privately and start a more critical conversation (a critical, but polite PM). It’s not socially acceptable at the end of a chapter to interrupt the reading with a groan, loud berating comment, or something else embarrassing to the author. It’s not ok to slam the author right outside the front door when the author might leave the store and hear you at any time (public twitter and blog posts that degrade the author).

        Of course there many different dynamics on FFnet that don’t match that analogy. Some people ask for both positive and negative reviews, some specifically asking for constructive criticism. I think any correspondence, even under the guise of a FFnet alias, should be done as you were talking to the author in person. Treat people with the respect you would like to get back.

        Other authors ask readers not to bother with negative reviews. Author notes often indicate if the author can handle it or if it is even necessary. Bill has addressed the reviews about his typical themes in the A/N’s of other stories. I wonder what is the point of reviewing to complain about it after a million plus words have previously been written.

        Personally, I don’t let negative reviews bother me too much because I’m aware that people are ruder on the Internet than they are in real life. I also write for myself, not for the adoration of people I never expect meet. Reviews, alerts, and favorites are just a bonus.

      • atcDave says:

        Frea the comment was rude. It was too short for a very detailed breakdown and I don’t really know how to address your question anyway. It is obviously sarcastic in tone and I would expect it to be commonly interpreted as such.

        Army I think it might have made a big difference if it was delivered via PM. The biggest reason just being it removes the public scene aspect of it. Bill was not looking to just bail out; I actually have PMed with him and he reports the story is done, at least in rough draft form. The issue is if they can get motivated to polish it off, or maybe do a compressed epilogue.
        And for the record, Bill has always been easily accessible via PM. He responds quickly to comments and questions, he is polite and clear. Even when you disagree with him, which I have many times, including some aspects of the current story, he remains civil and clear in his comments.

        Jeff thank you very much for that analogy. I think that is completely fitting here, and exactly along my lines of thinking (except for the professional angle of course!).

    • uplink2 says:

      My issue with the review, and I consider the reviewer a friend as much as we can have them in this medium, was that it was simply snark. Sorry Frea but I hate snark. I’ve written plenty of negative reviews of things that don’t work for me and I’ve written plenty of reviews that are extremely supportive of things I Iike. But I have always tried to leave the snark out of it. It’s pointless and undermines what the reviewer is trying to say. Make a point, back it up but leave the snark at home. But I try to cite specifically what works or not and why.

      But on Dave’s point I actually had a writer ban me from reviewing their story because I wrote a simple negative review and then sent him a PM with a more deep point by point analysis of why certain points didn’t work for me so as not to make things public. So sometimes its difficult both ways Dave. I agree with you Frea that if you can’t stand the criticism you shouldn’t allow reviews at all. Maybe they over reacted but the criticism needs to be specific and keep the snark out of it. But banning or blocking a reviewer is also a pretty inappropriate response as well.

      • I’m sorry you don’t like snark, uplink. Like I said above, I agree with Jam that it wasn’t the best way to have left a review, but it also wasn’t wrong.

        Also, re: the writer that blocked you, I don’t think that is a similar situation to what happened with Bill. You have a right to express your opinion. Another person has just as much right to ignore that opinion, and if they feel you’re being pushy, I feel they have the right to block you. I mean, certainly, they could do what I did with a few of my reviewers who wanted to push their agenda onto my stories and just ignore everything they say, but it sounds to me like this person took it a step further. What would have been wrong is if they’d written terrible things about you in their author’s notes and given you no way to respond.

      • uplink2 says:

        Well I saw enough differences in the story that I didn’t really agree with the reviewer but that isn’t entirely relevant and we spoke about it in PM. I guess I could understand Bill’s frustration as he has heard it before with his work. Maybe it’s valid and maybe it isn’t. I guess I just like Bill’s stuff and I respect his ability to finish his work and not abandon it and keep to a regular posting schedule. I look forward to mondays and thursdays because of that. My guess is it was the snark that pushed them over the edge. I can understand that as I mentioned before.

        Maybe it isn’t similar and I was just commenting on Dave’s idea of using PM but I don’t believe that a writer has the right to decide who can or who can’t review a story if that review or PM is respectful and keeps to the story points. Ignoring an opinion is one thing and I think that is what B&B should have done in this case but blocking a reviewer is in effect censorship and a case where the writer believes they have the right to decide who can comment on their work and who can’t. Unless that comment crosses the line of common decency, censoring opinion is always very wrong.

        All I’m saying is that respectful opinion is great and something that makes this hobby special, but snark on the other hand isn’t.

      • I’m glad you like Bill’s stuff and that he posts regularly and you value that. That’s very nice.

        As for the rest of it, I disagree with you 100%. It all comes down to perspective. For example, let’s say I write a story. And I get somebody who writes me pages and pages of analysis about why my story doesn’t work. Am I forced to listen to that person?

        No, I am not. That person is not entitled to my time if I do not feel like giving it to them. Is it much more polite to take up the criticism the person is offering? Possibly, but here’s the thing: you as the reviewer may think you’re completely in the right. But the writer may disagree with you and here’s the thing as well, they’re completely in the right, too. Getting your voice heard is a privilege, just like people leaving reviews is a privilege. If one side feels the other has abused that privilege, it is perfectly within their rights to block that stream of input. Granted, this could have negative consequences, like maybe that person doesn’t review your next story. You have to weigh the good in with the bad.

        I’m block happy myself. I don’t have as thick of a skin as a writer as I should probably have, but I personally think I’m decent at picking out criticism I should listen to, and criticism I should ignore. That’s why I have a great team of pre-readers and the world’s best beta reader. But let’s say somebody spends every review commenting that Chuck and Sarah aren’t together in my story yet and providing nothing else: they get ignored. If they try to shame me into putting Chuck and Sarah together, they get blocked. I’ve learned in life that there are always going to be people who think they know what’s better for you and the best thing you can do is just expel them from your life. So no, it’s not an author’s responsibility, once they’ve given fair judgment, to listen to every review. It’s their responsibility to write the best story they know how to. It’s their privilege to get reviews and it’s your privilege if they listen to you, and thinking anything else is entitlement, pure and simple.

      • Censorship is heavily overused at FFnet. For example, removing MA or RPF stories when the author agreed to not post them is not censorship. While I don’t think it’s a good idea to block reviewers or even remove anonymous reviews, think it should absolutely be allowed. The reviews are attached to that author’s story. They should have some freedom over what is associated so closely with their story. A FFnet review is not like a New York Times review of a book. The NYT is a separate publication. The author and sell their book without a negative NYT review automatically inserted into the preface. FFnet reviews are co-located.

        Ignoring the analogy, the reviewer blocking feature is needed to prevent bullying. I know bullying is very different than a well articulated, constructive, negative reviews. However, FFnet is not staffed to police the site for bullying. I’d give authors the tool and let them misuse it by over-blocking, rather than allow cyberbullying.

      • I meant to say censorship is a heavily overused term with respect to FFnet.

      • uplink2 says:

        See where I disagree with you is in the differences between listening to, ignoring or in the worst case censorship. That is what I believe blocking a reviewer is, it’s censorship. You have every right as a writer to ignore every single review you ever get but I don’t believe you have the right to tell them they can’t review by blocking them. If it crosses the line to personal attacks or harassment then complain to the site manager and have them banned for that. But picking who can or who can’t review your work reeks of a form of censorship I abhor. I do agree you have to right to disregard everything they say, I just don’t think you have to right to tell them they can’t say it.

        Maybe I’ve never written anything controversial enough to get to that point and in many ways it is probably a tribute to you as a writer that people would feel so passionate about it but blocking people from reviewing seems over the top for me. Ignore folks long enough and eventually they will move on. I just think that silence speaks much louder than most noise.

      • Talking about this a little more abstractly…

        The flip side of censorship is “freedom of speech,” which in the First Amendment is actually about restricting the government, not about providing freedom. What the government is allowed to do is provide time, place, and manner restrictions. Ignoring the government part of the equation, FFnet links reviews so closely to stories that the review is in a close “place” to the story. There’s an argument that saying unwanted harsh things in a review infringes on the author’s freedom of speech.

        Again, none of this is about the First Amendment because FFnet and the author are not a government entities, but in my gut this feels like a similar thing.

        What I said earlier about harsh comments on a blog or on twitter is independent of this censorship/review control issue. That is more about being rude in public, but from your own front lawn. Not a good idea, but within your right. This is about adjacent voices drowning each other out.

      • uplink2 says:

        See Jeff where I disagree with that is that I’m one who believes it is better to have more openness and possibly tread on the border of something offensive rather than lean toward the border of over-controlling. I’d rather run the risk of being offended than run the risk of being censored. Give me more free speech and not less. Sure this is just FF.net but I think it is far better to have the possibility of too much freedom than too little.

      • uplink2 says:

        And on the point of the story and author I was blocked from, the only time that’s happened BTW, there was never a case of bullying. My major point was you couldn’t pick and choose what parts of canon you chose to use and what you don’t. When you change canon it changes everything that follows. Each action and reaction is tied to the prior ones. Taking away a scene from one character and giving it to another to make your story work means that the original character won’t react the same way in subsequent scenes. In my view the author had an agenda and they picked and chose what they kept and what they didn’t to make their story work. You can’t have Shaw/Sarah without Hannah and Prague. You can’t have the scene on Lon Kirk’s boat without the kiss at the docks. Each story element is intertwined with the other. When you pick a point in canon to break from the rest of the story changes because of it. How the characters react is because of the experiences they have had and if you change those experiences or move them to different characters their reactions change. Sarah wouldn’t have reacted so badly in Prague if Barstow didn’t happen. That was the point I had tried to make in PM and did it respectfully yet because it didn’t fit the agenda they had for the story they chose to block me. I may be opinionated and passionate but I’m not disrespectful. To me the far more appropriate reaction should have been to simply ignore it, or respond by saying they simply disagreed. That type of blocking is censorship and an abuse of the privilege of blocking.

      • Freedom of speech is great. More freedom of speech is better. Just remember your freedom of speech does not give you the right to inflict harm or infringe on someone else’s freedom of speech.

        Considering the age of some of the writers on FFnet, I’m also very concerned about the bullying side of things (the inflicting harm side of things).

        To be clear, I’ve never blocked anyone, not that I get that many reviews. I enabled anonymous reviews when I figured out I could and I have them set to auto-approve. I take pride in the signed review that called one of my stories “beyond retarded” (the one that predicted Morgansect and Sarahsect). But I don’t expect all authors to like graffiti on the side of their house. I might have to block a reviewer or remove an anonymous review someday, and I like having the freedom to repaint the side of my house if I want. To stretch the analogy, they can graffiti their own walls with comments about my story. That’s their freedom of speech.

      • Never meant to imply you were bullying. I just think the tool is needed. Most tools can be used improperly, but that doesn’t mean they should be banned.

        You probably shouldn’t have been blocked, but the author doesn’t have to take your advice either. It might be a better story if he did, but he doesn’t have to make it a better story. He has the freedom to tell the story he want, within the terms and conditions agreed to on the FFnet site.

        I still don’t think the word “censorship” applies. Blocking is more like a restraining order. The author should have just ignored you if they disagreed. It’s would be like not answering the door for a solicitor or using caller ID. Since you have taken the opportunity to post your comments elsewhere, namely here, you have not been censored.

        It’s the difference between never putting a book on a library shelf (while still allowing you to order the book from Amazon on the library computers), removing a book from the shelves, and burning a book. The first is controlling what the library “says”. The second is questionable. It might be censorship and it might be a good idea, depending on the motivation and reasoning. The third is censorship and just plain wrong (unless people are freezing to death like that The Day After Tomorrow movie).

      • Uplink:
        My major point was you couldn’t pick and choose what parts of canon you chose to use and what you don’t. When you change canon it changes everything that follows. Each action and reaction is tied to the prior ones.

        Why the hell not? That’s the nature of fanfiction. My interpretation can be completely different than yours, and neither of us would be wrong. In this case, it’s not your story, which may have been what the author may have been trying to point out if you left a long review and then tried to follow it up with an even long private message. You may claim it’s not bullying, but the author may feel otherwise, and if they do, then it’s not censorship. Like Jeff points out, you are infringing on their rights.

        And bullying is more prevalent than you think. I think a lot of writers feel bullied in the Chuck fandom. Charina shippers get shoved around by Charah shippers. People who don’t put Charah together until they feel their stories call for it are mocked and derided and called cowards. So ignoring the whole proximity of reviews to stories, I applaud ff-net for having a feature that allows you to block reviews.

      • uplink2 says:

        Well I’d just say I disagree with that. In this case it wasn’t a long review followed by a lengthy PM. It was a short public review with a longer PM done to not impact the proximity to the story but keep the comments private out of respect for the author. But they chose a different course. I felt it was simply an attempt to filter the reviews to only allow positive ones. That is manipulative and dishonest.

        My point was in response to Dave’s comment about keeping things private as a way to express your opinion. But that may not work sometimes either as I found in this case. Just as in the case of B&B I believe this writer over-reacted.

        My point about canon was that each element of a story is built on what comes before. If you change something, the subsequent actions and reactions change. Sarah wouldn’t have been the person she was without what happened with her father. If you change her back story, you change how she reacts to things. If Barstow never happens, Sarah’s reaction in Prague would have been different. If Prague never happens does Sarah/Shaw? If none of those elements matter then you might as well write an AU like you did with Fates. You took elements from the show and the characters but because things were different in their experiences, their reactions to similar situations were different unless it went to the core of their shared personalities in the stories. In many ways this is some of my frustration with writers like APR. In many cases his work was Chuck and Sarah in name only and if you are doing that you might as well write original fiction and not call it Chuck FF.

        Sure there probably has been bullying but a writer needs to develop a thick skin and many times in this community I think folks don’t. Just because you have the ability to censor opinion here doesn’t mean you should. That can be as much a misuse of the site as some of the bullying. To me blocking something simply because you don’t agree with what they said is far less appropriate than simply ignoring it. It has an element of “nah nah nah nah nah” to it.

      • atcDave says:

        I don’t think this is a censorship discussion at all. As Jeff pointed out, this is not governmental and ff.net is a private site. The issue is simply showing respect to others. And none of us are “entitled” to anything in another writer’s story. Any writer is free to write a story of Chuck and Sarah playing with puppies or gunned down in the street. Stories can explore any theme, or be as light or dark as the writer wants. We as readers can simply read it or ignore it. It can be frustrating to a reader when a story starts promising then turns directions you don’t want to follow; but that doesn’t give us license to get nasty with the writer. It doesn’t ever hurt us to just leave them be. I have had to remove stories from my favorites list several times. I might not have bothered except many readers have favorited my list, and I promote it constantly from this site, so I incur some responsibility in making sure that list represents things I would truly want to recommend. But that also gives me no particular rights or entitlement to tell a writer what they ought to do. I will encourage those whose work I like, and let the others enjoy themselves with like minded readers. If I had more meaningful writing skills I might offer more concrete input, but I don’t so I settle for cheer leading. I know many writers solicit more detailed reviews, and I can easily imagine how those could be helpful. But I do not see how getting nasty or insulting does anyone any good. It makes me sad that some are so mean spirited. I’m glad for those writers who are thick skinned enough to take it, but as Jeff pointed out, there a number of younger writers at the site. And even some of the adults are new to the hobby. And I just can’t imagine purposely trying to hurt one of them or squash their enjoyment of their new hobby.
        Coach in private, praise in public. And never insult. It works well for my controller trainees. I can’t imagine why it would be different for writers.

      • authorguy says:

        Dave: “Coach in private, praise in public. And never insult. It works well for my controller trainees. I can’t imagine why it would be different for writers.” That’s my own philosophy. I don’t criticize those elements of the story that are matters of taste, anyway, and the structural stuff I restrict to a PM in most cases.

      • uplink2 says:

        I guess my point was even doing it in private can get you in trouble. But I do use reviews sometimes to see if I’d be interested in a story. So seeing negative ones where plots make absolutely no sense are helpful. But I would argue that blocking only negative reviews is a form of censorship. It is not an honest representation of peoples work. It is how they want it and in the public eye that isn’t fair. It’s like a politician only accepting interviews from journalists who will only ask the questions they want to answer. True this is just FF and not anything like that but I think my point has some validity.

        I understand both of your POV’s, I just always like to lean towards the side of more freedom not less. In this case with me I did simply move on and never read the story from that point on and never will read another from them as why should I follow the work of someone who was disrespectful to me in return. I would have preferred for them to show me why their story works and get me to change my opinion of it with a little more discourse but they chose to simply follow a different path.

        In the case of B&B, this was a collision of poor reactions on both parties and it has snowballed. Someone wrote a snarky review and the other party over-reacted. Because the review was simply snark their point no matter how valid got lost. Make your point but keep the snark out of it and maybe this doesn’t happen. But from the other side it’s a shame that they would over-react at the end of some really great careers as Chuck FF writers. It leaves things with a bad taste on both sides.

        I will say that for me I’d much rather read a very harsh but honest and respectful review than a ‘not so bad’ snarky one. I just find that style repugnant. Make your point but drop the attitude. But unfortunately the anonymity of the Internet has allowed it to become rampant.

      • atcDave says:

        Uplink I agree entirely about it being endemic to the Internet. And I think rudeness and sarcasm have become a plague on our culture. Not to overstate it or anything…

  6. I spend a couple of days writing and nursing a hangover (not necessarily in that order) and miss out on all the fun again. All any writer has to do to develop a thick skin is spend a weekend with my family. I’m ready and willing to share.

    Thanks for the plug, resaw.

    • atcDave says:

      Sarah vs the Farm is really an excellent story, I look forward to every update!

      Sounds like you have a good system for desensitization!

      • Like I have a choice about that system, blood being thicker than water, and all that jazz. 🙂

        I must say after starting an AU story, that my hat is off to anyone who ventures into this FanFic realm and makes it work. It can be an incredible challenge placing our favorite characters into hugely different situations and keeping them true.

        The Farm actually started as an exercise for writing aviation action scenes, working with, and plugging in characters I knew, just for fun. Putting Chuck into the pilot’s seat and raising him up in a more self-reliant rural environment with a military academy background worried me more than a bit as I tried to keep him, well, Chuck. I still have my own doubts about how that is working, but readers seem to like him okay. His general nerdiness and awareness of his family history and reluctance to embrace it seems to help a bit. A more successful and self-assured Chuck is hard for some to swallow.

        Making Sarah less damaged (for me) required having her more willing to face her emotions and articulating them in the face of being lovestruck by Chuck, turning ‘WT/WT’ on it’s head, and replacing it with ‘can they hold it together?’ I’m sure that has to be a humongous challenge for some canon centric readers. It can have a way of softening Sarah’s character that many object. Peeking into her thoughts and internal conflicts can make it even more difficult. The question that one reader had was: Just what does Sarah bring to the table that this particular Chuck needs? I guess we’ll have to explore that a bit. But the obvious thing, in my opinion, is a link to his past and his (new) future with someone with whom he can relate – much like his mother and father.

        Chuck and Sarah from canon always struck me in many ways as being severely damaged goods made more whole by their mutual trials, but still bogged down a lot by excess baggage regardless of how far they came from where they started. How many of us can really relate to that? Can an author make them a little less damaged and still keep them who they are? Maybe. It certainly requires tickling canon a bit. I suspect as I go forward a few readers will yell ‘foul.’ I guess I’ll find out how thick my skin really is at that point. Such a tightrope to walk, across a windy canyon, when working with these two. Now, where did I leave that balancing pole?

        Now, back to finishing that chapter…

      • atcDave says:

        I suppose I’m less sensitive than some to variations from canon. Although I would say the biggest risk you are taking is the more self assured Chuck. For me, Chuck’s insecurities and limitations are part of what initially made him so appealing. But canon, and some fan fiction, occasionally took it too far. The very neurotic Chuck of Curse or Kept Man is not very appealing to me at all.
        What canon never did, but some fan fiction does, is swing way too far the other direction. Super capable, super confident Chuck can sometimes be just as frustrating as neurotic Chuck. At the very least, I relate to super successful Chuck even less than I relate to neurotic Chuck.
        But I think there’s a pretty broad middle ground where Chuck can be recognizable, likable and relatable. And “Farm” Chuck is clearly in this category. He retains a lot of canon Chuck’s best characteristics including being intelligent and an all around good guy, without making him too intimidating a presence.

        In some ways I think writers have more leeway with Sarah. Probably in part because of how taciturn and mysterious she could be in those first two seasons. It is possible to assume a range of possibilities for how healthy or broken she may be. I think the more common failings in fan fiction treat her as too whorish, too violent, or too inexplicably wise in relationships. But I think her sort of defining characteristics of fearlessness, patience and a ferocious drive to do right (especially with regards to Chuck) make for a very appealing package.
        It’s clear a number of writers don’t view Sarah so favorably and that can ruin a story for me just as completely as a Chuck malfunction. But so far your depiction rings very true to canon, especially for an early point in the story. Where you last left the story we were left with some question on just how honest or transparent she could actually be. Which of course was a huge question in canon for the first three seasons as well. Comments you’ve made about the story suggest we will get a positive answer to that question earlier than we did on the show; which I consider good news, as I still consider dragging that part out too long was among the show’s greatest failings.

        And it’s funny to me that discussing the characters becomes the main point of interest to me. I’ve loved the aviation theme, and it would be worth the cost of admission all by itself. You could have gotten away with a pretty shallow depiction of Chuck and Sarah and held my interest with those flying scenes. (Think Top Gun. Someone told me Tom Cruise was in that movie. I hadn’t noticed). You’ve managed to craft a very satisfying fusion. To be clear, I’ve enjoyed a lot of Chuck variations and mash-ups. I think it’s fun to put such favorite characters in a variety of settings. When the setting can carry its own weight it’s just pure bonus.

      • jam says:

        I agree pretty much 100% with what Dave said. To me, it’s puzzling how some fans seem to enjoy (based on some reviews I’ve read) seeing Chuck portrayed as a stereotypical, cocky, confident spy type. That’s a big turnoff in my book. Super insecure Chuck can be annoying as well, but there’s plenty of space in between the two extremes. Dave’s defining characteristics for Sarah work for me too.

        I like Chuck and Sarah in the Farm a lot. Given Chuck’s different background, it’s easy to see him turning him into this slightly more confident, yet still recognizable guy. Sarah is more open than the canon version initially was, but still likeable and familiar. I suspect at some point we’ll learn what exactly in her backstory is different that caused it.

      • atcDave says:

        It’s great to be on the same page again Jam! You’re right she seems a little more open, which I think is part of it feeling like things will progress more quickly.

  7. chew1907 says:

    Didn’t feel like the review was that bad, but I will sure miss the story. Even though I can agree to a certain point about always a bad guy that wants to get into Sarah’s pants make me a bit tired of it but I also felt that the story was heading into a great direction.

    I’m not a friend to the reviewer, only said a few words to him in a pm after reviews on his story. But it felt a bit wrong in reviews with everyone pointing him out.

    I simply didn’t comment on last chapter since it was like the last one and had nothing really to say more then it’s boring that it’s dying out at the fandom.

    Yet again need to recommend Morgan and the other spies. The Final Year from the same author. Angus farm story and of course my favorite in.progress story with TIA’s True Friendship is ended Sounds of Music from the incredible Quistie.

    And I don’t feel myself as a bully if I find a Charina story weird if their.action comes from nowhere. I’ve read 2 good Charina too where the authors made their actions work so though I’m hardcore Charah I could enjoy them even though any.pairings got nothing on Charah I can keep it in.

    Over and out, xoxo

    • chew1907 says:

      Damn phone won’t let me choose Twitter or another option. On fanfiction.net I go under the name of Hotski if you would like to know who you’re talking too since none here would know my forum name back at Swedish forum. 🙂

    • Mel says:

      I didn’t think the review was that bad either. I’m sure BillAtWork has heard the same complaint many times, makes you wonder why this one was the last straw.

      For me to enjoy a fic the characters have to be recognizable. You can change the details surrounding them, but the heart of the characters must remain intact. That’s why stories featuring “Charina”, Casey/Ellie and such always fail in my eyes, because you have to mutilate the characters unrecognizable for them to make any sense. When the only thing that the characters share with their canon counterparts is the name, you might as well write original fiction.

      • authorguy says:

        Which is another complaint that can be made about his work, in my opinion. I’ve always felt that a lot of fan fiction leaves out the ‘fan’ part. It should be about the story and people we claimed to like enough to write about, yet so much of it changes the characters beyond recognition.

  8. BillAtWork says:

    Hey guys.

    Been reading this thread and wondering why my ears were burning so badly. And I’d like a chance to set the record straight, at least from my POV.

    I think you’ll be surprised that I’m not the one who is most offended by reviews and why. Make no mistake. I didn’t particularly like the review that we’re all talking about. I told him so very clearly. Not because it was necessarily critical. I’m very used to that. It was more because it was rude and not constructive. Whatever point he was trying to make could have been made just as easily politely. Civil discourse demands it.

    Mel’s right. I’ve heard the complaint many, many times that my stories have a constant theme, specifically of some bad guy being motivated in his badness by a desire to get in Sarah’s pants. I think the criticism is mostly unfair. I have written some 24 stories and I can point too many where that plot point never happens.

    But let’s assume for the sake of argument that it’s correct. Don’t lots of artists have a recognizable theme? Would you write Charles Dickens a review –

    “Again with the ghetto thing, Chuck?”

    Or send Oliver Stone a note –

    “What is with you and the conspiracy theories?”

    If you were looking for a novel to read, and you particularly didn’t want to read about the struggles of the underclass in London, maybe Dickens would be something that you’d want to avoid. Looking for a movie? Don’t like conspiracies? Pass on an Oliver Stone movie, lol.

    That’s what I find incredible. That anyone would be surprised. If anyone has read enough of my work to recognize that there is a consistent theme, and you didn’t care for that theme, why not give any BillAtWork story a wide pass? I’d have no problem with that.

    What did that reviewer think he was accomplishing? Did he think I was going to change my style because he didn’t like it? The fact is that the stories based upon that theme are my most popular. So someone must like it. I saw some speculation that perhaps the last chapter was changed in response to the review. I can assure you that is not the case. From my pov, this story has been finished for a few months now. For better or worse, it is what it is. And yes, the Eric Gold character wants revenge on Sarah. And yes, Chuck uses that to defeat him (sorry for the spoiler, lol). But if anybody sees that as core to the story, I simply don’t get it.

    The central theme to the story is that Sarah losing her memories was ultimately a blessing. It allowed her to see, without the baggage of three years of wt/wt clouding her sight, that Chuck was never truly comfortable with her as his wife. That he misunderstood a lot of her hang ups, and most important, she didn’t do enough to help him. So as a result, he became very careful to treat her more as partner than spouse. And she needed to change that thinking in him. Indeed, they become closer than they ever had been before. So close that when Sarah has a chance to get her memories back, she’ll have a serious decision. Her life is so perfect that she might not want to risk screwing it up.

    But anyway, that’s not the reason we’re pulling back. The reviews that bother BR are the ones who call Fedak an idiot. To be sure, I’ve been plenty critical of the writing. That’s one key area where BR and I disagree. I hated the ending, still do. But Chris Fedak is certainly not an idiot. I honestly don’t have a clue what it takes to produce an hour long drama for five seasons. She is very defensive of the show. She doesn’t understand how so many can claim to love the show, yet respect the creators so little. So ironically some of the very reviews that were telling us how great we were are the ones that got under her skin the most.

    And reviews have very little to do with this. The fact of the matter is that the overwhelming majority of our reviews are over the top with praise. The real reason is burn out. Not to be completely self-serving, but writing serial stories is harder than it looks. Every chapter has to have the right mix of humor, romance, action, tension, fear, and hope. It has to have a point and be entertaining on its own while moving the general story along without introducing any plot holes, or anything that would be OOC. Now we can add to that list that no man other than Chuck can look at Sarah with lust in his eyes. It’s too much. 

    I’m very sensitive to the comment that a story shouldn’t be abandoned. It’s a pet peeve of mine when I get invested in a story only to have it abandoned. So I can promise that this story will not be abandoned. The way that BR and I work is that I write the chapter. Then I pass it to her and she softens it up. Sometimes she changes very little. Sometimes she changes quite a bit. For example, my original draft had Sarah being fairly jealous of Lou and making sure that she knew to stay away from Chuck. BR made them girlfriends, lol. But the point is that the story is complete in my draft form. I’ll probably find a way to post the draft, most likely as a BillAtWork story. BTW, I’m very happy with the way the story goes from here, someone wanting in Sarah’s pants notwithstanding, lol.

    So, in summary, I’m not really upset. Go ahead and take all the shots you want. If you give me civil discourse, you’ll get it in return.

    • atcDave says:

      Thanks for clearing things up Bill. Sorry to hear about the burn out, but I think you’ve turned out more words of Chuck fiction than anyone else, so thanks for that!

    • jam says:

      “She doesn’t understand how so many can claim to love the show, yet respect the creators so little. ”

      My own view on this:

      The show got incredibly lucky to get together such an awesome and charismatic cast, it was pretty much the only thing that made Chuck worth watching after the writing deteriorated post season 2. Chuck’s love interest was dropped from the pilot after the creators saw the chemistry between ZL and YS, so I have to credit them for recognizing they had something special in their hands. However, I know I’m far from alone in continuing to watch the show mostly because of Zac, Yvonne, Adam and the rest, despite the best efforts from the writers to make us dislike the characters (especially during S3).

      • BillAtWork says:

        But why was that? Did they get pressure from the network or studio to extend wt/wt for another season? Or did they do that on their own.

        That’s clearly the problem with S3. They tried to extend wt/wt when it had run its course as a viable storyline.

      • jam says:

        So, in conclusion:
        People dislike Schwedak for wasting a lot of the potential this group had. The show could have been so much better, S2 was some of the best tv ever made.

      • jam says:

        I don’t know if they were pressured to extend wt/wt (doubt it), but even if they were, they chose a horrible way to do it. Several s3 rewrite fics have done it better.

      • atcDave says:

        I think Jam summed it up pretty well. I’m doubtful that NBC interfered too much, I think the S3 problems are more just institutional. They wrote it that way because that is how it’s done. Many of us had come to expect more from them than that after an excellent first two seasons.
        I do think most of the more personal slams aimed at Fedak in particular are way out of line. But I do have a few major issues with his writing, in particular, he leaves too much hanging in the end and he’s too willing to make his characters look like morons to force a story line.
        But there’s no doubt he created a wonderful world with likable characters and he maintained a mix of action, drama and humor that I find intoxicating to the very end. The first part of that was greatly aided by absolutely brilliant casting. Not only are Zach and Yvonne about my favorite screen leads ever, but the supporting cast were all excellent in their parts and guest casting was typically perfect.
        The second part I mentioned, that wonderful mix of style elements, is almost surely all Fedak. I will never deny him that, I like his style a lot. He just occasionally tripped up on content…

      • My understanding is that it was Warner Brothers and not NBC that forced the showrunners to extend the WTWT in S3 and the writers had to scramble to do so in S3. And the results showed.

        For me, that does not excuse the continuing character castration and mythos mashing that happened in the last two seasons. The Robin Hood school of writing employed from S3 on left the show with a Chuck character whose more endearing qualities were transplanted to other characters.

      • BillAtWork says:

        We know that they got some pressure. It’s widely assumed that blowing up the Buy More and eliminating it in S3 was vetoed by WB. I assume that eliminating the BM also meant eliminating (or greatly reducing) Jeff, Lester, and Big Mike. I for one would have been more than fine with that.

        But I think that a lot of what was wrong with Chuck, is also what is wrong with television in general. It depends far too much on the ust between the 2 leads. Soon they’re stuck. Put them together and lose your main storyline. Or keep them apart and feel contrived and forced.

        So, IMO, what they were trying to accomplish in S3 was a romantic story. They were going to split C/S up, and then get them back together in a dramatic romantic moment. There were a couple of problems. First, they didn’t execute it very well. We never bought Shaw and Sarah as a couple for a second. It just made Sarah look silly. But more important, we were already at wt/wt fatique. We weren’t interested in seeing even a well done session of more wt/wt, but especially not the forced and contrived stuff we got.

        Even after they put C/S together, wt/wt was still the overriding theme. S4.1 was wt/wt get engaged. S4.2 was wt/wt get married. S5 was wt/wt get out of the spy life and become normal.

        Chris Fedak clearly wanted Chuck to pay homage to the shows he loved growing up. Sometimes that worked. Sometimes it didn’t. The Bo Derick thing was creepy. Quite possibly the worst episode of the series.

      • atcDave says:

        Bill I think I’d agree exactly with your S3 analysis. The wt/wt of the first two seasons set a pretty fast pace with high emotional investment. We also saw pretty steady growth in both characters and their relationship. That’s all good, but it did mean a large number of us were ready for the next step at the start of S3. I think any further delay at that point would be unwelcome, but they chose a story that was pretty much the worst possible way of dealing with it. They made both characters look bad for a story that wasn’t wanted. Perhaps if they’d applied more external forces, like Chuck being under increased security as the 2.0 and Chuck and Sarah literally having very limited access to each other it would have worked better. Or maybe not. I really think the greatest strength of the show was watching Chuck and Sarah play off each other, and restricting that was a doomed endeavor.

        I hadn’t heard of the studio exerting pressure in that way (I did know about the Buy More). It would be interesting to hear what other story ideas may have been floated and why they were rejected.

      • BillAtWork says:

        I think it’s pretty clear that they realized at the time what they were about to do would be unpopular. Before S3 began JS was doing interviews promising that Chuck and Sarah would be resolved and promising we wouldn’t get wt/wt fatigue. The problem is that we already had wt/wt fatigue.

        I don’t think that Mask had even aired on the West Coast yet before the Sepinwall interview pleading with us to hang in there.

        So was that pressure from the studio? Or just their own fears about the risk of putting the leads together? We may never know.

        But I think I agree with Lou. The mind set lead them into some pretty silly storylines, which in turn lead to some really OOC moments. And it was all so unnecessary. They had a great storyline teed up. What happened with Orion and Frost?

        IMO, one of the biggest mistakes they made was killing Orion. They could have played the parallels between C/S and Orion/Frost and that story for multiple seasons.

        Were they still together? Secretly communicating behind the scenes and watching over the kids from afar? That’s how I wrote them in Long Road Back.

        Or was Mary truly a bad person? Did she leave Steven for Ted Roark like was hinted in Dream Job? Now she’s Volkoff’s girl. That’s how it is about to go down in Cost of Love.

        They split the middle and it never made sense.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I think the “it could have been so much better” school of thought needs to consider that it also could have been so much worse, even if it wasn’t canceled outright. Lou’s opinion aside, Schwedak et al managed to re-invent the series and move the well established characters into a new reality and a new relationship while still preserving the core of the characters and the show we loved. Growing pains? Sure, but it was part of the growth, and I’d take what we got over a roll of the dice that someone else could have done better any day.

        While I won’t post it here because of language and it being a bit more confrontational than I like our tone to be, I agree with a lot of the sentiments expressed in this rant on tumblr.

      • atcDave says:

        Where some saw growth, many of us just saw destruction. I think the contrary positions are so opposed as to be irreconcilable. I really don’t like much of anything about S3 until 3.13.

      • aerox says:

        I agree with a lot of that post, but there’s one thing that irks me. We’re told through two seasons that Chuck is the communicator. A terrible one at times, sure, but a communicator nonetheless. And he basically leaves her at Prague with a: “Sorry, lolbye.”

        To me that rings so incredibly false with what we’re told about him as a character, that it makes the entire jump off point feel fake and as a result, I can’t take the angst serious.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Was the Chuck of Prague growth? Maybe as a spy. But certainly not as a man.

        From a fanfic perspective, I always saw C/S as needing each other. Yes, he clearly needed her to protect him in a world that he didn’t understand and wasn’t equipped to survive in. But she needed him just as badly to protect her in a world that she didn’t understand and wasn’t equipped to survive in.

        I understand that Fedak and I see this totally oppositely. He wanted to tell the story of the hero’s journey. I would have told the story of a man’s journey. I would have had his growth manifest in realizing that his job was to protect Sarah. Let her be the spy. But be her bedrock. And in doing that, become the unlikely hero.

        To me, that was the charm of the relationship, and the show, before Prague basically destroyed it.

      • Dave said, I really don’t like much of anything about S3 until 3.13.
        It’s political season, time to take quotes completely out of context.

        Dave, you are on the record for admitting “Tic Tac is mostly a good episode”, “episodes like Angel of Death, Beard and Tic Tac that have some wonderful moments”, and “I would also add Operation Awesome as an episode I liked.”

        See, even Dave admits S3.0 wasn’t all bad.

        Question: I have to catch up on the rewatch from around Alma Mater. How many times did Chuckwin’s law take effect?

      • atcDave says:

        I agree with both Aerox and Bill here, which is kind of funny.
        But anyway, yeah the jumping off point in Prague was something I never could buy, that
        Chuck could do such a thing in such an insensitive way. And if he could do it; then he’s not the character I thought I knew for two years, and he isn’t even someone I particularly want to know. So it really leaves me with no option but to just reject the whole story line at the very start. Obviously doing so presents a few logical problems, but I’d rather ignore them than deal with the story we were dealt. Which goes back to my whole reason for watching Chuck, I do so to have a good time and enjoy “being with” the characters. If I’m not having a good time or enjoying the characters the show’s whole reason for existence goes away to me.

        To Bill’s point, I completely agree, but maybe not quite with the passion I feel on some other issues. I often refer to the 2.0 as a cheat, and that really is how it often felt to me. But Bill did a good job of summing up some of the other issues. In the first two seasons I loved the balance of Chuck being the intelligent, moral and imaginative guy who was also good with relationships and people. Sarah was the strong silent type and traditional physical hero.. The 2.0 changed a lot of that. Now I’m not saying I wanted Chuck to always be helpless, I’m completely okay with him getting some spy training and becoming more capable in the spy world. But the 2.0 and the complete upheaval at the start of S3 changed that dynamic permanently and instantly. Again, I don’t believe that change alone ruined the show or any such, but I do think something was lost that I wish hadn’t been. I would have much rather seen Chuck become a sort of mastermind and problem solver while Sarah was his muscle. And I don’t mean to take that too far, again, I would have been happy to see Chuck get some training, and of course Sarah should never be stupid.
        But then if that is balanced with Chuck helping Sarah in her relationships, her openness and communication. Instead, Chuck became the habitual liar and Sarah was the one who made him come clean! Their roles in some ways reversed from the original story. That isn’t necessarily all bad; but I had really liked the original dynamic and changing it didn’t score any points with me.
        I did feel like the S3 experiment was ended in season four. And the no secrets, no lies pledge at the end of 4.01 finally puts things where I think they should have been, in spite of the irony it was initiated by Sarah. Perhaps the biggest legacy of that is that I found Sarah by far the more appealing character for the rest of the show.

        But I really can’t help but see S3 as a marketing experiment. I can imagine some marketing expert saying “Chuck needs to be more of a man of action”, “darker stories about conflicted heroes are popular so do that”, “keep the romance unrequited so the audience stays in suspense”…
        It felt like marketing driven decisions were being made from the very start of S3, and the show didn’t really reclaim what had been special about until 4.01 (obviously, I always see Honeymooners as a spectacular exception to that). I know that’s my perception and may not be how others saw it. But that perception is so strong it colors almost every aspect I see in the S3 story.

      • atcDave says:

        Jeff I think Chuckwin’s law can probably be invoked from Truth to the present. And a couple times it got ugly. Largely my fault.

        But you are completely correct I think there are a number of excellent moments throughout S3; even a few episodes I find mostly enjoyable. I think I can safely say I have more problems with the main arc than I do with most specific episodes. So those episodes that stand alone better play better with me. A couple, like Angel of Death and Tic Tac could be excellent episodes except for a few moments (related to the over-arc at that time).

      • CaptMediocre says:

        I was going to keep this until S3 but….

        The ROI on S3 simply never materialized. Mostly because the reset asked the fans to throw away their initial investment in the characters they knew and loved, and replace it with unrecognizable, unlikeable teenagers with extremely questionable judgement who were never allowed to talk to one another. An investment that was never again recovered IMO.

        Or more simply, S3 took more away (to say it didn’t do the character of Sarah Walker any favours in S3 would be huge understatement) in order to tell its story than it ever put back. (Something done again in 5.12 & 5.13)

        It’s difficult to see the characters as more “real”, when the circumstances around the supposed character growth appear as false and unrealistic and ask you to throw away everything you know about the characters. It certainly makes it difficult to “buy into” the story being told.

        I will forever think that much of what they tried to do in S3 still remains in the minds of the TPTB, because the story I’m sure they wanted to tell, never made it to the screen. They simply tried to tell too much story and told most parts poorly, leaving the fans to fill in the blanks in order to try and still like or care about the characters (usually giant leaps in rationalization were needed), and thus causing many different interpretations of the story. A story that clearly didn’t matter due to the overwhelming lack of a satisfying resolution. DYLM is not a resolution to the first 13, it’s a very transparent and unearned “magic wand”.

        If your going to take something like the Chuck and Sarah relationship and destroy it to tell your story (they did this twice), you need to take the time and show the rebuilding of the relationship. You simply can’t expect one scene of “hopeful” to believably fix everything, when you’ve spent the rest of the time showing the “hopeless” (they did this twice).

        In other words, resolve the drama, don’t sweep it under the rug, otherwise it cheapens the story.

        I know some say budget was an issue that affected story quality in S3 and beyond. I still come back to Intersect 2.0 being the bigger issue that affected the story quality after S2. Once Chuck and TPTB started caring more about “grand gestures” as opposed to “little moments” the show we had come to love was gone never to return.

      • aerox says:

        I don’t understand how people can thrash Sarah so much for S3. The way I see it, apart from one seriously questionable moment, I felt like she was the victim in all of this. If anything, Chuck’s character suffered most. After all, he suddenly can’t communicate his thoughts anymore, which leaves someone who he has been pursuing for two years and finally told him she was ready (scratch that, I’ll add the running away together as another very questionable idea by Sarah, which brings her grand total to two), heartbroken and feeling betrayed–again. Furthermore, he becomes insufferable and all but stalks her, which results in screwing up a mission that both Sarah an Casey had invested a lot in.

        After his tempter tantrum, he realizes he may have screwed up for good and goes after Hannah which is a travesty in its own right. Do I like Hannah as a character? Meh, not really. We barely learn anything about her and she comes across as rather stalker-y. But the way Chuck as a character goes about it and the way he dumps her is ridiculous at best. This is the guy who went through the trouble of breaking up with a fake girlfriend so he could pursue another woman. I’m willing to overlook his behavior to Sarah with Jill as a result of pining for Jill for five years. So in all regards, we’re told that Chuck is a gentleman. And then he kicks Hannah to the curb in a brutal manner when they’re going to meet her parents. Which is of course followed by the ah-ha moment where Chuck realizes he still has feelings for Sarah which imo ranks as the most obvious and lame epiphany I’ve ever seen.

        Sarah’s moment of questionable behavior is the part where she blackmails Chuck into doing his redtest and then go: “AHA! Gotcha Can’t be together anymore LOLOLOL!” But anything before that is so simply attributed by the initial betrayal by Chuck that it still confuses me when people point to Sarah as a source of angst. Should she have just shrugged her shoulders and figured: “What the hell?” and gone with it? If she did, it would make her little more than a door mat and a vessel for Chuck as a pointless romantic interest. What made Sarah’s character so appealing to me was that she WASN’T just another romantic interest but actually added to the story and could hold her own.

        Of course they later did turn her into a doormat and a romantic interest at heart which still annoys me, but it still is trumped by the whole: “S3 is Sarah’s fault.” At best, it’s both their faults. At worst, it’s Chuck’s fault.

      • It’s neither character’s fault. It’s the writers. They truckled.

      • anthropocene says:

        “I would have much rather seen Chuck become a sort of mastermind and problem solver while Sarah was his muscle. And I don’t mean to take that too far, again, I would have been happy to see Chuck get some training, and of course Sarah should never be stupid.”

        Dave, I’m with you on this opinion, and I think the series could have been much more authentic (from an espionage perspective) and fun from ep 3.1 onward if each of the three core team members had continued to focus on their strengths, more like the IMF team from the original “Mission: Impossible.” Sarah would have focused on gathering human intel, Chuck on gathering signals intel or tech intel (Intersect 2.0 greatly enhancing those skills without necessarily turning him into an instant Bruce Lee), and Casey would have been the primary muscle and firepower. To mix it up and introduce some tension or levity, roles could occasionally have been switched. I actually did like the plot line of Intersect 2.0 gradually frying Chuck’s mind; I just didn’t think it was carried out very well. Sarah could have started noticing little problems with Chuck early on and gone in search of Steve Bartowski to save him, rather than having the Ring lure him out so crudely. Ellie could have been pivotal here too, helping to save Chuck and learning his secret that way. Chuck could have admitted the problems without all that ugliness of lying to Sarah…but still could have been resistant to their help at first because of what it could have done to his CIA career…and so on.

        But it was what it was. And every time Chuckwin’s Law kicks in, my first thought is that hindsight is always 20/20.

        We did see the occasional episode with “sigint” Chuck and “humint” Sarah: the Hack-Off comes to mind…and that dynamic is embedded in the imaginary season 6 I’m playing around with in fan fiction.

      • aerox says:

        Lou, I get that, but if we forget about the poor (and it was poor, trust me, I’m well aware how badly the writers dropped the ball) situation and look at it from a real life perspective, the conclusions that people draw (e.g: Blame Sarah) are ludicrous at best.

      • atcDave says:

        Ultimately I agree with Lou on that. Both characters were made to look bad. Aerox nicely describes some of Chuck’s failings. But I thought Sarah looked really bad just for falling for Shaw, like the whole “falling for the guys she works with” thing is just true. I mean Shaw was so insufferably arrogant in Operation Awesome and First Class, then awkward and creepy in Mask. I really think it makes Sarah look like an idiot for doing anything other than kneeing him in the groin. But Final Exam is where the wheels really come off. To go from the psychotic way Shaw manipulated both Sarah and Chuck, to saying Sarah spent the next day with him. Just turns my stomach. Really. Grotesque.

        As I said above, I just have to ignore most of that season. I just find the behavior of both main characters ridiculous. And for that, I blame the writers.

      • atcDave says:

        Anthro I do completely agree I would have liked seeing that sort of character specialization. And I really liked seeing the teamwork we saw from Chuck and Sarah on occasion. Although I do think a lot of this is more than just hindsight, some of these concerns were expressed from Comic Con on (six months before the season even aired). And I know, from looking back at some of my posts from that time, I tried to give them the benefit of the doubt and let them prove me wrong with a better story than I was imagining from spoilers. (That actually worked by the way with Morgansect. I thought the episodes were vastly better than I feared). But it didn’t help, if anything S3 was worse than I feared it would be.

      • jam says:

        Great, now even the fanfiction thread is filled with s3 talk. 😉

      • anthropocene says:

        Dave, good point about the heads-up many fans had on s3. Got to admit I didn’t start watching regularly until the Jill arc in s2 so I had less with which to compare s3.

      • atcDave says:

        Sorry!

    • uplink2 says:

      If you look at the interview that Mo Ryan did at the time of Other Guy, Fedak talks a lot about how “Shaw was perfect for her, a great spy, in any other show they would have been together.” The problems with all of that posturing is none of it was shown on screen. Shaw was never shown as a great spy in the least. He was in fact a terrible one. I never bought the relationship in the least and Shaw was never “perfect for her”. From the fist scene he is shown with Beckman they get you to think for some reason Beckman is afraid to order him to do anything. The focus on the lighter gives us a creepinees right out of the gate. It reminded me of Blofeld in the early Bond films. The first thing we see is he’s creepy and it deteriorates from there. I won’t get in to how Routh made it worse but the lack of screen chemistry certainly did.

      But I agree that the season failed mainly because the premise from Pink Slip failed. It was based on something that was so OOC it screamed contrivance. Whether the WTWT thing was pushed by WB I’m not so sure. RDM’s comments about wanting to revisit it for the finale tell me that they were behind it as well.

  9. BillAtWork says:

    I have to agree that a lot of the fandom seems to blame Sarah far too much. One thing that is very consistent in my reviews is that a lot of people aren’t willing to cut Sarah much slack.

    • atcDave says:

      There has always been a small number of Sarah haters in the fandom. I don’t get watching a show where you dislike a lead, but it’s definitely out there. Perhaps that explains Charina.
      But I think for many viewers Sarah incurs more blame since her S3 foolishness ran longer and ended after Chuck’s. I think I’m opposite and tend to blame Chuck more since he started it.
      But the bottom line is there’s plenty of blame to go around. They both acted like jerks for a while. Like I said, I blame the writers most…

    • Sadly Bill, I firmly believe that is indicative of the double moral standards that society holds both sexes up too still today.

      In my opinion, the fandom coming down harder on Sarah is a symptom and not the root cause.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Yeah Lou. Maybe.

        How many people blame Sarah for whatever she might have done with Shaw, while Chuck was banging (am I allowed to say banging here, lol?) Hannah at the same time?

      • atcDave says:

        That I don’t really buy. Sarah had some haters way back in S2, i think some viewers were unsympathetic towards her fundamental conflict of interest. they focused on her mixed signals towards Chuck without seeing the hopeless position she was in. i remember those discussions at the NBC forums. But then we came down VERY hard on Chuck for the early part of S3 (and rightfully so I think). After about Beard Chuck started to seem more sympathetic again, but Sarah was still being a doofus. And that lasted a while yet, a lot of hostility built towards the end of that arc and peaked at Final Exam. I still find that a horrific episode, I only watched it once, but I think steam was coming out of my ears. I think a lot of viewers never got past that manipulation and betrayal. As I said though, I just blame the writers. S3 simply isn’t about the characters I knew in the other four seasons.

      • aerox says:

        I find it hard to believe Chuck to 1: Be an accurate representation of society and 2: see the fact that a few (because there are a lot of people who cut Sarah slack as well) people get annoyed more by Sarah than by Chuck in S3 as a sign of society’s double standards towards sexes.

        Is it true that there are still double standards? Sure. But to make that assumption based on the fact that people choose to give Sarah a harder time over less ‘involvement’ shall we say, is too simple. There can be a myriad of reasons. I’ve even heard someone say that they held Sarah in a higher regard, so to see her fall from her pedestal was something they couldn’t swallow, thus coming down harder on her.

        And like Dave said, Chuck’s ‘betrayal’ of Sarah lasted about an episode, while Sarah’s involvement with Shaw lasted around 5 or 6 episodes (because it stopped at the end of Final Exam, or at least, we can assume that it did, although the time jump from Sarah packing for the train station to her wearing completely different clothes and going with Shaw to finish off the director is as of yet unexplained). So that could’ve had an influence as to how people processed things.

      • Flip the storylines and my money would be on people still being more upset with Sarah than Chuck.

      • aerox says:

        Well, yeah, I just wrote a wall of text explaining why I found Chuck’s behavior despicable. As a matter of fact, if the roles were reversed, I’d be advocating for Chuck’s innocence in things.

      • aerox says:

        Oh, you mean the whole how long they were with the pli. Well, in that case, I wouldn’t dare saying. It’s too easy to just assume things will turn out the way you think they do. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a cynic and a pessimist, but even I know it’s too easy to make such accussations. Mostly because I get the feeling that there is 0.0% data backing this up, just pure speculation.

  10. ref51907 says:

    Thank you for the mention Dave. I hope all that will chose to read it will enjoy it.

    Erik

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