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Okay F-List and whoever else is lurking...

I have a puzzle, a major puzzle and I'm looking for an honest answer from you, my readers.

Many of you know that I write multi-drabble fics for ncis_drabble. Since about the 3rd or 4th one I did, I tend to do the 'fics' in grouping of around five (sometimes more, sometimes less) 100 word drabbles. Most of the time, the drabbles are interconnected by a common theme and some even build on the previous drabble. I even did one that was 100 drabbles (10,000 words) that alternated between Gibbs and Tony's POV each paragraph.

Knowing this, the next part is how I present these. If I don't confine the 100 words to a single paragraph, I always put some kind of divider to show the start of the next drabble. However, if I contain each 100 word set to a single paragraph I do not divide them. I let the paragraphs serve as the dividing mark.

So... As many of you may know, I'm a mod at Twisting the Hellmouth (TTH). Since I got into NCIS, I don't write as much Buffy fanfic as I used to. As a mod/donor, I can post as many non-crossover fics as I want at TTH, but I usually refrain from posting my pure-NCIS fics there because I've always seen TTH as a crossover site first and foremost. Therefore many at TTH probably don't know just how many NCIS fics I have in LJ land and they usually don't get to see my drabble fics I post over here all the time.

This leads us to me posting my last crossover drabble fic, Six Degrees of Leroy Jethro Gibbs, on TTH because I had a BtVS character in one of the 6 drabbles. Since posting it there, I have received several reviews that leave me downright puzzled and kind of on the defensive end of things...

Here are some examples of some of the reviews. I'm not posting the names here and I'm not using any private reviews I received. These are reviews that anyone can view by going to TTH. Also, I'm not saying anything against the reviewers opinions because they are valid opinions... Not stomping on toes, pointing fingers or anything like that... <-- Disclaimer to protect the Kayla

[snip] However, there needs to be a bit more of a bridge to connect the separate paragraphs because it reads more like a list of encounters than a story. [snip]

i read it, i understand the words, but what the hell was it about? so confused.

i get tony's a sentinal and giles... i know both ellisons... oh bother. no idea what i just read.

Note: After the 2nd Review, I added a note to my post on TTH and did the best I could to explain to the readers without 'ruining' things and still had people confused. Here's the note I added within the story:

Due to confusion from readers, please note that this is collection of six (6) different non-connected drabbles. Each paragraph is 100 word response to one of the challenges mentioned above. They are connected by the theme of Gibbs knowing each crossover person, because Gibbs *knows* everyone.

For reading's sake, you might consider placing a line or other visual break between each paragraph/encounter to further set them apart as different "prompts", but it works ok as it is.

I was really confused until I read the reviews. I'd recommend putting some sort of break between each paragraph to distract the eye, because otherwise you naturally want to continue to read as a unit.

It will make your drabbles make a lot more sense than just saying "it's a bunch of drabbles."

So F-List, that's what people who reviewed at TTH had to say. As far as I can remember, nobody on LJ has ever said something along those lines to me and now I've got several people within a day saying the same thing.

Poll #1394910 Drabble Writing Style

What do you really think of my drabble fic style?

Fangirl/boy Squee!!!
Love It
Like It
Neither Like or Dislike It Because I'm Like Switzerland
Dislike It
Hate It
Wish It To Die a Painful Death

On fics like Six Degrees of Leroy Jethro Gibbs, should I have a divider between the paragraphs?

Yes, it would help me see the separations better
No, it would detract from the way the story flows
Only if the paragraphs really don't build on one another
Hell No! It's your fic, so do what you want to do
Proudly Waving the Swiss Flag

Would you read a story that has Tony DiNozzo / Leon Vance listed as the pairing?

Hell Yeah!
Hell No!
WTF?! o_O
Gathering supplies for the exorcism of Kayla Shay. Where's a priest?
Tony with Vance? Really? You have a plot for that?? A convincing plot??
Gibbs will kill Vance and not leave a body behind for Abby to hide.
Are they going to be in Switzerland while they do it?


( 44 Campfires — Leave a Comment )
May. 4th, 2009 11:07 pm (UTC)
As you know, I loved 6 Degrees, but yeah, the shifts were somewhat abrupt and would have probably read more smoothly with dividers in the form of a line or a title or something.

Edited at 2009-05-04 11:07 pm (UTC)
May. 4th, 2009 11:08 pm (UTC)
How about on any of the other sets I've done in the past you've read? I'm trying to look at this as a whole. Or was it that one in particular since they really didn't build on one another like most of mine do?
May. 4th, 2009 11:20 pm (UTC)
Honestly, I don't know that I've read any others. Nor am I sure why not. I'll have to go look.

I just reviewed the "5 Things" things I've done (which is as close as I've come to this sort of thing). In all three, there was a definite progression through time from start to finish. In one, I just numbered each one. In another, being a series of short episode tags, I used the episode titles to title each section. In the other one, gave a unique title to each section that referred back to the full title (that's the NCIS one).
May. 4th, 2009 11:12 pm (UTC)
Two to compare would be 6 Degrees and Being Gibbs (http://kaylashay81.livejournal.com/91119.html)

Edited at 2009-05-04 11:17 pm (UTC)
May. 4th, 2009 11:28 pm (UTC)
I think Being Gibbs works better 'unmarked' simply because you're simply expanding on well-known elements of Gibbs' character/experiences/habits while in Six Degrees you're focused on a 'what if' that many people probably haven't thought of. BG is a more compact idea, if that makes any sense. Even then, BG would have also worked well if you'd titled each one with things like "Bourbon", "Wood" that sort of thing. But that's me and my style. ;-)
May. 4th, 2009 11:33 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I think that's what it boils down to. 6 Degrees is odd among my drabble fics I think because the majority are like BG in that they build on one another.

I've thought of doing titles on them before, but then I always like to work the 'theme' into the drabble instead of as a title for it. On BG, I ended each paragraph with the 'b' word so it wouldn't have been as good as having the 'b' word already above it imho.

I will probably divide future ones similar to 6D and keep my others the same...

Oh! Go look at this comment, you'll love it!! http://kaylashay81.livejournal.com/99342.html?thread=942350#t942350
May. 4th, 2009 11:40 pm (UTC)
LOL!!!! I *do* love it!

I do have an SG1/NCIS crossover in the works. Sadly, though, I think it's just going to be Gibbs and Tony going to Colorado. Try as I might, I just can't find a way to have the whole team brought in. Every time I try it, somebody starts bitching about "national security" and "limited contact" and "we didn't want to bring in *any* outsiders let alone a whole herd".
May. 4th, 2009 11:56 pm (UTC)
But the important thing is that you have Gibbs and Tony going! As long as that holds true, it shall be alright.

May. 5th, 2009 12:01 am (UTC)
I can't imagine either of them being left behind.

In fact, I think they're specifically requested to leave McGee behind. He's too great a threat to their computer security. :-)
May. 5th, 2009 12:21 am (UTC)
Poor Probie... doesn't get to go where the nifty toys will be...
May. 5th, 2009 12:23 am (UTC)
Who knows, maybe there will be a reason to bring Kate, McGee and the others in later.
May. 9th, 2009 12:46 am (UTC)
PS to Our Other Chat on DW:

Are you ready to perform the exorcism yet? ;-)
May. 9th, 2009 01:46 am (UTC)
I've got the chocolate lined up and am just waiting to see if I can talk the kid into running to the convenience store for milk.

Then I'll be ready. :-)
May. 9th, 2009 02:54 am (UTC)

I probably need it... :-)

I'm going to try to make it up to myself with a Tony/Abby-ish piece I plotted out last night while working on my Tony/Abby gen piece.
May. 9th, 2009 02:59 am (UTC)
How about a Tony/Gibbs piece with Abby enjoying her sekrit camera hookups. ;-)
May. 9th, 2009 03:03 am (UTC)
Hmm... *adds that to plot bunny knock out list*

I figure Gibbs knows about the camera, because Gibbs knows everything... But Tony... what he doesn't know won't hurt him and it will make Abby all *happy*

I do have a prompt on the five I have left to do that involves Tony, Abby and Gibbs and an elevator...
May. 9th, 2009 03:05 am (UTC)
Besides, Gibbs is a closet exhibitionist. :-) Consider how he grabs everyone's attention after he sneaks into the room.

But then, Tony *LOVES* being the center of attention, so the cameras are a match made in heaven. :-)
May. 9th, 2009 03:09 am (UTC)
And Abby likes watching I think... It all works out for the best for all parties involved! :-)

Now I've got crack!fic on the brain where McGee stumbles upon the fact that Abby runs a website that features the sex-capades of Gibbs and Tony via multitudes of hidden cameras. And he learns that Gibbs and Tony are the hottest thing on the net in terms of gay porn...

May. 9th, 2009 03:10 am (UTC)
ROTFLMAO!!!!!! DO IT!!!!!!
May. 9th, 2009 03:14 am (UTC)
...and Tim was never able to look Gibbs or Tony in the face again, for his eyes were always drawn to Gibbs' crotch and DiNozzo's ass as he replayed the scenes from Abby's website over and over in his mind.
May. 9th, 2009 03:20 am (UTC)
And the other way around.

Why should Tony have all the fun? :-)
May. 9th, 2009 03:31 am (UTC)
Abby hasn't shown him *that* video footage yet. ;-)

She's likes to keep that in the her "private" collection. :-)
May. 9th, 2009 03:36 am (UTC)
May. 4th, 2009 11:12 pm (UTC)
I've never had an issue with your drabble breaks, but then I've only read your drabbles that build on one another and flow together. I do think the 'reviewers' on TtH tend to be a little more nit-picky then other sites, but that can be a good thing (not in this instance mind you, but usually). ;)

Though if you want my honest and completely blunt opinion... This is your damn fic, do what you want.
May. 4th, 2009 11:15 pm (UTC)
Though if you want my honest and completely blunt opinion... This is your damn fic, do what you want.

And we love you for it... :-)

I'm not planning on going back and changing my post on TTH for this one, but I'm thinking ahead for in the future if/when I post another set like this there. Because I really hate the picking on the break / no-break thing instead of telling me if the words sucked or not...
May. 4th, 2009 11:18 pm (UTC)
That's when you tell them thank you for the comments on spacing and such, but what did you think of the content? There's a certain reviewer, who shall remain nameless, that almost always only comments on grammar which annoys me to no end.
May. 4th, 2009 11:20 pm (UTC)
And I know who that is... *sigh*

And I did get comments on the content for which I was grateful. I just got perplexed because nobody had ever mentioned the break thing before on ones that I don't use breaks...
May. 4th, 2009 11:23 pm (UTC)
Layout is important so yeah, put a divider in if you want but in my opinion the paragraph breaks are fine. Don't feel you have to spoon feed people though.

Of course, I'm biased re the DiNozzo/Vance pairing ;-)
May. 4th, 2009 11:27 pm (UTC)
I figure I'll put them on ones that don't build on each other in the future... Who knows... it'll probably be a case by case basis.

And of course you are biased. And I do have a plot. ;-)
May. 4th, 2009 11:36 pm (UTC)
I actually like that there isn't a divider between the paragraphs. Maybe I've just read enough of your multiple-interconnected-drabbles posts to know what to expect, but I find the lack of blatant divisions between the bits helps to emphasise the interconnectness. If you're going to do anything, I'd say that putting something like 'a series of interconnected drabbles' in the summary line is more than enough to explain what you're doing. I'm going to second all the 'it's your fic' and 'don't worry about spoon-feeding people' comments, and add that, if you haven't been getting complaints/questions about the spacing up to now, maybe you don't need to worry about it unless it becomes something that people point out repeatedly (maybe you just had a lot of easily confused readers for this one)?
May. 4th, 2009 11:42 pm (UTC)
I think 6 Degrees is different from my normal ones because the 'theme' isn't as obvious in it as it is in all my others.

Also, it could be that the TTH readers (even though I said in the summary it was a set of drabbles) were expecting a 'normal' fic and it confused them when they didn't get that.

I'm hoping it was just this fic. :-)
May. 4th, 2009 11:41 pm (UTC)
Honestly, I think you should be able to do what you want with your own fics. Your writing style is your own, and what may seem right to you may not seem right to other people. That's why it's your style.

Personally, I quite like your drabble style - and I liked your fic: Six Degrees of Leroy Jethro Gibbs. I can understand where some people might get confused, since there are no breaks, and the scenarios jump around, but I think it's easy enough to figure out on your own. It's not like it's rocket science or anything.

Basically, my point is just to do whatever the hell you want. *g*
May. 4th, 2009 11:51 pm (UTC)
Basically, my point is just to do whatever the hell you want. *g*

Which is why I had that choice on the poll... I think it may be a case of TTH readers expected a 'normal' story and not finding it with my post.
(Deleted comment)
May. 4th, 2009 11:54 pm (UTC)
Yeah... for all that I love TTH (I wouldn't be a mod otherwise), we have issues with people over there. There's constructive criticism and then there's downright rudeness... luckily, I got the actual constructive criticism, but then I have that mod hat by my name there and they might have been scared to go into downright rudeness.

I also think most TTH readers were probably expecting a 'normal' fic instead of what I did.

May. 4th, 2009 11:53 pm (UTC)
Well, I haven't read all your 5 things drabbles, because I don't read the slash ones (though that being said I have read a few, in craving the Tony), but all those I have read, that are 'seperate but together', have been easy to understand.

It's kind of like a painting. You have to look at it more closely. Sure it looks like a single five paragraph story from further away, but I find that once you are up close and actually reading the words it is clear that the paragraphs are seperate. I've never once thought 'wow, that was abrupt and hard to read'.
May. 5th, 2009 12:20 am (UTC)
though that being said I have read a few, in craving the Tony

Hee! We are evil... Plus, many of mine have that 'goes both ways' mentally where you can read them as friends or as something more. It's a hard balance to strike, but fun to play with.

A painting is a good way to look at it. Though, I never 'got' abstract paintings but yet I seem to have an 'abstract-ish' writing style. My art teachers who wanted abstract from me were highly disappointed.

I guess I could post a picture of a hard-edge painting and an abstract painting and see which people prefer... :-)
May. 5th, 2009 01:27 am (UTC)
Yes, that's what I found with the ones I did read...they could be easily viewed as friendship.

Abstract art can be rather annoying if it isn't done well. Lucky for you, your stories are done well. So it's smooth sailing.
May. 4th, 2009 11:56 pm (UTC)
I'm pretty sure you never friended me back, but I'm going to comment anyway.

I think whether or not you add breaks or whatever depends on the effect you want to get across. The individual drabbles are like flashes of scenes. Without breaks, the transitions seem (at least to me) to be smooth and seamless -- picture the kinds of episodes in various crime shows (NCIS must have done this at least once) where they're interrogating multiple people and the person interrogating and/or person being questioned changes without any actual indication of a scene change. Your drabbles aren't exactly like that, but that's the best comparison I can think of.

On the other hand, adding breaks would be more like the kinds of scenes where you are watching the scene and the camera pans to one side and goes behind a pillar or wall, and then comes out on the other side to a different scene. So basically, think of the way you want people to observe the scene changes.

As for its being confusing, some things are better off that way in my opinion. In fact, most of the best shows I've ever watched make the most sense when you watch them two or three times. The best books are the same. Why should fics be any different? (;
May. 5th, 2009 12:16 am (UTC)
On the friending thing, I usually only friend someone back if I keep up with their journal content or they don't post their fics to comms that I have listed. Nothing against the person, but my f-list is already too long or I friend them if they ask me to... But I don't have a thing against people friending me. Plus, I rarely do f-locked posts... very rare actually.

Pretty much what you said on the breaks... I've never seen it from a view point outside of how I write them, so I basically wanted to know if I really needed to look at something or if it was just the readers in that location not 'getting' it.

Like the way you describe using breaks for scenes. :-)
May. 5th, 2009 12:19 am (UTC)
Well, I tend to think of everything in terms of the way it looks on TV because that's how I try to write things -- for fanfiction because it makes it fit the show better, and for original stuff because I want to write shows and not books. xD
May. 5th, 2009 01:36 am (UTC)
Ultimately, they are your fics. Do what makes you happy.

Having said that, it was a little bit confusing because we're used to more than just paragraph breaks, but I think the note you made (six non-connected....) solves that problem just fine.

Tony/Vance? Heh. I don't think I'd read it, but it does sound intriguing.
May. 5th, 2009 01:41 am (UTC)
I'm beginning to think it was just that one particular set because the paragraphs were so different from the above the connective tissue for all them wasn't as obvious as it usually is...

Tony and Vance. Yeah... I'm around 600 words into it actually. I didn't think I would write it, but I did come up with a way that works in my mind. Especially considering all my first attempts for a plot involved Tony putting out in order to get back on Gibbs' team. I *so* did not want to write that fic. I found a plot that is different and I hope people will find intriguing...
May. 5th, 2009 04:17 am (UTC)
That could be it. I've never had any trouble with any of your other fics.

Mm hm. I'm not a huge fan of most NCIS slash, but I'm sure it's well written.
May. 5th, 2009 03:20 am (UTC)
I loved 6 degrees, but then, I'm familiar with your writing style and It didn't phase me at all. You should write what you want, but for a wider readership, maybe use the dividers? Some people get so picky about the silliest things.
( 44 Campfires — Leave a Comment )

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