?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Rate this fic

Perhaps appropriately on Mother's Day, I have been wondering how people pick their fic ratings.

There are all kinds of personal and cultural reasons for individuals to weight sexual content, violence, and/or adult themes differently when deciding on an appropriate rating for a film or fic. For example, the American motion picture rating system apparently considers nudity to be much more dangerous to impressionable young minds than physical violence, a position with which I personally disagree.

At least the MPAA has reasonably well-delineated criteria for the selection of film ratings (and for a really interesting look at the ramifications, I recommend this film). I remember back when the "PG-13" category was created to handle action-adventure films with too much violence for the pre-teen set. I think I may have been too old to care when the "NC-17" category was created.

FF.net has one set of criteria (including the mysterious "M" rating which apparently means appropriate for age 16 and over). LJ has another which distinguishes between adult concepts and explicit adult content.

What either of those really means in the context of contemporary culture, I basically have no idea. Kind of makes me miss the era when you could count up how many "fucks" showed up in your film, choose to cut or keep them to get the rating you wanted, and call it a day. When I try to choose appropriate ratings for my fics, the same story containing some swear words and sexual references could easily rate anything from PG to R, or PG-13 to NC-17, depending on my mood/level of paranoia.

So I ask you in all seriousness, how much do you worry about the ratings you use for your fics, and do you have a set of criteria that you apply systematically (in which case, would you mind if I stole it)?

Comments

( 32 comments — Leave a comment )
alternatealto
May. 8th, 2011 02:41 pm (UTC)
My own system is pretty simple, I guess. For me, it pretty much boils down to sex, angst, and cussing, since I don't write violence. So:

Is there sex, graphically described? Or discussions of things like BDSM, even without actual sex being depicted? Automatic NC/17 rating.

Is sex mentioned, but not described in detail, or is there fondling without specifics as to whose whatsis is involved? Or is there a great deal of intensely strong emotional content, particularly angst? Is the language extremely salty? R rating.

Is there maybe a mention of sex, a certain amount of angst, and some strong language? PG-13 rating (usually given when I can't decide between PG and R)

A m/m kiss, or a couple of cuss words that might offend the fastidious (who probably shouldn't be reading my stuff anyway, but accidents happen)? PG

No word, act, idea, or concept that could bring the blush of shame to the cheek of innocence? G rating, and it's probably wondering what it's doing in my LJ.


So, there you have it, for what it's worth!



flywoman
May. 8th, 2011 03:56 pm (UTC)
This is so interesting - it's starting to sound like everyone has their own personal system. No wonder I'm perplexed! But this was very helpful.

Is sex mentioned, but not described in detail, or is there fondling without specifics as to whose whatsis is involved?
See, for me, mention of sex would make it a PG-13 rating. In fact, a brief mention of whose whatsis is involved usually still gets a PG-13 rating. It has to get pretty explicit and/or angsty to merit an R or NC-17 from me (and I'm hopelessly inconsistent about when to use which).

G rating, and it's probably wondering what it's doing in my LJ.
LOL. I feel like House in particular is an unlikely show to inspire a lot of G rated fic - I don't think I've written a single one - but apparently I'm wrong in many cases.
jezziejay
May. 8th, 2011 02:55 pm (UTC)
I have a ridiculous system of rating that would not hold up to any scrutiny whatsoever. For example, if there is one eff word, I'll probably label it PG, if there are more, then PG13, and if there are lots, R. Which makes no sense. Because lots of 'fucks' are surely as unsuitable as one. (And, slightly OT, I don't share Stephen Fry's view that people who don't swear have a limited vocabulary - I just think that they are just more careful with it - and I never swear around children - I'm generally uncomfortable with it being used around kids, and I abhor it being spoken to them directly.)

I don't write violence, so nothing really to say about that one, other than I totally agree with the point you make about the acceptability of violence, but distain of nudity.

Sex gets a PG13 to R depending on the number of references to it, and how explicit the language is - and the context - like what exactly is meant by 'fuck'. (I am always a little bewildered how a kiss between two straight people gets no rating, but a kiss between same sexes gets a much higher one. Actually, I've also seen pieces with kissing (both straight and gay) rated as R. Don't really get that either.)

Graphic and/or gratuitous sex gets an NC17.

But regardless of what rating is on my fic - I do not intend for any of it to be read by children. Even if it PG, or G, I can't see anything in my work that might interest them.

So here's my criteria - spend a minute or two looking over what you've written, shoe horn into whatever rating you feel is appropriate, and cross your fingers that you don't offend anyone. Feel free to adopt it ;)

I find labelling much more tricky than rating!
flywoman
May. 8th, 2011 03:33 pm (UTC)
For example, if there is one eff word, I'll probably label it PG, if there are more, then PG13, and if there are lots, R.
This made me laugh really hard. I'm not sure whether it's because 1) the MPAA really did use a system like that, at least for a while, 2) an eff in an American movie would definitely make it PG-13 right off the bat, or 3) surely the number shouldn't matter as much as the use of a word at all, but I think about this in much the same way you do!

I am always a little bewildered how a kiss between two straight people gets no rating, but a kiss between same sexes gets a much higher one.
This is a really good point that I omitted to mention in my original post. Certainly there has been a lot of controversy here in the US about whether homosexual kissing/sex scenes in movies should receive stronger ratings that heterosexual ones. And even though I personally don't believe that they should be, I must confess that I tend to give my slash stories higher ratings because of that convention.

Feel free to adopt it ;)
LOL, I'm pretty sure that's the system I'm already using!
writerdot
May. 8th, 2011 02:57 pm (UTC)
Huh. I haven't really thought about this consciously. For me, I guess it's about word choices. If it's got any type of swearing, I just use PG-13. I tend not to use the word 'fuck' when I'm writing (though, I'm not really sure why, since I use it pretty liberally in RL), but I think I'd still use PG-13, for that anyway. I guess, with the exception of one of my fics where I used the word 'shit', if I've heard the word on the show, then I use PG-13. I don't really write anything higher then that, since I find myself completely incapable of writing smut, or outright violence.

Basically PG-13 is my go-to rating.

This probably wasn't any help...and was rambling. lol. Sorry, I'm hopped up on cold medication.
flywoman
May. 8th, 2011 03:37 pm (UTC)
if I've heard the word on the show, then I use PG-13
This is an important point too, imo. What would we consider the "rating" of the show itself? I would say PG-13 at least, given the language and adult themes. But it does seem to me that if it's said on prime time television, then it shouldn't merit more than PG-13.

And PG-13 is my go-to rating as well... I'm just pretty sure that (in my case) that's often not appropriate!
stenveny
May. 8th, 2011 04:11 pm (UTC)
I don't rate my fics because I'm too lazy to figure all that out. I always put "explicit sex" in the warning, if it's in the chapter, or "drug use", or "references to child abuse", or whatever. I also warn for fluff or angst, and I don't bother with language warnings at all. On LJ my default is "contains adult concepts." I upgrade it to "adult content" for the smut chapters. I've never had anyone complain about a lack of fair warning. I don't concern myself with ratings, but I read warnings carefully.

I get more howls of outrage about a given pairing (or rather *not* a given pairing) than for smut, drug abuse, or angst, so YMWV.
flywoman
May. 8th, 2011 04:25 pm (UTC)
I don't rate my fics because I'm too lazy to figure all that out.
LOL. I guess that's another option. Even when you post to comms?

I always put "explicit sex" in the warning, if it's in the chapter, or "drug use", or "references to child abuse", or whatever.
That is an interesting alternative, although header warnings can be a whole 'nother can of worms. For example, I hate to use them when they're going to spoil a major plot point, even when I recognize that some readers would choose to avoid the story for that reason.
I want an "out-of-character" warning. Those fics I would like to avoid.

On LJ my default is "contains adult concepts." I upgrade it to "adult content" for the smut chapters.
Ditto.

I get more howls of outrage about a given pairing (or rather *not* a given pairing) than for smut, drug abuse, or angst, so YMWV.
You certainly have gotten more than your share of howls of outrage! I'm still wondering whether to chalk this up to the H/C subfandom generally, a few fanatics, projected outrage over the events on the show, your peculiar status as THE current H/C author, or some perfect storm of all of the above.
stenveny
May. 8th, 2011 04:48 pm (UTC)
At the pit, sometimes the whole premise of the story, as explained in the summary, is that House is OOC. I sometimes do see warnings of OOC-ness that I guess are supposed to be self-deprecating. These people puzzle me. You were bored and procrastinating your algebra homework, okay, and it's "just for fun", that explains why you wrote it, but if it, as you say, "probably sucks", why are you POSTING it? (And why are there 9 people squeeing approval of it in reviews? Are they all procrastinating algebra too? Is this why the American educational system is such a mess? But I digress.)

I don't know what I would do if the header warning was a spoiler of some major plot point, though. I hope I'd do a better job than TPTB in their press releases and sneak peeks and tweets. If I ever use the word "yo" in a header warning, just shoot me.

flywoman
May. 8th, 2011 05:03 pm (UTC)
LOL. A note in the header indicating that the fic in question was written while procrastinating due to schoolwork of any kind is warning enough for me. Fortunately we don't seem to see too much of that sort of thing on LJ.

I don't know what I would do if the header warning was a spoiler of some major plot point, though.
To use an example, I deliberately didn't bill "Going Quietly" as Wilson/Cuddy when I posted it to housefic. Technically it is, but the revelation (while early) would be spoiled, plus really that wasn't the point of the fic at all, and I felt that labeling it as such would both disappoint genuine W/C fans (assuming that such creatures exist) and drive away most other readers (when in fact I've gotten a gratifyingly positive response).

I also squirmed over which two characters to use in the ff.net label, and ended up picking House and Cuddy, but I felt that was misleading, both because it probably brought in exactly the readers who would least appreciate the story (and are now vociferously demanding a sequel, by which I believe they mean a happy ending, and good luck with that, folks!) and because it's really evenly split between House, Cuddy, and Wilson.
barefootpuddles
May. 9th, 2011 05:18 am (UTC)
I felt that labeling it as such would both disappoint genuine W/C fans (assuming that such creatures exist)

We are more common than unicorns. But not much.

I may actually have started writing a few drabble with W/C
flywoman
May. 9th, 2011 11:36 am (UTC)
I may actually have started writing a few drabble with W/C

Nothing to be ashamed of, as long as you don't tell anyone and you wash your hands afterwards.

;)
barefootpuddles
May. 9th, 2011 01:22 pm (UTC)
Nothing to be ashamed of, as long as you don't tell anyone and you wash your hands afterwards.

LOL. No worries, I may hand out brain bleach fr an intrepid readers. :)
yarroway
May. 8th, 2011 04:37 pm (UTC)
my ratings are entirely subjective.

G to my mind is the stuff I'd aim at the 8 and under set, and that's not what I write. The fanfic equivalent of House and Wilson having a picnic with My Little Pony, My Friend Flicka, and Bambi. I don't use it.

NC-17 is my sexual content rating. Most people understand that from the rating, or at least I hope they do. If I wrote violence of equivalent graphicness (there must be a proper word for that), I'd rate it NC-17 too.

If I've written something about serious issues--depression, feeling suicidal, eating disorders, drug addiction--and really delved into it, I rate M.

R is for anything more than a kiss, or a looking at serious issues that aren't gone into in such angsty detail.

I use PG and PG-13 interchangeably.

I tend to rate conservatively, though.
flywoman
May. 8th, 2011 05:09 pm (UTC)
Thanks for this! I'm getting the impression that the bottom line is that all of our rating systems are subjective. Now I'm trying to figure out where I tend to fall along the spectrum. And the answer is... not that reassuring ;).

The fanfic equivalent of House and Wilson having a picnic with My Little Pony, My Friend Flicka, and Bambi.
I think I just threw up a little in my mouth, as the saying goes.

I tend to rate conservatively, though.
Hmm. Glad that you think so, because I'm starting to feel really guilty right about now that I've given House's hand on Wilson's cock a PG-13...
yarroway
May. 8th, 2011 09:56 pm (UTC)
A lot of times it depends how things are handled. I can see fondling being a couple different ratings, depending on what the writer does with it.
alternatealto
May. 8th, 2011 07:21 pm (UTC)
While I hadn't thought of My Little Pony, specifically, I realized after I read your post that I do kind of associate 'G' with Disney and/or the Muppets. So any of my stories that don't merit a stronger rating usually end up saying something like "General Audience" instead of getting a 'G' rating.

And since I don't post in The Pit, I don't worry about the finer points of their rating system. Which I've never been able to figure out anyway -- technically, there is never supposed to be any story on FF.net that depicts graphic sex or violence, according to what I've been told about their terms of service, and theoretically the site owners can take down any such fics they find. But from what I can see this is honored far more in the breach than in the observance; they don't actually take something down unless a whole buncha people complain a lot about it. Still, the idea that someone could come along and remove something I wrote without trial or appeal makes me steer clear of posting there. (Plus, I hear their posting interface is crap.)
yarroway
May. 8th, 2011 09:52 pm (UTC)
FF's posting interface is annoying, but not all that bad. I did steal their M, and I like it. It helps me to differentiate between those of my fics that are explicit and those that are rough reading, if that makes any sense. Of course that might be more useful if anyone other than me understood what I meant by each rating. :)

PG and R are my typical ratings. I also generally say there are adult concepts in what I write, because I haven't got the faintest idea what that means. I figure that since I am an adult, I probably do have adult concepts in what I put out there. I sure hope so, anyway.

I like your term 'General Audience' as a rating. Is that what rated G means? I just think of G as meaning suitable for small children, and assume my output isn't.
flywoman
May. 9th, 2011 04:33 am (UTC)
Yes, "G" is supposed to refer to "General Audiences," which might include children but also one's conservative grandparents.

I think my "R" is equivalent to the ff.net "M" and then NC-17 goes beyond that? I'm not sure, though. I've noticed that many of my old fics from other fandoms have been removed, and I wonder whether it was because they were determined to be too explicit.
yarroway
May. 9th, 2011 12:00 pm (UTC)
Seriously? Like from archives? And no one emailed you about it?

Mind if I ask what fandoms?

I dunno...it sounds like you rate more loosely than some other authors, but just removing them without so much as a note asking you to adjust the rating or tell you what happened seems rude. It's a waste of good stories, too.
flywoman
May. 9th, 2011 12:07 pm (UTC)
To be fair, I had stopped checking the attached email account and lost access, so they may well have tried to warn me.

They were sexually explicit stories from The X-Files and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
srsly_yes
May. 8th, 2011 06:57 pm (UTC)
Well, I thought I knew what my ratings meant until I read everyone's above. Now, I'm not sure. Offhand, I'd say, PG-13 for a little swearing. R for a little kissing, lots of swearing, violence, and deathfics. NC-17 for sex.

Many times I add a condition to my rating, like "Soft NC-17" for implied sex, or "R for language," so not to disappoint anyone who is expecting m/m action.

At one time, just for fun, I created coffee ratings. Expresso for R, Mocha for PG-13. Hot Chocolate for fluff. Since they still needed an explanation, it was rather redundant.

I do rely on warnings to underscore ratings.

flywoman
May. 9th, 2011 04:35 am (UTC)
*smile* I do often use "PG-13 for language" so that readers know that there's no actual sex involved. But... that just distinguishes it from my PG-13 fics in which there is sex involved...
nightdog_barks
May. 8th, 2011 10:00 pm (UTC)
PG-13 is pretty much my default rating, if for no other reason it's been on my headers for so long I just don't bother to change it (unless it's to move it up). Besides, there's almost always something in my stories that would make them PG-13 rather than G.

Graphic violence/rough language gets an R, anything combined with sexual violence gets a "hard R" or an NC-17. I always include separate Warnings for those, as well as for subject matter that could be considered "triggery."

I think generally I try to take into consideration what people who read fanfic could reasonably have already been exposed to -- there's plenty of folks having naked, sweaty sex on HBO, and there are lots of violent movies out there -- Saving Private Ryan and Full Metal Jacket come to mind. So yeah, I try to be aware of what's going on in popular culture, and rate accordingly.
flywoman
May. 9th, 2011 04:38 am (UTC)
I was especially interested to hear from you on this. I have learned always to take your ratings and header warnings seriously!
barefootpuddles
May. 9th, 2011 05:06 am (UTC)
I am very simple:

NC-17 - Sex (even if it is smuff! ;) )

R - Insinuated sex but without the graphic depiction

PG-13 - F word, sex jokes, heavy angst, adult concepts

PG - Bad words, strong sarcasm, negativity or relationship matters

G - Nothing that a kid couldn't read. Not that a kid would like it, but I can type it on my computer and my youngest son can read it over my shoulder.


My biggest issues is not ratings, but warnings. What constitutes an appropriate warning? Without giving the entire story away? I often read fics that were poorly warned, yet the warning or too much of a summary might have ruined it. That is a tough one for me as a writer and as a reader.



Edited at 2011-05-09 05:07 am (UTC)
flywoman
May. 9th, 2011 12:04 pm (UTC)
I am very simple:

Yes! This is simple - and almost perfectly matched to my sensibilities. If it's all right with you, I'd like to copy this into my profile (credited of course), both to remind myself and to clarify for readers.

My biggest issues is not ratings, but warnings. What constitutes an appropriate warning? Without giving the entire story away?

Me too! It's tough because personally I'll read just about anything in the hands of a skilled writer (although I have encountered the occasional exception in a storyline I just can't stomach, it doesn't take very long to figure that out and stop reading). It's so much harder to surprise or create suspense when the reader already knows how something has to end.
barefootpuddles
May. 9th, 2011 01:36 pm (UTC)
Borrow away (and really no need to credit).

Yeah, warnings are very tricky. People want to be warned about different things. I want to know if it a death fic, but I'll read ghost!fics, but if you tell me it is a death fic I won't read it so I may miss out on really good ghost fics. One of my favorite stories is
For Every Closed Door by starlingthefool which had I thought (known?) was a death fic I would have never read it. Though best example out there of this dilemma is Irreversible by kribban, a story with a very important warning that no one should read!
yarroway
May. 9th, 2011 12:09 pm (UTC)
Warnings are a tough. Pairings too, if I want that to be a surprise but don't want to upset a friendship-only reader.

It's hard to balance the reader's needs against the story's.
menolly_au
May. 9th, 2011 08:20 am (UTC)
G - House and Wilson sit on a sofa, watch television and occasionally look in each others direction. Wilson goes home at the end of the night and House goes to bed.

PG - House and Wilson sit on a sofa, watch television and cast flirtatious glances at each other while they occasionally bump knees or their shoulders touch. Wilson goes home at the end of the night and House goes to bed sad and lonely.

PG-13 - House and Wilson sit on a sofa, watch television and then cuddle up to each other on said sofa, they exchange gentle kisses and Wilson suggests that they have an early night. Who sleeps where is not detailed.

R - House and Wilson sit on a sofa, watch porn, kiss heavily and then have sex that is not described in graphic detail. Wilson 'pleasures' House who feels a 'tremendous release'. They both retire to House's bedroom and look forward to round 2 in the morning.

NC-17 - House and Wilson sit on a sofa, watch porn, thrust their tongues far down each others throats, tear their clothes off and have sex with every movement described in loving detail, including which part goes where. Lube is applied, condoms may or may not be put on and great fun is had by both. They go to House's bedroom for a repeat and have such enthusiastic sex that they break the bed.
flywoman
May. 9th, 2011 11:34 am (UTC)
LOL. You win.

Also, I definitely need to rethink my PG-13 ratings.
jezziejay
May. 9th, 2011 01:58 pm (UTC)
Hee:) The Best Rating System EVER - Awesome :D
( 32 comments — Leave a comment )

Profile

London
flywoman
flywoman

Latest Month

April 2017
S M T W T F S
      1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
30      

Tags

Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Jared MacPherson