Atalanta (lothy) wrote,

How to create a themed list: Stargate SG-1 and Atlantis

I recently linked to painless_j's How-To Guide for writing Harry Potter thematic lists from my List of Lists, and I thought I'd do one for Stargate lists, so that I could link to it from the Stargate list of lists.

With PJ's permission I've copied the vast majority of this post from her guide, so a lot of the credit for it goes to her. (And the 'I' on this page alternates between me and her.)

The thing you have to realise about making lists is: it's fun. And fairly easy. It does take a bit of time though...

Picking a topic: themes, characters, pairings

Consider this: have you seen many fics with this theme? Is it a popular theme? I mean, are there many people who like to write and read about it or are there just a few? If it seems to you that it's not a popular one, don't give up - it just means that it's a bit harder to search for it. It's much worse if a pairing/theme is too popular - it would be impossible to collect every Jack/Daniel fic out there. So, use your logic and reader's experience.

If you're making your list on the basis of plot, decide if you want to limit it to a certain pairing or character, or just collect every fic with that theme.

What don't you want? Make rules.

Before you start collecting fics, work out what you don't want in your list. For instance, you might want break-up fics, but only ones where the characters reconcile. The more logical and precise your rules are, the easier it is for you to search for fics, for people to help you, and later for people to use what you collected.

Search for fics

  • What fics do you already remember?

    Focus, concentrate, and dig out everything that fits from your own memory. There's a lot there. Even if it's only titles or vague descriptions, it's something already; you'll look and ask for details later.

  • Ask people.

    People are fandom treasure! They are helpful and kind. Quite a few of them will go on a wild goose chase if you ask nicely.

    Firstly, spell-check your request. If you expect people to do you a favour, it would be really nice of you to show them some consideration, and the least you can do is being coherent and spelling words as they should be spelled. Few will bother if they don't understand what you want.

    Secondly, don't be rude or annoying. Fandom is community. It won't do to annoy half of it while doing things for your pleasure. So, ask in places where it's allowed. There are perfectly good places to make fic searches 'cos they exist solely for that, such as stargate_search, sgastoryfinders and sgagenrefinders, and other communities may also allow you to make searches.

    Make sure you read the rules. sgastoryfinders is solely for looking for particular fics; requests for fics of a particular theme or pairing will only be deleted.

  • Do some searching on your own.

    If it's possible to find decent key words for your theme/pairing, go to big archives and enter the key words in their search engine. Have a through look through the results. Some archives may also have what you want as a category or sub-category on their site.

    stargate_search maintains a useful list of SG-1 and Atlantis fanfiction archives which you could look through: Gen, Het, Slash, Character and Pairing and Thematic. Big multi-fandom archives such as may also be useful.

    It may also be useful to look through tags in LJ communities, especially those in ficsearching communities. (There's a directory of communities that you could look through.) As well as finding posted fics, you may find that several people have already done searches for the subjects you are interested in.

As you can see, it takes time and effort, so be ready for it. But it's interesting, believe me. You can find absolutely crazy and unexpected things.

Compiling the list

If you want it only for your own pleasure, here it stops. You just collect the links as you wish and read to your heart's delight. But if you did so much work already, you can as well share it with other folks, right?

  • Type those rules you thought of when searching for fics.

    Firstly, people will know what to expect and what not to. It never does any harm. Secondly, if you make more than one listing and if you keep doing it, at some point of time you'll forget what it was that you were collecting.

  • Arrange the fics in some sort of comprehensible order.

    This is important. If you drop everything in one heap, you won't be able to find anything yourself two months later, and nobody else will be able to use it. Besides, I bet you'll end up adding the same fic to the list four times. Because nearly every person has those "blank spot" things they keep forgetting, and you'll have the rotten luck that exactly that sort of fic will be coming up again and again.

    In my opinion, there hasn't been invented anything better than simple alphabetical order. By title or author. I prefer by title 'cos authors tend to change names or have different names on LJ and off it, and it gets confusing. If you need sub-categories, it's still better to keep alphabetical order inside them. Makes life easier, really.

  • Give some information about the fics.

    It's for you to decide, of course. But here's what experience tells me: don't be lazy and don't try to save space. If you list only titles/links, it won't be very useful. Make people's choice a bit easier.

    Basically, the information I give about a fic on my themed lists is what I would like to know about a fic when choosing one/two from a hundred: title, author, URL, pairing, rating, length, WIP status, AU or not, summary, basic warnings (optional). I add an alternate URL whenever I can 'cos it spares everybody trouble when sites go down. Some of these positions are moot if the search is limited. There's no point in adding Elizabeth/Teyla to every fic on a list dedicated to that pairing.

    It's always useful to tell people why a fic fits your list. If if it's a list of time travel fics, who is doing the time travelling? What era are they going to? These things aren't always evident from the summaries, but can be vitally important to the reader.

  • If you want to, mark the fics that you like best.

    It's not necessary, but people often like to see some differentiation: what to begin with, what *you* liked best, etc. Not all readers like it though. But anyway, it wouldn't be amiss to tell people if you collect *everything* on the topic or if you read every one of the fics on your list; if there's some quality control from you or if they are on their own, etc.

  • Credit, thank, and pimp.

    Nobody likes an ingrate. So thank people who helped you, credit those whose ideas you used, and so on.

    Pimp what you've done in relevant places. I emphasise, relevant! Post links in relevant communities - for Atlantis lists, sga_noticeboard is an ideal place to go. Also contact the fandom newsletters - sg1_debrief for SG-1, and sga_newsletter for Atlantis. And post in stargate_search - they link to thematic lists in their memories.

    Then head over here to my LJ and tell me about your list, so that I can add it to my Stargate list of lists.


  • Fixing broken links.

    Making a listing is only the first stage. If you made it and forgot it for a year, it will become only half-usable. In two years, it will be barely usable at all. Why? Because archives change domains, sites go down, people f-lock their journals, authors remove their fics from the net on personal reasons. You won't believe how many URLs won't be working if you checked your list two years after it was created. That's why I call for help every half a year and, with the tears of gratitude in my eyes -- no joke -- collect the help that wonderful, kind people offer with checking for broken links.

  • Adding stuff.

    You read fic. You do it every day/week or so. Keep in mind what listing you already have and what you plan/would like to make at some point in the future. If you come across a fic that fits one of those topics, code it and add it at once -- it takes 2 minutes. Or at least bookmark it. Create a special folder in your computer or in LJ memories or make a private-locked post and dump the info there, supported by a note that will tell you what it is and what you bookmarked it for. Yep, a note can save you hours of rereading, trying to figure out where you meant to add this fic.

    When I started doing it, I had a huge folder, divided into subfolders on various topics I found interesting, where I saved fics or first chapters of chaptered fics. As I read, the folder grew. As a result, when I started a new search, I always knew a dozen fics to start with. By now, nearly every fic I read fits somewhere, if not on my lists then on those that other people keep.

  • Mark new additions.

    Some people choose to highlight new fics on the list (e.g. by including the word 'new'). Others prefer to have an updates section at the top of the page. However you do it, make it easy for people who have visited your list in the past to find the fics they haven't read.

I hope this is useful to some people. Don't forget - if you make a list, enjoy yourself.


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