IDB Book Club

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phillyforgot
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Re: IDB Book Club

Post by phillyforgot » Thu Jan 11, 2018 8:08 pm

I haven't really written much in this forum before, but yay, I guess I can say I'm part of a book club now :D which is pretty exciting. I'd be up for any kind of discussion here, I'm definitely looking forward to it.



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LeftHandedism
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Re: IDB Book Club

Post by LeftHandedism » Fri Jan 12, 2018 9:28 pm

readingmama wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 5:38 am
I have never been part of a book club before but its something that I have always wanted to do so this is awesome!

I have a thought on a series that might be fun to discuss:

Right Where We Are- http://archiveofourown.org/series/270268:

It is a series of 5 works about 38k word count total. Its a bit older but has a few different, topical themes. I don't know if the setup of a series versus a chaptered story or longer one-shot would work but kinda of sticks with the themes of reality and family.

There are lots of fics out there that would be great to explore so this is just a suggestion and I'd love to hear more ideas!
That sounds great! Let's put it down at the February 1st fic:

Right Where We Are by thatsmistertoyou

Still looking for suggestions for future fics!
"If you're left-handed, ask a friend."
"Why am I left-handed?"
"Everybody makes mistakes."

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LeftHandedism
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Re: IDB Book Club

Post by LeftHandedism » Mon Jan 15, 2018 3:56 pm

:reading1: First Fic for the IDB Book Club :reading2:

Fic: home is where the wifi connects automatically by oqua
Host: LeftHandedism

"home is where the wifi connects automatically" was written in September 2016 and was the winner of "Best Reality" in the 2016 Phanfic Awards. (Note: among her many other talents, oqua is an Admin here on IDB!) This fic is written in limited third person from Dan's point of view, and is a series of snapshots of Christmas from 2010 through 2015. Dan and Phil spend each Christmas apart, with their respective families. It's always a difficult time for Dan.

Questions for discussion

1) This fic is canon-compliant--nothing in it contradicts what we know to be "true". How does this make the fic emotionally powerful?

2) Dan's parents are portrayed as pretty terrible; this is certainly based on Dan (in real life) saying things about his parents that sound like complaints, which could be summed up as a complaint that they do not pay attention to him. Is it reasonable to suppose that Dan's parents must have some redeeming qualities even if we don't see them? Is the point of view of this fic showing them as they really are, or is the reader seeing them through a negative lens that is distorting reality (e.g., by failing to notice caring gestures from his parents or by interpreting a tone of voice as more dismissive than it was meant)?

3) What is Phil's role in the story? In what ways does he provide a counterpoint to Dan's experience with his family?

4) The wifi is pretty obviously a metaphor. For what, exactly? At what point does Dan realize it is a metaphor? Phil doesn't seem to realize that the wifi is standing in for something else until the 2012 chapter. Is this realistic, and if so, why might it have taken Phil so long to understand what Dan was really complaining about?

5) This fic is written in the present tense, with a linear, straightforward storytelling style (for example, there are no flashbacks or pauses for exposition). What are some of the features of the author's writing style that help make the story she is telling compelling?

6) Which of the six Christmases is the most sad and painful, and why?

7) The title of this fic is unusually long--in fact it is a full sentence. It's memorable because it's very concrete, and because it's a contemporary saying, based on the old saying "home is where the heart is". The title itself doesn't appear in the fic; instead it is a remarkably effective one-sentence summary. Would this fic be as powerful if it had a different title? What role might such a perfect title have played in this fic being remembered, recommended, and read?

8) This fic was written just as tatinof was winding down, and in the pre-Baking Video Universe. What would the 2016 and 2017 chapters look like? Would they be redundant? Would they change the story? Was Christmas 2015, by conincidence, the perfect Christmas on which to end the fic?

I had fun writing these questions and in particular thinking about how a fanfic is different from other sorts of published writing. I eagerly await everyone's responses to these questions (or just skip the questions and respond to the fic itself!). I have some particular thoughts on a few of these, but I'd like to hear some other perspectives before sharing more of mine.

:reading1:Next fic: Right Where We Are by thatsmistertoyou :reading2:
This is a series of 5 works (~38k words) written in 2015, continuing the family theme.
Host: readingmama
Date discussion begins: February 1
"If you're left-handed, ask a friend."
"Why am I left-handed?"
"Everybody makes mistakes."

phillyforgot
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Re: IDB Book Club

Post by phillyforgot » Mon Jan 15, 2018 8:26 pm

1) In a way, the fanfiction is easier to connect to if it's realistic and not in a whole new universe (AU-ish). We're automatically slightly more connected to the Dan an Phil we know and love than to the same duo in a different setting.

2) It's pretty likely that Dan's parents have redeeming qualities in this fanfiction. While they weren't shown, the story was told by Dan, who was feeling pretty disconnected to everything going on in his family lately. The story might've sounded different if told by his parents.

3) Phil has a really close relationship to his parents in this story. He excitedly tells Dan about his brother and parents and grandparents. This provides a clear contrast to Dan's messy family life. Phil's role also includes comforting Dan about his family events, he's compassionate, kind and really understanding - especially considering his different experiences.

4) Dan tells Phil that he Wi-Fi has no connection which is obviously false. There is, however, a lack of connection between Dan and his family. That's what the Wi-Fi stands for. If someone uses metaphors in such a context, it's easy to just see what's been said instead of reading between the lines. I think it wasn't that hard for Phil to misunderstand the whole thing.

5) I can't really do into depth as to why, but I personally feel like the present tense suits the story pretty well.

6) Personally I feel like 2011 was the most painful year, especially considering it was the year before Phil properly understood what was going on. He felt misunderstood not only by his family, but also by Phil.

7) The title is fitting. It easily suits Dan's family situation with the lack of Wi-Fi and their missing connection. And then there's also the fact, that he wasn't where his heart was, his heart was with Phil (I can't believe I'm being so cheesy today).

8) The 2017 version could've easily included the whole Colin eating the cake dilemma. Dan seemed to be generally more relaxed in the past two years, so maybe the fanfiction would've been less angsty?

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obsessivelymoody
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Re: IDB Book Club

Post by obsessivelymoody » Tue Jan 16, 2018 6:57 am

1. Because we're so used to watching and following the boys lives, in a way where it feels like we 'know' them (especially when adding in the fact that they make relatable content), a more "real life" form of compassion can be felt towards the boys in the story due to the established connection in the real world. it only gets further intensified when dan goes through all the emotional hardships we see him experience in the story, because along with seeing him in a familiar and friendly way, we also get into his head a little.

2. I think that Dan's parents can absolutely feature some redeeming qualities and that Dan's view on them is skewed through a negative lens, however I think this ties into the last question about the canon of the story. While Dan is, and was in 2016 when the story was written, very private about his life outside of Phil and other youtube friends, everything we know about his parents (up until recently, as it can be debated that the little bits of information he shares about them more positively now), was talked about very pessimistically. When taking that into account I think it makes the canon of the story feel even more real, adding to the emotional impact of the story.

3. I would say that Phil represents everything Dan wants, whether that be regarding family or stability, or both (which, again when regarding the canon, I find interesting because of the way their relationship came to be irl). I also think he grounds Dan back to the reality that he thrives and feels most comfortable in.

4. I believe the wifi is a metaphor for Dan's ~disconnect~ (i'm sorry i couldn't resist) with his family as he grew into an adult away from home, and through that Dan's negative reflection on his life at home. I'd say that Dan realizes it's a metaphor near the end of the 2010 chapter, but I don't think it concretely sets in until the 2011 chapter. I think that perhaps Phil had an idea of what was going on before 2012, but it didn't sink in until Dan actually said something while he was still with Phil before they left for the holidays. I personally think it's realistic because it wasn't something Dan seemed to complain as much about to Phil when they were together, and because of how brief the time Dan spends at his parents during the holidays was, it can be harder to pick up the actual meaning the wifi holds.

5. By telling the story in present tense, which creates no time for reflection, the reader is more interested in how the problem in the present can be fixed as time passes, and I think it also adds to Dan's character discovering himself through this predicament with his family over the years, and having him do so in present tense is more effective to the general theme/message the story is telling.

6. 2011 felt the most painful to me because it was during a very transitional period of Dan's life where he started to figure himself out as a person by making a bunch of changes with Phil and university, and it was also when the ball started rolling for him and Phil career-wise, so the dismissal of his parents, as well as Phil's lack of fulling understanding what was going on made the whole chapter feel so awful. Also, 2013 felt pretty bad as well considering Dan really broke in that chapter. The worst bit of me was the two sentences before the final line of the chapter: "The Final Step is to repress it. Which Dan does." Yikes.

7. I really love the title of the story, and as it's so fitting, the story really wouldn't be as memorable. Also for some reason I can really see Dan saying that phrase, and in my brain the context is a 2013 liveshow, which may just be me being random or the story's impact on me

8. I think that with the ending of the story, along with when it was written, works so deliciously well with the "end of an era" feeling 2015 had. However, if the story were written now, I think it would be written a little differently, as well as being looked at in new ways that weren't there in September 2016. To be honest, I didn't look at the date it was published, so I assumed it was written recently (even though I'm pretty sure I came across it on tumblr in the middle of last year or something :roll:), which made me think that story was doing to subtly introduce Dan's journey with mental health, so I think if it were written with the information we have now, it could have possibly had a stronger focus and connection to mental health. I wouldn't say that 2016 and 2017 chapters would be completely redundant, instead I would think they would focus on communication, growth, recovery, and forgiveness to certain extents for each of those.

I love these questions! They're really thoughtful, especially when taking discussion into account, so props to you LeftHandedism. Honestly, it feels pretty good to hash out some thoughts on a fic like that.
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smartcookie
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Re: IDB Book Club

Post by smartcookie » Tue Jan 16, 2018 6:01 pm

I’d like to start of by apologising to my Spanish grade for ignoring my homework in favour of this. With that out off the way,

1. Unless a fic is a deliberate AU I always think it being canon-compliant just takes it up a notch so to speak, so yes i do think it makes it more emotionally powerful. At least in hindsight, as it being canon-compliant wasn’t something i reflected upon whilst reading.

2. I’ve always found myself a bit bored and also uncomfortable with the ever so popular trope of how awful Dan’s family is. He has done a lot of complaining about them (allegedly, not that I’ve picked up on but seen others talk of it) which i believe is the root to that impossibly popular trope. Nevertheless i choose to believe that Dan’s parents both fictional and real have loads of redeeming qualities, too. But for the sake of the fic they are left out and in the case of irl dan i think it is him being just generally a bit pessimistic, and also it is just so much easier to complain than sing praise and i feel that maybe it felt a little bit awkward and not so compelling to talk about his family just generally but when it was something he was upset with or so on it felt more okay because problems are relatable and perhaps more urgent on his mind to talk about. I don’t know, I’m probably just projecting, always been a bit uncomfortable on the Howells’ behalf when they are so often perceived in a bad lightning, especially in fics.

3. I think phil in this story playing such a mellow yet big role. He is little heard of but yet his presence is all over the story. I think he adds a very important role, without phil as the light in this story it would just be too depressing to read. Just constantly the grief of feeling unloved and never ever actually mentions of feeling loved. He adds a nice balance to the story.

4. The WiFi is pretty obviously a metaphor for ‘the grief of feeling unloved’, and i think it is a pretty damn good metaphor. I think it is at the back of his mind from literally page one, but it becomes blatant to both the reader as well as dan at the encounter with the barman (Beach shack man?) in India, it is pretty much spelt out. I think it is quite realistic it took him so long to figure out, up until that time dan hadn’t been quite so clear with what he actually meant and if you have no reason to believe everything isn’t alright, why would you?

5. I always have a tough time pin-pointing what exactly makes me like a fic or makes me put off by it (writing style wise, that is), but i just think it comes down to the way each different author writes and whether the plot is intriguing. So for me personally at least I just think that the author have a good idea and a good way with words that makes you want to continue reading.

6. I think the 2011 Christmas is by far the saddest one, it is just so blatant what he feels and just as blatant are the neglect from his parents. I just feel so bad for him during that whole part. Everything about it is sad. Phil doesn’t seem to want to understand yet. He is stressed and under some kind of pressure to deliver. And just all the neglect from his parents, it is obvious how unwanted and unloved he feels during that “year”, and that hurts even as the reader. Likewise i also think that it is just no real light in this “year” the feelings are more severe than the previous year and phil doesn’t realise to offer much support.

7. I think a title can of course be eye catching and make you interested, but for the actually content itself i don’t think it plays that big of a role. And hadn’t it been it been for it being a particularly clever title i don’t think i would even have remembered it. The titles bother me very little.

8. Interesting question. I actually think the year it ended on was a perfect closure. The feeling this fic gives me is that if it had continued into further years dan wouldn’t have gone. That last “year” gives me such a strong feeling of closure and his mum slamming the door shut behind her just adds to that. The story lead up to that last bit where we finally got some kind of both metaphorical (the door) and real closure (the closure-y vibe lol). Excellent end to the story. As well as i think that if it had been continued into 2017 could have thrown it of a little with both the cake tweet (just got really sweet and homely vibes from it) and those other one (two?) tweets he shared about his mother, that doesn’t really, at least for me, tie in with the canon of this story. So if further years had been included (and somewhat canon) i think that would have taken of the edge a little, because now it is, sad sad sad, but with a very fulfilling closure that makes you remember it as something beautifully melancholy, whilst further chapters could have turned it into more of a, sad sad sad aw happy, kind of deal with would be so much less memorable. Even if we then, hypothetically, was presented with a equally fulfilling and closing ending it wouldn’t be nearly as memorable, just yet another ‘and they lived happy forever and always’ kind of fic. It would completely destroy the story’s emotional value!

Wonderfully interesting and thought provoking questions! :respekt2:
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alittledizzy
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Re: IDB Book Club

Post by alittledizzy » Tue Jan 16, 2018 6:14 pm

I've sat down three times to answer the questions and keep finding myself interrupted and losing track of the tab (therefore losing my answers) so what I'm gonna do is just throw some thoughts out freeform instead.

How many of you guys were in phandom when this fic got posted? Oqua wrote it in Septmber of 2016, which isn't that long ago - but also in terms of phandom shifts feels like a lifetime ago. I think Oqua and her fic actually started a trend of people outside of forums sitting up and taking notice of Dan's family, and this fic might have been the one that kickstarted it. I know I personally don't think I read too many depictions of Dan's family that were realistic but hard skewed toward negative before this, at least not ones that got so much attention. A lot of people very quickly took it as fact, and with that came a more slow growing but definite backlash as people who disagreed with Dan's reliability as a narrator (in real life) also began to question Phil's reliability as a narrator and wondering what parts of his family we don't see because his lens is such a positive-skewed one. It's basically just a really great reminder that powerful fic can prompt conversations outside of just the little universe the fic itself lives in. I'd also kill for a strong Phil version of this fic, perhaps set in earlier years, or where Phil us struggling to maintain positivity while realizing there are things his family (especially grandparents) aren't accepting of and how that makes him feel.

And I'll sneak one question in here: personally if there were going to be new chapters I'd love to see the take on Dan being engaged with his family (or at least, his mum) and making the cake that Colin ate. Perhaps exploring the balance between removing the 'grass is always greener' aspect (since Dan did go to Isle of Man as well) and having him gain some perspective on the positives his own family has to offer.

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