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I write stories. They're pretty bad. Can I ask questions about them on the main sci-fi and fantasy SE?

I would try not to do much advertising, and since I am in no way getting paid for having people view them I shouldn't have much of a problem there. Probably most of the questions would be more 'Why would character X do thing Y?'(which I think is on-topic) or something along the lines of that. Asking for help writing would definitely be off-topic, so it would be more for seeing what other people thought about the character's motivations or something like that, although I think that starts to fall in the subjective questions category. Mainly I just want to see what other people are interpreting the story as so I can tell whether or not I am writing in a way that it is easily understandable.

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    What you're describing sounds like borderline spam.
    – Valorum
    Dec 2 '20 at 15:55
  • @Valorum, hadn't thought about it that way but yeah i guess you're right. Dec 2 '20 at 15:56
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    If something wouldn't be OK on Writing.SE or Worldbilding, then I don't see how it could here. Perhaps look for a forum. There are places on the net where you could show people whole work, ask for advice etc.
    – Mithoron
    Dec 4 '20 at 1:47
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    interpretation is opinion based as well - so that could be a reason to close. As the author, you're the 'word of God' as to character motivations or facts about the story. So to ask a question that you are, honestly, the best and likely only person able to give the best answer to is an abuse of the intent of the site
    – NKCampbell
    Dec 4 '20 at 17:17
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"Why would character X do thing Y?" sounds off-topic as it's asking for help with writing a story.
"Why did character X do thing Y?" is an on-topic type of question as it's asking for analysis of an existing story.

This site accepts questions about existing works of sci-fi or fantasy, including unpublished ones such as fan-fiction. One key criterion is that the work you're asking about should be available somewhere: either formally published in a book, or online, or at least such that someone other than the author has been able to read it.

Another very important point is that you must disclose your affiliation. If you're asking about a story you wrote, then you have to be up-front about the fact that you wrote it. Also, don't do this too much or you risk getting seen as a spammer, just using the site to promote your own stuff. We have a help centre page about this:

The community here tends to vote down overt self-promotion and flag it as spam. Post good, relevant answers, and if some (but not all) happen to be about your product or website, that’s okay. However, you must disclose your affiliation in your answers.

That page assumes that people are going to post answers, not questions, about their own stuff. But a lot of it still applies to your situation.

Bear in mind also that the SFF.SE community largely tends to subscribe to a "Word of God" / "authorial intent" approach to reading stories, i.e. taking the author's word about anything as final and "canonical". So if a question about a story is posted by the author themselves, then it might get a reaction along the lines of "why are you even asking? you're the author, you tell us!"

Can I ask questions about works not widely known and maybe even by me?

TL;DR: "not widely known" is fine; "by me" might work once or twice but likely won't be well received by voters, and don't overdo it.

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  • "by me" might work once or twice but likely won't be well received by voters - unless you're Thaddeus
    – Mithical
    Dec 2 '20 at 17:29
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    @Mithical I think Thaddeus has never answered, let alone asked, a question about his own work here. To be clear on that last point: authors answering questions about their own stories is usually very well-received, but authors asking about their own stories probably wouldn't be.
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Dec 2 '20 at 17:36
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    @Randal'Thor - That guy who was posting questions about his self-drawn "identify these characters" pictures did quite well to begin with, but there was quite a lot of discussion about whether his successive questions fell into the category of "buy my stuff" spam, especially as he didn't disclose that he was drawing them.
    – Valorum
    Dec 2 '20 at 19:56
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    My 2¢: I'm personally willing to be a lot more lenient on the "spam" thing if the material is free and not intended to make money (directly or indirectly), which is often the case with fanfiction (e.g. AO3 does not run ads and is entirely donation-funded). It's still very much possible to overdo this, however.
    – Kevin
    Dec 4 '20 at 1:29
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Mainly I just want to see what other people are interpreting the story as so I can tell whether or not I am writing in a way that it is easily understandable.

Leaving aside the spam issue, the very page you linked to contains the following:

To prevent your question from being flagged and possibly removed, avoid asking subjective questions where … [...]

  • there is no actual problem to be solved: “I’m curious if other people feel like I do.”

This may be a problem for you as a writer, but this isn't a "problem" like the ones this site solves. You may want to get beta readers.

Plus, if you decide to change your story based on the answers you receive on this site, the question becomes moot, which goes against the site's "repository of knowledge for future users" principle.


It would be perfectly okay to try to ask in chat, as long as you're ok with the possibility of no one being interested enough to help you out. (Just like people may very well get thrilled by the idea and want even more)

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  • Meh, I would file this under death of the author and answer the questions as asked, subject to the various considerations that Rand al'Thor has pointed out in their answer.
    – Kevin
    Dec 4 '20 at 1:26
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If you need help/advice writing a science fiction or fantasy story, you're probably better off at our sister site Writing Stack Exchange. Check their Help Center before asking a question.

(Note: I'm not too familiar with Writing.SE, or even with SciFi.SE for that matter.)

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  • Writing SE doesn't like critique, review, questions about existing works, and a few other things that keep it from liking these types of questions that I would like to ask. Dec 2 '20 at 15:52
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    Ah right, I see that you are familiar with that site too. Still, if somebody would ask this as a site recommendation on Meta.SE, I would direct them to Writing.SE and advice them to form their question in such a way that it meets the community's guidelines. If that's not possible, there's probably no suitable site in the network.
    – Glorfindel
    Dec 2 '20 at 16:12

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