You need to get permission from a Permission Giver on the PPC Posting Board before you're allowed to write PPC stories, including missions, interludes, and anything else set in the shared universe of the Protectors of the Plot Continuum. This article discusses the whys and hows of doing so, and it is expected that you read and understand it before asking for permission.
Why Do I Need Permission? Edit
The reasons are simple:
- When you are writing about your agents and HQ, you are borrowing the world that was created by Jay and Acacia. They specifically requested that spin-off authors use their gadgets, follow their naming system for new stuff, include jokes and references, and try not to contradict PPC backstory. This has since been interpreted to include generally keeping to the spirit of the Original Series. Permission ensures that people who want to write a spin-off actually want to write a PPC spin-off—one that satisfies the above requirements—and not to make up something completely different. (Making up something completely different is cool, but calling it "PPC" is not.)
- We take pride in the fact that our stories are well-written. If someone asks for permission to PPC, and that person's post is riddled with bad spelling, grammar, and logic, permission will not be granted. What right do we have to mock people's stories if our own writings are just as bad? Additionally, it would be super-hypocritical if the PPC ended up full of Sue and Stu agents who are not reformed.
How Do I Get Permission? Edit
- Introduce yourself on the Board, read the PPC Constitution, and interact regularly for a while. We're a community, so if no one knows who you are when you ask for permission, it's unlikely to be granted right away. Also, uh, we're kinda weird. Hanging around and interacting with us will help you get acquainted with our quirkier aspects.
- At least read the Original Series. You're essentially writing a fanfic about it, so know your canon. It's a good idea to read some other spin-offs, too. You can find a listing of them on the Complete List of PPC Fiction (also hosted here). You can also browse by fandom.
- Other recommended reading includes the Official Fanfiction University of Middle-earth and any other OFUs that tickle your fancy, the PPC Handbook, and the writings about some of the events in PPC history.
- The wiki contains several documents designed to help you get acquainted with today's PPC. Check out the FAQ: For Newbies, Guide to the PPC, Mission Writing Guide, and, if you're into slash, the Slash-Sporking Guide.
- To help figure out if you understand what the PPC is all about, take the Permission Self-Check. If you can answer all the questions, you probably know what we're here for. This is not compulsory, but is highly recommended.
- Come up with an agent or two. Two is recommended if you're writing alone, but teaming up with someone and writing one agent each is equally encouraged.
- Create two writing samples, based on guidance from the Permission Prompt Guidelines. You'll use one control prompt of your choice, and either one creative prompt of your own invention, or one random prompt you'll get based on a dice roll. More information is included in the linked document.
- Find yourself a badfic you really want to spork.
- Follow these instructions to find a beta.
- Once you're sufficiently oriented and sure of what you want to do, post your permission request on the Board. For what to include, see below.
What to Include in a Permission Request Edit
Generally speaking, a permission request should include the following:
- Brief bios of your agents, about 200 words minimum (though up to ~400 is okay). This is so the Permission Givers can check that they're not blatant Sues or Stus. Please touch on:
- Basic info - Name, species, age, sex/gender, home continuum, etc.
- Appearance - What they look like and other physical traits.
- Personality - Basic demeanor, outlook, habits, likes and dislikes, etc.
- History - Background information such as where they come from, how they joined the PPC, family relations, important formative experiences, etc. The character's backstory should inform their personality and appearance—in particular, personality traits and abilities should be justified by the history.
- Any other traits or abilities we should know about.
- The department you intend to place them in. A complete list of existing departments can be found here.
- A link to the writing samples you created or the samples themselves copied directly into your post. We want to see how well you write mechanically, and we really want to see whether you can write three-dimensional, entertaining characters in a style that works for the PPC. As mentioned above, your samples should be based on a control prompt and a creative or random prompt, discussed in further detail in the Permission Prompt Guidelines.
- A link to the badfic you intend to tackle as your first mission, and a sentence or two explaining why it's bad. This is so we can make sure you've got an eye for what makes a good mission.
- The names of your beta reader or readers.
And that's it. The exact format is up to you, and it does help to look like you're having fun rather than just tripping over a silly ritual. It is that, but it's a necessary silly ritual.
Things to Avoid Edit
There are a few commonly observed behaviors that tend to worry or annoy the PGs rather than inspire them with faith and trust. These are them.
- Asking for permission within days of your first introduction post is both doomed to fail and a sign that you haven't learned the rules yet. Not following the rules is bad, so make sure you learn them before trying to get permission. Reading this page in its entirety is a good start.
- Bringing up the subject of permission at every opportunity is annoying. Chill out. Relax. Enjoy the Board and the missions. (That is why you're here, right?) Tell someone else how much you like their work. Tell a funny anecdote. Pose an interesting question. Discuss. Show us that you're part of the community.
- Exhibiting a lack of confidence in one's self does not inspire confidence from others. If you don't feel comfortable with your abilities or your knowledge, it's okay to wait to ask for permission until you feel ready—and for Eru's sake, cheer up!
- Reporting badfic is good. Reporting zillions of badfics does nothing for you, and if you spam the Board with new threads, it will annoy people. If there is a pre-existing badfic report thread, please use that one.
- Taking everything seriously is a sure sign that you have no idea what the PPC is about. Relax and have fun!
Some Frequently Asked Questions Edit
Some of this information may be covered elsewhere, but since these are frequently asked, it doesn't hurt to frequently answer them.
Q. What can I do without permission? Edit
Lots! The following list is far from exhaustive, but covers some of the most frequently raised issues.
- Post to The Board and chat in the PPC Lounge.
- Contribute to the PPC Wiki.
- Play in most PPC games, including the PPC Boarder Shipfic Fest, the PPC Badfic Game, and Fill the Plothole.
- Take part in most PPC RPs, except where specifically noted to require permission.
- Act as a beta reader for other PPCers.
- Report badfic to the Board or Lounge, and join in the analysis of it.
- Write PPC Badfic Reports, and post them on the Wiki.
Q. When should I ask for permission? Edit
A. Whenever you feel comfortable and confident asking. Part of this should be that you are confident in your level of understanding of the PPC. The Permission Self-Check is here to help you assess yourself.
The sole caveat regarding timeframe is that the Permission Givers are not likely to grant permission to someone they just met or don't recognize, so it helps if you've been around long enough to have an appreciable presence in the community. However, there's no one magical time period.
Q. What are the permission givers looking for? Edit
A. Good writing.
... what you wanted more? ^_^
- Good SPaG.
- An understanding of both the setting and spirit of the PPC.
- Characters who come across as three-dimensional and interesting to read about, and fit in with their supposed backgrounds.
- A story that reads like a story, not half a scene cribbed from a larger work.
- Reasonable reactions to events around them (ie, character-driven rather than plot-driven).
- Other stuff like that.
Q. Character bio? How? What? Give me some help! Edit
A. A BRIEF bio for each character tells us the relevant things we CAN'T get from the prompts.
An example character bio might look like one of these:
- Narto Telyan
- Narto was born in a world basically identical to ours, though they have a wider range of natural hair colours (and corresponding folklore about what they mean—green is for bravery and strength of heart, for instance). He's human, male, and when we meet him about seventeen years old. He has short ginger/orange hair (which represents innocence and adaptability), blue eyes, and is pretty short and scrawny. He's from Wales, though I don't expect that to come up.
- He came to the PPC a couple of years ago looking for his sister, only to find she'd been killed a few years earlier. He stuck around, working in the Department of Implausible Crossovers, and when we meet him has just been transferred to DOGA for setting fire to Jareth's castle, the Labyrinth, and (for good measure) Mirkwood.
- Narto is quiet—more than that, he's shy. He has no particular confidence in himself, and tries to avoid talking to people. He's rather uncomfortable with using weapons—hence his stint in IC—and has basically spent his entire time at the PPC acting like a junior agent. He is, however, rather more capable than he believes—something his new partner will try her best to draw out.
- The missions are going to be from Narto's first-person POV, so his 'voice' will be fairly strong—and will also change over time as he develops.
- Name: Louise. No surname. Call her Lou.
- Species: Human female.
- Home Continuum: World One.
- Age: About eighteen.
- Appearance: Strawberry-blonde hair and black-framed glasses, with brown eyes. She's a bit taller than Narto.
- Powers: Lou has a special 'ability'/trait, the physical manifestation of which is that she occasionally talks to the ceiling (much to Narto's bemusement). It seems to give her low-level psychic powers (telepathy and foresight). I'd prefer to keep the surprise, but if you need to know, email me and ask.
- Personality: Lou is... energetic. Not bouncy (though she can bounce), but always pressing forward to the next paragraph, the next scene. She is also highly unwilling to tolerate any 'foolishness' from Narto—such as uncertainty about what he should be doing, or hesitation to do it. She's rather taken him under her wing, in fact. She also claims to be pentapolar, 'like bipolar but more so'—though she may well have made that up.
- History: Lou has just transferred to DOGA, though she's not telling from where—or why—or much of anything, really. She's well trained in weapons and PPC procedure, and seems to know her way around HQ, but apart from that, we—through Narto—know very little about her. Which, he suspects, is just the way she likes it.
- Department: DOGA, like I said.
Q. I really have problems with writing from prompts. Is there another option? Edit
A. Not at this time. The control prompts were picked specifically because they're scenes that almost everyone will write anyway, so we don't think you should have a problem just because they're prompts, too. The random prompts exist for several very good reasons, one of which is to give you a clear idea of what the PGs are looking for in a permission request. You can replace the random prompt with one of your choosing, but unilaterally ignoring good advice is a bad idea, so we'd rather you didn't.
Q. What if my random prompt is something my character(s) wouldn't do? Edit
A. You can always cheat and pick whatever prompt you think will be easiest to write; we'll never know. However, we'd really much prefer that you challenge yourself and stick with the results of your dice roll. Each box has two prompts to choose from, so you're not totally without options, and each prompt is open to a variety of interpretations. If you're imaginative and know your characters and the PPC well enough, you should be able to find an interpretation that works.
If you can't think of a single thing to write based on either choice, we might get worried about your level of creativity or how your agents fit into the organization. PPC stories thrive on the ability to think outside the box and craft entertainment out of bizarre scenarios, so if you're stumped by prompts hand-picked by the PGs to inspire interesting scenes, how will you cope with badfic?
Q. Hey, my prompt seems a little grim. I thought you wanted humor! Edit
A. Grimness is in the eye of the beholder. Some prompts may suggest a more serious character development moment, yes, but that doesn't mean they have to be DARK. In fact, please avoid this!
Q. 400-800 words? Really? Edit
A. This is more what you'd call a guideline than an actual rule. As the 36 Prompts document says, it's more important that you craft solid, entertaining scenes than that you slavishly adhere to a word count. As long as your samples showcase your writing ability, including mechanics, characterization, and style, you should be fine. Just bear in mind that very short samples may not show off your writing at its best, and the PGs may not have time to fully read a very long sample, let alone two.
Q. Can I use free-to-use characters in my writing samples? Edit
A. By all means! Using the characters, locations, and concepts of the PPC is an important part of writing in the shared universe. You can find the Free-to-Use characters category here on the wiki, and the links to their appearances from their respective articles. Remember: the best way to learn how to write a character is to read their stories, not just their wiki page.
Q. Should I get my writing samples beta-read? Edit
A. Yes, yes, a thousand times yes! We want to know what you're capable of as a writer, and that includes whether or not you know how to work with a beta-reader to get your work in its best possible shape before we see it.
You can find a list of PPCers who may be willing to beta-read for you here. Note that if a Permission Giver betas for you, that PG will not be able to review your permission request later.
Q. Do I need permission for every new story/agent/idea? Edit
A. Nope. You only need to get official permission once. It is considered polite to ask for general Board approval when introducing new concepts or gadgets or whatnot, though, or anything else that would alter the universe for other people.
Q. Do I need permission to role-play/MST/co-write/have a cameo with my agent? Edit
A. Nope. Role-plays and other group activities on the Board or the IRC, or things that don't affect the PPC's continuity, like MSTs, don't require permission. Similarly, if someone who already has permission specifically asks for volunteers for a mission they're writing, it's okay to volunteer, and if someone who already has permission wants to co-write a PPC story with you, that's totally cool.
Q. Can I claim a badfic before I get permission? Edit
A. Yep! Just make sure to add it to the Claimed Badfic list and follow the instructions thereon.
Q. No one's answered my permission request yet! What gives? Edit
A. Not to worry. The Permission Givers have lives, and sometimes they're busy. If they don't respond as quickly as you might like, don't fret! Just be patient. It may be that they were waiting for another PG to respond—it may be they had some reservations but were waiting to see if any other PGs felt strongly either way—or it may simply be that no one noticed your request! If your request drops off the page without a response, you don't need to start a new thread about it. The best thing to do is approach a Permission Giver directly in another thread (or by e-mail, IM, whatever) and ask them to take a look at it.
Q. What if I get rejected? Edit
A. When permission is withheld, the Permission Giver in question should give you a good reason (or several). The most common reasons, singular or in combination, are:
- Having no idea who you are when you ask;
- Ideas that contradict the spirit of the PPC (i.e. Sue or Stu agents, SRS BSNS, mean-spiritedness);
- General cluelessness about how the PPC works, in-universe or out;
- Bad writing. Not just a few typos, but horrible writing.
The good news is that you can always try again! Just make sure to first take plenty of time to improve on whatever problems the PG pointed out to you.
Q. Does permission make me an official PPCer? Edit
A. Just being around, reading the stories, and basically hanging out with us makes you an official PPCer. Plenty of respected PPCers have never written a single mission. One of them is a Permission Giver herself!