[Despite this explanation, some people seem to be confusing the ribbons with a placement for the story.  Because of that we are eliminating them from the posted pages.  Authors are welcome to ask and we'll let them know their own ribbon & star status.  We did not want anyone to believe a story with a a red or white ribbon was less spectacular in terms of overall WOW factor than one with a blue ribbon.]
What the heck do they mean?
Could this get any more complicated?
PROOF READING RIBBONS - A Little Recognition for Beta Readers
Perfect/Near Perfect  Good   Adequate 

The Curse of the Typo:   Even some of the most meritorious stories have typos and other minor errors.  [Heck, our meritorious website has typos.]  Although a few writers consistently post perfectly proofread fanfic, there are many otherwise brilliantly written stories that don't quite achieve that perfection.  We found it rather easy to distinguish proofreading errors from true inability to use good grammar, spelling and punctuation.  So  we decided to give a little extra acknowledgment to the writers (or in most cases, their beta readers).

First, we made sure the typos were the result of a slip of the keyboard (or of the attention of the writer), not ignorance of any aspect of the basics of good English.  [For example, an author who uses loose for lose once in a story just slipped.  An author who does it consistently is misusing the language.]  Second, there can't be so many as to be distracting to the reader (to the type of reader who is distracted by that kind of thing - as we are),  In order to give some well deserved recognition to beta readers (or to encourage writers to use them more often) each award of merit is  accompanied by a blue, red or white ribbon. 

The ribbons mark small errors:  typos, misspellings, minor anarchronisms, minor use of Britishisms, an overload of commas, etc.  We did not count off for British spelling - "ou" in stead of "o." "s" instead of "z," etc.  Stories that put clearly British words in the men's dialogue generally didn't make it to these awards.  However, we did overlook an occasional common British usage in narrative - such as "whilst," in an otherwise great story.

The ribbons do not suggest that a story with a blue ribbon is better overall than one with a red or white ribbon.  A lengthy story with utterly magical writing, perfect characterization and a wonderful plot would get a white ribbon if the proofing was adequate but not as great as it could have been.

A blue ribbon designates a virtually typo free story.  [What number of typos constitutes near perfection depends on the length of the story and just how innocuous the very few typos are.]

A red ribbon indicates good rather than near perfect proofing.  The number of minor typos that warranted a red ribbon depended on story length, location of the error and how jarring they were.  A typo in the first one or two sentences counted more heavily against the ribbon status than those found toward the end.  Not only do first impressions count but there's less excuse for a typo near the beginning of a story.  It should be whisked away before beta fatigue sets in.

It took less word misuse than typos to take story from blue to red, especially if the misuse involved one of our pet peeves.  If "lightening" for "lightning"  or "tact" for "tack" was used more than twice (indicating word misuse rather than typing error) it could take a story to red.   Two "loose" for "lose" in a medium length story would do the trick too.  (We hate that.)

We also gave red ribbons for otherwise perfectly proofed stories with some minor anachronisms in language usage, minor Britishisms, a failure to corral a significant number of pesky extra commas, misuse (or under use) of semi-colons  --all stuff a good beta reader should catch.

A white ribbon suggests this was a great author who could use just a little more help with the proofreading.  Of course, even a white ribbon story doesn't contain a distracting number of typos.  The white ribbon was generally reserved for long or extended stories where proof-reading fatigue is understandable.   A white ribbon does not suggest the actual writing style is any less magical. 

Stories that didn't qualify for any ribbon, didn't qualify for a merit award.  Stories rife with typos generally had other problems that disqualified the story from consideration.  However, there were a few stories that were disqualified only for the high level of typos, minor anachronisms and/or easily fixable sentence structure problems.   We put them on list of fixable stories but aren't sure what to do from there.  We're always happy to beta read stories for any author on our rec list (all the fixable stories were good enough for the rec list) but we never know how an author might take an offer out of the blue from a would-be beta reader.  We're going to think on it.  We just hate to see an otherwise near perfect story dragged down by poor proof-reading.  We lost a few of our favorites that way - well, not lost exactly as they're still on the rec. list.

[Caution - we're on a soap box here.]

To us, good fanfic is REAL writing.  We believe all authors who take pride in their craft feel the same way.  Yet there are a few fannish conventions that cling to a lot of fanfic, even some of the best.  These curious practices don't appear in good profic - and we're not talking la-di-da, highbrow literature - we mean popular genre fiction.  Check Stephen King, Elizabeth George, Tony Hillerman, Dean Koontz, Anne McCaffrey, Jonathan Kellerman, Katherine Kurtz, etc.  You won't find any of them indulging in the fannish practices described below.  In fact, Anthony Starke wrote a novel and he didn't find these practices to be appropriate for his book. 

Some of the beta readers demanded to be able to award a half star when the author only indulged mildly in a fannish custom.

The Alternating Name Syndrome  For some reason many fanfic writers feel they have to provide variation by constantly alternating between first and last names when referring to the characters, even within the same pov.  For example:  "Chris knocked the shotgun out of the man's hand before he could fire at Vin and Buck.  Before the other robber could shoot Larabee, Wilmington and Tanner put twin bullets in his chest." 

No popular profic writers we've run across find it desirable to do this.  The fanfic writers who don't do it find it a most curious practice.  Although we've talked to some truly excellent fanfic writers who employ this device (some of our very favorite authors), we still haven't gotten a really satisfactory reason for such an unnecessary and often irritating convention.  (Well, not satisfactory to us - they obviously feel they have good reasons.)  The usual reason given is "variety."  However, just read some of the award winning stories marked with a star and ask if it's ever necessary to risk having a new reader think there are 14 main characters in this fandom.  We do notice that the best writers, the ones featured in our awards, generally alternate  more subtly and less obsessively than do the writers of lesser skill who feel compelled to avoid ever using the same name for a character twice in a row.  This habit is even worse when it's done with a villain or an original supporting character with whom no reader will be familiar.  It makes things really confusing.  And it  gets very odd when an LB writer does it - "little Tanner" alternating with Vin, "little Dunne" alternating with JD.

Of course, we aren't condemning changing the name by which a character is referred in dialogue by different speakers or when a different name signals a change of attitude or is done for emphasis. 

The Chronic Overuse of Descriptive References: Another unfortunate fannish practice is the overuse of titles or descriptors like ladies man, con man, ex-slave, best friend, oldest friend, the blond, the tall brunet, the ex-bounty hunter, the ex-buffalo hunter, the sharpshooter, the tracker, the ex-preacher, the lanky gunslinger, the ex-shootist, the Southerner, the Easterner, the Midwesterner, the Hoosier, the healer, etc. to  refer to the characters when it's not relevant to the scene or to impart information.  (How many times does the reader need to be reminded that Nathan had been a slave or that Vin had been a bounty hunter?  And can Chris really be called a Hoosier even if he spend his childhood in Indiana?)  It's generally a matter of context and frequency and is often overdone in Mag7 fanfic -- way overdone.  Cross fandom readers have noted that this practice is much more prevalent (and irritating) in Mag7 fic.

Asterisks to Replace Letters in Profanities & Obscenities Unlike the unfortunate customs described above, Mag7 fanfic is relatively free of the awkward practice of using asterisks to replace letters in profanity and obscenity.  Thank G*d.  While that practice might make sense in quoting Victorian letters or Revolutionary War diaries, it makes absolutely no sense in the context of a Mag7 story.  First, the use of asterisks in f**k or "d**n doesn't stop the words they're "replacing" from ringing in the minds of the reader.  It doesn't disguise them or make them any less offensive (in our opinion).    The show itself got by with the milder forms like damn, hell, bastard and son of a bitch.  If the network was okay with those (heck Hallmark was okay with those ) - it seems silly to dilute them in a fanfic.  As for the stronger invectives - they certainly would have been  used had the series run on cable and they wouldn't be out of character for these men, but they certainly aren't necessary.  Luckily only one of the nominated authors who followed this practice wrote well enough for her stories to be realistically considered.  She is otherwise a fine writer but she sprinkled her stories so liberally with the asterisked cussing that only one of them made it through the judging. 

Award Stats

We originally intended to keep the number of awarded stories to 25 per year.  In this first year of our awards, we were dealing with about 5 years of Magnificent 7 fanfic - literally thousands of stories on hundreds of websites.  We figured we wouldn't be going overboard to give 125 awards.  Well, we almost made it.  Deceptively speaking, we ended up honoring 61 authors who wrote 137 stories in the main canon categories and 22 in the "stepping out on canon" categories.  Deceptively because (1) we know a few of our chosen authors write under more than one name so corporally speaking there are slightly less than 61 actual women behind those pen names and (2) we counted multiple short stories series (those with more than 4 stories) as one story for the purpose of the story total. 

Category numbers:  It's not surprising that in an awards program focused on canon storytelling, Pure Canon Old West Gen/Het would have the most award winners:  70 stories plus 4 multi-story series.  Old West Slash came in second with 26 stories and 2 series.  Slash AUs were third with 24 stories.  Gen AUs were last with only 12 stories.

Lead Characters in Gen/Het Stories: We expected the awarded stories to pretty much reflect the fandom in general.  That is, our experience shows that the two of the seven who most often have the lead role in gen/het fanfic are Ezra and Vin.  Chris and Buck trail behind to make up "the big four."   Breaking down the stories by character was somewhat difficult and resulted in many stories being counted more than once.  A true "buddy story" often has two or (rarely) three equally prominent characters.  A few stories that have one character as the main protagonist still spread much of the story amongst the other characters.   Some of the stories are clearly about all the seven.  We broke them down thusly:

All Seven  [or at least four of them]:  31 stories

Vin:  28 stories  (including 5 in which most of the others had very large parts)

Ezra:  24 stories (including 2 in which most of the others had very large parts)

Buck:  18 stories

Chris:  15 stories (including 1 in which most of the others had very large parts)

JD:  12 stories (including 3 in which most of the others had very large parts)

Josiah:  3 stories

Nathan:  3 stories

Slash Pairings:  Looking at the fandom as a whole, Chris/Vin slash writers are the most prolific and that's reflected in our slash awards.   We were somewhat surprised to find Chris/Buck a strong second.   We have our theories as to why, in our opinion, slash pairings with Ezra often don't resonate with his canon character, but we'll forgo reciting them here.   Buck/Vin is the least common pairing among the "big four" and that was reflected in the final numbers.  If a story had more than one pairing, it was counted in each pairing.

Chris/Vin:  30 stories plus 2 multiple story series.

Chris/Buck:  17 stories  [2 were withdrawn by the same author]

Buck/Ezra:  6 stories  [1 was withdrawn by the author]

Vin/Ezra:  5 stories  [2 were withdrawn by the same author]

Chris/Ezra:  4 stories (all by the same author).

Buck/Vin:  1 story (comedy)

Vin/Josiah:  1 story

Buck/JD:  1 story  (Given our collective bias against JD slash, especially Buck/JD slash, we applaud this author who also wrote the only Vin/Josiah slash to win an award.)

HET:  7 stories  (We probably like good het stories better than most readers in a fandom sadly lacking in them.  Two of the seven selected here are Buck stories, two JD, one Vin, one Vin/Chris/OFC and one multiple couple dramedy.  Five of these are R, two are PG.  All are old west stories.  The Vin solo het is told in the context of a C/E slash story)
Please contact us at: comments&criticism@deathdogs.net
One Step Away from Canon
Two Steps Away from Canon
Three Steps Away from Canon
Magnificent AU Creation
Stepping Out on Canon
And finally a few PWP's
Ribbons & Stars
[an explanation]
The stories sorted out by categories, lead characters and slash pairings and some other semi-interesting numbers.
Please contact us at: comments&criticism@deathdogs.net
Death Dogs Magnificent 7 Fan Fiction HOME
Characterization, Canon & Fanon
Full stories with a comic slant
(or maybe just most).
Who are we?
About Our Story Categories
Just Plain Funny
PWP's, Punchlines
& Silly One-trick ponies
Fan Fiction
Fan Fiction Selection Rules
& the Exceptions that Prove Them
Fan Fiction
Our Mixed (& Mixed Up)
Feelings about Mag7 SLASH
Fan Fiction
 For All Intensive Purposes
FanFic Pet Peeves
Fan Fiction

Fan Fiction 
Fan Fiction 
Written by
The Death Dog Site Owners
Satire &
Off-Center Stories
Fan Fiction 
 Starke Raven's Study of Ezra's Speech
The Gambler Speaks
 Just Plain Sexy
Sexy PWP's 
Time Tracker's Study of Vin Speak
The Tracker Talks
Character,  Contemplation
& Commentary
[More mush allowed.]
 Outrider's Study of Mag7 Speech
The Big Dog & The Pup
Kid Fic AUs
 Outrider's Study of Mag7 Speech
Leader, Preacher & Healer
 Magnificent LINKS to the Seven