House Style

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Synonyms: convention, trend, idiom, fandom style
See also: style_guide, Lunacy Factor
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House Style is a nonfannish term referring to the internal style guides of publishing houses and other institutions.[1] The term is occasionally used in fandom to describe fanart or writing style conventions in a given group, be it a zine, a fandom, a group of friends, or a community. In fannish contexts a "house style" is more of a trend than a set of enforceable rules. Even in contexts with gatekeepers (zines, moderated livejournal communities, etc.) the term could easily be used to describe a selection effect instead of guidelines that are spelled out.

Lunacy Factor was a case where a popular reviewer's stated preferences affected an entire fandom's house style.

Usage Examples

1989 zine review in Oblaque:

Oblaque is one of my favourite slash 'zines. It has a very decided house style (rather more than most other b7 slash 'zines I've seen).

2001 zine commentary, Discovered In A Letterbox:

Having been involved in or knowing about prescriptive fandoms where you are constrained to a house style when it comes to portraying your character choice of point of view, concepts and so on, I find that what I have seen in Pros thus far to be so refreshing and welcoming and open.

dsreporter, a livejournal community, in 2002:

We don't all like or read what we're reporting, but we report as much of it as we can. We aim for a house style so that you can't tell one of us from another, and so that the site stays relatively uncluttered. We aim for neutrality and completeness.

Comment on a 2005 livejournal post, Let's talk RPS in open debate:

I remember back when I started reading popslash, I came away with the impression that there was a house style - kind of pared-down, very little interiority, dialogue-heavy, frequently in present tense and with way more second-person stories than I'd ever seen in any other fandom. Then the more I read, the more I came to see it as a willingness, within the fandom, to experiment with writing and writing styles, which was very appealing, but I still had the feeling that there were some strong prevailing trends.

Comment on a 2008 livejournal post, something's lost in translation:

I think there's definitely elements of "LJ house style" that new writers adapt to, but I guess I'm wondering if some of the "house style" is simply elements of better writing in general?

2015 Tumblr reblog, Was Fanfic Any Different in the Olden Days?:

i’m glad we’re more okay with the gay these days. and i’m glad our house style is no longer “offensive romance novel.” probably i should put more weight on the former than the latter but man, those full name love confessions really bug the crap out of me.

2018 fail_fandomanon discussions:

Anti artists have this kind of bold, deliberately oversaturated house style that hits me like a brightly colored poisonous frog when I see it. Very broad brush strokes, very saturated, bright colors. Often they've got a limited color palette thing going on. When they use lineart, the lineart is often bold and graphic--like American comic book art on steroids--or shaky and wiggly.[2]

What I think of as "AO3 house style" is the newer, more-common-on-Tumblr style of writing fic -- think lots of em-dashes, short paragraphs for emphasis. Often there's less grounding in things like details about the setting, or if you do get stuff on the setting, it's very atmospheric. Less structured scenes, flowing between one another with a few sentences, and often shorter scenes. Usually, although not always, in present tense.[3]