Spec

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Synonyms: fanfic, altfic, creative posts
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A spec is a term for fanfic. "Spec" is short for "speculative fiction." Someone who writes "specs" is a "spec writer."

It was most commonly used for fanfic based upon the Vampire Chronicles and other fiction by Anne Rice.

Specs were first posted to alt.books.anne-rice in the early 1990's.

As of March 1995, there were twelve specs posted to alt.books.anne-rice.

Memnoch the Spec

The a very early, well-known spec was Memnoch the Spec.

The term "spec" is from speculation. It's fanfiction, pure and simple. Here's a little history lesson for you. =) Way back when, before Memnoch was published, there was a great deal of chatter on this NG about what it would be

about. Two gals, Suzie and Mick, decided to write a story, a speculation among friends. It was called Memnoch the Spec, and you can STILL read this little beauty in the ABAR spec archive. That's the story that started it all. And now you know where specs come from.

Actually, specs go back aaawwwaaayyy before Memnoch. I don't know how old they are, but they've been around for a long time.[1]

Journey of a Term

  • 1994 - "creative posts": "If these creative posts are bothering other people and "clogging up" the news group I'm really sorry. I for one have really enjoyed reading them. The only thing I can suggest is that whenever someone posts a bit of fanfiction or something regarding to it they could put "story" or "creative"(err no, how about "speculation", that sounds better lawyer wise) in the title so that those who don't wish to read any of this stuff could easily creat[e] kill files to filter it out." [2]
  • 1995 - "bridge passage": "Is anyone interested in being sued for copyright infringement by Anne Rice? Hasn't a topic like this been discussed before in this forum, when somebody posted a fanfic "bridge passage" for the Chronicles? [3]
  • 1995 - "hypothetical": "Hi folks, Just heard from Laura Ann and she mentioned to me(and asked me to mention to all of you) that any "speculations" anyone may post (or even write I guess) should probably contain the word "hypothetical" in the title(or header, or thread description or whatever the hell you call them). She said that this was the handiest word for avoiding legal messes and lawyer troubles. And she further mentioned that she comes from a family with a lot of Irish cops, so she should know!:) So there, you have been informed, Laura Ann has spoken :). Henceforth all fanfiction shall bear the label "Hypothetical". Referring of course to a purely _hypothetical_ situation in which any of us would be _writing_ fanfiction. - Drake [4]
  • 2000 - "VampChron": "This is not the first spec I've written, there is another one archived at fanfiction.net under another name but this is my first attempt at 'proper' VampChron. I write for my own pleasure, to keep boredom at bay, to add a small part of my self to Anne Rice's wonderful characters, to prevent withdrawl symptoms when it's too long a gap between books. I have read so many specs, wonderful, entertaining, moving fiction written by contributors to this newsgroup over the last few years that I felt inspired to write my own. [5]

From a 1995 FAQ for alt.books.anne-rice"

**What is a SPEC?

SPEC is short for SPECULATION POST/STORY. On a.b.a-r it is a fanfic story that one of us has done in an effort to help with the wait until the next Anne Rice book comes out and also for the fun of sharing it with others.

**Why is it called a SPEC?

We call it a SPEC because it is not a "real" story. We know that these are Anne's characters and we are in no way trying to usurp her. We're just having fun.

**Why do you put SPEC in the subject heading?

Some people do not like to read the SPECS so as a curtesy to them those of us who post SPECs put SPEC in the subject heading so those who don't want to read them can create a kill file for them. We don't have many rules about SPECs, but this is one of the few that we all have agreed on

**How can I make a kill file?

Check on the news.answers newsgroup for a FAQ on making kill files. That should tell you all you need to know.

**What's the difference between a SPEC and a SILLY SPEC?

A SILLY SPEC is just that: a humorous post not meant to be taken seriously, but a SPEC nonetheless. "Regular" SPECs are stories that their authors wrote in a more serious mindset and they're meant to be taken as actual stories, but still SPECs.

**If I get an idea for a SPEC from someone else's SPEC can I start posting it immediately?

That depends. If it is a serious SPEC and you are planning on using the ideas from that to continue that story yourself, another rule that we have all come to agree on is that you check with the author of that SPEC first to make sure that you won't inadvertently cross plotlines or ideas. The SPECs of Memnoch, Sins and In Death's Dream Kingdom are good examples of this. The three SPECs are all following the same ideas but the authors constantly e-mail each other before posting to make sure that something they put in their SPEC won't ruin something in one of the others' SPECs.

SILLY SPECs [6] are usually up for grabs, but you may want to check with the author first just to be sure.

And, of course, if the author posts a SPEC and says in the post that it's alright to post your own ideas, then go right ahead. [7]

A 1994 Conversation

From a December 28, 1994 post to alt.books.anne-rice:

If these creative posts are bothering other people and "clogging up" the news group I'm really sorry. I for one have really enjoyed reading them. The only thing I can suggest is that whenever someone posts a bit of fanfiction or something regarding to it they could put "story" or "creative"(err no, how about "speculation", that sounds better lawyer wise) in the title so that those who don't wish to read any of this stuff could easily creat[e] kill files to filter it out.
Great idea! Creative posters could simply start the subject with "Speculation: _______" filling in the blank with whatever description they wanted. Since rumor has it that AR doesn't appreciate fan fiction, perhaps it would make some legal difference if a separate forum is NOT created for it, but it is just part of a bunch of posts discussing her work (opinions from any legally versed lurkers/posters in this group??).
Speaking for myself, I'm sometimes in the mood to read the creative posts, and sometimes I'm not but it is nice to have them on the group! [8]

The Spec Writer Massacre

When Anne Rice banned fanfiction based on her books in April 2000, many fan sites were decimated. Many fans refer to this as the Spec Writer Massacre.

Further Reading

References

  1. What does spec mean (November 11, 1999)
  2. Attention Observers (I think "Lurkers" is rather rude!) (December 28, 1994)
  3. Creative Vampire Writing by Cathy Krusbeg, The Mad Bibliographer (January 1, 1995)
  4. word from Laura Ann, at alt.books.anne-rice (January 2, 1995)
  5. SPEC-Ties that Bind (January 7, 2000)
  6. An example of a "silly spec" is here.
  7. SPEC FAQ (March 6, 1995)
  8. Attention Observers (I think "Lurkers" is rather rude!), comments by Drake and Beth