Fanfiction Writing Tips: How To Get More Constructive Reviews
Wow, never did I think my previous post about reviews would get the response it did. Apparently anything to do with reviews – getting them, receiving them, good ones, bad ones, too many, not enough, etc – is a big subject.
I’m very happy that so many people came by to give their opinions. I’m just a fanfiction writer and reader who comments on the fanfiction world as she sees it. It’s great to hear from my fellow readers and writers to know how they feel about things and all of this info will help me to write better (and more helpful) posts for you guys. So keep it up people!
After getting the first couple responses, I decided to write one focusing more on getting more constructive reviews.
So here’s a new slant on the subject…
Write a great story.
Duh, everyone knows that right? Well sometimes I’m not so sure. I’ve seen half-written stories strapped together with the literary equivalent of chewing gum and paperclips thrown up onto fanfic forums in the hopes that someone will read them. As much as I want to encourage writers, no matter what their experience, to go ahead and write because they love it – sloppy work (especially when you, the writer, know it’s sloppy) will not do when you’re trying to get quality, constructive reviews. When a work is haphazardly done, a reader is likely to see the first few sentences and move right on to the next one.
Finish your story.
We’ve all had it happen – that horrible moment when you’re stuck in a story and, even worse than not knowing where to go next, you have no desire to continue it. Somewhere along the line, you lost the spark – that thing that was keeping it going and now the idea of writing more makes you want to run to the hills. So you give up and move on to something else. Now one of the great things I love about fanfiction is the fact that it lets you post stories before you are done, allowing you to get feedback while still in the work-in-progress mode. As a writer, it’s awesome. As a reader? Not so much. So if you want more constructive reviews and comments that help you to become a better and better writer….finish something! Use it as a test of your resilience. If you want to make it as a writer (or even if you don’t, but just want to prove to yourself that you can finish something you’ve started) then suck it up and finish that story that you have no desire to see ever again. Figure out what went wrong and start writing. Who knows? Maybe you’ll get a review that will point you in a whole new direction and give you the enthusiasm for it again.
Be specific if you do ask for feedback.
Yes, I’ll agree with the readers of my last post who said that an author who constantly asks for reviews can get annoying. In my defense, when I wrote that I wasn’t picturing that type of person. I was picturing my friend who was so terrified to post her stories she didn’t know what to do with herself. The idea of her asking once was a stretch, I didn’t think of her doing it more than that. So if you want to avoid annoying your readers but still would like some feedback on a specific part of your story that you’re not sure worked, then be specific about what you’d like the readers to look at and comment about.
Reply to your comments.
First off, I know there are probably two camps on this one. There are the people who say “Yeah! C’mon, I comment all the time and I never hear back!” and the ones that say “What are you nuts?? Have you seen how many comments I get? I can’t possibly reply to them all!”. I’ve been on both sides so I understand. My answer to that is reply to as many as you can and, especially when you’re just starting out, I highly suggest you reply to all. First off because in the beginning you’re bound to have fewer reviews, making that task much easier, and also because I have met so many new friends that way. Speaking personally to your readers is an awesome thing, not only as an author but just as a person who loves fanfic and loves discussing it with others who do too. Once you get to the point where replying to each review will take away from writing your next chapter, then I suggest that you at least reply to those who take the time to write a long review or have a particular question, issue, etc. Then you can include the rest in your A/N’s (author’s notes) with a general “thanks for the reviews!”. When I see that a writer is getting hundreds of reviews, I am more than happy with that type of acknowledgement.
Write a good summary.
There is nothing that will turn off a potential reader faster than a bad summary. Things like “I suck at summaries” and “I promise, the story is better than this summary” aren’t how you make up for it. Read other summaries to get an idea of what makes a good one and try and emulate it. Ideally your summary should give an idea of what your story is about without giving everything away – it’s kind of like a movie trailer. The good ones leave you excited about what’s to come and wanting more.
So there you go, some more tips that I hope help all my fellow fanfic writers out there. Got any others you’d like to share? Feel free to comment and let me know what you think. I love hearing from you guys!
Got a fanfiction issue, question or problem? I can help! I am now offering fanfiction consultating/coaching services to anyone, in any fandom, writing any type of story. If you’re interested in a consultation, just email me at Moki@mokisfanfictionblog.com to get a free evaluation and find out what I can do for you.
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