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girl pondering

Recently I asked my good friend, Laine3112 from fanfiction.net if she would like to write a guest post on this blog. Below is her incredibly insightful look into reviews.

—-

Fanfiction: To Review or Not to Review – a guest post by Laine3112

Almost since its inception, I have been a regular reader of Moki’s Fanfiction Blog and greatly admire her dedication to sharing her love of fanfiction and her goal of lending practical support to new or would-be fanfiction writers. What a delight to be asked to write a guest post!

Recently, Moki posted two articles in her Writing Tips section – “How to Get More Reviews” and “How to Get More Constructive Reviews”. Both posts were written with new writers in mind and unwittingly stirred up a little conjecture. That’s fine – diverse opinions and discussion is a very good thing and I know that Moki welcomes both wholeheartedly.

We all love reviews.

Regardless of your literary experience, there is much to be gained from receiving helpful and constructive advice in the form of a review. I am not convinced by the sincerity of any fanfiction writer who claims that they don’t really care about receiving reviews – if that was indeed the case, why bother posting your story on a public forum?

Personally, I love receiving reviews! I am blessed that my readers provide me with encouraging feedback that gives me the confidence and enthusiasm to keep writing. I have also received well-intended critique and I have incorporated many suggestions into my writing in an effort to improve.

However, I am one of the lucky ones…let’s look at the other side of the coin.

Why do some writers get all the review love and not others?

Recently, I spoke with two fellow fanfiction writers whose wonderfully well-written stories I thoroughly enjoy. For some reason, their stories do not attract the attention or the positive reinforcement they richly deserve. These writers both explained that their stories accumulate many more hits, alerts and favorites than they do reviews. While alerts and favorites are very flattering, it is the review that can give the writer the critique to improve or the motivation to continue writing. It made me wonder why some stories attract many reviews while others of similar quality receive very few.

Despite the relative anonymity of posting a story under an assumed pen name, the writers – by their own choice – place themselves in a very vulnerable and often nerve-wracking position. We writers can be a fragile lot. Most of us spend many hours creating stories and placing our hearts and souls into our writing and then post our efforts with a sense of achievement and excitement. Therefore, it can also be very disheartening when – be they approving or critical – the reviews don’t come. Apparent disinterest can be extremely disappointing and can damage the confidence and enthusiasm of the writer.

Although I don’t read a lot of stories, I have always reviewed those I enjoyed. In the past, I have found it easier to not review a story at all rather than admit there was aspects I didn’t like or thought could be improved. However, I now realize how that not leaving a review can be more harmful to a writer who is genuinely looking to improve, than leaving constructive criticism.

Now, don’t misunderstand, I am not suggesting that writers post their stories for the sole purpose of receiving reviews. Conversely, I am certainly not advocating that readers feel obligated to place gratuitous praise only. Used correctly, the humble review is a legitimate tool for assisting to improve the skill of writers and that, in turn, lifts the standard of reading material available on a fanfiction site. So it’s the reader that wields the ultimate power. (Revenge for all the cliff-hangers and the, sometimes, erratic posting schedules!)

A query to all the fanfiction readers out there.

With that in mind, I would like to invite all the readers among us to consider the following questions. (All writers please remove their writer’s hats and replace with their reader’s hats).

1. From a reader’s perspective, do you consider reviews important?

2. Do you review everything you read or only if you like it?

3. What qualities do you look for while reading?

4. If you find those qualities in a story, do you leave a review?

5. What aspects of a story would make you NOT review it?

6. Do you review every chapter or just at the end of the story?

7. Do you ever leave suggestions and/or hints for improvement?

8. If you have enjoyed a story enough to place it on your favorites list, would you also leave a review?

Please feel free to leave your comments below as I’m sure that writers of all levels of experience, would benefit greatly from your thoughts.

Remember, fanfiction sites belong to us all and whether you are a writer or a reader or both, your review gives you a voice to help raise the standard of stories available.

My special thanks to Moki for the opportunity to express my thoughts. Laine3112

—–

Laine3112 has written 8 NCIS fanfiction stories over at Fanfiction.net and is one of my favorite authors (no really, check my ‘Favorite Authors’ list up there if you don’t believe me). Her current story is called ‘Mistaken Identity’ and looks to be one of her best yet. I highly recommend you check out her work.

Want to know every time I add a new post? Be sure to subscribe to Moki’s Fanfiction Blog!


More Fanfiction Writing Tips…
How Writing Fanfiction Prepared me to be a Freelance Writer
Fanfiction Tips: Writing a Good Action Scene
Fanfiction Tips: Keeping Your Characters In Character

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  • Zee

    Laine, I think this was very well-stated and you’ve raised some interesting questions. I’m looking forward to reading responses. Here are mine:

    1. From a reader’s perspective, do you consider reviews important?

    Yes. I want to encourage the writers who write the stories I enjoy to write more.

    2. Do you review everything you read or only if you like it?

    Only if I like it a lot.

    3. What qualities do you look for while reading?

    Character interaction that keeps the characters in character. Good dialogue and flow. A good balance of drama/angst and humor. Since I only read NCIS fanfic, the drama/humor mix matters more as it’s canon for the show and one of the reasons I love it. Basically, a well-written, engaging story that features the character relationships and story type I prefer.

    4. If you find those qualities in a story, do you leave a review?

    Yes.

    5. What aspects of a story would make you NOT review it?

    Out of character or badly written. Or, a well-written story that I don’t like simply because it isn’t to my tastes.

    6. Do you review every chapter or just at the end of the story?

    Usually, every chapter. Sometimes, I come to the story late and don’t review every chapter. And, if I love some chapters and really dislike aspects of other chapters in the same story, I’ll only review the chapters I like.

    7. Do you ever leave suggestions and/or hints for improvement?

    VERY, very rarely and almost always by private message. And, they were more suggestions for corrections than suggestions for improvement. If I don’t care for a writer or story, I don’t comment.

    8. If you have enjoyed a story enough to place it on your favorites list, would you also leave a review?

    Yes.

  • Mokibobolink

    Well since I find this subject pretty important, and I didn’t write the post, I felt I should answer these questions too. ;)

    1. From a reader’s perspective, do you consider reviews important?

    Yes, very.

    2. Do you review everything you read or only if you like it?

    I try to review everything I read but I also don’t usually start reading something if it doesn’t seem like it will be a story that I will like. If I do occasionally run into a story that isn’t my style at all, and I stop reading midway into the first chapter, then I probably won’t review.

    3. What qualities do you look for while reading?

    Something that catches my attention and makes me really get into the story. Since I’ve read fics in lots of different genres, it’s hard to pinpoint what I’m looking for except to say that I always like characters who are in character and a storyline that is interesting and makes me want more. I like to have an emotional response to the story, whether that means I’m laughing or crying or even just wanting to throttle the bad guy’s neck.

    4. If you find those qualities in a story, do you leave a review?

    Yes, absolutely.

    5. What aspects of a story would make you NOT review it?

    Like I said above, a story that I misunderstood from the summary and turns out not to be my “thing”. In the past I’ve also been known to not leave reviews for stories that were VERY poorly written (bad grammar, punctuation, completely wrong characterizations, etc). However I’m trying to change that and work up the courage to leave constructive criticism that doesn’t hurt the author’s feelings.

    6. Do you review every chapter or just at the end of the story?

    It depends. I have a hard time following too many stories at once so I tend to wait until some are complete to read. If I do that, then I may only review every few chapters, usually when something happens that I just MUST comment about. If I’m following along with a WIP (work in progress), then I will try and review every time I read a new chapter.

    7. Do you ever leave suggestions and/or hints for improvement?

    Not as much as I probably should. My trouble is that I always want to say nothing but encouraging things but I’m trying to remind myself that writers need to know when something doesn’t work too.

    8. If you have enjoyed a story enough to place it on your favorites list, would you also leave a review?

    Absolutely! I don’t “favorite” every story I see so if I took the time to mark it as such, I would definitely have something to say to the author.

  • Mokibobolink

    By the way, thanks for your responses Zee! I totally forgot to say that above. :)

  • Penny

    Very interesting points. I must admit that until I read this I always thought that, in regard to reviews, no news was good news – but now I’m not so sure.

    As a non-writer, I’ve always been reticent to give my critical POV – even with positive intent. I guess it depends on whether the writer truly is looking to improve their craft or whether, as you say, they are happy to continue to receive gratuitous praise only. I do agree though, if reviews were given and accepted with honesty and good intent, the standard of story produced would improve somewhat.

    1.From a reader’s perspective, do you consider reviews important?
    Yes, but more so having read this post.
    2.Do you review everything you read or only if you like it?
    Only what I like but I will now try to review stories I feel have potential but aren’t quite there.
    3.What qualities do you look for while reading?
    I like a unique or signature writing style, good grammar and spelling. A strong plot and the characters to be depicted as closely as possible to what we see in the show. Eg In NCIS fics, a weeping Tony and Gibbs turns my way off.
    4.If you find those qualities in a story, do you leave a review?
    Generally, yes. They are hard to find and the writers deserve encouragement for their efforts.
    5. What aspects of a story would make you NOT review it?
    Completely OOC characters and bad grammar. Death fics, stories where the characters are barely recognizable.
    6.Do you review every chapter or just at the end of the story?
    If I really like it I review each chapter – if it’s okay – maybe at the end
    7.Do you ever leave suggestions and/or hints for improvement?
    No, but I will try now.
    8.If you have enjoyed a story enough to place it on your favorites list, would you also leave a review?
    Yes.

  • http://fredsmith518.livejournal.com/profile fredsmith518/cymraes

    I got sidetracked from your work by this…
    First off, trying to remove writer’s hat, but I read before I wrote and I know for a fact that my way of reviewing has been affected by the fact that I wrote, and saw the other side

    1. From a reader’s perspective, do you consider reviews important?

    I go mostly by names of authors whose work I’ve read before, sometimes in other fandoms and read by recs by pepole who seem like minded, number of reviews on ffnet for example=utterly irrelevant to if I would read.

    2. Do you review everything you read or only if you like it?

    Yep, guilty, I’ve beta’d and understand concrit, but pretty much never leave it publically, glaring error by friend will email, and hope they would do the same for me!

    3. What qualities do you look for while reading?

    I like introspection, I tend to favour gen, strong relationships between characters, well written plot – plot is hard

    4. If you find those qualities in a story, do you leave a review?

    yes

    5. What aspects of a story would make you NOT review it?

    oocness, gratitious violence

    6. Do you review every chapter or just at the end of the story?

    depends on time, how well I ‘know’ the author and strength of story

    7. Do you ever leave suggestions and/or hints for improvement?

    see above

    8. If you have enjoyed a story enough to place it on your favorites list, would you also leave a review?

    I don’t do favourites list

    I ‘live’ on LJ, my start fandoms lived/live there too. NCIS much good writing on ffnet, so I have trained myself to leave reviews there. I prefer reviewing on LJ as easier to copy, paste fav quotes.

  • Zee

    As a writer, I appreciate civil CC. Sometimes, I politely disagree. Other times I’ve agreed, thanked them and made changes as a result.

    But, as a reader, I’m a big chicken as far as giving CC. Primarily because I don’t want to hurt their feelings. Also, I’ve seen from reading reactions to other’s CC that some writers don’t react well to anything but gushing compliments. Too, I wouldn’t want to come across as Miss-Superior-Know-It-All-My Opinion-Is-Queen.

    Some writers write characters who, IMO, are wildly OOC. I know characterization is subjective. There would be no point at all to me sending them a note saying I think they write OOC and offering suggestions for improvement because they could shoot the same note back to me. I just stay away from their stories.

    Anyway, I do agree that thoughtful CC could be very helpful to writers, if (big if) they were receptive to receiving it. But, I’m still a big chicken :)

  • Stacey

    Hi Laine and Moki

    I think most of us reading fan fiction have read a wonderful story and then wondered why the review count is so small. On the other hand, I have been drawn to some stories by sheer number of reviews it’s received, only to find that it’s a disappointing OOC piece, with no story line and whump for whump’s sake. Lesson learned – review count does not reflect story quality.

    I don’t know why that is. Perhaps many readers just want a quick and easy story that they do not have to think about very hard – there’re plenty of those. Although that does not explain why someone would like a story enough to place on favorites and then not review. To me that’s kind of weird – what about a little credit to the author?

    I do agree that if the review was used to convey both position reinforcement and constructive criticism and if that criticism was warranted, accepted and incorporated by the writer, the standard of stories would (should) improve.

    1. From a reader’s perspective, do you consider reviews important?
    Yes, these writers give their talent and the time freely – how about a little appreciation?
    2. Do you review everything you read or only if you like it?
    Mainly.
    3. What qualities do you look for while reading?
    Easy writing style, good grammar and spelling. A well thought out story line, some character introspection and good characterizations.
    4. If you find those qualities in a story, do you leave a review?
    Mostly, yes. I appreciate the effort that goes into providing a good story.
    5. What aspects of a story would make you NOT review it?
    OOC characters. Death fics, gratuitous violence. Stories that are already receiving many reviews but the author consistently asks for more – leads me to wonder whether they just want their egos stroked or are they seriously looking for honest appraisals.
    6. Do you review every chapter or just at the end of the story?
    I review each chapter of stories I really enjoy.
    7. Do you ever leave suggestions and/or hints for improvement?
    I have offered concrit to several writers and had some accept graciously and others (including VERY popular writers) take me to task for offering a differing opinion. That experience soured me from offering concrit again.
    8. If you have enjoyed a story enough to place it on your favorites list, would you also leave a review?
    Yes. Definitely

  • AZGirl

    Great questions Laine! They really made me take a look at my reviewing habits. I didn’t really review a lot until I became a writer figuring that it was only fair that if I wanted to get concrit then I should give concrit. Now I leave reviews when a story or chapter make an impression in some way. I still don’t review as much as I should even though some authors I review every chapter.

    I usually don’t leave comments that may hurt the writer’s feelings. It’s just not my style. My grammar is not perfect and never will be, so why should I hold others to a higher standard than myself? I see little mistakes all the time. Mistakes which can easily be explained away by a rushed or tired author (or beta) or spell-check saying the word is OK when in that context it’s not. I don’t really think it’s necessary for anyone to nitpick those kinds of mistakes. Do you? Should you?

    As a reader and reviewer, I also try to take into consideration things such as British-English vs. American-English. I’ve seen authors from outside the U.S. get criticized for word choices or spellings that are actually correct when you consider where they come from. I almost did criticize someone for a word choice once until I looked it up to be sure, and found that their word was indeed correct. The lesson for me was to consider before I criticize.

    I must admit that there are mistakes in grammar that drive me nuts (e.g your vs you’re), but I’ve yet to leave a review which points them out. Why? Because like someone else said, some authors will verbally lash out at you for trying to be helpful. Do any of us really need that in our lives? And how does one constructively and kindly point out errors like that, especially when it’s clear the author really does not know when to appropriately use certain homonyms like ‘to’ vs ‘too’? (Hey Moki – how about a column about writing a good review? Please!)

    In the end, I prefer leaving positive reviews as I believe being positive encourages writers to do their best.

  • AuntStacy

    Interesting post. I am a very avid reader but not a writer, usually reading 2-3 stories a day. I used to work in book publishing (non-fiction) so I’m pretty good at reviewing, but I find that my ability to leave reviews for fan fiction often has nothing to do with the story–it’s purely how busy I am. On days when I’m swamped with work, I’ll read a few stories and won’t leave reviews, even if the stories were terrific. On days when I have more time, I might read more stories and leave reviews for most of them.

    1. From a reader’s perspective, do you consider reviews important?

    No. I don’t think reviews have anything to do with me as a reader. I think the importance and impact of reviews depends entirely on the writer. I’ve seen some writers respond quickly and take them to heart, others seem overly sensitive to comments, others ignore reviews entirely. Some writers hold the next chapter hostage for a high review count (‘if I hit 200 reviews with this chapter I’ll post the next one faster, I promise!’). This is to illustrate that there are many different types of writers, and some seem to need reviews, others don’t.

    As a reader, I don’t read other people’s reviews or let that help me decide whether to read a story. I read every story I can find that meet certain criteria (fandom I’m currently following, characters I like, situations that sound interesting to me, by new authors or authors that I’ve followed before and liked).

    2. Do you review everything you read or only if you like it?

    I don’t review everything I read, I do try to review multi-chapters stories that I like at least once or twice while reading them. There are certain authors I really admire and I try to remember to review them regularly. if something catches my attention I’ll review to let the author know.

    For example, I was reading a story where there was this awesome scene where Tony, Abby and Gibbs all meet at the elevator and blurt out ‘we’ve got the wrong guy’ because they had independently figured it out. It was such a fun moment to read, I could see it happening on the show, so I dropped the author a note and told her. She was thrilled since I guess I was the only one who had commented on that scene and she was worried that it hadn’t had the impact she hoped. I was like ‘no way, you hit it spot on! I squealed when I read it!’ Lol.

    3. What qualities do you look for while reading?

    Consistency and a certain amount of craft. I really love to read, I devote a few hours a day to it, and for a reader the worst possible scenario is to get caught up in a story that suddenly stops, takes forever to finish, or just goes off the rails. (Insert rant about various book series like Anita Blake that just went klabooey after the first few books). So first and foremost it’s important to me that the fanfiction writer has some track record of completion and acts like the story is already written and planned, not that they are winging it each chapter (e.g., finishing each chapter with an author note that says ‘please review and tell me what I should write next’.)

    Like someone else mentioned, I look for stories that move me, make me laugh, make me cry, make me think, make me sigh. It’s not uncommon for me to get caught up in a story and read it until the wee hours of the morning. I’m the same way with books. I want to be engaged and entertained. That’s why i read.

    4. If you find those qualities in a story, do you leave a review?

    Yes, if I have time and there is an easy way to do so. The place the story is posted also affects my likelihood to review it. I am not good at leaving reviews on some sites (like NCIS Fan Fiction Archive) because some interfaces aren’t good for reviewing. I’m more likely to leave reviews on FF.net or Live Journal.

    5. What aspects of a story would make you NOT review it?

    Poorly written, poorly plotted, bad characterizations. If the story is very bad but has a spark (an idea I like, a funny scene) I might review just to tell the writer I liked that part as encouragement. Again, depends on how busy I am.

    If a story already has a ton of reviews I probably won’t review it. I figure I won’t be saying anything the author hasn’t already heard so it’s a waste of both our time.

    6. Do you review every chapter or just at the end of the story?

    Usually once or twice during long stories, during a random chapter when I have the time. Mostly it’s like ‘oh, I’ve been reading this story for 5 chapters and really enjoy it, I should probably tell the author’. Duh.

    7. Do you ever leave suggestions and/or hints for improvement?

    Sometimes. I try not to leave just cheerleading reviews (Loved the story, go you!) since I doubt those are helpful. I try to point to something I really liked in the story so the author will know what worked. If there is something in a really good story that stood out as wrong, I’ll mention it. For example, there is this wonderful NCIS story called In-Laws. Read it 2-3 times and there was a scene that always bothered me. I finally realized that the author had Ziva saying ‘Jesus McGee’ and I was like ‘wait a second, she’s Jewish, that’s just so wrong’. I wrote the author about it. Every other aspect of the story was so perfect, it was just that one thing that jumped out at me.

    8. If you have enjoyed a story enough to place it on your favorites list, would you also leave a review?

    Not necessarily. Depends where the story is posted. For example, I have bookmarked stories on NCIS Fan Fiction Archive because I adore them but I haven’t sent reviews.

    I think everyone has too little time to do the things we love, versus the things we have to do to make a living or keep the lights on. So while I try to write reviews whenever I can, I am not as good at it as I should be. I guess I assume the writer isn’t writing for me, they are writing because they want to, and anything I have to say is icing on the cake but not required.

    From a reading perspective, stories posted to FF.net or other story sites compete for my eyeballs with books on my bookshelf. While I don’t expect the same level of quality (since clearly published authors are paid and fan fiction authors are not), I am still looking for the same experience–to find something enjoyable to read. I figure authors publishing to FF.net are not looking for a writing workshop, they are just looking to get their work out there and see what the general public thinks.

    Btw, I would really love to have a middle option for reading. Right now, I pay for books which guarantees a certain amount of professionalism in the finished work (limited typos, decent grammar). Or I take my chances with Fanfiction and pay nothing but time. I wish there was an interim option where Fanfiction readers could buy works for a few $$ which are betaed, typos corrected, etc. I would be happy to pay for stories online which had been thru some type of editorial process so I could be guaranteed the story would be finished (yeah!) and not riddled with errors that make it hard to read.

    I know it would be tricky to set up due to the whole ‘I do not own these characters’ problem, but if it could be solved I think it would help build a thriving writing community where authors could be compensated for their time.

  • Jen F

    I’ll admit to being one of those people who gives a ton of alerts and favorites but only leaves a handful of reviews. Mainly, it has to do with my own preference for constructive criticism. It irks me when I’ve spent hours working on a story and the only reviews I end up receiving are of the ‘please write more!’ ‘Good job’ variety. A sprinkling of that is always a confidence booster, of course, but when there’s not a single well-thought-out review in the bunch I very quickly lose my motivation to keep writing. Therefore, when I consider reviewing someone’s writing I always consider if I have anything remotely useful to say, even if it’s just pointing out something specific that I really like. If I can’t come up with something right away I’ll forgo the review until later or just not leave one at all.

  • Zee

    Aunt Stacy, I know WIP with erratic posting schedules can be annoying to read. So, I’m setting them aside and talking about complete stories. You say it would be nice for writers to be compensated for their time. I think the reviews are compensation. You can reward the writers whose stories you enjoy by leaving a comment. Also, I don’t think most writers, no matter how many reviews their story had, would consider it a waste of their time to read a note from a reader who enjoyed their work.

    Jen F, I love to get thoughtful reviews with specifics cited. But, I’m also very happy to get any review at all. My motivation has never been damaged by ‘Good Job!’ reviews. Lack of reviews, on the other hand, can be very disheartening.

    I write for myself. But, my main motivation for posting is the feedback. I want to know what other people think of what I write.

    I’m enjoying reading the different opinions and hope to read more.

  • Lori

    1. From a reader’s perspective, do you consider reviews important?

    Yes.

    2. Do you review everything you read or only if you like it?

    I try to review every story, but sometimes it’s just not possible time-wise. Though I prefer to review chapter-by-chapter, sometimes I do not have the opportunity, but I try to go back and review when I am able to do so.

    3. What qualities do you look for while reading?

    Good grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Good sentence structure, good characterizations. If there are a lot of errors I tend to give up and stop reading. If the characters are so *out-of-character* that they don’t “sound” like the characters in the fandom I also tend to stop reading. I don’t expect grammar, spelling, etc. to be perfect, especially since spell- and grammar-check often do not catch mistakes, and I recognize a lot of errors are simply typos, but if the author posts the entire story in lower-case letters with absolutely no punctuation then I’m probably going to quit reading before I get to the end of the story.

    4. If you find those qualities in a story, do you leave a review?

    Absolutely!

    5. What aspects of a story would make you NOT review it?

    If I find it personally offensive topic-wise, if there are so many errors I have trouble reading it, or if I have left constructive criticism for that author on another occasion and gotten blasted for it. I have in the past left constructive criticism–polite constructive criticism–and had the author simply delete my review in return. Responses like this make me gun shy about reviewing.

    6. Do you review every chapter or just at the end of the story?

    I try to review chapter-by-chapter, but sometimes I have to wait and “catch up” on reviews. But I do attempt to review as I read because constructive criticism is probably not as useful *after* the author has finished the story.

    7. Do you ever leave suggestions and/or hints for improvement?

    I try to. If I have a problem with the story’s grammar and punctuation and spelling but really love the concept of the story, I usually state what I like about the story and then follow up by recommending a beta reader or running the story through spell- and grammar-check.

    8. If you have enjoyed a story enough to place it on your favorites list, would you also leave a review?

    Of course.

  • Liz

    Hello Moki and Laine,

    I am also a reader not a writer, (well…except for one small one shot.) lol To say I was terrified to post my little story is a huge understatement. On the other hand, to say I was thrilled when each and every review arrived is also a huge understatement. So I have had a tiny glimpse of how vulnerable these writers are when they post their stories.

    We are all aware that, in the main, amateur writers who love to write use this site to showcase their talents and receive feedback. There are some wonderfully talented writers in the mix who have produced some absolutely amazing stories. But not everyone has the same level of talent and this is something that fan fiction lovers have to take in their stride – sometimes you have to sort the wheat from the chaff.

    However, when reading a story, it is quite easy to determine a typo from a recurring grammatical error and I am more than happy to overlook the occasional glitch. I see no harm in politely suggesting a Beta to a writer whose stories contain appalling sentence structure, continuous spelling errors and/or grossly OOC characters.

    I am more likely to contact a writer by PM rather than advertise it in a review, if I should find a glaring problem with a storyline or plot. I have found that many writers prefer a more subtle approach to concrit.

    I have also heard of occasions where concrit was offered and vehemently rejected – not only by the writer but also by the writer’s “fans” that took it upon themselves to be offended by proxy! What the?

    Any reader who expects to find perfection and slams the author for small grammatical errors, the occasional typo or for having the audacity to have a differing opinion or perception needs to put their hand in their pocket and go buy a book!

    As an Australian, of course I agree with AZGirl’s comments about Brit-English vs American-English. At the risk of embarrassing a fellow Australian, this is a criticism that has been rudely and pointedly directed at Laine for some time. If you take the time to read one of Laine’s amazing stories and are not willing to overlook or accept her Australian spelling for the sake of a wonderfully crafted story that ticks all the boxes – there is no pleasing you.

    While I agree with much of what AuntStacy said (very well, I might add) I do think that there are authors who are genuinely looking to improve and cultivate their talent in what is supposed to be a nurturing environment. Sadly, this nurturing environment often ends up a feeding frenzy.

    Like many readers, I have been lucky enough to find a few writers whose work I enjoy immensely and I always find the time to let them know – I agree with Zee – if they have spent many hours creating a story I have enjoyed, isn’t it only fair that I let them know? For many of them, reviews are their only reward.

    My understanding of the “favourites” list is to allow a member easy access to a story they enjoyed so much that they may return to it and read it again. If a reader enjoys a story so much that they have placed it on their favourites list, I have no idea why they wouldn’t take two minutes to convey some kind of acknowledgement to the writer.

    I believe the answer to the questions asked have already been addressed in my rant-like reply. Sorry about that – you got me a little fired up! LOL

  • Laine

    What a collection of interesting and thought provoking responses! Thank you so much for your valuable input. Here are some of our results, so far:-

    0–o00o-o00o-o00o–0

    ***Most of us agree that reviews and feedback are important but only review stories we like.***

    It appears that many of us search for those well-written, strong storylines with good characterisations and that irresistible mix of drama, humour, angst of friendship. I do find it fascinating though, that so many of us (myself included) refrain from leaving concrit or a gently worded review to those stories that don’t quite measure up. As I said in my post, not leaving a review can be more harmful to a writer who is genuinely looking to improve than leaving constructive criticism as it gives the impression of disinterest.

    ***So, when offering concrit, how do we tell the writers who are genuinely seeking feedback in order to improve and those who are likely to “take our heads off?”***

    Trial and error. I have incurred the wrath of a few irate writers when I have left, what I thought to be courteous concrit. It’s awful and I felt dreadful about it for days. But if you find your polite suggestion, opinion or advice is soundly rejected – more fool the writer. Reassure yourself that your intention was sincere, shrug it off and move on. There are plenty of writers out there who would be more than pleased to receive your feedback.

    ***Many said they are reluctant to leave concrit because they don’t want to hurt a writer’s feelings.***

    I would hope none of us want to hurt a writer’s feelings but I can certainly understand the reticence. As a writer who really “lives and breathes” her stories, I can tell you honestly that, sometimes, concrit hurts but it is softened immeasurably if it is polite and if I believe the reviewer’s intention was sincere.

    How will you know? The easiest way to tell is by the tone of the review. If I have written a sixty thousand-word story and receive a review saying “the word is leaned not leant, fix it” (hello to Corinne if you’re reading) then I get a little hot under the collar. However, a review that starts with “I liked the plot and pace of the story and your dialogue was funny in all the right places but I would have liked to have seen what happened when….” A review like this softens the blow to my fragile writer’s ego and lets me know that this person is genuinely trying to help me.

    In a nutshell, if you want a writer to know you are truly trying to help, your review needs to be polite, and it definitely helps to mention something you liked before mentioning something you feel needs attention.

    I’m with AZGirl on this – could be a good topic for another post, Moki!

    ***It also appears that many readers don’t leave concrit because they don’t write and feel they don’t have the right to offer their opinion or suggestions.***

    WRONG! Speaking for myself, I spend much more time writing than reading. Fan Fiction’s many “reader only” members see far more stories than I do and therefore see a bigger variety of writing styles, story ideas and what “works” and what doesn’t.
    This information can be an invaluable resource to a writer. In my post, when I asked what qualities you look for in a story and what aspects don’t you like everyone had a definite answer – there wasn’t a single “I’m not really sure,” among them. Yes, most writers write for themselves but I believe most genuine writers post to obtain reader feedback. Why? Because – on the whole – we value it. Don’t be shy, readers, let us hear from you.

    ***So what’s the consensus, what qualities do we like in a story?***

    Leaving our preferred genres for another day the qualities we look for are – strong well thought out plotlines; good characterisations, good grammar and spelling. Consistency in quality of writing and posting schedules, stories that entertain, make us laugh or cry and become invested in the story. Good character relationships and good dialogue. Piece of cake! Lol

    ***What aspects don’t we like?***

    Most of us are willing to accept the occasional typo or grammar glitch but are much less tolerant of appalling sentence structure and spelling. Gratuitous violence, whump for whump sake with no real story or reason. Stories already receiving many reviews whose author repeatedly asks for more; stories where the author holds the next chapter to ransom for more reviews; stories where the author asks what should happen next. Death fics.

    As I mentioned in another post, one of the greatest advantages to new writers on Fan Fiction is the assistance that is freely offered in the form of Beta’s. These people offer their time, talent, knowledge and experience to assist others to improve their writing.
    With this kind of assistance available, I must admit that I am at a loss to understand why any new writer would “slap” a story together and not care about the fundamentals that are crucial to the enjoyment of their would-be readers. To me, that is a definite sign of someone who is not concerned about improving as a writer and I steer way clear of those stories.

    ***If you like a story enough to place it in your “Favourites” list, would you take the time to review it?***

    I’m still really confused by this – someone enlighten me please!! I agree with Liz that the purpose of a “favourites” list is to allow a member easy access to a story they enjoyed so much that they may return to it and read it again. If a reader enjoys a story so much that they have placed it on their favourites list, why wouldn’t they take two minutes to convey some kind of acknowledgement to the writer. Help!! Anyone??

  • http://fredsmith518.livejournal.com/profile fredsmith518/cymraes

    That’s a very detailed roundup of the views expressed above.
    Back on the subject of concrit, I think it’s easier to receive from someone you ‘know’ and whose own writing you respect, someone with whom a dialogue is already open.

    Re reviews. If I re-read a story on LJ, I will comment again at the end, letting the author know that I’ve enjoyed revisiting their work…this does not appear to be the norm, and i don’t get that either.

  • Mokibobolink

    Wow, what great responses from everyone and special thanks to Laine for breaking it all down for us. It is interesting to see how many of us feel similarly about reviewing and what stories we will review, etc.

    AZGirl, you’ll be happy to hear that I have actually been thinking of doing a post about how to submit a review and now that I’ve seen the response on this post, I’ll certainly work on it. I’m torn whether to theme it for someone who’s nervous about posting a review (ie the type of person who thinks “my opinion isn’t worth stating”) or someone who would like to specifically give concrit and doesn’t know how to do so. I have much to ponder now, thanks to all of your responses, and I love it! Thank again everyone and keep it up!

  • http://gaelicspirit.livejournal.com/ Gaelicspirit

    I’m not going to say anything that hasn’t been stated above, and I just rambled on too long on the “how to get constructive reviews” blog, so I’ll just say that this is a thoroughly insightful and well-rounded post with follow-on discussion, and I enjoyed Laine’s “round up” of the opinions/input stated.

    Thanks for taking the time, gals. Very rewarding and thought-provoking. I have to remember to swing by here more often.

  • Lanna

    Ahh I thought I would answer these questions so here it goes:

    1. From a reader’s perspective, do you consider reviews important?
    Yeah I like to let them know I enjoyed it.

    2. Do you review everything you read or only if you like it?
    Only if I enjoyed it.

    3. What qualities do you look for while reading?
    Characters kept how they were created unless the story is AU. Something that will make me smile.
    Something I can put in my list of favourite lines.

    4. If you find those qualities in a story, do you leave a review?
    Definatly.

    5. What aspects of a story would make you NOT review it?
    If I didn’t like the pairings or the plot.

    6. Do you review every chapter or just at the end of the story?
    End of story although I recap what I liked in certain chapters.

    7. Do you ever leave suggestions and/or hints for improvement?
    Actually no.

    8. If you have enjoyed a story enough to place it on your favorites list, would you also leave a review?
    Sometimes but not always.

  • Laine

    Having just read Gaelicspirit’s excellent comments on Moki’s post titled “How To Get More Constructive Reviews,” it prompted me to consider the term Constructive Criticism.

    In general, people do not like to voice criticism of others or have criticism directed at them. While the word criticism implies an expression of disapproval it can also mean to evaluate WITHOUT necessarily finding fault. Put that together with the word constructive which means effective, helpful, productive, useful and you get an effective, helpful, productive, useful evaluation without necessarily finding fault! That’s a mouthful but it’s a nicer way to look at it, don’t you think?

    The problem with constructive criticism is that not everyone knows how to give it and not everyone knows how to accept it. It’s probably an area that we can all get a little better at.

    I won’t say more on this matter today as I know Moki is planning more on this in the not too distant future but it certainly explains our reluctance to leave a review on a story that doesn’t tick all the boxes for us.

    If you have a minute, go check out Gaelicspirits comments on Moki’s “How to Get More Constructive Reviews” post. She makes some very pertinent points and I wish she’d made them on my post! :)

    Thank you to FredSmith518/Cymraes for her comment about sending the author a quick note if you have enjoyed re-reading a story. I have had a few of these messages and have been absolutely delighted to receive them but it made me realise that I NEVER send them. Shame on me – I will definitely try to do so in the future!

  • Mokibobolink

    Thanks for your answers, Lanna. Every single person who replies is giving me another piece of this fascinating puzzle called the “review” and as Laine said, I’m working behind the scenes on continuing this series. As of now I have ideas for no less than three more articles on the subject, all based upon what I’ve seen from everyone here. You guys are a mine of information about the world of fanfiction!

    Laine, what a great point about the word criticism. I looked it up again myself and found a great definition too.

    crit·i·cism   [krit-uh-siz-uhm] –noun
    1. the act of passing judgment as to the merits of anything.
    2. the act of passing severe judgment; censure; faultfinding.
    3. the act or art of analyzing and evaluating or judging the quality of a literary or artistic work, musical performance, art exhibit, dramatic production, etc.

    There were more definitions but I thought I’d stick to those three to give everyone an idea of how the word varies. Personally I like definition number three for our purposes. Like you said Laine, there’s no mention of finding fault in that definition. So by criticizing you aren’t necessarily saying something is wrong, only giving your evaluation of it. You can say ” I LOVED IT!” and that’s still, by definition, criticism. Fascinating.

    Ah, so much to ponder for these next posts. Continue to let me know what you guys think and if there’s any specific questions you’d like me to answer and I’ll start doing the research.

    Great to hear from you all!

  • http://www.aneerietapestry.com Mark – An Eerie Tapestry

    1. From a reader’s perspective, do you consider reviews important?

    No, though I consider them important from a writer’s perspective, so I do leave feedback because of that. From a reader’s perspective, I tend to actively avoid reading reviews beforehand since they could contain spoilers. After I’ve read the story/chapter, I might check what other reviews say.

    2. Do you review everything you read or only if you like it?

    Yes, if I manage to finish reading it.

    3. What qualities do you look for while reading?

    Something that makes me forget that I’m reading.

    4. If you find those qualities in a story, do you leave a review?

    Yes, but if I don’t, I tend to point out the distractions.

    5. What aspects of a story would make you NOT review it?

    I’m not sure there are any aspects that would make me NOT review it (even if there were, the fact that there were such aspects would give me something to mention in a review).

    6. Do you review every chapter or just at the end of the story?

    Every chapter if I’m reading it as it’s being posted, to encourage the author and reassure them that it’s being read, or if there’s a lot to say about a chapter; otherwise I’ll just give a review at the end.

    7. Do you ever leave suggestions and/or hints for improvement?

    I usually point out typos. If I can think of possible improvements, I’m also liable to mention them, but that tends to be the exception rather than the rule.

    8. If you have enjoyed a story enough to place it on your favorites list, would you also leave a review?

    Yes.

  • Twinx

    Thanks, Laine and Moki.

    I just have a few thoughts to add. My comments are strictly from the perspective of a non-writer. I specify I’m a “non-writer” as opposed to a “reader” because to me the term “reader” implies one who passively looks at words on a page rather than someone who actively thinks about the information being communicated. Clearly, the wise commentary posted by contributors to this blog demonstrates how engaged they are with the subject!

    1. From a reader’s perspective, do you consider reviews important?

    Sure. If the author is willing to invest their time and talent, and then have the courage to post what they’ve created, then they deserve the courtesy of a reply. Besides, it’s two-way street; the author gets positive feed back which makes them feel good and it encourages them to create more which makes me happy!

    2. Do you review everything you read or only if you like it?

    If I read the whole story I post a review (see answer to #1)

    3. What qualities do you look for while reading?

    Though I have my own personal preferences with regard to subject matter I will read just about anything if it is well written (see all previous posts above to this question; correct spelling, punctuation, grammar, etc.). I don’t necessarily mind an OOC posture if the depiction extrapolates from the defining qualities of a particular character. The original source material for FF is often hamstrung by time constraints and by network standards and practices (in the realm of television, for instance) e.g. the occasional swear word from a character who’s never been known to swear or discovering a new personality trait doesn’t bother me if the author provides the proper context for the revelation. That being said, I am decidedly not a fan of the First-Person narrative style e.g. ”I went to the door and opened it. I think I should pick up my dry cleaning on the way home from work.” I have yet to read any examples of this style that accurately capture the distinctive inner mindset of the character in question rather than simply relaying a sting of bland statements and observations.

    6. Do you review every chapter or just at the end of the story?

    Out of fairness to the author I tend to leave reviews after the entire story is posted. The serial nature of the way FF is published can sometimes leave one with the mistaken notion a given installment is in some way flawed; however in the context of the completed work the detail in question may in fact make sense or the perceived flaw may be of a much smaller magnitude than I originally thought. By waiting until the entire story is posted I can give the author credit for attempting to stretch their creative muscles and/or provide relevant criticism/suggestions. Again, because FF is often published sporadically over a span of several days/months/years, it can be hard to accurately gauge the overall tone and continuity of a story, but the author shouldn’t be penalized for the constraints of RL that dictate the schedule by which a story is posted.

    7. Do you ever leave suggestions and/or hints for improvement?

    I post positive feed back and specific examples of the writer’s strengths so others will have a sense of what makes the story a success and will want to read it. Conversely, I send constructive criticism via p.m., out of respect for “doctor/patient” confidentiality.

  • inchy

    Firstly, let me congratulate Moki on such an informative and interactive site. Secondly, thanks to Laine for raising a topic that has initiated so much varied discussion.

    I have only recently “officially” become a member of FF.net although I have been reading the stories for many years. As I was able to leave my positive feedback – even as a non-member, I did not see the need to join.
    Although my comments were “anonymous” I always left my name.

    Sadly, many of my favourite writers have been plagued with nit-picking and overly harsh unsigned reviews that persuaded them to disable this facility and, in turn, I found myself unable to provide my own feedback.

    I have noticed though, that those who choose to be most critical and (at times) rude and belligerent are generally anonymous? Speaks of their lack of character IMO

    Therefore, I finally dived in and joined FF.net SPECIFICALLY so that I could keep leaving my reviews and advising my admiration and appreciation to the writers who offer their talents.

    I review every chapter of stories I really enjoy and most chapters of those I generally enjoy. I do have a problem with giving concrit (even when offered genuinely) and I NEVER favourite a story without either reviewing or letting the author know by PM.

    I don’t really understand why someone wouldn’t take the time to do so – it literally takes 15 secs to write “Thank you, I really enjoyed your story.” If you have 10 minutes to read a chapter, what’s another 15 seconds? Come on, NOBODY is THAT busy!! Isn’t that what we want to do – encourage good writers to keep writing and keep improving so that we may enjoy the spoils of their work?

    I’m a frantically busy working Mum of two small children – sorry but if you can afford the time to read a chapter or two, you can afford the seconds it takes to show some appreciation. Any writer who loves receiving reviews but does not take the time to leave them, should also feel a small sense of shame. Do unto others my friends….

    .

  • http://www.randomdarkness.blog.com Random Darkness

    As a writer, constantly struggling to maintain a Uni scheudal and family and work and all other other things that invariably get in the way of a nice, stable fan-fic updating schedual, feedback is the key. Even if it’s totally negative! “blah blah blah your a big sucky writer” (and I’ve had a few of those) is worth more than silence, because it at least get’s you revving in an “I’ll show you!” sort of a way.

    1. From a reader’s perspective, do you consider reviews important?

    Oh my word! I’ve found the my rate of output is directly related to the input of feedback.

    2. Do you review everything you read or only if you like it?

    I didn’t used to, I have to admit! I’d happily fav or follow a number of things, never really thinking about it. Once I started writing myself I realised that all those follows and fav and alerts (ffn tells me whenever there is one) don’t mean half as much as a single review! So yeah, now I comment on everything!

    3. What qualities do you look for while reading?

    I’m touchy about characters, if it feels off it’s no good. It’s not that the character as written is bad, it’s just not the character you get on TV (or in the book/game etc) so OOC doesn’t sit properly for me. Dialogue is a biiiig thing, I love reading stories that have good solid lines delivered in such a way that I can hear the characters in my mind!

    6. Do you review every chapter or just at the end of the story?

    Quite often I’ll go to the end of what’s there and then post, and THEN post every chapter that comes out after I start reading. Having read this though, and thinking about my own reviews etc, I resolve now to try to review every chapter as I go, rather than waiting.

    7. Do you ever leave suggestions and/or hints for improvement?

    I’m a little funny on that score. I try not to use the idea ‘what works and what doesn’t’ and give more of an ‘if you wanted to create X type of feel more, it might help to do Y’. Lets face it, maybe they didn’t WANT to do X (no matter how much better *I* think X might have been), maybe the effect is exactly the way it’s meant to be, *I* just don’t go for that kind of thing. In this way I feel less like judgy lady and more like ‘options lady’.

  • Mokibobolink

    Mark, Twinx, Inchy and Random Darkness – Thanks for the comments and your personal thoughts on this subject!

    I continue to be amazed by all of the wonderful comments from everyone. Thanks again to Laine for starting us all talking on this subject.

  • sarahsrr

    1. From a reader’s perspective, do you consider reviews important?
    Yes, from the perspective of a reader I believe that reviews are very important. The not only provide encouragement to the author but offer suggestions and ideas to the author.

    2. Do you review everything you read or only if you like it?
    I review everything i read. In order to do this I only read a few storied at a time.

    3. What qualities do you look for while reading?
    I look for authors that I am familiar with or stories that are on anothers favorite list. Well put together stories with action and angst. I will also read pretty much any Tony story.

    4. If you find those qualities in a story, do you leave a review?
    Yes. I would always leave a review.

    5. What aspects of a story would make you NOT review it?
    Bad grammer, poorly put together stories. Stories that hard to follow and cause you to loose interest

    6. Do you review every chapter or just at the end of the story?
    I review every chapter as I feel it is important to the author and as a writer myself to do that.

    7. Do you ever leave suggestions and/or hints for improvement?
    Unfortunately I don’t. I just don’t aways feel comfortable doing that.

    8. If you have enjoyed a story enough to place it on your favorites list, would you also leave a review?
    Most stories you see on my favorites list I have reviewed every chapter or most every chapter

  • igottoomany

    Not usually one to leave my thoughts on such a forum but it was an interesting discussion so I thought I would have my say – for what that’s worth.

    Agree with many of the threads of this discussion, particularly how, (when used appropriately,) a review can be very encouraging for an author no matter how experienced they may be.

    I do not read a lot of stories but I do try to review those I like – perhaps my lesson here is to also try to review those I don’t like or those that have potential but didn’t quite make it, as I now understand, no reviews at all looks like disinterest and I would never like to give that impression.

    I have offered concrit in the past and have had it welcomed and received thanks for it. Then there have been times when an author has been defensive and offended which was certainly not the intent. The reluctance of some to open themselves to any form of critique is enough to stop me from reading that person’s work again because I believe that author is only interested in reviews that offer praise and flattery.

    I agree with a previous comment that authors continually asking for more reviews when they are already receiving a good number is rather desperate. Reviews should be given because the reader wants to give them, not because the author wants their ego stroked or to reach some kind of review count. There are many excellent authors and wonderful stories that are sadly overlooked when it comes to reviews – authors who receive many reviews should keep this in mind and count themselves lucky.

    I have no qualms whatsoever in authors with few reviews asking for feedback – feedback brings encouragement and (indirectly) improvement.

  • Toadflame

    As a reader, I love to leave reviews. I honestly do. However, there are times where I’m just too busy or I can’t find words to say what I’d like to about a particular story. In answer to your questions:

    1. From a reader’s perspective, do you consider reviews important?
    Yes, because it is designed to help people improve, and the best way to do that is through a reader’s eyes because they are more likely to find things that you or your beta reader may miss.

    2. Do you review everything you read or only if you like it?
    This is more of a fifty-fifty for me. Most of the time, only if I like it, but if it needs a LOT of improvement and I enjoy the main plotline, I’ll leave one.

    3. What qualities do you look for while reading?
    Grammar, spelling, and punctuation are key in what I look for, for some strange reason. I also like to see a lot of cannon things mixed in, and humor to break up the hard and/or disturbing parts of a story. I love seeing character interaction and development. I tend to like, in the case of NCIS, casefiles instead of too much romance, although I search for slash stories about half the time.

    4. If you find those qualities in a story, do you leave a review?
    Most of the time, I do.

    5. What aspects of a story would make you NOT review it?
    If it just teeters on the edge of being really horrible in the respects listed above, or mushy “I love you so much” fiction that I’ve seen in plenty of places.

    6. Do you review every chapter or just at the end of the story?
    Usually this will depend on whether or not the story is finished or not. If it is, I leave one at the end. If it isn’t, I’ll review most to all of the chapters depending on how much time I have when I read it. In the exceptions, such as independent oneshots, I’ll review a majority of the chapters.

    7. Do you ever leave suggestions and/or hints for improvement?
    All the time. Sometimes I can’t find anything wrong with it, so I’ll leave encouragement to continue/update. I love leaving concrit, especially for those who have talent but aren’t quite there yet.

    8. If you have enjoyed a story enough to place it on your favorites list, would you also leave a review?
    I try to in the stories I read.

    I have noticed, however, the ones that get the most reviews are the ones that have multiple chapters, and the oneshots get only a few, even if they’re extremely good.

    I agree with igottoomany and previous replies when they say that the authors who have a lot of reviews are asking for more reviews continually. Sure, I’ll leave a comment or two if someone asks for it, but when an author is on their fifteenth chapter and already up to three hundred reviews-it’s kinda silly for them to be asking for more reviews! It’s also not fair to the authors who post simple oneshots a good majority of the time, and they receive ten reviews, max, before their story goes off the first-page listing.

    As a side note-if there’s an author that I’ve had the misfortune of clicking on their story (whether it be stupidly clichee or have horrible grammar/spelling/punctuation), I tend to avoid them at all costs. Yes, they may improve, and a story may be very good coming from them (I’ve done that too, where I’ll click on a story, say ‘this was really good!’ then scroll up to the author to find it’s one I’m trying to avoid), but sometimes it’s just best to stay away. All in all, I personally think it’s OK to avoid an author, but to avoid all of their newest works when they may be really good is kinda silly, and that statement probably contradicts whatever point I was trying to make in the first place.

    Final thing-you’ve said that you can’t believe the sincerity of authors who claim they don’t care if they get reviews or not. I personally put that in some of my author’s notes, but it’s a trick for me because it may or may not garner some reviews. I honestly don’t mind it, but like many authors, I do cherish reviews I get. I received an anonymous review stating why they didn’t want to continue reading my story, and I think it’s the best review I’ve ever, ever received.

    Thanks for allowing me to say my piece and giving a great insight to leaving a review!

  • Huluview

    Probably most of this has been said in one form or another by others but:

    1. From a reader’s perspective, do you consider reviews important?
    Only to encourage a writer. Authors apparently can tell that people are reading and adding their stories to alerts so they shouldn’t need reviews to know a story is worth continuing. But, I definitely understand wanting to hear that directly, or hearing why a story might be especially meaningful to a reader.

    The worst use of reviews is when they’re being used to direct the story. Strictly a reader for now, but if I wanted to write a story I’d write my own; if I wanted to read X’s story, I wouldn’t be reading Y’s. If the whole point was a group collaboration, that would be different, but just because the writer ran out of ideas or didn’t plot the whole thing out to begin with? Ugh.

    2. Do you review everything you read or only if you like it?
    Only if I like it. If I don’t like it, then it’s probably because I can’t get through the story, or I doubt that my honest opinion, if not wholly admiring, would be welcome.

    3. What qualities do you look for while reading?
    I look for a good plot that isn’t just an excuse to force emotional situations, angst, whump, etc. – those should happen as a logical result of the action. Most importantly, consistency with the established characters! No slash if the characters aren’t already homosexual (give me a break – it’s as if they suddenly sprouted wings and flew!). In -character dialogue (if I can hear their voices when reading, the author almost always ends up on my alert list). Little details/actions in a scene’s description that makes me feel like I’m in the room watching the characters. Subtleties in the relationships between characters: looks, comments, actions that aren’t always explained, just the stuff of everyday interactions. The story’s inner logic and continuity has to be maintained. And nicely tied up stories – no major loose ends (at the same time, no forced conclusions); a sense that after the last sentence of the story the day moves on like it would on any other day (in other words, I guess, realistic): the characters are back in equilibrium.

    Also, the writer should respect their own efforts and do at least minimal research of key aspects of the story, and spell/grammar checking: don’t tell the reader that it was too much trouble to do these things and to just “go with it” if it’s completely unrealistic or hard to read; Google and checkers are just not that hard to use. There are beta’s available for more help. Everyone has misspellings/grammar mistakes, and minor inaccuracies, and that’s OK; but to just not bother with any research or checking shows a lack of respect for one’s own work and the readers. This is all for fun, but it takes just as much time and effort to write for fun as for “real”, and there are too many other stories to read, not to respect one’s own efforts more.

    On the subject of British/Australian English vs. American English – different spellings or terms don’t bother me at all unless I have to keep Google open to figure out what’s going on. I recently read a story that had so many English-specific terms & actions that when “Norfolk” came up, I pictured Norfolk, England’s lighting and smells – just couldn’t picture hot, humid Norfolk, Virginia after that. LOL!! But if it’s too extreme, I can’t picture the characters and get pulled outside of the story too much.

    4. If you find those qualities in a story, do you leave a review?
    Try to – if someone else can find the time to write, I should be able to take the time to at least acknowledge their efforts. But also it’s good to point out the things that made their writing extra nice (since they may not realize that they did it), not only to them but maybe to other writers who read reviews. One author’s writing made me think of James Lee Burke’s (and she’s a teenager); I had to leave a review then!

    5. What aspects of a story would make you NOT review it?
    The same ones that would stop me from reading it: a story that’s being written to reviews, or the author is too needy (often the same thing) or holding the next chapter hostage in exchange for reviews; a story that has an interesting premise but out of character dialogue/action, increasingly unlikely situations (or just too many in one story), action/dialog that’s too basic, or really awful grammar or spelling (although I’m rarely bothered by that if the author is non-native English speaker, at least it still makes sense); also attempts to be “inventive” with punctuation or NO punctuation). Song-fics – ick! I also don’t like nothing-but-romance; the action/events (life) give the emotions meaning for me.

    I don’t see any reason to bother with a review (or read their future stories) if an author suddenly announces that they’re pulling the plug on a story after it’s been (apparently, at least) moving right along with regular posts and no indication of problems; it just feels like a betrayal and a review seems pointless. Sometimes it’s because the show it’s based on went in a completely different direction than the story (so what, as long as the characters stay true and the story’s logic is maintained?). Sometimes it’s writer’s block – fine, let it sit and simmer for awhile (maybe a long while), hand it off if you get a good enough volunteer, discuss the problems with other writers, but don’t just dump the story and the readers (“bye, you just followed a story to nowhere when you could’ve been reading something else!”).

    6. Do you review every chapter or just at the end of the story?
    Usually just the occasional chapter, or if something really stands out; at the end if it was very well handled (or if I didn’t review before).

    7. Do you ever leave suggestions and/or hints for improvement?
    Sometimes, but more in the nuts/bolts department. And carefully – I don’t want to be the one to squash a new writer! And writers like Laine & her ilk really don’t need my suggestions! :)

    8. If you have enjoyed a story enough to place it on your favorites list, would you also leave a review?
    Probably – I’d feel kind of obligated to at that point!

  • Mokibobolink

    Once again, just want to say thanks to everyone who keeps leaving their answers to these intriguing questions. Both Laine and I read every single response and appreciate them all.

    I am still working on my follow-up articles to follow this one, but wanted to mix it up by posting something else in the meantime. But have no fear, we will get back to this very rich subject of reviews. :)

  • Sason

    Thought I’d add my two cents here :)

    1. From a reader’s perspective, do you consider reviews important?

    I’ve never thought about the importance of them, rather the relevance or need.

    2. Do you review everything you read or only if you like it?

    I don’t review everything but some of the reviews I give can sometimes be constructive criticism to improve a piece that I believe has a great deal of potential. My reviews are never nasty (well not intentionally) but not based solely in a negative or positive context.

    3. What qualities do you look for while reading?

    Cohearence and a good line of plot.

    4. If you find those qualities in a story, do you leave a review?

    I let people know what I enjoy about a particular chapter in some cases, while others I occasionally leave, especially if I have reviewed a previous chapter

    5. What aspects of a story would make you NOT review it?

    One that I simply find too difficult to read due to incohearent plot or aspects of a story I don’t enjoy. Sometimes language barriers and terrible grammer can destroy a story for me as well. Also I will not review if I can’t place at least one piece of positive spin on a particular piece.

    6. Do you review every chapter or just at the end of the story?

    Depends on the story

    7. Do you ever leave suggestions and/or hints for improvement?

    I have been known to in the past and sometimes it has had a negative response from authors

    8. If you have enjoyed a story enough to place it on your favorites list, would you also leave a review?

    More often than not I do, but again, depends on the story.



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