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.
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