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!
I just looked at the calendar and realized that I hit an important milestone a couple of days ago. It has now been one year since I got laid off from a corporate job. I remember the shock I felt as I walked out of the office, got into my car and drove home with no idea what I was going to do next.
I got over the shock about 24 hours later and that’s when I started planning. As I started getting ready to update my resume (which I hadn’t had to do in six years, I had been at that company that long) and buy new clothes for interviews, I suddenly realized that I had no desire to go back to the corporate world. So I chose a whole new path – freelance writer.
A year later I have realized my dream and am now getting paid to put words to paper (or computer screen).
Here’s how writing fanfiction helped me to achieve my goal.
When you think of writing fanfiction, I’m sure you don’t think of deadlines. After all we fanfic authors are our own bosses, deciding when to post and when not to post. But early on I discovered that I produced a lot more if I set myself targets. Sometimes I didn’t meet them, but many times I did and in doing so, I learned how to write under the dreaded “deadline”.
For the most part, my experience with reviewers has been positive when it comes to my fanfiction. But every once in a while there have been people who have given a negative comment or criticized the way I wrote a particular scene or portrayed a character. The first time it happened I’ll admit that it deflated me a little bit and I began to second-guess myself as a writer. Then I realized that I needed to just get over it. I learned to take the criticism that was helpful, using it to become a better writer, and ignore the rest.
Getting over writer’s block.
One of the biggest lessons I learned while writing fanfiction was getting over ‘writer’s block’. When I was still fairly new at writing fanfic, I had a wonderful writing coach who taught me a valuable lesson. His theory was that ‘writer’s block’ stemmed from a person actually stopping themselves from writing. We go to write the next paragraph and our hands freeze over the keyboard, not because we have nothing to say, but because we are saying to ourselves “no, I don’t like that idea”. So we keep trying and keep stopping, never letting anything out of our heads. He taught me a great technique where I write anything and everything that pops into my head when doing a first draft, no matter how ludicrous it sounds. Then later I go back and clean it up. Sometimes I delete whole paragraphs when I’m editing, but often those ‘crazy ideas’ actually turn into something pretty cool. I have put that theory into practice many times while writing my fanfiction and it has also been extremely helpful when I find myself ‘stuck’ in a freelance project.
Want to know every time I add a new post? Be sure to subscribe to Moki’s Fanfiction Blog!
More Fanfiction Writing Tips…
More on Moki’s Fanfiction Blog…
Fanfiction Writing Tips: Writing a Good Action Scene
I remember the first time someone commented on one of my fics and said something about how great my action was in the story. I felt like looking over my shoulder and seeing who they were talking to, because surely it couldn’t be me. Needless to say, writing action hasn’t always one of my strong suits. But after writing a few action-packed stories, it has become a little easier.
Here are some of my tips for writing a good gun battle, fist fight, etc.
Watch action scenes
Certainly that’s a given but when I say watch, I really mean it. You’ve got to pay attention to what is happening on screen. Everything usually happens fast so you may have to pause and rewind the ol’DVR, but when you do, you will see exactly what is going on. Once you see it, you can describe it, and once you can describe action, you can start thinking up some of you own.
Read action scenes
Now I’m not advising people to go out and just start stealing other people’s work. I’m talking about reading how another author has described an action sequence so that you get a feel for it. Especially if reading it makes you really feel it – like you are there watching everything happen. Did they describe every single movement or just a few? Did they add emotion to the sequence or not? Noticing things like this will help you to write you own scenes.
Get up out of that chair
One action scene that I’m proud of is a fight I wrote in my NCIS fanfic “Silent Night”. I knew that it needed to be a real knock down, drag out battle and frankly, I was very intimidated before I started it. I had a vague idea in my head of what I wanted to happen, but just couldn’t figure out the details. So at one point I got up out of my chair and started acting it out. I’m sure if anyone happened to be looking in my window (no easy feat since I live on the third floor, thank goodness), they would have thought it a very strange sight. I punched the air, got onto the floor, kicked at an imaginary opponent; basically I walked myself through the entire fight. When all was said and done I ended up learning a lot. I also got lots of positive reviews about the fight when I posted that chapter.
Take kick-boxing classes, self-defense classes, a firearm training course, etc.
Okay so I haven’t actually done this one yet, but it’s something I’m dying to do. Ever since I first saw Buffy kick some major vampire ass, I wanted to learn to fight. I’m just under 5’1”, so I’m sure any vampire would take one look at me and laugh, but I still want to do it. I also think that once I’ve learned how to do some of those moves, especially practicing with a partner, I’ll have a better idea of how to write a fight.
I’ve heard that people should write what they know and there’s no doubt that the words come a lot easier when I’m describing something that I myself have experienced. That doesn’t mean I have to go out and find some demons to fight or go and capture criminals, but every extra skill I learn helps me with my writing. After going to a firing range and learning firearm safety and how to fire a gun, I noticed right away how much easier it was to write scenes involving weapons.
How about you? What has helped you to write a good action scene?