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Old 03-03-2017
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Found this on Tumblr and it is a fabulous comment on WIPs:

Quote:
I know people “hate” WIPs and “don’t usually read/comment on them” because “it’s so frustrating waiting for updates” and “what if it never gets finished?”, but let me just say something from the point of view of someone who has written several multi-chaptered fics over the years, including one that has sat unfinished since 2010:

It’s lonely. It’s a huge investment of time and energy into a project that you hope people will like, but most of them will never tell you until it’s finished. It’s easy to get frustrated. To feel like no one cares, or is paying attention. To feel like giving up, or shelving it for later.

Encouragement along the way is like rain on the desert for writers of WIPs. Knowing people are excited about your story, and eager to see what happens next. Your questions and your love can light a fire under a writer, keeping them going when they might otherwise feel like maybe it’s not worth it. Your feedback might even give them a new idea when they are feeling stuck.

So take a risk. What’s the worst that can happen? You get to read something you enjoy, even if it’s unfinished. Balance that against maybe being the reason something does get finished, after all.
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Old 12-18-2017
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Default Criticism

So I just saw this (in my opinion) controversial post on Tumblr about criticising fanfiction and wanted to share to get an idea of what the good people on this forum think about that topic.

It's a long post so here is only the first (and most crucial) bit. Please do read the whole post in case any questions you may have are answered therein.

Quote:
Do not leave criticism in fanfic comments. Even if it’s constructive. Even if you’re “just being honest.” This is not traditional publishing, and you should not treat fic in the same way you treat traditionally published works. AO3 comments are not Amazon reviews.

If you want to offer the author criticism, please follow the steps below:
  1. Contact the author to see if they even want your criticism (their vision and intention might be different than yours; this isn’t for-profit publishing, so there’s a chance the author has no desire to make their fic anything than what THEY want it to be. Moreover, unless you’re some kind of literary genius, it’s possible that they might not give a ************************ about your opinion)
  2. If they do, provide it in a private forum so that they have the opportunity to accept or reject your criticism outside the public grounds of AO3 comments (what I mean is: CRITICISM IN COMMENTS IS ************************ING HUMILIATING)
  3. Do not be offended if they don’t accept your criticism
  4. Thank them for their time and for listening to you speak your peace

Some additional notes:
  • Do not leave negative criticism/hate/wank on a WIP (or, see above: ever). Some people are enjoying the story and negativity might (will) make the author fall out of love with what they’re writing such that they don’t want to finish it. Also, you owe it to the author, who is writing FOR FREE, to hear them out to the end of their story in case they end up fixing what you were criticising.
  • Do not leave a comment telling the author why you stopped reading the fic. The author isn’t going to fix it and it’s just going to make them sad and feel shitty. Seriously, these types of comments are everywhere and they help NO ONE.
  • If you read something in a fic you don’t like, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD JUST STOP READING IT. Please don’t let yourself believe that the way you see fic is the way fic ought to be. Everyone likes different things. It’s okay to exit silently. It’s the polite thing to do.
  • Do not point out OOC. Ever. Period. End of story. Interpretation is the entire point of fanfic. If you don’t like someone’s interpretation, DO NOT READ IT. You’re not the IC Police.
  • Avoid backhanded compliments. Please don’t start a comment with, “To be honest I hated this at first, but…” or anything similar. If there is an insult in your comment that is turned positive somehow, it is still an insult, and it is still hurtful.
Personally, I don't agree with most of these points. Can criticism be hurtful? Of course. Can criticism be petty? Definitely. Are there ****************************************** reviewers out there? Not on this website as far as I know, but I'm sure other fanfic archives do have them.

My opinion is: if you take the time to write a story and share it WITH THE WHOLE GODDAMN INTERNET it is likely that, at some point in your fanfic writing life, you will probably receive negative criticism or even a truly bad comment.
Of course, the general goal of any reviewer shouldn't be shredding your work – I would argue most people only write comments when they genuinely liked a story anyway, or if there is something they truly believe will improve your writing. I don't think there is anything wrong with that second bit. Being an amateur writer does not mean you should not thrive to improve your craft and challenge yourself.
Maybe the definition of "criticism" has changed since I started writing fanfiction some 15 years ago but generally, hate and misplaced negativity weren't considered criticism back then and probably aren't now.

My personal rules are:
  • Say what you like about a story
  • Offer constructive criticism, if any
  • Don't be a dick.

What say you?
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Old 12-18-2017
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Yeah... this is long. Sorry.


Okay, so my first impression was to go, "Noooo but you got it wrong!!!" After rereading the post, I actually understand from where the writer is coming, and I’m inclined to agree to an extent.

The subject of reviews is a two-sided coin. Yes, we should expect others to be nice, but when we post things online, we do open ourselves up to anyone's opinions, even if we don't ask for them. We can’t expect every single person to be nice and only give us glowing feedback, but we are human and mean reviews do hurt.

It’s hard to balance the line of being nice but also offering critiques, and I think a lot of people stray too far into "critic" territory and then end up hurting writers - even if it wasn't their intention (which is probably what inspired the Tumblr post).

Personally, I can't say that I've ever once thought, "Oh, this is a fanfic; better not offer a suggestion for improvement." That being said, I do try to be positive and encouraging when I review, and I always look for good things to say. I understand that these are all (mostly) recreational writers and they're not always going to be writing at a level you'd expect from a novel in a bookstore. (Granted, I have read some fics that are better-written than some novels.) If something is so OCC that I can't reconcile it, or something in the plot just makes no sense, I may point it out, but I try to phrase it as a question to see if they can explain why they chose to write it the way that they did. I've personally had reviews on a fic I wrote in a non-linear narrative style where some people just did not understand why I wrote it that way, and I certainly appreciated when people asked over just writing, "This would've been better if you'd written it like *this* instead," or "I don't get it." In the same fic, I used the "show, don't tell" method for a certain aspect of the storyline, but some people just did not grasp the explanation and were a bit rude about how they phrased their reviews.

I try to be nice about it when I do leave constructive criticism, because I understand that this is all "amateur" work. I don't know who is at the other end of the screen or how sensitive they are or if they'll even want my opinion. So I guess I try to be super careful in what I choose to critique and how I choose to critique it. I tend to err on the side of not saying anything unless I absolutely cannot get past something. (Also, I know I'm a major grammar nerd and that my actual professional job is editing, so try to dial that back when I read fanfic. I understand that it is recreational, "informal" writing, and so the writer probably isn't looking for me to point out every single one of their typos. Unless something is crazy obviously wrong or it's so packed full of errors that I can't even muddle through it, I'm more inclined not to critique that aspect.)

As a writer, I 100% welcome criticism in my reviews as long as it's given nicely. I did have one person chew me out completely in a review once and it bugged me a lot - mostly because their argument was flawed and thus their entire critique was essentially invalid. (Of course, then another reviewer replied to that comment and tore up their argument, which made me happy. lol)

For all of that, though, I don't post things anywhere and expect everyone to be nice. On any site - social media, fanfic sites, these forums even - I understand that there are all sorts of people who will read my things and be able to comment on them. For example, on my Facebook, I recently shared some photos of my NYC trip, and a "friend" commented something mean on my photo of Trump Tower. (Leave my vacation photos alone. *sob* ) To me, it's kind of an unstated rule that once you set something loose on the internet, it's fair game to everyone - both the nice people and the mean people and the trolls. I don't quite understand the mindset that you can post something and expect every person in the world to either be nice or hold their tongues.

It's a sticky situation to be sure, and every writer (and reviewer!) is different... I guess at the end of the day, my opinion is to err on the side of being nice. (Which should be true for everything. I don't really like how they phrased their statement that "fic writers aren't celebrities... if you cut them, they will bleed," because there is no excuse to be hateful to anyone, regardless of if they "should be used to it" or not.) However, I also don't think that writers should expect that they can post something online and never get any feedback they don't like. Like I said at the beginning (of what has now become a mini-novel itself lol), it's really a two-sided coin, and I don't think there's going to be a simple answer, if only because we all have different opinions on... well, on everything!

It's like life. lol Everyone is going to process things differently, and while we can't walk on eggshells for fear of offending someone, we also shouldn't adopt a "who cares because this is what I think" approach to interpersonal interaction either. And at the end of the day, the whole fanfic thing is interpersonal interaction. I think the computer removes that aspect for us a lot of times, but the truth is that real people are reading your stories and real people are reading your reviews. If we approach our online interactions with that in mind, I think we'll all be okay.
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Old 12-18-2017
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DinerGuy View Post
Yeah... this is long. Sorry.


Okay, so my first impression was to go, "Noooo but you got it wrong!!!" After rereading the post, I actually understand from where the writer is coming, and I’m inclined to agree to an extent.

The subject of reviews is a two-sided coin. Yes, we should expect others to be nice, but when we post things online, we do open ourselves up to anyone's opinions, even if we don't ask for them. We can’t expect every single person to be nice and only give us glowing feedback, but we are human and mean reviews do hurt.

It’s hard to balance the line of being nice but also offering critiques, and I think a lot of people stray too far into "critic" territory and then end up hurting writers - even if it wasn't their intention (which is probably what inspired the Tumblr post).

Personally, I can't say that I've ever once thought, "Oh, this is a fanfic; better not offer a suggestion for improvement." That being said, I do try to be positive and encouraging when I review, and I always look for good things to say. I understand that these are all (mostly) recreational writers and they're not always going to be writing at a level you'd expect from a novel in a bookstore. (Granted, I have read some fics that are better-written than some novels.) If something is so OCC that I can't reconcile it, or something in the plot just makes no sense, I may point it out, but I try to phrase it as a question to see if they can explain why they chose to write it the way that they did. I've personally had reviews on a fic I wrote in a non-linear narrative style where some people just did not understand why I wrote it that way, and I certainly appreciated when people asked over just writing, "This would've been better if you'd written it like *this* instead," or "I don't get it." In the same fic, I used the "show, don't tell" method for a certain aspect of the storyline, but some people just did not grasp the explanation and were a bit rude about how they phrased their reviews.

I try to be nice about it when I do leave constructive criticism, because I understand that this is all "amateur" work. I don't know who is at the other end of the screen or how sensitive they are or if they'll even want my opinion. So I guess I try to be super careful in what I choose to critique and how I choose to critique it. I tend to err on the side of not saying anything unless I absolutely cannot get past something. (Also, I know I'm a major grammar nerd and that my actual professional job is editing, so try to dial that back when I read fanfic. I understand that it is recreational, "informal" writing, and so the writer probably isn't looking for me to point out every single one of their typos. Unless something is crazy obviously wrong or it's so packed full of errors that I can't even muddle through it, I'm more inclined not to critique that aspect.)

As a writer, I 100% welcome criticism in my reviews as long as it's given nicely. I did have one person chew me out completely in a review once and it bugged me a lot - mostly because their argument was flawed and thus their entire critique was essentially invalid. (Of course, then another reviewer replied to that comment and tore up their argument, which made me happy. lol)

For all of that, though, I don't post things anywhere and expect everyone to be nice. On any site - social media, fanfic sites, these forums even - I understand that there are all sorts of people who will read my things and be able to comment on them. For example, on my Facebook, I recently shared some photos of my NYC trip, and a "friend" commented something mean on my photo of Trump Tower. (Leave my vacation photos alone. *sob* ) To me, it's kind of an unstated rule that once you set something loose on the internet, it's fair game to everyone - both the nice people and the mean people and the trolls. I don't quite understand the mindset that you can post something and expect every person in the world to either be nice or hold their tongues.

It's a sticky situation to be sure, and every writer (and reviewer!) is different... I guess at the end of the day, my opinion is to err on the side of being nice. (Which should be true for everything. I don't really like how they phrased their statement that "fic writers aren't celebrities... if you cut them, they will bleed," because there is no excuse to be hateful to anyone, regardless of if they "should be used to it" or not.) However, I also don't think that writers should expect that they can post something online and never get any feedback they don't like. Like I said at the beginning (of what has now become a mini-novel itself lol), it's really a two-sided coin, and I don't think there's going to be a simple answer, if only because we all have different opinions on... well, on everything!

It's like life. lol Everyone is going to process things differently, and while we can't walk on eggshells for fear of offending someone, we also shouldn't adopt a "who cares because this is what I think" approach to interpersonal interaction either. And at the end of the day, the whole fanfic thing is interpersonal interaction. I think the computer removes that aspect for us a lot of times, but the truth is that real people are reading your stories and real people are reading your reviews. If we approach our online interactions with that in mind, I think we'll all be okay.
I had really wanted to comment on this article earlier but being stuck at work, all I had was my phone and it's too hard to type out long replies a tap-tap-tap at a time (ugh)

I agree, DG, with everything you've articulated here. I KNOW I could be a heck of a lot more critical, at times, if I felt it would be warranted or valuable to do so. Those times where I've decided to give the FULL review - praise and critique in equal measure - I've always second guessed myself later (and continue to do so - even yeeeears later!). I never want to ever EVER cause hurt or discouragement.

From the reviewer POV, I pretty much feel, these days, that unless a writer asks, specifically, for an in-depth critique, it's better to stick to pointing out all the good and glorious. And yet, as a writer, I would not be destroyed by a hard critique. Of COURSE it would hurt my feelings - though there are ways to write it in a way that doesn't come off cruel.

I feel everyone kinda has their own valid motivations for reviewing in the ways that they choose (unless you're a jerkwater troll who writes flames for the express purpose of being a filthy asshat).

And critiques are how I've developed myself as a writer. There is SO much to learn about writing and every fanfic writer is a student of storytelling.

Eeeeeeeehhhhh.....

I have more I could write but my brain is tired and my dog is barking lol! I'll leave the rest to imagination xD
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Old 12-18-2017
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Personally, I would always rather receive a long and detailed review instead of a generic "oh, this is great," even if that means receiving some constructive or even negative comments along with the positive. I enjoy being challenged as a writer to an extent, and I also love being questioned about my writing because that makes me think deeper about why and how I do what I do. I always want people to be honest with me when they're reviewing---not mean or hurtful, but honest. If you don't like something that I write, I want you to feel free to tell me that it wasn't your cup of tea, or to challenge me on it and ask why I did it. That kind of thing doesn't bother me at all.

However, I also consider myself an experienced writer, and I've been writing fanfic for several years now. I've had my confidence built up by practicing and also by some great encouragement from all the great people on this site. If I were someone with less self-confidence (a new writer, for example), then I would feel much less secure when receiving even constructive criticism. When I first started out writing, I was very nervous about posting *anything,* and I was too young to realize that generic positive statements aren't helpful. I just wanted someone to actually read the darn story and say something nice, because that was what motivated me to keep going. So like you all said, I can understand both sides of the argument.

But even though those generic positive statements kept me going for a while, they weren't actually enough to sustain me, so I knew that I'd have to step up my game if I wanted more. The reviews that were more in-depth and critical pushed me to experiment more and step outside of my comfort zone---and they still do. So my final answer on the question is to give positive encouragement, but also be honest.

My personal policy when reviewing is to offer only positive statements at first. NOT generic "yay great job" reviews!! Unless I'm just stupidly short on time or the whole thing is just mind-blowingly amazing, I never leave generic reviews. Instead, I'll find *something* in the story that I liked---even if it's just a favorite line---and mention it. Then, after I've felt things out and understand the writer better, I'll offer more in-depth critiques, and I'll keep going more and more in-depth as I get to know the writer's feelings better. My closest friends know that I will review their stories like an English teacher and that I could write a full-on analytical essay of each chapter, but that only comes after I know that the writer won't take my analysis the wrong way.

Don't know if any of that made sense; I'm writing this late at night.
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Old 12-19-2017
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PineappleHead View Post
Personally, I would always rather receive a long and detailed review instead of a generic "oh, this is great," even if that means receiving some constructive or even negative comments along with the positive. I enjoy being challenged as a writer to an extent, and I also love being questioned about my writing because that makes me think deeper about why and how I do what I do. I always want people to be honest with me when they're reviewing---not mean or hurtful, but honest. If you don't like something that I write, I want you to feel free to tell me that it wasn't your cup of tea, or to challenge me on it and ask why I did it. That kind of thing doesn't bother me at all.

However, I also consider myself an experienced writer, and I've been writing fanfic for several years now. I've had my confidence built up by practicing and also by some great encouragement from all the great people on this site. If I were someone with less self-confidence (a new writer, for example), then I would feel much less secure when receiving even constructive criticism. When I first started out writing, I was very nervous about posting *anything,* and I was too young to realize that generic positive statements aren't helpful. I just wanted someone to actually read the darn story and say something nice, because that was what motivated me to keep going. So like you all said, I can understand both sides of the argument.

But even though those generic positive statements kept me going for a while, they weren't actually enough to sustain me, so I knew that I'd have to step up my game if I wanted more. The reviews that were more in-depth and critical pushed me to experiment more and step outside of my comfort zone---and they still do. So my final answer on the question is to give positive encouragement, but also be honest.

My personal policy when reviewing is to offer only positive statements at first. NOT generic "yay great job" reviews!! Unless I'm just stupidly short on time or the whole thing is just mind-blowingly amazing, I never leave generic reviews. Instead, I'll find *something* in the story that I liked---even if it's just a favorite line---and mention it. Then, after I've felt things out and understand the writer better, I'll offer more in-depth critiques, and I'll keep going more and more in-depth as I get to know the writer's feelings better. My closest friends know that I will review their stories like an English teacher and that I could write a full-on analytical essay of each chapter, but that only comes after I know that the writer won't take my analysis the wrong way.

Don't know if any of that made sense; I'm writing this late at night.
Made all kinds of sense! I think this is a great way to approach reviewing. I also don't like leaving short reviews - which is partly why it takes so long for me to actually leave reviews lol!
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Old 12-23-2017
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Okay, more specific questions:
  • When we are talking criticism, do you usually think of criticising the content of the story, or the craft? Because I would argue criticism can differ greatly depending on what the reviewer thinks is "wrong" about a story.
  • Would you say it would make sense to encourage writers to actively ask fo constructive criticism, like the Tumblr OP suggested? (I know that on DeviantArt, the feature to give proper consructive feedback, if requested by the artist, does encourage long and detailed criticism, but I also don't want to discourage reviewers who would rather just leave a quick tought or two.)
  • Would it make sense to ask people to not comment unless they liked the story, especially if it is a new writer?
  • Asking for and giving feedback via personal message: Yay or nay? I fear it would rather encourage negative criticism since there is no one else to check those comments and put the reviewer in place should they be out of line. But maybe some people would prefer the personal dialogue otherwise impossible via the comment section?
  • Should writers who want constructive criticism make better use of the forums and encourage a dialogue there?
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Old 12-23-2017
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Quote:
Originally Posted by harakiri View Post
Okay, more specific questions:
  • When we are talking criticism, do you usually think of criticising the content of the story, or the craft? Because I would argue criticism can differ greatly depending on what the reviewer thinks is "wrong" about a story.
  • Would you say it would make sense to encourage writers to actively ask fo constructive criticism, like the Tumblr OP suggested? (I know that on DeviantArt, the feature to give proper consructive feedback, if requested by the artist, does encourage long and detailed criticism, but I also don't want to discourage reviewers who would rather just leave a quick tought or two.)
  • Would it make sense to ask people to not comment unless they liked the story, especially if it is a new writer?
  • Asking for and giving feedback via personal message: Yay or nay? I fear it would rather encourage negative criticism since there is no one else to check those comments and put the reviewer in place should they be out of line. But maybe some people would prefer the personal dialogue otherwise impossible via the comment section?
  • Should writers who want constructive criticism make better use of the forums and encourage a dialogue there?
1. Both. To be honest, I tend to focus more on the content of the story rather than the craftsmanship, but I do try to offer comments in both areas because I think that both are important and need to be recognized. Usually, if the actual writing quality needs some work, I'll leave a suggestion to check out the grammar or writing advice sections of the forum in a polite way. If the writing quality is amazing, I'll come right out and say so. Usually by quoting a favorite line or two.

2. Yes, I think it absolutely makes sense for writers to ask for CC. I know that I myself have asked for it in many of my stories, and honestly, there is no good reason to not ask for it. If you think that your writing is perfect and that there is no room for growth, then you probably need constructive criticism much more than you think you do. (I say that from personal experience.) No matter how good you are, there is ALWAYS room for improvement. Even professionals keep working to learn the craft.

3. Nope. People are going to say what they want to say and think what they want to think regardless of what you ask them to do. In fact, asking them to not leave comments would probably do more harm than good. Not only are you inviting people to be negative about you asking them not to be negative, but you're also potentially discouraging reviewers who liked the story and want to leave positive feedback but aren't sure how their comments will be received. Besides, in the real world, you don't always get positive feedback even if you do your best and do a great job. Sometimes people are rude to you and sometimes people are cruel, and as unfair and awful as it is, sometimes you have to learn how to just shake the dust off your feet and keep moving forward. I try to keep in mind some advice from an old professor of mine: if two or more people give you the same comment on your writing, then it must be true, but if you only get that comment from one person, don't worry about it. That rule has been good to me so far.

4. I've done it both ways and I have no preference. I never say anything that I would be ashamed to say to someone's face and I am always polite and positive, so I never have a problem with either method. With my friends, though, I enjoy long e-mail discussions about stories. I have, however, experienced the opposite problem---people sending me DM comments about reviews that I've left. Apparently there is such a thing as being too positive! But that never bothered me either. Honestly, I think it's a matter of personal preference.

5. Absolutely. You learn by doing and you learn by communicating with other writers. The more, the merrier.
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