I am new to fanfiction writing and this site but have always wanted to be a writer from childhood. I totally agree with and love that every writer has a vastly different style from the next, where would stories be with out it. I, like every other writer am passionate about feeding the flame of enjoyment to the readers to keep them spellbound by and glued to every word and sentence. I must confess that I have read one or two short stories and have been too shy to review or have not known what to say without it sounding ridiculous, that is until recently. I love that you have highlighted the reviewing process so hopefully readers out there will think more on giving their thoughts about a story in future.
Very well written and very true too, and i do recognize what you say about writers being a sort of God in their own worlds, thats why i love to Write. I always try to answer when someone leaves a review, no matter if it is positive or negative,reviews are gold when you are unsure about the quality of Your work. I do also sometimes read the reviews of stories before i decide if i am going to read it or not. Great essay, and very true. :)
Author's Response: I always read a couple of reviews first, Nuredhel - if the reviews are intelligent that is a very good reflection of the story :)
I know you posted this ages ago but it came up as a random story and I just am compelled to say something!
I didn't review for ages when I first started reading fanfiction, because I am shy naturally and it took me awhile to realise, hey this is a situation where my shyness doesn't have to restrict me. Should have been obvious I know! And also because I wasn't confident I could say anything fluently. I still worry about that.
The first time I wrote a review was because as you say, the story was SO amazing there was no way I could NOT review it.
Now I love reviewing, with the right author it even enhances the story for me. I think it is one thing about reading fan fiction that is better than reading a novel because you can communicate with an author as you read the story. You can find out what they were thinking, how they see the characters, if you are on the right track or missing the point. Sometimes I feel like I have actually contributed to the story myself. Reviewing Encarion's stories is a good example of this. We have such great conversations about her characters via reviews. It makes reading the story not a one way experiance but more like real communication.
Like you I always read the reviews for stories I love. Sometimes I find they help me see things I have missed and it is nice to know how others are understanding a story.
It is only really recently I have discovered just how lovely reviews are when you recieve them! I don't review to get reviews but I do read the stories that people who review me write. I go and search out their writings. If I like them I review them. It is not because I want to get a review, more to repay a compliment, I mean if they can take the time to write a review for me than the least I can do is take the time to see what they have written.
Personally I think all the people out there who read without reviewing are missing out big time. Really...they don't know what they are missing!!
Author's Response: Personally I think all the people out there who read without reviewing are missing out big time. Really...they don't know what they are missing!!/b>
That is a really good point, Cheekybeak. I love the interaction I get with the authors - well, some authors, when I review them. I always see it as kind of getting a back-stage pass into the story, what the author thinks and their relationship with their story and characters. I've made friends through reviewing that I wouldn't otherwise have known. I just can't imagine not reviewing :)
It's great to see this written out. I always try to review because I know how awesome it is to see reviews on my own stories. Writing is great, but knowing that people actually read and enjoy that writing is even better ;)
Author's Response: Hiya Quantumphysica, and thank-you for commenting on this. Reviewing is something that every so often comes up in a big discussion, and although every-one has ideas about the general lack of reviews, no-one really knows why. Lately, it's come to light that there are a lot of newer fans (particularly Silmarillion fans) on Tumblr who know and have read the older archive stories (especially on sites like the SWG) and have been inspired by those stories, but have never once interacted with the authors or commented on their stories. It seems very strange to me, as I love communicating with authors who write fic I love. There may be a few who are just shy, but now I am learning toward the idea that they just cannot be bothered, and don't know how much it means for an author to get encouraging reviews. I would have thought writers would understand that, but since some of them are writers, I am no longer so sure :
Very well said, Spice. Reviews and feedback are what create our community. And a review can have other benefits that one wouldn't have anticipated. I have met all my best and dearest friends in the fandom through either their reviews of my stories or mine of theirs. It is way more important to authors than people often think, especially since we're all doing this for free. And yes, it does take some time to write something thoughtful, but I do have to say to any folks out there who never review, gee you got the story for free. If you liked the story at all, at least pay the author in some small way for the hours of effort, by leaving a note that a human being out there actually read and appreciated it. If I had nothing but silence in response to my efforts, I would have assumed no one liked my work and given up a long time ago. Page clicks don't make up for actual responses from people. If it's a multi-chapter story page clicks are better than nothing because they at least let me know how many people actually read it to the end and that tells me something as an author, but not a lot. I really appreciate the readers who have taken time to give me detailed reviews. Also, as you said, sometimes it helps me see a different facet of the story or the character that I didn't see before -- and that is priceless.
I'd like to add that any review at all, even the brief, "I loved this," is much better than silence and definitely appreciated by me and all the authors I know.
Spice, you have been so very generous to many authors and gone beyond the mere review in creating your list of recommendations. I feel quite honored to have been on your list. As we know, getting readers is all about the buzz. Thanks for helping make this community a place where I have enjoyed spending a great deal of time over the past decade.
Author's Response: Reviews and feedback are what create our community.
Yes, if there were just authors posting, and no reviews or comments there wouldn't be a community, and in the end just a few writers probably using their own websites, Tumblr or LJ to post. Authors and readers/reviewers both give in different ways. We don't see the 'taking' except as a lack. Personally I think it's wrong to take without giving something back.
Also, as you said, sometimes it helps me see a different facet of the story or the character that I didn't see before -- and that is priceless.
That is amazing when it happens; and it makes me think which is also a good thing.
They see the characters, they observe the surroundings, feel the emotions, smell the scents in the air, they live within their creation and then gift it to others.
I love this. I've actually copied it into my journal!
Re: leaving reviews - you raise some very good points. I don't review *everything* I click on, but I tend to leave a shout out if I've been impressed by the story, or if the story is by a young author who shows promise but could do with a little guidance. Actually I stopped doing the latter for a while because a lot of them tended to take what I thought was constructive criticism as flaming; these days I usually settle for, "Aspect X is really well handled, have you thought about getting a beta who can help you take your work to the next level?" XD
I'm too tired.
Go to bed and review in the morning. The site and the story aren't going anywhere.
I don't know what to say.
"Thanks, I really enjoyed this" would be more than appreciated by most authors.
Fair play; do whatever you need to get yourself better...but sometimes by reaching out to others, you can really help yourself too.
I am too shy.
Nobody you're reviewing knows that! It's just a little box of text, not a job interview - if you're worried about the author discerning your personality from your review, keep it short and simple. No-one can tell who you are from a little message saying, "Good job."
I don't have the time.
If your life is so hectic then why are you reading fanfic in the first place...!?
Author's Response: I love this. I've actually copied it into my journal!
Awww, thank-you, Narya.
I don't review everything I click on either; I review stories that make an impression, or or if the story is by a young author who shows promise but could do with a little guidance Yes, this.
If your life is so hectic then why are you reading fanfic in the first place...!?
*Snort* That is a good point!
I am pretty sure all authors know how important reviews or comments are, at least positive ones, but the read to review ratio is enormous.
I don't write, so I don't do well with reviews because I have to write them. I try to thank writers I like for writing. I can point out grammatical and spelling errors, usually only if they really irritate me. I can say I like a story. I can't usually say why, just that I do. I don't like to log in on sites I read, so it's not usual for me to give reviews that are not anonymous. This site is an exception, sometimes and sort of. But I'm not a good reviewer.
Author's Response: Thank-you for your thoughts on this, Rick.
I don't think, from what I have been reading on Dawn's post on LJ, that it is just non-writers who find difficulty in reviewing. I have seen good authors say that they become paralyzed when they click the 'review' button and then simply hit the back-button without writing anything. There are many different reasons, it seems, why people don't review or comment.
I can say I like a story. I can't usually say why, just that I do
That is rather like me. :) I don't know the technical terms used to explain *why* I love certain stories, I just know that I love the whole of it.
And I do appreciate your comments on Magnificat, thank-you!
This is a very intriguing essay. I know it was several months before I dared to review, when I was new to fanfiction. I did not understand the genre/world, and when I read a book I get at the library/bookstore, I don't usually write the author to let them know whether I liked it. Also, on LOTRFF.net, where I first discovered Fanfiction, it required an account before you could review, and I didn't think I 'deserved' an account, I mean I wasn't a writer. But eventually my desire to tell the writers I liked, that I liked them became to great, and I started using the e-mail link to let the authors know. From one thing came another, but I didn't have the courage to get an account until after I started beta reading for Alpha Ori. Since then I have learned a lot about fanfiction, and now I will almost always try to leave a review. ;) It was very interesting to read about reviews from an author's point of view, especially yours. I have always considered you a very successful and confident author, and it is interesting to discover that you and I assume other authors really do 'need' those reviews, sometimes because of insecurity, other times for other reasons. But the need is there. I will make sure that I leave a review whenever I can. ;D
Author's Response: I didn't think I 'deserved' an account, I mean I wasn't a writer.
I know what you mean, Mindirith. LOTRFF was the first fanfic archive I discovered (though I had seen fanfic on the Tolkien Encyclopedia website prior to that, and thought it was like members writing stories for one another.) Although I was writing Dark Prince, I had no intention of posting it anywhere, and didn't join LOTRFF because like you I thought I had to be an active poster of fanfic to become a member. I was still nervous of reviewing for the reasons I listed, when I did join.
I have always considered you a very successful and confident author, and it is interesting to discover that you and I assume other authors really do 'need' those reviews, sometimes because of insecurity, other times for other reasons.
Hahaha! Most authors (and I'm sure this applies to published ones, even successful ones like Rowling) are a mass of doubts, insecurities and fragile egos, d;-)
It is as I said on another response. When a reader reviews, they are showing that they are sharing the authors vision, and it is like having a companion on the road to talk to about it, just like if you meet people who share your interests in other things, it really enriches the experience. And for me, reviewers have pointed out things about my characters I did not know I was writing, but must have come across. For instance, on a review on LOTRFF, Ebbingnight commented on how Vanim
Well, I registered with this site for the express purpose of reviewing an essay on reviewing. If that's not meta, I don't know what is. *g*
I am firmly in the "I don't know what to say" camp. I read a TON of fanfiction (though I came to it late - seemingly seconds before a certain other site nearly fell to pieces - I'm making up for lost time, I think), and have thus far only reviewed the handful of very favorite stories. My problem is, all of my reviews are of the "I love this story - can't wait to see what happens next" kind and I'm not sure that's particularly helpful or insightful. I also struggle with the issue of how much to review one story. If I do so early on, should I do it again a few chapters later if only to say "I STILL love your story - can't want to see what happens next"? So I guess I have a bit of an etiquette issue as well.
Author's Response: Hiya Branwyn, and thank-you for reviewing, (this post was really to promote Dawn's poll, since it is open to every-one, and the more people who take it the better the results will be, but this is an issue all fanfic writers hold constantly close to their hearts, so I thought I would post my witterings.
My problem is, all of my reviews are of the "I love this story - can't wait to see what happens next" kind and I'm not sure that's particularly helpful or insightful. I also struggle with the issue of how much to review one story. If I do so early on, should I do it again a few chapters later if only to say "I STILL love your story - can't want to see what happens next"? So I guess I have a bit of an etiquette issue as well.
Yes, I know what you mean. :) I am very grateful that quite often people give me reviews of certain things they liked, which I suppose is more feedback than a review or comment, although 'I love this story,' is also a boost. :)
I am not sure there is much etiquette involved in reviewing, unless it is a reviewer asking for a spoiler of what happens in later chapters, and the author probably not wanting to say much about it. I think mainly the author just wants to be encouraged that people are following and liking their plot and characters, and care about what happens to them, since of course the author does, but we never know, unless people say, that any-one else does! The best reviews to me, are always when readers talk about the characters as if they are real and obviously have invested emotion into their story, but those reviews do take longer to write, and some people are just not sure what to say. Apart from flames, or a reviewer saying that they basically don't like the author's style or theme (which is personal to the author), any comment that a reader is following it better than silence. :)
On Dawn's thread, Keiliss expressed it perfectly, and I do think that when you are writing a long story and some-one reviews you when you post a chapter, it is like having a journey companion to whom the journey is just as important as it is to you, and that kind of 'fellowship' is priceless. It's a sharing.
Interesting summary of the subject, although, I don't think there's anything in it that haven't been said before.
I guess, at the end of a day, it's all about people, and as such, one can't be constant in how they react.
Giving the topic another thought, makes me think it also takes some maturity to comment on something even if you don't have anything special to say.
Looking at something from someone else POV (the authors', in this case), requires the reader to think of what went into the making of a story. It is not automatic, to those of the readers who do not write themselves.
If a reader remembers that the writer they just finished reading is a person, who pours his/her soul into creating the tale, I think it's more likely that they'll review.
As some kind of "thank you" at least.
But, it takes time, and writing a review in public, is not always easy to everyone.
What's my point?
There isn't one really. I am just adding my thoughts from a readers' POV to the discussion.
And as I said on Dawn's poll, I am glad this subject came to live once again :-)
It is important to any Fandom, and its community.
It IS what makes a Fandom, a community.
Author's Response: There's certainly nothing in it that hasn't been said before - especially as this is from an old 'essay' from about 08. :) But I am quite a latecomer to fandom. People have brought this subject up for as long as there's been fanfiction on the internet, I'm sure.
I am glad this subject came to life once again :-)
That's really why I posted this. There seems to be more than a touch of ennui in the Tolkien fandom now, though I am sure that will change when the first Hobbit film is released. As you say this back-and-forth and give-give, rather than give-and-take is what makes fandom a community and keeps it alive and dynamic, but at the end of the day, it's really a tiny percentage of people who keep the wheels greased, the majority who enjoy fandom are silent, for many different reasons. I'm looking forward to seeing what Dawn's poll shows.
Hmm - I feel drawn to review this...
Although mainly because it is well thought out and I found myself nodding almost all the way through.
It really does help when people take time to say that they are enjoying something. Even though we say we write for ourselves, if we truly didn't need/want those 'positive strokes' (Oh - that gives my age away!) of feedback we would just tell the stories to ourselves, inside our heads, just as we always did, and wouldn't bother taking the time to type them.
Author's Response: we would just tell the stories to ourselves, inside our heads, just as we always did, and wouldn't bother taking the time to type them.
Hi, Curiouswombat. :)
Well, I always used to write out my stories and just put them in files (which gives *my* age away, lol.) I loved the 'experience' of actually writing them, (still do) Thinking about them only went so far before my fingers would itch and I would be grabbing a pad and pen, or later, typing. It was just for myself, as no-one ever saw them, but then again, up until a few years back I had no idea people posted stories on the internet at all. When I found fanfiction, it was as if I had just found a hidden cache of gems. People were doing this for nothing?
Feedback is a strange creature. I think we want it for validation that our imaginations strike a chord with other people. I doubt, with most people, that they simply want their egos stroked with regards to their writing ability. To me, it always feels more like the time one of my cousins had read LOTR, and I finally, finally! had some-one to talk to about it. It was more like a mutual enthusiasm and completely nerdy back-and-forth chatter about the entire book. At its best, I think reviewing is about appreciation of a story rather than a technical analysis of the writing, (although I certainly appreciate wonderful use of the English language) and enthusiasm for an idea. And since stories are so important to me, I do find it very easy to review the *ideas* I love.
Who knows why people write stories with a view to being published, or to post on fanfiction sites? but I believe it is because all writers want to share an idea, and if other people like that idea enough to comment on it, then I honestly think that it enlarges the imagination, which can only be a good thing.
If I have the time to read, and if I like the story, then surely I have the time to write a word or two. It takes less time to review than to read.
Great essay; I agree with all you say.
Author's Response: It takes less time to review than to read.
Yes it does, Ellynn. Well, usually, unless it's a long review. I do think reviewers are the exception rather than the rule although I have not really analyzed that properly; I just go by click counts against the number of reviews, which in some cases is quite mind-boggling, especially older sites where stories have been up some few years.
Awesome "essay" and so very true! I found some of my favorites stories because of reviews, I have checked out the bios of reviewers and discovered wonderful tales, loved seeing responses to my thoughts and reviews and of course, reviews feed the muses!
Thanks for reminding me how important it is to let writers know readers are reading and thinking!
Author's Response: Hi, Gwaelinn. Thank-you!
Dawn's entry is much, much better, but it made me remember this old 'essay' (bit grandiose!) that I posted on LOTRFF before they decided essays were right out, and Ideleted it, about why I reviewed.
I found some of my favorites stories because of reviews, I have checked out the bios of reviewers and discovered wonderful tales, loved seeing responses to my thoughts and reviews and of course, reviews feed the muses!
yes, it's a really fruitful soil as long as it's fed and watered, which does not take much, and reviews always do act to me like the 'blurb' on published books, only rather more in-depth, some of which have pulled me right into different stories, and have sometimes lead to lovely on-line friendships, too. :)
This is a very well-thought essay. Especially the parts of about the gift aspect of writing and about the passion needing reciprocation are worth mulling over.
There was one aspect of reviews you might have touched, though. They are gifts, yes, but sometimes also rather bitter pills of medicine. I say this because I was actually just thinking about it, after having received the most critical review on another site I've ever got. After initial humiliation I had no option but admit she was absolutely right. But now that I'm planning a complete rewrite for the story, I see I have the makings of a story ten times better than the original. So, in the end, the reviewer's honesty was a gift, too.
But, again, a fine essay. The list of excuses of not reviewing at the end made me smile wryly, by the way, since almost all of them are all too familiar to me. Hopefully this makes people who read this review more often.
Author's Response: Hi there, Formegil, and than-you for commenting, lol!
after having received the most critical review on another site I've ever got.
I didn't actually touch concrit (which your review sounds like) in this at all, as Dawn's Live Journal post is open to look at, and people discuss concrit much better there. It's a thorny issue, and I rarely give it unless an author has expressed a definite desire for it. For one thing, concrit bleeds too easily into a criticism of the authors plot or characters, and the author may have very definite ideas about that, and aspects he or she does not intend to reveal until later. If such a review helped you, then that's great, but I personally would not be swayed by it because I know what I want to do. The most I would say is 'If you want a story like that, you write it.' :)
Plot and character is one area of my writing that is unchangeable unless I change it as I write, because I do know what I want to do.
I am also uneasy with the idea of people publicly giving concrit. I feel it's rather rude, and should be done privately or within a writers group, but then my main reason for reviewing is to say what I like about a story, not what I think could be done differently, to praise, not to pick. I love reading, I love stories and that is the base I operate from. I do also tend to trust authors to be able to write their story without me making suggestions d;-).
Dawn's poll interested a lot of people including me. Sites like FFN can be very review-friendly, but although I have never posted there, I imagine that the read/comment discrepancy is even larger than on smaller sites, and it simply looks like there are a lot of reviews.
Yes, in the end, fandom is a gift-economy, and for it to thrive, there needs to be a lot of generosity and appreciation. And I certainly do appreciate it, because I could read stories set in Middle-earth for the next 40 years and not get tired of it.