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Thread: June Activities 2009

  1. #1
    GringottsVault711
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    June Activities 2009

    Me!

    Just kidding.

    Our featured author for June is the lovely Mere, aka MerryD

    You can find her author's page here.

    • You must review the featured author for it to count as your monthly activity requirement.
    • Post the link to your review here - you may also post it in the June review thread for credit as a review, if you wish (and why wouldn't you? )
    • Questions in this thread are not part of the monthly requirement, but they are greatly encouraged. Also, they must have something to do with the subject of writing.

  2. #2
    GringottsVault711
    Guest

    June Discussion: Reviewing SPEWers

    A subject that came up in the babble recently is the difference between reviewing people you know, and people you don't know.

    Our discussion this month is related to that.

    SPEW used to have a set requirement that a certain number of monthly reviews had to be written for SPEW members. This was based on the original idea that being a member of SPEW also meant recieving reviews, because recieving reviews (not merely writing them) is also important in becoming a better writer.

    So, on that note:

    How important is recieving reviews, compared to writing reviews, important to improving as a writer?

    Do you think that as SPEWers, our first priority is to one another, or to other non-SPEW members? Why?

    Do you think that there should be this requirement should be reinstated? (Ex: Of 3 reviews, one should be for a SPEW member; Of 4 reviews, two should be for a SPEW member) Why or why not?

  3. #3
    GringottsVault711
    Guest

    June Drabble Challenge

    Choose a canon character, and keeping them within a usual setting and situation for them, write them with the characterisation of a completely different canon character.

    Ex: Molly Weasley in Diagon Alley picking up start-of-term items or at The Burrow cooking dinner, but speaking and behaving like Bellatrix; Severus giving Harry and Ron detention but behaving like Professor Flitwick
    You may provide an explaination in the drabble for their behavior, or you can leave it as completely random as the challenge itself

    Please choose two fairly prominent canon characters from the books (ie, not obscure next-gen, famous wizarding cards, etc, characters) for this personality swap.


    Rules/Guidelines

    • Drabble can be between 250-800 words.
    • Content should not be any higher than a 3rd-5th Years rating.
    • All content that would require a warning on the MNFF Archive should be labeled.
    • This thread is for responses only. If you have a question, PM me.
    • Responses must be posted by June 30th, 2009.
    • Please post using this format:

      Title: Frimšrken
      Word Count: 450 (This may be approximate)

      Story Text Story Text Story Text Story Text Story Text Story Text Story Text
    • As with all activities within the SPEW forum, this challenge is open only to SPEW members.

  4. #4
    Skipper
    Guest
    How important is receiving reviews, compared to writing reviews, important to improving as a writer?
    When I first got involved with MNFF, receiving reviews would have been my answer, hands-down. I would have cited the feedback that you get from your readers as priceless in terms of its value to improving your skills. A couple of years later, and now in my second tour of duty in SPEW, I don’t think the answer is so clear-cut. In fact, I’ve almost completely flip-flopped my stance. Nowadays, I would say that writing reviews is more important to improving as a writer.

    As members SPEW we all understand that not all reviews are created equal. While there are some that you get that do contain bits of the useful constructive criticism that a writer wishing to improve so deeply desires, many reviews don’t say much. An overall impression is typically left by the reviewer – did he or she like or dislike the story. But many key details get omitted. What did the reviewer like? What did the reviewer dislike? Are there examples cited from the story? Are there suggestions for improvement? And, of course, what corrections needed to be made from the mechanical side of the house (one of my weaknesses as a reviewer because I’m so dreadful in this area).

    The point is, in terms of ever learning something from receiving a review, an awful lot is left to chance – luck of the draw. Who reviewed your work and how hard did he or she concentrate on the review?

    I think you begin to understand more when you start trying to write quality reviews yourself – when you start looking at someone else’s work critically and trying to see how it is constructed. How effectively does the writer employ various devices? Does the imagery blow you away? Does he or she have amazing characterization? Does the writer have a very unique style that just made reading their work all the more enjoyable?

    Looking at these things collectively and trying to evaluate how smartly an author has brought them together in a single work really helps sharpen your own understanding of how these all work together. You learn by looking at all the different ways different people have constructed stories. How many times have you read something by someone else and gone, “Wow, that’s a really good.” It can be a wonderful exchange of dialogue or a brilliantly painted scene that really made you feel like you were standing right there on the set. Bringing these things out in reviews that you leave for the author shows that you’ve considered all of these areas and that you understand (at least partly) and appreciate them. To me, that’s when you can really see and feel growth as a writer.

    Do you think that as SPEWers, our first priority is to one another, or to other non-SPEW members? Why?
    I don’t think that a SPEWer’s should feel obligated to make any one or any group top / first priority. I think the only priority a SPEWer should have is to leave quality reviews. The mechanisms or inspirations employed by the SPEWer to choose which story he or she looks at should be left entirely up to that SPEWer. I just don’t like the idea of being obligated to review a specific person's or group's work.

    For example, and you still see some of these around the boards, reviews circles. You review someone else’s story, and then they review yours. I’m sorry, I just don’t like the idea. I’ve tried it and every time I got a review out of it, I was left with the sinking sensation that the person who reviewed my story would have never chosen to review it on his or her own. If that’s truly the case, I just assume he or she not review it at all.

    Rather than being required to Review for a certain genre or group of people, I think SPEWers ought to review stories that they read because that's where their interest carried them. The best reviews, in my good for nothing opinion, come out when you read something that really captures your imagination, something you really wanted to read, and not because you 'had to'. A bit overstated, but do you ever really mean what you say at gunpoint?

    Do you think that there should be this requirement should be reinstated? (Ex: Of 3 reviews, one should be for a SPEW member; Of 4 reviews, two should be for a SPEW member) Why or why not?
    No. Plain and simple. I think I kind of explained why answering the last question.

    I don’t take offense when other SPEWers don’t review me, and I hope they don’t take offense if I never review anything of theirs. I’m not avoiding anyone on purpose, and I know I’m not being singled out for isolation from the group. It’s just that I personally would prefer reviewers who landed on my story and chose to read it on their own, absent of any sense of obligation.

    Does that make sense? I’m hoping that doesn’t come across to all of you of as harsh or mean spirited. It is not meant to...

  5. #5
    Honigkuchenpferd Hufflepuff
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    How important is receiving reviews, compared to writing reviews, to improving as a writer?

    Quote Originally Posted by Skipper
    Nowadays, I would say that writing reviews is more important to improving as a writer.
    While I agree with you that many reviews are simple one-liners that do not say much if anything at all, there are some that do contain quality (especially SPEW reviews) and help authors develop. And it's those reviews that help me more than when I write reviews for others. Sure, writing reviews demands that I analyse other people's stories to be able to write a quality review, but whilst that is teaching me more about aspects of a story or writing techniques to look out for while writing, I still do not know if what I wrote is actually good, you know? I don't have the feedback myself, that's why I believe that receiving reviews is more important than writing them. I don't want to say that writing reviews doesn't matter at all in an author's development, because it does, but to improve majorly, you need feedback yourself. And only other people can give you that as most authors tend to think highly of their work, not seeing flaws in their own writings.

    Now, of course, if the majority of people was to actually aim to help authors rather than leaving simple one-liners, we would improve even more. But that's sadly not the case, like you said, and so we have to stick with the lucky catch that one out of many will leave a quality review to your story.

    Do you think that as SPEWers, our first priority is to one another, or to other non-SPEW members? Why?

    Quote Originally Posted by Skipper
    I donít think that a SPEWerís should feel obligated to make any one or any group top / first priority.

    I think SPEWers ought to review stories that they read because that's where their interest carried them.
    I agree with James. Leaving quality reviews for something you don't want to read isn't fun. I like reading stories that I find interesting and gripping, and I'll then leave a review because I want to and I have fun doing so. If I had to read a story I don't like and wouldn't read out of my own, I'm more inclined to a) not finish reading it and b) don't leave a review. There's no fun in there.

    Quote Originally Posted by Skipper
    reviews circles. You review someone elseís story, and then they review yours. Iím sorry, I just donít like the idea. Iíve tried it and every time I got a review out of it, I was left with the sinking sensation that the person who reviewed my story would have never chosen to review it on his or her own. If thatís truly the case, I just assume he or she not review it at all.
    I have to politely disagree with you here. You're not forced to participate in review circles. Sure, when you leave a quality review to someone, you hope and wish that the one after you leaves you exactly such a nice review to help you as the writer. That's not often the case, however. But you're not forced to participate. Often though, review circles are the only chance for people to get any reviews at all.

    Do you think that this requirement should be reinstated? (Ex: Of 3 reviews, one should be for a SPEW member; Of 4 reviews, two should be for a SPEW member) Why or why not?

    Like James said, no. Whilst getting reviews from SPEWers is a great feeling and definitely going to help us improve, it's no fun being forced to review someone or something you wouldn't read on your own if you have the choice. And if people read and review my stories because they want to do it, I at least know that there is something in my stories that makes people want to read and review.

    I'm for not reinstating that requirement.
    No longer a mod and no longer in charge of any forums.

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  6. #6
    Skipper
    Guest
    Often though, review circles are the only chance for people to get any reviews at all.
    That is precisely my problem with review circles - authors reviewing to get reviewed, not reviewing to review, like we do in SPEW.

    I'll have to assess myself a major penalty for that rhyme.

    When I tried out the review circle in my house, and this was a while back - even before my first tour in SPEW, the feeling I got, especially from the reviews I received, was, "blah, blah, blah, great job! Okay, now (someone) review mine."

    I understand how it feels to work very hard on a story and then watch it just sit there and get zero attention. It hurts - err, well, you know what I mean. To this day, the story that I wrote on MNFF that means the most to me gets something like one read every six months, and only has two reviews in two years. However, after my experience, I asked myself if I wanted someone reviewing something of mine because they feel they have to, or just because they want to someone to review their own story. The answer was no. If someone isn't looking at my story because he or she came across it on their own or he or she is interested in it after reading the summary and first few paragraphs ... honestly ... I'm not sure I want the half-hearted review I'm going to get.

    Let me just say here, that I do love all reviews that I get that are genuine in nature. It doesn't matter to me how lengthy they are. If someone writes great! please update soon! and I feel like they meant it - that's a wonderful review to me.

    All of this is why I typically bounce around the 'most recent' section and wait for something to catch my eye. That's how I decide which stories to review for SPEW. That way, its based purely on something I found interesting or eye catching in someway (a title, a summary, etc.). It isn't based on being steered, even in the slightest.

    /review snobbiness.

    Guys, these are just my own opinions on the matter. I mean in no way to suggest they are either right or wrong. I hope in discussing this, no one feels that I discount or disrespect their point of view. I do not. I value all of your opinions, SPEW, because of how brilliant and talented you are.

  7. #7
    ElectronicQuillster
    Guest
    Bine already touched on what my opinion of reviews are in relation to writing, but I'll just elaborate my own thought process a little bit. I think that writing reviews is so very helpful for us as writers to study and understand various aspects of writing. It helps us look at devices and techniques that we may not have delved into at all in our own writing. For me, one of those things is point of view or tense. I typically default at third person past tense, but looking at how other writers have gone into other forms of narration has got me experimenting more than when I was just reading everyone else's stories. Reviewing it and really studying it is what helped me understand and consider other styles, is what I'm saying.

    But I fully agree with Bine that it's really only helpful, as a writer, to write reviews to study methods and techniques and devices. I don't think reviewing others does half as much good as receiving thoughtful, meaty reviews on our own stuff, though. At least not for me. It's like... Leaving reviews for others is like eating the food someone else has made, and maybe you even study the recipe that they used. But it is absolutely nothing like making the dish yourself, and then getting feedback. Does that make sense? That's what it's like for me. I mean, for me, I've noticed that people often praise the dialogue that I put in my stories, and say things like, "It must be so easy for you, because it's so good." But it's one of the things I work the hardest on in any story I do. So it lets me know that I'm working in the right direction, and that I just need to keep up that hard work with it to make sure my story-dish of dialogue food keeps being edible/awesome. Writing reviews doesn't improve my writing at all as much as receiving and digesting SPEW reviews, though.

    Which, obviously, leads into SPEW reviews.

    I think that it's only good and wonderful that we should review each other. We put lots of care and effort into our reviews, we have that SPEW friendship that makes us feel warm and fuzzy when we get reviews from our fellow SPEWers, and just... it's a wonderful thing.

    I would actually fully support reinstating a requirement to do at least one review for a member of SPEW each month. There are a lot of us, and most of us have a nice collection of stories to choose from, too, so I don't see that it would be a problem to find something you were 'inspired' to write a review about. There are just so many stories to choose from with all of our members. Doing something like SPEW buddies is a little more restrictive, but that's one of the reasons you also get to use it as a replacement, because there just might be that difficulty that you don't like any of their stories very much, and so you have that added challenge of reviewing something you're not passionate about. But THAT right there is where I see a lot of potential for learning from reviewing a story. When you have to look even more closely at a story to find the good, to find what made it important enough for the author to write, then you're in heavy analytical territory, and it's pretty awesome.

    But just saying, "Hey, pick any of the twenty-odd SPEWers you want, and review one of their stories," is just... not hard, I don't think. Not at all. And we're the ones who probably appreciate SPEW reviews most, not only because of our emotional and fun ties to each other, but because we fully know what goes into writing those quality reviews. I would welcome such a rule being reinstated. More than you know, because I just... I guess my stories don't get out much any more, so I hardly get any reviews that aren't from SPEWers, and I'm constantly looking for that feedback to help me get better.

  8. #8
    Fantasium
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Jenna
    How important is recieving reviews, compared to writing reviews, to improving as a writer?
    As the previous responses by James, Bine and Mar suggest, I think this varies from writer to writer. Personally, I believe I benefit more from writing reviews, but receiving them is also very important. Sometimes, people who review me will point out things that I didn't think of at all (there's a reason I sometimes jokingly refer to myself as "Accidental Genius"), and by drawing my attention to those things they give me an opportunity to make the most of it in my story. Most of all, though, receiving reviews is important to me because they give my muse a much-needed boost and let me know that someone out there cares about what I write.

    Writing reviews on the other hand, is much more helpful for developing my writing skills. I'm an emotional reader and I tend to experience stories with my heart rather than my head. When setting out to write a review, I'm forced to switch on the analytical part of my brain and actually think about what I'm reading and why I feel the way I do about it. Like Mar, I'm sometimes inspired by the way other writers work, and I know for sure I wouldn't have taken notice of such details if I wasn't reviewing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jenna
    Do you think that as SPEWers, our first priority is to one another, or to other non-SPEW members? Why?
    I believe that as SPEWers, our first priority is to write quality reviews, no matter who they are for. I think that we should choose the stories for which we are most likely to write helpful reviews, and not pay too much attention to whether they are fellow SPEWers or not.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jenna
    Do you think that this requirement should be reinstated? (Ex: Of 3 reviews, one should be for a SPEW member; Of 4 reviews, two should be for a SPEW member) Why or why not?
    By being SPEW members, we're already increasing our chances of receiving quality reivews. There's the SPEW story updates thread, SPEW buddies, our story exchanges, and the simple fact that we know and like one another and are likely curious about each other's writing. Sometimes I just fancy reviewing a SPEWer because, like Mar said, we know to appreciate a well-written review. But when I arrive at someone's author page, I usually find that they have plenty of shiny, SPEWly reviews already.

    In other words, I don't really think there's a need for a requirement to review our SPEW friends. And like James and Bine both said, I think we're more likely to write good reviews when we're completely free to choose who or what to review. :)

  9. #9
    MerryD
    Guest
    How important is recieving reviews, compared to writing reviews, important to improving as a writer?

    Like Anna said, I think this is entirely a personal thing. Only I know how much it really helps me to write reviews and to recieve reviews. And, I'm torn. Recieving reviews gives me the feedback I crave, they help me to understand what I'm doing that's working and whats not, and I love that. But I think writing reviews has really helped me on the technical aspect. Sometimes, just seeing another author use of symbolism or something helps me to understand how to work with it in a story. And when I'm squeezing a story for all it's got, that, on some level, makes me think about what I write. If I commenting on say, dialogue, I might compare it to my own dialogue, mentally, and see if I there really is any comparison and think about what that author and I are doing differently.

    On different type of writing, writing reviews has helped me enomoursly with writing essays and anaylsises (what's the pural of anaylsis?). I know that my ability to pick out figurative language and characterization and plot clues, etc., has improved since I've been in SPEW. I remember last year in English, we read Lord of the Flies by William Golding I didn't understand the symbolism and characterization in it very much at all. But this year, when we read The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, I got it. I actually really liked that book, because I understood it. Part of that is due to maturity, paying more attention in class, etc. I'm sure, but I think that joining SPEW in summer between freshman and sophomore years really helped.

    Do you think that as SPEWers, our first priority is to one another, or to other non-SPEW members? Why?

    I do not. As others have said, as SPEWers, our first priority is to write quality reviews, whomever they may be for. I don't think we really have a "priority" to any group of writers. I choose to review a story because I want to review it. Sometimes that's a SPEWer, sometimes it's not. I try not to review too many SPEWers in one month, though, because I feel that a lot of SPEWers get SPEW reviews and the "general public" (since we're such an elite group ) gets just a small portion. Granted, there are a lot of them and not so many of us, but I like to share the wealth, so to speak.

    Do you think that there should be this requirement should be reinstated? (Ex: Of 3 reviews, one should be for a SPEW member; Of 4 reviews, two should be for a SPEW member) Why or why not?

    No, not really. I think that we have so many oppertunities to review each other already, through SPEW buddies, the Featured Author, story swaps, etc. And no one is saying that you can't review another SPEWer, so one is welcome to review four SPEWers if they wish. Like I said before, I think we should share the wealth of our reviews and not limit them to such a small group.

    And, as others before me have said, it is hard to write reviews for stories you don't really want to be reviewing. It's a struggle for me, and I find that often I feel rushed and pressured and the author I'm reviewing gets an "okay" review from me at best, which really isn't what they deserve. So, like Anna, Bine, and James, I'd rather we could choose our stories and authors.

    <3Mere

  10. #10
    ms. leading
    Guest
    How important is recieving reviews, compared to writing reviews, to improving as a writer?

    I think they both benefit writers greatly, however, for me, recieving reviews more so (so long as the review provides a good critique). I'd never have improved if not for the lovely reviews and comments I recieved in my early months of writing. Learning your flaws can only help you diminish them. Recieving reviews on characterisation can help enormously, I think, because it applies to future writing. Also, the little nitpicks in reviews can teach you things you hadn't learnt elsewhere, which helped me loads when I first started writing.

    I do agree with Mere that the technical aspect of writing can be improved by continuously reading and reviewing other fics. Reading different styles and ways of writing helps you shape your own technique. I think that, while reading and reviewing, you're teaching yourself new things. You might pick up on something you hadn't thought about before in a certain character, or maybe realise something that's wrong about your own writing by viewing it in someone else's. I know the description in my fics has improved a lot after reading the fics of really good authors. You can learn the degree of which to do something, e.g. cutting down on the over-use of dialogue, or increasing description to help your readers get involved in the story. All this is done by reading and reviewing the works of others, and realising that you like the way they do it.

    Do you think that as SPEWers, our first priority is to one another, or to other non-SPEW members? Why?

    I don't think it should be our first priority at all, to be honest. I think the members of SPEW all have a fairly good idea of the technical aspects of writing, and are probably more developed writers than some people who aren't members. Therefore, the attention would be in the wrong place if we were to only review SPEWers. That's not to say that we should stop reviewing each other. We love reviews, and they can only help us improve. I just don't think we're the ones who need the most help improving >.>

    Do you think that there should be this requirement should be reinstated? (Ex: Of 3 reviews, one should be for a SPEW member; Of 4 reviews, two should be for a SPEW member) Why or why not?

    No. We already have SPEW Buddies, which allows us a review if we want one. I think reviews should be spread around fairly equally - for both SPEW members, developed writers, and new writers. And as others have said, to make this a requirement would restrict the number of people we could review for the required SPEWer review. I think we all appreciate the freedom of being able to leave reviews for whoever we like!

    - Cassie

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