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Thread: February Activities 2010

  1. #1
    jenny b
    Guest

    February Activities 2010

    This month we’re going to be focusing on what we’re all here for in the first place – reviewing. The topic is obviously quite broad, so anything pertaining to reviewing and how you review may be discussed.

    So:

    How do you review? Do you use a certain method?

    What type of fic do you usually review?

    What are the main things that you look for in a fic/comment on?

    What are your reviewing strengths and weaknesses?

    How have your reviews improved since being in SPEW, and is there anything you feel you could still improve on?

    Just some questions to get you started.

  2. #2
    jenny b
    Guest

    February Featured Author

    Our featured author this month is the lovely Leanne, aka dory_the_fishie!

    Her author’s page can be found here.

    Remember:
    • 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 February review thread for credit as a review.
    • 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.

  3. #3
    jenny b
    Guest

    February Drabble Challenge

    Love.
    Since it’s nearly Valentine’s Day, and I am forever a romantic, I couldn’t think of a better drabble prompt for this month. However, I’m going to put a few restrictions on it.

    You cannot write a canon pairing.
    It must be written in the second person.
    It must involve a letter in some way.
    (Interpret this any way you like; I just watched Atonement and it was the first thing that came into my head.)

    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 labelled appropriately.
    • This thread is for responses only. If you have a question, PM me.
    • Responses must be posted by February 28, 2010.
    • Please post using this format:

      Title:
      Word Count:
    • As with all activities within the SPEW forum, this challenge is open only to SPEW members.

  4. #4
    Kerichi
    Guest
    Hi Leanne,

    When did you first start writing in the second person, and what drew you to it? I like reading it better than writing it, (and since I said in my review that I'm not a fan of second person stories that should tell you how much I dislike writing "you", heh) but it's hard for me to understand the attraction of it for so many other writers.

    Enlighten, por favor.

  5. #5
    Mind Games
    Guest
    How do you review? Do you use a certain method?

    I always start off by opening a word document to make comments in as I’m reading the story, which I use as a guide when I write the actual review. It helps me remember what stood out, what was particularly good, and what needed work. Sometimes I’ll also copy some lines from the story that I really liked, though I don’t often quote them in the review unless I have a good reason to.

    When I write the review, I usually comment on things in the order they happened in the story, and then finish the review with a brief closing paragraph.

    What type of fic do you usually review?

    I review a wide range of stories. Usually I just look around until I find something that looks good and start reading it. If I like it, I’ll end up reviewing it. If it was poorly written or just not at all my taste, I’ll move on and review something else. I never review stories unless I see at least some potential because otherwise the reviews are either too harsh or dishonest.

    I think the stories I’m most drawn towards reading and reviewing tend to be minor character romances, rarepairs, or stories featuring original characters. I don’t typically read stuff that’s heavily canon-focused, such as Ron/Hermione or Harry/Ginny because I prefer to read about them in the books instead. Plus, there’s only so much to be said about well-known characters. With minor characters, the author gets to create most of his or her personality and portray them anyway she likes. Rarepairs are fun because the author has to find a creative way to not only bring the characters together, but have them fall in love with each other.

    I also like to leave reviews for authors whom I know will appreciate them. If an author leaves a positive response to my review, it lets me know that she’s glad I reviewed. When I don’t get a reply, I’m never sure if the person read or liked the review. I know there are people who get offended by my critique, no matter how nicely I try to put it. A response helps me know that the author didn’t get upset by the criticism, and I’m much more likely to review for them again.

    What are the main things that you look for in a fic/comment on?

    I try to look at every aspect of a story – the plot, characters, writing, ect. I don’t always comment on everything, but I aim to talk about at least two or three main elements of the story, as opposed to writing a review that doesn’t comment on anything but the characterization. A lot of stories seem to be either plot-focused or character-focused, so I’ll usually leave a lot of comments on plot or characterization, but not always both.

    What are your reviewing strengths and weaknesses?

    With strengths, I’m fairly good at pointing out canon or plot mistakes, as well as characterization inconsistencies. I try to be very perceptive and focused when reading, so I think I'm good at catching things like that.

    For weaknesses, I’m very nitpicky. I’ve always been a perfectionist with writing, especially with spelling, punctuation, and grammar. If I see an error, I just can’t help but point it out, even if I know it’s only a typo. Some authors like to go back and correct typos, but most probably just ignore them.

    How have your reviews improved since being in SPEW, and is there anything you feel you could still improve on?

    They definitely have! For one thing, my writing skills have improved greatly, due to writing roughly one SPEW review per week while in the group. I’ve really learned how to be more concise and get my points across without rambling so much.

    I’ve also learned to be more honest. I know when I started reviewing, I would sometimes overly praise things to make up for more critical comments. There were many times when I was too nice because I didn’t want to come off as mean in my review. But after reviewing for awhile, I realized that being too positive about certain aspects of a fic is dishonest and doesn’t help the author. SPEW taught me how to leave a more critical review and still come off as helpful and encouraging instead of mean or condescending.

  6. #6
    Mind Games
    Guest
    Hey Leanne! I just finished reading my first story by you and absolutely loved it. You're very talented, and I gushed quite a bit in my review.

    The story I read happened to be "Just a Little Longer", a one-shot about Narcissa's life and marriage to Lucius. How did you come up with the dancing metaphor for the story? Also, what sparked your interest in writing about Narcissa? She tends to be the most overlooked out of the three Black sisters.

    I really enjoyed reading your work, and I'll definitely read more by you again.

  7. #7
    Sixth Year Hufflepuff
    Seeking Keys
    inspirations's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    in a book <33
    Posts
    355
    Title: Forbidden Love
    Rating/Warnings: 3rd-5th years; sexual situations.
    Word Count: 738

    Right now, you have the feeling that whatever way you turn, you will meet resistance. Resistance in the form of somebody else, or resistance in the form of... well, you.

    Maybe this is happening because telling a friend will lead to barely suppressed disgust – and that disgust is something you can’t help but feel yourself. Right in the marrow of your bones. And he feels that disgust, too, but he can’t find a way to fight it either. This – this relationship – it feels wrong and right. Simultaneously.

    You wonder, is there such thing as forbidden love? A year ago, you would’ve said no – just because if it were meant to be, you believed it would be. So what if there were obstacles? Now, you’re not so sure...

    His kisses burn along your collarbone; you raise your head and look at the ceiling in exultation. You pull him against you in a tight embrace. The silk of his robes crinkles in your hand. You don’t want to let go. You never want to let go. Letting go means he’ll leave, and what if the resistance wins and he never comes back? What if...

    Put ‘what ifs’ aside. Stay in the here and now.

    You have these doubts too often.

    For the most part, you do stay in the here and the now. You leave that oft-used classroom, and you make your way up to Gryffindor Tower. You sit down with your friends before the fire, indulging in them, laughing with them -- being generally involved. Despite your outside appearance, though, on the inside you feel foreboding... worry. Typically, after enjoying his company, worry is not an emotion you’ll feel. Guilt, sometimes, but usually just happiness.

    When you drift up the stairs and snuggle into bed, you struggle to characterise why you feel uneasy. So uneasy.

    Tossing and turning is all you do tonight. Snarls of worry encase you, snaking up and capturing your arms in soft tendrils, tough as rope. Each breath comes too fast, tearing out of you until you’re rising up and falling – in your mind, that’s how it seems -- gasping for comfort, for everything to be as it should.

    At the darkest hour, your eyes snap open. A shiver vibrates your body as a cold, spine-tingling scratch on the window jerks you from your thoughts. The wind whistles outside, encircling the tower ominously.

    Sitting up, heart hammering, you resolve to see what’s going on outside. Something wills you to pull those bed hangings apart and look.

    Around, all the other girls are sound asleep.

    At the window is an owl. You take a deep breath. An owl. That’s it. You should relax. You can’t relax. You’re too highly wired to relax.

    The owl is brown, with white flecks spattering its wings and nose. It’s his owl, you realise, on reaching the window and pulling it open. A gust of wind chills the room as the owl flits in, hooting quietly as it settles on the seat beneath the window. It sticks its leg out, and you take the scroll it carries.

    His slanting handwriting is on the outside, and that uneasy feeling has returned.

    Lily,

    I’m not going to say sorry. We were wrong from the ‘go’. Forbidden, that’s us. My family would kill me if they knew I were indulging in you – I don’t have the guts Sirius possesses. I’m destined to be a Death Eater. I want to be a Death Eater. Could you love a Death Eater? Of course not. And I couldn’t love you. It would be my job to finish you in the end, and God forbid I should do that. I couldn’t do that.

    It’s better if I end this in a letter rather than face-to-face. Truthfully, I’m not sure I could have this discussion face-to-face. Lily, I—


    You scrunch the letter up, crushing it in your fist. Blinking hard, determined not to cry, you let the owl go and march down the stairs.

    The fire still burns in the grate; the common room is empty. Before you can think about reading the rest of the letter, you hurl the parchment in to the flames and collapse in to an armchair.

    The parchment folds in on itself, or so it seems in the dancing orange light. It becomes a pile of ashes.

    And your uneasiness is gone. You are an egg’s shell. Instead of foreboding, you feel undeniably empty.

  8. #8
    Seventh Year Gryffindor
    Filch is a Squib!
    Russia Snow's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    I find myself in Wonderland...
    Posts
    519
    Title: Take a Chance
    Word Count: 272

    The watery sun glances off the red post-box in front of you. The letter in your hand feels heavy; your head spins as you contemplate dropping the folded parchment into the red box. Everything will change if you can find enough courage to let the letter fall from your hand.

    She will know how you feel, how you really feel. But... she might reject you. She already has a husband, and two children. Would she ever risk letting go of them because you sent her a letter?

    Just a letter, that’s all. One folded piece of parchment and some scribbles of dull black ink. Yet that piece of parchment could change your world. If only you had the courage to drop it in.

    What would she think if he received this letter through the Muggle post? She would see and feel the parchment; she would know it was from a fellow wizard. Would she understand the reason behind the Muggle way of delivering letters?

    You’ve changed. That is what you really want to tell her. You have changed and you have realised how you feel. Okay, so it may be ten years too late, but... you have to take this chance.

    Your hand quivers as your arm stretches toward the mouth of the Muggle posting box. Be brave, Draco. You have to take this chance. Borrow some of her Gryffindor bravery, she would have dropped the letter in with no problem, she was always so brave.

    Yes, you have to take this chance...

    The letter falls from your hand, onto the rain-damp floor. And there it stays.

    You didn’t take the chance.
    ~Russia xxxxx
    I'm dreaming the hardest.

    Thank you Nadia/majestic_ginny! <3
    Being FEARLESS isn't about not having fears, it's about living in spite of them.

  9. #9
    HARRYHARRYHARRYs_twin
    Guest
    How do you review? Do you use a certain method?

    Like Katty, I also usually have a word doc open. I don't really take notes (too much bother to size the windows so I don't have to flip between the two) but I do copy sentences or paragraphs that remind me of different aspects of the story. I will use them to illustrate a point or a common error in their grammar (commas especially -- that's the one thing that gets to me if mistakes happen too often), but they're there just for references for the actual review. Usually I don't go in chronological order - I just write it in the order I think of it, and rearrange as I need to.

    What type of fic do you usually review?

    I review anything that takes my fancy. I'm pretty selective on what I do review - I'll review something that doesn't have a lot of reviews to its name, or something that looks like it needs a bit of help. Right now it seems like I'm not going for the really good writers on MNFF, but mostly the newer ones that need a little bit of good advice and some encouragement. I've never been one for reading Romance fics, nor do I like much D/A. I mostly run in the General category, avoiding Next-Gen except for a select few stories.

    What are the main things that you look for in a fic/comment on?

    Characterisation, plot (both good points and holes), and writing style. Sometimes I'll mention word choice and stuff like that, and if there are frequent grammar mistakes I will mention it and push the author to use a beta, if they aren't doing so. I think it's important to give feedback on all parts of a story, and not just a single one. I'd rather get a review addressing a bunch of points briefly than one focusing on just my characterisation for a lengthy amount of time, so I usually do the latter with my reviews.

    What are your reviewing strengths and weaknesses?

    I'm complete rubbish with symbols and symbolism unless they are glaringly obvious or pointed out to me. I have a short attention span at times, and I know I need to read a story carefully the first time around so I don't have to go searching for something a second time, but I continually don't anyway. I do feel that I know the different characters in the Potterverse exceptionally well, and can tell if they are 'in character' or not (though I may not be able to write it!) and can suggest ways to fix those errors. I think that my balance between the facts and being nice is just right -- if I don't like a part, I'll come out and say it, but I try and give them a solution and something bright about their story as well. I won't review a story that doesn't have some redeeming point.

    How have your reviews improved since being in SPEW, and is there anything you feel you could still improve on?

    >.> Er. . . .

    I think I have, in the less-than-a-month I've been here. I have more motivation to write out a lengthy and detailed review now, so therefore I am doing so. I know there's a lot I can still improve on. So, how about I just say 'everything'? I feel like my reviews are somewhat messy, so that's something I could improve on - giving my reviews more structure.

    --Selina

  10. #10
    dory_the_fishie
    Guest
    How do you review? Do you use a certain method?

    Like Katty and Selina, I open up a Word document. Sometimes I take notes and sometimes I don't. It sort of depends on the length of the fic. If it's a tad longer, I usually copy quotations and jot down little points that I think I'll want to discuss in my review. I do this with shorter fics as well, though not as much. Generally I find I incorporate more quotations with longer fics than with shorter fics. Not that the shorter ones don't have equally quotable bits, but for some reason I find myself focusing in on them more with longer fics.

    I order my thoughts somewhat chronologically, as a general rule. But I also like to group specific topics together, so that there's a paragraph or two on characterization, one on style, etc. I find that a more effective to communicate advice and feedback than simply going through the fic in order.

    What type of fic do you usually review?

    Honestly? Ones written by SPEWers or friends. It's been a long time since I've just browsed through the categories and picked something just because. Um, but once I've sort of found an author I'm interested in reviewing, I tend towards stories that feature the Marauders or, recently, Next-Gen pairings.

    What are the main things that you look for in a fic/comment on?

    I pretty much always comment on characterization, and I like analyzing the style of something, because I think that adds a lot to a fic. I only comment on technical stuff if it really affects the readability of the fic, and then I make sure to make general comments rather than correct every error.

    I almost always find at least one quote to specifically comment on, because I like finding that little bit of a story that really stood out. I know that as an author, I always have my favorite lines of a story that I write, and I like showing authors what my favorite lines from their fics are.

    What are your reviewing strengths and weaknesses?

    I think I do a pretty good job covering a good deal of stuff in my reviews. I think I'm also pretty good at phrasing negative criticism in a way that's constructive and helpful for the author. I'm not expert or anything, but I've been around the fandom for a relatively long time now, so I do feel like I have some good advice to give, so I think I'm pretty good at that. Weaknesses -- I can get off on tangents quite a bit, and sometimes I don't do a good job of explaining why I like something. I just gush a lot and then move on, rather than detailing why something is great.

    How have your reviews improved since being in SPEW, and is there anything you feel you could still improve on?

    Definitely to both. Looking back on my reviews from a couple of years ago -- they were fine, but I've definitely improved since then. I've gained a better understanding of what a review does for an author, and how to best analyze a fic and then provide constructive feedback for the author. Of course I can still improve; I've learned a lot, but not everything. There are always way to refine your skills, and I'm constantly working to leave the best reviews I can (admittedly I don't always succeed).

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