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Thread: February Activities 2010

  1. #11
    Thanks for the reviews, girls! -squishes-

    Starting with Paige's general question about second person.

    I don't really remember when I started writing in second person. I saw some other authors who had used it, most notably Noldo, and I thought, "Now, that's different." When I first began writing, I didn't have much of a personal style, and discovering second person was, in a lot of ways, the start of my development of my own style. I tried it out a lot because I thought it was interesting. I feel like you're always told not to write in second person, but that's ridiculous. Second person has a real place in fiction. It isn't always the best choice, but I think sometimes it's exactly the way a story is meant to be told.

    I want to say that "nowadays" second person is much more common. I don't know how accurate that is, but it seems like I run across a lot more fics in second person these days than I did when I first started using it. This could just be because I'm more aware of it now, but I do think it's lost a bit of its novelty, if you will. However, the increase in quantity doesn't necessarily mean an increase in quality, and I think a lot of people are trying second person out without quite grasping it, or they're using it in fics that might be better in good ol' third person or even first person. Of course, I'm not an authority, that's just my opinion. For me, second person is a way to even more fully explore a character. It's like first person in some ways -- it really gets inside a character's mind -- but it's also more than that. It's more than just substituting 'I' with 'you.' There's a fine line between self-insertion and identifying with a character, and I think second person is that line. Hopefully the reader identifies with the character I'm writing, but not so much that it seems like I'm writing myself into my own fanon.

    Second person lends itself well to narration. It's a limited perspective, but it's less straight-forward, I think, than first person. It's an in-between, really. I like in-betweens. >.>

    Questions from Katty now!

    How did you come up with the dancing metaphor for the story? Also, what sparked your interest in writing about Narcissa?

    Honestly? I don't remember. >.< I wrote that story quite a while ago, and the process it went through is apparently not something that stuck. I think I started with the idea of 'just a little longer' and went from there. Somehow I thought dance fit well with Narcissa, who seems the ever-graceful but slightly repressed. I liked the idea of her taking dance lessons even though a pureblood family like the Blacks would probably not have permitted her to take lessons in anything from Muggles. And I also liked the image of Narcissa and Lucius dancing. Just something about it, you know?

    I first wrote about Narcissa in Fallen Petals of an Ambiguous Flower, which I don't really recommend reading now (to be frank, I wouldn't recommend Just A Little Longer either, but I like to think there's something for everybody on my author's page!). I was interested in the relationship between Narcissa and Lucius, which we only get glimpses of in the books. I just wanted to explore what their story was, you know?

  2. #12
    How do you review? Do you use a certain method?
    As everyone else as stated, I too open up a word doc. I don't really make notes, just copy and paste things that I want to comment on or include in my review to the doc. I sort of use a guideline, but don't also stick by it. I try to put some positive comments first on specific things, and then go into the contructive criticism, and end on the overall effect of the story. I try to get all of the elements in the story in there and comment on all of them, but don't do it any particular order.

    What type of fic do you usually review?
    I like reviewing one shots, becuase they're easier to review! If I'm reading a long chaptered fic, I usually take it a chapter at a time becuase focusing on the story as a whole would be too overwhelming for me, and probably for the author, too. I stay away from Humor stories and AU, because one of my strengths is characterization, and with these types of fics characters are pretty much up in the air so I find them harder to review. Hopefully overtime I can find myself tackling some of these fics!

    What are the main things that you look for in a fic/comment on?
    Characterization, plotline, grammar/spelling, though I try to stay away from too many grammar comments, and if the fic is desperate need I'll suggest a beta. I'll try to write a little about everything, but if nothing comes to mind on a certain element, then I obviously won't write anything. I don't like to force myself to think of something to write because it usually doesn't end up very helpful when I do.

    What are your reviewing strengths and weaknesses?
    As I said above, characterization, and can suggest ways to improve it. I think the balance of my reviews are pretty good too, thanks to the reviewing class! I'm going to agree with Selina and say that I'm horrid at finding symbolism! I find that sometimes I can't explain myself very well either, when it comes to liking a certain part. I gush and repeat myself and reptitive reviews are just boring!

    How have your reviews improved since being in SPEW, and is there anything you feel you could still improve on?
    Well this is my first month in SPEW so we'll see how they improve over time! My reviews did improve through the review class though, which was based on learning how to write SPEWly reviews. I went into the class not knowing anything and even though it seems obvious what should be a review now, at the time I didn't realise everything that should be going into a review such as critique and specific points of the plot that you like. I feel that I could still improve greatly on my overall reviewing to make it more helpful for the author.

    Reading over my past reviews I noticed a lot of them were lacking in something. I can't quite put my finger on it, but I was reading them and going "this isn't a very good review..." perhaps they're just a little messy and rushed (though I think the shortest time it took me on a review was 20 minutes!) or maybe I should re-read fics to get a better picture of them. I'm not really sure yet, but I know SPEW will definitely help me with making good reviews all the time!

  3. #13
    Title: Late
    Word Count: 229

    You love him so much.

    Maybe he was once the savior of the wizarding world, but no longer.

    He lies now, weak and frail, in his home, among all his family.

    Except you.

    You hold a letter in your hands, clutching it tight to your heart. Your thoughts spin, considering, emotions fighting against your mind. Youíve been fighting this for days, since the letter came.

    You sit, fingers clutching tight, eyes scanning, looking for an answer that is not there.

    Is the fight worth it? A squabble that escalated, led to this? Should you make up with the rest so you can see him one last time?

    Your father will be there, the father that cast you out of his home. Is it better to stay away, let your grandfather die a peaceful death? What does he want? Does he even love you any longer?

    Hair pulled, fretful. He was always there for you, staying neutral when all was going to hell around you. He would send you letters, but you never replied. Your eyes water, wishing for what you should have done.

    Your mind is decided. You pull out your wand, walk out to the street.

    An owl lands upon your shoulder as you are about to leave. He carries a letter in his beak. You take it from him, dread and fear filling your stomach.

    Too late.

  4. #14
    Savannah Hen Slytherin
    Sirius Black Entered Gryffindor Tower
    coolh5000's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Wonderful England!
    How do you review? Do you use a certain method?

    Similarly to everyone else, I have word open whenever I start reading a story for a review. I basically read through a story uninterrupted and every time I come to something that I find interesting, or I want to comment on, I copy and paste it in to a word document. If it's a theme, rather than a specific line, I'll make a note of it in the word document. Then, when I've finished reading I return to the word document and start writing my review. By that point I usually know the main points I want to cover and as I go through each one, I delete the relevant line from the document that I originally c+p'd over. Often I'll use those lines to quote from, or sometimes I'll remember other things I liked and return to the story to find them, though I donít include every quote I originally copied over.

    I also don't write reviews in the order they necessarily end up in. There'll often be a particular point I want to make so I'll write about it and then decide it actually fits in later to the review, or else I get distracted when writing about one thing and so decide to leave it and move on to something else. Of course, after this, I always have to make sure I read through very carefully as I tend to find unfinished sentences appearing at the end of paragraphs.

    What type of fic do you usually review?

    Hmm...well I'll usually start with an author in mind (such as the SPEW featured author, or my buddy, or else just a friend) and then go looking through their author page and try and find something I like the look of. Iím not too fussy about category etc, as long as it has a summary I think is interesting. I also tend to go for one-shots rather than chaptered and usually shortish ones, though thatís generally a time thing rather than a particular preference. Also, I have never reviewed a poem, mainly because I wouldnít know where to begin and I have no technical knowledge of poetry and so would be pretty useless at critiquing it!

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

    Anything I find interesting really; I try not to always focus on the same things and will simply pick out any parts or themes in the story that I particularly like or want to comment on. Characterisation tends to come up a lot Ė obviously, because this is a series in which we already know quite a bit about the characters people sometimes write about, good or bad characterisation can be quick to spot and is usually a good place to start. I will make observations about the technical side of things, particularly if I think the tense, person or some other technique was done particularly well, and I will point out things I think could be improved upon, though without trying to get too nit-picky. Generally I donít find many consistent errors in stories on MNFF, particularly the more recent ones.

    What are your reviewing strengths and weaknesses?

    Weaknesses would definitely be the time it takes me to write a review. I sometimes wonder if the author might prefer to receive more frequent reviews that werenít quite as detailed than wait months in between for me to get my act together and get around to writing what I would consider a decent one. I know there are some people who leave some sort of review for absolutely everything they read and I feel bad that I donít do that, but I always feel that Iíd rather do it properly than leave something not well done. But maybe I should think about changing that.

    Thereís also still a part of me that rebels against the no nit-picking thing. When I see glaring mistakes I want so much to point them out, however, Iím getting better at knowing when not to mention or when to just put in a general comment about it rather than a full blown quote and point out every mistake.

    As for strengths, I like to think that Iím reasonably detailed in my reviews and that Iím always polite. I canít stand the thought of upsetting someone with a review and so even when I criticise something, I try to do it in the nicest way possible. If I really hated a fic, I just donít think Iíd review it. Just because something isnít my cup of tea, doesnít mean that someone else wouldnít like it or that I should knock the authorís confidence my criticising their work. And I wonít lie. So I prefer to simply leave it.

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

    I think Iíve become better at structuring my reviews. At the beginning, I used the traditional PEE method I was always taught in English class Ė point, example, explanation. Now I try to quote less and include more of my own critique than simply repeating the authorís words back to them. Iím also better at proof reading as I realised that some of my original reviews has spelling errors in which doesnít exactly give the best impression! I think I need to improve the consistency of my reviews still. Some I write are what I would consider really good, while others are rushed and donít always feel as well written. And I think I should be going more in depth in some of the points I make, and trying not to look at the same things all the time.

    Adrian won a QSQ! Thanks to Minnabird for the beautiful banner. Click on it to read Stolen Magic - the story of the second wizarding war through a very different character's eyes.

  5. #15
    jenny b
    How do you review? Do you use a certain method?

    Well, it looks like nearly everyone in SPEW uses Word to write their reviews. I do, too. Usually I'll read through a fic twice - once just to enjoy it and see if it's the kind of fic I feel like reviewing. Then after that I'll go back and read through again (sometimes this happens several days or weeks after the first reading, though >.>) and this time write my review as I go through it. I used to take notes and things, but now I kind of just stop when I come across something I want to talk about, write that section of the review, and then keep reading. When I get to the end I might add a paragraph here and there commenting on the fic overall, but the majority of my review is written during my second read-through.

    What type of fic do you usually review?

    Like Sarah, I pretty much always review oneshots. I love chaptered fics, but unless I'm reading the last chapter they have posted then I can't stop and write out a SPEW review - I feel like I need to keep reading. Also, I tend to review people I know, but a fair amount of my reviews are also for whatever catches my eye in the 'Most Recent' section. I find I review next-gen fics more than anything, which is probably because I always write it too and I know the ins and outs of the category very well.

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

    I don't really look for anything specific in a fic, and usually it'll just be whatever jumps out at me. I tend to comment on characterisation no matter what, but most of the time I'll just ramble on about little things in the fic that caught my eye.

    What are your reviewing strengths and weaknesses?

    I'm not quite sure. I think one of my strengths would be characterisation - whilst I'm not overly amazing at it in my writing, I'm quick to spot when a character is being OOC. I also feel like I give detailed reviews, and I cover a wide range of topics. With weaknesses, probably trying to explain my criticism. I can say what is wrong, I just have trouble saying why it's wrong. Also I've never been great at nitpicking (I'll never be a beta), but I tend to dislike that in reviews anyway.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hannah
    I know there are some people who leave some sort of review for absolutely everything they read and I feel bad that I donít do that, but I always feel that Iíd rather do it properly than leave something not well done.
    I'm exactly the same. To leave a good review can take me up to an hour, because when it comes to my reviews I'm a horrid perfectionist and I like to post them knowing that I've said everything I possibly could to help the author.

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

    They definitely have. I've been in SPEW for over two years now, I think, and looking back at the ones when I first started ... you can definitely see the difference. They've gotten so much more detailed and helpful. And I think that you can always improve, no matter how good you are at something. I've got plenty to learn still.

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