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Thread: April Activities 2010

  1. #1
    jenny b
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    April Activities 2010

    Challenge:

    Choose a fellow SPEWer, and write a drabble based on one of their fics.

    Rules/Guidelines:

    • You must ask permission from the person before using their story.
    • 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 April 30th, 2010.
    • Please post using this format:

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

  2. #2
    jenny b
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    April Featured Author

    Our featured author for March is Katty/Mind Games.

    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 April 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
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    April Discussion: What Makes A Good Review

    The title says it all, really. You're all in SPEW, so I know you can all write good reviews, but what do you think makes it that way?

    People put importance on different things when reviewing. Do you think the best reviews are more positive or more critical? Do you think you should cover only a few elements in detail or briefly cover everything? Long and detailed or short and snappy?

    That's just a few things to get you started, but I want to hear your personal opinion on what makes a review great.

    Thanks goes to Hannah for the idea.

  4. #4
    Sixth Year Hufflepuff
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    I think it very much depends on the story in question and the reviewer to whether a review is better positive or critical. Personally, I hate writing a review based entirely on concrit. It makes me feel patronising. If I can't find anything I like about a story, I either won't finish reading it or else I won't review it, because I feel when you criticise there needs to be something positive to balance that out.

    I love both positive and critical reviews, personally. I love being praised -- who doesn't -- but my main motivation in writing fanfiction is to develop my writing skills, so I love it when a reviewer provides me with constructive criticism. At the same time, though, I like to receive reviews with a mix of both of these features. My stories are far from perfect, and it's doubtful I'll make the corrections the reviewer points out -- but I like to know where to improve for next time, and an example of how it could be improved in the case of this story. I don't like having no praise at all in a review, because then I'm a bit like -- so why did you bother reading and reviewing this? I think I generally apply these ideals in the reviews I write, too.

    I used to care about review length so much. Before I was a SPEWer, SPEW reviews seemed so long to me. I really didn't think I was good enough to be in SPEW. But you know, occasionally I look back on those kind of reviews now and think, but did their length really make them all that good? No. Because half of it might've been typos they're pointing out, or fangirling, or just rambling. Sure, they had the substance of good points and concrit -- that was the quality part, the part which made the reviews good. But sometimes they were just filled out by unneccessary things. And I did it myself sometimes, and I look back on those reviews I wrote and wish I could rewrite them. So, these days, I don't care about length that much. Quality not quantity, yeah?

    I'm not sure it really matters what you cover in a review. I'll talk about anything that stood out to me while reading, anything I thought could've been better and how if I can. A lot of my reviews talk about characterisation and style quite a bit, I think, but that's just the way I go about it. Reviewing is an individual process, and I like the fact that a fic could get maybe five different decent reviews, and they would all comment on different things, because the reviewers honed in on different aspects of the fic/writing.

    I'm a member of SPEW because I want to provide authors with good feedback on their writing. I want to be helpful, if I can. My favourite kind of review is the kind where you can just tell the reviewer has thought about what they're saying, and genuinely wants to give you helpful feedback. Hence why receiving SPEW-quality reviews makes me smile.

  5. #5
    Kerichi
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    I recently received an outstanding review from Jess/ToBeOrNotToBeAGryffindor, that I believe is a stellar example of makes a good review.

    I'm paraphrasing/using pertinent bits of my reply to her to answer the discussion question, because I was thinking about the discussion when I wrote it.

    My first reaction to Jess' review was "She noticed."

    I think that's a vital quality of a good review. You read the story to enjoy it, and at the same time you notice the aspects that make it enjoyable. Characterization. Details. Dialogue. Plot. You give specific examples and explain why they struck you in a certain way. Feedback like that is a gift to writers. Instructors tell you "Write to be understood," and I believe writers want to do that in a deeper way than having readers comprehend their clear, simple language. There's a need for the story to resonate, for the characters to make an impact, and the protagonist to be identified with, and understood.

    The concrit, too, should be well done, sandwiched in between constructive praise. Not everyone who makes a typo will edit if you point it out, but if it's a canon name or spell, most are glad to do so. They don't want unintended mistakes to jolt readers out of the story world. They want them to keep reading!

    I don't believe it's possible for a review to fall flat unless it's given in mean spirit. Even a simple update soon achieves its intent to encourage and put a smile on a writer's face. It's only negativity that fails to achieve its effect, because you can't keep a true writer from writing.

    I'm thankful to Jess for encouraging me to keep writing, and to write the best I can.

  6. #6
    'Til the end of the line Ravenclaw
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    First of all... awwwwwww. Paige just made my day.

    I guess I'm not entirely sure what makes a good review for me, since I'm probably my own worst critic. What I expect from a regular reviewer is something like this:

    "The story was very interesting. I liked Insert-a-character. Update."

    or:

    "Your story isn't that good and your characters aren't believable. Please melt your hard drive promptly."

    ...or somewhere between these two. That's not to say that it's what I want, but it touches base with something the reader did or did not like about the story, which is all I would realistically ask for in a normal 'squee' or 'boo' review.

    Personally, I don't really care when I get a negative review, because I'm a big girl and can take it. My only requirement is that they provide some sort of substantiation for their bile before telling me that something that I'd spend hours, or even days, on is stupid and not worth their time. As Paige said, couching crit in a positive manor is always the better way to go, especially if you want the review to be noticed.

    What I dearly love in receiving a review is comments in characterisation and plot, as these are the points on which I focus the most as a writer, so the more they are noticed, the better I feel about it. For instance, in the review to which Paige alluded of mine:

    Lucius was a total win for you. He was just the right proportion of Malfoy, grandfather, aristocrat, and bastard. It was obvious that he cared about Scorpius's future, but he was just blinded enough by prejudice to not realise that his grandson was wildly intelligent and fully capable of taking care of his own stuff. Plus, not wanting to be a certified bigot helped in my assessment of Scorpius's intelligence, but that's just me.
    I like it when readers notice details like that when they review. It's a ton of hard work to make characters believable and canon compliant while still bending them to your own purposes to suit the story. I believe that reviewers that are writers as well are more likely to pick up on this, because they know how difficult it is to pull off.

    And as for plot, I think that speaks for itself. If a story was so badly structured that it was nearly painful to read, I'm not likely to review at all, much less finish reading the story. It's also nice to pick up on subtle hints in a story that end up being huge by the end of it, making one think, "Why didn't I notice that." Commenting on such things in reviews is bound to make an author happy that someone noticed that little detail. Picking up on small stuff like that in a review in general usually makes the author ecstatic that all the hard work in placing those little nuggets of information.


    Now, what do I think makes a good SPEW review? To be honest, I'm still not sure about it, as I'm a complete noob. When I do review, though, I focus on characterisation, believability of OCs and plots, and significant events in the story. I rarely comment on (or notice, for that matter) writing style, unless it struck me as either really good or really bad.

    In characterisation, I look for canon compliance and Mary Sue-ism. I'm not totally against Mary Sue characteristics, but it does bug me when someone makes a character without flaws, very good looking, ridiculously smart, and with a tragic past. A few clichés here and there don't bother me, but piling them atop one another like that makes me want to stop reading. I really get joy out of praising good characterisation, because truthfully, I think authors (including myself) grow attached to the characters in their fics more than that actual story itself, so adulation poured upon their favourite characters is most likely to make them notice your review and what you're saying. I almost always start with characterisation in my reviews because of this.

    For plot, I like a story that keeps me engaged. Some stories have large chunks or whole chapters where nothing of consequence happens, and that bugs the crap out of me. If it seems boring at first and ends up being important in the end, then that's fine. I'll comment on that, saying something like, "I didn't realise the significance of this particular part until the very end. Very well done, downplaying its importance to surprise me as the reader."

    If it's boring and lacks substance entirely, I'll likely say, "Such and such part seemed to drag on a bit. Perhaps you could share a bit about the significance of this event and how it contributes to the plot." So, instead of saying that something was 'boring', I'll ask the writer to tell ME what they were going for, so maybe they'll point out something I missed. I can't just assume that they were word count padding simply because I don't see it yet. I'm not a genius, I'm not perfect, and I do miss things, so I give them the benefit of the doubt and a chance to defend themselves.

    As for believability, this is one of the largest components of whether I love, like or loathe a fic. I want to come away from it with a sense of, 'Yeah, that could have happened.' I comment on that regularly in my reviews, because the author generally tries to go for this particular quality, so letting them know that they've done that is important.

    In conclusion, before I went on a long, rambly tangent, I believe that commenting on characterisation, plot quality, and believability are the most important for me as a reviewer. I make sure that, even if I'm only leaving a short review for something that I've read for fun, I comment on all three of these things in some sort of detail. I may add extra comments on different things, but in general, these three points are always present in my reviews, and as a writer receiving them, this is what is key to me.
    Jess WritesJess DrabblesJess DuelsJess PoetsJess Draws



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  7. #7
    TheCursedQuill
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    Title: The Funeral
    Word Count: 366
    Original Fic & Author: Mistaken for Strangers by Dory the Fishie.

    The funeral took place a little after the incident. No body wanted to believe that it had happened, but at the same time they knew they had to go on. Bill and Fleur had never thought their daughter would leave them so soon; they were getting on in age and they both accepted the fact that she would be the one to bury them. Only, that’s not how it happened.

    Teddy stood at the front of the small crowd who attended her funeral. His eyes were glazed and he wasn’t listening to a word the small wizard behind the coffin was saying. It’s all my fault, he thought to himself. It was the only thought he had since the time it happened, since the very moment Victoire was cursed lifeless in his arms. The moment replayed in his mind and he wanted to punch himself for being so naïve, for thinking that it was all over. He shouldn’t have assumed they were safe; he should have kept his guard up. But it was hard to when he felt so at home with her.

    He snapped out of his mental beatings when someone touched his shoulder. He looked around and saw it was Harry, everyone else was moving around him for the ceremony was apparently over. Teddy placed his hand on top of his godfather’s and embraced him in a hug.

    “It wasn’t your fault, Ted. We all weren’t paying attention,” Harry said to him. Teddy just nodded and turned his head back to the coffin where we knew his love laid inside.

    I should have been the one to save you. I’m sorry, Victoire.

    He stood there until the sun set behind the hills. Even after the coffin was covered with dirt and no longer visible, he stood there, wishing he had saved her. She was the only reason he lived day-to-day, the best thing that had ever happened in his life. He didn’t know what to do without her.

    Without any warning, his mind was made up and he took leave of his place by his wife, in search of the blonde haired woman. His life seemed worthless without Victoire, so he wouldn’t live anymore.

  8. #8
    HARRYHARRYHARRYs_twin
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    I love receiving reviews, but I always feel a bit dissapointed when I get something like "I really liked it" or "That was OOC". I mean, I'm glad that someone took the time to say what they felt, but I'd prefer it if they gave me some reasons for why they felt that way. Several times I've been told that my characters are out of character or AU (or I assume that's what they meant), but I get no reasoning. I don't think they are out of the realm of reason (unless it's tagged AU), so I'd appriciate an explanation, you know? Also, I dislike it when the reviewer doesn't take the time to check on whether it's a one-shot or not -- when my humor fic got put up, a decent portion of the reviews said "That was so funny I liked it when [insert something here] happened. Update/Can't wait for the next chapter!" I never planned to write anything to follow up on it, as I concluded the plot pretty definitively, and I got tired of saying the same thing in responses several times over.

    I try to balance my reviews. I know mine aren't the best, but I'll squee a little over something I really liked, like a particular characterization, or in this month, rhyme and rhythm, then point out some things I tripped on/errors, and comment on something to do with the overall story or their characterization. I'd never leave a purely negative review. That would be mean, and I'd rather give the person something they can work on instead of just negative (or positive, for that matter) feedback.

    I tend to cover a few topics instead of branching over the whole shabang, as that's how I tend to write them. I think I'd prefer a detailed analysis of a few points than a glossed overview of my story, though I think it depends on the reviewer. Some people prefer to write about a few things, and others like to delve into the whole thing.

    I think a middle ground is typically the best way to go for review length. I've left varied lengths for my reviews, from two or three liners to over 1000 words. It's the substance that really matters. Squeeing is fine, as well as ramblings, but the review should have some kind of critism/comment/analysis of the story to help the author along with the rest of it.

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