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Thread: August Activities 2011

  1. #1
    'Til the end of the line Ravenclaw
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    August Activities 2011

    We've all seen them, and we were all basically there at one point — brand new baby authors. All current SPEWers have at least one work on the archive, so we all knew how it felt to get that first validation e-mail, that first review. Consequently, we also all probably know how it feels for something to go un-reviewed for long periods of time. Either we wondered whether the story was no good and no one wanted to leave a mean review or if no one was reading it at all.

    My questions for you:

    How often do you review newer authors or previously unpublished ones? Has this number changed since you joined?

    Do you ever leave them SPEW quality reviews?

    Do you impart your own authorial experiences, or do you simply stick to the content?

    In what ways to newer authors respond to concrit differently than more seasoned / frequently published authors on MNFF? Has anyone ever taken offence to concrit you've offered?

    If that author published further stories here on MNFF, did you revisit their author page?



    In this discussion, I would ask that you please not mention any names (forum, archive, RL, titles, or otherwise) and simply refer to the subject as 'the author', 'the story', or simple pronouns if applicable. Please add at least one topic question (TQs) of your own and answer at least two of them (even your own, if you so wish).
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  2. #2
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    August Feature: Too Few Reviews!

    This month, we're going to delve into some different waters. I hereby charge you with the task of reviewing the following:

    • One-shots with 2 or fewer reviews, or
    • Chaptered stories with an average of one review per chapter or less (so, a 14 chapter story cannot have more than 14 reviews, a 5 chapter story cannot have more than 5 reviews, etc.).


    Why are we doing this? Well, I think we've all experienced review droughts before, and it's a lowly feeling sometimes. While it's true that certain stories don't get reviews because they're not exactly stellar, but sometimes, these stories simply go overlooked and become forgotten. And that just won't do! Yes, it will be difficult to find stories you will enjoy reviewing, but in the end, I imagine you know how rewarding it would be for that author to get lengthy, detailed feedback meant to help and to encourage!

    As with last month and every other month from now on, I ask that you leave a topic question (TQ) and answer ONE TQs to help facilitate a discussion. Also, remember that this month's discussion topic is about new authors, as well. Spillage from one to the other is okay, but try not to ask the same TQ for both subjects. >.>

    For this activity to count toward your monthly requirements, you MUST: post a review in this thread, answer at least one TQ, and leave one new TQ. You do not have to use the review toward your monthly requirement, though you can if you wish, but there has to be one written within the current month in THIS thread.

    To get you started, I'll leave you with a few TQs:

    What is your first reaction upon encountering a story with very few reviews?

    Do you pay attention to read count in comparison with reviews, or does that not matter? Why is that?

    Do you seek out stories with hardly any reviews at all?



    With that, allons-y!
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  3. #3
    Kerichi
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    I reviewed Deathsticks by Daniel Crogan. It was in the historical category and had no reviews (when I started reading it), and the author note said that he'd never written fan fiction before. I didn't notice the read count at the time (which answers one question ), but checking back, it now has 17.

    If I'm reading poetry, I do tend to seek out the ones with few reviews, but with stories I just look for a title and summary that catch my eye and interest me enough to click the link. My question is:

    When you see a story has a high read count but few reviews, is your first thought more likely to be "Must be bad" or "Lots of lurkers on this site"?

  4. #4
    Simply Being
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    I do love discussions.

    How often do you review newer authors or previously unpublished ones? Has this number changed since you joined?
    I think I used to review newer authors when I first joined. Before I really knew anyone on MNFF, I would browse for fics by searching through the newest ones. That led me to mostly newer authors. Unfortunately, that was back when my reviews mostly consisted of "Oh my god! So good update soon plz squee squee squee". I try to forget those times. Now I definitely read fewer newer authors. Now that I've had more experience on the boards I gravitate towards the authors I know and like best. I tend to stick with reading fics by those I've met or fics that have a good reputation (i.e. fics I find that are recommended in Fiction Junction). As a SPEWer though, I definitely understand the need to review more newer authors. When I first started writing I could have really benefited from a SPEW review (I still do benefit from them!). It's hard when you're first starting out, so concrete reviews are a great way for new authors to get on their feet.

    Do you ever leave them SPEW quality reviews?
    Yes, I've left some SPEW quality reviews for newer or more inexperienced authors. Unfortunately, I can't remember many times when I've gotten a response from the author. Hoepfully they read it and were able to take something from it, but I can't say for sure.

    Do you impart your own authorial experiences, or do you simply stick to the content?
    I usually stick to the content. I don't like to refer to my own beginnings as a fan fic writer, as they were quite terrible. I realize that it might help if I bring it up, so they don't make as many mistakes as I did. And I wrote some very, very bad fanfiction. However, when it comes to a review I don't see much of a need to relate my own experiences. I think that's more of a job for someone working closely with the author, like a Beta. I think that I would feel like I'm giving unsolicited advice and being too pushy. Also, I don't want them to feel like I'm talking down to them.


    In what ways to newer authors respond to concrit differently than more seasoned / frequently published authors on MNFF? Has anyone ever taken offence to concrit you've offered?
    As far as I can remember, no one has taken offence to my reviews. Typically with a newer author I'll get a much shorter response. Something more along the lines of "Thanks! Good review". With more experienced authors I tend to get longer, more detailed responses.

    If that author published further stories here on MNFF, did you revisit their author page?
    It depends on if I liked their work. I typically stick to the more seasoned authors, honestly.

    I'd also like to discuss the reason why I don't review too many newer authors. The fact is, a lot of new authors struggle. And a lot of the time, I end up having more critique for the fic than praise. Obviously not all newer authors are like this, but there are some who have more problems with grammar, spelling, plot, characterization, etc than older authors. And I don't generally leave a review if I have more negative than positive critique. I believe in constructive criticism, and if I flat out didn't like a story I don't review it. I see no reason to leave a review that is only negative.

    So, my question is...

    Will you review a newer author even if you have mostly negative critique? Do you see it as for their own benefit?

    I'm not trying to pick on people who are critique heavy in their reviews, its just something that I personally don't do.

    -Danielle

  5. #5
    Seventh Year Gryffindor
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    How often do you review newer authors or previously unpublished ones? Has this number changed since you joined?

    Not as often as I read authors whose stories I've already read. I don't think it's changed, however since I'm more active on the boards now if I see a banner of an author I know I like, I will usually read their story, whereas unless a newer author was very good I would not seek out stories by them, other than via the most recent page.

    Do you ever leave them SPEW quality reviews?

    Yes, I think I have a few times since I joined SPEW (at least I hope they're SPEW quality- that's for the RAC to judge ). I think we all when we were newer authors, and still now with new stories, just want to know what other people thought of the story and whether they enjoyed it. The advantage with leaving a review for a more established author/ one you know slightly is that you have a vague idea of whether they would like criticism/ nitpicks etc whereas with newer authors it's more of a risk leaving a critical review because you're not sure how thick their skin is.

    Do you impart your own authorial experiences, or do you simply stick to the content?

    I don't like sounding patronising, so although in reviewing newer authors and seeing them make similar mistakes to one's I did (and still do) it's tempting to give them anecdotes about myself, but ultimately these are probably boring and unhelpful. Generally I will stick to content/ characterisation etc but since with stories its usually the content, as described by their summary, which drags me in in the first place, I won't criticise that but try to accept the story on its own terms.

    If that author published further stories here on MNFF, did you revisit their author page?


    If I thought they were good/ by their response showed an intention of improving and took any criticism I gave well, then yes. Not that I wouldn't read a good author because they can't take criticism, but generally better authors take criticism better (at least in my experience). I do, however, mostly discover new authors because they've asked me to beta something for them and if I think they're good will certainly investigate new stories/ jump at the chance to beta more stories for them.

    So TQ of my own (may add more later but my sister's just made cake!):

    With newer authors do you find cliches more common? If this is a major part of their plot/ characterisation, then how do you deal with this within a review?
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  6. #6
    Simply Being
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    With newer authors do you find cliches more common? If this is a major part of their plot/ characterisation, then how do you deal with this within a review?

    I can think of some cliches with newer authors right off the top of my head:

    Mary Sues/Gary Stues
    Problems with spelling, grammar, and British English
    Typically focused more on the trio--older authors explore minor characters more
    Shorter responses to reviews
    Nicknames such as "Mione" or "Gin"
    Focus on romance (especially canon pairings)

    Those are a few I have noticed, obviously they aren't true of all newer authors.

    As far as dealing with major issues in plot or characterization, I just try to point it out as best I can without sounding too harsh. If I find very big errors in plot/characterization, I typically also try to find something about the fic that I really like. I try to balance out the negative critique with positive comments.

    Have you ever had a newer author change their fic or avoid errors you pointed out in future fics after you reviewed them?

  7. #7
    Fifth Year Gryffindor
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    I reviewed All That's Beautiful Drifts Away, by forsakenphoenix. It had two reviews and two chapters before I left my review for the story.

    Do you seek out stories with hardly any reviews at all?
    Definitely, just because I feel like leaving a review for someone who hardly has any will make it more special for them than if I leave a review for someone who already has over a hundred on a story. In fact, back when we had the Featured Author, I used to find the story by them that was least reviewed and choose that one. Plus, after receiving a bazillion reviews for one story, almost everything that can be said has been said about that story. It's always nicer to have new feedback rather than repetition.

    When you see a story has a high read count but few reviews, is your first thought more likely to be "Must be bad" or "Lots of lurkers on this site"?
    Hm, I don't pay attention to read count very often (which answers another TQ… :P), probably because my eyes are lazy. However if I did, in your scenario, I would probably be more likely to think of the latter, simply because I have read some really great stories that aren't reviewed a lot, or sometimes I read a wonderful story and forget (*cough*get lazy*cough*) and don't leave a review. Which is sad, but that happens far more often than me reading a bad story and not leaving a review.

    My question:

    Do you think the lack of an author's response to reviews is a factor in how many reviews the story gets?

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  8. #8
    'Til the end of the line Ravenclaw
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    Do you think the lack of an author's response to reviews is a factor in how many reviews the story gets?
    You know, that's a really interesting question. Honestly, for me, it depends on the author. If it's someone I know and communicate with here and there, I'm not too bothered about whether they respond, as it's likely we would end up discussing the review at some point. But, if it's someone I don't know very well, and they don't respond to any reviews, I might review them once, but probably won't again. It's hard to justify to oneself putting in the work involved in writing a SPEW review without any way of knowing whether the author has even read it or put any consideration at all into what you've said.
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  9. #9
    Fourth Year Gryffindor
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    How often do you review newer authors or previously unpublished ones? Has this number changed since you joined?

    I don’t review them as often as I do with much known ones (and not to mention my favourites). Although, the authors aren’t really the ones that draw me to a story. It’s just an added bonus for a guaranteed quality of the story. It’s really the summary and occasionally, the title, which call me to click the link and start reading. Since I joined SPEW, I honestly think I read less of newer authors. I think that it’s so much easier to write a review with honest crit to authors that I already know and trust than those who I don’t. I still get worried that they would get offended and render my review as pointless and worthless, not to mention call me mean and inconsiderate. I think I lean on the mean side of honesty rather than the gentle side.

    Do you ever leave them SPEW quality reviews?

    Yes, I do. Once I’ve decided that I’m doing my SPEW requirements, I click a story that I fancy reading and leave a SPEW quality review. There are instances, though, that I decide I can’t leave a SPEW-worthy review to particular stories. It’s either that a) there are just aren’t enough substance to go on with - I personally don’t like very, very short fics that aren’t poetry because I don’t like leaving reviews that aren’t lengthy and thorough when the story itself isn’t up to at least 1200 words and not thorough with its concept, and b) there aren’t enough praises to counter those that are not. As an author, I don’t mind receiving a review that has more criticisms than praise because I do want to improve and I’ve always admired bluntness, however, this isn’t true to all authors. I want my reviews to contain at least 75% praise, and obviously, not every story I come across can give me enough substance to actually write more than 75% praise. I do try to leave an encouraging review, although they aren’t SPEW worthy.

    Do you impart your own authorial experiences, or do you simply stick to the content?

    I actually don’t share with them my authorial experiences; rather, I give out advices that I’ve learned through reading other excellent fics. When I give them out, it’s usually about fixing a small hole in the plot and a way to get the a character more in-tuned to itself. Most of the time, I just stick to the content because I’ve not a lot of “experiences” or advices to say anyway.

    In what ways to newer authors respond to concrit differently than more seasoned / frequently published authors on MNFF? Has anyone ever taken offence to concrit you've offered?

    I’ve noticed that the responses of newer authors to my reviews tend to be on the SQUEE side (I mean, who doesn’t like getting SPEW reviews?). Other than that, their reactions are about as same as those seasoned authors. Maybe it’s just me and my lack of lurking, but I’ve noticed that most authors, whether new or old, that got their stories validated in mnff are very grateful and mature on receiving crit in reviews. I mean, if you’ve looked at ff.net and actually came across a review that contained concrit and the author didn’t take offence (and his/her minion readers didn’t attack that person), then you’re lucky to have met an author that wanted to improve.

    So far, no one has ever taken offence to concrit I’ve offered, and I prefer to stay that way. :-)

    If that author published further stories here on MNFF, did you revisit their author page?

    Ah, not really. Unless I see their names more often , like twice, in the recent list with spectacular stories, then I’ll go to their author page to check out if they have any other stories. But I sometimes do check out the pages of unpopular authors for the mere purpose of reading their bio. Teehee.

    Will you review a newer author even if you have mostly negative critique? Do you see it as for their own benefit?

    I think I already mentioned that I prefer to have reviews that have more praise than not. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a newer author or not, but I just can’t seem to stomach the thought of submitting a review that has too many crits, even if it’s for their own benefit. ):

    With newer authors do you find cliches more common? If this is a major part of their plot/ characterisation, then how do you deal with this within a review?

    Yes and no. I think that most fanfic authors, if not all, began reading fanfics that they will eventually label as cliché. I believe that a portion of these readers, when they become authors, use the same material as they had repeatedly read on stories – hence, clichés. But then again, there are readers that, in a short amount of time, quickly point out clichés and begin a story with the same familiarity, but with their own original streak. When I read a story that has a cliché, it depends on whether I know the author enough that I can point it out and give advice to not go down that road often. To be honest, there are clichés that I don’t mind so I sometimes forget it’s a cliché at all and so I forget to include it in my input of the story. If it’s a major part of their plot or characterization, I just go through with giving them crit, but then again, it depends on the author.

    Have you ever had a newer author change their fic or avoid errors you pointed out in future fics after you reviewed them?

    I’ve had authors change small nitpicks and errors like a muggle saying a wizard phrase or a spell working on the wrong incantation. Other than that, there’s nothing else. Most new authors that I did leave a review on seem to just have that one fic that I reviewed, so I can’t attest to whether they actually watched out for their previous mistake in a much newer story of theirs. Or maybe it’s because I’m not very good with names so I forget whether I actually did review them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Simply Being
    I can think of some cliches with newer authors right off the top of my head:

    Mary Sues/Gary Stues
    Problems with spelling, grammar, and British English
    Ah, yes, the Mary Sues and the Gary Stues! I think a few number of the newer authors tend to do self-insertion into their own stories and add a few fantasies of theirs, hence, the Mary Stues and their Prince Charmings. I completely agree with you on the other cliches.

    New TQ: Do you think that new authors tend to write stories that have self-insertion? Do you think self-insertion is a good start to writing?

  10. #10
    Seventh Year Gryffindor
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    New TQ: Do you think that new authors tend to write stories that have self-insertion? Do you think self-insertion is a good start to writing?

    I don't really see what the problem is with self-insertion. It's a problem if the version of themselves is highly idealised/ only there so they can get together with (usually in my experience) Sirius Black, but if they treat themselves as a character and are willing to be honest about their faults, I don't see what the problem is. Maybe its because I'm a) tired and b) have recently realised that no matter how hard I try a character in my OF is actually me, so I've decided to just go with it. After all, I know me better than anything else, and it makes sense to write about what you know/ use it to explore things you don't really know about.
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