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  1. #1
    'Til the end of the line Ravenclaw
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    October Activities 2012

    Hello, and welcome to SPEW Buddies! If you've never participated in this before, SPEW buddies is an activity in which you are paired up with a fellow SPEWer. You both review each other and then participate in a character chat, an example of which can be found here. You can conduct these chats either by IM or by PM (total word count should be at least 500 words between all characters); the IM chats should be dialogue only and the PMs written like letters, as illustrated in the chats thread. Which you choose to do is up to you.

    If you're interested, please sign up in this thread by no later than the end of the day (US Pacific Time, GST -8) on October 20th.
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  2. #2
    'Til the end of the line Ravenclaw
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    October Feature: Review a Cotillion Fic

    This past year has seen one of the greatest challenge turnouts that I have personally ever seen. The Inaugural Great Hall Cotillion churned out 72 (not a typo) stories, and 69 of them were complete by the deadline. In this challenge, which was derived by your very own fearless leader, there was a celebration of love stories of all kinds: sad, happy, angsty, fluffy, and everything in between.

    I challenge you to go forth, find one of these stories, and leave the author a stunning review to complement their completion of such an arduous challenge. The challenge thread can be found here: http://fanfiction.mugglenet.com/foru...read.php?68647

    As always, ask and answer a TQ. Here are a couple to get you started:

    Do pairings selected for shock factor have to live up to a higher standard to you as a reader?

    Would you read something you find categorically impossible or extremely implausible just to see if the author can prove you right or wrong?

    Do pairing-driven stories stay with you more, less, or the same as plot-driven stories?



    This activity is due by the end of the day on November 15th.
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  3. #3
    Third Year Ravenclaw
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    Review: here

    Do pairings selected for shock factor have to live up to a higher standard to you as a reader?
    I definitely think so. I love reading rarepairs - as in the really crazy ones like Peeves/Moaning Myrtle - provided they are written well. I think if an author deliberately chooses a pairing to shock, then they have to work twice as hard to keep them in character. The fic I reviewed for this managed that spectacularly: Fleur/Mrs Zabini is something I would never have thought of, but I was completely convinced by the end. It's relatively easy to write a Harry/Ginny or Ron/Hermione, because we see these characters interacting so frequently. To use minor characters who are not an obvious choice as a couple could be risky, and therefore a lot of skill and character knowledge is needed to pull it off successfully.

    Do you like to be shocked by a pairing or the way an author depicts a pairing, or do you prefer to stick solidly with canon? Why?



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  4. #4
    Fifth Year Hufflepuff
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    Review: Here

    Do you like to be shocked by a pairing or the way an author depicts a pairing, or do you prefer to stick solidly with canon? Why?

    I usually stick to canon most of the time and tend not to stray away. However, if we were never told who a character ends up with, I'm open to suggestions. I'd love to read a rare-pare such as Dudley/Parvati or any wild pairing. In fact, wild pairings can be very, very fun to read, as Jamie has proven with her fic The Lady Doth Protest Too Much. I would never have imagined that two paintings could be paired together, but Jamie proved me wrong with her brilliant piece of work. Provided that the writer writes it well enough to be believable and that the character is not committed according to canon, I'd love to read a shock-pairing (excuse me for making that up).

    Which sort of wild pairing would you never read? Why?

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  5. #5
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    Review: clickity

    Which sort of wild pairing would you never read? Why?

    There is really very little that I wouldn't read. I'm a little turned off by Student/Teacher Romance, but (as seen above) I will read it as long as it's well written and handles the subject well. I will almost never read Snanyone, but that's mostly because I don't view Snape as an attractive character and really am not a fan of reading fics where he is. However, I have no qualms reading something totally insane (like, uhmm, Scabior / Bellatrix totally random pairing ftw) because I find it incredibly interesting to see how the author rationalises the two of them being together. For example, in Maple's story, Lily Luna and McLaggen (aka McLily) get into a romantic relationship, which I thought was fabulous because not only is it something I've never even thought of, it's something that the author pulled off very, very well and made me believe in the pairing.

    /longwindedrantover

    New TQ: Do you tend to stick to certain pairings? Why?

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  6. #6
    Fourth Year Hufflepuff
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    I reviewed Laugh by Padfoot11333, aka Lily.

    Do pairings selected for shock factor have to live up to a higher standard to you as a reader?

    I don't think it's necessarily about higher standards. At least, that's not quite how I'd phrase it. I'd expect a James/Lily story to be written just as well as the rarest of rare-pairs. However, it would take more to convince me of an unexpected pairing, especially if it contradicts what we would expect from canon. That's not necessarily about standard of writing and characterisation; it's more about providing enough background and having a strong enough plot to make the pairing plausible. I don't know. Maybe that is a higher standard. I just mean that I don't need stories featuring odd couples to be better in every single way.

    Do you tend to stick to certain pairings? Why?
    When writing, it's definitely a yes. I write James/Lily an awful lot because for me, it seems to come easily. I have a clear picture of the two of them, both as individuals and in relation to each other. Because I feel familiar and confident with them, I find I get more ideas for stories concerning them.

    When reading, I get a lot more variety. I still read plenty of James/Lily, as the above review suggests, but I will read all sorts of unusual pairings. It's more about the quality of the story than about which pairing are involved. Well, as long as it's not Dramione, anyway...

    New TQ: What would you say is the most unexpected pairing you've ever come across in fanfiction? Did it make for a good story? Why or why not?
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  7. #7
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    October Discussion: Concrit and You

    When I first joined MNFF as a member, I feel quite embarrassed that it took me about a year to figure out what concrit actually stands for. If you have had similar difficulty, its an abbreviation of 'constructive criticism'. Honestly, though, in its full length, I think it changes what the word means to us.

    Often, in my travels of SPEW membership, 'concrit' has been offered up in reviews, but there have been times that I've wondered what was constructive about it. If, say, someone comments that a comma is wrong or that they do not agree with a character's interpretation, does that genuinely help an author? I know of a very prominent MNFF writer who received multiple reviews from a long-gone member of SPEW, and most of them were maligning the author's characterisation based upon the reviewer's opinion. That event is one of the catalysts of how SPEW is being run today.

    What I would like to see you all discuss, my wonderful disciples, is what makes criticism constructive and what sort of critique can you bring to the table that is based in fact or pre-established assumption of truth (like canon or general consensus). As always, ask and answer one TQ, and I'll post a couple to get you started. I heavily encourage returning to this discussion because it's a very enriching one when it comes to your role as a professional reviewer.


    When you bring a point of contention up in a review, what sort of bases do you cite as your reasoning?

    Have you ever found yourself searching for reasons to discount something?

    Do you think a review with little or no criticism carries the same weight as one laced with concrit?



    As always, this activity is due to be completed by the end of the day on November 15th.
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  8. #8
    Ebil Lieutenant Ravenclaw
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    When you bring a point of contention up in a review, what sort of bases do you cite as your reasoning?

    Well, canon is usually the most obvious one. Also, if I've written a lot of a certain genre or pairing, I may mention that in the review, but more often than not, that can come across as a little patronising, so unless, say, you have a reputation on MNFF because you write a lot of a certain genre or perhaps have a QSQ in a certain area (so Gina/Gmariam is generally seen as Marauder expert, Lori as Romione queen, Jess along with Sophie as a grammar Nazis), it's probably not right for you to say, essentially, "I'm experienced in x and you're not, so that's why I've decided to criticise you on your handling of x, y and z." Generally, the best basis for criticism is canon. The worst basis -- and, sadly, I see this crop up in reviews from time to time -- is personal preference, because it is never okay in my book for someone to criticise something when it's based purely on their opinion or their preconceptions about, say, a certain POV choice or characterisation choice.

    Have you ever found yourself searching for reasons to discount something?

    Sometimes. It's hard at times to pinpoint exactly what it is about a story that you don't like. Often, like I said above, it comes down to taste, and the problem with that is that it's not fair to take time to leave someone a review chockfull of crit if you don't particularly care for the story, or it wasn't to your taste, or you liked the concept but really wished it was written in third person rather than third.

    Do you think a review with little or no criticism carries the same weight as one laced with concrit?

    Absolutely. One of my best reviews (at least, I think it was one of my best reviews...) was for Carole/Equinox Chick's story, Monochrome. I barely criticised anything because it was just that gorgeous, but I still think I did a good job in reviewing. Having said that, reviews laced with crit aren't bad, necessarily. I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but the 60-40 thing is really important to me. If I don't like at least 60% of a story, there is no way I'm reviewing it, because I just know I'll upset the author. Really, if you want to give up your time and actually write something meaningful in that white box, there's no use in upsetting someone in the process. Criticising is fine; the problem, often, is that crit is delivered badly, or there is too much crit in a review.

    New TQ: Would you prefer to receive a flaily review with no crit or a review chockfull of criticisms (all which are well-put)? Or would you be fine with either?

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  9. #9
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  10. #10
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