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Muggle Ghosts

I got the following review today.

It has been more than five years since you last updated this story… if it is abandoned, please give a notice to all of your loyal readers, if it is not abandoned, please try to update this amazing story as soon as possible.

At first I wasn’t sure what to think of the review. I then realized I normally feel motivated to update, or at least try to when people ask for updates. Instead, this time I honestly feel demotivated.

I get the fact writers should, if they’re abandoning a work, let their loyal readers know they are doing so in some manner. However, don’t you think I already would have if I’d made said decision? After all, I’ve already clearly marked three of my stories as abandoned in the summary and marked said stories as complete. I had another which I’d marked as discontinued, but changed to abandoned.

I’ve also come to the conclusion the real reason readers ask whether a story is abandoned or not when the writer clearly hasn’t marked the story as abandoned or not is because they want the permissions to continue a story, yet marking a story as abandoned or even discontinued doesn’t give others permission to continue the work. No, seriously, it doesn’t.

Am I saying those asking are likely to continue the work themselves? Not necessarily. They could just as easily seek someone else out. The worst part is I’d freely give permission to write a story which spins off from any point in the stories I’ve written so long as specific stipulations are met.

  • Let me know you’re doing it.
  • Don’t plagiarize what I’ve written.
  • Understand writing an AU or spinoff for anything I written isn’t a free for all where you can change things at random.
  • Other stipulations which will vary from fandom to fandom, or story to story.
    • For example, if I plan on revealing two characters are siblings I may ask you not pair the two together as this paints me as supportive of such types of ships.
    • I may ask you not to ship anything with a rabid fan base.
    • I may also ask if you are ready to tackle the project, but ask you to be honest with yourself about whether you are ready to or not.
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Frostbitten Sand

Oh, I’m so sad you never got to finish this story. It’s actually really really good, I read it all in an hour! I love your attention to detail. Some parts were so funny they made me laugh out loud, while others were so touching I felt my heart throb! It was really nice and sweet, thank you for writing it!

I think the most amazing thing about this review is I just finished re-reading the story myself and doing up my outline for the work so I could continue it. Said review is super appreciated.

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Finding Friendship II: Earth Shattering

I received the following review today from a reader who calls themselves Ara.sunshine.

Ayy nice to see you updating bleach fics these last couple months! I can tell your writing has improved heaps! Enjoying the story, (insert thumbs up here)

-Ara

I’m glad to be back as well, but hope to be back. If you think it’s because the live action movie will be hitting Netflix though – nope. I didn’t realize that it was ready to go until someone contacted me wanting permission to continue one of my stories that I’d not updated in forever.

I actually don’t mind people writing spinoffs, sequels and prequels to the stories I write. One stipulation is of course letting me know. Another is writing their own words. Writing your own words isn’t just not copying another writer word for word, but also not rearranging what they wrote either. There are also certain pairings which are a no-go depending on the fandom, but if you’re going to write a spinoff (which includes AUs), sequels or prequel it should be written as such.

Back to the review. Yup. My writing has improved yet again. I found Grammarly. I can’t go back and check every story – I’ve got hundreds of stories so checking the grammar and reuploding does in fact take a lot of time I could be spending writing instead. Even with Grammarly I do still miss things, but I am super happy with the progress I’ve made as a writer.

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Rain of Imperfection

Wow, you’ve got some poorly constructed dialogue in this fic. It’s so artificial and stiff. Try saying half of the stuff you’ve had these characters saying or thinking aloud. How many people have you ever heard talk like this?
‘It’s obligatory social custom.’ ‘Except as we’re expected to care, as we’re his children.’ “Do I really though want to let go of my anger like that?”

Dialogue and thoughts should be natural, not awkward.

I appreciate the criticism as it’s valid. There are grammar issues such as leaving out an “an”, adding an “as” where they’re not needed.

I’m honestly a little ticked off at the suggestion of reading out loud. I’m tired of people suggesting this as if this is the end all solution for grammar issues, because it is not. No, seriously, it’s not, but it’s very painful for a dyslexic writer to hear because people act like – well, if we only read our work out loud all our grammar issues would be solved overnight.

Mind you, this technique works for some people, but telling someone whose brain processes languages differently that the brain will suddenly process the language correctly with the magical trick of reading things out loud honestly doesn’t get the issue those of us with dyslexia face every single day. Reading it out loud most certainly does not change how our mind processes language.

Reading out loud actually teaches people to write the way they speak, not how writing should naturally flow. Amanda Bumgarner has a lovely essay called Don’t Write Exactly How You Speak. Sure, reading one’s writing out loud does work for some people, but not everyone. For this technique to work, you must be able to verbally recognize the grammar error, and not everyone can. For them, what they read out loud is just as natural as what they didn’t, and this doesn’t just go for those who are dyslexic.

Which reminds me – add a comma every single time your thoughts pause is more bad advice. The mind doesn’t always pause where it should, so you end up with commas in weird places, but other times you need a “;” or a “:” at those pauses instead. For me, the push for reading ones own work out loud as the end solution is just more of the rhetoric which pushes the belief one can correct their grammar errors on their own and never need an editor or as we call it in fanfic – a Beta. Truth is though, everybody should be using an editor or Beta if they can, because only a small handful of people are actually able to achieve perfect grammar as they write.

The fact they can doesn’t make them “great writers” and those who can’t “only good writers” either, because perfect grammar doesn’t mean you’re a good writer. Not at all.

Rant done.

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Damien’s Batman

Sometimes I get a review I can’t reply to because the signed review blocks PMs.

This was an alright story. But I like stories where there are chapters, good job though

If something is not your-cup-of-tea, don’t label it as “alright” or anything similar. Why? You’re basing your judgement on whether a story is “good or not” based on your own personal preferences, not the quality, but these kind of things can get a newbie writer down which is why I’m bringing it up. This is not an okay review to leave, but if you can’t find a better way to put it just hit the back button. For example,

The story has an interesting premise, but I prefer stories with chapters over one-shots and would have liked to have seen more.

Or…

I wished the story wasn’t a one-shot.

Both can actually get you the reader a continuation. The first – it can make newbie writers quit, and for those of us who aren’t – it’s just annoying. Actually, it’s a rather annoying review for those who read reviews as well.

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I wrote a post yesterday, but felt I needed to be a bit more active. Since there were two chapters, I left a second review.

Unfortunately, because of a review left by another reviewer, I feel the need to clarify something for the writer.

Contrary to what the other reviewer said, writers don’t get a pat on the back simply for tacking difficult subject matter or trying to add something positive to the world, but to praise a writer for simply doing that despite the fact the writer failed is majorly insulting to those who deal with said difficult subject matter every single day of their lives, but majorly trivializes what they go through.

In fact, doing so tries to conflate calling a writer out for romanticizing said subject matter whether the writer intended to or not as a matter of don’t like, don’t read, yet it’s a known fact that those who deal with said issues don’t necessarily avoid said stories, but actually use them for therapeutic reasons.

It’s not therapeutic though to see a favorite character the reader knows is a strong character within the canon material turned OoC or stripped of their agency. It screams to those dealing with said issue that the issue is black and white – you can either cope with your emotions like those who don’t have the issue, or you’re constantly a mental basket case.

The fact you enjoyed writing it? There isn’t a writer out there who doesn’t enjoy what they’ve written, but when a writer makes the decision to publish their story and SHARE said story with complete strangers they are going to GET feedback from complete strangers, even stuff they don’t like.

By calling negative reviews “hate” rather than accepting someone may have a legit opinion, the reviewer is effect attempting to censor the reviews and reading experiences of others. No, they can’t physically stop someone from leaving a review, but the act of vilifying something send the psychological message that something is wrong when it’s not. It’s a form of bullying.

The reason I’m leaving a review is because the trivialization of difficult subject matter needs to stop. To many writers get a pat on the back simply for tackling the subject matter, only for the manner in which said subject matter is handled to scream the writer didn’t do their research and/or think things through in the manner they should have.

Apologizes for bringing this up in the writer’s reviews, as I doubt they intended to handle the subject matter poorly. There’s a reason I used the words “feels” and “comes across” instead of outright saying the writer’s only purpose of using the subject matter is for drama and angst, and that they actually didn’t care about romanticizing the subject.

Because I honestly think they do care, so the trivialization comment is not directed at them.

It’s directed at their second reviewer, but if they’re able to trivialize the subject matter for their mere reading enjoyment, who else will? That’s actually a writer’s worst fear.

I honestly take far, far more issue with the reviewer than I do the writer, but as I mentioned at the end,

… if they’re able to trivialize the subject matter for their mere reading enjoyment, who else will? That’s actually a writer’s worst fear.

I’ve dealt with this. It was in regards to shipping, where one of my anons came across as only caring about the one ship, but only the fluff stuff and the stuff clearly marked. It’s a fear every writer has at the back of their mind, that someone is just reading their work to drool and kink. Well, maybe not those who don’t take their writing seriously. They may not be able to understand what I’m getting at here.

It’s pretty much about the merits one works stand on, and standing on ones own merits. For someone who doesn’t take writing seriously, any review which praises is a good thing. Doesn’t matter if there’s a negative underlying message, such as the attempt to censor someone via bullying them into silence.

Fanfic is the only form of writing I’ve found where anyone actually actively argues that a published writer has the right to deny critique – forgetting that both positive and negative reviews are in fact critique. If this were any other place, the writer would be treated like a social pariah, but struggle with getting anything published after that, and if they do publish, their image is ruined.

It’s a hobby – people say, except fanfic is the only hobby which people share with others where yet again this is okay. Do these people actually understand what it means to be a hobbyist in the public eye? One gets critiqued on success or failure, but given tips on improving.

It’s escapism – yet this is the only place where such form of public escape where criticism isn’t allowed.

Why is it the fanfic writers are expected to be treated like special snowflakes?

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Off Topic

I hate doing this, as my posting this means the writer of one of the stories I reviewed may be found if people know how to look, yet the response from another reviewer in response to my review floors me – that they would completely miss my point.

Long story short, I came across a story which romanticized cutting and suicidal tendencies. Since this subject matter is something dear to me, I decided to speak out. Here is my review.

The stories bad. There’s no way of getting around the fact it’s bad, but while the writer claims their issue is not being able to come up with a cohesive ending, yet the real issue is coming up with a cohesive beginning.

Pretty much the reader gets dumped into the emotional baggage of the canon character, with no actual build up to why said character is cutting themselves. Which is problematic, as I point out in the second part of my review.

In this particular story, the writer removed the agency of a character – [name of character], and made them super OoC, but for the sake of what? The subject matter’s not handled well. It feels as if it is here more from the purpose of drama and angst rather than treated as the serious subject matter it is. It’s the kind of subject matter which shouldn’t be there just for drama and angst, as otherwise it just comes across as romanticized, and it’s not a topic which should be romanticized.

Everything I sad above is important, because topics such as cutting and suicide attempts should never be taken lightly when the writer utilizes them. Did the writer mean to? I don’t know if they did or not. That is actually mute in this case, as even if they didn’t, what they wrote has implications they did not intend to be in their writing.

Well, another reader less than a week later decides to call me out. Badly that is.

Yemi Hikari is a **** ****. He legitimately spent time reading your book then wrote 380 words on why he didn’t enjoy it. Take that in. He spent his own time writing 380 words of hate to a stranger on the internet. You wrote a story you enjoyed writing and worked on about a difficult topic. You tried to add something positive to the world. Don’t even for a second think he is superior to you just because he can write a bit.

My review is actually 129 words, but this is beside the point.

When you write something online, there is always a chance you will get a negative review. It doesn’t matter how much you the writer enjoyed writing the piece. The fact they’re a complete stranger doesn’t matter. Why? Because you the writer decided to publish and share your work with complete strangers in the first place. As for hate? Critique isn’t about like or dislike, and in this particular case it is about how the subject matter was handled.

This idea that a person should get a pat on the back for writing about a difficult topic is in fact INSULTING. The fact you tried to add something positive to the world doesn’t mean you did, but that also doesn’t get you a pat on the back. You don’t handle the subject matter in a way which is respectful and handled with care, then don’t blame others for calling you out.

Don’t get upset with readers because the subject matter wasn’t handled well, period. The fact you give trigger warnings does not negate handling the material in a decent manner, but don’t scream don’t like, don’t read when people call you out.

The sad thing is, it’s not the writer that is the issue here, but the other reader. The fact they completely missed my point regarding the fact the subject matter wasn’t handled well, but dismissed it as mere hate is insulting.

I mean, we’re talking a female character who is a strong female, but subject matter the canon material tackles in a far, far more tactful, but realistic manner. She’s a character who is open with people regarding who she is, but doesn’t take flack from anyone, yet we’re suddenly supposed to believe she is cutting herself? She doesn’t have anxiety or panic attacks. No, that’s her mother who suffers from PTSD because she’s a military vet when said mother goes off her meds, but her kids are very aware of the issue and know they can approach her long before things get this serious.

I’m floored.