Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Thoughts so far

While it may appear to the untrained eye, that I am merely three fics in, I am in fact only three fics in.  (Silence!)    I've kind of worked out a list of fics I've got lined up to read next.  Some I've read the summaries of and I'm looking forward to getting to them. 

What I've been doing so far when I've read a story, is leaving a short note instead of a full review, because I don't think it's too fair to leave all my ramblings in the poor author's inbox, I've also been favouriting each story so I've got an easy way to find it again and I figure that it's the least I can do to improve their stats while I waffle on about the ins and outs of their hard work. 

Their hard work is really what I wanted to talk about.  It's ok to hate a book and post a scathing review online because you've spent hard earned money on it and the author got paid and will probably never stumble across your review.  Fan fiction authors work just as hard as published authors and they aren't being paid for their hard work.  I think really, even if you disliked a story, the least you can do for a fan fic author, is at least leave a comment.  I know that people tend not to do that unless they either really loved or really hated it and that isn't very helpful for people who genuinely want to know how they can improve or what bits might have been good or bad. 

I admit though that I was nervous about posting a note on these stories letting the authors know I'd posted an off-site review, because there's a real person at the end of that username and sometimes we tend to forget that on the internet.  Posting film reviews is one thing, I expect that film makers have thick enough skins to accept criticism and probably don't care about the opinions of a small-time blogger like myself, the same goes for published authors. 

Fandom though, is another fish entirely and while I try to be honest and fair about the fic I'm reviewing, I'm aware that people are doing this for fun and walking in and crapping all over someones hard work for the sake of being a harsh critic is not really going to be helpful to anyone.


  1. Ben! I'm almost at 4 books! Should be finishing books 3 and 4 by this Friday. If I surpass you, in full length (75,000 - 150,000 word) books...you're in a lot of trouble. You'd better get to it.

    I agree with your sentiment, the people who write the things we read are people, just like us, who had to be very brave to put their writing out there for other humans to see. This is incredibly difficult. I don't think a scathing review is fair at all, unless there was "fraud in the inducement" -- if a piece proclaims to be something and falls on its face without even trying, and the author has used this false advertisement to niggle some money out of you, then scathe away.

    Other than that, I think the worst you can say is "Didn't enjoy the plot" or "Characters seemed thin" or "The writing didn't flow" -- these aren't scathing, they're practical reflections of how the story affected you, or how you connected with it, or how it worked mechanically. Scathing, to me, is "This was complete shit and the author should be ashamed" -- I don't think I've ever found writing that warranted that. Even the most amateurish efforts elicit more sympathy and encouragement than irritation.

    So, right on. Keep reading, keep reviewing, keep giving feedback. Don't you dare let me pass you, I promise you'll never hear the end of it.

    1. Dammit, I need to get reading. I need to ban myself from watching Celebrity Big Brother or something.

      I totally agree with you. There's no way I'd review a fanfic the way I do a film, especially considering the type of films I end up reviewing usually end up with me leading with the phrase "this film was shit."

      Bizarrely though, two out of three of the authors I've read so far have actually got back to me and gave me some recommendations of their own as well so if this carries on as I go then I should be ok for finding fics.

      To keep on track I've got to try and read at least one today, one tomorrow, then five each for the next fortnight, then four a week should keep me on track. I hope.

      And don't even think about passing me ;)

  2. I'm on three! Oh so close.

    Actually Films can be shit. I mean, they're made for the lowest common denominator, and the lowest common denominator has terrible, terrible taste. Anything that you make by committee with the broadest possible appeal as your guiding light, is bound to be pretty terrible.