Monday, August 27, 2012

100 Things Post 3: Reviews Are Everything

Hey! It's day 3 without a headache!  To celebrate, here are some more Things I Learned Writing Fanfiction.

My Account has a total of  97 stories posted on it.  Most of them are multi-chapered pieces.  There are still other, earlier pieces that have never made it into the archive there but are posted on other sites like my Livejournal.  You might think that, after a while, reviews stop mattering.  They don't.  They are some of the most amazing and fulfilling messages that a fanfic writer can receive.

You won't get many of them.  If you expect to, or if you expect them all to be glowing expressions of how talented you are and how wonderful your piece is, you should ask someone to pinch you.  You've been sucked into a waking dream.

Part of the reason that reviews mean so much is because most readers don't think to leave them.  Another, bigger part, is that the internet allows authors and readers to have dialogue in a way that has never been possible before.  Fanfic readers can ask questions of their favorite authors and have their questions answered in real time (or close to it).  Authors can see how their audience is reacting to their work as they post it.  In the pre-internet dark ages, we just had to wait and wonder.  That dynamic of instant access has far reaching consequences.

Reviews can be a powerful learning experience, a source of much needed encouragement, and they can be the most frustrating, maddening, infuriating pieces of email that you'll ever receive.  Yes, they existed before the internet.  Published writers have gotten both critical reviews and fan commentary letters for hundreds of years.  Paper fanzine authors have gotten reader responses for a long time too.  The immediacy of the internet crystallizes the effect of a review and can even sometimes lead to changes in the content of a WIP.  (More on this in "Don't Write Your Fanfiction By Committee")

The negative reviews I receive are often great tools for me as a writer.  Through them I can see where my story  or my writing style could improve, and I am forced to think about the choices I'm making in a WIP.  Of course, I have moments I'd like to tell a reviewer where to go--but learning to put that instinct aside, or at least to listen through it, makes me a better author.

The positive ones are sometimes the difference between finishing a chapter this week and finishing it three months from now.  You may hear people say that this is about ego--that the only reason to care about reviews is for "internet fame." That's not true at all.  A positive review means that someone else heard what I had to say and understood it.  I think that's what all writers really want.

Related posts:
Reviews Are Everything|Reviews Don't Mean Very Much| It Takes Courage To Post Fanfiction

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