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Thread: Fanfic Review Guidelines?

  1. #1
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    Default Fanfic Review Guidelines?

    Naminé is not only an amateur to the SPPF, being a young baby that is only one day old according to "SPPF join date," she is rather sub-par and below average in her reviewing skills, though she looks forward to polishing it to the best of her abilities if the fates allow~

    So, dear kind sirs and miss who are skilled reviewers for all various types of fanfics, please give Naminé the much needed assistance and desperate help so that she can grow to be independent and also be of some help to the forum. What guidelines are used when one is rating or reviewing a fanfic? Does a review follow any kinds of structure, point-grading system or any other kinds of formats?

    How do misters and miss prefer to review fanfics here?
    ~*Twins with Ms. Kairi*~

    ~*I dream of the things that I would have done but cannot do *~

  2. #2
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    Hmmm, this was stickied here, but I seemed to have misplaced it.

    I remeber discussing this on PC.

    What I like to do when I review is notice all the mistakes that they made. I copy them all into a Word document for easy finding. When I start the review, I say my general emotion after reading the piece. I then point out all the mistakes with ways to fix them; then my view of how to fix the other stuff, i.e. plot, description, etc.

    No numbers here, Naminé. That system left a while ago.

    All you have to do is practice, and see how the regulars post. Then you can get a feel for what gets listened to, what doesn't, and who listens and who doesn't.

    Good luck on this journey, Ms. Naminé!

  3. #3
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    Think about certain things:

    Can you picture the scene? Vaguely? Just fine? In very fine detail? You can suggest things to add.

    Read parts that don't sound right to you. Is there a misspelled word? Is the sentence structure weird? Is it just incorrect? Try to point out mistakes.

    Notice the plot of the whole fic. Did you hear this somewhere before? Is the plot entirely unoriginal? Or do you think the plot is lacking? Give some suggestion for a twist in the plot or if it's one of those hopeless fics that are rule-breaking, just report and ignore.

    Is it too long for a reader to stay? Too short for a reader's hunger?

    Is it interesting?

    If it breaks a rule, report and ignore.
    My tumblr or something: x

  4. #4
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    Hello Namine!

    From what I have seen of your reviews on PC, you are already an accomplished reviewer. All I have to say is repeating what the others have said: help them get rid of all of the grammer mistakes then focus on the story. Are the characters believable? In character, or not? I'm not certain if you have seen Acts 'mary sue ABCs', but it does target common problems. I quite like it.

    Wells, it is very nice to see you here Namine! I hope you enjoy your time here in the realm of serebeth. *bows*


    Floating over your rocky spine
    The glaciers made you and now you're mine


    Pair: duncan | Lyrics: Great Lake Swimmers

  5. #5
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    *sticks ‘property of the Cheshire’ stamp on the word ‘Serebeth’ and runs off with Mew*



    So Naminé, you ask how we review fics? My, that is not a question I am good at answering despite being somewhat of a veteran reviewer around these parts. *pulls hat that just appeared out of nowhere over eyes* But I’ll try to give you my best answer. *grins*



    While I read a fic, I also look for any spelling or grammatical mistakes in the piece, and if I find one I’ll copy and paste it only a Word document. These I will later quote and explain what the problem/s with them is/are in my post. Once finished, I will paste the entire chapter on Microsoft Word to see if the program can pick up anything I missed, and quote anything else as well, making sure to keep all quotes in the chronological order in which they appear in the fic.


    Then I start the actual review. At the very beginning I open with the more broad, general view of the story. Sometimes this is a mix of fact and opinion, but I usually just try to tell the honest truth about it without letting my ideas and perceptions mixed into it. Many people prefer to include their opinions, though I usually don’t incase my thoughts seem biased and so on, though I, like any other review, often can’t help but express their personal opinions on the story, which is perfectly fine.

    Then I get to the mechanics of the fic itself, which I categorize into a few different sections; Spelling/Grammar, Length (not always required or useful, and not used very much), Characters, Description, Plot and sometimes Originality and Realism, not always in that order. I’ll explain each category in as much speed and depth as I can.

    Spelling/Grammar: This part is a no-brainer, or at least t is for most people- you’d be surprised how few people use Microsoft Word. First I give an overall idea of if the spelling/grammar was good or bad, mentioning mistakes often made and bad habits found in the writing. This overview covers a lot more for beginner writers who don’t use word processors because there’s so much to comment on, and for people who have been around longer and know how to write better this section is much shorter. After this part I will mention that they did make mistakes, and here I will quote all the mistakes I found, providing explanations as to what they did wrong and how to fix it under the quote.
    I will often sum up by telling them what mistakes they often made and what to look out for.

    Length: I don’t use this all the time, nor do most people, but it can come in handy some times. Usually I only use this is the fic is tediously long or much too short, though sometimes I will add it in if the fic was of (what I define as) a perfect length. It really only comments on if the length was good or bad, and how to make it shorter or longer if need be.

    Characters: Ah, the characters, the little people who can often either make or break a fic. Characterization is important in any story, and the ultimate goal is for them to seem like real, solid people who you feel like you could meet in a shopping mall or in the streets. They each have their own individual looks, personalities, ideas, thoughts and emotions, all of which has to be properly expressed (no matter what point of view the story is written in). Characters who are emotionless and have no personality, Mary Sues/Gary Stus (characters perceived as being ‘perfect’), self inserts (where the author is put into the story in hopes that they could feel special as they live in a whole new world), stereotyped characters and characters who just seem overall fake are the things that will take away from a story and will not fare well in this review.

    Description: This is the area that is so stressed in the fanfiction community, and you’ll hardly ever see any review that doesn’t have a single comment on description, whether there is ‘enough’ or ‘too much’. I won’t deny that I also place a huge emphasis on describing things, whether it be simple actions, how a character reacts to something or even explaining the appearance of something, description is often the longest section of my reviews, at it is in this post.
    The simplest part of description is just explaining what someone is doing, but you’d be surprised with how many people can mess this part up alone. You never want to encounter a fic where the writer practically lists the actions so that you feel like you’re reading a history textbook. “Ho-Oh looked at Articuno and nodded. Ho-Oh flew off into the distance. Articuno was left alone, so with nothing to do she ate an apple from a tree. The apple was good, so she was happy.” is probably one of the worst stories you can ever read. Adjectives, strong/visual verbs, even the slightest bit of emotion is missing from this. You’d be surprised at how many people may think this is good or even acceptable.
    Then there is describing what things look like. Have you ever heard the expression ‘show, don’t tell’? If you have, vumderbar! If you haven’t, it means, in short, that you shouldn’t just list things about the story- you have to give it a flow so that you aren’t just stopping the story to tell us these things. Mixing description of appearance in with description of actions, adding emotions and even character perspective is what makes proper description. Let’s say instead of ‘Phil looked at the Nidoran who was blue and had large ears’ we can say ‘Phil glanced at the female Nidoran in distaste, grimacing at the way the spiky blue creature nibbled on its large floppy ears, eyes darting about.’ This not only shows what the character is doing and gives a bit of insight as to how the Nidoran looks, but it also shows that the character, Phil, perceives it in a negative way.
    If the writer really seems to be struggling, it is sometimes a good idea to provide examples, as a lot of people learn how to improve through example. This can either be done by making up your own example, or taking a small paragraph from the story and showing how it can be fixed up. I have done both of these things, and over time I have made different examples explaining different things. The first includes Phil, a trainer who battles a wild Nidoran with his Weepinbel, the second is a bit of a gym battle between a trainer’s Squirtle and Brock’s Onix and one I have used only a couple times, where a person is lost in a forest inhabited by man-eating bug Pokémon. The first two mainly cover describing Pokémon, Pokémon coming out of Pokéballs or Pokémon using attacks, as well as a bit of character perspective. The last is an example of setting the mood, and a bit of character thoughts and emotions.
    The only reason I often avoid sprucing up someone else’s story is because I fear they will either try to claim my ‘writing’ as their own, they may feel confused or embarrassed, they just might feel something looks different or they may feel upset and distraught, discouraged because they feel they aren’t up to par and things like that. You have to try to judge beforehand how the writer will react, as you don’t want to offend them by accident.
    Just remember that if the description is good, it means that you can imagine the scene in your head perfectly and you know what everyone and everything looks like. The goal of description is to make the reader feel like they’re right there in the story, standing next to the characters!

    Plot: This area often has to do with the reviewer’s personal opinion, as everyone has their own ideas of what constitutes a good/bad plot and so on. I usually don’t go into much detail about this subject just because it’s so touchy, and writers can get very protective and snappy if something is said about their plot that they don’t like. Usually I will just talk about if the plot seems original or realistic (more on that later) and I will often point out plot-holes and problems (that shouldn’t be there) within the plot, though I will rarely say how it can be fixed simply because it is not my fic and I have no right to say how something like that should be done. (This is something that should always be kept in mind, as there are some people who will say ‘Well, this sucks, that should be taken out!’ or the ever popular ‘You should make this Pokémon be in the fic because-’ because if you ever do that, you are no longer a reviewer- reviewers can never be biased toward a person or thing, no matter what.) Usually plots have a problem, with effects, a cause and even a solution, but it’s harder to use the whole problem-cause-effect-solution chain in fanfiction, so it’s often best to ignore this.

    Realism and Originality: This is really a sub-subject that goes under plot, and because there isn’t a whole lot to say about them I’m condensing them into one topic. *bad girl*
    Basically, it’s the idea that the plot should be something original the writer thought up themselves (yes, there have been blatant rip-offs of other books, movies/shows and video games on SPPf). Not in the sense that it’s a rip-off of someone, say, going on a Pokémon Journey, but a rip-off of the entire plot of the show/manga/games with similar characters and so on. This is why fanfiction in general is tolerated, as are crossovers: because they aren’t copying the exact plot, just the idea behind it. Same with using cannon characters: they’re the same people, just doing different things.
    Another thing is that you want the fic to seem slightly realistic. Of course it’s fiction so it isn’t exactly something you know could happen to you in real life. It’s like a Fantasy novel- there’s a certain level of order in the world of the story. If a story is unrealistic, you’ll have portals that popping up out of nowhere (a very popular means of transportation in fics where the writer is too lazy to describe a journey from one place to another) and ridiculous things like that. Unless it’s an important thing to the story that has a proper explanation in the plot, it usually shouldn’t be there.



    A few extra notes:
    Avoid just saying things about the fic and not backing them up. Whether it’s positive or negative, you can’t just say something for no reason with no proof. Validate what you say through examples from the story, making sure you always add tips on how to improve, or else what you say would be rather useless.
    There are always both good and bad points to a fic, so it’s impossible to say ‘This fic is perfect, there is absolutely nothing wrong with it’ or ‘This Is the worst fic I’ve ever read and I couldn’t find a single good thing about it.’ There are people who will do both these things, but they will usually say them because there is at least a shred of truth in their words, at least in that the fic was generally good or bad. Either way, it’s a good idea to try to point out both the good and the bad (though I usually get so caught up in finding mistakes I rarely point out the good, bad habit I know).
    You can never be biased as a reviewer. That means that even if you’re reviewing the fic of someone you hate, even if there are Pokémon in it you don’t like, even if you don’t like the fact that a character from the cannon is in it, you still have to give a full, honest review of the fic. You are entitled not to like the fact that the writer made the character have a female rival instead of a male one, but you can’t give it a bad rating for a little reason like that. Same with if it’s your friend’s fic- you have to tell them the honest truth about it, even if it means telling them the fic isn’t so good.
    Give praise where it is needed, not where it is wanted or expected. Don’t commend just for the sake of it.




    Well, that pretty much sums up my reviewing method. It was a bit hard to pick apart my reviews (self-analysis is never easy) but I think that covered pretty much everything. I haven’t reviewed very much in the past while, so I’m a bit rusty, but I still know what a proper review looks like (plus I once saw a professional review for a published novel). However, note that nothing I say is the absolute honest-to-God truth and reality of reviewing. These are mainly my opinions, and anyone can feel free to disagree, because I am not forcing this on anyone. If you agree with what I have said, you may feel free to review in this manner as well.

    Good luck with your reviewing, Naminé, and I hope I helped you (or at least someone who reads this, because Lord knows I spent a long time typing this up)!


    ~Psychic

    Edit: WHOOOOOO, 1000 posts, baby! SWEET! *does wild First Nations tribal dance and it starts raining*

    Pokéthon was a huge success! Check out our Facebook page for photos from the event!

  6. #6
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    O.o Psychic, that was very long... and very good. *rad it all* I agree with all of the points, and it does help me a little.

    XD Yess... The Cheshire invented the most wonderful word Serebeth... XD *has adopted it*


    Floating over your rocky spine
    The glaciers made you and now you're mine


    Pair: duncan | Lyrics: Great Lake Swimmers

  7. #7
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    Naminé, you needn't ask others for advices on reviewing. From what I've observed in PC, your methods are perfectly adequate here at SPPf, as you focus on the basic primary reasons as everyone else has. If you want to improve, try reading other people's reviews, as I've always found examples to be the best form of teaching. ^_^

  8. #8
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    First and foremost, tell the writer what he/she is doing well before you nitpick it apart.

    I usually look in these areas:

    What are we doing well with?: This is what the writer's doing well, and should continue to do as the fic goes, be it good description, great characters, an interesting plot, or something else...like the old saying says, if it ain't broke, don't fix it
    What do we need to improve?: Here you can point out what the writer needs to work on, but be sure to be courteous and respectful when doing this, as the writer probably put a lot of effort into it.

    Once I discuss these two things, I give the writer a rating based on the Pikachu line:

    A Pichu by himself means this fic needs serious work; if he's with some Pikachus he counts as half a point
    Pikachus are points...the more of them you get, the better.
    You have to impress me a lot to get a Raichu...so consider your fic special if it gets the Raichu

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