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Thread: Advice for Aspiring Authors

  1. #276
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    When it comes to responding to reviews, what do you all prefer: responding as soon as possible, or waiting until your next chapter is done to reply to all (if any) of them?

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  2. #277
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    Quote Originally Posted by flamebeam View Post
    When it comes to responding to reviews, what do you all prefer: responding as soon as possible, or waiting until your next chapter is done to reply to all (if any) of them?
    Personally I prefer to address them before the next chapter, just for the simple reason that I don't want too much content in the post that isn't the actual story.

  3. #278
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    Quote Originally Posted by flamebeam View Post
    When it comes to responding to reviews, what do you all prefer: responding as soon as possible, or waiting until your next chapter is done to reply to all (if any) of them?
    For me personally, it really depends on how significant the response is. If all I have to say to the review amounts to "Thanks for reviewing" and responding to some trivial comments, it can wait until next time I'm replying to the thread for other reasons; if they're confused about something major or I need to ask them for clarification on something they said or something of the like, I'll probably respond as soon as possible.

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    Quote Originally Posted by flamebeam View Post
    When it comes to responding to reviews, what do you all prefer: responding as soon as possible, or waiting until your next chapter is done to reply to all (if any) of them?
    Depends on the review. If it's short, I can acknowledge it on the next update and thank them for the review. A long one or one with questions I can reply to on the thread itself, but depending on the gap between updates, I alternatively send a PM as similar to how I would've replied to on the thread itself. It's rare I don't reply back to a review in some way or another.
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  5. #280
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    Although I don't consider myself a great critic or writer, I just gotta say some of this to make some of our jobs easier (or at least easier for me). This is just advice I would give to people:

    For Critics
    1. Try to list the positive things about someone's work before listing the negatives. If you toss a few softballs at someone first, this might make them a lot more comfortable enough to endure the weak points. Most people are sensitive about criticism as it may hurt their ego (including me!) or tear their work to shreds, as if you are proposing plastic surgery on their children.

    2. Say at least one positive thing about the work, even if your review is negative overall. Nothing anyone writes is all bad and its impossible to stay bad forever, have at least some faith they will improve overtime. If your criticism is 100% negative, you are likely being unfair to the writer and/or stemming some of your criticism from bias and your writer might not find you worth their time. There's gotta be at least one positive thing to say about the work, and if you can't find it then you probably won't be of much help to the writer.

    3. Don't take your own opinions too seriously. Remember that criticism is just one's opinion, not like a fact or anything. If another critic has an opinion different from yours, don't nag them for it. When critiquing a writer, just remember that they are your opinion's and there is a chance someone else may say otherwise. Some critics can exaggerate their thoughts and make them bigger deals with your writing than they need to be. A specific example of an experience like this I had to deal with was when one guy said this about me:

    Bucky, these aren't nitpicks, these are major problems with his story, and your criticism is right. Don't ask him questions about his writing, just declare these as final problems for him while he writes. If you ask questions, he's just going to keep giving you more nonsensical answers and waste your time.

    And Pika Kong/Funker, my advice to you is READ
    Jerk >

    4. Please don't use personal attacks. Just because someone has made a number of bad works, doesn't make them a bad writer. If someone goes as far to say you suck at writing and should stop altogether, then that likely means one of the following:[*]Ran out of material to use, and resort to attacking you.[*]Again, they are taking things way too seriously and are exaggerating[*]Treating their opinions like facts, with a lack of faith in you and think you'll never be good.

    5. Don't hesitate, be honest. Some people (usually family or friends) might love someone so much, they just don't have the heart to say what they felt was wrong with the work. This might make the other person think their writing is flawless and that they don't need to improve anything, potentially taking them in bad direction.

    For authors:

    1. Not everyone will like your writing, you can't please everyone. So if you come across someone who has little regard for your work, its not the end of the world. Its always better to take opinions from more than one person and go with the majority's thoughts.

    2. Don't treat every critical as equal. As mentioned before, some readers can exaggerate his/her thoughts, take things too seriously, or just be flat out brutes. If someone can say only negative things about you, they aren't worth your time and you should find another person. This doesn't mean you should seek someone who can say only positive things, but don't let someone else steamroll you. The writing is yours. Never, never give other people�s opinions more weight than you do your own. No matter how much you respect someone, you should never give up ownership of your own words and ideas.


    Hell, even the best critics can be wrong every now and then and no opinion is a fact. Even if they are right a weak point, so what? You can still work on that point and improve it overtime. Nothing in writing is impossible to fix, nothing.

    3. Increase your defenses, don't post your story unless you are ready for it to be criticized. First, find someone friendly enough to go soft on you, and then move onto tougher customers once you are ready. When doing the writing, just don't think about the criticism that'll come, clear it out of your head until you finish. To support this..

    4. Remember that your writing isn't you, its just a part of you. If someone dislikes your work, that doesn't mean you are a weak writer, that just means your idea was weak. Anyone who uses personal critique against you isn't worth a lick of attention, as mentioned before.
    5. Remember that (most) critics are trying to help you when they explain their thoughts, they list your story's weak points and they let you know where you should improve. If you just run away and don't read what they said, they essentially typed their paragraphs for nothing, wasting their time. Don't be afraid, make it worth their while.
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  6. #281
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pika Kong View Post
    Although I don't consider myself a great critic or writer, I just gotta say some of this to make some of our jobs easier (or at least easier for me). This is just advice I would give to people:

    For Critics
    1. Try to list the positive things about someone's work before listing the negatives. If you toss a few softballs at someone first, this might make them a lot more comfortable enough to endure the weak points. Most people are sensitive about criticism as it may hurt their ego (including me!) or tear their work to shreds, as if you are proposing plastic surgery on their children.

    2. Say at least one positive thing about the work, even if your review is negative overall. Nothing anyone writes is all bad and its impossible to stay bad forever, have at least some faith they will improve overtime. If your criticism is 100% negative, you are likely being unfair to the writer and/or stemming some of your criticism from bias and your writer might not find you worth their time. There's gotta be at least one positive thing to say about the work, and if you can't find it then you probably won't be of much help to the writer.
    This is so true. I value reviews that have both positive and negative (constructive :3) feedback the most, and judging by the responses I get from other authors this holds true for them, too. You appear friendlier and can have a better relationship with the author. Plus, giving positive feedback sends the message that they have areas that they are strong in. This allows them to concentrate on the areas that they aren't as great in, as opposed to a 100% negative review which sends the message that they need to improve absolutely everywhere which probably isn't true and doesn't provide a useful direction. Also they might just think you're a jerk and ignore you, lol.

    Anyways, I'm sorry if this has been pointed out already, but I was reading through the first post and came across this:

    The Spacebar: Hit it once after every word or comma, twice after a period.
    You should never have to hit space twice after a period unless you're using a typewriter or are otherwise using a monospaced font for some reason (the default on these forums (and probably every forum) is a proportional font). It's old advice and is generally a bad habit passed down from parents/ teachers who learned on a typewriter - don't do it. One space is all you need - the computer will take care of the rest.

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  7. #282
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pika Kong View Post
    Nothing anyone writes is all bad and its impossible to stay bad forever,
    Uh, I'd hate to be contrarian, but could we amend this to say something along the lines of, "Nothing anyone writes here, in threads that actually stay open is all bad"? Because there's this thing called fetish fic, where everything's made up, and the points quality doesn't matter. And by that, I mean when you write fic that involves Hitler, cat-people, and sex, there's only one way that's gonna go. (Yes, that exists.) Likewise, if you post a one-page vore fic involving Dawn, an Arbok, and a steadfast resolution to not read the rules, there's only one way that's gonna go too. (Yes, that existed. On here, iirc. And if I also recall correctly, Psychic was most overjoyed to see it. Either that, or that was PC. Either way, I am so glad I'm not a mod.)

    Point is, let me rephrase my thought-train for a sec here. Sure, you shouldn’t leave a 100% negative review, but the reason why you shouldn’t do it is less because the author won’t like it and more because a 100% negative review means you found absolutely no redeeming qualities in that fic whatsoever. Like, you don’t even think that the author has heart and could potentially be better. You just hated the bejesus out of that fic.

    So why should you not leave a review like that? Because most likely, you’re here for funsies. Why, certainly, you can rant about fics in your own creative space (like a blog off site), but that’s not part of the author-reviewer interaction. When you sit down to review, you’re speaking directly to the author. So you need to make a judgment call there.

    The judgment call is simple. You need to decide whether or not it’s worth it, period. Look at it this way. If a fic really is that bad (like, rule-breaky bad), there’s no question about it. You report those shenanigans to a mod and wash your hands clean of it. That goes for pretty much all communities out there except for maybe FFNet, and that’s only because FFNet’s staff really doesn’t give a Grimer’s backside what goes on on their site so long as you’re not writing the kind of smut that would make Nabokov blush. And sometimes, they don’t even care then.

    But if a fic is not obviously rule-breaky bad but has a lot of issues, you need to sit down and think about how much time you’re willing to spend with that author. It takes a lot more time and effort to write a review that points out every grammatical error in a fic, and for the most part, that’s what a beta reader is for anyway. It’s much easier to write up a summary, pull a few examples from the fic, and maybe link to a few guides. For example, does the author have a lot of problems with commas? Quote a few instances of comma issues, explain a few comma rules, and link to a guide to commas. Bam. Done. You don’t need to point out every instance of a misused or missing comma, especially if you find that doing so would force you to repeat yourself. By taking this shortcut, not only are you saving yourself a lot of grief, but you’re also trimming a lot of fat from your review and making yourself seem a lot less intimidating.

    You know what would be even better? Not reviewing fics you hate. Like, for real, if you absolutely cannot stand any part of a fic and find absolutely no redeeming qualities whatsoever, chances are good that you should probably hit the back button. The only time I would advocate not doing that, honestly, is if it’s a serious problem. Like if it’s a fic that deals with pretty sensitive stuff rather insensitively and without warning tags. But even then, I would only probably give the author a heads up and be on my merry way. Point is, if you’re going to be overly stressed out about a fic, don’t finish reading the fic. This might be the entire “don’t like, don’t read” thing people gripe about, but basically … yeah. Fics should not be so stressful to you that you would feel the need to leave a 100% negative review.

    Again, though, a 99% negative review, one where you say, “This fic … wasn’t exactly the best, but I can tell that you have your heart in it, so just improve these things, and you’ll be on your way”? Is pretty much fine. And the difference is that you’re trying to help someone. You see some promise in the author, and you focus on pointing out the weak areas so that the promise can have a better chance of flourishing into something else. Labeling that constructive criticism or praise tends to be more of a tough call because you're technically not really saying that you thought the heart of it was positive, even though it is. If possible, though, try to spin it that way. As you, Pika Kong, said, everyone who's trying can get better. So if you don't like the characters, see if you can say, "The characterization seems pretty weak because of [insert reason here], BUT you spend a lot of time focusing on them. It's clear that you really care about what happens to them. You just need to start thinking about how people would logically react in these kinds of situations, and you'll be golden." Technically, that's still concrit (especially if you go into deep detail about what concerning the characterization put you off and why you thought it was Uncanny Valley in text form), but phrasing it like that, where you play off crit by also talking about where you see potential or opportunities, allows them to think about other possibilities for where to take their writing. You're basically telling them, "Y'know, I'm not saying you're bad. I'm saying this could've been cooler if you did this and kept this in mind too."

    And I say all of this because it’s so very easy for fic authors to focus a lot on what critics should and shouldn’t do, and to be honest, that kind of guide makes me feel slightly uncomfortable because of the way it’s written. Whenever the discussion of what reviewers should do comes up, it seems like there's a lot of focus on, "don't be a jerk," but the thing is, not that many reviewers set out to be jerks. Not on here, anyway. On FFNet, yeah, sure, that's definitely a problem (because a lot of reviewers are new, and it's harder to get rid of a signed review), but here—and on all other forums—there's more of a focus on communicating with the author. When we sit down to review, we're not saying, "Let's make the author feel bad by ripping apart their work." We're saying, "Oh, I can help this person improve." By telling critics to add in positives and stop being so negative, you're kinda saying you think critics are apt to bully authors, and that just doesn't happen outside of FFNet. That and, well, sometimes, a reviewer just straight-up can't find that many positive points (or positive points at all) to talk about. That happens sometimes, just as sometimes, reviewers can come across a fic where there's not really anything negative to talk about. But ultimately, I don’t think folks are really out to be jerks on Serebii, which is what a guide that focuses only on how much authors prefer positive reviews seems to imply. I mean, sure, that's true, but just talking from that perspective doesn't really get into why reviewers find it so easy to leave negative reviews in the first place. In other words, speaking only from the writer's perspective ignores the critic's perspective, which is to say it's really important to understand the fact that, sometimes, negative reviews happen for a very specific reason. (That reason usually being "because the critics got frustrated," but hey.)

    In short, it's totally okay to leave a lot more concrit than constructive praise; it's just that you, as a critic, need to make the judgment call concerning whether or not it's worth it and whether or not you're doing it for the right reasons. But for the most part, a lot of critics on Serebii have the right reasons part down just fine. It's really just the “is it worth spending a huge amount of time and effort pointing out everything instead of summarizing or skipping the fic entirely and finding something we do want to read” part that some of us struggle with.

    Hope that made sense and wasn't too repetitive!
    Last edited by JX Valentine; 10th July 2014 at 5:01 AM.

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  8. #283
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    While all of that is true to a degree, I think you went a little overboard...

    Sure, you shouldn’t leave a 100% negative review, but the reason why you shouldn’t do it is less because the author won’t like it and more because a 100% negative review means you found absolutely no redeeming qualities in that fic whatsoever. Like, you don’t even think that the author has heart and could potentially be better. You just hated the bejesus out of that fic.
    You know what would be even better? Not reviewing fics you hate. Like, for real, if you absolutely cannot stand any part of a fic and find absolutely no redeeming qualities whatsoever, chances are good that you should probably hit the back button. The only time I would advocate not doing that, honestly, is if it’s a serious problem. Like if it’s a fic that deals with pretty sensitive stuff rather insensitively and without warning tags. But even then, I would only probably give the author a heads up and be on my merry way. Point is, if you’re going to be overly stressed out about a fic, don’t finish reading the fic. This might be the entire “don’t like, don’t read” thing people gripe about, but basically … yeah. Fics should not be so stressful to you that you would feel the need to leave a 100% negative review.
    Again, though, a 99% negative review, one where you say, “This fic … wasn’t exactly the best, but I can tell that you have your heart in it, so just improve these things, and you’ll be on your way”? Is pretty much fine. And the difference is that you’re trying to help someone. You see some promise in the author, and you focus on pointing out the weak areas so that the promise can have a better chance of flourishing into something else. Labeling that constructive criticism or praise tends to be more of a tough call because you're technically not really saying that you thought the heart of it was positive, even though it is. If possible, though, try to spin it that way. As you, Pika Kong, said, everyone who's trying can get better. So if you don't like the characters, see if you can say, "The characterization seems pretty weak because of [insert reason here], BUT you spend a lot of time focusing on them. It's clear that you really care about what happens to them. You just need to start thinking about how people would logically react in these kinds of situations, and you'll be golden." Technically, that's still concrit (especially if you go into deep detail about what concerning the characterization put you off and why you thought it was Uncanny Valley in text form), but phrasing it like that, where you play off crit by also talking about where you see potential or opportunities, allows them to think about other possibilities for where to take their writing. You're basically telling them, "Y'know, I'm not saying you're bad. I'm saying this could've been cooler if you did this and kept this in mind too."
    Yeah that's what I'm saying.

    On FFNet, yeah, sure, that's definitely a problem (because a lot of reviewers are new, and it's harder to get rid of a signed review), but here—and on all other forums—there's more of a focus on communicating with the author. When we sit down to review, we're not saying, "Let's make the author feel bad by ripping apart their work." We're saying, "Oh, I can help this person improve." By telling critics to add in positives and stop being so negative, you're kinda saying you think critics are apt to bully authors, and that just doesn't happen outside of FFNet. That and, well, sometimes, a reviewer just straight-up can't find that many positive points (or positive points at all) to talk about. That happens sometimes, just as sometimes, reviewers can come across a fic where there's not really anything negative to talk about. But ultimately, I don’t think folks are really out to be jerks on Serebii, which is what a guide that focuses only on how much authors prefer positive reviews seems to imply. I mean, sure, that's true, but just talking from that perspective doesn't really get into why reviewers find it so easy to leave negative reviews in the first place. In other words, speaking only from the writer's perspective ignores the critic's perspective, which is to say it's really important to understand the fact that, sometimes, negative reviews happen for a very specific reason. (That reason usually being "because the critics got frustrated," but hey.)
    Yeah I know that, but my post applied to writing in all websites, not just Serebii. Something like this has happened to me on another site before, and I just wanna make sure it doesn't happen again, to anyone.
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  9. #284
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pika Kong View Post
    Yeah that's what I'm saying.
    I'd hate to tell you what you're saying and all, but ... it is and it isn't. You're writing from an author's perspective, not a reviewer's. As such, your message is literally "don't be a jerk." (That is literally the point behind your entire bit about saying positive things in your reviews.) However, the point of my message is that reviewers (the ones who pretty much matter) don't set out to be jerks pretty much anywhere but FFNet and that, from a critic's perspective, there's a different thought process involved. You can't just tell reviewers "don't be a jerk" because they're not thinking that they're going to be jerks, and in any case, what you're doing is inadvertently encouraging authors to automatically take up a defensive stance. As in, by offering up this kind of advice to reviewers (especially first), you're saying that reviewers already have a tendency to do this, so authors need to be on the lookout for reviewers who offer up any concrit.

    What I'm saying is that not all reviews will tell you, "Oh, you were so good at this point and this point." Some of them will say, "You have a lot of weak points, but I know you will get better." But the fact that there isn't praise in the second kind of review doesn't invalidate what it is. If you leave a review like this, what you're saying is that you still enjoyed a story on some level, but what you enjoyed was the fact that the author had potential, not exactly the content of the story itself. And yes, you said a variation of that as well, but to say that there has to be praise at the beginning is vague and implies that just telling an author that you liked the concept or thought they had potential or whatnot in addition to offering concrit isn't enough and isn't leaving a valid review.

    What it boils down to is the idea that what you wrote, bluntly put, isn't a guide for reviewers. It's a guide for how writers should look at reviewers, and I know that wasn't intentional on your part. So my post, while lengthy, is meant to turn yours into a guide for reviewers by spinning it in a way that doesn't have that unfortunate implied message. It's meant to be from a reviewer's perspective by addressing why they do what they do, rather than discouraging them and encouraging writers to create a litmus test to determine whether or not they should listen to their reviewers.

    In short, you were unintentionally telling writers to blow off reviewers if the reviews they get aren't up to standard. I'm not disagreeing with your literal message. I'm telling reviewers the same message at an angle that doesn't encourage authors to blow them off.

    And I'm saying this because I've seen quite a few authors blow off great advice just because it was too negative for them, even if the review was written in an encouraging manner and brought up how the reviewer liked the concept or saw potential in different aspects. It's a thought process that really is annoying (if no one minds me being super-blunt), but it happens pretty much everywhere you find young authors. And as you might imagine, it makes things super awkward for both sides.

    Yeah I know that, but my post applied to writing in all websites, not just Serebii.
    Honestly ... so did mine. Again, you pretty much find folks who want to use reviews to make others feel bad on FFNet and outside of the fandom. And even outside the fandom, it's not necessarily a prevalent thing. A lot of fandoms heavily emphasize that you must offer more praise than concrit, and some fandom cultures even go as far as to say that you should never give concrit at all unless the author asks for it. So in those cases, for the most part, you never see the thing you're describing, just because it's already been stamped out by the culture. Otherwise, a different thought process exists for those inside the Pokémon fandom because a lot of Pokémon fic communities highly value concrit but still don't put up with flaming.

    The problem with focusing on the author's perspective instead of the reviewer's perspective when it comes to offering advice for reviewers is that you're (general you there, not specifically you) not really sitting down and examining the way reviewers act. As such, you end up ignoring their feelings, their reasons for doing things, and their general culture. To give this kind of advice to a community where this thought process just doesn't exist is pretty much preaching to the choir. No one thinks like that, and it's a foreign concept to do that (or, in Serebii's case, already a given that you don't do that).

    In other words, while you've got the best intentions by setting out and writing up your advice, Pika, the best thing to do before offering up advice is understanding who your audience is. General tips on writing are always useful because everyone here is of varying skillsets, but the reviewing community learns from each other and maintains a level of etiquette that's pretty uniform. If someone's being a jerk, we're very quick to correct that, but it happens so, so very rarely because it's very rarely worth our time to do so (and because that's wandering into cyberbullying territory, which is its own thing). And that's true for pretty much all of the other Pokémon writing communities, bar FFNet.
    Last edited by JX Valentine; 12th July 2014 at 2:28 PM.

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    Yes this stuff is true, but you are wrong on one point:
    You're writing from an author's perspective, not a reviewer's. As such, your message is literally "don't be a jerk." (That is literally the point behind your entire bit about saying positive things in your reviews.) However, the point of my message is that reviewers (the ones who pretty much matter) don't set out to be jerks pretty much anywhere but FFNet and that, from a critic's perspective, there's a different thought process involved. You can't just tell reviewers "don't be a jerk" because they're not thinking that they're going to be jerks, and in any case, what you're doing is inadvertently encouraging authors to automatically take up a defensive stance. As in, by offering up this kind of advice to reviewers (especially first), you're saying that reviewers already have a tendency to do this, so authors need to be on the lookout for reviewers who offer up any concrit.
    While it is true that not every critic tries to be rude when reviewing someone else's work, that doesn't change that at least a small portion will act like it regardless. Face it, no matter where you go in life there's always going to be at least one dickwad, and a place without one is extremely unlikely. It is impossible to please absolutely everyone, some people just won't be impressed with your work, and some of them might not be very nice. Just because some critics do not try to be nasty doesn't automatically mean they aren't. People who do not try to be mean can still be prone to it, even it was by accident. I have been a situation like this with a guy on Skullheart ( a forum for this game called Skullgirls). He said that my work didn't seem to fit in at all with the universe I created it for and it just seems that I created that it out of nowhere and just slapped it on that universe, also citing a couple of other problems he had with it that made no sense. He finally said to me:

    I'm sorry that I can provide nothing but destructive criticism to your work, and for that reason you are better off listening to someone like Bucky than to me. But I am still going to give your story a 4/10. Now it could be lower, but I know that if you do that you're going to get pissed.
    He did not say that he saw any potential in me (doesn't seem like it either), didn't offer me any advice on how to improve (or at least not in a nice manner), and didn't give me any chance to try and later improve. The only thing even remotely positive that he said was "I guess it would be an OK story if it was standalone". I get that he wasn't necessarily trying to be a jerk and I admit that some of his criticism did make sense, but I was getting kinda mad anyway. I would've forgiven him, but afterwards he said something that really pissed me off and to me was 2x worse than the review itself.

    Bucky, these aren't nitpicks, these are major problems with his story, and your criticism is right. Don't ask him questions about his writing, just declare these as final problems for him while he writes. If you ask questions, he's just going to keep giving you more nonsensical answers and waste your time.

    And Pika Kong/Funker, my advice to you is READ
    One of the worst posts I have ever read on the internet. Sure I might be overracting over this example, but that guy I quoted still gives me a bad vibe and I prefer to steer clear of people like him. Even if he didn't necessarily say that I am a crappy author (actually he DID say that, though it was after I made a childish insult towards him), he's sure as hell expressing it and treating me that way. He even went as far to make a TIER LIST (if you know what that is) for fan characters in that thread, of course giving my stuff a low rating. Imo, that's the most unnecessary thing to ever bring into a fan fiction zone and its only going to make some people feel bad about what they wrote or piss em off by comparing them to someone else's work. A Simple Top 10 or Top 5 favorite, That would've been cool. But a Tier List including bad works? That is way too broad, and I think anyone who does that takes their opinions very seriously, too seriously. I really cannot stand that guy and decided to leave the thread after that just to avoid him, but not without one last insulting goodbye, which was again saying a childishly embarrassing thing that wasn't what I meant to say. I'm too embarrassed to set foot in there again after what I said, it'd be really humiliating to back in there by myself.

    I could go on, but I think I've said more than enough about this personal baggage and I've gone too far off topic. My final word about that will be this: That guy admitted that he never was a great writer, isn't now, and never will be. But for someone who doesn't think so highly of himself as a writer, he seems have little trouble treating underdogs like me as an amateur and I personally found that he takes his own opinions WAY too seriously and it doesn't seem easy for him to accept when someone disagrees with him, to the point of treating his opinions as if they were facts. The point is, some people might not necessarily try to be nasty, but still might act like it on accident or cause the author to think that way. And doing so could give you a bad relationship with the author and make them ignore you or feel too bad to continue writing, and not everyone will say they like your potential. If someone does give a 100% negative review without acknowledging potential, that person is likely exaggerating his opinions, being biased, or just being unfair. Maybe some of what they said might be reasonable, but I still don't think its a good idea to treat every critic as equal.

    The problem with focusing on the author's perspective instead of the reviewer's perspective when it comes to offering advice for reviewers is that you're (general you there, not specifically you) not really sitting down and examining the way reviewers act. As such, you end up ignoring their feelings, their reasons for doing things, and their general culture. To give this kind of advice to a community where this thought process just doesn't exist is pretty much preaching to the choir. No one thinks like that, and it's a foreign concept to do that (or, in Serebii's case, already a given that you don't do that).
    You could say the same thing about vice versa too ya know, happens on both sides from my experience. It can also happen between reviewers and other reviewers.

    Point being, I know that only the minority of people might be nice when critiquing, but there's no stopping the ones who aren't from showing up every now and then. I even admitted that its impossible to please everyone and there will always be at least one or two people are unimpressed with your ideas, whether they are nice or not. I also admitted that an author shouldn't hesitate to say anything negative if they find one (so long as its reasonable and constructive), and that a writer shouldn't post a story until he/she is ready for it to be criticized. Surely writing can't be perfect, but it can't be completely awful either (and for the record, I was purely referring to quality and not appropriate content just so you know).

    Honestly, I myself am scared of criticism and am prone to running away from it when I know I shouldn't, and in a major part because of that guy I was repeatedly talking about (sorry, I just had to get it out of my system) . I'm one of those guys who gets sensitive about his work torn to shreds, like someone was cutting my child into pieces with a knife. And unfortunately, I can feel my child's pain too and I still don't have a skin thick enough to deal with complete tear-ups. So I'd love to have at least one positive thing noted when someone reviews my work (preferably before the negatives, we'd get along better that way), and someone that admits at least I am trying even if the story itself sucks.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pika Kong View Post
    Yes this stuff is true, but you are wrong on one point:

    While it is true that not every critic tries to be rude when reviewing someone else's work, that doesn't change that at least a small portion will act like it regardless.
    Pika, I'm sorry, but it seems like a lot of your arguments stem from the fact that there's a bit of a misunderstanding here. I wasn't saying that there aren't jerks who will try to make people feel bad when they critique. (It's the internet, after all.) I said that they were a minority and that normally, a community is set up to discourage that in the first place. The actual majority does not set out to act like that in many communities, and if it happens, it's stamped out by the community culture (either by a mod swooping in or other reviewers smacking the jerk around) fairly quickly. I mean, literally, there is a rule about that in most communities. That's also why it doesn't happen. You are literally not allowed to be a jerk when it comes to reviewing. There are, of course, exceptions (example: Serebii used to be full of jerk reviewers because that used to be the culture back then—same thing with Pokécommunity—all because there were big-name fans who were jerk reviewers), but culture changes. It's up to anyone who writes a guide to take a hard look at the culture before giving advice because it makes exactly zero sense to tell people not to do what they already don't do or discourage by nature. (As I've said, if you flame someone on Serebii, you typically end up getting reported or snapped at by other reviewers.) And right now, the mindset of "let's make other authors feel bad by leaving them scathing reviews" just doesn't exist in the aforementioned places. Some writers think that mindset exists, but those are the more sensitive authors who believe any negativity whatsoever is a personal attack or an attack on their stories.

    But to address that minority of reviewer makes it seem like they're the majority, and as a result, it stops short of understanding the actual reviewing mindset. In other words, it almost insults reviewers because you end up saying that even if they mean well, their reviews are invalid unless they give you praise. And from what I can tell with this:

    Just because some critics do not try to be nasty doesn't automatically mean they aren't. People who do not try to be mean can still be prone to it, even it was by accident.
    ... That seems to be what you're implying as of this latest post.

    What I mean is that there's this mindset among writers (that I was talking about earlier), and it's a mindset that really gets in the way of communications between authors and reviewers. Sometimes, you have writers who are very, very resistant to advice, and they refuse to listen to any negative review whatsoever, even if it's worded politely and comes with a few notes of positivity. This is because the author in question has it in their heads that they don't need to change and that their writing is already super-awesome. As a result, if they get a review that doesn't say they're awesome on one level or another, they flip out. That happens at least once every couple of months here, whereas jerk reviewers happen maybe once in a blue moon ever since certain parties have stopped reviewing in certain communities. (And keep in mind that nowadays, jerk reviewers are usually told off by other reviewers or the mods. Jerk authors might get told off by a few reviewers, but there's generally nothing that folks can do if the author just flounces off their story/a community unless they explicitly break the rules, and jerk authors tend to stick to complaining that no one likes their story, rather than outright insult their audiences. So it's usually a lot easier to discourage jerk reviewers, not only because reviewers stick around but also because it's easier to interpret an insulting review as flaming—which, again, is typically against the rules anyway in most communities.)

    So basically, what I'm saying is that, yeah, we agree fundamentally that reviewers need to focus on trying to help people instead of putting them down, but the problem is that your original review was encouraging the above type of writers and discouraging actual reviewers, whereas I was trying to write a reviewing guide that simply told reviewers how to avoid situations where they felt like being a jerk because it's not worth the stress on their end. Yet if you forgive me from saying this, what I'm really getting a sense of in your latest post is that you believe even polite reviewers are jerks unless they give people praise—a contradiction of your original point. I really hope that's not what you're slowly creeping towards because if so, that's a very, very dangerous mindset to have.

    And yes, of course, it's important to acknowledge the population that tackles stories like that, but it's not okay to address them as if they're the majority in every community or to imply that the reviewers who are polite but feel the need to leave negative reviews (because they want to help authors improve) are just as bad. You (again, general you, not specifically you, Pika Kong) need to understand the difference between those two types of reviewers, and you need to be careful and look at the community you're posting in to see what type is most prevalent in the community. You don't want to say "don't leave a scathing, negative review because that makes you a jerk" in a community where that's already discouraged by default because the people who read that won't think of that as a tip for someone who doesn't review the way they do. They'll think you're talking about them, even if they're polite reviewers. So again, yes, before you write a guide, it's generally a good idea to think about why people do the things they do and to take a long, hard look at the community you're addressing. If you had offered advice to reviewers in general, beyond that small niche of new reviewers who don't understand why folks review in the first place, it'd be okay to have a point that said, "By the way, don't be a jerk because that's cyberbullying." But the thing is, that's the only advice you had to offer, and you made no note of the fact that you wanted to talk about cyberbullying, rather than reviewing in general. (Yes, you probably set out to address reviewing in general, but you wound up talking about a very specific phenomenon.) In other words, if you don't mind a metaphor here, you're doing the equivalent of setting out to talk about how teenagers can socialize at a party, but you wound up writing a "don't do crystal meth at a party" post.

    With that said, you're still writing from an author's perspective, rather than a reviewer's, and as such, you're still not addressing the reviewer's mindset. Which is what my other point was.

    So, yeah. I'm sorry that you were bullied by a dude on another forum, but I don't think we're on the same page here. As such, I think it'll be rather difficult for us to discuss things until we are.
    Last edited by JX Valentine; 14th July 2014 at 2:53 AM.

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    Honestly, I myself am scared of criticism and am prone to running away from it when I know I shouldn't, and in a major part because of that guy I was repeatedly talking about (sorry, I just had to get it out of my system) . I'm one of those guys who gets sensitive about his work torn to shreds, like someone was cutting my child into pieces with a knife. And unfortunately, I can feel my child's pain too and I still don't have a skin thick enough to deal with complete tear-ups. So I'd love to have at least one positive thing noted when someone reviews my work (preferably before the negatives, we'd get along better that way), and someone that admits at least I am trying even if the story itself sucks.
    To be honest, I felt the exact same way about my own fanfiction. Don't get me wrong, I like when people comment to my fics, but I want to know that I at least did something right, you know. I totally understand.
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    Just because I have...quite a few problems with the advice you're trying to give, Pika, I'd like to put in my own two cents as well.


    Quote Originally Posted by Pika Kong View Post

    For Critics
    1. Try to list the positive things about someone's work before listing the negatives. If you toss a few softballs at someone first, this might make them a lot more comfortable enough to endure the weak points. Most people are sensitive about criticism as it may hurt their ego (including me!) or tear their work to shreds, as if you are proposing plastic surgery on their children.
    So, let me get this straight. They way I'm reading this, you're basically saying "Sugarcoat the truth so that it doesn't hurt so much". Clearly, you haven't reviewed anyone else's story before, because this is the ABSOLUTE WORST thing you can do in a review. Like Jax said, if you can't find anything redeeming in a fic, don't review at all. But even in a story that has more flaws then strengths, overblowing the strengths and then tacking the weaknessess on at the end like a footnote really sends the wrong message to the author. They'll focus only on those strengths, and be left with all the weaknesses, and then the story rots. So what if your review ends up 90 percent criticism? How do you think people get better? Now, I'm not saying it's okay to be a troll and accentuate the negative, but overblowing the positive isn't helpful either. That's why a good, honest review actually takes time and consideration to write, and why I admire those who can write long, well-thought-out reviews like that.
    '
    Quote Originally Posted by Pika Kong View Post
    2. Say at least one positive thing about the work, even if your review is negative overall. Nothing anyone writes is all bad and its impossible to stay bad forever, have at least some faith they will improve overtime. If your criticism is 100% negative, you are likely being unfair to the writer and/or stemming some of your criticism from bias and your writer might not find you worth their time. There's gotta be at least one positive thing to say about the work, and if you can't find it then you probably won't be of much help to the writer.
    You make this sound like it's a criteria that NEEDS to be met. No. Just. No. Also, this sounds like a personal tract, and really undermines your whole "Don't take yourself too seriously" "rule" below. This thread is about giving advice to other authors, not whining about your personal experiences. Anecdotes are fine to help get your point across, but just because one bad thing happened to you doesn't mean you should post this rule out there like it's law.

    As Jax said and I reiterate: if you don't find anything redeeming in a story, there's not much point in reviewing at all.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pika Kong View Post
    3. Don't take your own opinions too seriously. Remember that criticism is just one's opinion, not like a fact or anything. If another critic has an opinion different from yours, don't nag them for it. When critiquing a writer, just remember that they are your opinion's and there is a chance someone else may say otherwise. Some critics can exaggerate their thoughts and make them bigger deals with your writing than they need to be. A specific example of an experience like this I had to deal with was when one guy said this about me:
    Not all reviews are "opinion". Grammatical flaws, spelling errors, and plot holes, to name a few, are NEVER the result of a reviewer's opinion. If a reviewer spots them, their presence is not "opinion". When you are called out on these, it isfact, and it needs to be fixed. Also, again this is sounding more and more like a whiny author tract about how you got bullied and how we all need to be different just because you took what one jerk said to heart.

    Also, I really don't like how you're calling out this guy in a public post anyhow, different forum or not. Doing that isn't cool in any way, shape, or form, and definitely isn't convincing me that you are a mature author trying to constructively help others.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pika Kong View Post
    4. Please don't use personal attacks. Just because someone has made a number of bad works, doesn't make them a bad writer. If someone goes as far to say you suck at writing and should stop altogether, then that likely means one of the following:[*]Ran out of material to use, and resort to attacking you.[*]Again, they are taking things way too seriously and are exaggerating[*]Treating their opinions like facts, with a lack of faith in you and think you'll never be good.
    If someone is personally attacking you, then they are flaming and you should report them. That is not tolerated on this forum, and many other authors are mature enough to utilize that system, not to mention the mods here are good and actually do their jobs. Thus, this "tip" is pointless.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pika Kong View Post
    5. Don't hesitate, be honest. Some people (usually family or friends) might love someone so much, they just don't have the heart to say what they felt was wrong with the work. This might make the other person think their writing is flawless and that they don't need to improve anything, potentially taking them in bad direction.
    That's right kids, be honest! After you sugarcoat the crap out of your review, pander to the author by trying to force in a haphazard positive comment in a review that is otherwise trying to help, and then say that all those spelling and grammar errors (not to mention gaping plot holes) are all just your opinion and that the author shouldn't take what you're saying too seriously!

    Quote Originally Posted by Pika Kong View Post
    For authors:

    1. Not everyone will like your writing, you can't please everyone. So if you come across someone who has little regard for your work, its not the end of the world. Its always better to take opinions from more than one person and go with the majority's thoughts.
    If the reviewer was mature, they would have hit the back button if they didn't like what they were reading. If the reviewer was trying to be constructive, they will leave you a review that gives you the blunt and honest truth. If you don't like that, tough. Taking criticism is part of what being a writer is about, and you're not going to get far if you don't take anything that's not mindless praise.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pika Kong View Post
    2. Don't treat every critical as equal. As mentioned before, some readers can exaggerate his/her thoughts, take things too seriously, or just be flat out brutes. If someone can say only negative things about you, they aren't worth your time and you should find another person. This doesn't mean you should seek someone who can say only positive things, but don't let someone else steamroll you. The writing is yours. Never, never give other people�s opinions more weight than you do your own. No matter how much you respect someone, you should never give up ownership of your own words and ideas. Hell, even the best critics can be wrong every now and then and no opinion is a fact. Even if they are right a weak point, so what? You can still work on that point and improve it overtime. Nothing in writing is impossible to fix, nothing.
    This was the most self-serving thing I've ever read. Also, this also proves that you're overreacting to criticism and that tells me that you want sheep reading your story. You know, the kind whose reviews entail only "That was great! Can't wait to read more!". Because I can leave a review like that on a story I haven't even read.

    Also, you told reviewers not to take themselves too seriously, and then you turn around and tell authors the exact opposite. Just. Wow, man.


    Quote Originally Posted by Pika Kong View Post
    3. Increase your defenses, don't post your story unless you are ready for it to be criticized. First, find someone friendly enough to go soft on you, and then move onto tougher customers once you are ready. When doing the writing, just don't think about the criticism that'll come, clear it out of your head until you finish.
    If someone was your friend, they should be interested in helping you improve. Like I said above, sugarcoating is the absolute WORST thing someone can do in a review. What you should be doing is actually encouraging your friends to put away their bias and review your story as if they didn't know you. If your friends aren't willing to do that, then you need to find someone else to be your first customer.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pika Kong View Post
    4. Remember that your writing isn't you, its just a part of you. If someone dislikes your work, that doesn't mean you are a weak writer, that just means your idea was weak. Anyone who uses personal critique against you isn't worth a lick of attention, as mentioned before.
    No, a negative critique IS a judge of a weak writer. That's why its purpose is to help you improve. This just makes absolutely no sense to me, but considering you compared to having your fic critically torn apart to watching a child get hacked up with a knife, this just further cements the idea that you are thinking WAAAAAAAAY too highly of yourself and that you are DEFINITELY not open to real criticism. While yes, writers do get attached to their fics, that comparison is quite overboard.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pika Kong View Post
    5. Remember that (most) critics are trying to help you when they explain their thoughts, they list your story's weak points and they let you know where you should improve. If you just run away and don't read what they said, they essentially typed their paragraphs for nothing, wasting their time. Don't be afraid, make it worth their while.
    Again, you completely undermine EVERYTHING YOU SAID with a tip that basically says "Ignore Points 1-4". So basically, you spent all that time writing for nothing.

    Look, I'm sorry too that you got bullied. But did you even follow any of your advice, as poorly thought-out as it was? Because it doesn't seem to me like you did. The fanfiction section of Serebii has explicit rules that are supposed to prevent the kind of "negative" and "personal" comments that you're talking about, everything else is just regular constructive criticism that if you want to improve at all, you're going to have to learn to take in stride here if you want to succeed. So what if you have to rewrite? So what if your first run isn't good? That's what critique is there for. It's supposed to help you improve, not make friends.
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    Dang Ginger, feeling saucy today?

    I suppose I'll hop into the flames myself, though I wont quote anyone directly.

    So, if any of you have stopped by my Author's Profile (which none of you probably have, because why would you?), at the bottom I note that it is imperative to take all criticism - positive or negative - seriously, and to use both of them even-handedly. Because positive/negative criticism doesn't contrast like constructive/deconstructive criticism does. As a reviewer, you should try to keep within the bounds of constructive criticism, but negative criticism is a useful part in that as well. Arguably more useful than positive to me (but its true that you shouldn't leave that by the wayside either). A 100% negative, constructive review does more good than a 100% positive, constructive review does, but I like the range of 75/25 - 80/20 negative/positive ratios. Also, good, constructive reviews can still make you feel bad - just ask Jax and Knightfall, and they'll tell you exactly how easily that can happen - but that doesn't mean you should toss them out. Because you can toss any review out like that.

    As Jax said parenthetically above, this is the Internet. I understand some people can't take insults or harsh criticism, and it's true that a respectable person shouldnt dish out flame. But honestly, a respectable person should also be able to take the cruelest of flame and not bat an eye. If you can't take even the mildest insults (I sometimes find people who can't even tolerate words like 'damn' or 'hell', though those are extreme examples), then maybe the internet culture isn't for you. That sounds terrible, but even real life is deeply entrenched in a**holes and unfortunate events alike... and people with thin skin can't last that long in that kind of environment. If you post creative works, opinions, and the like, you expose a part of yourself, and you have to deal with any unfortunate consequences that arises from that. Thus is life.
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    Also! Not that it matters, but ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Pika Kong View Post
    (and for the record, I was purely referring to quality and not appropriate content just so you know).
    So was I. You've probably never had the pleasure of reading fetish fic before, but I have (and to avoid crossing the line in terms of discussion, not all of it was willingly thanks to fascinating people in this fandom finding this forum). Basically, it's exactly what I said it was. Everything's made up, and the quality doesn't matter. As in, when you have a fetish fic, basically everything you can consider a basic to writing is thrown out the window in favor of emphasizing whatever fetish you have in mind. For example, if you have a vore fic (as was mentioned earlier), the writer is so busy focusing on describing one character eating another that even basic sentence structure gets dropped in favor of that. It's not a pretty sight, but that's not really the point, if you get my drift. (Of course, there might be some good fetish fic out there. I don't want to generalize, of course. It's just that there are a lot that ... really aren't that good. For reasons.)

    Now, yeah, I know that this probably isn't the best place to talk about that, but my point is that, actually, yes, you can write a fic in which there's absolutely no redeeming qualities to speak of from an objective standpoint. That's because in a lot of cases, certain types of writers focus completely on writing for themselves, rather than writing for an audience. As a result, they end up creating a thing that's only pleasurable for them, rather than something that can be enjoyed by the people reading it. I don't know if you would still consider that as being not all that bad, but the problem is that, as I've said earlier, when you cross the line from writing for yourself to writing for the sake of posting on a forum, you do have to keep an audience in mind. After all, why else would you want to share your story besides with the hope that people other than you enjoy it, you know? So that's why critique really is important and why sometimes, concrit is an extremely valuable resource that you shouldn't close yourself off to.

    Of course, a lot of this knowledge comes from experience. (Why, yes, Bru and Ginger, I did read your VMs. ) I'm not trying to patronize you or anything. I'm simply saying that the more you read and the more you browse around communities, the more you learn about the writing, fanfiction, reviewing, and the whole shebang otherwise. The writer-reviewer relationship tends to be a complicated beast, but putting it another way, when a reviewer gives you critique, they're actually speaking from experience. As Baz Lurhmann once said, "Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts, and recycling it for more than it's worth." In practice, all that means is that if a reviewer tells you, "Hey, you know, you probably shouldn't do this thing," chances are, they're saying it because they found out why you shouldn't do the thing.

    And I say this not for the reason that Bru and Ginger brought up in private but more as a means of saying, "If you're going to decide which advice you should listen to, at least think about it with the knowledge that your reviewers apparently tried that thing or saw that thing in action, and if they're warning you about it, it most likely did not end prettily."
    Last edited by JX Valentine; 15th July 2014 at 3:59 AM.

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    Very good advice. Of course it depends on the interpretation of the pokemon world what can happen and what cannot happen.
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    I have a question that's been bugging me for a while. If you're introducing a character and they're a minority race or ethnicity, then how would you add that in their description without being racist? For example, if you're introducing an Asian character, would you just say "an Asian man/woman with blah blah..." or would you go more in depth and mention eyes and skin tone? Sorry if I'm coming across as ignorant btw.

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    Quote Originally Posted by flamebeam View Post
    I have a question that's been bugging me for a while. If you're introducing a character and they're a minority race or ethnicity, then how would you add that in their description without being racist? For example, if you're introducing an Asian character, would you just say "an Asian man/woman with blah blah..." or would you go more in depth and mention eyes and skin tone? Sorry if I'm coming across as ignorant btw.
    Not sure if you've already found an answer for this somewhere else, but just in case:

    It's not racist or otherwise bad to just say "Asian" or "black" or what have you, and sometimes just being blunt is the best way to get the point across. (Possibly worth noting that you may want to be more specific than a term like "Asian" if you can, though, because that one word can describe a lot of people from a lot of places!) It's not racist to describe minority characters, either. It just depends on what's right for the part of the story you're writing, its tone, etc.. For example, if you're writing a fast-paced scene and your character only catches a brief glimpse of a person before they move out of sight, it'd make more sense to say "the black woman" than it would to go into detail, because your character hasn't had any time to register any specifics and describing the exact shade of brown might slow your pace down. Conversely, if your character is being formally introduced to this black woman and might otherwise be noticing details like her clothes or what have you, you could choose to be more descriptive about her race, too. (Obviously you don't want to go over-the-top with this description and start waxing purple and flowery; avoid that just the same way you'd avoid it while describing clothes.)

    The one thing I would definitely not do is use food-related terms to describe someone ("dark chocolate skin", etc.), as there are some negative connotations to that.

    If you're still concerned about it and want better advice than I can give about being extra-careful, I'd have a poke around for some writing blogs that offer help and guides for people writing about diverse characters. I know several have sprung up on Tumblr, for instance. (EDIT: Found some example advice, if you still need it.)
    Last edited by Phoenixsong; 25th August 2014 at 3:41 PM.
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