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Thread: Interviewing the Reviewers

  1. #1
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    Default Interviewing the Reviewers

    Hello, fellow fanfic browser! It is a delight for me to say that the Serebii fan fiction section is gonna have a new feature up...

    INTERVIEWING THE REVIEWERS!

    This new feature is a way to encourage reviewing fanfictions within this subforum. Here's how it's gonna work:

    1: At the end of each month, the user who reviews the most fics will go onto the reviewer leaderboards.
    2: That user will then be PMed by me, JX Valentine, Ambyssin, or diamondpearl876 a couple of interview questions available for them to answer.
    3: When a reply is given, we may send a few more questions to lengthen the interview.
    4: After the interview is long enough, the answers will be displayed in this thread in all their glory.
    5: If the same user reaches the top of the leaderboard multiple months in a row, then another user who has posted a decent amount of reviews shall be selected for an interview.

    The questions will be varied, but we will ask things like:

    – What are the positives you look for in a fan fiction?
    – What are the negatives you look for in a fan fiction?
    – What is your favourite thing about reviewing?
    – What is your least favourite thing about reviewing?
    – Are there any fan fictions you want to give a shout out to that you really enjoyed?

    The Rules:

    1: Under no circumstances must you PM responses to questions without being sent an official PM with the questions listed.
    2: when answering interview questions, please bear in mind that:
    i) Swearing and stuff over PG-13 is not allowed.
    ii) The response will be available to everyone and so personal information that you would rather keep private is best not included in one of the questions.
    iii) The response should remain on topic.
    iiii) The response should not offend anyone.
    3: The reviews counted for this thread are NOT one liners and are in the Fan Fiction section and its subforums only, so the Shipping Fics subforum is not included.
    4: If you do not wish to be interviewed despite being picked, let us know at earliest notice so that we can select another user.
    5: if you wish for certain parts of your interview to be edited or removed, please let either me or JX Valentine know as early as possible.

    And that's it! REVIEW AWAY!
    Last edited by JX Valentine; 1st October 2017 at 7:18 PM. Reason: Adding interviewers!

  2. #2
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    Haha, finally! Here is the first interview of last month's winner...

    Negrek!

    What or who inspired you to begin writing?
    Hmm, good question! Writing in general, I don't really remember. I know I started writing stories down when I was five or six or so and just learning to write, but I can't remember anything about them or why I began doing that.

    For Pokémon fanfic specifically, it was actually a Neopets guild that first got me to write it--at the time the Pokemon guild had its own web site, and to rank up in the guild hierarchy you had to contribute to it by submitting fanart, fanfic, etc. I sent in a couple chapters of a terrible OC trainer 'fic with a self-insert main character, but at the time I didn't realize that fanfic was "a thing" outside of that specific Neopets group. It was a middle school friend of mine who actually introduced me to FFN, which was where I first realized that, hey, a lot of people did this writing thing! It was also my first chance to read a lot of other people's stories. In those days OC trainer 'fics were huge, and after reading a few I was convinced I wanted to write my own. Some of the stories that got me jazzed up at the time were On the Wings of Council by Topaz Soarhire, Raven: Emerald Fist by Obsidian Blade, Tangled Web by chicrocketjames, Gods and Demons by Keleri, and The Quest for the Legends by Dragonfree. While most are unfortunately long dead, the last two are actually still updating and funnily enough should both finally be complete by the end of this year!

    What is your favourite aspect of writing?
    Definitely the best thing about writing is when you get into the flow and the words just keep coming to you, where you can't even type fast enough to keep up with the unspooling story and it's like you could sit there and write and watch it unfold forever. When you just keep going, and going, and going until finally you're too exhausted to handle a keyboard and you have to stop even though the idea's still burning in your head, but at least that means you've got some great material to come back to the next day when you're not a zombie.

    Doesn't happen all that often, and it would be great if the mood visited me before four in the morning more frequently, but it's fantastic when the bug's got you.

    What is your least favourite aspect of writing?
    Not knowing what to do next. If you know what needs to happen, and how it needs to happen, and all you have is a case of the Don't-Want-Tos about actually putting it on paper, then at least the solution is straightforward: at some point you need to sit down and put the words on the page. But when you're at a loss, you can sit down, and sit down, and sit down again and still get absolutely nowhere. You can write up one blind alley after another and still keep returning to the same place. This is where some of the wishy-washy mysticism of writing comes in, where you need some inspiration, some revelation to finally show you a way through. There's no way to know if it's going to take days, or weeks, or months for the solution to come to you, and I hate it. That and the nagging question of What if you NEVER manage to figure it out? Getting over these rough patches is always a leap of faith, and it never seems to get easier. I've pulled it off and gotten past the issue every time I've tried so far, but I always have to wonder if this is the time I'll miss and see the whole story go splat.

    What do you enjoy most about reviewing fics by other people?
    For me, reviewing is one of the best ways to make new friends in the fandom. If I enjoy a story, it's great to be able to leave some feedback and maybe get a conversation going with the author. Many of my online friends are people who I first reached out to by leaving a review, or where they'd been one to review a story of mine.

    What is your least favourite thing about reviewing?
    Mostly just sitting down and doing it. It would be awesome if I could just beam my thoughts into another person's head without having to go to the trouble of converting them all into words.

    It's usually a plus that I have to go through and write everything down, mind. A lot of times I don't really think things through properly until I sit down and try to put them down on paper, and sometimes I even come to a completely different understanding of what's going on with the story in the process of trying to get the words together. Still hate it, though.

    Are there any fanfics you'd recommend to other members?
    I actually have a page of fanfic recommendations that I update now and again. It's pretty much perpetually out-of-date, but there's already a fair number to check out on there if you're interested! Since those recs are for completed works, I also sometimes mention in-progress recs on my Tumblr under the "fic recs" tag.

    But to call out a couple in particular that are worth checking out:

    Gods and Demons is one I mentioned before, and it's absolutely one of my favorite trainer 'fics. It's full of adventure and danger and fantastic battles. Characters have to make difficult choices. People get hurt, perhaps irreversibly. The fanmade region feels genuinely huge and ancient, with its own history and myths and culture. And on top of all the drama, it's frequently quite funny! I can't rec this one highly enough.

    I haven't gotten that far into Easier Said than Done, but it's been very good so far. Another trainerfic--love them--about two kids who very rapidly get in way, way over their heads. Lovely complex characters who are very convincingly ten, without being the slightest bit obnoxious or precious, and some very interesting worldbuilding to boot.

    And for some Serebii-specific recs:

    Cutlerine's Arbitrary Execution, of course. Cutlerine's stories are always worth checking out, and this one has a ton of my favorite stuff in it: glitches, intrigue, Team Rocket, and science of dubious ethics. Also a very cute salandit. Another strong rec.

    The Legendarian Chronicles, too! A wonderful action trainer-fic with more Team Rocket, high drama, and an epic-scale plot. Oh, and there are some legendaries in there somewhere too, I guess.

    Which of your own fics is your favourite and why?
    My current chapterfic, Salvage, is definitely my favorite! I don't know whether I'll always love whatever story I'm actively working on at the moment most of all, though that's happened for all the chapterfics I've worked on so far. Outside of that effect, what I like particularly about this one is that it has all my favorite things in it: shapeshifters, Team Rocket, Mewtwo, Orre and all its attendant weirdness. It's also written in an unusual style that's been fun to work with. And I've gotten very attached to the main characters. I love the dynamic between them, and I could happily write a dozen more stories about them doing nothing in particular, bouncing off each other and causing trouble as usual. All in all I think Salvage is one that's going to be hard for me to put to bed once I finally reach the end.
    Last edited by Dragonfree; 9th July 2017 at 9:44 PM. Reason: Adding formatting at Negrek's request.

  3. #3
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    Hey, folks! Sorry for the super-long wait for this month's interview, but here we are, with hot words fresh from last month's leaderboard winner:

    Chibi Pika!

    So! For the audience, how did you get into writing in the first place?

    Oh man, I’ve always been into storytelling, ever since I was a little kid. I had dozens upon dozens of stories I would either narrate in my head, or act out with my toys (almost all of them involving dinosaurs). It’s hard to say exactly when I made the transition into actually writing because in truth, to this day, I still consider myself more of a storyteller than a writer. I’d much prefer to share my stories through any other medium than writing (be it games, comics, you name it.) So I guess I became a writer out of necessity, because as a kid, the only real method I had of sharing said stories with anyone required writing them down. Unfortunately. :P

    But I digress. I started with writing down some of my miscellaneous dinosaur stories, but it wasn’t until middle school that the idea of writing a story based on already-existing media was introduced to me. I didn’t really know of it as “fanfiction” much less that it was a thing that other people did! I just wanted to make stories about me and my friends as Pokémon trainers. xD

    In a nutshell, what's your reviewing philosophy (as in, why do you do what you do)?

    I just want to make people happy. :T This past year, I’ve had a lot more time to read fic than I’ve had in previous years, and I noticed that everytime I left a review, especially in a thread that hadn’t had any posts for a while, the author was always totally shocked and completely ecstatic. I literally had the ability to just… make someone’s day? Just like that?

    And then there was that really bad review drought at the beginning of 2017. After having had a large following for the majority of the time I’ve been posting my fic, I was more than a little miffed to keep checking the forum and see almost nothing going on. Then in April, I grew some self-awareness and realized that if I wanted that to change, I needed to be a part of it myself.

    I suppose on some level, I also want to help people improve their craft. And when I see opportunities to do that, I definitely jump on them. But I also admit that I’m not the greatest at giving insightful critique. :/ That’s why the realization that I didn’t necessarily need to force myself into that was an important one. It helped me break out of my shell, so to speak, and just throw reviews around without worrying about if they were “good enough” or not. (Note: this is not to say that all my reviews prior to that were always high quality. One need only take a look at any of my posts in the fic thread I’ve been following the longest on Serebii to have that disproven. :P

    You've done some pretty awesome work in covering the forum. But besides the obvious "review as much as you can," what usually catches your attention and convinces you to sit down and read a fic? Its title? Summary? Genre? Something else? (And for that matter, do you have any favorite genres/tropes/things that people put in fics)?

    Well, for starters, I do try to prioritize reviewing every new author, every person who reviewed me, and every person who is an active contributor to the forum. But in terms of choosing a read without taking the author into account? An interesting title can usually get me to click on a thread. That, or an intriguing summary in someone’s signature. A cool banner. Hearing good things about it. I tend to go for trainer fics and Poke-POV just cause those are my favorite genres, although they’re not the only genres I’ll read.

    Favorite things… oh dear... now there’s a can of worms. xD I love Legendaries, conflicts between Legendaries and humanity, characters struggling against hopeless odds, complex gambits between chessmasters, characters swept up in vast conspiracies, betrayal, war, heavy introspection, especially when it comes to fear, guilt, regret, and trauma.

    Basically just plunk your protagonist way in over their head into a terrible situation with lots of suffering and I’ll probably read it. :V

    What's your reading process like? Do you take notes? If so, how detailed do you go?

    I do a lot of my reading at work nowadays, which unfortunately means I can’t really take the best of notes. Usually I just kind of ramble about whatever catches my fancy. This results in some reviews being on-point and others being… hilariously not.

    While you're great about commenting on everything, is there anything in particular about a story that jumps out at you the most while reading? Do your eyes hone in on characters, for example? Plot? Something else?

    In general, mood, atmosphere, and emotion tend to jump out at me the most nowadays. Because my reviews tend to be written some time after actually reading the fic, in-the-moment reactions to the plot tend to not happen at much. But a powerful atmosphere? A dramatic mood? Gripping emotion from the characters? Those are the things that will resonate with me long after reading, and the things that I’ll remember most later on, even if I find myself a little fuzzy on plot threads.

    What's the biggest piece of advice you'd like to give the writers at home?

    Definitely write down all your ideas. You don’t need to have the most beautiful, organized outline the world has ever seen. But absolutely need to have some place to jot down ideas so you don’t forget them. This was essential for me pulling myself out of hiatus. I ran into critical plot block and had no idea how to proceed, and I forgot my own plot every other week. That hasn't happened in a long time.

    And finally, to wrap this up: care to fire off some fic recs?

    Oh geez, it’s gonna be really hard to keep myself from reccing like half the forum. For the sake of brevity, I’m gonna limit this to my top three:

    Will Somebody Stop These Kids? - It’s just so good. You go into it thinking it’s just a lighthearted trainer romp, and then you find yourself swept up in a delightfully complex web of interactions between the six(!) main protagonists, their lives, their hopes, their dreams, and their struggles.

    Electric Sheep - So much more than a simple White Nuzlocke, this fic takes its core concept (mechanical Pokemon) and runs with it so far that it saturates every inch of the worldbuilding and backstory, completely transforming the Unova you knew into something brand-new, with a many-layered conspiracy to boot.

    Salvage - If you just plain want something like nothing you’ve ever read before, then this is the fic for you. Hands-down the most creative trainer fic in the history of the forum, while it might fly over a lot of readers’ heads at first, stick with it and you’ll be rewarded with awesome battles, complex characters, and a whole lot of Rockety goodness.

    Huh, I just noticed that all three of those involve villainous teams. I guess that's a pretty good way to get me to read something too.
    Works In Progress:
    Anima Ex Machina | Electric Sheep
    (Sci-fi shenanigans in one convenient signature!)

  4. #4
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    Sorry it's so late, but we have the interview from our third winner of the fanfiction leaderboard...

    Ambyssin!

    what's your favourite thing about reviewing?

    I don't really know if I can pick out one single favorite moment. I really like being able to brighten someone's day and like to think reviewing offers me a way to do that. On top of that, depending on the author's level of activity, I may get a response of some sort. Which I think is really great. I mean, if I went out and reviewed a TV show or video game, odds are I'd never end up getting to meet anyone responsible and ask what they were thinking when they did thing A or B. But these reviews let things like that happen. It's a lot of fun to connect dots in authors' thought process, or just to get told, "No, Amby, you were totally off base on that one, but good try." At the same time, whether I'm playing catch up on a story that's been around awhile or reviewing a story as it updates, it's really cool to see the progress authors make from chapter to chapter.

    what is your least favourite thing about reviewing?

    This will probably sound silly, but my least favorite thing about reviewing is the act of organizing my thoughts. In my mind, I don't want to just give a little snippet when it seems evident that an author's put a lot of time and energy into their story. I want to tell them how I felt reading things. Problem is that I think I'm pretty scatterbrained. While no one's explicitly told me that they're not sure what I'm talking about (yet anyway) I'm always concerned that my "review as I read approach," where I right down my immediate reactions to anything that catches my attention, and then go back to add in some extra thoughts (or a few paragraphs of overall thoughts if I'm reading an old story), may not go over well with someone. Like I may, say, miss something big that the author wanted me to gleam from a chapter or set of chapters. I see trees and miss the forest more often than I'd care to admit. But so far it's going okay, so I'll just keep my fingers crossed.

    What or who got you into writing?

    Funny that question would come up. As it turns out, I really don't have all that much creative writing experience. Back in high school I got "recruited" to help write a newsletter that was sent to students and parents. I don't know what people thought of it, though. Nevertheless, I enjoyed it. So, when I graduated and moved I decided to start posting variations on Choose Your Own Adventure stories on a small, now defunct, web forum. They were all ridiculously cringeworthy, with very little sense of coherent direction. Heck, they were written sloppily in a script style. You guys would probably tear them to shreds.

    Despite that, I continued to do a lot of "professional writing." I ended up becoming secretary for several clubs in college, one of which I ended up as president for. So I had to redo the club's bylaws (not a fun process). And then I had to write several manuscripts for my major. I wound up a clinical research job that has me preparing a lot of reports. So, I guess I just drifted into creative writing as a means of countering my job. I wrote a couple of short stories that I didn't end up posting anywhere, just to prove to myself I could do it. And then I thought I would do another CYOA, using an actual outline for once, but the forum shut down. I kept the outline, though, and ended up adapting it to be a proper chapter fic that I'm now in the process of writing.

    That said, I've read fan fiction for a few years now. Mostly through lurking on FFN and this site. I think it was a friend on Discord who convinced me to, "man up and get an account if you're lurking around there that much." So, thanks, buddy.

    What's your favourite aspect of writing?

    Dialogue. My early writing "attempts" were script format after all. And anyone who's read what little I've done of Guiding Light so far can safely say the dialogue:narration ratio is pretty skewed toward the former. I just love reading (or watching in the case of games, TV, and movies) different characters interacting with each other. I also enjoy headcanoning voices for characters in stories, whether they're my own or someone else's. For example, it's entirely possible that I may have taken Sonic Archie Comics and created cast lists, dividing the comics up into seasons akin to a TV series and giving everyone a voice actor or actress. So, yeah, total, unashamed dialogue dweeb here.

    What is your least favourite thing about writing?

    Right now it's definitely action scenes. While they can certainly make a hearty dent into a word count, at present I have no experience writing them. So, in this case, trying to take the turn-based simplicity of the Pokémon games (especially Mystery Dungeon where the moves aren't quite as flashy as the base games) and translate into something entertaining to read is quite difficult and something I'm definitely going to have to keep working at. As it stands, I seem to be drawing more from the anime than the base games and that's what it looks like most fics tend to do. Action scenes are perfectly fun to read, of course. I just don't think they're my cup of tea to write at the moment. That said, when it comes to reading them I tend to be the type to like something more than just paragraphs of narration or, in the case of Pokémon, the occasional order. Dialogue, a creative approach to conflict, or a lemony narrator that's snarking at everything go a long way toward making action scenes fun for me to read.

    Are there any fanfics you'd recommend to other members?

    Some of these might be redundant, but here I go!

    If you want a thrilling adrenaline ride that'll get your blood pumping, then I'd have to recommend Chibi Pika's The Legendarian Chronicles. Though I feel like a lot of people know about it. I'm a huge fan of action/spy movies and this completely reads like one, so I've gotta recommend it.

    And as a massive fan of political and conspiracy thrillers, I totally have to plug Cutlerine's Arbitrary Execution. It is crawling with mystery and a supernaturally-laden conspiracy that's completely pulled me in.

    Lastly for Serebii fics, I love space-themed media (especially Ratchet & Clank Future's space pirate enemies), so I've got to give DeliriousAbsol's System:Reboot some love. It is equal parts gritty and witty but the cyberpunk aesthetic stands out nicely!

    Now, if you happen to be in the market for something not Pokémon related, then I've got a couple of recommendations that I followed closely. First off, there's Paper Mario: The Temple of the Sun, a (complete!) fic that heavily deconstructs the elements that made folks love the first two Paper Mario games, but does so in a clever and engaging way. I'd be lying if I didn't say it served as an inspiration of sorts for my approach to my current story.

    And, for something maybe a bit more obscure, Dark Legacy and its in-progress sequel, Umbral Visions. Mind the M ratings for violent battles between fantasy creatures, and the slight archive panic (the two stories are approaching 900k total words). They are very enjoyable pieces set in the Legend of Spyro universe. While the games were bad, no serious knowledge of them is required to enjoy these stories. They provide all the background you need (among some really enjoyable world building) and the game characters aren't the main focus anyway. Instead, it takes place after the games, and tackles a lot of heavy issues from class society and warring political factions to more subdued things like a teenager trying to find their place in an ever-changing world.

    which of your fics, unfinished or complete, is your favourite?

    Oh my, this is a tough one. I kid, of course. I've only got one story at the moment and it's Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Guiding Light. I'm not too sure how many PMD stories out there are Gen VII-centric yet. But that's something I really wanted to do. If that interests you at all, give it a read. It's still fairly new, but I'm enjoying writing it. I'm really looking forward to the later chapters, because things are going to get crazy (in a good way, I hope).

  5. #5
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    Hey, all! Breaking away from interviewing for a sec to make a couple of announcements.

    First and foremost is the more obvious one: as you can see, we're rearranging stickies in the fic forum (to make things more visible), which means this thread will be in the Author's Cafe from here on out. Sorry for the confusion!

    Second and more importantly, the bad news is that Nerdy and I will be hella busy for the coming months. The good news is that means we're looking for help! If you'd like to try your hand at interviewing, if you'd like to help out around the forum, or if you just want to get to know awesome people in the community, shoot either Nerdy or me a PM saying you want to be an interviewer. We'll walk you through everything you need to know, and you can take things from October onward! Interviewing is super simple, and it's a great way to get in touch with the fic community. So if it sounds like it's up your alley, shoot us a message ASAP!

    Edit: Found a couple of peeps! Thanks to Ambyssin and diamondpearl876 for volunteering, and thanks to all of you for considering!
    Last edited by JX Valentine; 1st October 2017 at 7:18 PM.
    Works In Progress:
    Anima Ex Machina | Electric Sheep
    (Sci-fi shenanigans in one convenient signature!)

  6. #6
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    This month we're featuring a leaderboard runner up to get input from a new reviewer who put in a ton of time and effort in September to check out the community's fics! Without further ado, here's some comments from...

    Bay!


    First off, congrats on placing in top three reviewers this month! I think I speak for everyone when I say we're grateful for the time you took to read and comment on so many fics, especially when you're busy over at Pokecommunity. How do you choose which fics to read and review? What about a fic keeps you interested and coming back for more?

    Lately I’ve been going for stories from authors I’ve been familiar with since I already have an idea I’ll enjoy their work right off the bat. I’m trying to be better at commenting stories from the newer writers though. But yeah, if your story has decent characters and a premise that sounds promising, I’m there. I’m very open minded, so I’m not that hard to keep coming back. The hard part is keeping up with them when some update at the same time lol.

    What's your favorite part about reviewing?


    To let someone know that I’ve enjoyed their writing, and then hearing back that they appreciate my feedback. In the other fandoms I write for sometimes I don’t get any feedback, so I know how it feels to be unsure if anyone is checking your work. I always try to leave a comment after I finished reading a chapter or catching up.

    Sounds like you'll always take the time to review if you're reading something! About how many stories would you say you're following and reviewing right now? How do you balance all of those stories and make time to review so often?

    I think I’m following like ten or so stories now oh my gosh. I tend to list out which stories I’ll read for the next few days and take it from there. I try to give myself at least an hour to knock out a story or two if the backlog gets a bit big.

    What's your least favorite part about reviewing?

    As I mentioned, it’s trying to keep up with the fics I’ve been following. I think I followed several fics both here and in PokeCommunity, and there have been a couple stories I left in the backlog and feel bad about it. I don’t want anyone to think because I stop replying that I lost interest, just that people are updating faster than I can keep up!

    Besides that, sometimes it’s thinking what I want to comment on. Sometimes I’m better at commenting if I’m binge reading a few chapters than commenting on each chapter as I get to see the overall picture better that way.

    What aspects of a story do you tend to comment on most in your reviews? Characters, plot, setting? Something else?

    Characters and plot mostly. I tend to say a few things how the interactions went and where I think the plot is going. Sometimes setting if I like the worldbuilding, but when reading I focus more on characters and plot. I might comment on grammar once in a while, but usage/prose seems to still be my weakness point in writing so I don’t pinpoint much on that aspect.

    As a writer, what's your favorite review that you've received? What kind of review helps you best?

    I think my favorite review was the one Bardothren from PokeCommunity gave me. He went into great detail which lines works and which ones could use fine tuning in its language. That’s why I sorta switched writing styles in my later stories as I was trying to go for some tips he had mentioned back then.

    I’ll admit, sometimes when stuff like prose and voice is being picked apart I get very bummed out since I’ve been writing for several years already and makes me wonder if I’ve improved after all this time. But yeah, I try to tell myself that if my works needs a bit more polish it doesn’t make me a Bad Writer (TM) and to move forward the best to my ability.

    How do you plan to incorporate the tips you got from Bardothren's review in the future?

    Body language is something I’ve been focusing a lot on lately as he mentioned in that review my writing lacked reactions there. He also pointed out how sometimes I drag on into a character’s thoughts a little too much and so I cut back on that, but I then get some comments that my writing could use more of that, lol. I need to find the right balance of emotion/thoughts and action.

    Skimming over that review again, he also pointed out the awkward sentences that can be fixed by reading aloud. I’ve actually been doing that, but I still have people point out the weird usage here and there. I think it has to do with my brain thinking the prose I have makes sense whenever I self-proofread. This is something I guess I’ll just go at it and I then go back fine tune the language later.

    How would you say Serebii and the Pokemon fandom in general do with fanfiction and reviewing compared to the other fandoms you're in?

    Serebii reviewers tend to be more detailed when it comes to what works and what doesn’t work. In other fandoms that happens too, but overall the culture seems to be that giving constructive criticism is frown upon unless the writer asks for it. I think it’s because with Serebii we have this niche group where we can let each other know how our works are progressing and support one another. Other fandoms are a bit harder to get a support group of that kind because of how a lot of fandom activity is now on Tumblr and groups are more scattered.

    Which fics are you planning to tackle next?

    I think I’ll focus on Foul Play for a little while still since I’m very slow with getting updates ready haha. I’ll get the second chapter of it posted soon, I swear! After that, maybe I want to write some stories focusing on Kukui/Burnet since I got some people like how I portrayed their relationship in New Paths. There’s also one idea where an assassination attempt happens during the Pokemon World Tournament, but there’s still a lot of plot stuff I need to figure out.

    For non Pokemon ideas, I got several ideas for Ace Attorney I want to do. I’m actually thinking of writing Foul Play and an Ace Attorney story at the same time during National Novel Writing Month during November. There are some other fandoms I want to get back writing, like Fullmetal Alchemist and the Bravely series, and others I want to try my hand at. Sometimes I wonder if I’m crazy trying to write for several series, lol.

    How 'bout some fic recs, too, while we're at it?

    I admit, this is tough for me to decide since the fics I’ve read here have been great and don’t want to leave anyone behind. I’m gonna go for the ones that haven’t been mentioned here yet.

    Aeternum’s NWO- All of the Above is pretty cool. I like the interactions between the main character and his Totodile/Croconaw, and his take on some of the characters are interesting.

    ChloboShoka’s Carry On, Blissey has a nice take on what it’s like to be a Blissey in a Pokemon Center. While some reactions from the characters can be worked on a bit more, I think the premise she going has great potential.

    Phalanx’s Sigil’s The Pantheon has some very neat Pokemonized takes on different myths/histories, so if that’s your thing check some of the stories out!

    Special shout out to your fic, Love and Other Nightmares too. While kinda slow going, I like the set up you have so far and looking forward where it goes next.
    Last edited by diamondpearl876; 14th October 2017 at 10:20 PM.
    YOU AND ME AND THE DARK MAKE LIGHT.
    | | survival project | | phantom project | |
    | | flying in the dark | | love and other nightmares | |

  7. #7
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    Hiya, everyone! It's time for our fifth interviewing installment. A quick hat tip to Nerdy for checking over the questions to make sure they were okay.

    For this month, we have a long-time veteran who is definitely no stranger to reviewing. So, let's get right to it and hear some thoughts from none other than...

    Cutlerine!

    How do you choose which fics to read and review? What about a fic keeps you interested and coming back for more?

    Honestly, I mostly choose by how many reviews they've got: I got into reviewing in a big way earlier this year, mainly as part of the initiative to revive the forum and raise the levels of activity. If other people are regularly reviewing something, I'm much less likely to weigh in on it, just because there will be other fics that haven't got that attention, and need someone to give it.

    That said, I don't return to every fic I review, particularly if I didn't really get into them that first time. I like interesting and well-crafted stories of all kinds, but I always like it when I find a new character-driven story, just because there aren't so many of them and, as I guess people might be able to tell from my own fics, I believe very strongly that character is the thing that really makes a story. I love intricate settings and clever ideas to bits, but for me at least, very few things make interesting fiction if they don't somehow affect someone, or have an impact on human relations.

    About how many stories would you say you're following and reviewing right now? How do you balance all of those stories and make time to review so often?

    Uh, a bunch? More than ten, anyway, at least here on Serebii. Most don't update all the time – with the exception of System:Reboot and Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Guiding Light, both of which I am constantly falling behind with (not that this is a bad thing: more content is always welcome!) – so that helps out some. I read fast, have long commutes and carry a notebook for jotting down thoughts; obviously I like to devote some of those resources to my own writing, but even allowing for that, those three things together mean it's not too difficult to get a review out every few days. I sort of spent years on this forum just posting, so you know. Making up for lost time, I guess!

    What do you like most about reviewing?


    People like getting reviews. By leaving a review, you facilitate that. Isn't that cool? Here I am, taking twenty, thirty minutes to type up and flesh out some notes I wrote on a train, and on the other side of the world, someone's day becomes just a little better. What an incredible world we live in. Maybe I'm just easily impressed.

    Also, I like helping people improve, even if only by encouraging them to keep on writing. When I was fifteen, I wrote some utter garbage, but people encouraged me to keep doing it, and now I write things that people really seem to like; everyone is capable of that, if they just keep going and learning, and it's such a good thing to be part of someone else's development.

    What's your biggest challenging with reviewing?

    Adapting my expectations. Not everyone is writing at the same level, and critique needs to be offered that is reasonable and helpful for the writer in question, as well as encouragement. You don't need to root out every single flaw, if that's only going to discourage the writer, because the most important thing of all is to encourage them to keep writing, since that is the single most effective way of improving their craft that's open to them. It doesn't mean not being honest, but it does mean tempering honesty with kindness, because pure honesty verges on brutishness, and finding that balance can be a tricky proposition. The goal is to encourage someone to write more, and better, not to tear them down for no reason. Hopefully I'm getting better at it. I learn more with every review I leave.

    Is there a specific storytelling element (e.g. setting, characters, dialogue) you tend to focus on for reviews?

    Grammatical mistakes are always an easy thing to point out, because they're simple to fix and doing so does a lot to make a story more approachable to readers, so I usually devote some time to them; I also usually try to focus on any logical aberrations or anything that might throw a reader off for much the same reason. Other than that, it really depends on the story. If it has a striking setting, or an incoherent one, I'll point it out; if I like the characters, the ideas, whatever, or if I feel that they don't work, I'll point that out, too. Yeah. Depends what the strengths and weaknesses of the story are.

    Do you find that you take different approaches to reviewing different types of stories? If so, how do you adjust the feedback you give to the author when you review?

    Sure. Like I said, it depends on skill level: a very skilful writer might appreciate me taking the time to unpick some of the ideas and technical tricks they're working with, whereas a novice writer might benefit more from me pointing out issues with formatting and pacing. Someone else might have excellent ideas but struggle with character, or setting, or whatever. Whatever I think would be most helpful for the writer in question, I try to do. Maybe I don't always succeed, but as I said above, hopefully I get better with each review I leave.

    How did you get into writing?

    I learned how to write. No, really, that's it: as soon as I could write, I did. I probably started putting stories together when I was five or six, and wrote my first – delightfully terrible – novel when I was twelve. Writing has been my default leisure activity for as long as I can remember. I hate it, obviously, I despise the effort it takes to get words down on paper, but at the same time I love it and no matter how many times I say to myself 'okay, no more' I really, really can't stop.

    What do you enjoy most about writing?

    I like it when it works: when you sit down at three and don't get up till eight, having barely looked away from the screen and produced four thousand words; I like it when people read it and it matters to them; I like it when you hit the full stop key one last time at the end and sit back, spent; I like it when, just by piling word atop word, you create characters out of nothing who seem to live and breathe and travel round with you as you go about your life; I like most of all the fact that if you want to read a story and it doesn't already exist, you can just sit down and bring it into the world yourself.

    What do you find most challenging about writing?

    There's a point, maybe a third to a half of the way through every story, where the initial flood of enthusiasm and inspiration runs out, and you just have to grind at it through the rough patch, cranking out the words purely as a technical exercise without any kind of joy whatsoever, until things pick up again. That's the most challenging bit. But it's worth it, because things do pick up again, and afterwards, when people read the story, they have no idea which bits you liked writing and which bits you didn't, and after a while you forget which was which yourself. (Unless it was, you know, really, really bad, which does occasionally happen.) So it's all okay.

    As a writer, what type of feedback do you find most helpful from reviewers?

    I like knowing what people didn't like. My usual philosophy is that if a reader thinks something doesn't work, they're probably right, but possibly not for the reasons they think. If something fell flat, there are a bunch of reasons why it might have done so, and cleaving too quickly to one or the other is only going to narrow down your thinking and prevent you from seeing any larger problems that might be lurking underneath the surface. I'd hope that people treat my own reviews the same way: sometimes I see things that don't work, but I'm not going to pretend that I can always pinpoint why with 100% accuracy. I'm just a human-shaped meatblob with a keyboard, after all.

    How do you think the reviews you’ve received have helped improve your writing?

    A lot of reviews I got very early on helped me tremendously with character, plausibility, plot coherence, all that kind of thing; now, I find that reviews often help to shape the story itself. Someone mentioned that it was very convenient that, in Arbitrary Execution, Artemis should meet someone like Cass at exactly the time that she needed to, for instance; that was when I decided to give Cass the role that the latest chapter revealed her to have (to try and say it without spoilers). Similarly, someone pointing out how coincidental everything is in Time and Tide is what led me to rethink the final third of the fic and come up with the iteration/probability thing that ultimately came to tie all of the disparate threads and themes of the story together.

    Should I be admitting to making all this stuff up as I go along and finding my themes by accident? Possibly not. But I think it demonstrates how vital feedback is, in both senses of the word; it really breathes new life into stories, and brings them to a point they couldn't get to otherwise. Especially if you're posting chapter by chapter, and don't have a chance to go back and do a big edit at the end, as you would if you were writing a novel.

    Other than that, there are moments, as I said above, where a reader has said that they don't think something works, and I've had to go away and have a think about it, and decide where and what the problem is. That happened twice with Go Home, for instance, and it resulted in (a) Gwyneth's dream recurring but with different interpretations, and (b) the addition of that crucial passage in the final chapter about how Hilbert and Nika got together.

    What writing projects are you currently focused on? And do you have any future plans?

    There's Arbitrary Execution, of course, but I'm coming towards the end of that (I write quite a few chapters ahead of what I post) and my thoughts are turning towards what I've got coming up next: a Y nuzlocke, Oathbreakers, about family, kingship, and the comforts of art in a bleak time. I've never written a nuzlocke before, and I'd like the record to show that my doing so now is 100% Jax's fault.

    I'm also working on an original novel about three trans women, a horse, and metaphysical depression, which is occupying most of my free time; I write my fanfiction mostly to take breaks from my original fiction, so if there's ever any delay in any of my fics, you know what the reason is.

    What advice to you have for someone looking to contribute to the fanfic community, whether it’s on Serebii or somewhere else?

    Interact with people! Leave comments – it doesn't have to be a lengthy, in-depth review; even a line or two will do it – and encourage people to keep writing. There's an old rule of reciprocity in most fic communities whereby giving reviews is how you get reviews; if you're looking to contribute to a community, to make someone else's day better and to encourage them to do the same for others, you could do a lot worse than, if not reviewing, then even just responding. It has the knock-on effect that it makes the community look livelier, too, and that in turn attracts new people, who enrich it further. Nobody loses; everyone wins.

    Finally, any fic recommendations you’d like to offer?


    Given that I'm writing a nuzlocke more or less entirely because of it, I've got to lead with Jax's Electric Sheep, which is the fic that opened my eyes to the fact that you can write a nuzlocke without putting yourself in an insoluble ethical quandary. For something complete, diamondpearl876's Survival Project is a stellar example of the character-driven fics I really like, and one that, like Electric Sheep, has had a big influence on Oathbreakers. (The superb follow-up, Phantom Project, is currently ongoing, if you want more in the same vein.) If you'd like something new to follow, I've been really impressed by Virgil134's Casting Off, of which there's only one chapter at present but which shows a lot of promise. Also in progress is Firebrand's The Amazing Hawlucha Man, which is an excellent all-action adventure that might be the first story to ever actually make me interested in the antics of a bunch of superheroes. Finally, Bay's Foul Play is a really insightful character portrait of two master dark-type trainers with a number of similarities I'd never noticed before, and if you're not reading it you're missing out on some incisive and often very funny writing.

    XxX

    A very nice mix of different fics here for anyone looking for something new to read. Once again, big congratulations to Cutlerine and thanks for taking part in this. We'll be back next month with November's high-scorer, so get those reviews in!

    Is it winter yet?

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