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 Post subject: The Art of Leaving Feedback
PostPosted: Mon Apr 25, 2005 10:16 pm 
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9. Gay Now

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Darkwiccan recently mentioned resorting to blackmail to ensure some feedback from readers, and I also noticed a lower amount than normal in my latest story as well. Now while the number of kittens that regularly check the board is smaller than when the show was on, and real life and time constraints at this time of year are big (finals, spring yardwork and whathaveyou) it occurs to me that perhaps one of the problems might be that leaving constructive feedback might indeed be a lost art, as Darkwiccan, and a few others, have mentioned. To help rectify that here is the following which will doubtless prove I am way too long winded.


THE ART OF LEAVING FEEDBACK

Now keep in mind I am not an English teacher, though I have graded more than my share of exams and term papers. One of the problems with critiquing written work is that often English classes ruin the process by making one overly self-conscious, making the process of thinking about what one read unpleasant, or putting too much pressure on us to “get it.” This doesn’t have to be the case however. The following doesn’t come from any specific book or guideline, but is just my own observations.

There are four golden rules to leaving feedback:

1. Don’t ever get personal. By this I mean don’t attack the author personally. No, “What sort of sick pervert would write a Joyce/Dawn rape scene? You suck!” You can praise the author and such, but try and keep things a little impersonal when it comes to criticism. “I find the inclusion of a Joyce/Dawn rape scene to be highly offensive and objectionable. It was gratuitous didn’t add to the story, and should be cut.” There is no reason or justification for attacking any author directly.

2. Remember your opinion is valid. No matter what you thought about a story, it’s your right to love, hate or feel however you do. There is no right answer, no single “correct” interpretation. Others might have loved certain parts that you hated, or hated aspects you loved. No big deal. Everyone’s reactions are legitimate. The important point is to try and say why you reacted like you did.

3. Criticism is OK, but it should be constructive. It’s all right if you didn’t like something, but try and say why. Don’t just say, “I hated this story.” Instead say what parts you didn’t like and why. “I didn’t think that Buffy acted in character in the first section. She would never maliciously dress Dawn up like a turkey and cut her head off.” Try and let the author know in what way they might improve their story. “If you had somehow indicated that Buffy was possessed or under magical influence before the turkey section it would have worked better.” This way the author knows what they can do to improve things if they edit, or can think about how to do things better in the next story or update. This way you are helping the author improve by giving suggestions of ways to fix whatever problem you noticed. Sometimes just mentioning the problem is enough, but if you can suggest a solution you should. The author may or may not take your advice, but at least you tried to help.

4. Be specific. While it is nice to read, “You rule. I loved this story. It was great!” That really isn’t all that helpful. Again most authors have worked hard on their story, have favorite moments or parts and are interested to know what you liked, why you thought it was great. I used to tell students that it isn’t very useful to argue that: “Our football team is great. We are best in the league!” and leave it at that. Much more effective is: “Our football team is the best because our defense allows less yards and points per game than any other team, they cause a lot of fumbles and turnovers and that leads to a lot of points for us. Our offense is the best because our Quarterback has the best completion rating and our wide receivers are so fast they always out distance the coverage.” The first is just an opinion, valid but insubstantial. The second is still an opinion, but uses specific facts to back it up. Maybe mention a part of the story that really struck you, be it negatively or positively. Say why it struck you. Was it because it was so true to character? Was it unusually touching, true to life, reminded you of similar incidents in the show or whatever. It helps the author to know what aspects of their writing is effective so they can use that style or technique again, play to their strengths, or if something didn’t work they can watch for similar problems in the future.


Another point that isn’t really a rule is try and be balanced. No story is all good, nor is one all bad. You should be able to find something worthwhile in even something you didn’t like. Maybe the dialog was well done, or one of the characters was accurate, or even one paragraph seemed amusing. Try and give the author some idea of what they did well. By the same token, even the best story probably has something that could be improved. Maybe a rough section in one part, a slow section, awkward wording. If you really can’t find anything that’s fine, but if you do have some criticisms or suggestions for improvement, try and end with something positive. The overall point is to encourage the author and get them to keep on writing and improve, so we have more cool stories to read.

So what are some of the specifics you could be praising or critiquing? What should you be looking for? First of all anything that gets a reaction out of you. If there is a part where you are scared, happy, sad or whatever then say so. “I laughed at Buffy dressing Dawn up like a turkey, that was so funny.” If you remember a particular part, it obviously stuck in your mind and is worth remarking on.

Barring things that really grabbed you, you can look for other things to comment on:

Plot: did the overall story make sense, flow logically, have a good climax and resolution.

Character: did everyone act “in character?” This is especially big with fanfic, or should be. My biggest bitch with AU stories is they take someone’s name, Willow or Tara for example, and then twist them so out of shape that they really aren’t Willow and Tara anymore. Tara the aggressive boxer and Willow the assassin might be viable, but that’s a pretty far stretch from what we’ve seen on the show.

Tone: Was the tone of the story more like that of the show, or more realistic? I personally tend towards a heavier more realistic tone while one of my friends has a great touch for making his stories seem like they could have been episodes.

Atmosphere: This is the feel of the story. Was it scary, romantic, sweet, fast paced, suspense? Atmosphere and tone can be similar, but commenting on the feel of the story or how the author got that across can be useful.

Pacing: This is a big one and the area that I sometimes feel I miss. Is the story fast paced, moving from one scene to the next? Or is it slow and plodding? Many stories will shift pacing in different areas. A long four page description of a kiss between W/T might be fine in a romance, but if it is more of an action piece that might be disruptive to the flow of the story.

Transitions: Did the author provide transitions between paragraphs or various scenes smooth and logical? Or was it sudden and jarring?

Dialog: Did the characters speak like the scoobies on the show? Did the dialog sound natural and flow well? Did Giles sound English? Was there that Willowbabble? Did Spike sound tough and puffed up enough or too wishy washy? Some authors are very good at dialog and not as good with description and get into the “talking head” syndrome where all the reader sees is two talking heads divorced from the world around them.

Narrative/Description: Was the staging of a fight well done? Did you get a sense for the world around the characters, how they moved and interacted with the world or not? Did this material flow well or get in the way of the story?

Tenses: This is a big one that a lot of authors really blow. Things to try and avoid are passive voice (The crossbow was fired. Instead it should be Buffy fired the crossbow). Mixing tenses is bad. All should be one tense or another, unless the author is showing something interrupting another action. I don’t have a good example here, but mixing past and present sometimes happens and you can comment on that.

Content: Well, I try and refrain from commenting too extensively on content as the story is the author’s vision, but, as with season sux where nothing really worked, one can comment on what happened. For example: The idea of a resurrection spell to bring Buffy back seemed to simple and the gang did not really work hard to bring Buffy back but seemed to pay and suffer for it after the fact. OR: Tara telling Buffy her molecules were rearranged seemed like a lame Star Trek explanation for what could have been an interesting issue of why Spike could hit Buffy and might have even led to further investigations that were preemptively cut off by this. OR: The troika while amusing at first are proving to be dull villains who are not worthy adversaries and don’t hold one’s interest as the main bad guys. Again, be specific and if you can offer some suggestion on what might have worked better.

Continuity: This can be simple stuff like getting your facts right. I keep on confusing the black handled knife (athame) and the white handled one (bolline) and having someone (thanks Web Warlock!) get that straight for you can be useful. Also keeping continuity with previous episodes or even within the story can be brought up. Example: You have Buffy pick up a sword in the first paragraph and then in the next she’s swinging an axe? You need to have her drop the sword and pick up an axe or just change the axe to a sword. Some of this might be nitpicking, but getting the details right is important and if it jarred you from the story than it is a problem.

Grammar/Spelling: This shouldn’t be a problem, you can spell check on the board, but sometimes it is so blatant or glaring (or things like: there, their, they’re isn’t caught) that it gets in the way of the story and is distracting.

You probably get the idea by now, I don’t intend to be exhaustive here, but give everyone an idea of how to be a bit more effective in their feedback. Yes, it is harder or shorter updates, sometimes you just can’t think of anything specific besides, “this was really cool and I liked it,” but try and be a bit more expressive. The authors will appreciate it and are more likely to improve or get better and write more W/T goodness, which is what we all want in the long run anyway. Just remember never to attack the author personally and try and be supportive even with criticism and you’ll do fine.

Hopefully this helps or gives whoever bothers to look at it some food for thought.


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 Post subject: Re: The Art of Leaving Feedback
PostPosted: Mon Apr 25, 2005 11:45 pm 
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Garner, this is an awesome idea. As you mentioned, I had to resort to playful blackmail to jumpstart my readers to post feedback. Thank you for explaining just what feedback is, and how it is a goldmine for authors.

The one bullet-point you said you had difficulty providing an example for was "mixing tenses." So, here is an example for you:

Incorrect ~~ "Buffy was sat down on the couch."

Corrected ~~ "Buffy is sitting down on the couch."
Corrected ~~ "Buffy sat down on the couch." OR "Buffy was sitting on the couch."

Ok.. I hope this helps a little. Thanks again, Garner!! Now, where's more "From the Journal of..."? :flirt

Cheers!!
DW

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Last edited by DarkWiccan on Tue Apr 26, 2005 10:37 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: The Art of Leaving Feedback
PostPosted: Tue Apr 26, 2005 7:30 am 
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3. Flaming O
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Garner, this is excellent. Your four golden rules of feedback are perfect, not only for feedback to fic, but as general guidelines for life as far as a good, positive way to comment on something.

The specifics of what someone can praise or critique, in categories, also serves double-duty as not only commentary topics, but also a nice handy list of things for fic writers to keep in mind as they're writing.

I only have one addition and one quibble (and it's a nitpick). I'll start with the quibble to get it out of the way. In the "tenses" section, you mentioned passive voice. For those who don't really remember passive voice from English class (for some of us, that was a LONG time ago), passive voice is when the subject of the sentence does not perform the action. For instance, in Garner's example "the crossbow was fired", the crossbow is the subject of the sentence (being the only noun), and "was fired" is the verb; however, the crossbow did not fire itself, because crossbows don't do that.

To fix this sentence, one would say "Buffy fired the crossbow". That makes Buffy the subject of the sentence (the noun the sentence is about), "fired" the verb (what happened in the sentence), and crossbow the object (the noun the 'action' in the sentence happened to).

Now that the English lesson for the day is out of the way, I have to respectfully disagree with Garner's assertion that passive voice should not be used. Passive voice should definitely not be used in, say, an english paper (english teachers seriously hate it), but when writing fiction it is a stylistic choice that can serve a very definite and important purpose. Here is an example:

"The door opened."

By leaving a string of questions in the readers mind (who or what opened the door?), the reader is engaged, and a sense of suspense is developed. This technique can be extremely useful, especially in a horror-genre-type B:tVS piece of fanfiction. Here is the same sentence, with the passive voice removed:

"The big slavering monster opened the door, letting the reader know definitively that the big slavering monster is in the house because the writer has told them explicitly, thereby ruining the suspenseful buildup."

The addition I would suggest is POV (point of view), though I have now run out of time to write on the topic, as I must jet off to work.

-Sass


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 Post subject: Re: The Art of Leaving Feedback
PostPosted: Wed Apr 27, 2005 5:33 am 
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32. Kisses and Gay Love
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Garner,
First off, your list and suggestions are wonderful and brilliant. I will say that as a writer, I enjoy two types of feedback: those which just say "Great job! Loved it!" and the thoughtout, intriciate feedback from some users. Most of the time when I get the "Great Job! Loved it!" type of feedback, I assume that the person giving feedback is not a native English speaker/reader/writer and is possibly not comfortable giving more detailed comments. In that case, I'm very appreciative that they are making a comment at all and duly impressed since I couldn't even say that much in German, French, Turkish, or really anything but I guess sign language.

The other type feedback is of course like gold. I have frequently added or clarified points in my story based on feedback or even changed the direction of the story or the next update. I've even gotten new story ideas from conversations during the course of feedback.

Now to respectfully disagree with both Garner and Sasette:
Quote:
I have to respectfully disagree with Garner's assertion that passive voice should not be used. Passive voice should definitely not be used in, say, an english paper (english teachers seriously hate it), but when writing fiction it is a stylistic choice that can serve a very definite and important purpose. Here is an example:

"The door opened."


Like Sasette, I believe that there is no universal rule against the use of passive voice in writing. At times it is true that something happens and we don't know who did it: "Suddenly a crossbolt was fired from the balcony! The scoobies dived for cover." Much better than "Suddenly someone fired a crossbolt from the balcony!..." The passive voice in that case is better than active voice becasue "someone" is made up. We really don't know who fired the crossbolt and presumably the fact that we don't know is important. The firing of the crossbolt and it's source is important to the story. Perhaps Adam is a surprise visitor or the initiative has turned on the Scoobies.

Now to Sassette: "The door opened" is not actually passive voice. A general rule for recognizing passive voice is that the sentence contiains a form of the verb to be: is, was, are... "The door was opened..." The crossbolt is fired..." "The door opened" is not a very good sentence, but it's not passive. I would read that line and ask, "by itself? why?" but it is active voice: The door is the subject and opened is what it did. I would say, "The door opened slightly, making a creeking noise everytime the wind blew." Ok, sure because a door could open by itself when the wind blows.

Ok, I hope what I've written is a little helpful. Thanks for the great thoughts from everyone.

Ok, another suggestion for me. If you are posting feedback using someone else's name or have changed yours recently, please say who you are. It is very confusing when two people use the same sign on to leave feedback. I once had a reader write and say how amazing the post was. Then a few posts later, the same signon wrote me a "burn in hell..." type feedback. Then the same sign on again with the "great update." It turned out that 2 friends were using the same computer-thus same sign on.

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 Post subject: Re: The Art of Leaving Feedback
PostPosted: Wed Apr 27, 2005 7:44 am 
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Oh, geeze - yes, you're right. You need a passive verb (by using a form of "to be") to have passive voice. I stand (okay, fine, I'm sitting) corrected. In the interest of getting a refresher on the subject, I found the following link (I particularly liked the part where they say "passive verb constructions tend to lie about in their pajamas and avoid actual work."):

http://webster.commnet.edu/grammar/passive.htm

Then, being a nerd, I browsed around that site for fun. It's actually pretty darn neat, and I'd recommend it for anyone who doesn't have a grammar book handy and needs a refresher (like me - I hadn't realized quite how much I'd forgotten on the subject).

And to distract everyone from the fact this post has nothing to do with leaving feedback:

:wtkiss

-Sass


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 Post subject: Re: The Art of Leaving Feedback
PostPosted: Wed Apr 27, 2005 12:11 pm 
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Personally, getting to the actual subject of leaving feedback, I myself try to leave something more than the standard "Love your story, keep up the good work."

[Seinfeld voice]

Not that there's anything wrong with that...

[/Seinfeld voice]

My suggestion would be to pick a particular sequence in the story of which you are leaving feedback, and give it a mention.

Ex: "I loved the part when Willow and Tara stripped Spike naked while he was asleep, put his clothes in the washer on hot, and shrank them!" :bow

Being a Certified Feedback Whore (CFW) this is the sort of feedback that makes my whole week. :-D


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 Post subject: Re: The Art of Leaving Feedback
PostPosted: Thu Apr 28, 2005 1:16 pm 
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Well it seems like posting this wasn't as bad an idea as I feared. I didn't want to be too pretentious or pretend like I have all the answers or anything.

Thanks DW for the example of mixing tenses. I see that a lot in FF and it drives me up the wall, but I just couldn't get out an example. Sassette I agree with you that Passive Voice is something that should be avoided, but is useful at times. The worst time to use passive is during an action sequence as it removes the action from the actor. By and large you want to keep things simple and direct. However, something like "The door was opened." or "A crossbow was fired." can be useful. I might quibble and say in the latter case, "A bolt shot through the air and narrowly missed Buffy." or something else that is more descriptive and more action evocative without relying on the passive "a crossbow was fired," BUT each author needs to decide what works best for them. I have had avoid passive drummed into my head in college and tend to parrot that back, unfortunately. There are times when WHO did the action is not as important as the action was done, period. I find this is the case with agencies and such: GM issued a recall for car x. A recall was issued for car x. Either can be fine.


Point of View is another good topic to leave feedback on. Skipping around between multiple points of view in the same paragraph is generally not a good idea. You can comment on whether the first person worked, if the third person would have been better, or which character's PoV might have worked better. PoV is another big choice a writer makes and can be a good thing to comment on, though it often goes unnoticed.

I agree with Justskipit and Cpt. Murdock that ANY feedback is generally good, I just hope that this can allow people to be a bit more particular in their responses if they like.

Oh, and Capt. Murdock, I actually like Missing Persons. I found the mix of electronics and the weird voice pretty cool.

Anyway, I'll try and get back to writing something and maybe even reading a bit more. If someone could tell us how to be able to read more of the stories here that would be really helpful! :)

Garner


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 Post subject: Re: The Art of Leaving Feedback
PostPosted: Thu Apr 28, 2005 8:13 pm 
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Thanks for writing about POV ...

As for reading more stories here - my advice would be to win the lottery and quit your job, thereby leaving scads of fic time.

I've noticed that all the replies on this thread so far are writers. This might be a good place to broach the idea of what writers can do to encourage feedback (DW - bribing readers? Seriously awesome).

Something that springs to mind is to use the update thread to post a three or four sentence synopsis with every post announcing an update - maybe even the "disclaimer" header to the fic (synopsis, rating, pairing, setting (which season or AU), and spoilers). I would think that would generate more readers looking for that "type" of story, and theoretically, more readers who would then have some comments on it.

-Sass


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 Post subject: Re: The Art of Leaving Feedback
PostPosted: Fri Apr 29, 2005 3:55 pm 
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Good thread. :D

I don't have much to say here since I'm no expert on leaving feedback, I try my best though. When I have the time I can use a good long while to try to tell the author what I liked and why. And I, like probably most people here, like fics that are written as grammatically correct as possible, but I'm not very good at saying whatever I didn't really like if there was anything I didn't like. :ashamed

I was kinda just supposed to say that "Thanks DW for writing this!" :D
Quote:
Incorrect ~~ "Buffy was sat down on the couch."


I've gotten so used to seeing authors write with mixed tenses like this - that I was starting to get confused about whether I had missed something in my English Grammar classes lol. :eyebrow Now I can just say "I KNEW it was wrong! :bounce

I'll just be scampering off somewhere to read now. :p

Liv

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 Post subject: Re: The Art of Leaving Feedback
PostPosted: Sat Apr 30, 2005 2:33 pm 
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Ooohhh... I remember now you, you're the Garner from Tara's journal :wave. I knew I had seen that name somewhere :lol.

Good, having settled that... there's little story to comment on in this thread, hardly any development at all, heh.

I think I've never posted a one-line feedback message to any thread. As a non-writer I try to at least tell the writer (who has spend considerable time writing the story after all) what I liked, while sneakily mixing in some remarks about stuff I didn't like. I'm getting more selective in which stories to read, so I tend to have less and less remarks about stuff I didn't like :).

As for how to encourage people to leave more detailed feedback, I don't know... sorry. I guess some people are just not the type to write lotsa stuff in replies. It comes rather easy to me since I'm a fast typer :applause

Hmmm... doubt that was helpfull.. :lol

Grimmy

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 Post subject: Re: The Art of Leaving Feedback
PostPosted: Sat Apr 30, 2005 5:28 pm 
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Well, first off I'm thrilled to see Grimmy comment in this thread. I'd have to rank Grimmy in the top 1 or 2 feedbackers on this forum (from my stories that is). Once piece of advice to people wondering how to write feedback: look at Grimmy's average comments. Incredibly insightful and detailed. You can always count on her (I think, sorry if I'm wrong on that) to tell you not only what she likes but very definitely what she DOES NOT. I so appreciate that as a writer. You can't imagine.

I thought of something in resposne to "what can we do as writers?" Ok, 2 things.

1. Write stories which cause deep thought or mystery. If the reader is wondering what the story will show or what has happened, they are likely to comment on it and ask questions. I must say that my current story has a bit of a mystery feel to it. Because it's written in two separate times, the 2nd time gives a lot of clues to the events of the 1st time. I'm amazed and impressed by the wonderful way the readers are getting into sleuthing the clues and making their guesses about the outcome.

2. RETURN THE FAVOR! If a reader writes you 150 words on what they liked/did not like, don't say "thanks for your comments." Elaborate on what they said. Was that your favorite part too? Did they pick up on what you were trying to convey? If they are a good reader, tell them that and tell them why you say so.

And also, something I love about feedback: I frequently put very subtle jokes into my stories. I am so thrilled I can't even say when someone catches one and comments on it. It absolutely makes my day. If the reader sees a pun, an in-joke, a show reference, I am thrilled.

Ok, that's enough babbling and I just rented some movies. Thanks.

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 Post subject: Re: The Art of Leaving Feedback
PostPosted: Sun May 01, 2005 3:32 am 
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JustSkipIt wrote:

2. RETURN THE FAVOR! If a reader writes you 150 words on what they liked/did not like, don't say "thanks for your comments." Elaborate on what they said. Was that your favorite part too? Did they pick up on what you were trying to convey? If they are a good reader, tell them that and tell them why you say so.



I have to second that.

See, the thing is, it's very difficult to give a decent feedback in a foreign language. Often there are a lot of thoughts stumbeling through my brain and I just can't get it right in English.

But if I make the effort to write it all down and fight through my quirky thoughts and the difficulty of translating them, then I really appreciate a reaction of some kind. It's a lot more fun giving feedback when you know the author really thought about what you wrote. (and the reaction indicates just that)

It's really interesting talking about a good story, especially with the author.

I hope I managed to make my point clear.

Insanity


Last edited by Insanity on Sun Jul 15, 2012 7:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: The Art of Leaving Feedback
PostPosted: Sun May 01, 2005 10:49 am 
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I would like to agree with justskipit that Grimlock is definitely one of, if not the, best leavers of feedback that I have for the Journal story. Kudos and thanks are definitely in order there. As an author it is always great to see that someone is willing to put in the time and effort to think that much about what you wrote. It is one of the reasons I do edit and revise stories quite a bit before posting. However, I also hope that other readers don't get intimidated by any of those that leave the longer feedbacks. There is no need to think that they have "said it all." You might disagree with them, see something they missed, or have had a personal favorite line or section that didn't strike them the same way. This is why I stressed that everyone's view is valid. Grimlock leaves great feedback, but she (?) might not always be right or missed that in joke or show reference you noticed. :)

And I totally agree with justskipit and Insanity on the point of authors responding or at least acknowledging what people have written. It is nice to see that the author has taken the time to read the comments you leave and remark on them. Sometimes that leads to discussion or more expansion on some of the points raised in a story. That sort of thing is rare but can be very cool.

As for specific stories that encourage more feedback, well, any good story should deserve feedback, anything with some insight into the characters or with an interesting situation, though the mystery style definitely will tend to encourage more speculation. I have found that smaller update style stories get more responses than complete fics. Personally I prefer to read complete stories as I don't always get online and hate plowing through a lot of pages to download stuff in chunks and I always read off line. I know others like to print stuff out and read on hard copy. Smaller updates and more frequent ones get people into the story and coming back and generally that leaves more unanswered questions, which a more complete or longer segment will raise and then answer. I am very guilty of this latter style though I probably won't change it just for more feedback. I like editing and revising so that things are smoother and sometimes do go back and change stuff based on where I ended up. But, authors can post more frequently and keep their story in the reader's mind.

This has definitely turned out to be a more interesting topic than I expected. We obviously have some pretty thoughtful and smart people on this board and that certainly helps. Yay Kittens! :)

Garner


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 Post subject: Re: The Art of Leaving Feedback
PostPosted: Mon May 02, 2005 8:51 am 
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Good thread...it gets boring after a while when all you get for feedback is smilies taking cold showers and drooling...but I must disagree on the passive voice thing...unless it is a very bad story, a story is NOT a term paper and therefore the same rules do not apply...I personally have a very good command of grammar and language etc. but choose to use fragments and the passive voice and as any of my readers know, veritable storms of ellipses...in order to acheive the rhythm I am looking for...bad grammar makes me as crazy as the next person...but there are rare ocassions when I have in fact happened upon a very good story that was very poorly written gramatically...but the story itself was so interesting that I made it through (mostly by telling myself that English was obviously not this person's first language)...anyway, as I often do I have managed to get off track...as I always say, if it weren't for going off on tangents, I'd never travel at all...my point being...well, not my original point, but...I would be rather annoyed if someone sent feedback correcting my grammar or punctuation etc...as I said before, a story is not a term paper...and if everyone wrote by the same stringent rules, then things would be awfully boring...as one of my favorite quotes says...technique is nothing more than failed style

umgaynow


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 Post subject: Re: The Art of Leaving Feedback
PostPosted: Mon May 02, 2005 12:26 pm 
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It warms the cockles of my dorky heart to see this thread, and the intelligent comments that have been made thus far. I wanted to post in this thread for a couple of reasons. First, I recently delurked to start writing a story, and I have now come to realize the importance of feedback. I was a seriously long-term, hardcore lurker, and I deeply regret not telling authors, many of whom have commented in this thread, how much I enjoyed their stories years ago. To you, Garner, DarkWiccan, Sassette, JustSkipIt, CaptMurdock, umgaynow, I give my humblest apologies and thanks for your hard work and thoughtful stories. I promise to be less shy in the future.

Second, I often have dialogues about grammar/writing style, and I wanted to offer my two cents. I believe, and I've been told, that I am a very strong writer, and I never really worried about using the passive voice, mixing tenses, etc. because my only writing experience has been academic and I shook those bad habits long ago. Yet writing fiction is a whole new ballgame, in my opinion. I agree with those that have said that the passive voice is useful for suspense or atmosphere, and I cannot say I never use it, but I believe that writing can be more engaging when it is avoided as much as possible.

Proofreading is essential. Whether it be done via beta, or just walking away from your story for a few hours and going back to it with a fresh pair of eyes, nothing trips up the reader's experience like a misspelled word or poor use of tenses. Spellcheck is awesome, but it will not catch use of there/their/they're and various other words that, while spelled correctly, are inappropriate. I cannot say I have never been guilty of sloppy proofreading, but I am still fairly nit-picky.

The main reason I wanted to post was to share a few items off a funny list of writing rules that I received several years ago. I do not always follow these rules, especially in more informal communiques such as an e-mail to a friend, but they are good to follow. Some are applicable to writing fiction, and several are not, but I felt the folks in this thread would get the same nerdy chuckle I did.

(1) Avoid alliteration. Always.
(2) Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do.
(3) The adverb always follows the verb.
(4) Employ the vernacular.
(5) Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
(6) Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are unnecessary.
(7) Remember to never split an infinitive.
(8) Contractions aren't necessary.
(9) Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.
(10) One should never generalize.
(11) Comparisons are as bad as cliches.
(12) Don't be redundant; don't use more words than necessary; it's highly superfluous.
(13) Be more or less specific.
(14) One-word sentences? Eliminate.
(15) Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.
(16) The passive voice is to be avoided.
(17) Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.
(18) Even if a mixed metaphor sings it should be derailed.
(19) Who needs rhetorical questions?
(20) Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.
(21) Don't never use double negation.
(22) capitalize every sentence and remember always end it with a point
(23) Do not put statements in the negative form.
(24) Verbs have to agree with their subjects.
(25) Proofread carefully to see if you words out.
(26) If you reread your work, you can find on rereading a great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing.
(27) A writer must not shift your point of view.
(28) And don't start a sentence with a conjunction. (Remember, too, a preposition is a terrible word to end a sentence with.)
(29) Don't overuse exclamation marks!!!!!!!
(30) Place pronouns as close as possible, especially in long sentences, as of 10 words of more, to their antecedents.
(31) Writing carefully, dangling participles must be avoided.
(32) If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
(33) Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
(34) Last but not least, avoid cliches like the plague; they're old hat; seek viable alternatives.

Hope it amused. Many of these rules have been stated before in the thread, some have not. Also, an alternate to #28 is, "Ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I will not put." Thanks!

~ringwaldoeuvre (Mary)

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 Post subject: Re: The Art of Leaving Feedback
PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2005 2:29 pm 
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ringwaldoeuvre, great list. I think I may have seen that before online or somewhere, but it is great! And what you said is very true as well. I think as a reader, one of my biggest complaints is when an author obviously hasn't edited their work. So many little gaffs can be solved by not posting today, re-reading tomorrow after letting the brain refresh, and then posting. The usual response to this is "It's just fanfic that I don't have time to go through and check again." Fair enough. We all have time constraints and RL to deal with. But, on the other hand, I have a lot of stories to choose from and those that don't edit I might not choose to read because they are just fanfics that aren't worth that extra time.

Umgaynow, while the above list and other maxims are usually good, the one thing about fiction is that exceptions are always the rule! :) Look at Faulkner's works. One paragraph sentences, which often go on for a page or so, are not good english, yet he is a venerated author (by some at least). Breaking the rules for specific reasons is part of the author's job, can be part of their style, and shows their skill. I use fragments at times, run on sentences, passive voice, and probably a number of other horrible things that sometimes work within the context of the story or paragraph. Experimenting with fiction is fun and can be interesting, and as you mention, one shouldn't get too attached to any of these rules, either for authors or for those leaving feedback. Sometimes a simple "I really loved this story. It gave me a smile." Is the best. It lets the author know you did read it and that you took the time to comment, no matter how simple. Leaving SOME feedback, no matter how short, is probably better than none. So Irene73, don't worry about leaving just a few words or what have you. Yes we like longer thoughts, but any are good too.

Garner


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 Post subject: Re: The Art of Leaving Feedback
PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2005 2:48 pm 
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Garner wrote:
ringwaldoeuvre, great list. I think I may have seen that before online or somewhere, but it is great! And what you said is very true as well. I think as a reader, one of my biggest complaints is when an author obviously hasn't edited their work. So many little gaffs can be solved by not posting today, re-reading tomorrow after letting the brain refresh, and then posting. The usual response to this is "It's just fanfic that I don't have time to go through and check again." Fair enough. We all have time constraints and RL to deal with. But, on the other hand, I have a lot of stories to choose from and those that don't edit I might not choose to read because they are just fanfics that aren't worth that extra time.



I agree. People don't realize that even the insignificant errors can disrupt a reader's submersion into the story. They realize a word is misspelled (and that, right there, is one of the most misspelled words -- "misspell"), or the wrong tense was used, and their suspension of the outside world disintegrates.

I myself don't use a beta reader, and this has sometimes caused me to regret it. My wife says I have an unholy grasp of spelling and grammer; regardless, I try to be very careful to read everything through before I post. Often, I find that there are bits of dialogue, not misspellings or disgrammatica (is that a word?) that make me cringe upon rereading a story of mine.

Oh, and Garner: I happen to like Missing Persons too. I used that particular song as part of the "not knowing where you're going" theme for that story (BTW, that was four years ago? You're just now getting back to me on that?


Last edited by CaptMurdock on Sun Jul 15, 2012 7:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: The Art of Leaving Feedback
PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2005 5:36 pm 
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I just have to pipe in and say that I'm really enjoying reading this thread, and to emphatically agree with a few points, and to one new point.

1) Nothing encourages feedback like responding to feedback. Answering questions about the story (or coyly avoiding answering questions, as the situation warrants), giving some insight into the origin of a passage that was particularly liked, and/or simply thanking the reader for responding makes people more likely to post something.

2) Great list, ringwaldouvre - thank you for sharing it. I got quite a few chuckles there. :)

3) A good beta reader is worth their weight in gold. For anything that's going to have multiple parts, I have a beta reader that I adore in ways I cannot describe (for many and varied reasons, I don't use one for the vignette series, but that's being fully aware that the typos that get past my second read-through will turn some people off). The main thing to keep in mind when acquiring a beta reader (is there still a thread for beta volunteers?) is to be specific about the kinds of comments you want. Do you want grammar advice? Plot input? Character notes? Figure out what you're looking for before contacting a beta reader. Oh, and don't just send the fic - ask the person if they'd be willing to beta and what kind of comments you're looking for first.

On to my new point. Many people lurk and do not leave feedback for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, it's simply time constraints (I sometimes have time to read, but not to write - and that includes writing feedback, though I try to keep up with it, or to make a mental note of stories I want to comment on when I >do< have time). Other times, it's the "lots of people have already said what I want to say and I don't want to be redundant" thing.

Still other times, it's simply a matter of shyness.

So I offer up this idea, for people who don't want to delurk on a message board with 650 users: I guarantee a fic-writer will be >thrilled< to get a private message or an email, even if it's something that has already been said in the thread.

-Sass


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 Post subject: Re: The Art of Leaving Feedback
PostPosted: Wed May 04, 2005 7:29 pm 
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I too am enjoying this thread, but I think there's something that needs to be said here.

There is an art to leaving feedback, and some of us have no art.

It's very intimidating to read some of the wonderful feed and realize that you are incapable. It's especially frustrating to fall in love with someone's work, and be unable to adequately express how deeply it has moved you. For a gifted writer the notion of being unable to express oneself may be unbelievable, yet we are not all gifted.

I don't think it's a good idea to criticize those of us who delurk to leave a simple one line "Thank you, I love it", because then we just won't ever say anything at all.

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 Post subject: Re: The Art of Leaving Feedback
PostPosted: Wed May 04, 2005 7:51 pm 
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Quote:
I don't think it's a good idea to criticize those of us who delurk to leave a simple one line "Thank you, I love it", because then we just won't ever say anything at all.


Oh, I don't think anyone has been intending to criticize at all. In fact, I've noticed a number of folks on this thread say that the simple "great update" or "I love this fic" comments are appreciated just as much as the longer replies.

Let me tell you about one thing that really helped me as a reader and supplier of feedback -- I stopped thinking about it. Yep. It was that simple.

I don't feel confident enough in my own abilities to write fan fic. So, obviously, I thought that carried over into my ability to leave feedback. What I finally realized is that I've been giving feedback, in one way or another, for most of my life. Whether it be at the office or in a classroom. Innately, most of us are critical thinkers at heart. I think that's one of the reasons we've gravitated toward this board (and other fic archives) -- we saw something in BtVS worth mulling over. We found it worthy of thought and consideration. And we pretty much decided to either turn those thoughts into something more thought provoking by writing a fic, or we attached ourselves to our favorite archives, boards and authors to experience what others created...some of us did both.

Okay, so back to my whole "I stopped thinking about it" concept. (See? It works. I just turn off the part of my brain that says "oh you really shouldn't be typing anything--they don't want to read this" and just type.) Anyway, my concept. I did just stop thinking about it. I finally decided that I had read so many wonderful stories that I just had to say something. And, yes, many of my very first posts consisted of very quick "Great fic, update soon" types of messages. Okay...great. I told the author that I liked what I was reading and that I wanted to read more. When I found a fic that especially spoke to me in some way, I found that I just typed what was in my head at the moment (much like I am now). I didn't censor myself. I just did some freewriting...stream-of-consciousness. I let it go until I didn't have anything else to type. Then I simply went back to read what I had written...to make sure that I was making some sense. Then, I hit the submit button.

You see, I didn't worry about whether or not other people would agree with what I wrote or whether they would think what I wrote was articulate or eloquent. I just felt satisfied because, for better or worse, I had given something back to the author.

Now, is this to say that everyone should do what I did/do? ABSOLUTELY not! This is just me writing about my own "feedbacking" experience (and, yes, I know that's not really a word ;) ). There are definitely times when all I can say in response to a fic or an update is "wow!" And I'm okay with that. Because, I know that the author will, in his or her own way, understand and be grateful.

Okay, that's my two cents (okay, maybe that's my buck and a half -- this is a long post). I have also been enjoying this thread...and appreciating the various points of view. I look forward to reading more on this topic. Who knows, maybe I'll find more to say at another time. :flirt

Carleen

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 Post subject: Re: The Art of Leaving Feedback
PostPosted: Wed May 04, 2005 8:23 pm 
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I think that this post deserves a sticky at the top of the forum. It's an important topic that all readers of fanfic - especially those that are members of a community - need to be well aware of. While not everyone is able to give feedback of Grimmy's caliber (I know that I'm usually too bowled over by how much I liked a story to leave more than a few paragraphs or even just a "great, I loved it, sorry I don't have more to say") it's important for everyone to know the basics.

I know that back when I actually got off my lazy butt to write fanfic (way back when... I should really dig out RH and finish it....) I loved getting feedback and responding to it. It really did make me more eager to write up my next chapter (here's hoping that some lurkers will start delurking) so that I could hear more from readers.

And now, because I'm rambling, I will sign off.

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 Post subject: Re: The Art of Leaving Feedback
PostPosted: Thu May 05, 2005 5:21 am 
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Just a couple of comments. As a writer I have noticed a huge decline in feedback. We spend alot of time creating these stories and I don't think it is too much to ask that a reader make some kind of comment about what they've just read. Seriously, you took the time to read it, why not repay the talent by sharing how it made you feel. It is very discouraging to see 500 people have read an update but only 4 people reply about it. Feedback is fuel to a writer. If I didn't want to stir up emotions I'd just leave the sucker to fester on my hard drive.

I'll admit leaving feedback is hard because you don't want to say something stupid or insulting. I remember getting feedback in P & P that was very upsetting and I didn't understand why someone would be so mean about a story. It helped me to see the power a writer has and what a responsibility it is to share our perspective respectfully. I'm not asking for feedback as long as my posts, but some idea about how the story makes you feel, would be nice.

My 2 cents.
completely unedited and my beta is probably turning her hair looking at all of the errors, but my 2 cents come gramatically incorrect. Matches the policitally incorret. :p

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 Post subject: Re: The Art of Leaving Feedback
PostPosted: Thu May 05, 2005 7:15 am 
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Urn of Osiris wrote:
As a writer I have noticed a huge decline in feedback.

As a new-ish writer, this has at times, caused me to question my decision to post my stories in a public arena such as Pens. They were doing fine on my own website, all hidden away, they were just for my own benefit and fun. Then I got discovered and linked to .

When I first started posting, I didn't get a lot of attention. I think Part 1 of Common Areas had all of 8 comments. But I was over the moon, I read and re-read those 8, it was like getting an "A" for a school essay. Some writers who I really admired (read: Debra, who was there from Day 1) started showing up and commenting. Grimmy stopped by. It's like I was a little folk singer in a pub and Elvis came up to say he thought I sang good and we started talking. (I know he's dead, but you know what I mean.)

My point is, feedback, whether it's a one liner or lengthy analysis, was exactly what I needed to continue. Do I want the massive amount of feedback some older fics in the archive attracted, just because there were lots more people then? Of course. Do I wish I were like some other writers who seem to have a big following who will automatically get dozens of replies per update? Yes, but I know I have to earn that.

JustSkipIt wrote:
RETURN THE FAVOR!

Sassette wrote:
Nothing encourages feedback like responding to feedback.

Word. No use sitting there expecting people to comment just because you posted a fic. I try to give something back -- thanking people for reading, trying to address points raised, clarifying if anything confused. Sometimes going on and on about my own life that may be not as interesting. But it's dialogue with the feedbacker. May be one day I'll turn around and discover I've become a more senior writer in the pecking order and have some more confidence in my work. But I know I'll have to put the effort in, it goes both ways. Like many things in life, it's up to you to get noticed and gain respect. It's not unlike climbing up the corporate ladder, or getting off the bench and into the starting lineup.

Don't get me wrong. I've been there. I lurked here for ages before registering, always thinking "I don't have the eloquence to write all those feedback" or "they seem to be talking in code, is there some inside joke I didn't understand" or simply too intimidated, or shy, or lazy. It takes a certain amount of courage, and even thick-skinnedness, to comment, because you're exposing a part of yourself when you do that. And being a very private person, that "coming out" was the hardest part.

GayNow wrote:
I stopped thinking about it.

What Carleen said made perfect sense to me. I think about what I write when I leave feedback but I stopped trying too hard to word my comments perfectly, or worry about whether it's been said before, if I was using too many smilies/not enough smilies. As long as what I wrote made sense and was considerate (ie won't be seen as a personal attack), then I was happy to post it. Usually I just write about what I liked best, which sentence/phrase/paragraph I enjoyed, and perhaps even being boring and recounting a little of the update to show "I got it". Sometimes though, a simple "great!" or "wow" was all I wanted to say, and I said it.

My last point is this. I think any and all feedback are valid and have their place in a community such as ours and are greatly appreciated. However there are two types of comments that I don't want to receive:

1. Personal attack - it's offensive and degrades the feedbacker. It's an affront to our community. That's all I'll say.

2. Comments like "it's been ages, where's the update? You owe us." All fanfic writers write in their spare time, ALL have work / school / family / RL that has to take priority. I'd love to spend all my time writing, but I have a mortgage. Please don't hound.

In the spirit of going both ways, I do think that writers who haven't updated in a long time (like, a year or more) should consider putting a note up to say they're taking a break / not going to continue. It's only considerate.

YMMV, of course.


Last edited by watty on Sun Jul 15, 2012 7:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: The Art of Leaving Feedback
PostPosted: Thu May 05, 2005 8:48 am 
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It's great to see so many people jumping into this thread.

noho - you're completely correct, but I know that implying that only really long detailed feedback is good wasn't the point of this thread. I believe the point of this thread was to give people ideas about what kinds of things to comment on, in the case where not knowing what kinds of things to comment on were what was keeping the reader from commenting.

To my mind, there are three kinds of constructive feedback (as watson says, personal attacks and/or "where is my update!?" aren't necessarily constructive, though more on the latter later). There is feedback that makes the writer better. This feedback involves grammar, POV, and/or other technical points about the writer's style - what works and what didn't work as far as the construction of the story. Then there is the feedback that makes the story better. This feedback involves questions and/or comments about the story itself, or speculation about where something is going - things like that. Some of these kinds of comments have been known to give a fic writer ideas that alter the line of the story subtly, or add some depth to the story, because the writer expands upon a point that the readers commented on repeatedly, instead of just glossing over it and moving on.

Then, there is the feedback that keeps the writer going - this is the very simple and much appreciated "hey - I'm a person out there somewhere who is reading this story, and I like it."

So I'm very sure the writers don't mean to knock the short, sweet "wow" or "loved it!", because those comments are appreciated. The only thing I would say is remotely a "problem" with those comments, for me, is this: replying to feedback is one of the best things about being a fic-writer on this board. I sometimes feel like I'm repeating myself when I say some variation of "gosh, thanks" to lots of people - but that is my problem, not the feedbacker's problem. I'll deal with feeling silly and redundant, because each "gosh, thanks" is absolutely sincere, because I do appreciate anyone who takes the time to write >anything< in response to some fic I've written.

That said - watson mentioned two types of feedback that are not appreciated. Personal attacks, of course, are not welcome - and has this even been a problem on this board? I've been away awhile, but I haven't seen that.

As for the "where's my update?" feedback - as a reader (though, I have little time to read recently), I know how frustrating it can be to just love a story to pieces and then ... nothing. Characters left hanging in impossible situations can drive people up the wall. And while, as a writer, I totally understand finding yourself unable to finish a fic (because, y'know, I find myself in that situation right now), it does, in fact, suck. It really sucks all around when a story gets started and doesn't get finished. For the readers, it sucks, because they've devoted a lot of time to following a story that's not going to go anywhere, and for a writer it sucks for several reasons: because they've devoted a lot of time to writing a story that's not going to go anywhere, because it usually means they've had some fairly major life-happenings that caused them to stop writing, and because writers who don't finish a story really do feel like they've let their readers down.

On the other hand, "where's my update?" can be flattering, and can show that the readers are still interested in a story, and want it to continue. That interest can sometimes 'revive' a dead story, so it kind of works both ways. I would just ask that readers keep in mind that no matter how much they love a story, the writers love it more, or they wouldn't have started writing it in the first place - so if it's possible to finish it, they will. A gentle reminder that an unfinished fic is very well-loved, and that the readers would be interested in reading the rest can possibly get a writer back on track - but sometimes it can't. That is, of course, for stories that have been 'dead' for awhile, and may or may not continue - stories that just have a slow period of updating usually mean the writer has lots of RL stuff to do/get through, and they'll be back to writing as soon as they can. In that instance, it's possible that the writer is stressed, freaked, worried, or otherwise in a not-so-nice place in their lives, so a "where's my update" can be just another thing piled up on their head when they've got too much piled up there already. For those situations, I would respectfully suggest, instead of "where's my update", the reader merely say "gosh, I really like this story - I'm looking forward to reading more when it's available", because that shows interest, but doesn't add pressure.

Did that make any sense?

-Sass


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 Post subject: Re: The Art of Leaving Feedback
PostPosted: Thu May 05, 2005 9:38 am 
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As a writer I'd say that any positive feedback is appreciated, even if it's just saying, "Word!" because it shows someone likes your story, that you're not shouting it out to the ether. As has been said even something that simple can motivate a writer. We're feedback addicts. The feedback gives us a high, so we write faster in order to be able to update and get another does of that oh so good, feedback feeling :)

Conversely, for me, one of the worst feelings is when you're posting an update and the last post in the thread was your last update because no one has left any update. When you get to the stage of having four or so posts in a row all being updates, without any feedback in between then you do start to wonder if maybe you should pack in the whole writng lark and become a mime instead. ;)

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 Post subject: Re: The Art of Leaving Feedback
PostPosted: Thu May 05, 2005 10:48 am 
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Well let's see, a lot of comments and wonderfully useful additions have been made recently. Gaynow's point about not thinking too much about your feedback and just going from the gut is amazingly apt and a good point to take to heart. That's actually how this thread got started, I figured it was just worth bringing up and if it was ignored, well, fine. After all, we're all kittens here. We're all pretty friendly and while we're judgmental in many cases, like talking about how horrible season sux was (or even defending parts of it), usually that isn't used for anyone leaving feedback. No, I don't know of any personal attacks on writers, I just included that as one of those "it goes unsaid..." things that I thought should be explicitly mentioned. Having been doing a fair amount of rules writing recently I tend to feel everything should be stated explicitly, just in case. Anyway, my point is that when leaving feedback you really don't have to worry about sounding dumb or like you're stating the obvious. ANY response is superior to none. As should be evident from the writers above, we all like getting some feedback. While it is nice to see 500 or more people looked at a story, the feedback let's us know that the story was actually read, and not just downloaded or looked at, started and then stopped as not interesting, boring, too (or not enough) AUey, wrong time period or whatever. I will be the first to admit I have looked at things or started them only to go, ick, and stop. I did that less before and tried to respond even if I didn't like the story (wrong pairings or focus character are still my biggest turnoffs), but with less time to read I get more picky on what I finish. Even the short feedback let's the writer know that you finished the piece and took the time to respond.

Sass wrote (assuming I am using the Quote thing right :) )

Quote:
On the other hand, "where's my update?" can be flattering, and can show that the readers are still interested in a story, and want it to continue.


and I would like to weigh in on this. I also agree that for a fic that has been quiet for a while, not more than maybe 2-4 months maybe, we can quibble on how long, some sort of query as to whether the story is still continuing, wondering if there will be another update or any other sort of enthusiastic and polite needling can be really nice to see. A comment like "it's been ages, are you going to update?" can be fine. The "you owe us?" sort of insistency, unless obviously said with humor and understanding, can be going too far. For writers who are snowed under in RL or what have you, seeing that people still care about the story and want you to continue can be a nice boost and can make them want to continue later, when they get the chance. Of course if possible an author should respond to said questions even if it is a simple: "I do intend to get back to this, right now I am swamped, but it is gratifying to see there is still interest. Maybe in a month or so I'll finally have the time." The overall point is not to be too demanding or strident in asking if there will be another update?

And that actually brings me to another point that feedback could cover. The resolution/conclusion. Did the author ties things together nicely? Did the outcome flow logically from the setup and buildup? Was it exciting, romantic, humorous or whatever? Was it satisfying? I know a lot of stuff posted here is serial style, but occasionally there are complete works or the last part does come about. How an author ties everything together and what you are left feeling at the end can be really important.

The whole point of this thread was to try and encourage those that were shy, intimidated, unsure or just didn't know what they should say with some sort of idea for things they could say. A way for those with a bit more time to say something more extensive if possible. Maybe challenge readers to be more thoughtful and try a lengthier feedback. Hopefully that will happen at least once.

I also noticed some of the older writers posting here: Urn, Sass, Cpt Murdock, Tempest (maybe?) who I think all predate me on the board. I think those of us who have been here longer need to remember the show has been done for what, two years now? The number of kittens active per day has dropped, and while there are newer ones joining, the sheer volume from the heydays of season 5 and even sux is over. That was sort of like a golden time, and now things have slowed down. That's too bad, but I think we are lucky to still be here, to have people who are still interested and who want to read W/T fics. Maybe we just have to get used to the newer times a bit.

Garner

PS Capt. Murdock, I actually thought I had sent you a direct email feedback on Road to Nowhere. I got that from Wiccan Ways or someplace like that after it was done, before I was a kitten (Ior just around when I joined the board) but I also had wonky email around that time and was changing computers, not by choice either. I'll have to go back and see if I still have my thoughts on that story, it was a good one that stuck with me, obviously, though I recall having some reservation about one portion. Damn, this is going to stick in the back of my mind now. I guess even belated feedback is better than none.


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 Post subject: Re: The Art of Leaving Feedback
PostPosted: Thu May 05, 2005 2:56 pm 
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7. Teeny Tinkerbell Light

Joined: Sun Apr 24, 2005 3:47 pm
Posts: 565
Location: Canada
Garner, great idea putting this thread up. The discussion is certainly thought provoking. Like many, time is short and obligations are long in my life. However, you shamed my lurking heart into action. I read the first post and moseyed on over to plunk my two-cents into a story I’ve been reading, but not quite finding time to “feedback” to the author. I know there are a lot of stories (quite a few from writers who’ve posted here) that I long to read. If only life we’re a little more lenient…Not much of an apology, but some. Oddly, one reason I haven’t read many stories recently is I don’t have time to leave feedback to the author. It doesn’t seem fair…some weird guilt thing happening. And now that I look at this on paper, that statement seems absurd.

Regarding the nature of feedback (and to play devil’s advocate for a minute). Another reason I stopped reading/responding to fics (at least as much as I used to, time constraints aside) was the authors’ replies. Not all writers like detailed commentary or constructive criticisms. Giving constructive comments, and getting back…well I’m only doing this for fun…makes one take a few steps back from the process. As a result, “gee great update,” becomes appealing. I’ve learned to be much more guarded in leaving detailed analysis or commentary. I don’t mean this quite as highbrow as it sounds, only to illustrate a point. It might be a good idea for writers to be clear about the type of feedback they’re interested in, especially in the realm of critical analysis. Personally, you can buzz saw anything I put up, as long as the intent is constructive and/or instructive, and with permission, I’ll give what I get – so to speak. The KB environment is a wonderful place to workshop, where writers can take advantage of a readymade, captive audience (especially in Pens). While I definitely prefer, “WOW!! Awesome,” followed by a mind-blowing critical analysis of the piece, and all that other fun stuff, there are times when even seeing, “this sucked,” would be motive to keep going. At least you know someone cared enough to respond.

Think it’s quiet for feedback on Pens? Take a wander into Inward Eye. I’m hoping that perhaps this feedback discussion might reach beyond the confines of W/T fics in Pens. Granted, most of my work is posted in Inward Eye, so I’m not being totally altruistic here, but there are some amazing writers and poets putting work up, and hardly anyone’s reading it, and fewer still are responding. There’s a great community of writers who belong to the KB, maybe we can be more active and proactive in encouraging participation in creative forums. I suppose at heart, most writers are feedback junkies (guilty, guilty, guilty – and also guilty of being somewhat lax in putting into practice what I’ve just preached).

There’s a lot to consider here, and I hope, Garner and everyone who’s taken time to write such thoughtful commentaries, that a few more people react the way I did: Read, Feed and Respond.

Cheers!!
Patches


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 Post subject: Re: The Art of Leaving Feedback
PostPosted: Sat May 07, 2005 6:21 pm 
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32. Kisses and Gay Love
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I hope this doesn't double post but I've checked for the first one three times and exited the thread and board and it wasn't here yet:

HI everyone,
Let me say that I love this thread and agree that it could very well use a sticky at the top of the page. It seems to me that it has actually moved past the art of leaving feedback and into the art of writing which is really great. We have had “about writing” threads in the past and they were good but always petered out.

Anyway, there have been quite a few posts since my last and I wonder what I have to say…

Garner wrote:
Quote:
Sometimes that leads to discussion or more expansion on some of the points raised in a story. That sort of thing is rare but can be very cool.
I think it’s awesome when it happens. One of the things that I love about this type of forum is that it makes writing an interactive art rather than a didactic one. Frequently readers ask questions or make suggestions that lead me to thoughts that make it into my story. I can honestly say that the idea of Paths leapt into my head on a four hour drive following a feedback and response session with some readers of Y’all. Frequently questions will make it clear to me that what I wrote didn’t express what I wanted to express. In that case, I really think of the readers as being my helper writers or something like that.

UmGayNow wrote:
Quote:
it gets boring after a while when all you get for feedback is smiles taking cold showers and drooling
I’m :rofl about this comment because it is just SO true. It happens and it is such a double-edged sword. On one hand, it is nice to think that the reader is so overwhelmed (read turned-on) by what I wrote that all she could manage was a cold shower icon. But on the other hand, most of the time those responses come to my Please series. Now that particular series is not for everyone and I greatly appreciate every response I ever get. I also think that some readers are too embarrassed to write feedback to that story. At the same time, it is without a doubt, the hardest story I write. Not only does it require a great deal of energy to write 11-13 pages of intense sexuality/BDSM and combine it with loving, but I use that story as a writing workshop. I want to use it to improve my writing and attempt to challenge myself. I’m rambling… I guess in that case my request to readers would be: If you read an update (to any story) and it is just darn sexy and all you can think at that moment is cold showers or jaw drop, do that. But then come back and write some more feedback if you would like. What did you like about this sex scene? What was a big turn on about it? The way Tara took charge? The loving way Willow touched her? The words they said?

Umgaynow also talks about deliberately using poor grammar to express an idea. I agree about fragments and ellipses and that sometimes they are very necessary. I also think that in the case of writing dialog, sometimes it will be grammatically incorrect. Xander does not say things like “that is a rule up with which I simply will not put.” He would say, “man. No way!” So sometimes it’s more accurate to the character to use bad grammar.

Ringwaldoeuvre:
Quote:
I agree with those that have said that the passive voice is useful for suspense or atmosphere, and I cannot say I never use it, but I believe that writing can be more engaging when it is avoided as much as possible.
:rofl You meant that funny right?

I agree with Ring about the proofreading. I try to write my story and then use 2-3 drafts and then proofread and then proofread one more time immediately before posting. And about every 4th or 5th post I get comments that I just left out a word or used a wrong word. Because: it’s hard to catch your own errors. My advice to anyone who doesn’t have a beta: try reading your writing out loud. You may feel silly but you will hear the cadence and timing of your writing and catch errors you wouldn’t otherwise catch. In fact, do this with all your writing whether for class, for work, or for posting. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

The list is hysterically funny. Thanks for sharing it.

I absolutely agree with Sass about getting feedback privately. While I don’t personally like e-mail feedback, any one can send me a PM anytime. That has happened and I love the effort that the reader puts into it. Great suggestion.

Gaynow (my current level!) talks about going stream of consciousness. Great point. I frequently do that in my feedback and don’t even reread it before posting. I generally try to go back and reread and edit it after the first post but I also just let my fingers go to respond. A very good point.

Oh lovely Watson wrote:
Quote:
Some writers who I really admired (read: Debra, who was there from Day 1) started showing up and commenting. Grimmy stopped by. It's like I was a little folk singer in a pub and Elvis came up to say he thought I sang good and we started talking. (I know he's dead, but you know what I mean.)
OMG! Are you saying that I’m like Elvis? Woo hoo I’m metaphorically dancing around the office. I saw him once wearing a white jump suit with a rhinestone phoenix on it and singing in front of the Hi-De-Ho burger. Ok, maybe it wasn’t the real Elvis since he’d been “dead” for about 15 years at that time but it was impressing. Actually I saw him at my brother-in-laws 40th birthday party a few years ago too so I’ve seen him twice. I digress badly.

Garner:
Quote:
I think those of us who have been here longer need to remember the show has been done for what, two years now? The number of kittens active per day has dropped, and while there are newer ones joining, the sheer volume from the heydays of season 5 and even sux is over. That was sort of like a golden time, and now things have slowed down. That's too bad, but I think we are lucky to still be here, to have people who are still interested and who want to read W/T fics. Maybe we just have to get used to the newer times a bit.
A great point. I think that one of the outcomes of moving to this new board is that we will have a little better idea about our real membership at this time. While it was 3800 on the old board, I was always aware that some of those were doubtlessly no longer active. Now since people are re-registering it seems like we might see why the feedback is decreased.

Patches:
Quote:
However, you shamed my lurking heart into action. I read the first post and moseyed on over to plunk my two-cents into a story I’ve been reading, but not quite finding time to “feedback” to the author.
I think I know what story you are talking about and let me say that I can’t even express how much I am appreciating your posting in my thread. Your technical discussion is fascinating and I hope you are taking my responses as such. Thank you!

I’ll have to go over to Inward Eye and check things out. It’s kind of intimidating. Is there a recommendation or summary thread over there? Since they stories are “anything” rather than W/T, it would be nice to have some idea what I’m getting into before jumping in. Mystery: Forget it. Sci Fi: probably not. Contemporary: sounds good to me. Romance: sometimes. Just a thought on my own lack of wandering over there.

Ok, I rambled and digressed and hopefully said some good stuff.

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 Post subject: Re: The Art of Leaving Feedback
PostPosted: Sat May 07, 2005 6:57 pm 
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19. Yummy Face
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uhm, well I don't actually have anything constructive to add. I'm just going to plonk this in here and then scurry off back to my warm bed.

I've forgotten what I was ACTUALLY going to say, which happens alot, but I think the main gist of it was that, my spelling is bad, my grammer sucks I word things wrong, I get my tenses mixed up and I'm from England writing about two American women so things get mixed up and when I get overly critical feedback picking out the faults of my writing it bugs me because I'm not writing as a proffessional, writing isn't my career. I'm writing because it's fun, I enjoy it and it's a hobbie of mine. I don't mind people telling me what's wrong with my writing, but someone got offended when I didn't listen. I didn't need them to tell me I'm a bad writer because I already know lol.

I don't expect big essays in feedback, I like getting freedback that says 'that was good' or a shower smiley.... one person who has left feedback to every story I've written has simply said 'good update' .... granted you can't really respond to that (and someone actually got upset when I didn't) but I'm grateful anyway, because some people are genuinely too shy or too busy to leave anything more.

Someone could leave a dot . as feedback and I'd still be happy, I'm easily pleased I know, but at least I'd know they had read it and enjoyed it.

I had more to say and maybe if it wasn't 4am what I had said would have mad more sense. Anyway, feel free to ignore my rambling :eyebrow

Auburn xXxXx

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 Post subject: Re: The Art of Leaving Feedback
PostPosted: Sat May 07, 2005 7:16 pm 
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1. Blessed Wannabe

Joined: Thu Apr 28, 2005 5:48 pm
Posts: 19
Location: west coast
As one of those people who leave short feedback, I believe this thread is both good and bad. When I say bad, I mean in a sense that it makes some people, like me, not want to leave feedback because I might think that what I've left is not good enough. While long or constructive feedback is good, not every one is willing to leave it. One, because most often the reader doesn't know what else to say without sounding like a moron. And two, as the previous post mentioned, a lot of the people on this board are not native English speakers. I am not a writer, so I know it's different for those of you who are. I can understand that most often it takes quite a lot of time and planning to create these wonderful stories, but leaving shorter feedback doesn't always equal a lack of interest. While it is always good to point out likes and dislikes, some people, like myself, feel they can get the message across with simple words and/or emoticons. I just wanted to add my two cents to the jar.


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