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Author has written 13 stories for Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, A song of Ice and Fire, and Elder Scroll series.
Well, as some of you may have noticed, I am back from my break! I'm finding joy in writing again, and have been overwhelmed by the supportive comments and PMs I have received from so many of you.
Thank you, thank you, thank you. It means so much.
However, what I have written below still stands - not just for myself, but for any other writer who has to suffer such vile behaviour.
Be human, people!
I have been publishing stories on here for nigh on eight years now, and I have always been grateful for the support and encouragement of my readers and reviewers. However, recently, I have been noticing more and more nastiness creeping in. This is still overwhelmingly a minority thing, but it troubles me to see it. Not just on my work, but on other users' work as well. I have been biting my tongue with regard to it, but feel I can no longer stay silent on the matter, especially having received a string of PMs that reduced me to tears.
Now, I would never say my work is perfect or flawless. Of course it isn't. I'm not a professional writer. I do this in my very limited spare time, because I love the characters and I love to play with them and manipulate them into stories of my own. That's what this is for, right? For amateur or aspiring writers to build and improve on their skills and manipulate canon into what they wish could have happened. This is my hobby, and it takes up hours of my life each week.
A chapter that a reader may be able to get through in fifteen minutes could have taken me hours. Days, even, in some cases. Sometimes it's hard. It's frustrating. It has me wanting to delete everything I have just written and start again. It has me wanting to give up. A simple dialogue that someone can read in ten seconds, well, I could have agonised over that for an hour. Tweaking it. Changing the odd word here and there. I could have come back to it over and over again, because something at the back of my mind would be telling me that it wasn't quite right.
This might not be professional writing, but it is important to me. Important enough to spend so much of my life doing. For every frustrating moment there is a moment of pure elation when I feel like I have written something that I feel I could not have written any better. It could be dialogue. A little description. Whatever it is, it's just those moments that make me remember why I do this. Why I care so much about this. Because I do care, I care about every character I write - even the ones I hate.
So, you might be wondering what my point is?
Put simply, when did it become okay to be so rude in reviews and/or PMs? When did some readers forget that there is a real person with real feelings behind every username that has posted a story? When did it become acceptable to tell someone that they ought to just delete an entire chapter of their work because "nothing happens in it anyway"?
That's right, an entire chapter, which took hours to write. An entire chapter in a completed story. Fine, maybe the chapter could have been lacking in action. Does that make it worthless? Does that mean it has to go? Does that mean I wasted hours of my life because ONE person decides its boring?
No, it doesn't. But, it does hurt. Because, I AM a REAL person, and I have REAL feelings. It might sound stupid or oversensitive, but if a chapter I've written gets ten reviews and nine are encouraging and supportive, and one is rude and hurtful, it's that ONE that sticks in my mind. I doubt I'm the only one, I'm sure there are fellow writers out there who would agree with me.
Now, please, don't confuse me saying "rude" with "critical". There is a difference. You can be critical without being nasty. I can take criticism, I am just of the belief that it should be constructive. Someone, not just me but writers everywhere, has put hours of effort and work into that chapter. Into that whole story. Those hours amount to days, and weeks. Likely it isn't perfect, I know my work isn't, but I also know that my writing has improved dramatically since I started writing fan fiction, and I am proud of that.
So, when there is something in my work or someone else's work that needs to be criticised then don't shy away from it. Tell me what's wrong, in a constructive manner. For every negative, find two positives. Writers shouldn't be made to feel terrible about their work just because a portion of it could do with some improvement. They should be encouraged to make that improvement.
Also, don't attack someone because of a personal choice in the story line or their preferred characters. It's THEIR story. I know I write things that I myself would like to read, I then share it because I hope that there might be some other people out there who might enjoy it too. Not everyone will, I know that, I don't expect them to. But why leave a nasty comment just because the story doesn't appeal? It's unnecessary. Just move away from the story and try your luck elsewhere. Why put a writer down just because what they're writing isn't your cup of tea? Why find it necessary to tell a writer you're abandoning their story because you don't like it? Just quietly leave. There's no need to make that comment, which is neither helpful or constructive.
I have clicked on hundreds of stories in my time. Have I enjoyed them all? No. Have I read all of them in their entirety? No. Have I ever left a rude and obnoxious review just because a story doesn't cater to my own specific wants and desires when it comes to fan fiction? No.
Why? Because I'm a writer myself, and I know how hard it can be. That doesn't mean I give out false praise. If I think there is something to be improved I will mention it, while making sure to accentuate the positives. Like I said before, two positives for every negative. If you can't find two positives, then you probably aren't reading the right story, so move on, without a cruel comment.
It's not that hard, right? Manners cost nothing. Respect costs nothing. Writers pour hours into writing these fan fictions. We don't get paid. Our only reward is seeing that someone has added our story as a favourite, or is following it. Our reward is the encouragement and support from our readers, and I am more grateful than I can find words for for that. Honestly, 99.9% of users on here don't need to be told how hard this is. They get it. They know the meaning of constructive criticism and would never dream of writing the kind of things I have been subjected to via PM.
But that tiny remaining percentage is enough to get you down. It is enough to make you question why the hell you bother doing this when there are so many other things you could be doing and not be getting abuse for. I shouldn't get a niggle of worry in the pit of my stomach when I see a new review has been posted, or that I have a new PM from someone I've never spoken to before. I shouldn't worry that what I will read will be nasty or degrading towards myself or my work. There is absolutely no need whatsoever for cruelty on this site, or any other site.
I will say it again. Writers are REAL people behind their usernames, and they have REAL feelings. Try and remember that next time you write a review. Just take an extra second to look over it and make sure that what you are writing on the internet is something you would say to that writer's face. If it isn't, maybe revise your words or not write them at all. A lot have time and effort has gone into what you're commenting on, whether that comment is good or bad, just try and remember that.
I don't expect everyone to like my work, but I do expect people to respect it, as I respect other people's. I don't expect people to only leave shining reviews of my work, I just expect that any criticism is constructive. I don't think I'm asking for the world, and I am not just asking this for me - but for all the writers out there who pour so much into this, sometimes for little or no reward.
We write because we love it. We share it because we hope other people might too. All we want is for that effort to be respected. It isn't difficult.
Manners cost nothing, and respect means everything.
Think before you post.