Poll: My NaNoWriMo for 2018 is a Naruto fixfic. What do you guess will happen on the list? (Dead can mean not appearing in the series.) Vote Now!
Author has written 439 stories for Lord of the Rings, Neopets, Harry Potter, Ayatsuri Sakon, Mega Man, X-Men: Evolution, G. I. Joe, Chronicles of Narnia, Pokémon, Winx Club, Redwall, Misc. Books, M*A*S*H, Best Christmas Pageant Ever, Xiaolin Showdown, Avatar: Last Airbender, Horseland, Arthur, Boxcar Children, Rurouni Kenshin, Bleach, Letter Bee/テガミバチ, Darker than BLACK, Yumeiro Pâtissière/夢色パティシエール, Detective Conan/Case Closed, Bamboo Blade, King of Shion/しおんの王, Durarara!!/デュラララ!!, Marvel, Anime X-overs, Riddle Story of Devil/悪魔のリドル, Misc. Anime/Manga, Digimon, Inspector Gadget, Hetalia - Axis Powers, Naruto, Another/アナザー, Voltron: Legendary Defender, Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet/翠星のガルガンティア, Hanasaku Iroha/花咲くいろは, One Day at a Time, Batman Beyond, Teen Titans, Young Justice, Batman, Misc. Movies, Nightwing, Dragon Prince, Barakamon/ばらかもん, Free! - Iwatobi Swim Club, Avengers, Voltron, Stardew Valley, Supernatural, Misc. Games, Gakuen Alice, Wallflower, NCIS, Soul Eater, Big Bang Theory, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Japanese Mythology, Despicable Me, The Santa Clause, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, My Time at Portia, and Legend of Korra.
I’ve decided it is time to clean up my profile. I’m dividing the profile up into sections. The sections are…
I’ve been writing fanfic for over ten years now. My writing has grown a lot since then. More specifically, I’m a dyslexic writer, but the fact I’m dyslexic shows a lot more in my older writing. Learning disability – that is one of the things on my list of “Excuses That Don’t Cut It”, but the reason comes down to the fact those of us with various disabilities are constantly told “I can’t” and yet we can. The struggle with grammar – that will never go away, but the struggle doesn’t mean you can’t be a good writer. It’s hard but worth it.
I’m also a darkfic writer meaning I like to put my favorite characters through the wringer before they get to a happy ending. I love writing AUs but love a well written one. I also love crossovers and well-written ones but will argue stanchly that not all crossovers are AU. I have a preference for genfic (family and friendship themes) over shipfic, but when I do ship I like the slow burn.
I’m also a neutral shipper. For me, this means that while I have my shipping preferences when I write that I am actually open to a well-written story for other pairings. This isn’t to say I’ve not been turned off certain pairings. I used to say that would never be the case, but there are definitely a few pairings I’ve been turned off of not because of the pairing itself, but because of the fanbase for said pairing being toxic.
I am picky regarding what stories I go back and edit. After all, I have quite a few of them, but these stories also show – when compared to my newer ones – how I’ve grown as a writer. I still appreciate the criticism received even if the story doesn’t get improved upon. Because I’m a dyslexic writer this, of course, includes older grammar issues. Some of the stories I am planning/working on editing are...
- Why Are There No Boy Faeries? (includes sequels – Dark Misfit: Family Matters, Dark Misfit II: Broken Wings) Complete Rewrite starting with Misfit of Darkness
Are we allowed to write spin-offs for any of the fanfics you’ve written?
Yes, though I do have some ground rules regarding doing so.
1. Let me know you’re writing a prequel, sequel, side story or AU to one of my existing stories. Part of the reason is because I want to know is so I can be supportive regardless of what stage the writer is in their journey as a writer more than a matter of giving permission to those wanting to write a spin-off. Another part of my reason is because I actually wrote a few pieces in hopes they would inspire other writers to write something. There are also some stories I’ve taken at times a long time to update, so writing something to stave off the wait isn’t something I have a problem with.
2. Give credit where credit is due. If it is a matter of simply being inspired by my story and doing your own take rather than a spin-off there is no need to credit, but if you are writing an actual spin-off do let people know the story you’re spinning off from and where you diverged if you do diverge.
3. Don’t plagiarize what I’ve written. Plagiarism is more than just word-for-word and near word-for-word. Instead of repeating what I’ve already written briefly summarize the events that have already occurred in the stories.
4. Another reason I want people to let me know if they’re writing a spin-off is because of shipping. I do not support spin-offs which are written because the writer thinks the story would be better with their OTP or because they think my stories need more representation. I’m not against the writer changing up the romantic relations in their spin-off, but the effort needs to be put in to making the relationship believable. There are also a few pairings I'd rather people avoid due to fandom discourse.
5. I’m also against the romanticizing of sensitive subject matter, so this is yet another kind of spin-off I won’t support, though I do understand sometimes this is unintentional and a learning process. In those cases, I still don’t support the romanticizing of sensitive subject matter, but I do support the learning process.
6. Always, always do your best. Every writer is at a different place in their writing journey, but it is okay to mess up. That’s part of the learning process, but we learn by making mistakes. Mary Sues, OoCness, plot holes and character bashing – not to be confused with whump – are all bad writing among other things, but they’re all a part of the learning process.
7. Readers, please support the writers who write spin-offs by lending them a helping hand on their journey to become a better writer.
8. If you write a spin-off be open to people telling you the truth about your story and where you need to improve. You don’t have to use the improvements in said story – exceptions being of course places your story breaks site rules. After all, this is a learning process.
I answer this question because I have had a small hand full of people ask about writing a spin-off in the past.
Types of Reviews
- Critique: A critique is a review that will go into what works or doesn’t work regarding the work. Most critique in fanfic will involve what doesn’t work; rare is it that I’ve been able to leave a review which focuses on what works. A critique will try to find something positive to say about the work, but sometimes that isn’t possible. It’s about telling the writer the truth but being objective rather than subjective about the writing. The review is about the writing and not the writer unless say the writer does something like say lash out at critique previously and then it is about critiquing the writer's negative behavior.
- Flame: A flame is a review that attacks the writer rather than the story or the writer’s behavior, though truth be told the latter two things aren’t attacks. These reviews will tell the writer they’re no good, should quit writing, or even tell them to go die. This is a form of bullying. A flame isn’t distinguishable from critique based on length, for it can be either really short or very long just like critique can be. It’s about whether the writer is personally attacked or not, and no – critique is not a personal attack.
- Encouraging: Not everybody is suited for critique and prefer to focus on encouraging the writer, Rarely will this review type call the writer out for something. In part, this is because this reviewer will avoid reviewing stories with issues or avoid the work altogether. The exception is when a really serious issue arises in a work they’ve long liked.
- Gushers: These reviews are similar to those who leave encouraging reviews, but writers should be cautious regarding these reviews. They tend to be one-liners and you can’t tell if they’ve actually read the story or not, or if they’re there to simply get their kicks because you just so happen to be writing for their OTP. These readers aren’t likely to remember the work later on, so it’s not really the type of reviewer you want. That said…
- Young Readers/Special Needs/ESL: There are reviews which look like a gusher review which is left by a young reader, someone with special needs or who is ESL. These readers will sometimes leave a one-liner which will make you think they’re not reading the story, but other times they will leave a review which will tell you that yes, they are reading the story. They’ll ask honest questions and need clarifications, but they will remember what you wrote later on, particularly if you interact with them.
- Spam Review: These reviews either advertise something or are copy and paste and have nothing to do with the story. I specify having nothing to do with the story because there are some reviewers who do have a copy and paste they use for specific issues. It’s less personal.
What is Plagiarism? (For further reading please check out plagiarism dot org, as this is not just me saying this and this is the site I am quoting from.)
Many people don’t realize plagiarism includes, “copying so many words or ideas from the source material that it makes up the majority of your work, whether you give credit or not”. They, in fact, think it means word for word, yet this doesn’t protect visual works from being plagiarized. The amount we’re allowed to quote in creative writing is far less than it is in academic writing but can get you onto major trouble not only on this site but others.
Why is this important? Plagiarism will get you into major trouble on any legit writing site. If something is not in fair use, it is not in fair use. I’ve come across too many free versions of the story. Sure, they’re edited slightly, but they’re still a free version of the story, yet I’ve seen people openly admit they’ve used these works to not have to get the work through a legit means.
How does it happen? Ten years ago most of the plagiarists I came across were either purposefully doing it or in major denial that what they were doing was wrong. I don’t consider these people to be writers. These people use plagiarism as a crutch. However, I’ve also come across some young writers who honestly don’t know better because plagiarism isn’t properly taught about in school, but these are the ones I’ve seen the quickest turn around for.
What Is Fanfic?
For something to be fanfiction it must use the copyrightable elements from another creator’s work, but if you don’t do this, you’re not writing fanfiction but original fiction. It doesn’t matter if you slap the words AU onto your story and claim that this story is fanfic; what you wrote is still original fiction even if you just use the names, but any AU writer who puts forth the argument that an AU not be derived from the original source material is in serious denial that their work is original fiction and not fanfic.
Why is this important? People read fanfiction because they’re interested in the characters and places, they’ve already fallen in love with rather than a facsimile of these characters and places. Even if a writer is working with an OC as the main character the readers still expect the canon characters and places to be the way they are in canon unless there is a logical explanation as to why they aren’t. It’s a form of false advertising.
Sometimes writers fall into this trap because they’re still learning to write fanfiction. Others fall into this trap because they’re afraid of getting sued by the copyright holder despite the fact fanfiction falls under fair use and we don’t have to get that far away from the canon material. Others are actually good writers who don’t yet realize that their great idea would be better off retooled as original fiction that they could publish for sale, but for these writers, I feel they’re selling themselves short.
What is an AU?
AU is short for Alternative Universe. It is a genre which has existed since the 1800s. The genre functions on the principles of alternative universe theories, but one of the things people forget is that while the multiverse theory proposes that there are an infinite number of universes out there that the theory also only covers possible alternative universes and not the impossible ones.
Why is this important? I’m actually an AU writer. For each AU I write I put in a lot of work preplanning the world in order that each AU doesn’t break what we call the Willing Suspense of Disbelief for my readers. The amount of work put in depends on the AU I am actually writing, for the more complex the AU is the more work which goes into pulling it off.
However, the reason this is important is that there are writers out there who slap the AU label onto their stories and think that it will excuse poor writing choices and a lack of effort put into their story. Part of this comes from the belief that a writer can do anything they want in an AU, when in reality what you can or can’t do depends on the type of AU you’re writing.
I’ve been told, “what right do I have to define what is or isn’t an AU”, but my question back is what right do these writers have to redefine a genre which has existed for over a hundred years to suit their needs and deflect legit criticism regarding their work? What right do they have to figuratively spit on the hard work other AU writers like myself put into their work?
Excuses That Don’t Cut It
- I don’t care – rant ~ When someone simply tells me, “I don’t care” and maybe a thank you; I’m actually fine with this, but I’ll actually thank said person for responding in a polite manner. However, when a person follows up “I don’t care” with a rant – they really do care.
- Your bio says everything I need to know ~ The newest excuse I’ve seen is people pointing to my bio and claiming this tells them everything they need to know. However, in some cases, I’ve reason to doubt they’ve even read my profile, but in others, they jump to conclusions simply because I choose to go into detail regarding the excuses, I’ve heard given for over ten years that people keep using despite the fact they’re logical fallacies. I think some also realize by reading a profile that the excuses they want to throw at me won’t work.
- I don’t have the time ~ It is really hard for me to take a writer seriously if they’re not wanting to put the time into their work, but the times I typically hear this the writer posted something which is obviously hot-off-the-press or they spent maybe five minutes on. How is this fair to the writers who spent fifteen to thirty minutes just writing a simple one-shot? That’s just the time it takes most writers to pull off the most basic and not the preplanning which goes in either. I’ve seen writers spend weeks if not months working on just one chapter of an ongoing story, so why should an exception be made for someone who didn’t put in the time?
- It’s just for fun ~ I get writing just for fun, but I’ve never shared writing which is just for fun with everyone online. We publish our stories online because we want to share, and as such, they aren’t for fun anymore. We share because we want feedback. Those who use the “it’s just for fun” excuse don’t want to admit that their enjoyment comes from getting positive reviews, but that’s the real reason their fun is being ruined. By this I mean their fun is ruined because they’re no longer getting just praise. The worst part here is I’ve yet to come across someone using the “it’s just for fun” excuse whose come up with a legit reason why an exception should be made for them which didn’t amount to them being self-centered and thinking it’s okay to censor the opinions of their readers, yet the whole point of the review system is to voice the readers opinions regardless of whether this opinion is something the writer wants to hear or not. They’re also saying their readers aren’t important unless they’re getting the praise they want. Of course, this type of writer doesn’t like being called self-centered and claims the reviewer is the one being self-centered because the reviewer is being self-centered by daring to voice their opinion.
- I went to preparatory/private school, not public ~ If someone is going to a preparatory or private school they are actually getting a better education than those in public school. Thankfully, this excuse came up only once.
- I don’t make straight A’s in my English – You weren’t making straight Fs either. You don’t have to make straight A’s to be a good writer. I’m saying this as a dyslexic writer.
- I like MSN chatspeak, so I use it all the time ~ I am so glad I’ve not heard this excuse in a long time, but using MSN chat speak outside of a chat situation is rude.
- This is a part of my writing style – Breaking away from grammar rules is not a writing style, but grammar rules are there to make things readable.
- I’m dyslexic (etc.) ~ So am I. I’ve improved a lot the past ten years.
- You’ve no right to criticize anybody if you can’t use grammar properly ~ Good job telling this to someone who has dyslexia and is incapable of catching grammar issues on their own, though to be honest I can go back and check my older works for some of the grammar issues I am now able to avoid. I don’t because I want those stories to show how I’ve grown as a writer, and part of that is me learning to cope with my dyslexia. The worst part about this, however, is the fact grammar is the easiest thing to attack someone with. Me, I’ll be the first to admit my writing isn’t perfect; nobodies writing is perfect, but the logic they're using pretty much stipulates nobody should ever critique because nobody is perfect which in turn is what we call a logical fallacy.
- I'm a published writer - The first fail here is the fact everybody on this site is a published writer. Being a published writer has nothing to do with how much money one makes or whether it is published through one of the major "professional" publishing companies. Being published means your writing is public. As for actually publishing original fiction, I'd originally point out getting a publishing deal doesn't mean you're a good writer. What it means is you have something they think will sell, but popularity doesn't equate quality. However, these days anybody can self-publish, so why even bring it up unless...
- It's just fanfic - ... you're trying to say that original fiction is better than fanfic when the only real difference is that one is derivative and the other is not, yet when subsequent works are published the original fiction is still derivative work just like fanfic, so then it comes down to who is writing it whether it is the original writer or not. This completely ignores the fact there are actual professional fanfiction out there such as tie in novels of which some have the status of canon, so let's stop with this idea that fanfic is somehow a lesser form of writing because it's not.
- My story is popular - I personally would rather gain my popularity through my writing ability than feeding someone's personal wish fulfillment for starters. There's also the phrase among us who critique called "popularity doesn't equate quality", but works which gain popularity despite not being good quality is a sore spot for certain writers for a wide range of reasons. Mine lies with the use of popularity as a defense, but also the fact I've seen some really good quality stories out there go for years with little to no reviews.
- You're just jealous - This actually ties into the popularity one as they typically bring up the fact I am jealous of the number of reviews. I'm not sure how I can be jealous of the number of reviews when I have more than the writer does, yet even for the stories with less reviews I can typically attribute the low number to the fact I am niche writing and thus the target audience is small. On the rare occasion the writer's story does have more reviews I know that I earned my reviews through hard work, so again, why would I be jealous?
- You're just full of yourself - The counter to the above is to accuse me of going after writers with less reviews because I think I'm better than these writers. It's not often I get people launching this excuse at me.
- You hate my OTP - The problem with this is I'm a neutral shipper in what I read who will read anything regardless of the ship if it is well written. This doesn't mean I'm not turned off certain ships. The turn off typically occurs because the ship involves treating subject matter like abuse as okay or the ship has a rabid fanbase. This means I don't go out of my way looking for these stories, but I do at times come across them. This excuse becomes really weird though when said OTP I'm accused of hating is what I write.
- You're being rude – Why? The answer always comes down to “because I said so”. One of the interesting things about those who try and claim those critiquing them are rude is that they complain about having the moral code of the person leaving the critique forced on them, yet it’s completely okay for them to force their moral code regarding critique – which by the way, only a small handful of people actually believe to be correct – onto other people. The standard for critique is to treat everyone the same which means not making exceptions for people. Of course, some argue this means avoiding critique all together which has, in turn, led to people getting frustrated because nobody critiques anymore. Worse, fanfic is the only form of writing where I’ve seen people claim an exception should be made, but these people are actually in the minority despite being very loud and very vocal.
- Your review was unsolicited – I think the people utilizing this excuse think that “unsolicited” means “not wanted” when in reality it means “not asked for, given or done voluntarily”. However, some do argue that negative reviews aren’t asked for, but is this true? The problem here is this; if you post to a site which allows reviews you are in turn asking people to review your story. You can’t after the fact say you only asked for positive reviews, or claim you never wanted reviews. Worse, if you actually look into what an “unsolicited review” is you’ll find it is something only mentioned in academic writing and it is the opposite of a “peer review” which is a review which is actually asked for. In creative writing there is no “peer review” like there is academic writing. The real issue comes down to the fact the writer didn’t want the negative critique, but they have no issues with these so called unsolicited reviews when said review praised them.
- I never wanted reviews - *sigh* Why did you post online if it wasn’t to get some kind of feedback? There are writing sites on which you can opt out of the review/commenting process, but then some argue they’re looking for people to read their stories. However, is it really fair to expect a reader to read a story and not voice their opinion on a story?
- I’m just archiving my stories – The problem here is you’re archiving your work publicly rather than archiving the work in a private manner, but there are options out there for archiving privately.
- I was drunk – Good for you. You made the decision to write while intoxicated, but you also made the decision to post your story online for everyone to see.
- This is my story so I can do whatever I want ~ Twilight was also Meyers story and she could do whatever she wanted with it. This did not mean her work got a pass on criticism.
- AU means “author’s version” – No, it means alternative universe. Thankfully I’ve seen only one or two people say this. If a person gets mad because they’re told their work isn’t perfect, or that their work breaks the site rules they are not ready to be posted. It doesn’t matter that they’re old enough to have an account. Don’t blame other people for the way you feel, but take responsibility for yourself.
- This is my version so I can do whatever I want – Again, we come back to the fact this doesn’t mean you can’t be criticized for poor decisions, but we also have an addition here. Fanfic is based off another person’s work, but the aim isn’t to create our own version. To me, that’s an indicator the writer is writing original fiction and not fanfic, but many times this is tied into supposedly creating a “better version” which is not better at all.
- My work has nothing to do with you. I am a part of fandom just as much as the writer is, but the response to what a person wrote is also a part of fandom. Worse, the insinuation here is that what we write is limited to a specific target audience, but target audience is simply who the work is aimed at and not who is limited to picking up the work. Yet, the other question here is - who is the target audience? The target audience for fandom are fans of said fandom. The target audience of specific character tags are fans of said character. The target audience of the genre tags are fans of said genre. There are also people outside of a given target audience who have the right of voicing what they think simply because something you're writing about is an important matter to them. The biggest issue here though is once we post something we don't decide who gets to be invested in what we write, nor do we get to decide as writers how.
- Not all AUS are based on the canon material – If it isn’t based on the canon material how can it be fanfic? When a story isn’t based off the canon material it is instead original fiction.
- I warned the characters would be OoC – There is a difference between telling the readers that a character is out of character actions will, later on, be explained and not caring if you keep the characters in character. The latter is bad writing and warning for bad writing doesn’t mean you won’t get critiqued for it.
- I am/was a young writer – If you’re ready to use the site you are ready for critique. If you aren’t then you should have held off posting, but you’re asking for an exception to be made for you. If a person reads the story they get to review it.
- Critiquing young writers makes them quit – Does it? A lot of young writers I’ve critiqued have stuck with it, but most of the ones I’ve quit – they quit because they discovered writing wasn’t for them. The ones I worry about are the ones where there is something else going on such as being bullied at school, but it’s not the critique which makes them quit. More importantly, we’re teaching kids unhealthy methods of dealing with their emotions.
- The story is old – Again, the writer is asking that an exception be made for them. It doesn’t matter how old the story is – if someone reads the story then they’re allowed to review it.
- I asked to be told what was wrong via PM – The review system is not for “strictly praise”. If you are demanding this it is because you don’t want any negative reviews on your story, but you are also wanting special treatment.
- The negative reviews make me look bad ~ Did you know one of the issues other writers and readers have is seeing stories which should be receiving negative criticism getting a ton of praise while other stories which are better written get none? I’m not talking specifically about my stories, but seeing other writers who put a ton of work into their stories get overlooked only for the writers who get a ton of praise complaining because one negative review makes them look bad.
- An exception should be made for me because… - Why are you more important than everyone else? Of course, again, we’ll have people claim that we need to not review at all because…
- Feelings might get hurt. – It is impossible to go through life without getting one's feelings hurt. I also suggest reading “Emotional Acceptance: Why Feeling Bad is Good” by Noam Shpancer Ph.D. and “Fighting Our Negative Emotions Does More Harm Than Good” by Anna Meyer. There are plenty of other articles out there on that, but – I’m just not going to play that game. We come back to, “to avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, and be nothing.”
- Those Mary Sue stories are worse than mine, so you’ve no right… - I don’t appreciate it when writers attack other writers just to make themselves feel better, but I’ve yet to come across a person who put forth this argument whose story was actually better than the Mary Sue stories I read.
- Learn the difference between a critique and a flame, but how to pick out what you can use or not even when the review is a critique. A critique can be used for the story critiqued, but it can also be saved to keep in mind for a later story. This is one of the things I think goes over a few people’s heads; you really don’t have to fix the story.
- The exception, of course, is if you’re breaking site rules, and then please do. The last thing anyone wants is to see your work disappear. (Of course, plagiarism isn’t hard work despite the fact plagiarists claim it is.) Despite the fact we don’t want the work to disappear we’re stuck with the dilemma of reporting it simply because we came across it. Which, the rules may not seem like a big deal, yet things like posting original fiction into the misc. categories have a negative effect on those who are using the category for what it’s supposed to be used for – fanfic because their stories get buried and nobody pays said stories any mind.
- Don’t be afraid to rewrite. I’m actually working on rewriting a few stories, but so far have only gotten one started. Soon, I should have more.
- Spend actual time working on what you write, but be honest with how much time you spend. When you don’t spend enough time, it is also obvious.
- Be honest with yourself. This means being honest with your flaws, but honest about why you’re posting. There’s no “writing just for fun” when you’re posting because you don’t post unless you want to share. More importantly, getting a negative review sting. This isn’t because the person point out the flaws is being mean for doing so, but because you’re having to face your issues head-on. For some, it’s facing the fact their work isn’t perfect, but for others, it’s about facing a part of your writing that frustrates you.
- Read, write, practice! More importantly, this is the advice I keep hearing from my favorite writers.
- Don’t bit off more than you can chew. (So says the person who has done just that.) It’s okay to start small and simple in your writing.
- Don’t butcher the canon and keep the characters in character unless you have a logical reason for them not to act like themselves. Doing otherwise is not “being artistic” but is instead just the writer being lazy.
- Let the characters take the story where it will go instead of you taking the story where you want it to go. One of the hardest things I’ve dealt with as a writer is wanting my plot to go one way and the characters wanting it to go another. If it went my way the whole scenario would be forced, so I went with letting the characters do their thing.
- Be respectful. Coming across a story where Bush nuked all Redwallers was far from enjoyable, but so are things such as character bashing and ship bashing. Bashing is actually a sign the writer lacks in maturity, but their writing overall reflects this. Of course, as a dark fic writer, I also have to say giving the character a hard time isn’t character bashing.
- Don’t be afraid of writing a Mary Sue, but don’t try avoiding to write one. Mary Sue – that is about learning proper characterization skills and you won’t learn unless you do. Don’t be ashamed of your Mary Sue either. Love her to pieces instead.
- Be careful of self-inserting yourself. All writers self-insert to some degree. The issue with self-inserting lies with revealing things about yourself you don’t want people to know. Be careful what you choose to post for the same reason I just gave. Writing reveals things about the writer. It doesn’t matter if you’re doing it just for fun. You will reveal things about yourself. Some things you want people to know, others you don’t
Someone once said, “there is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing”. When a person chooses to publish their fanfic they have in fact chosen to do something, say something and be something, so critique is not off limits. More importantly, the anti-critique argument revolves around the writer wanting to avoid negative feelings, but avoiding negative feelings – and also the truth – has a negative impact on the person doing this.
People have accused me of not understanding what it is like to be critiqued, yet it's hard for me to side with these people. Why? My harshest critics were the ones who never held my dyslexia against me. Those who avoided the harsh critique were the ones who didn’t give my stories a second chance because of the dyslexia issues. Yes, the critique hurt, but what hurt, even more, was the idea people avoided telling me the truth because I wasn’t worth their time and efforts.
As for why I’m blunt in the way I critique, I once tried the sugar-coating people have often suggested I do instead. I also gave people advice on how to fix the issue. That’s how I started out reviewing. The reactions I got then were a lot worse than what I get now. Then – people thought I was condescending or trying to tell them how to write their stories. I shifted to a critique style which was blunt and the only backlash I got was from people who wanted to avoid critique.
Of course, some people argue that we should avoid critique unless the writer asks for it. Fanfic is the only form of writing where people think there should be such an exception, yet this is one of the reasons people outside of fanfic look down on us fanfic writers and don’t take us seriously; by this I mean tell us what we’re doing isn’t real writing.
On top of this those who want critique are actually in the majority while those who do not are in the minority. The argument for not critiquing – it’s based on emotional appeal and not a logical one, but I’ve seen what happens to the writing of writers who avoid critique. Their writing remains stagnant and doesn’t grow whereas those who accept critique actually grew as writers.
Why not say something positive, or use the sandwich method? There are plenty of essays out there detailing why the sandwich method isn’t a good method. However, the thing about saying something positive is this. I do actually try looking for something positive to say in my reviews, but a good chunk of the time it ends up ignored. There are, however, a few times when I don’t have anything nice to say about the work which is where another argument comes in.
“If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all”. The problem is, this saying does not mean what people think it means. It doesn’t mean, “if you don’t have anything positive to say, don’t say anything at all” but more of means “if you don’t have anything polite to say, don’t say anything at all”. Telling someone the truth is not impolite, it is polite, but there is also the issue that this phrase is about people and not writing.
Here’s the scary part. There is typically something else going on when I’m not capable of finding something nice to say. For example, the writer doesn’t care enough to put an effort into their writing. The writer isn’t old enough to be on the site. The writer is trivializing sensitive subject matter whether intentionally or not. The writer is plagiarizing. It’s those kinds of situations where something positive is not said.
Of course, there are those who believe we shouldn’t critique young writers because it will cause more harm than good. This movement started when I first joined, but the avoidance of critiquing young writers has actually led to more harm and good. These writers are now moving onto actually writing for the IP we love and bringing the no standards attitude we’ve let run rampant in fanfiction into what is supposed to be professional work.
Also, do I believe fanfic writing should be treated seriously?
However, people – when they accuse me of treating writing seriously and coming down on those who don’t – they treat it as if it is a black and white thing. There are people who take their writing to seriously and spend months working on perfecting the grammar rather than the content of their story, but there are people who treat this as if it were a game where they should receive praise without actually working for it. Neither are good.
When I say I think fanfic writing should be treated seriously it is about respecting yourself as a writer but also respecting your readers. A writer who respects themselves will always try their best but doesn’t expect perfection either. A writer who respects their readers will make sure their writing is readable, but not deflect onto the reader when they have a legit concern particularly when we’re talking about sensitive subject matter.
For me, the young writer who writes their first Mary Sue is just as serious of a writer as someone who's crafted a well written AU, but the same writers who call me out for taking writing too seriously also tend to tell me that their writing isn’t as atrocious as those Mary Sue writers. Which is why I’ll end this by saying I’ve found the better writer is actually the young writer who writes their first Mary Sue no matter how awful it is and not the writer who doesn’t care to put an actual effort in.
Some of the Fandom I'm Familiar With
· # - E - Anima, .hack/SIGN, A Certain Magical Index/A Certain Scientific Railgun, A Little Snow Fairy Sugar Accel World, A Town Where You Live, Aikatsu, Aishiteruze Baby, Air Gear, AKB0048, Akira, Angel Beats!, Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day, Another, Amnesia, Arrietty, Asura no Crynin, Ayashi no Ceres, Ayatsuri Sakon, B: The Beginning, Baccano!, Backstage Princ, Baka and Test – Summon the Beasts, Bamboo Blades, Barakamon, Ben-To, Black Blood Brothers, Black Bullet, Black Cat, Black Jack, Black Rock Shooter, Bleach, Blue Exorcist, Brothers Conflcit, Bunny Drop, Btooom!, Captain Harlock, Cat Returns, Cat Street, Chaos;Head , Chibi Devi, Chobits, Clamp Schooll Detectives, Code Breaker, Cowboy Beepop, Cyborg 009, Danganronpa, Darker than BLACK, Death Note, Demashittaa! Powerpuff Girls Z, Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko, Detective Conan, Devil is a Part Timer, Digimon, Dog Days, Dragon Ball, Durarara!!, Eden of the East, Escaflowne, Eureka Seven , Expelled from Paradise
· F-J – Fairy Tail, Familiar of Zero, Flint: The Time Detective, Freezing, Fruits Basket, Fullmetal Alchemist, Fushigi Yuugi, Future Diary, Galaxy Express 999, Gakuen Alice, Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet, Gen’ei o Kakeru Taiyo, Get Backers, Ginga e Kickoff!!!, Girls und Panzer, Gosick, Gundam, Ghost Hunt, Grave of the Fireflies, Gurren Lagann, Hanasaku Iroha, Haruhi Suzumiya, Hellsing, Hetalia – Axis Powers, Heroman, Hikaru no Go, Howl’s Moving Castle, Hunter X Hunter, Hyouka, Infinate Stratos, Inu x Boku, Inuyasha, Irregular at magic high school, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure
· K-O – K, Kamisama Dolls, Kamisama Kiss, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Kindachi Case Files, Knight in the Area, Kobato, Karin, Kenichi the Mightiest Disciple, Letter Bee, Little Witch Academia, Log Horizon, Love Hina, Lucky Star, Lupin III, Macross, Magi, Magic Kaito, Magic Knight Rayearth, Maid-sama, Maken-Ki, Mashiroiro Symphony, Matantei Loki Ragnarok, Medabots, Medaka Box, Mob Psycho 100, My Little Monster, Naruto, Nichijou, Night on the Galactice Railroad, , No. 6, One Piece, Noragami, Nurarihyon no Mago, Occult Academy, Ojamajo Doremi, Otome Yokai Zakuro, Ouran High School Host Club
· P-Z – Pandora Hearts, Paprika, Paranoia Agent, Petshop of Horrors, Phi Brai: Puzzle of God Princess Monoke, Princess Tutu, Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Psycho Pass, Ranma, Red Data Girl/RDG, Riddle Story of Devil, Rosario Vampire, Rozin Maiden, Rurouni Kenshin, Sacred Blacksmith, Sailor Moon, Sacred Seven, Samurai 7, Samurai Champlo, Samurai Pizza Cats, Selector Infected Wixoss, Senki Zessho Symphogear, Shaman King, Shigafmi: Letters from the Departed, Shikabane Hime, Shining Hearts, Shugo Chara, Silver Spoon, Sket Dance, Sola, Sonic, Soul Eater, Space Brothers, Speed Racer, Spiral, Spirited Away, Steins; Gate, Sugar Sugar Rune, Summer Wars, Sword Art Online, Sword Gai, Tactics, Tales from Earthsea, Tiger & Bunny, Tokyo Mew Mew, Trigun, Ultra Maniac, Un-Go, Vampire Hunter D, Vampire Knight, Wallflower, Wizard Barristers, Working, Your lie in April, Yu-Gi-Oh, Yuki Yuna is a Hero, Yumeiro Patissiere, Yumekui Merry, Zetman, Zettai Karin Children, Zombie-Loan, Zombie Powder
· A-E – A Christmas Carol, A Little Princess, A Wrinkle in Time, Al Capone on Alcatraz, Alice in Wonderland, Angela Anaconda, Animal Farm, Animorphs, Anne of Green Gables, Baby Sitters Club, Because of Winn-Dixie, Best Christmas Pageant Ever, Black Beauty, Black Stallion, Borrowers, Boxcar Children, Bridge to Terabithia, Bunnicula, Cadfael, Captain Underpants, Catcher in the Rye, Cat Who, Charles Dickens, Charlie Bones, Chronicles of Narnia, Clique, Coraline, Curius George, Diary of a Whimpy Kird, Discworld, Divergent Trilogy, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Dr. Suess, Dracula, Dinotopia, Dragonriders of Pern, Edgar Allan Poe, Ella Enchanted, Emma, Encyclopedia Brown, Enders Game, Eragon
· F-J – Fault in Our Stars, Fifty Shades, Giver, Goosebumps, Grapes of Wrath, Great Gatsby, Gulliver’s Travels, Frankenstein, Hardy Boys, Harriet the Spy. Harry Potter, Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hunger Games, Inkheart, It, Jane Eyre, Jurassic Park
· K-O – Last Unicorn, Les Miserables, Little Women/Little Men, Lord of the Flies, Lord of the Rings, Madeline, Magic Tree House, Mary Poppins, Matilda, Maximum Ride, Maze Runner, Miss Marple, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Nancy Drew, Never Ending City, Number the Stars, Odyssey, Of Mice and Men, Oliver Twist, Outsiders
· P-Z – Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Peter Pan, Peter Rabbit, Phantom of the Opera, Pippi Longstocking, Pride and Prejudice, Princess Diaries, Ramona, Redwall, Robin Hood, Scarlet Letter, Secret Garden, Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, Shakesphere, Sherlock Holmes, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Spiderwick Chronicles, Tale of Despereaux, Terry Brooks, Thirteen Reasons Why, To Kill a Mocking Bird, Treasure Island, Twilight, War and Peace, Warriors, Where’s Waldo, Winnie the Pooh, Witch & Wizard, Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Worst Witch
· A-E –Addams Family, All Dogs go to Heaven, Alvin and the chipmunks, Angelina Ballerina, Animaniacs/Pinky in the Brain, Arthur, As Told By Ginger, Avatar: Last Airbender, Barbies, Batman Beyond, Beetlejuice, Berenstian Bears, Blue’s Clues, Boondocks, Bratz, Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, Care Bears, Chip and Dale’s Rescue Rangers, Clifford the Big Red Dog, Code Lyoko, Codename: Kids Next Door, Cyberchase, Cubix: Robots for Everyone, Cybersix, Danny Phantom, DC, Disney, Dragon Prince, Dragon Tales, DuckTales, Ed, Edd n Eddy, Ever After High
· F-J – Fat Albert, Flintstones, Fosters Home for Imaginary Friends, Franklin, Frosty the Snowman, G.I. Joe, Gargoyles, Ghost Busters (Real/Extreme), Godzilla: The Series, Good Troop, H20: Mermaid Adventures, He-Man/She-Ra, Hey Arnold, Hi Hi Puffy Ami Yumi, Hilda, Horseland, Inspector Gadget, Jackie Chan Adventures, Jane and the Dragon, Johnny Quest
· K-O –Kim Possible, Lilo & Stitch, LoliRock, Magic School Bus, Marvel, MASK , Max Steel, Maya and Miquel, Men in Black, Mighty Duck, Miracle on 34th Streets, Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir, Mia and Me, Monster Allergy, Monster High, Muppet Babies, My Little Pony, NASCAR Racers, Ninja Turtles
· P-Z – Pepper Ann, Phineas and Ferb, Powerpuff Girls, Proud Family, Quack Pack, Rainbow Brite, Recess, Rescuers, Rugrats/All Grown Up!, Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, Sagwa, the Chinese Siamese Cat, Scooby Doo, Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century, Sonic Underground, Smurfs, Spirit Riding Free, Static Shock, Strawberry Shorcake, Stretch Armstrong and the Flex Fighters, Tale Spin, Teen Titans, The Santa Clause, ThunderCats, Tick, Total Drama, Totally Spies, Transformers/Beast Wars, Troll Hunters, Veggie Tales, Viva Pinata, Voltron/Voltron: Legendary Defender, W.I.T.C.H, Winx Club, X-Men Evolution, Xiaolin Showdown, Young Justice, Zak Storm, Zeta Projct
Comics – Marvel, DC, Umbrella Academy
Games – Angry Birds, Animal Crossing, Assassin’s Creed, Atelier Escha & Logy, Chibi-Robo!, Corpse Party, Duke Nukem, Dungeons and Dragons, Granblue Fantasy, Jak and Daxter, Higurashi/Umineko, Kingdom Hearts, Kirby, Legend of Zelda, Mario/Luigi’s Mansion/Wario/etc, Mineraft, Monster Rancher, Neopets, Persona, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, Pikmin, Pokémon, Professor Layton, Rockman, Sims, Slime Rancher, Sonic the Hedgehog, Spyro the Dragon, Star Fox, Stardew Valley, Viva Pinata
Plays – Annie, Cats, Fiddler on the Roof, Godspell, Hair, Hairspray, King and I, Music Man, My Fair Lady, Nutcracker, Phantom of the Opera, Shakespeare, South Pacific
· A-E – A Christmas Story, Addams Family, Air Bud, Anastasia, Avengers, Back to the Future, Big Hero 6, Brave Little Toster Casper, Chicken Little, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Christmas Shoes, Corpse Bride, DC, Despicable Me, Disne ,Ella Enchanted
· F-J – Frozen, Godzilla, Goosebumps, Great Mouse Detective, Herbie, Home Alone, Honey I shrunk the kids, Hotel Transylvania, How to Train Your Dragon, Incredibles, Indiana Jones, Iron Giant, Jaws, Jumanji
· K-O – Karate KidKindergarten Cop, Kung Fu Panda, Labyrinth, Land Before Time, Lemonade Mouth, Lion King, Little Vampire, Lost in Space, Marvel, Mary Poppins, Mask of Zorro, Men in Black, Mighty Ducks, Monsters Inc, My Girl, National Treasure, Neverending Story, Night at the Museum, Nightmare Before Christmas, Nutcracker and the Four Reals
· P-Z – Phantom of the Opera, Planet of the Apes, Pirates of the Caribbean, Rise of the Guardians, Ruldolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Secret of NIMH, Shrek, Sky High, Sleepy Hollow, Slumdog Millionaire, Spy Kids, Star Wars, Stuart Little, Sweeny Todd, Tangled, Teen Wolf, Thor, Tinkerbell, Toy Story, Transformers, Treasure Planet, Tron, WALL-E, Watership Down, White Christmas, Witch Mountain, Wizard of Oz, Woman in Black, X-Men, Zootopia
TV – 7th Heaven, Austin & Ally, Big Bang Theory, Bonanza, Bones, Boy Meets World/Girl Meets World, Charmed, Criminal Minds, CSI, Diagnosis Murder, Doctor Blake Mysteries, Doctor Who/Torchwood, Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman, Eureaka, Full House/Fuller House, Ghost Whisperer, Gotham, Grimm, H2O: Just Add Water, Hannah Montana, Heroes, House, M.D., iCarly, Law and Order, M*A*S*H, Marvel, Midsomer Murders, Monk, NCIS, Numb3rs, One Day at a Time, Power Rangers, Riverdale, Sherlock, Smallville, Stargate, Suite Life, Victorious, Walker, Texas Ranger, Wizards of Waverly Place, Wonder Woman, Worst Witch, X-Files, Xena: Warrior Princess