Fandom Writing Starter Kit: Reviews, Flames, and Kudos

Like with most of the topics we have gone over, the post-publishing part of fanfic mirrors the professional writing world, but has its unique terms and looks on things.  In this post, I will discuss the different kinds of responses that readers can make to your fic, as well as things you can do when you get a responce.

Kudos/Likes

Most archive systems, particular those made especially for fanfiction (like Fanfiction.net and Archive of Our Own) have a system where the reader can show how they like what you are writing by leaving a Like or a Kudo.  This usually only involves a series of clicks, and is what you will get the most often.  These allow the reader to tell you they like it without making an actual review.

Some sites have pages where you can track the statistics of kudos/likes and see what stories got the most likes and the like.  I like this because it sometimes is nice to see a story that might not get a lot of comments, yet many left kudos.

The Comment/Review

Depending on the site, you may see reviews called, well, reviews or comments.  Sometimes replies.  This is what we all wish for.  That occasion when a reviewer has decided that they were interested enough in our story to let us know in a way that takes more then a simple click.  These range the gamut from the simple “This is awesome/This Sucks!” type of comments to long paragraphs.  One of my happiest moments in writing was when someone wrote a long long email with comments and suggestions on how to improve my writing.  I was 15 at the time, and it was the first time I had gotten any input other then “This is great!”

Comments and reviews that are lengthy usually come in three forms:

  1. The Critique
    The critique is where a reader has criticism and writes you to help you improve your writing and your story.  These are one of the best reviews a writer can receive because we can always improve.  It also means this person took the time to really take in your story. Respect this reviewer.
  2. The Discussion
    These are fun.  I had a review on a story that started a back-and-forth discussion on a canon plot arc in Doctor who.  By the time we were finished (actually probably by the second or third reply) it no longer had anything to do with the story.
  3. The Flame
    Ah, the flame.  This is a negative review that has no constructive criticism.  Most of the time if someone doesn’t like your story, they just won’t review and move on.  But occasionally you get that one person who just wants to tell you how much you suck.  Half the time nothing they say will make sense, and you’ll wonder what they were reading.  The other half of the time its just disheartening.  Often times flames can be really short (the “You suck!” type) but they can be longer, depending on much effort the troll is trying to make.

    Usually the longer ones come from people who hate the character/pairing you write and make you wonder why they clicked on it to begin with.  The Answer:  So they can write bad reviews and make you feel bad.

Responding to Reviews.

To the short reviews, just a quick thank you is usually good.  The longer the review the more there is probably to respond to.  Just remember to be polite.  Being rude to a reviewer usually does no one good.

If its a Flame, feel free to ignore them.  They aren’t worth your time.  Just recognize that a negative review is not automatically a flame.   NOt everyone is going to like your story.  If they write a review and say they don’t like it,  its not a flame.  If they write a review saying “You suck!”  it is.  Constructive crit is always a good thing, so if they say they don’t like it, and explain why, that’s not a flame, its a critique and you might find yourself finding tidbits of things to improve upon even when people hate your story.

Occasionally you’ll get reviews that make you just shake your head.  I once got a review for a fic I called “Photographs” because it had the main character looking at a series of pictures.  Someone reviewed and asked me where they pictures were.  I still don’t know how to respond to that, but that is probably one of my favorite reviews simply because off its oddity.

Keep in mind this is all for fun

Don’t take negative reviews completely to heart.  Or the fact that you never get reviews.  It might seem like no one is reading, and that might be disheartening.  I know that since I have fics in small fandoms where no one is writing anymore and no one thinks to go reading it either.  Its a little depressing, but I keep in mind that I wrote the story because I felt inspired by the original story, or felt that something was needed.

Fanfiction should be primarily for yourself.  You are its primary reader.  You are the audience you are writing for.  Now, taking into consideration your audience is always  a good thing in writing, but with fanfiction you can afford to be a little more self-centered about your writing. And like an original writer you don’t have to take every suggestion your readers/betas give you.

Enjoy yourself.

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