Saturday, February 7, 2009

Column: Dirty Uncle WTVOC's Fandom Guide to Reviews Column

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Ok ladies and gentlemen. We are back this Saturday with our other Columnist - withthevampsofcourse. Now, her last post was a touch on the controversial side, however, that will not impact her future posts. Her trademark snark and witty banter is a part of this fandom. A huge part. It's appreciated by some and distasteful to others. Does that make her voice any less important? Hale no. So I'm going to DISCLAIMER READERS HERE because apparently my first disclaimer was not adequate:

A community requires ALL types to function. What's good or bad is completely subjective and therefore YOUR opinion may not be MINE, HERS or HIS and vice versa. Please respect that and behave with a measure of tolerance toward our fellow ficsters who ALSO happen to be real flesh and blood Human Beings with Feelings. So if this material is not to your tastebuds...please move right along. There are recs and other items on here that swim along the neutral river quite smoothly.

This Blog is meant for the Community as a whole and opinions expressed here are those of the poster...meaning I'm not into censoring peoples' voices for more delicate sensibilities regardless if we ALL agree on the content or not. So PLAY NICE or DON'T PLAY. Discussion, intelligent questioning, accolades and even blatant disagreement is long as it's RESPECTFUL to the Blogger and Commentors. If it's not...I won't allow it through moderation. Sorry. But I have a responsibility to the people who visit and provide to TLYDF to maintain a SAFE place for them to air their views.

Now, I step off my Smellyia Soap Box and dust off my chaps and present to you.....

Dirty Uncle WTVOC's Fandom Guide To Reviews

Apparently, I am a pot stirrer.

And I figure I should have seen this coming and have prefaced my blog with a little blurb about why I feel that I’m slightly qualified to rant about reviews.

But to preface my review preface, I wanna make something clear here:

I will cut myself if my ranting discourages reviews.

This is meant more as my dry, subtle, witty (yes, yes. it’s witty, dammit) way of getting you to pay attention. Highlight the things in reviews that authors (read: withthevampsofcourse) love, cringe at, or spiral into a bad day from. I often get people saying, “I don’t know how to write a review.” Well, pull up a wireless keyboard, love. ‘Cuz I can and will type your ear off. But first, I wanted to address the whole “who the fuck does she think she is?” issue.

So allow me to do that for a bit before moving on with today’s rule: Your words can hurt. Have a care before clicking “submit”.

I am opinionated, loud, and verbose. So, when asked, I really can talk about any subject, and I will. I think it’s fun. Not everyone thinks I’m funny, and that’s totally cool.

Now, as a preface to the review thing-

I realize that in Twilight Fandom, there are tens of thousands of stories. But maybe, what, a few hundred that get over a thousand reviews? I use a thousand as the number because, well, when compared to say, B&B (if you don’t know what that stands for… then welcome to the fandom), which has over 10k, that’s well, only ten percent.

But most authors out there probably get stoked when they break their first hundred. I know I did the first time it happened to me.

I have three stories over a thousand. Two are co-authored. I’d put myself on that list of authors with a good following. Therefore… my perspective on reviews is vastly different from say, that of a new author. Or even that of one who’s written thirteen stories with under 100 reviews apiece. Or that of a reader. Not everyone is going to be able to relate to my views on the subject.

But here’s the thing-

To those of you who refer to me as a “popular” author, whether you like me or hate me or don’t give a crap about me- a lot of you don’t know what it’s like to get so many reviews a day. I’m not big ego-ing here, or what was it- self-gratifying myself. Trust me; when I’m self-gratifying, you’ll know ‘cuz I’m damned loud. I’m simply saying a lot of you don’t know because you don’t sit in my dilapidated Target desk chair and read things that call you a lazy ass who needs to update faster, the greatest duo in fanfic history, a disappointment, your next wife, or a fucking bitch (that will never stop chafing). So this whole column is from the perspective of someone who is lucky enough to write stuff people respond to who gets told daily how great she is. But I also get put in my place or the hater’s place or whoever’s place it is where the oft-chastised for lackadaisical updating-ness go on a frequent basis.

So please, understand that I don’t speak for everyone. I speak for me. And quite possibly others. But only my name is on this here thing.

With that, let’s talk about today’s rule. Hold up. Lemme put my ego-driven nonsense-writing hat back on. Enough of this somber shit.

1. Don’t ask for an update.
2. Your words can hurt. Have a care before clicking “submit”.

I have a theory about this that I’ve run by several of you, so go with me here.

Have you noticed that I say what I want? If it’s on my mind… I go with it.

The thing is… I reread what I wrote before posting, and I often find that I delete delete delete if it makes me sound like a complete douche as opposed to a partial douche, or if it doesn’t have the intended connotation of sarcasm/snark/disappointment/sardonic amusement/etc.

But I can guarantee that I have never left someone a review that called them a fucking bitch, even if I knew them.

I write hard, talk harder, and play hardest. I fucking enjoy life, man. So when I go to a website or post in a forum or guest write for a blog, I go balls-to-the-wall. I don’t LOL or say ^^^what she said^^^. I insert opinion here in that dry way that I have come to be known for.

Then, when I update, I write these crazy author’s notes that often get their own review. I just… have things to say. You don’t wanna read, we’re five by five, dude. I don’t wanna read your shit, either. The thing is this-

The way I type really is the way I talk. So people maybe read my shit for months, see the crazy verbal vomit I post on twilighted (or nice little blogs)… and then one day, they come out and review. Which I love.

However… they don’t know me, and I certainly don’t know them. Nothing wrong with that… until you sit back and analyze the crazy things people say to me in reviews sometimes. I am a stranger to you; you might feel you know me from my stories or my posts on twilighted, and hell. I invite familiarity with my words, and I do love it when people come and “talk” to me. I do.

This is not to say that I enjoy the rude. I do not talk with my mouth full of food, I try to sit up straight, I always signal when making a lane change, and I do not tell complete strangers that they suck for leaving it “like that”.

Alls you gotta do is PM or email me, and as long as you don’t sound like Jennifer Jason Leigh, I will most likely respond back. But if it’s your first few times reviewing, please. Don’t tell me I write egotistical nonsense. Don’t demand an update. Don’t call me any permutation of bitch, whether it’s dumb or fucking or stupid or lazy. At least until you buy me a Starbucks (venti salted caramel hot chocolate with four shots of espresso, s’il vous plait) and know what my first name is, anyway.

What I’m trying to say is this:

Reread what you wrote. Self-edit. If it’s something you wouldn’t turn in to your professor in an email, perhaps you’d best not post it. Or, if it makes you at all hesitate- read it out loud. This is also advice I give to my little beta-ettes, or anyone who is writing the fic, really, but that’s not my topic to discuss.

Now, let’s analyze a doozy of a review, shall we? And no, I ain’t telling which story of mine it’s for.

Wah ! You're telling me I spent 3 hours reading your story (well, reading and
sneaking outta bed to get food XD) for you to just write an amazing story
(partly, cus its not COMPLETE!!) 0: and I find out that it takes you a while
to update?! Do you KnOW how much that's killing me ?! Get yer LazyAss up and
get WRITING!! Sheesh! L0L! Jus GO! Please? I'll review and read every story of
your's and every chapter and jandco's if you hurry and update cus I really
need to know what happens to ExB !! Its killing me! 0: Anyways, did I mention
how much I love you and how great this story is? :)

Oh, Yeah.
So, I was totally just kidding about the get your lazyass up part XD
but please do hurry! I'll bake you some goody edwardness cake with bella (or
you XD) on top! :)
:) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :)
:) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :)

In many ways, this is an extension of rule one. But dude. I get that she loved it; I do. Almost all of my reviews are, at the heart, an excited reader who loved the story. I understand.

So, I’m not the only one who takes issue with this review, right? I swear, I sat down at 6:45am that morning, cracked open my Diet Coke, stalked jandco ‘til she validated my existence, and then checked my email. As per usual.

This was maybe the fourth or fifth one I read. And dude. I was pissed. I almost didn’t finish reading the thing to realize she was simply excited. (I’m not even devoting time to that mini smiley wall o’doom over there. Hot mess.)

Confession: I enjoy when things like this fuel my fire by having egregious errors in not only format and grammar, but in spelling, alternate-spelling, and in containing chat-speak and the smilies. SMILIES. Wall o’doom, people. Wall o’doom. Okay, maybe more like picket fence o’doom.

Now, allow me to say this: I don’t mind criticism. It DOES take me a while to update. And I almost felt the need to defend myself to this person, to say something like “I’m sorry. I’m validating seventy-one stories for the Awards I’m doing with Limona as well as beta-ing for several people, trying to remove the broken-off portable USB drive in my heart over that blog comment by Anonymous Ashley while dealing with a certain-unnamed phone carrier who can bite my twat and oh yeah, both my grandpa and uncle died in the last week.” But you know what? She didn’t need to know that. Why should I defend my three week in-between to a total stranger?

I shouldn’t.

So I didn’t. I did, however, send her a url for this blog. So if you’re reading this, honey, know that I ain’t mad or anything. But please… listen to what I’m saying.

Reviews make me happy because they can say some truly lift-me-outta-fail things. In fact, I’m writing this end bit here post-Scotch update, and hell. Either all of you awesome reviewers read this blog or people are just getting amazing up in this interwebs thing because the reviews are stellar. And so many! I don’t think I’ve ever had such a spate of long, well-articulated, and lovely reviews for an update before. You guys responded to my “challenge” and have left me a little breathless from it all. And I haven’t responded to so many reviews in ages.

Now, go look at them. Count the number of “update soon”s. There aren’t many.

In fact… they’re all sweet, wonderfully composed, and well, most of them are just shocked about the wrench that we threw into the works. Heh heh. Suckers. But seriously…. thank you guys, from the bottom of my cold, dead heart. I am humbled and in love with everyone’s reviews this week.

No, wait. Review etiquette. Right.


That’s where I was going. So when you act familiar with me, I’m cool with it. But not with the rude. Please. Never with the rude. What would your mother say? Or more importantly, what would my mother say, because she has no problem with correcting people’s inadequacies to their face, but to be fair- Mom doesn’t do it unless she feels it’s a serious transgression in etiquette.

To put it simply: in the review barrage I got for Scotch, reading one hundred reviews in one sitting… ninety-nine were so amazing and long and wonderful and just heart-warming. But the only one I can recall with clarity is the one person who said she is going to stop reading because we are going Bella/Jasper.

Your (probably unintentional) harsh words hurt. They just do.

So this is me as my little brown mother, asking you to self-edit. But REVIEW. Please, review. Not just me, but any story you love. Twilight has such an amazing fandom that is filled with the wondrous, the strange, the lovely, the frighteningly shocking and the superfantasmagorical; so click that little button and tell the author something like “Dude. You’re killing me and I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed my own homicide so much” or “ACK. I cannot believe you ended it there, and I will be refreshing my browser in the vain hope that I somehow missed the new chapter notice every hour” or “You are so amazing that I wish you were my neighbor so I could come over to borrow a cup of sugar and distract you while I download your hard drive” or whatever else you can come up with that is a super subtle way to ask for an update. Without being rude. Or calling the person a bitch. Come on. Do it. Make Mama proud.

wtvoc’s quickie review etiquette number 2:

“Your doing a good job.” First off… “you’re”. It’s “you’re”. Secondly… not my job. No one pays me to do this. It makes me feel like my boss Bill Lumberg just came up with his coffee mug and mm’kayed me about my fic.

withthevampsofcourse's Must Have Been Love and Welcome Home are treasures of the sexy snark lovers. Her collaborations include Saturday School and Scotch, Gin and The New Girl and also betas 5464686486 fics. She is a collaborator on the Twilight FF Awards - The Eddies & The Bellies. This sister soldier of Brown may talk dirty and throw down even dirtier, but her class knows no bounds.
wtvoc on FF
The Eddies & The Bellies


  1. First off, I like Smellyia's soap box. She uses it for BSG, too.

    And dude, witvock, but what if you like it when strangers say dirty, mean things to you?

    Sometimes... well, yeah. That shit's hot.

    (heh. heh.)

    Oh, and I once again applaud the author's use of the word lacadaisical in such excellent verbiage.

    Oh, and I would buy you a coffee if I could. And what's with the salt? Like it brings out the caramel flavor? See now I gotta try the feckin' salt.

  2. dude. it tastes like chocolate caramel popcorn. only caffeinated. i dare you to order it with 4 shots like i do. makes the barista's eyes pop outta their head. and they always ask why you need so much caffeine.

  3. Salted hot chocolates from Starbucks are... damnit. Now I want one.

    And thaaaank you for writing this. You're completely right. You remember the one mean one, not the hundred nice ones. And that shit stings.

    Another note, saying "Not to be a bitch, but..." does not excuse you. If you have to say that, you're probably being a bitch.

  4. This was nicely stated and just so spot-on.

    I wish that I understood the phenomenon that makes those one or two hurtful reviews stand-out amongst all of the praise... but they do.


  5. Great post. I just sent you a review (IheartEdward7 on FF) on Scotch before reading this post. hehe I'll never understand how people can be mean to authors who are bringing us great stories to read and prolong our Twi/E/B obsession out of the kindness of their hearts (and minds). Major Kudos.

  6. This column is extremely necessary. I'm just a reader right now, but I read the reviews as well, and I get the chills at some of the things people post. I'm wracking my brain, trying to remember the reviews I've written, if I've ever demanded updates, or written anything that would be hurtful. Even if it was unintentional. I always reread, as I despise spelling errors. I try to convey how thankful I am to the author for sharing both her talent and part of herself with us.
    I also believe that despite the fact that I may not personally know any of the authors whose stories I read, I still don't want them to think I'm a totally ignorant jackwad! I'm trying to make friends here people, not alienate myself!
    Anyway, thanks wtvoc for another awesome, enlightening column! and thanks to TLYDF for such a great blog. I'm enjoying the columns and recs immensely. The author interviews are informative and insightful. This site is fun! Thanks for letting me play!

  7. gin?

    jasper, is that you?

    and kay... THAT is a good review.

  8. I really, really got what you were saying. I've never left a rude or mean review (not intentionally nor would I ever). My policy is, you review how you want to be reviwed. Right? Most writers are readers and vice versa, so common sense and curtesy says "use the golden rule." If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all!

    I have to admit I use lol and smileys, but I wriye and talk like that normally anyway, so I figure it's ok then. As long as I'm being me without makung someone else feel bad.

    And if you don't like something? Doesn't mean the plot will be changed just for you. Writers write for others to read it, sure, but mostly we write for ourselves because we enjoy it.

    My point is, I agree with every thing you said, completely. So thank you for taking the time to write this. Maybe we should all ask your permition to use this as the first chapter of every stpry we write so propper review etiquette can be remembered.


  9. as much as the small part of me that is humble wants to say "oh, lordie. not again. don't do that..." ...

    the self-gratifying, ego-driven part of me says WELL FUCK YES YOU SHOULD.


  10. SO true, WtVoC... Reviews can hurt.

    Hurt hard.

    But they can also make you feel wonderful and talented and that you actually know what the hell you're doing.

  11. Thanks for writing this Kristen, I agree with everything you're saying.

    It's like I said on Skype: what readers don't realise is that, for them, it might be the first time they've left a 'OMG UPDATE' review, but for the author it's the 10th time they've received one in a day. THAT's why we get pissed off- because we've heard it SO. MANY. TIMES.

    This was a good article, well done.

  12. I commented on this yesterday and the internets ate my post.

    wtvoc has written over 170,000 words of fanfiction alone, over 400,000 if you count her stories with jandco.

    Unless there is some secret way to get paid for writing genius and snark that I am unaware of, she does this because she loves to do it.

    To me, if someone is giving me a free form of entertainment I am going to give them praise. It is how I pay them. If there is a comma out of place or a misused "their" I am not going to make a case out of it.

    Sure, I don't like misspelling and grammar errors, but good writers should be appreciated. If you are enjoying their story, write a nice review. If you hate it, why are you reading it? Just stop? If you are confused, PM the author and you are sure to get an answer if your question is valid (invalid-at least to emibella: is this going to be a happy ending? because if edward and bella don't end up together, I'll hate you)

    The big truth is, I want my favorite writers to keep on writing and if giving them words of encouragement is my only charge to The FANDOM, I will gladly pay it.

  13. christine, you ARE talented. that is you, right?
    even though you hate writing "those one scenes" that i won't mention because i don't wanna spoil anything for those people out there who read ya. heh heh

    thank you, emibella. the thing about The FANDOM is that so many participants in it are just wonderful.

    a lot of them are also clueless. so i hope that my slightly snarky words are looked at with the affection one gives to that cousin that everyone says "oh, don't you mind him" to. but then he says something and yer like "ooooh profundities are uttered here" and his existence is thusly validated.

    and claire, love. i'd take you seriously, but you spelled it "realise" on purpose. it's just like "personalise" on skype. sheesh. GIT YER ACT TOGETHER AND MOVE TO THE STATES.

  14. I have learned a lot. I have been known to saw a single "update soon!" at the end of reviews but I so see it is unnecessary since the fact that I am reviewing means it means i'm following. I.e. i obviously woulnd't say update never!
    very insightful. thanks for this.

    oh btw. i thought i was well read but what is b&B *cringe*. I'm so bad with short forms!

  15. boycotts & barflies. welcome to The FANDOM.

    go read it if you haven't done so.

  16. Of course it's me.

    Like there's another Christine out there... heh.

    There probably is. Actually, I know there is because another Christine reviews RG. Which is weird.

    And shush! That certain scene is not going to be posted for a while. I'm just trying to get it out now so people don't have to wait forEVER for me to update.

  17. Ok, I really don't want to make you mad because it seems like you get mad really easily. I am a little confused though. I can't say that I actually have or have not written an effective reviews. (I think I'm actually the one that said you were doing a good job.) But I want to clarify for myself at least, when I say, "hey you (wink wink nudge nudge) Good job buddy! What I mean is...I have a grand respect for what you all do and you all complain about the horrible review you get so sometimes I feel bad for you. And Hey! I'm a mom, So I want to be supportive and nudge you on the chin and say "buck up cause your awesome." I understand now that you don't need that and I will obviously never do it again, but I don't submit my own stories because I don't have the balls to take the criticism so every now and again when I am overwhelmed by what you have written and just don't want to gush so I sound like an idiot fangirl with a sad case of stalkeritis, I just say good job and inside I feel like. "Yeah, Thats good, I definitely didn't say too much." (Sorry about the bad punctuation.)

  18. FYI it was spelt 'REALISE' FIRST, It's not MY fault that you steal and completely BASTARDISE our language and our sports (IT'S NOT FACKING FOOTBALL!)


  19. watch it, claire werebear. or i won't give you likeohmygod lessons.

    searchingforstories, trust me. you are not THE "good job" reviewer. i, for one, get those every single day. it's like the "update soon" ones; it's just something some of us see quite often.

    and trust me... i completely understand that these reviews are said with love. i actually haven't gotten flamed too often. once or twice out of all of those reviews. seriously.

    it's the rude that i don't like. "good job" is not rude, but read "good job" like every fourth review, and well. you start to feel like it's.... your job. or at least i do.

    and seriously, i say go and post. and definitely read pastiche pen's column, the guide to writing fanfic. she's really pretty much spot on, and her article appearing this week is fantastical as far as an important, important piece of the posting yer first fic puzzle is concerned.

    but... be prepared for the reviews. like i said, most people mean well; they do. and i get that.

    but not everyone is cold like i am and able to shake certain things off in a day. and trust me, there are still certain little things that rankle after months and months of "i'm over it".

    and the next time you want to gush and sound like a stalker?

    do it. i don't know one author out there who doesn't love those reviews the best.

    i think i know what the next column is going to be about now, so thanks!

  20. wtvoc, ever since your column a few weeks ago I have been reviewing more frequently and thoughtfully and you know what? I am enjoying the stories MORE because of it. Authors are pm'ing me and thanking me for my reviews, I am thinking more about the direction stories are going and I am feeling more a part of a type of community that I never really jumped into before.

    Maybe some people think that it's bold or whatever to come out and say it but if saying it does good for both writers AND readers it's worth it, right? I'm just sorry if you had to be the Whipping girl to get that done.

  21. i love you, susan. shhhh. don't tell jandco.

  22. Hello--

    Nice column, per usual. As a fanfiction author myself, I very much appreciated that you mentioned writing fanfiction is a hobby, not a job. I think when readers review with an "update soon," or a flame, or PM authors demanding an update - they forget that this is not a real job for any of us.

    I enjoy writing and reading Twilight fanfiction. I do it because it is fun. Things like flames and indecent demands for updates make this whole thing less fun. I really love what Emibella wrote above, saying that she considers the reviews she writes to be payment to the authors who write the stories she finds to be entertaining.

    A great column topic, in my opinion, would be to touch on the idea of readers asking authors to check out their stories. I get these types of requests multiple times per week, and I am not entirely sure how to deal with them. It makes me incredibly uncomfortable. Part of me feels obligated to check out their stories, because they are reading mine. At the same time, I never asked anyone to read my story. People found it on their own and for whatever reason seem to enjoy it. If you choose this as a topic maybe you could touch on how your stories became popular or give out tips for other writers on how the process works for you (because it seems to be working out alright for you). I don't think there is any magical element that when added to a story it automatically becomes popular, but maybe this would help the idea turn into a full blown column?

    It's just an idea. Take it or leave it, I don't mind.

    Thanks for writing the column,


  23. Just wanted to let you know that I absolutely loved that. It was so insightful and eyeopening.
    I am a first time reader of your column but I am definately going to read regularly from now on.


  24. New column heading graphic = FANTASTIC.

    Thanks for this one; points to ponder as a reviewer.

    I like Jmeyer's suggestions a lot as well. Often we run into those awkward situations with review spam, requests for betas from strangers, people who want to use your ideas, etc and knowing how others handle these scenarios would be a great guide.

  25. As if I couldn't love you anymore you went and referenced "Office Space." I heart you.

    lily page

  26. WOW! What a great article!!! How horrid that anyone would leave a nasty review like that!! I mean come ON! What is wrong with the human population? I have to admit I don't always leave long thought out reviews because I don't have the time, but I always like to at least say something so the author knows they have a happy reader!! I guess I will have to reevaluate my review process and start leaving longer more thought out reviews!!

    Anywho...thanks for pointing this out!! Hopefully everyone reads it and gets the point!! Rude is NOT win!!


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