Saturday, February 21, 2009

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

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Love is in the air…

Not ‘cuz of VD aftermath; hale no. I actually intensely dislike Valentine’s Day. Flowers, chocolates. Promises you don’t intend to keep. Come on. Real love is when he changes your oil for you and never leaves dirty socks under the table and says stuff like, “Babe. Your ham and cheese omelets are better than Mom’s.”

But I digress.

Let’s jump right into this week’s topic.

1. Don’t ask for an update.
2. Your words can hurt. Have a care before clicking “submit”.
3. We love it when you love it.

Of course we do.

Actually, most reviews are nothing but love. Loooovely love. You guys may have no idea how much a really sweet little note can make us smile. A simple OHMYCULLEN THAT WAS AMAZING is always appreciated.

And there are several ways to express this.

Most reviews of the love oeuvre are a few lines about how great the chapter was, can’t wait for the next one, so glad Edward finally said I LOVE YOU, etc.

But the ones that I would like to pay tribute to right now are what I refer to as “word vomit” paragraphs.

You authors know what I’m talkin’ about.

The review that is just… a barrage of information about how affected the person was by what they just read. Coupled with theories, quotes from the story itself, and comparisons to previous chapters that may or may not include the words “best chapter yet”.

How can you not be charmed by this?

I mean, for one thing- I see that you were just so excited by the update that you can barely contain yourself, and that’s simply amazing. I mean, yeah. We write this stuff and put it out there, praying for the best with eyes squinty and fingers crossed, hoping against hope that it made sense to people aside from ourselves, our betas, and our friends who we beg for validation but secretly think are just saying YOU DON’T SUCK NOW SHUT UP like any good friend would.

So like, when you lovely readers/strangers just burst with excitement… dude. Dude. Best. Feeling. Ever. I suspect it’s why so many of us continue writing The Fic.

But I wanna return to this word vomit thing and give an amazing example.

Example: I read a lot of fic. Like ridiculous amounts. I think it's a pregnant hormonal thing but who knows. I am seriously floored by your updates sometimes. They're always amazing but I read a chapter like this one and I'm just stunned by it's awesomeness. Like how do you even decide that a lake is a metaphor for their relationship. Seriously. Fucking. Incredible. And - you pulled a Jacob on me. I spent all of New Moon and Eclipse hating Jacob. Couldn't appreciate him at all. Then BD comes along and I'm able to enjoy Jacob. You did that and you actually did it better. I was so stressed out about Bella chosing gin that I didn't stop and enjoy it. This is my favorite Jasper of all time. I couldn't appreciate him at the time but I want awesomeness for him. I trust that you will whip out redemption for Alice and again blow me away.

Stuff like this tickles me and makes me respond. I mean… you can just feel the love and it makes you all kinds of love in return.

K, I’mma shift gears now.

If you don’t know how to write a love review and are more of the simple or uncomplicated review persuasion… you can do what I do occasionally.

1. Open up your update.
2. Scroll down to the bottom.
3. Click review.
4. Scroll back up.
5. Commence reading.
6. Every time something hits you… copy & paste.
7. Insert into review box.
8. One line on why you love it, maybe in ALL CAPS so the author sees it easily.
9. Submit when done.

Easy to accomplish, and well- I often get people saying “Too many good lines to remember” or some such thing, and I think this C&P thing is a good way to go. Because no matter how non-ego-driven some writers are (and I obviously don’t mean me), having your own words quoted back at you? Nice little purr purr purr-inducing moments, those.

Other ways to show love:

* “I had the worst day ever, but I saw you updated and I put down my essay prompt/laundry/small child and clicked”
* “People in my office/computer lab/family are looking at me funny because I keep laughing”
* Thanking me for updating. Jmeyer, one of my fave reviewers, always ends a review by saying “Thank you for writing”. Now, that’s simple, but dude. If you ask me, it’s the perfect thing to say. And jmeyer, always and forever… you’re welcome.
* Your theories. Don’t expect an answer, but I totally love hearing what you think I’m going to do next.
* Song suggestions, things the update reminded you of, money donations, etc. I love hearing what songs you guys have- I’m kind of a music whore if you hadn’t noticed, and I love getting the suggestions for cool new indie bands that you send. And the fanart? Sheesh. Talk about super duper love. There are some uber-talented ladies up in this here Fandom.

So yeah, that’s all I’ve got. Sorry. Not too much snark this week. I’m too busy basking in the LoveFest. And Awards thingie-ing. GO VOTE. MAKE SUSAN B. ANTHONY PROUD. Clickies down there somewhere.

Eddies and Bellies


wtvoc’s quickie review etiquette number 3:

We do not need you to tell us where to take the fic. And threatening us with “you’d better make them have sex soon!” will mostly likely prolong the long-awaited sex scene or whatever it is.

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.
The Eddies & The Bellies


  1. Amen, sista.

    I get some people who write me and are like...

    "I'm so so sorry for bothering you but... I just wanted to go off on a crazy tangent about how much I adore your shit."

    Uh. Bother me? BOTHER ME?!?! Hales no. I love it hard!

    I write love reviews like this as well. Where you open the review box and start typing whenever strikes you. I think I did this for Oxy's heartfail chapter, and... well... I may have expressed my compulsion to dump my fiance and marry the chapter. Have its little fic-lets and such. The excitement got to me, and well... shit. How could the forest scene in IVO NOT get to me?


    And I speak from experience so that someone may NOT have to know my pain but... I do it in notepad or MS Word as I read, because NOTHING is more destructive to my soul than spending the entire chapter writing a review, and then... having FFn gobble it up.

    Review go bye bye, make AG sad, sad lady.

    Notepad. C&P. Just sayin. Necessary for Blogger bullshit sometimes too.

    Thanks for the column, bb! And I personally bask in the loving blog atmosphere after the week I've had.

    OH!, and... this?

    "Real love is when he changes your oil for you and never leaves dirty socks under the table and says stuff like, “Babe. Your ham and cheese omelets are better than Mom’s.”"

    So fucking true.

  2. Oh, these are my favourite kind of reviews! I love them. I cherish them. They can turn an absolutely crappy day where the kids are screaming and the house is a mess and hubby is freaking out about something and there isn't anymore diet coke and all you really want to do is pull all of your hair out and hide in a corner into a day of sunshine and daisies and smiles.

    Reviews are love. Because no matter how simple it is to click that little box at the bottom of the chapter, it's less than 10% of the readers who do that.

    And people quoting your work back to you... WIN!

    Thanks for writing these. I can't tell you how much I've been enjoying reading this series of articles. :)


  3. So true. Because snarkiness aside, reviews are what inspire to keep going when my story is frustrating me to no end.

    And "Because no matter how non-ego-driven some writers are... having your own words quoted back at you?" It's an awesome feeling.

  4. Oh wtvoc...

    You just quoted Beauty and the Beast.
    I think I love you even harder.

    Just sayin...

  5. I like it when people review and:
    1. tell me gnome stories or Pookie, too or any stories really - this falls into witvock's crazy category
    2. tell me what they spit out while reading and the effect the expulsion on the surrounding pets
    3. talking dirty to me (unless i don't know you - then it scares me - and I kinda like being scared - but it does scare me)
    4. talkin' about my writing
    5. telling me what they believe to be the trajectory for my story, but I mean like the crazy path (not "MORE PORN PASTICHE!") especially if said projected story line involves rubber gloves and a raccoon AND
    6. being spammed with 20 chapter reviews, cuz it's like some someone's having a conversation with my story

  6. wtvoc - another wonderful column! I won't quote you back, cause my favs have already been stolen! This is the perfect Valentine's Day topic.

    There's one more fantastic line I get rarely in reviews (this is from my prolific reviewer and friend, strider):

    "Anyway, now I'll print up this chapter and put it with the other 11, which I keep near my bedside for frequent re-reading!"

    Thanks for updating, thanks for writing, quotes...all are very win - but to make the jump from electrons to wood pulp - I think that might be the nicest thing anyone's ever said to me. And this was just one line from her long, wonderful review!

    The "word vomit" is one of the greatest incentives to write more - many times such a review receives and equally long response (and even outtake or extra material!). I applaud all the reviewers who take the time to write such ambrosia. (librarymom - you're reviews and gripes at Edward are some of my favs, too!)

    "dude. Dude. Best. Feeling. Ever."


  7. God love a Beauty and the Beast reference (Flowers. Chocolate. Promises you don't intend to keep)... been reading this series with great interest. Thanks for sharing!! :)

  8. So, I don't always feel like I get across what I'm trying to say, but here goes...
    What I've realized as I've been reading these little ole entries you guys are providing us with, is that I love to make people happy... yeah, cliche but true. But I'll never say something un-true... anyway, I've decided that the best way to amke people happy is to review their work, tell them their awesomeness and then spread the word... It's how I get happy... Just sayin...
    And I love the emphasis on reviewing in general, because it's true, not very many do it, but...when you get that review that just about blows your mind it makes everything else crap in the world disapear and it makes you want to write, and read and share and laugh... right?

    so, that's my worvomit for the night... I love all you guys bring into awareness and you all should get the etiquette award... and an award for just being awesome and for making me happy :)


    thank you.

    blondie bear, when people talk about printing it out, i'm always like wut? o rly?

    because even i haven't printed that stuff out. i probably should, huh?

    i like the love. sometimes the snark gets to even me. yeah, yeah, porn peddler. shaddap.

    i didn't do 20 chapter reviews. it was only 17.

  10. hmm... the Twilight fandom has so much amazing fic and so many fabulously talented authors. Like just about everything else in Discerning Ficster these entries on Fandom Equiette are great, pithy, funny and helpful. Whoever does the graphics for this site is just awesome. But am I allowed to put in a little criticism about this how-to on reviews? Because I love to get love, and I love to hear theories and to have word-vomit shower me. But I honestly also am interested in constructive criticism of my fics. Sometimes the most interesting and thoughtful reviews are the ones that contain info about what worried or jarred the reader. And if there's factual errors or grammatical flaws in my fic I'm not adverse to being told. Of course writing constructive critism nicely definitely requires some thought and skill, and I'm just sorry that there's no how-to on doing it here...

  11. BB, i'm not done writing about this stuff. not by a long-shot.

    i wouldn't classify constructive criticism under "love" because it's a category unto itself. in fact.... thank you for the idea for my next thingie.

  12. Witvock, dude. You know I can't not leave weird-ass comments. Besides everyone else was doin' it - sayin' what sorta reviews they liked - but they were all nice and cheerful and long, so I decided to just make a dirty laundry list. And no I won't shaddap - that's why Smellyia gave me a column.


    Oh, Anonymous, AngstGoddess does the loverly graphics. In fact, AG, everyone else has them except for me... (hint, hint, hint)

  13. Thanks so much for this!! I love expressing my joy after reading a really amazing chapter, so it's good to have some tips on what really curls you ladies' toes. :)

    What I'd love to see as well are tips on the best ways to give constructive feedback, as Anonymous said. Typos and misused words really break the flow of a story for me, but I hate to nitpick at people I don't even know so I often leave them unsaid. Also, occasionally an author does something gratuitously horrible to a character like Jacob or Reneesme and it kills a huge part of my joy in the story. Do you have any tips on how to best go about showing love for what you love and hate for what you hate without bruising a tender ego?

  14. I am loving this fandom etiquette guide!

    I tend to be a serial lurker in the world of twilight fanfic as i'm never sure what to put down in a review, generally i gush love and embarrass myself, good to know you ladies love the ya get in reviews. I also would like to see a piece on how to give constructive feedback without nitpicking, speaking for myself I think some guidance would encourage many lurkers to review more!

  15. Thanks wtvoc for another great article on the do's and don'ts of reviewing. 2 new things I learned, and will write in my little tip book ;)
    I always thought that quoting back my favorite lines was a little wierd. I do it in my reviews, but I guess I think, well, she wrote it, she KNOWS it's awesome! But I stand corrected! Now that I know authors love that, I'll be sure to do it more. AND I love the idea of working the review as I read the chap, I never thought of that. I'm going to do that from now on.

    If you don't mind,*smirking* I'm going to promote my own writing. But it relates, I promise. Since your last article, I posted my own little one shot. (first one ever) Every time I got an alert that there was a review, I squeed! They were all positive, and I'm eternally thankful for the love, but the one I dug the most was specific. I realize now I would have peed in glee if someone had quoted back a fav line.

    As a reader, I try to review just about everything I read. I get how much an author puts her heart and soul into what she writes. I also get that for the writers of the popular fics, you guys must get tons of reviews. But liberally speaking for other readers and reviewers, it needs to be said how it makes us warm and fuzzy when the author writes us back, acknowledging how what we thought about their story meant to them. I wrote a review for an uber-popular fic, and when the author wrote me back, I must have floated for days. Knowing that my review made her smile, knowing that amongst probably 100's of reviews, mine stood out, and she took the time to tell me so, was for lack of a better term, really f'in cool!

    I'm casting my vote for some edumacation on how to give constructive feedback!

    Thanks again Ladies, as always, awesome blog, thanks for letting me play!

  16. Hello,

    Dude. It has taken me a while to find the time to read the latest updates on this fantastical blog. And, I was pleasantly surprised by this episode of "Dirty Uncle WTVOC's Guide to Fandom Etiquette." The surprise part is because I got a shout out (whoooooo hoooooo - Vicki Gumbleson anyone??). WTVOC you will always be thanked for writing what you write, because I seriously enjoy reading it.

    Your tips on how to write a good review are so needed. Writing a good review is going to take a bit more time than writing "update soon," but it doesn't necessarily mean that a reader has to spend ten minutes waxing on about the genius that was the contained in the latest chapter.

    Your 9 step process is fairly close to how I write reviews, but I usually don't copy and paste quotes in reviews. I do tend to write reviews as I read chapters. I don't want to forget the things that make me laugh or that I found to be particularly insightful.

    A great review can be very simple and only a few sentences long. For example, here is a review I got for the latest chapter of my story that I thought was perfect (thanks April Bloom):

    "Great dialogue between Bella and Edward. It is like being gifted with an
    extension of what would happen beyond Twilight. It validates the intensity of
    what they felt when they first met."

    This is a really simple and short review, but it is also insightful and personal. This isn't a review that could be posted on just any story or on any chapter, it only works for the latest posted chapter of my story. And notice... not one "update soon."

    I don't think it is a coincidence that the quality of reviews I have received have improved since you started writing this column.

    So, as always, thank you for writing.


  17. Hello,
    I absolutely agree with everything you have said in this column so far.
    I have to admit, as a Fanfiction author myself that the most annoying thing ever is when someone just posts update soon!! and nothing else. I mean, you know that they must like the story or they wouldn't want you to update, but is it too much to ask that they spread a little of that love by telling you how much they like your story?
    Sometimes the simple update soon's and walls of death are worse than the flames.
    They leave you sitting there thinking 'I HAVE GOT A LIFE AND THINGS TO DO OTHER THAN WRITE!'
    I am one of those people who, if I had a choice, would probably write 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, but life gets in the way.
    At the moment I have essay after essay after essay for my GCSE's and though I would love nothing more than to put them down and carry on writing Fanfic, I just can't! And as much as I love my fans and would like nothing better than to give cyber-cookies to every single one of them, they need to understand that.
    Anyway, I think I have probably just ranted through half a page so I do apologise most profusely.
    Thankyou for spreading review etiquette to the world, if anyone wall of death's me from now on I am most definately going to send them a link to this blog.

  18. Hiya. I'm a relatively new fic reader (though I do have some classics under my belt) and an even newer reviewer. I started reading and never reviewed. I think this was mostly due to that the stories were already several chapters in and I was just on chapter 1. I figure, at that point, who'd want to hear what I thought about chapter 1?!?! I know... stupid, right? Chapter 1 is sooo important.

    Anyway, after some introspection, reflection, and other tions, I realize that my not posting is just me being timid. And really, how can I be so self-absorbed to be timid about a review when the author is putting it all out there with a story?!?!!?

    I have done a few reviews, and good God, I hope I didn't request an update! I probably did b/c I'm a newbie. But, it's just love! I swear! Your blog makes me want to go back and review everything I've read, if not the individual chapters, at least the latest one. I should do this. Laundry be damned --- ooops, there's that stupid dryer buzzer, can't help it, the kids' are out of socks!

  19. Hi! Thanks for the guidelines. I'm a fan fic reader and sometime writer and I never know what to write when I fancy a particular story. Especially when I don't want to leave a comment like, you know, the update soon and love your story.

    Also, it makes me shy to write a review when there had been hundreds of reviewers before me. I much prefer the underappreciated ones.


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