Monday, July 6, 2009

Reader's Series: ElleCC

I’ve been sitting here for three weeks (right here, for three weeks!) trying to figure out how to best sum up or explain or describe my seven months in the fandom. In the end, even though I tried to skirt the issue and come up with something wildly entertaining, it really just all comes down to reviews.

I sought out Twific in December, after reading the Saga twice (and seeing the movie four times), in two weeks. After BD, I needed more, like everyone else. And more is what I found. I don’t even remember what my first fic was because I read it around 2:00 a.m. and quickly followed it with thirty more in a week. I spent a couple of weeks figuring out how things worked: reviews, updates, alerts, looking at other people’s Favorites for the best stories.

After I grew comfortable with the idea of reviewing – look, you can tell an author how you feel about her stuff! – I started to become a bit more detailed in my reviews; I threw in a little more than just the regular “great story, update soon!” (Although I can’t say I never used those words in the first couple of months; sorry, wtvoc.)

My reviews grew and grew and some of them became these living, breathing entities all of their own. I was suddenly analyzing and theorizing, something I’d been forced to do in school and had never really enjoyed. Man, if someone had given me Scotch, Gin and the New Girl to read in high school, senior year would have been a completely different experience.

So, I was cruising along, reading sixty-five WIPs, leaving some shortish reviews and some longish ones, when I ran into the first author who made a real impression on me. My reviews for You Get Me Closer to God and subsequently Cascade and Cyanide grew into nice conversations about music and angsty fics and then landed me the position as americnxidiot’s beta. Aside from discussions about commas, we spend our time between chapters arguing about Gin vs. Scotch.

Sometime after that, wtvoc made a colossal strategic error by responding favorably to a long, rambling 300-word review I left for Must Have Been Love. After that, I just couldn’t be stopped. All I really needed was that little bit of encouragement from someone who had clearly seen a significant number of reviews. She helped create a monster and she didn’t even realize it. My reviews became longer and more rambly. I think the longest I’ve ever left was just under 1900 words.

Then, one day, I was trying to sate my intense Jasper cravings with First Love Lost when I noted someone who wrote reviews like mine. She included quotes, references, theories… it was marvelous. I scouted out her Favorites and found that we shared most of them. I made the [cue melodramatic music] life-altering decision to PM her just to say hey. I believe my message started with: “So… this is random and kina lame, but….” Regardless of that ineloquence, she actually wrote back. We chatted about Jasper and HEAs and the movie… and thus I formed my closest fanfic bond with my much-more-than-a-beta Legna.

So, what’s my point? I have one, I swear, all evidence to the contrary.

I review because my words are the only currency I have to give these fantastic authors who share with us something that probably has no right to be free. That I enjoy the yapping and analyzing is really just a bonus for me – that the authors seem to like it is like the frosting on my cake.

I have to think that writers post their words in a public arena because they are at least somewhat interested in reader response. Even if it’s only a, “I wish there had been guys who look like Edward in my Comp Sci classes back in school,” or “You had me scampering to iTunes every 25 seconds,” authors probably care about what we think. How did the chapter affect us? What were our favorite lines? Did we want to punch a particularly irritating character? Did we identify with something Bella said or felt? Did something from chapter three suddenly make sense in chapter seventeen? From all of the review replies I’ve received, and all of the “Hey, I know you!” relationships I’ve formed as a result, authors really do seem to appreciate anything we have to say (even the criticisms, as long as they’re constructive). I actually first ventured onto the Twilighted Forums after PM discussions with Vixen1836 about how her Edward kinda ticked me off. Don’t be afraid to express your opinions.

All of the experiences I have had here in the fandom can be traced – in some manor, shape, or form –to reviewing. If I had only read and never reviewed, I wouldn’t be sitting here, writing what is basically one of my long, rambling reviews for my chapter of Twific history. Reviewing was my way into the fandom – maybe it can be yours, too.

Author's Blurb by americnxidiot

I'll start by being obvious: I love getting reviews. Just like every other author, I smile when I get that notification in my email and can't wait to see what the readers thought of my latest chapter or one shot. That's something that has never changed. Regardless of the number, the reviewers make the hours spent writing worth it.

When I first posted You Get Me Closer To God back in early December, I think it's safe to say that I was a relative unknown. After all I had spent almost nine months lurking and reading fic, reviewing when I remembered, and posting a thing or two on a Twilighted thread when I got the nerve. I averaged under 30 reviews per chapter while posting that story.

I've been really lucky since then. Word of mouth has been my best friend, and I now have two completed stories that have done really well. But when I was asked to write a blurb about my favorite reviewer, I didn't even have to think about who I would pick. ElleCC has been my favorite reviewer for a long time now.

I got my first review from Elle around chapter 15 of my first story. She was friendly, helpful, and gave me some song suggestions to fit the mood of the chapter. She continued to leave her lovely reviews when I started Cascade and Cyanide. We soon found ourselves exchanging PMs and emails, sometimes in relation to my story, sometimes just to talk about the last chapter of Scotch. And all the while, Elle continued to leave those long, insightful reviews that every author dreams of on every chapter I posted.

Around chapter 15, I had a small freak out. More people were reading my story, and I was really worried about letting my readers down. I had written an important chapter and needed some feedback, but I was still betaless and only had a few friends I'd made through PMs and my own beta work. So I sent Elle an email with the new chapter, practically begging her to read through it and tell me if it makes sense. When I got it back a few hours later, I was surprised and pretty damn thrilled to see that Elle had fixed typos and made notes all over the chapter. And just like that, I had my beta.

I could go on forever about how much Elle has helped me with my writing over the past several months. But before she was a beta and a writer, she was pretty much the ideal reader.

ElleCC is one of those reviewers you wait for because you know her reviews are going to be amazing. She recently hit 1k reviews on her own first story, and if you scroll through the reviews, you'll see several authors giving their feedback and returning the favor. I honestly can't think of someone who deserves it more.


  1. "She recently hit 1k reviews on her own first story, and if you scroll through the reviews, you'll see several authors giving their feedback and returning the favor. I honestly can't think of someone who deserves it more."

    I agree, Rachel! Elle is my better half, as you know, and I'll always love reading the reviews she leaves for stories she reads, because they are what brought us together. Plus, she's such a smart cookie that reading her reviews always makes me think about something I didn't.

    Great article, Elle and lovely blurb, Rachel.

  2. Great article Elle - as much as I love any review, I cherish those long insightful ones where you can tell a reader has really been digesting what you're writing and reflecting on it. I mean what better reward, than to know that people are thinking about your words after they've clicked off of your page? And I recognize that time is a factor and many times I have left short reviews, particularly when I am catching up and need to keep reading - but it's nice every now and then when a reader goes a bit deeper than "awesome chapter" or "update soon please". (I hate to complain about thoser reviews though, because even though they are short, that the reader took the time to review at all, when it's so easy to finish and move on, still means something).

    And I will agree with Americnxidiot and Legna that you are one awesome reviewer. I love that I get a good mix of insight and hardcore laughs/jaspergasms from you. And that you don't yell at me when my reviews unravel into a slobbering pile of mess (because deep down you know it's your own fault...)

    So in short, (Hah! Too late!) I love you. I love FitV. I love your reviews. And I love your wifey. Thanks,bb.

    <3 LVP (aka Peach)

  3. bwahahahahhaa i saw this in the queue, but didn't read 'til just now.

    i love elle dearly. and the whole time i was like "this sounds like legna's 'behind the music', too". there ya go.

    but you can't lurk as reader anymore, dear heart- welcome to the people-obsessing-over-yer-work club.

  4. Elle is amazing as a reviewer, an author, and a person. I just love her - so incredibly sweet, and I definitely wait for her reviews ;) I'm sticking with her on the unholy pairing, too! Love you, Elle.

  5. Elle's gold!
    Vermont maple syrup on Jasper while riding on the Optimism Train gold.
    Seriously, Elle keeps me sane; she's always supported me and the choices I have made, and her faith (despite my inexperience at this writing game) has kept me typing.

  6. I'm becoming addicted to this blog!
    Elle, I loved your rambling. My reviews can get pretty wordy too, but I find most authors enjoy that. I have a lot to say especially when I'm truly touched by the story line and/or characters. When you started reading/reviewing one of my stories I just about fainted. I was excitedly nervous. Does that make sense? I'm editing the hell out of it now too. Thanks again for your support & always feel free to be honest in your reviews. =)

    Now I must make time to read FitV. Prepare for my lengthy reviews!

  7. ElleCC, you're such a lovely lady. Thanks for everything you've done for the authors of fandom. I personally have much difficulty (laziness) leaving reviews and I always notice when you leave them for my story and others'. I love what you said about reviews being 'currency.' I have a little review-guilt now, but I've been trying harder. I'll never be as awesome as you. Thanks again! And thanks for contributing your words to the blog.



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