Saturday, November 7, 2009

FandomFluff: The 1 Week Review Challenge!

Excuses, Excuses

Hoosier Mama

Nobody writes chapter reviews to fics that were completed months ago, right? I mean…I’m not the only one, right? Writing chapter reviews to a finished fic is like closing the barn door after the horses have escaped…it’s sort of pointless. After all, the deed is already done.

Recently I was enjoying a leisurely read of a fic called “
The Nymph and the Waterfall
". (If you’re looking for a fic with smaller, more easily digestible chunks of angst, I recommend this one. It’s a cute romp in the woods…with a stop at this secluded pond…which has this waterfall…ahem…but I digress.) I was not reviewing it at all since it is a completed fic and I felt perfectly peachy and guilt-free about that…until I read the Author’s Note at the end of
Chapter 29
. Suddenly, I was drowning under a watery wall of guilt. For there, at the end of that chapter, the author Pastiche Pen had penned a surprise: a poem called The Lurking Reader. The poem’s all about a reader who enjoys fanfics, but never reviews. It was describing a selfish, inconsiderate tool.

It was describing…me.

I know it annoys authors big time when people read, favorite them and their stories, but never leave a review. I sheepishly admit that I’m occasionally guilty of this, which got me to thinking, why exactly don’t I write reviews as often as I know I should?

Here are the excuses I came up with; feel free to help yourself to any of them.

1. I’m lazy.
In fact, I’m too lazy to be bothered with coming up with a meaningful or witty explanation. You’re on your own.

2. The story’s too good.
Picture this: you’re reading a book and you love it. You’re in the zone. Your imagination is focused entirely on the world the author has created. The story is gripping, funny, scary, or sexy. You come to the end of a chapter. You now have two choices. You can: A) continue reading, or B) stop reading and compose a thought-filled note to the author about how incredible her story, its characterizations, and the atmosphere are; how you about peed your pants with excitement, blah, blah, blah. How many people can honestly say they would choose B?

I’ve read some fantabulous fics, but I could find only one instance where I stopped myself from clicking the next chapter button and instead wrote a review. It was for “
Hydraulic Level 5
". I spouted off to Gondolier how I had to interrupt my reading to tell her how awesome her story was. But usually, like that damn Energizer bunny, I keep going, and going, and going…

3. The story’s not good.
No, wait, actually what I mean is, the chapter’s not very interesting. Maybe it’s a short “filler chapter” with little to no action happening. I know there have been times when I wrack my brain for something to say about a chapter, and come up blank because there simply was nothing there for me to comment on. I also have a hard time being critical of people’s work; I’m leery of offending anyone. Hoosier Mama’s motto? If you can’t think of something nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.

4. The story is already insanely popular.
Case in point: tara sue me’s “
The Training
". I must have been one of the first people to read that initial chapter. I was home at lunchtime the day it was uploaded and I was watching my computer for it with hawk-like intensity. (tsm: I love you for your dependability. Tuesdays are my new favorite day of the week.) I read it, went back to the office while deciding what I would say in my review, and by the time I got home that evening, it already had some astoundingly high number of reviews…over a thousand if I’m remembering correctly. Honestly, what more can I add for the author’s benefit?

I’m much more likely to spend time writing a review if a fic has a smaller number of reviews. Erinbatt’s “
A Chance Encounter
" has less than 100 reviews and that story is really starting to heat up. “
Leaf Dances
" by ShilohPR and “
Breaking Edward
" by browniechadowes both have fewer than 500. “Dances” has me tied up in knots wondering what’s really wrong with Bella, and “Breaking Edward” is a sweet romance with an OCD Edward. All three stories deserve way more attention.

5. I’m forgetful.
Ok, this is the reason that fills me with the most guilt. I finish reading a highly enjoyable chapter. But now, instead of immediately writing a review, I decide to think about it for a while. I’m conceited enough in my writing that I want my review to be meaningful or helpful, something more than, “I like your story. Please update soon.” It takes me a while to think of everything I want to write in a review since, as everyone knows, reviewers only have one shot per chapter.

There have been times, more than I care to admit, where I honestly meant to return and review a chapter, but instead got caught up in another story. Two examples would be “
" and “
Eye Contact
". I’m ashamed to admit I absolutely adore these two fics (to the point of rereading some of the chapters) and…I’ve never written a review for either one. My bad. (I promise TallulahBelle and silver sniper of night, I will correct this oversight!)

6. I embarrass easily.
I’ll never know how some M-rated authors can write what they do without combusting into red hot flames of embarrassment. I find some stories simply too hot to handle…meaning they’re too hot to review, Silly! Of course I’m gonna read them!

Case in point: “
Clipped Wings & Inked Armor
" by hunterhunting. I reviewed the first couple of chapters, told the author about a typo or two, and everything felt nice and normal. But then the story progressed into something highly sensual and quite graphic. Unfortunately, I’m way too much of a prude to write:

Thank you for this chapter’s incredibly erotic imagery that will translate into smokin’ hot sex later tonight with my husband. Question: If I get my hoohah and both nipples pierced like Bella, would the pleasure actually be great enough to endure the excruciating pain? And wouldn’t I be setting off airport metal detectors right and…ahhh…left? And by the way, you spelled “penis” wrong in the second sentence of the fifth paragraph.

See what I mean? I’m way too inhibited to ever compose something as mortifying as that! So I don’t review CW & IA chapters much anymore. I just pour a glass of wine, put on some soft jazz, make sure the family is well-occupied, get comfy on the couch, and devour her words…hungrily.

So that’s my list of excuses for not reviewing, and…Wow! Reading back through them I realized something. My excuses are totally lame! They’re crap! I have been selfishly taking and not giving anything back. I really don’t have any good excuses for not reviewing more.

Tell you what; I’m going to try a little experiment. I hereby solemnly vow that for a period of one week, which will be the seven days following when this column appears in TLYDF blog, I will review each and every chapter I read on and on I will no longer be a freeloader, even though (grumble, grumble) this will severely cut into my reading time. If the price of reading a fic is writing a review, I’ll pay it…for one week. I’ll write a future article on how this little experiment turns out.

Nothing will stop me from reviewing each and every chapter update I read during that week. My biggest obstacle, in this as in every aspect of my life, will be overcoming the omnipresent excuse #1.

This has been a Fandom Fluffy Moment brought to you by
Hoosier Mama


  1. I'm game to do this too! Who else, hmmm?

    ~Admits to being shitty reviewer person~

  2. When I don't review, it's usually for these two reasons:

    1. I read it on my blackberry, and it is hella hard to review on my blackberry. I'm talking five minutes of typing on the tiny keyboard.
    2. I didn't like the chapter/story.

    I can try though. I think I read all of ohmyword's stories in the last two weeks and left two reviews. Yikes.

  3. I review everything, but then I get hopelessly distracted or out of the story and I only get through the first chapter or two.

    So I'm not a shitty reviewer, I'm just not a reader. Which is worse.

    If you're all resolving to review, I'm gonna resolve to read for a week. (:

  4. Hmmm... Now I'm feeling the pressure to comment on blogs, too!

    Very entertaining as usual. Good luck with your endeavor!

  5. LMAO.

    Um... poem was not designed to make anyone feel bad. Okay, well, maybe get lurkers who never review to think twice, but mostly, I laugh when I read it, cuz I like "scythes" a lot.

  6. I went and read Pastiche Pen's poem. lol, i love it.

    I don't review every chapter, especially if the fic is complete and horribly long and has a gazillion reviews already. And I feel kinda stupid after I mindlessly rave about how much i loved a chapter.

  7. Haha. That was an awesome article.

    I bully/blackmail/threaten my readers to review. It works really well.

  8. ok, you just prompted me to go and write some reviews...I was being lazy!

  9. I review every chapter I read, even if I don't like it. And most of the time, the authors reply back to my mind numblingly over estatic reviews, it's so nice!

    Anyway, great article! And Pastiche Pen, your poem was the thing that got me reviewing every chapter I now read!

  10. You definitely tapped into all the reasons why I might forgo a review!

    Don't get me wrong - I review, but I review purposefully. If something makes me laugh, if I connect to something in particular in a chapter, or if I'm just digging on their story - I like to let the author know. But not necessarily every chapter.

    Especially for stories garnering comments in the tens of thousands, I only review when I have something to say. I'm hesitant to make more work for these already super busy authors by forcing them to read through this wordy girl's gushing fangirl lovefest chapter after chapter, when they could be doing better things. Like writing :)

    Also, just like you said, if it is low in the comment count, I am all about showing the love! Especially for underappreciated authors who might not realize how awesome they are.

    But you pose an interesting challenge!

  11. Gosh, it's like you read my mind Hoosier Mama!

    I actually have a rule for myself that I have to leave a review before I can alert. Usually that means I read everything already posted, and then leave one review. Sometimes though, especially for stories that aren't very popular, I will review every chapter.

    I'm definitely on the review for a week wagon. Count me in :)

  12. OMG...I haven't written so many reviews in my life. All day long today I've been reading a chapter, reviewing a chapter, reading a chapter, reviewing a chapter. I'm not sure I'm going to last for six more days of this...Aarrgh!

  13. You can do it! Remember, a review can be as simple as saying, "I enjoyed this chapter." And it's only six more days...

    Plus, in your next article you can tell us how many reviews you left and we can all congratulate you. That's gotta be some added incentive, right?

  14. I was just thinking about my review history the other day and I've come to see I'm sort of a selfish reviewer.

    I hate saying, "please update soon." and I hate just saying again and again "this story is great!" I want the author to know I've connected with their slice of the Twi-verse and I like to say something meaningful to show that I understand where their story is going or I see their point of view.

    But, here's the selfish part, I hate when I don't get a response to a review. Especially if I've left a few thoughtful well drawn out reviews, so I'll just stop after I don't know - maybe 5 unanswered reviews. Isn't that terrible? Nevermind that I like your story and you've shared it with me, now I want you to answer me personally. Eek I know. *slaps self*

    Also, I won't review if I don't have anything nice to say. Which makes me so glad Twilighted can't show who's read your story, because god - I'd feel terrible.

    So yeah. I'm a terrible reviewer. : (

  15. Hoosier Mama you have it so right! Sometimes I am lazy, but more often, I just want to read more of the story or my next favorite AND I just am too in awe to leave a review. Its too much work to come up with witty or insightful reviews. Especially since I am in the habit of having a glass or 2 of wine while I read. Sometimes I'll read the reviews on Twilighed & THEY blow me away!
    That being said, I always submits stars for the chapters on twilighted & I always review those stories that haven't garnered attention but should have it. (Can I mention "I Don't Exist on Twilighted?)

    So thanks for the article, & I will try to be better, even if its just a lame "great story".

  16. Frenchbeanz:
    Thanks for the encouragement. Right now I'm reading "High Anxiety"; the chapters are luckily very interesting and quite long, so reviewing every one isn't terrible. And I have left more than a few short sentence reviews, since there have been several cliffies...
    Thanks for the recommendation. I'll give "I Don't Exist" a try. I can never ignore a rec. You know...I think I may be fanfic obsessed! *palms face*

  17. I adore reviews as much as the next writer, but I don't think that non-reviewers are selfish and inconsiderate. A review is a gift, and to me there is never an obligation to give.

    I feel like I've gotten into trouble a couple of times when I've written enthusiastic reviews to early chapters and then the story did not hold up for me. What to do when my honest reaction is "you lost me with this chapter"? Write reviews that are markedly cooler than the earlier ones or stop reviewing? Does anyone else experience this? It's especially complicated when the author is a fan of my work and I don't want to offend them! But because of this pattern I've been reluctant to review early chapters. I feel like it may be better to wait and see!

    I read the AN on the Nymph story and I was interested to learn that 3-4% of Pastiche's readers review. My overall rate is lower but I'm in that ballpark for some stories, so I feel good about that!

  18. Well I have another reason..... my english is not so good, so for me to write a review comes with a lot of thinking and the encarta dictionary so times more time and I kind a lazy, apart from that all the other options applied to me, but for example when a story is complete I review in the last chap.

  19. The review revealing the typo it was cute. Did you know that piercings don't usually set off the metal detectors? :) I really appreciate the comment posted about this piece. I am getting some great ideas for reviews and adding alerts.

  20. Shit...I just read the article and it was funny and perfect...then I read all your comments and thought they were great too...all that being said, I very nearly did not comment. It is against my nature to comment and review. Here goes... I also feel like a story that has been completed for months and has over 10,000 reviews would be wierd to review chapter 6 to say I like it or comment on the dialog or point out a typo. Does the author even remember chapter 6?

    I have been trying to be a better reviewer though even if it is just to thank the author.


Spread The Word