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 “
Elemental" 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:
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 fanfiction.net and on Twilighted.net. 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.
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