Tuesday, December 1, 2009

FandomFluff: A Week in Reviewing Review

Review Week

Hoosier Mama

High school English classes are wasted on high school students. I can’t pinpoint when exactly a love for the written word clicked on in my brain, but it was unfortunately well past my teenage years. As a student in Honors English, I coasted along, keeping silent during discussions, doing the minimum work necessary to pass. (I hereby apologize to Mrs. Snyder of Thornwood High School. I deserved every “C” you gave me.) As an adult, I would have loved to write about Jay Gatsby, Huck Finn, and Atticus Finch. Literary discussions that felt like being tortured to me back then, now sound like fun.

Cue an on-going obsession with Twilight fan fiction; entering at this point in my life, from stage left.

In a previous column, (
Excuses, Excuses
) I promised I would review each and every chapter I read for a period of one week and I did. I thought it would diminish my joy of reading fanfics. It didn’t. I worried that authors would be annoyed receiving a review of every. single. chapter. They weren’t. (At least, no one told me to knock it off…)

Here’s the breakdown of my week. And I apologize ahead of time for making this sound like one of those insidious story problems from math class. (If 5 authors wrote 15 fanfic chapters and you read 12 of them during a 7 day period, how long would it take Bella’s train to reach Alice in Biloxi?)

I read a grand total of 72 chapters and wrote a total of 72 reviews. In hindsight, that feels like an ungodly high number for someone who has a fulltime job. All I can say in my defense is, that’s…that’s…oh, what’s the two-word catchphrase used by U.C. and Moon on their website
Letters to Rob
? You know, they use it to explain outrageously bizarre fan behavior. “That’s…appalling”? No, that’s not right. That’s…embarrassing”? No, that’s not quite it either. Hmmm…I remember!

72 chapters of fan fiction read in seven days?

“That’s normal.”

Try counting how many chapters you read a week; you might be surprised…or appalled, or appallingly embarrassed…like I was. I was afraid writing reviews to every chapter I read would seriously cut in to my reading time. *chuckle, chuckle* This begs the question: how many total chapters would I have read if I hadn’t made that reviewing promise? 90 chapters? 100 chapters? Luckily, we’ll never know the answer.

Out of 72 reviews, I received 35 responses from authors. (At nearly 50%, I was super impressed.) 41 of the 72 chapters read were from four stories I began reading that week from chapter one; the other 31 were chapter updates of stories I’d started reading before the week began.

A total of 25 authors got reviews from me that week. I received responses from eleven of them. I honestly don’t write reviews to get replies from authors, so I don’t automatically expect to get a response. But since getting any sort of reply from an author curls my toes and tickles me pink, I’m listing below all eleven that responded to reviews I wrote that week:

Emilie Fauve
, “
In My Power
” (21 replies)

, “
The Cocky and the Cougar
” (4 replies)

, “
Ithaca is Gorges
” (2 replies)

and one reply each from the following :

, “
The Woods are Lovely, Dark and Deep

D Pattinson
, “
The Hot Corner

Edward A. Masen
, “
My Lost Youth

, “
The Emperors of Washington

Kristin Nicole
, “
The Caged Bird

, “
Mind’s Eye

Pastiche Pen
, “
The Price of Permanence

silver sniper of night
, “
Eye Contact

Allow me to state unequivocally, using the highest form of compliment in my vocabulary, that each and every one of you authors is…a peach. I want you to know, I’m not the kind of girl to hand out gratuitous peach compliments; I really mean it…sincerely.
And achieving an even higher level of peachiness, is Emilie Fauve, whose responses were in-depth, highly enjoyable discourses on Carlisle, Esme, and Edward. It was like being back in Honors English discussing a literary work…except the author herself was teaching the class. I read all 21 chapters of “
In My Power
”, reviewed all 21, and received 21 responses from the author. Inconceivable!

Ironically, this whole thing started because I didn’t ever review completed fics; I felt like the authors had already put them to bed and wouldn’t be interested. Emilie proved me wrong. Some writers still enjoy hearing from readers, even when the fic is completed.

The week-long experiment was successful for several reasons. I learned that knowing ahead of time that I was going to review a chapter made me feel like an active participant while reading it. I paid closer attention to the story so I could actually have a shot at writing a decent review. I’ve learned to ask questions when something bothers me, and to be careful not to write something that could be taken the wrong way by an author when I’m only trying to be funny.

Laziness still plays a part in whether or not I’m going to review a given chapter, as does my enjoyment of the story. If I’m short on time and totally digging a story, I’m not going to stop to write; instead I’ll keep reading. If I don’t like it, now that I don’t have to write a review, nothing, and I mean nothing is going to make me write a review. (I’ve stopped beating my head against the wall trying to write reviews to less than stellar stories and I’m totally enjoying the lack of pain in my noggin.)

I’m still working on overcoming my red-faced embarrassment when writing reviews to hot and steamy chapters. I decided to come up with a generic phrase the fandom could use in a review of a highly erotic chapter so the reader could show her appreciation without feeling mortified. To make it easier to remember, I thought I would craft a sentence where the first letters of each word create a word. For example: “Liked each moment of naughty sex” (lemons); or “Often raunchy, glorious, and so magical” (well… you know).

Unfortunately, instead of clever reviews the phrases I came up with sounded more like newspaper headlines. “Pretty Edward Really Vampire!!” (perv) and “Provocative Reading Unfolds Decadent Ecstasy!” (prude).

I feel coming up with a memorable phrase is a vital service to the Twilight fandom. It is clearly my destiny to help my fellow inhibited yet polite reviewers of erotic fics. This, my friends, is the true reason I became obsessed with Twi fanfics; I can see that now. I’ll work on it some more and get back with you. Hopefully, it’ll be something Mrs. Snyder would grade higher than a “C.”

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


  1. Ah - the mixed blessings of reviews and review replies.

    Not long after I started writing, I picked up two of the loveliest reviewers a girl could ever wish for - Legna989 and Lucette21. Their reviews were so insightful, so spot on, that I couldn't help but reply with thank you's. Hey - I grew up in the south, thank you's are expected :)

    But in the process - it gave me an appreciation for the importance of a good review and a good thank you. I try to review with what resonates or touches me - not so much a reaction like "OMG, can't believe he did that" but more of how it made me feel or what registered. It will never be a 1k review (I got one once, I just about cried), but I hope that it shows the author how I am interpreting her writing.

    As for review replies - most people will say 'they don't expect them' and I do believe that's true, but it sure as heck does touch people if you do it. I try as hard as I can - and sometimes I am fail at it, but to me it's important (pesonally). They took the time to read, the least I can do is say thanks.

  2. Thank you for a wonderful article, Hoosier.

    I know as a reader I love getting replies from authors, it makes us feel special because you feel like you have a connection to the person who is writing the story you love enough to leave a comment on and it's always nice to receive even a simple 'thank you' from them.

    When I became a writer myself I took that to heart. It bothers me when I get behind on my own review replies, especially to those who I know have emptied their hearts to me and shared personal stories that relate to what I've written... so, I try my best to give my readers what I know I personally like, but I don't ever expect it and I know some authors just simply can't keep up with it which is completely understandable.

  3. I'm glad your experiment worked out for you! I tried but then I read an aw-ful story and well...I couldn't say, "This is awful," now could I? And I didn't want to lie, so I failed. On day 2 I think. Such is life.

    I love replies. As horrible as that is...I was spoiled early on by author's who are were good about replying so I guess I'm in the minority when I say: I, as a reader/reviewer, expect one.

    Terrible. I know.

    I'm gonna go check out some of the stories you reveiwed.

  4. I like your idea of phrases for reviewing lemons...much more eloquent than my usual "Wow that was hot!!" LOL. :)

    As a reader I have to admit I also love replies from authors, although I don't make that the reason I review–I review something because I like it, not because I hope for a reply...but it's hard not to admit how nice it is to get one. So as a writer, therefore I try to reply to every review I get, because they really truly are appreciated.
    I originally started out reading fanfic primarily on Twilighted and have over the last few months found myself changing the majority of my reading time over to fanfiction.net, a big reason being the ease of reviewing and recieving/sending review replies.

    I wish I could say I did as well as you did wth reviewing, but I have actually gotten lazier lately with leaving reviews. I am going to make myself get back in line though! :)

  5. HOLY CRAP! 72 chapters! Whoa. I think I read, maybe 30. lol. And I've already admitted to not reviewing all of them *hangs head in shame* but I had my reasons. Similar to e up there. The chapters that I read and even moderately enjoyed, I reviewed. And yes, it wasn't hard at all. Kudos to you HM for reviewing all 72 chapters! Wow.

    Reviewing lemons...

    I usually write something like CherBella, but I like your idea. There should be a phrase, something that we can say and it says "everything" for us.

    I heard on twitter that btvsna got a review saying, "I think I just pulled a muscle masturbating to this." Awesome, no?

    I have left a "you make good lemonade" review before.

    But personally, I really like your lemon acronym. I'm gonna try it on :)

  6. OOh, "you make good lemonade"...I like it. It's short, simple, and to the point.

  7. I read your original article when you decided to begin reviewing and you inspired me to do the same. I must admit, I did not review every chapter, but I did review every few chapters for every story I read. My author response was not as good as yours, but I don't care. My goal was to let them know that I appreciate their stories being put out there so I can enjoy them.


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