Feedback LJ Rant/Response

Here's my take on the damn feedback rant, in which everyone's so gung ho about lately...

I wasn’t going to comment on this originally, but what the hell, you know? So, here goes:

Excerpt taken from southernbangel’s journal:

Let's say you write a fic that in the end, you don't particularly like. You think no one will read it and if they do, they won't like it. Next thing you know, you're getting all this feedback on this story, telling you how great it is, how much they love it, etc. When that happens - do you like that? Do you appreciate the feedback? Do you think that maybe they just didn't get the story? Does it matter what type of feedback it is, i.e. constructive feedback or just a basic "I really enjoyed your story" type deal?

I know the stories that I like and I know what I like about them (although sometimes it's hard for me to put into words exactly what that is). I'm the first to admit that I am horrible at feedback, both at giving it and when I do give it, I turn into some immature 12 year-old. I emailed feedback to an author a bit ago and it was not well received AT ALL. I was basically told that I didn't get the story and that my feedback was worthless because it wasn't constructive enough. Is there a "good" type of feedback? One that you prefer?

I promise I'm not trying to be a pain. I'm genuinely very curious about this because I *want* to give good feedback but I don't think that what I say is...right, I guess you could say.

My thoughts on this are that if you don’t particularly like the fic itself, why are you even posting it?

An author, in my opinion, should only release something that they are truly proud of, and wants to say, “Hey, look at me! I wrote this awesome fic!”

One should not release a fic in which they detest, and ultimately embrace upon others saying, “Yeah, I really don’t like it, but thanks for the great feedback, and I’m happy you enjoyed it.”

It’s not fair to both the reader and the author themselves to release such a work, and I do find it appalling that authors in general, will actually do this, and then pawn it off on other people.

I mean, for the authors who actually have a publisher, is it fair to take a transcript of your latest work to your publicist and say, “Gee, I don’t really like this, but what the hell…Let’s just take a gamble and see how many will buy my book!”

No. They’d laugh in your face, and rip up any contract you’d had with them in the first place.

So, as a non professional fanfic writer, why should we conform to this ideal of half-assed attempts at a plot, and release something that people read just to mock and flame at?

How is that fair to us? Wouldn’t you agree that we are wasting our time with this fanfic product if that is all we are doing? Or do you believe that it is okay to release a piece that you detest just so you can get some praise and uplift your own self esteem?

Are we really that desperate to feel happy? Or at least to have someone make us happy?

Now, I have veered a little off subject, then again, am I one who conforms to the standards?

No. I never have been, and frankly, I probably never will be either.

I make my own decisions, whether it being who to trust, love, or hang out with. I decide what I am going to write, and I do not let others tell me how to write my own stories or my pairings.

Getting back to the feedback issue, and southernbangel ’s, “Is there a good type of feedback?” question, I believe there is.

Here is what classifies as good feedback in my humble opinion, and I truly believe most people will agree, and if not then…go frost yourselves, okay?

I guess I’ll start with the list of grievances that DO NOT classify as good feedback, and shouldn’t even be given as any type of feedback:

1-DO NOT send feedback just to state your opinion.

As fanfic writers, we all want to hear how a reader feels about our fics. As stated, there is an appropriate time and place for such, and I believe that most fanfic writers want to be discreet about it, and not have the whole fandom hear it.

A reader should always email the author individually stating his/her opinions, and not make an issue out of it. If you are emailing them just to gripe and be snide about it, you don’t have to read their fic.

Remember, it is just a work that you choose to read, and no one is forcing you to read it. Authors put fics out there to give a reader a variety to choose from, and whether that author chooses to read it, is of their own doing.

2-DO NOT send feedback just to tell the author how to write their fic.

Most of the time, an author does take this into consideration, but readers as of lately, seem to presume that they are writing this fic, and that an author should, once again, conform to their standards and ideals.

Newsflash, unless you are writing the fic, you don’t have any say on how the writer should compose any part of their fiction. I honestly do not know where readers are coming up with this solution that the author needs to meet their standards of the fic, but it is pure bullshit.

You either like the fic or you don’t. You have no say in telling someone what to do or how to do it. It is fallacious, and as a fanfiction writer, I find it frightfully unnerving to see readers take on this “Do as I say or watch me badmouth you to everyone in the fandom” mindset.

Quite personally, I feel readers forget their place in the fandom. If you want to give writing a shot, please be my guest and go for it…But do not stand there and criticize us for our work, when you are too much of a chicken shit to get up off your ass and type something out for yourself.

3-DO NOT send feedback that says, “PLZ UPDATE SOON! or WRITE MORE, UPDATE SOON!”

Writers don’t want to hear this. Remember that we take time out of our personal lives to come online and write something. We could be somewhere else, but we are taking time out of our schedule to make it convenient for the reader.

4-DO NOT FLAME the author if you don’t have a basis for it.

Writers detest having to hear how “Why are you making these two characters get together” or “Why did you kill/breakup this people”. We don’t have to justify our actions to you. What we choose to do in a fic is our own business, and as a both a reader and a writer, I respect my fellow author’s decisions to do whatever they like in a fic.

I like killing off the unexpected or throwing a curveball in one or more of the main character(s) paths. Why?

Because life is not easy. Life has a lot of unexpected roadblocks, so why should one make it easy for a character to survive when life is somewhat of a hardship in itself.

Life is not fluff, nor should one be required to make it appear as so. That is why, I for one, am an angst/drama writer.

Granted, most of the fictions I write are AU, but having had such life experiences as having your closest brother put in prison at ten years old, you learn to grow up at a somewhat early age.

Now, I’m just veering off track, again, so let’s continue again, shall we?

And now for the final, and certainly not least DON’T of feedback.

5-DO NOT send feedback just because the author appears like they need something to make them feel better or to give the author self esteem.

Going back to DON’T #1, it’s kind of virtually the same thing. An author does want to hear what you think about their fic. But you shouldn’t feel forced to give someone feedback because you are worried that they may hate you or somehow put you on their shit list just because you either don’t send feedback, or you give them somewhat good feedback when they don’t deserve any sort of feedback, let alone praise.

And now for the DO’s of good feedback, and just feedback in general.

1-DO give constructive criticism where needed.

The biggest thing and perhaps the biggest mishap, is when someone will praise someone for their work, when they should be criticizing them. As a reader, I prefer not to hurt a writer’s feelings, but the first thing when I do give constructive criticism is give helpful tips, preferably on grammar, if there are grammar mistakes…which, in most cases, there is an excessive amount of either misspelled or misused grammatical errors.

And that is just the beginning of an even longer rant, that will come in due time.

2-DO tell the author your personal feelings on their fic, whether it be praise or what you may dislike or not understand about it.

There have been instances, such as when reading the beloved tangofic ’s Ethos, where I did not understand some of the plot in it. Ever so gracious, the magnificent Tango took time out of her busy schedule to explain it to me, bless her heart.

As an author, I enjoy it when a reader tells me their thoughts on what they enjoyed about it, such as “I really connect with your character, having been in a similar real life situation myself”, or things to that effect.

It gives me a sense that my writing is somehow worth meaning, knowing that a real life person has gone through the sort of situation in their personal life, and it gives me and my character a deeper meaning.

3-DO tell the author that you would like to see the fic updated, but be subtle about it.

Phrases saying, “I truly admire your work, and I would like to see if updated, whenever you are not busy with RL and/or can spend a minute on it” or something similar to that.

It gives the author a sense that someone is enjoying their fic, but they are not feeling crowded and forced to update it if they don’t care to.

I don’t update for someone else, I update for me. And that is a reason why you should update…for yourself, and not because someone else would enjoy it if you did.

Well gang…Those are the main feedback DO’s and DO NOT’s that I do have in the fandom. I would write more, but seeing how it is almost three am my time, I am a little exhausted.