I Thought I Was Just Fucking Around But That Cracky Snippet Turns Out To Have Untangled All My Plotting Problems, Vol. 4: When In Doubt, Orgies
the working title of this volume of my autobiography
If you don’t like a fanfic, just stop reading it and close the tab.
It is not that fucking hard, okay? Don’t waste your time reading something you don’t like, and don’t fucking waste your time letting the author know. Fanfiction is something that people do because they love something, they want to explore that love, and they want to create something for what they love. Don’t be negative or rude. Just don’t.This is a comment I found on a piece of fanfiction that I just read, which I will not link. There is literally no reason to leave this kind of a comment. This could have been the writer’s first piece of writing, they might not speak or write or read English as a first language, and why the fuck do you think your opinion is worth so much? You could have potentially made the writer cry, could be the reason that they had a shitty ass day, and you could be the reason that they no longer write. All because you think it’s important that the author know that you didn’t like their story?
Do you know way this comment shouldn’t be on any sort of piece of art? Because it offers no constructive criticism. Not only does it not offer any tips of how to improve, etc, it’s rude. “Wow I don’t like this story.” - that is an opinion, that is a personal preference, and guess what? It’s negative and offers the writer nothing. “Most of the sentences didn’t even make sense” - now, I didn’t look into the author of this particular fic, but I do know that there are a lot of people who are writing and participating in fandom things that do not speak or write English as a first language. Don’t be a dick. And even if the author has been writing for years, has English as a first language, and whatever else, this still isn’t okay.
Fanfiction writers are writing stuff for free. They’re doing this on their own personal time. It doesn’t matter what age they are. They are taking time out of their day to write something in a world they love. Don’t fucking take it away from them. Don’t ruin someone’s happy place with a rude comment like this. You don’t know where someone is in their life, you don’t know if writing is their escape, their safe place.
And here’s another thing: not every author looks for comments of constructive criticism. Please find out before you do offer long comments of constructive criticism if the authors even want it. A lot of times writers are just writing silly things for their own enjoyment, and sharing it with people.
Personally, I look at each writing piece as an exercise. Something that I can learn and work from. I make sure I write for my enjoyment first, and not others. It’s how I’ve become comfortable posting ficlets and fics and unbeta’d stuff and underdeveloped stuff.
However, not everyone feels comfortable posting their stuff. It can make writers seriously anxious, constantly checking their notifications, reading and memorizing every word in the comments, obsessing over notes or kudos.
Don’t ruin someone’s day. I understand that when people post constructive criticism, they think they’re making someone’s work better, that they want to offer advice so a writer can learn. But you know what, unless they’ve asked for that - just don’t do it.
And if they have asked for constructive criticism, do it privately. Write them a message on tumblr. Make sure your comment is going to actually be useful to the writer. Please don’t do it so publicly.
People are kindly sharing their stuff with you, so be kind to them.
I’m asking you to consider these things the next time you read a fic.
If you don’t like a fic: just quit reading and exit the tab. Don’t ruin someone else’s day.
Keep the fandom a nice, safe place.
I think OP is trying to do a good thing, but the kind of sentiment expressed above does more harm than good. Yes, let’s keep fandoms as safe as we possibly can. But safe is not the same as no dissenting opinions. I agree that the commenter could have had more tact (which is saying something, coming from one who has no tact) - they definitely could have expanded upon what they said in a productive way -, but from that little snapshot of a comment, we know very little else. The commenter actually did offer some constructive criticism, even if it was worded poorly. They said that the sentences weren’t making sense and they were unable to even continue reading because of that.
Yes, it’s true that that kind of comment would upset most people. That’s where the tact comes in. The commenter could have gone about pointing out the flaws they saw in the writing in a much nicer way. However, we don’t know what the original fic looked like. Or any comments the author may have put on it. It could very well be that it was almost incomprehensible, for whatever reason (whether it was a foreign language issue or not), and it could very well be that the author encouraged reviewers to “tell it like it is” and not mince words. We just. Don’t. Know.
tl;dr - Keep the fandom a nice, safe place. Dissenting opinions are good, so long as they are presented in a productive and kind way.
Unless a fic writer or fan worker specifically requests concrit, it’s incredibly rude to give it. Seriously. Don’t do that. And even then, posting it publicly in the comments can easily lead to a pile-on which can be extremely damaging to the author.
It’s not your job to make fic writers better writers. If they want your opinions, they’ll specifically ask for them - preferably by seeking your help as a beta. Even still, there’s not actually anything constructive about the above comment - “the sentences don’t make sense” isn’t constructive. If they had said “Your subject-verb agreement is off and it confuses me” or “I’m not sure which tense we’re using” or “Sentences 12 and 13 are fragments - maybe connect them?” then that would be constructive criticism. That’s the point of constructive criticism, to give the writer something concrete to fix. What they said was vague and insulting, and even if the author had requested concrit, it wouldn’t be okay.
TL;DR - Don’t give concrit unless specifically asked. If specifically asked, try to deliver it privately, offer to beta their next piece ahead of time, and make your criticism as specific as you can in order to address specific flaws. And do not ever leave comments like the one above. Ever.
I agree with OP and @quicklikelight, and I’m the kind of person who thinks people should feel free to leave negative reviews saying “this book was trash” on their blogs or on goodreads re: published work! (seriously people, it’s not rude or mean to say a book is garbage in your own sphere, just don’t tag the author or wtv)But there’s a very clear difference between a professional author publishing a book and you talking about it in a sphere that is clearly for other readers, and a fanfic author writing for fun/for free and leaving a negative comment in what is basically a direct message to the author. Also, honestly, people just don’t want your ~~critical, helpful~~ opinion about stuff, especially something like writing. Because why should they? What sort of expert are you? A writer who takes in all criticism without carefully screening the source is going to get a lot of crap, uneducated opinions from people who may not be their target audience in the first place. I’m a publishing professional (and proofreader!) and I STILL don’t give out my critical opinion to all and sundry because I recognize when I am a good, productive, and desired source of feedback and when I am not. (And only a bit because I am actually paid for my expertise and I’m not running an editorial charity here.) I get that this is tough for some people to digest, but I’ll repeat it: your opinion is not a highly coveted thing that people should be grateful for, if it was they would be begging you for it.
^^ bolded because TRUTH. it’s pure arrogance to leave unasked-for concrit and expect it to be appreciated or even read.
Yep. Also, trashing something isn’t the same as providing concrit.
If you don’t have time to add the “constructive” to your “criticism”, then hit X and move on to something else.
I feel like— and I know this varies a little with some authors, but— same rule of thumb as for commenting on someone’s appearance. You say “you look nice”-level stuff if you’re not good at it and you want them to keep showing up (i.e. “love this story!”, the cute comments I like getting as a writer). You say, “oh that color really suits you,” if it does and you’re a little better at this sort of thing (the “wow such good use of [technique]“ kind of comments that I love getting as a writer). And you say “oh gosh I think you’ve got something in your teeth”, maybe (“i think you left a word out of this sentence”) or “let me fix your collar, it’s stuck under” (“i think that’s the wrong spelling of there!”)— the rule of thumb is, if it’s something they can fix themselves in a couple of seconds, it’s kind to point out (but in this case, maybe skim and see if someone else already has, you don’t want to bombard them). If it’s something they can’t, don’t mention it, you’ll only make them feel crappy. Unless you’re their friend and you’ve been asked to give your opinion on their outfit. The only real exception is things like “oh gosh polka dots give some people seizures” (if that were true)— I hate being told I’ve not tagged something, or that I’ve inadvertently said something really shitty, but I’d rather be told than find out from someone going off about it behind my back. Especially if it’s something that could really hurt someone. Another type of comment that never ever ever belongs on a fanfic? ANY kind of demand about how the story should go! I get this a fair amount and it makes me feel so icky! People certainly *can* say “oh gosh I hope they kiss soon” kind of stuff, of course, but when someone comes in and says, “THAT CHARACTER ISN’T GAY IN CANON” ohhhhh son you are in the wrong place.
Weird, cryptic note found in my belongings. Was I making plans for the greatest TV show of all time? The world may never know.
i assumed this was one of those alternate versions of the notebook Captain America has of Stuff He Should Catch Up On in the Winter Soldier movie, and was really really interested
You know, I ship some het pairings, but I’ve never been able to be comfortable in the shipping circles of fandom for those pairings because in my experience they ALWAYS have a sizable continent of members who:
1. Are straight up homophobic
2. Go out of their way to very unkindly remind fans of a popular queer ship that their ship will never be canon, but the het ship will be full of open-mouthed kisses and sex and stuff
3. Act like the only reason anyone would ever ship queer pairings is because they want to fetishize queer people
…Like, those spaces are NOT comfortable.
Oh goodness, yes. I mean, I have a huge largely-het WIP and that’s the basis of the anxiety I was recently expressing of wanting to have a threesome scene in it. I mean, mostly this is fine, mostly people are great, mostly yadda yadda, but you’re not wrong. As a queer person writing a het pairing, I sometimes feel that same way.
It’s a little better with this particular pairing, which is canon in the comics but it looks like will never go canon in the movies, so– at least some of that is off the table.
But my goodness. Yes.
oh man so i took a break from the suddenly-overly-flowery sex scene i was writing, right, because i read a pretty story and it was coloring everything too pretty, and i thought, i’ll just start a new scene, so i scrolled and looked for another gap bit i hadn’t started filling in, because it wouldn’t be so jarring if i had that in a different tone entirely, and so i sat and wrote this other scene, for a little later in the story right, and i haven’t exactly worked out the plot there, so here we go okay, i’m letting this character kind of drive, and whoa– they took a real hard left into angst, and i was like dang, that’s, that’s maybe a little more poignant than I really meant this to be, but, let’s see where this goes. and that worked out okay, and i was like, i should stop there. I mean, that’s heavy, but it resolves. So that’s okay. No, don’t keep writing. Stop there and step away.
*scroll scroll scroll* oh yeah here, this is a bit I really need to work out at least tentatively, so I can work in the bits that have to be there beforehand. where is this story going? let me do this future bit. oh, this is gonna be a little sad. that’s okay, that’s okay. Yeah, i can kinda put some breadcrumbs in so this won’t come outta nowhere.
ohhh man though, that’s kinda mean, if i do it this way. well, okay, i mean– nah, it’s not too bad it’ll be sort of, I can kind of– yeah. okay. this is going to be a little sad but into every life a little rain must fall. It’ll be, they’re adults, they can get through this.
And I finished it and looked back over it and jesus fuck that is utterly emotionally devastating what the fuck am i doing.
I need to go roll around in kittens for a minute. Holy fuck I’m mean.
so uh my hand slipped
“Well,” the guy said. “I figured those were goggles but uh. You got no eyes. That’s unusual. I heard stories about a guy, runs around with a blindfold on, but I figured junkies mess up what they’re lookin’ at sometimes. I guess not.”
“I have eyes,” Matt said. “They’re not useful eyes, but I have eyes. For the record.”
“Good to know,” the guy said. He shifted his weight slightly, but it wasn’t an aggressive move; more like he was settling his posture more comfortably. “So the question is, I kinda in my head had the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen separated out a little bit from the fakey ninjas, but not much, because I’m not sure what your deal is. Are you with them or against them?”
“Categorically against,” Matt said.
The guy’s weight shifted a little, back onto his heels a little bit. He was relaxing. “Good,” he said. “Then I got no quarrel with you. I figure the fakey ninjas are a local deal, and I’m not super involved with local politics.”
“Then why are you patrolling abandoned warehouses in the dead of night?” Matt asked.
The guy laughed silently through his nose. “I told you,” he said, “I’m a bum lookin’ for somewhere to crash. I actually wasn’t lyin’.”
“You don’t smell like a bum,” Matt said.
“Is that your deal?” the guy asked. “You’re blind but like, have super-senses apart from that? I figured that was a comic book thing.”
“I wouldn’t say they’re super,” Matt said, “but I get by.”
“It’s probably not my smell that’s weirdin’ you out, then,” the guy said.
“I mean,” Matt said, “it’s not helping, but no, I’m most concerned by the fact that you’re clearly part machine.”
There was a louder mechanical whir. “You been able to hear that since I walked in, right?”
“Yeah,” Matt said. “What the fuck is that.”
The whir repeated. There was a silent moment, and then the guy fuckin’ laughed. It was a low laugh, and not particularly mean. “Well, shit,” he said. “I done the big reveal of my identity a couple times lately but usually what does it is just, you know, I turn off the camoflage sleeve and then I don’t gotta say anything.”
“Camoflage sleeve,” Matt said. “What, you got a robot arm?”
“Yeah,” the guy said. Like that was an entire answer unto itself.
“And I’m supposed to,” Matt said, then cut himself off. “Holy fuckin’ shit.”
“Most people catch on right about then,” the Winter fucking Soldier said, taking half a step backward. There was something kind of gentle in his voice.
a man with a degree and a job making in a month what i make in a year will pull out his phone to calculate exactly what 20% of his fucking $15 haircut was and leave me $3
a cocktail waitress will hand me $30 and walk out the door
the difference isn’t their income, the difference is how much they value the work i do
Yesterday my dude and I went down the street to the tiny diner we’ve lived near for, well in his case almost his whole life except when he moved away and met me (we live near his childhood neighborhood). The place is clean, cheerful, cheap. The total was basically ten dollars for both our breakfasts (sit down, full service). He glanced at me and was like “what’s the tip” and I said, for something this cheap, you don’t calculate percentage, you just leave ‘em a five, bro.
(I am the tip authority because I waitressed so long.)
I need a minute to photo dork in annoyance
i keep seeing these hamilton promo pics that are carefully labeled “photo taken with a mid-1800s camera lens”
and I’m like
the thing is the lens is like the very least interesting part of the whole historic photo rig
and why are you so careful to put it in fucking sepia tone when you took it with a fucking DSLR or whatever you used, you’d’ve mentioned if you used something cool, I know you would have
ugh okay i once paid a man with a schoolbus darkroom $100 to take a tintype of me
and he used the whole mid-1800s camera okay
not to be all photo dorky and like one-uppy but that was so fucking fascinating
the lens is like whatever, we have better lenses now but we got shitty ones too big whoop
the process is what’s fascinating
(also the mid-1800s is not when hamilton is set so like maybe i’m just being pedantic but seriously how is it relevant let alone interesting and also the costumes are like, well, stage costumes, so like, rhinestones and polyester all right, that’s fine, they’re fine costumes, but like, best at a distance)
give me tintypes, give me daguerreotypes, give me the fascinating weird artifacts the archaic processes give rise to, fucking wet plate negatives okay, toxic chemicals and time-sensitive shit and you gotta sit still for a minute and a half all right and then develop it right away
i don’t give a fuck how old your lens is, we got shitty new lenses too, get off me with your monochrome instagram filters i could not give less of a fuck
you know what’s cool, the dude with the antique camera who shoots civil war re-enactments and you can’t tell his photos from the real antiques, right, i have a friend with a photo of himself that’s like that, he told me it was his ancestor who fought in the civil war and i almost believed him until i noticed that it was definitely him down to the broken nose, i was like nice try bud– THAT is worth showing me
get off me with your nyc hipster antique camera lens okay and call me back when you can actually develop a fucking photo
i am not fooled by your fucking instagram filter
i’m not even drunk, I’m just having a hard night of it
that feel when you were writing and it was going okay, sort of a slog, so you took a break and read a really beautiful story and you come back and suddenly you’re writing fucking poetry and you’re like fuck, this is pretty but it’s going to be a bitch to edit later when mid-scene I go from fucking Hemingway to Shakespeare, what the fuck
I have a pretty big disconnect between real life and fiction life, as I think isn’t uncommon. I’m totally down with polyamory and actually generally experience an apparently uncommon freedom from sexual jealousy in my life so I’d probably be pretty well suited to it, but despite being sex-obsessed, when it comes down to it I don’t actually have an impulse to actually touch most other humans. I experience romantic attraction a lot more than sexual attraction. It might be a lack of practice, I’ve been in an exclusive monogamous relationship for 15 years with the same person, but even before that I was never very good at wrapping my head around the actual touching-people bits of relationships.
Which might be TMI but I feel like it’s relevant to my creative processes. And I gotta say, my last big fandom was Stargate:Atlantis, and I wrote a pretty strongly demisexual John Sheppard. It’s not like there’s no excellent poly shipping in that fandom, but I just never got those vibes from him. He’s so damaged, he’s so withdrawn, he’s so incredibly closed-off, and in canon despite being superficially flirty he is so very, very honestly chaste.
So uh. Everyone is poly because Avengers. That’s really what it is. I guess I’m amused by it; I used to worry when I was writing SG:A that I was projecting and henceforth all my characters would be demisexual and I’d never get the hang of diversity on that spectrum. So– not that demi and poly are actually mutually exclusive! Natasha might be demi, as I write her; she uses sex as a tool and a weapon and rarely actually *desires* it, and is confused when she does with James and with Steve. (And in the choice-bullet series, I have a half-written sequel where she figures out that she’s got really confusing feelings for Sam too.)