Forum: Writer's aids

Discussing: The Art of Receiving Feedback?

The Art of Receiving Feedback?

I have something I'd like to bring up here. Not so much relevant to 'getting' feedback (as in *how* to get it), but rather what to DO about it when you DO get it.

Hi, by the way. I'm not new here, though maybe I'm considered so by my 'member-since' date alone. I suppose I've never been treated like a newbie, and I've never acted like one... so I'm assuming that means I'm not. Hi, I'm me.

So here's my Thing, and I call it that because it isn't exactly a query, but it isn't merely a statement. I'd like to know what people think, but I don't have a way to phrase my thoughts in the form of a question. Here goes.

I review.

Used to be that I would only review if I liked every aspect of a story, and had no complaints about it. I read lots of stuff with that standard- and I wasn't just being lazy or snobbish, either: I simply didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings, and I wasn't willing to lie, tell half truths, or NOT say what was on my mind, namely 'your story was utterly great, until--'.

After a while of that, I wound up with a little more time on my hands, both to read, to write, and to review. Around that time I also became a mite irritated about some reoccurring 'misinterpretations' (bastardizations?) of the characters I happen to like just the way Tolkien wrote them. So then I reviewed stories for a time possibly more honestly than I would now. (Which is a fine way to review, as in honestly, unless you give critical feedback to a 14-year-old who you thought was an adult. Prepare for a nuclear meltdown, in that case.)

Presently, I still review, sometimes. I no longer review everything I read, especially if I didn't love it, or didn't finish it. But I will review a story that I enjoyed for the most part, and take my chances in that case by pointing out the good with the bad, and hope blindly that I'm dealing with a mature author.

BUT, here is where it gets uncomfortable. Occasionally I review with nothing more to say than the basic, 'This was exceptional, I liked this and this especially, thank you for the story, good day'.

But other times, and this has happened more than once, I write a more detailed, specific, involved review, that is both time consuming and thought provoking. Sometimes by the end, I'd actually like to know what the author thought about my thoughts! This might seem silly, but perhaps if you get one of my reviews sometime, you'll understand.

So imagine my curiosity, when I never hear back from said author. And I'm left to wonder: Did they get my letter? Do they possibly receive so many reviews in a week, or a month, that they simply can't find the time to reply to them all? Did they appreciate what I said? After requesting feedback, don't they care to acknowledge my effort the way I acknowledged theirs? Will I ever get an answer to those questions I asked?

Hmm. Perhaps this has never happened to anyone else. And I am NOT pointing fingers here. Someone reading this might even have gotten one of my simple 'this was great, thank you' E-mails, and assume I'm talking about that. But I'm not. In my opinion, an author isn't obligated to reply if a reader gives a nice little thank-you note. I'm talking about what to do when an exceptional story gets an exceptional review. To reply, or not to reply.

Heh, feedback welcome. ;)

 

 

Re: The Art of Receiving Feedback?

Hi You!

Nah, you're not a newbie - it's all in the attitude. ;-)

This is actually a good question. I stopped writing ff.net reviews after an author solicited me to write one for her, I said what I thought (the good, the bad, the needs-work) and she had a nuclear melt-down, including deleting the story off of ff.net and then reposting it so that my critical comments would not appear. Sigh. Such a wuss.

I send private comments now, but never send detailed ones unless I have already been in correspondence with the author. The last two months I've had little free time so I haven't sent anything to anyone. Since the forums went up, I post comments to HASA stories directly here. I always say good, bad, needs-work, as I assume if you have posted it here you are asking for people's opinions, not simply praise. Though, my curmudgeonly reputation not withstanding, you will get quite a bit of praise where praise is due. I tend to put technical corrections (rewrite sentence this way, nope, using wrong words, etc.) into private emails as that's just nuts and bolts, not a review per se.

I also post general rants on my LJ that tend to leave people rather disconcerted. Venture there at your own risk, and if you see your story discussed, well, you did post it in public.

I can't recall not getting at least an acknowledgement back from an author of a review, but then again I tend to write things that elicit responses. (veg). I do at least acknowledge reviews/comments sent to me, though I am usually quite tardy in my replies.

I think that it is rude not to at least respond to someone who has taken the time to give you comments on your work. Flames, of course, should be used for roasting marshmallows.

Ang

 

 

Re: The Art of Receiving Feedback?

Hm. Well, this is certainly a good point to bring up. You've got the covetted feedback... now what do you do?

If someone e-mails me, I will answer that e-mail and thank the reviewer as well as try to address their comments (this can be hard if it's just "I really liked it!" but I will try). If someone leaves a message in an interactive setting like HASA's, I will respond to that thread. And if someone gives me an exceptionally insightful review, I do respond and break down the review--thanks for pointing this out, I'm glad you liked that, did this work? ... etc., etc.

If, however, it's an FF.net review board... not very likely. I think this stemmed from how I perceived the ff.net review system when I initially began on that site. I figured that if people wanted a conversation, they would e-mail me, and that if they simply wanted to make their thoughts known, they would post a review. That has sort of stuck with me.

Nevertheless, if the review were lengthy and had actual substance, I was likely to go over to the reviewer's bio page and see if I could return the favor. Occasionally, for a really exceptional ff.net review (when I had such) I would e-mail the reviewer and answer questions or discuss what s/he had brought up. Usually, though, I didn't answer ff.net reviews, except in general ways (author's notes at the end of the story, or a comment in an in-chapter note thanking reviewers who noted such and such).

In hindsight, maybe I should have e-mailed everyone who provided contact information and a really good review. :-S Too late now....


 

 

Re: The Art of Receiving Feedback?

Mmm... whether I respond to reviews or not depends on what sort they are and where they come from.

Squee reviews on ff.net - probably not. More thoughtful ones, especially if the reviewer is also someone on HA or HASA, I often will try to respond, but sometimes I don't - I run out of time, or it drifts up too far in my inbox and I forget entirely. There are several ff.net authors whom I review intermittently, depending on time available, and they do the same for me - I don't worry if I get responses from them or not, to be honest.

I've gotten very few unsolicited direct email reviews, even though I do give my email address on ff.net. Maybe one or two is all. Those I try to answer.

Comments on HASA forums I certainly try to respond to, and sometimes when there are a lot of comments and I reply directly to only one, I try to include reactions to what several people have said.

Direct, solicited reviews from friends - well, those are friends, of course I'll react.

I think if one gets an "exceptional review" as you put it - long, thoughtful, from someone you don't know well - to at least reply to say "thanks for the review" is certainly appropriate. But we all know that not everyone has the same standards of politeness - so if you leave such a review for someone, and get no reaction, there's no point in being mad - just don't review their work any more.

Cel

 

 

Re: The Art of Receiving Feedback?

But we all know that not everyone has the same standards of politeness - so if you leave such a review for someone, and get no reaction, there's no point in being mad - just don't review their work any more.

Well, I'd not go so far. A review is a gift, in a sense. I don't expect people to respond when I leave a review. If they do, fabulous. If they don't, well, I don't review with the understanding that the author will reply to me. If you feel the need to review something, even though the author of the story has ignored you in the past, do so. If nothing else, it helps your own processing of the story.

 

 

Re: The Art of Receiving Feedback?

Hmm. I'm not too fond of playing the clique game, myself. Seems if one would go out of their way to respond to a member of an on-line community (like HA), but less so for someone unknown (who might simply be new to the game) is playing favorites- and that leaves the new blood out in the cold. We were ALL first-timers, once. Plus, how does one acquire more friends, if they respond exclusively to the ones they already have?
I do, however, understand completely the issue of credibility. Without naming names, I would be excited and flattered if someone I believed to be a talented writer gave a story of mine specific recognition. But on the other hand, if I see 'Reviewer Doe' praise my fic, along with basically anything else written with every third word spelled correctly, I'm bound to get a significantly diminished tingly feeling.

But my original post was mostly rhetorical, in origin and purpose. I was also speaking of quality feedback, not your average post-it note size commentary- and the simply complex postulate of What To Do when that review comes?

It isn't black and white, I suppose. Things like available time comes into play, and like mentioned, sometimes the receiver could simply *forget* about a fan's response. I've never done this, personally, but I know for a fact sometimes readers have forgotten that they meant to review a story of mine. An eye for an eye, it seems. Shun a reader's response, and they'll shun responding.

And Dwim,
I agree: a review is a gift (a great one). Just like a story is a gift (especially the great ones ;). One of the basic reasons I review is so I feel that I've given something back to an author who's already given something to me. But just like an author who writes and writes would surely appreciate acknowledgment for their work, so does a reviewer like to feel appreciated for their attention.
So to incorporate the formula of communication here, a proper writer/reader/reviewer cycle would go like this.

Author:
"Here's a story I wrote. Help yourself."

Reviewer: *reads it*
"Gee, thanks! I liked it because-" *explains why*

Author:
"I'm glad. And you're welcome."

Anything less leaves an open line of communication on one end or the other, and that feels weird just hanging there, trust me.

So what's the solution, if one doesn't have the time to respond to every single review they receive? Well, I think it's fair to say that it isn't always practical or necessary to do so. Some reviewers might feel strange getting a response from the author of a story when all they said was 'I liked it, thanks.' But how about the others, the more thorough ones? In my opinion, they definitely deserve something... but what? How far should a writer go, when they've already gone so far to write the story in the first place?

Well, how about at least a short form letter of appreciation?
"Hey, I see you read my story. Thanks very much! I'm glad you liked it, and your taking the time to tell me so was very thoughtful. Take care."
Even that simple, general, relatively impersonal note would leave your reviewer(s) feeling much more appreciated than nothing at all.

Have I ranted? Probably. But I might also have solved something here.

And I was never mad, by the way. Just discouraged, and confused. It's the 'not knowing' of the whole situation. If I *knew* my more serious reviews were received, read, considered, appreciated, etc., and the author simply didn't have time to respond, that would make all the difference. But when it happens, and happens again, and you never know why, you simply find things to do other than review. It isn't to spite anybody, and it isn't even particularly intentional- it's just the way it works. It's the difference between shouting to the wind, and having an actual conversation. Big difference... ALL the difference.

 

 

Re: The Art of Receiving Feedback?

You do get into a habit of writing form replies for the really short "I liked it!" reviews--you soon learn how to say thanks, you're welcome, continue to enjoy in about ten different ways. I think it's fine to do this and it is polite.

Longer reviews, definitely respond to those, since they're much rarer--dissect them, tell the reviewer what aspects of their review were helpful to you.

The other way of dealing with a multiplicity of long useful reviews is to post a general comment--"Thanks to all who have mentioned x y z, who noted the development of this theme, or that character. I'll be working on that in the future. Do continue to enjoy the fic." As long as it's short, I don't consider that a 'shout out' addendum to the story, but a legitimate note. You can attach it to the end of your latest chapter or stick it in at the beginning.

Anyhow, great topic to bring up AfterEver!


 

 

Re: The Art of Receiving Feedback?

I have posted exactly one story to ff.net, and got a few nice reviews of it before it vanished under the avalanche of new stuff. I didn't reply to all of the reviewers, though - now I'm wondering whether I should have!

OTOH, I received a request via private email to beta, and after a week sent off (what I think was) a reasoned analysis of the story, discussing some good points and others that needed work.

Never heard back.

Did the author not get the message? (Unlikely since it didn't bounce back.) Did she feel insulted? Or just totally disagree with my opinions? Who knows...

Obviously the etiquette of giving/receiving and replying to feedback is still in development. We need an Emily Internet Post.

 

 

Re: The Art of Receiving Feedback?

I've said it several times in many places: respond to everyone. That's my standard of politeness. If I have an e-mail address, I reply. Even if it's just an "I liked it" on ff.net. I can at least say, "thanks for reading the story" if nothing else.

I agree with the "gift" philosophy. But it's also polite to give a thank you note to a gift giver. We don't do that as much in today's society, but I hold myself to a higher standard when it comes to writing.

Besides the politeness factor, think of the ulterior motive factor. A reviewer who feels appreciated might review more. Might even review the same story more deply. I've gotten replies from my replies by reviewers who were surprised and quite pleased that I replied to them at all. They'd never gotten a reply from an author before. They felt special because I said "hi." Because if they liked my story (as most did) they saw me as if I was on some pedestal and if I was saying "hi" that made them important, too. And that's a good feeling to spread around.

It doesn't take too much of my time to write a Thank you, especially for the short reviews. So I do it. It makes my reviewer feel appreciated and might gain me a reader for another story or more in-depth reviews. Might even get me an e-mail pal (I've gotten quite a few that way--and some I've eventually met in real life. Some have even asked for my autograph. One asked for a picture. How's that for a pedestal?). The big in-depth reviews are rarer so I can generally find time to answer them as well. I enjoy answering them.

What about the not-so-positive ones? Same thing. At least say "Thanks". You don't have to agree with everything or argue at all. Just thanks for reading and letting me know what you thought. Or "I'll think about what you've said."

I don't know that I've ever gotten a flame review, so I can't say exactly how I'd respond to that one. I'd like to think I'd say "Thank you for taking the time to tell me what you thought."

--Ainaechoiriel

 

 

Re: The Art of Receiving Feedback?

I don't know that I've ever gotten a flame review, so I can't say exactly how I'd respond to that one. I'd like to think I'd say "Thank you for taking the time to tell me what you thought."

As someone who has been flamed by homophobes, a little word of caution. If the flamers don't leave signed reviews but do leave an e-mail address, suspect it. It's probably not theirs, but that of one of their previous victims, who then has to deal with all these irate e-mails from people they've never heard of, writing things for fandoms they have no interest in whatsoever. The only good policy with flames is to ignore them, I think.


 

 

Re: The Art of Receiving Feedback?

Hmm... now I'm wondering if I'm doing my ff.net reviewers justice now...

If someone e-mails me feedback, even if it's a one-liner, I'd reply back and say "Thank you." On occasions when an ff.net review *really* helps me sort something out about the story, I'd e-mail the reviewer a thanks as well. On a side note, I have seen authors who post responses to ff.net reviews at the end of their story. Thoughts on that? I personally don't mind that method of receiving a reply to my reviews, but some people seem to think it's tacky...?

As for flames, they are best ignored or MSTed. Is the flame long and semi-coherent? MST it and have a good chuckle sharing it with friends. If it's just a dumb one-liner, point and laugh, and then ignore it. That's my philosophy.

Anyway, this is a good post. I actually haven't really thought about this too much from a reviewer's POV. Maybe that's 'cause when I review, I mostly rave about an author's work, so I don't expect too much in terms of a reply.

~Aralanthiriel

 

 

Re: The Art of Receiving Feedback?

Anyway, this is a good post. I actually haven't really thought about this too much from a reviewer's POV. Maybe that's 'cause when I review, I mostly rave about an author's work, so I don't expect too much in terms of a reply.

This is certainly causing me to rethink things also. I've sent more reviews than I've gotten, so I think mostly from the reviewer's POV. I don't expect anything back for a simple 'I liked it, good job', though it's a pleasant surprise to be acknowledged. If I write a longer review, especially one that could be helpful to the author, it's nice to get a line back. Sometimes a nice correspondance and friendship will spring up from it. But I do think it is very individual. I did a detailed beta for someone and never heard a word, somewhat disappointing. I said something that was really simple to another author, and got a thank-you in the author's note.

For my own reviews, I haven't answered the 'good job' or especially the 'plz rite mor' type. Anyone that has said something detailed, if I can find an email address, I'll reply.

Question: is there anyone who would prefer NOT to get a reply?

Lyllyn

 

 

Re: The Art of Receiving Feedback?

On a side note, I have seen authors who post responses to ff.net reviews at the end of their story. Thoughts on that? I personally don't mind that method of receiving a reply to my reviews, but some people seem to think it's tacky...?

Personally, I do find it tacky. It's worse when those "shout outs" are at the top of a chapter though. Sometimes you page down and page down and page down before you ever get to the chapter. At least at the end, I can just stop reading.

Because I read at work, I copy the chapters of stories I'm reading into a text file (or rich text document if there's a lot of italics). That way, I can read at work without looking like I'm playing on the net. I might be working for all my supervisor knows. I delete paragraphs as I read. It's annoying to me to have to delete so much before I can even start to read or after I'm done. I'd rather not read the replies to all the reviews because I haven't read all the reviews to make sense of it.

I'd rather there weren't shout outs, but if there must be, I'd rather they be at the end.

--Ainaechoiriel

 

 

Re: The Art of Receiving Feedback?

What about "How Not to Receive Feedback?"

You've probably all heard me say to thank anyone who writes to you. Anyone. I am rather an idealist on this point. You thank someone for reading your story and for taking the time to write. You should be gracious and polite, even to a negative review.

You do not bite a reviewer's head off.

So what if the review isn't glowing praise? What if it is mediocre or, gasp, negative? Do you take it with grace? Do you take it personally? Do you take it as an insult and come out slugging?

I am not very good at taking criticism myself. In my first writing class in college it was hard not to get defensive when my story was critiqued. It hurt. But I've gotten tougher skin over the years. I've learned that a critique of my story is not a critique of me. I will take a negative review and consider what is said, then either agree or disagree. I'll change my story where I agree and leave it where I disagree. I will thank the reviewer for their time and their thoughts. If I feel they are open to discussion, I might discuss where I disagree. Otherwise, I will rant my arguments to the air and keep my fingers off the keyboard.

Let me put forth a little history, an example of what not to do when receiving feedback. (Now, I will be the first to admit that I don't take the time to write first-rate reviews anymore. I'm lucky if I remember what a story is about by the time I review. And it's usually two in the morning or while I'm at work that I leave a review. I get on, I write it quickly and I get off. So, I'm opening myself up here by putting this history forward.)

I recently gave a mediocre review to a story and got a very irate response in e-mail. Admittedly, one sentence in particular of my review could be taken in two ways (one as threatening and one in the way I meant it: that I'd make my decision after one more chapter). However, that alone was not enough to deserve the response I got back.

I cannot share here the response I got because I've deleted it and because it wouldn't be right to quote it without the author's permission. But I can and will quote my own review.

"To be quite honest, this is getting tiring. Nearly thirty chapters in and it's no clearer what is happening. Keeping a mystery is one thing. Dragging it out for so long is another. If something doesn't become clear in the next chapter (Your author's note tells me you're not even clear on what will happen) I will stop reading this story. I've got enough WIPs to keep track of without this one that doesn't seem to be making any progress.

I'm sorry if this upsets you. Your story isn't bad. But your pacing is too slow to keep my interest. "

The response I got back accused me of flaming, threatening the author, telling her how to write her story, not giving constructive criticism, and several other things. It was about 7 paragraphs long! She also stated that I should send something like that in e-mail and not post it in public. She threated to give me a public response which was worse than the e-mail she did send. She used strong words "...because you think I bloody should..." and "don't you dare".

Is that an appropriate way for an author to respond? Maybe I should have let the matter rest, but I wrote back to her, only one paragraph:

"My but that was harsh. I did give constructive criticism. I said your pacing was too slow to keep my interest. And I gave my opinion on the story (that it wasn't bad), which is a review. Like it or not. The reviews section is not just for ego boosts. It's for reviews. Not all reviews are glowingly positive. I did not call you names or insult you in any way. Thus I did not flame. I said I would stop reading if no progress was made. I was willing to wait and see the next chapter before making a final decision. I did not order you to change your story. Now that I know how you take reviews, and respond to reviewers, I will stop reading."

I didn't get any response for a few days, so I assumed the author had realized perhaps silence was the best response at this point, but she wrote back today. I will paraphrase.

Mine was the first review she has ever gotten that angered her.

I didn't give constructive criticism. I whined. She appreciates my positive remark but again notes that I said I'd stop reading if something didn't happen in the next chapter. She thought that sounded like a threat. She did not insult me in her response. She has received flame reviews before and equated my review with an insult. She accepts that when she wrote the e-mail she was very angry at my review and at personal matters. She admits being harsh but does not regret the gist of what she said.

She will not force me to keep reading, but I'm not to say I know how she responds from one e-mail when she was mad.

She is sorry if she offended me, but had to let me know I offended her.

And again, I know I should probably not respond, but I'm feeling rather curmudgeonly myself this weekend. I think I'm going to remind her that a few months before she asked for constructive criticism. She had asked if she was repeating herself or boring readers. She wrote in an author's note that is still visible on the story:

"And for those who said I had bored them, or that rather than this being a roller coaster it was a bumping cars ride () sorry!"

My alter-ego (me before I picked an Elvish name) responded to her with this:

"Hi, I've been following your story for quite some time. If I didn't like it at all, I would stop following it. That said, it's not the best thing I've read. It's quite good though, considering that you're writing in a foreign language. I would never even dream of attempting that. As for too slow or repeating yourself, I would have to say there's some merit there. The story is moving slowly, not slowly enough to kill it for me, but slowly enough to start getting annoying. 20 chapters in and we don't know yet for sure what is going on in Legolas's mind. Repeating? Yes, because you're going slowly. You're trying to match the length of Tolkien's story, but your material is becoming thin, so you're stretching it out. You need to either think about ending it sooner (speeding it up) or finding something new in it. Progress instead of prolong. That's the key. If you can't progress, don't prolong. End. But if you feel ending would be rushing it (and it might), find something to progress the story. Then do as the other reviewer said and let the story find it's natural end. "

I definitely worded things better back then, but it's interesting to note that a lot of the gist of my criticism was the same. I did not receive a harsh reply to that older review. (And five chapters and four months later, there was still no progress which prompted me to review again).

I can think of no good way to conclude this post. It's probably a lesson in both how not to give a review and how not to respond to one. But well, here it is. Learn from it what you will.

--Ainaechoiriel

 

 

Re: The Art of Receiving Feedback?

That was a great story! (No sarcasm here, I really enjoyed it.)
I too have had my head bitten off by irate authors (which is slightly more satisfying than being ignored, actually- at least you can respond in the latter case, if you wish). I believe it happens most often when there's a young and/or immature author involved: they just don't have the life or communication skills to deal with... well, real life issues such as rejection. They've simply not yet acquired the experience or finesse to deal with other people's (differing) opinions in a tasteful manner.
And what grinds me most, is that in your case as example, Ainaechoiriel, the reviewers are very seldom out of line- just as (at least in my opinion) you were not. Jumpy and overly sensitive authors throw the word 'flame' around without a clue what it actually means. I've actually had authors call my reviews flames, when they most certainly were nothing of the sort. It's gotten to the point now on ff.net where anything at all 'negative' is considered a 'flame', even if the review in question includes positive points as well.
It's saddening and maddening.

 

 

Re: The Art of Receiving Feedback?

That was kind of my take. I didn't so much get angry at her responses as think she was immature. And I probably responded with a very teachery tone. ;-)

I'll let you know (by paraphrase) what she replies to my latest reply to her reply to my review. Whew!

But yeah, anything short of a squee these days is taken to be a flame and then all the squee-ers come to the rescue with "How dare that person insult you!" even when it wasn't an insult. Usually, if I have anything negative to say, I don't log in and use a pseudonymn. I won't say which one--just in case someone here has received one of those reviews. I doubt it though. If a story was good enough to get into HASA, it probably never got one of my pseudonym's reviews. But I use that pseudonymn just so I won't get flamed or get revenge-reviews in return by pointing the author to my identity. This time, because my previous critique had been taken well, I let myself log-in. Probably not the best decision I ever made.

--Ainaechoiriel
who wasn't the only reviewer to think the pacing was too slow

 

 

Re: The Art of Receiving Feedback?

That's a good idea, using another name. It might even be *easier* for the author to take criticism in that way.
Personally, it helps me to know who's talking, because I'd either like to thank the reviewer for their help, or perhaps request clarification on some issues. But, that's me.
And your last line is almost always the case, when authors attack their reviewers. It *isn't* the first time the author has heard the 'complaint', and it annoys them that people keep noticing and pointing it out. Why? Because it's a flaw, and they already know it's there- even if they pretend they don't, so the "flamer" seems all the more demonic.
In your case, the author knew of the flaw quite a while ago, because she made specific mention of as much in her author's note. So people keep pointing at the flaw, just like she pointed at it asking if anyone else noticed; which they did. But instead of dedicating time and effort to *fix* the problem, the author simply has a fit. Which is, well, what children do.

 

 

Re: The Art of Receiving Feedback?

Actually, when I'm being mean, I just use a single letter. Even less traceable that way.

Personally, it helps me to know who's talking, because I'd either like to thank the reviewer for their help, or perhaps request clarification on some issues. But, that's me.

As I said, I hope my letter would never have reason to leave you a review. And knowing that you feel that way, I doubt my letter would. The letter is for fear of flames. If you are willing to take constructive criticism and talk about it, there's no fear. I'd log in and use my name.

In your case, the author knew of the flaw quite a while ago, because she made specific mention of as much in her author's note. So people keep pointing at the flaw, just like she pointed at it asking if anyone else noticed; which they did. But instead of dedicating time and effort to *fix* the problem, the author simply has a fit. Which is, well, what children do.

That's certainly common though I think not exactly the case this time. A side symptom perhaps. Actually, I think it's something way more common, regrettably, in fanfiction, especially since the posting of WIPs. I'm not saying every WIP writer does this or that people who post complete stories never do. But it's more common since WIPs began to be the norm at ff.net:

Thinking of fanfiction as something below literature. The attitude of "I know there's a problem but I'm just going to keep on the way I am." The attitude of not wanting to put the best story possible out there. (Ouch. I'm doing that with my Young Riders story. Eek. Okay, but not to that extreme. I'm planning on writing it well, just not great.)

I hate to see a good story marred by easily fixable problems and left marred. If the problems weren't easily fixable, it wouldn't be classified as a good story, so why not take that good story and really make it shine? Why not fix the problems?

So, anywho, she wrote back today. And my being a curmudgeon and deciding not to ignore this actually worked this time. She and I could actually become friends if this keeps up.

She came out and admitted that she was too harsh, that she'd taken her anger at this other matter out on me. (She told me what the other matter was, though she didn't need to. It is serious and I won't share it here.) She was using her reviews to feel better and then hit mine and BAM!

She still "debated" with me the merits of my critique, but did so in a more discussionary manner. We've opened discussion at this point. I've attached my article to her. Maybe she'll read it and see 1) that I know what I'm talking about and 2) that I look at the whole package of a story, not just the end result (which is what she thinks I was doing.) Heck, if that were the case, I'd have dropped LDID long ago for taking too long to get to that end result. >D

She wants to put this behind us and start over. I am willing to do that.

A happy ending after all. But still a good example of how not to respond to reviewers.

--Ainaechoiriel

 

 

Re: The Art of Receiving Feedback?

Added to thte problem of false email addresses are mistyped ones.

I received a very nice review (my first from someone not at HASA! Hey, someone besides you folks read one of my stories! ) yesterday. The return email address is wrong - it looks like a typo, but I can't be sure. So, I have a very nice thank you note bounced back to me as undeliverable.

Sigh.

Ang

 

 

Re: The Art of Receiving Feedback?

That's a good idea, using another name. It might even be *easier* for the author to take criticism in that way.
Personally, it helps me to know who's talking, because I'd either like to thank the reviewer for their help, or perhaps request clarification on some issues. But, that's me.


This is a bit tangential, but still tied up with netiquette and private correspondance.

However apt "Stultiloquentia" may be, I still like to give people my real name. Especially if I'm being presumptuous enough to critique their work, I feel like I should let them know who's behind the façade. It's warmer. But that's me talking from the POV of a real newbie, and possibly bumbling past all sorts of mores like a cowgirl at a Regency tea party.

How do y'all use your pseudonyms?

 

 

pseudonyms

I will never use my full real name in anything but a personal e-mail, and often not even then.

A few weeks ago I was giving a guest lecture, and had not been aksed to provide biographical information. Before I spoke, I was given a rather thorough intoduction. I aksed the organizer where she had gotten the information, and she said she googled me. Erp. I think I'm just as happy she didn't find my R- rated slashfics. (She did find - and mention - my Bible poetry, though, which I had posted years ago under my real name.)

But, I don't think it shows any lack of warmth to use a pseudonym. Even when I know writer's real names I often don't use them, because the other name is the name I'm most used to. Some writers make their real name freely available, others never tell anyone. I think you have a lot of freedom on this.

Deborah

 

 

Re: pseudonyms

I began life on the internet in my own name and still use it for all my writing that isn't LOTR. For LOTR, it was too cool to use an Elvish name especially when Barrowdowns gave me one I liked so much. So, for the first time, I'm using a pseudonym. In LOTR everything, I am Ainaechoiriel. It is like a persona I picked up along with the name: me and yet a little more than me. Ask one of my Star Trek readers if they know who Ainaechoiriel is though and you'll get a blank look (unless they also happen to be here). I'm Gabrielle Lawson to them. And yeah, you can Google me and find me in a lot of places. I tried it once.

--Ainaechoiriel

 

 

Using Pseudonymns in E-mail

As a general rule now, I use my pseudonym for all internet activities that don't involve people I know in RL. I'm also new to online communities, and I tend to be just that bit leery of being overly familiar with a faceless crowd. Used to be that I would give out my first name, at least, when someone e-mailed me, largely because I felt it would be rude not to do so (especially when in some of my e-mail addys, my real name is right there in the header), but I've since dropped that practice.

If, after a certain period of correspondence with another person, that other gives me a name that isn't his/her pseudonymn, I will usually return the courtesy. Not always, though. Some people just toss their real names out there after one or two e-mails, and I'm just not prepared to reciprocate in most of those cases. Other people prefer to keep using the pen name, even if they know my real name. That's fine with me. "Dwim" is just another nickname at this point.

 

 

Re: Using Pseudonymns in E-mail

I shall learn to love the mystique!

- Zorroloquentia

 

 

Re: The Art of Receiving Feedback?

Stulti asked:

How do y'all use your pseudonyms?

I'd never used a pseud in any of my fan activities until I started posting at ff.net, i.e. when I started writing Tolkien-related fiction (I've been involved in various fandoms since the late 80s). The reason I decided to use a pseud after so long was that it seemed the done thing on ff.net, and that I was shifting in a completely new direction with my writing. I admit it - I was a bit embarrassed to be caught writing Tolkien romances instead of SF psycho-dramas. I write professionally on fandom and so my own name is plastered about in connection with it anyway. My pseud is not very anonymous. I don't mind what people call me (within limits!), although it's been interesting to experience having an alter-ego Altariel, who does many things differently from Una.

 

 

Re: Using Pseudonymns in E-mail

I use the Celandine name for most all of my non-professional online activities. Some of my RL friends and family know of it, some of them even read my stories on occasion. And a couple of people who know Celandine also know my real name, but I don't widely connect the two identities.

Case in point - I have a website for my fiction, and I have a professional website. There are no direct cross-links between the two at all. The professional site does have a personal page with two LotR links (including HASA), and I suppose someone with a lot of time on their hands who became a HASA member and actually read the bios could figure it out, but it doesn't seem very likely.

Cel, who is very fond of this identity

 

 

Re: The Art of Receiving Feedback?

I too have had my head bitten off by irate authors (which is slightly more satisfying than being ignored, actually- at least you can respond in the latter case, if you wish). I believe it happens most often when there's a young and/or immature author involved: they just don't have the life or communication skills to deal with... well, real life issues such as rejection. They've simply not yet acquired the experience or finesse to deal with other people's (differing) opinions in a tasteful manner. I both agree and disagree with this. I have only recently began to write reviews that are constructive, both happened to be on new writers. I decided to give them both a go. One was a 13 year old male, who thanked me dearly for the help in his story, as it was his first. The second....well, I got my head blown off by her. Not only that but she threatened to do som rather harsh things...to herself, not me. She thought I was flaming her and threatened self-injury because of this. If she thought I was flaming her, imagine how I felt hearing that?! Hmmm, well, as you may have guessed I am new here *waves hello to all the nice people* I have been reading these tips and I am finding them rather helpful. Not a new writer as far as writing fanfic goes, but still class myself as 'not great'. As to reviews over at ff.net....most are squees I agree. The first story I got constructive criticism for, my first Harry Potter fic (yes, I do write in that fandom still) was most helpful, and I would have written a reply for the help if I could get their email address, but they didn't leave it....shame really. The second time was in a different tone, and at first I was slightly angry, but still knew ti not to be a flame. After a few days, I replied. Then discussed the fic. I am now rewriting it. Yes, I am aware that my username is spelt wrong...that is a typo on my part, sorry *blushes*

 

 

Re: The Art of Receiving Feedback?

Hmmm, well, as you may have guessed I am new here *waves hello to all the nice people* I have been reading these tips and I am finding them rather helpful. Not a new writer as far as writing fanfic goes, but still class myself as 'not great'. Welcome, Slverwolf101! Glad you have joined, and glad that some of the tips are helpful. Many of us classify ouselves as 'not great' so you've got lots of company. Lyllyn

 

 

Re: The Art of Receiving Feedback?

How do y'all use your pseudonyms? It is me ;-) In my other fandom I have to got to know a lot of people really quite well - we get together several times a year, visit each other in hospital, support each other through the death of family members, serious illness and romance disasters, send each other presents, talk about everything under the sun... but virtually all of them know me only as Avon. A few do now know my real name but they don't use it. I much prefer Avon. ;-) Why? Well, for a start I have a terribly boring real name that I'm not terribly fond of but I suspect it is mostly that I am (1) terribly shy and (2) an actor - Avon gives me a persona to hide behind. Avon is both nicer than me and much braver. She's also better liked. ;-) I think only one HA person knows my real name - and that's only because I have to sign security declarations to post something O/S. Privacy is another big issue for me. I wrote all my Blake 7 fic and ST fic under my real name - but that was in fanzines. Only another fan was ever likely to find it. The odds of a parent at a school that I teach at finding it is minimiscule. Using my real name for my internet fic though is just asking for someone to google me. Of course I now have this fairly problematic problem. I'd like to one day put my B7 fic up on the internet - but under what name? If I use Avon that connects my two identities. If I use my real name then the privacy thing comes in. I guess I'll have to set up another identity with another e-mail account... complicated. Of course the othe thing is that pseuds are basically accepted on the internet (though it hadn't occurred to me that people might think I'm rude if I don't offer my real name in e-mails) but used to be quite spat upon where I wrote in B7. ;-) Avon

 

 

Re: The Art of Receiving Feedback?

(Hey, it's a two year old question, but why not...?) How do y'all use your pseudonyms? I'm just the opposite of Avon. I've had several pseudonyms (fewer 'pen names' used specifically for writing), and I've never felt that any of them were me. I don't feel that the name on my birth certificate is me, either, same with all the resultant nick-names that people actually address me by. Basically, I look at any title as a pseudonym, thus if I use one that people recognize me by in RL, it feels equally as natural using one that people recognize me by for Internet purposes. In the case of meeting someone on-line in RL, I've always offered a name that the person might be more comfortable using in public (or actually saying, since my handles-of-choice don't typically roll off the tongue) -- but it still comes down to "so what should I call you?" and my answer is ever a shrug. Make sumthin up, I say; that's all anyone else has done. Having a pseudonym for Internet exchanges has other benefits, of course: one being security, and another IMO the ease with which you can shed a new skin. Maybe I'm unique in that I've never had any name I liked so much that I haven't tired of eventually. -AE

 

 

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