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10 December 2007 @ 09:07 am
Question for all the Fan Fiction Writers...  
After doing a bit more fic-reading the past two days, I had some thoughts and was wondering about something.

How many of you use readers' reviews in order to determine how your story unfolds? Do you rely on them completely, or only sometimes if they plant a little idea in your head that you think you might use?

I know a few authors who rely solely on reviews to tell them how to write a story, and it almost intrigues me.  I'm not talking about anyone in particular and I'm not trying to shoot anyone down, I just find it interesting.  I guess it may be a common thing for people who just post the story as they update it and not waiting till it's complete before doing so.  On one of my stories, I did have one or two reviews that had me thinking, "Hmm, that could be an interesting plot device" or something to that effect.  But that was where it stopped.  I had reviews where people would say "Oh, you should have this character get roughed up, bla bla blah" that were pretty interesting but it wasn't where I wanted to take the story.

I also find that people who use reviews to tell them where a story goes can be a little ... I don't know ... a little bit much with begging for reviews.  Again I'm not trying to shoot anyone down with this.  Heck I've begged for reviews in the past, LOL.  But one thing that can get a little annoying is when people say "Please, I need reviews or I'll just stop posting the story."  There have been times where I'd post my fics in the various Yahoo groups I belong to and I'd get no feedback whatsoever while others would get tons of it.  In fact it still happens.  I still get a little discouraged and wonder why I'm bothering to post the stories if no one apparently was reading them.  I'd think "well, I guess I'm not writing what they like."  There were times where I'd really want to say something, like "I'll just stop posting my fics here if no one is interested in them." 

But I catch myself because I realize that I'm writing for myself first and foremost.  If other people tell me they like it, well that's certainly nice and it does make me feel better about my writing (which I admit I sometimes need...I tend to be way too hard on myself... *blushes*).  But I write because I enjoy it.  I have stories I like to tell.  And that all goes back to the question of whether reviews determine how your story gets written.  If I have an idea and I already have a story all plotted out - I know how it's going to unfold... I don't need reviews to point me in whatever direction.  They can be helpful sometimes, like if you're having trouble with one little thing or if it's something you didn't think of beforehand that sounds cool.  But I don't rely on them solely.

But those who do, I find it interesting.  Not interesting as in "weird," but interesting as in... different, I guess.  I was just wondering if any other fic-writers here do that, or what your thoughts on it are.
Current Mood: thoughtfulthoughtful
Christine (aka) Pineapple >^..^<: WritersStrikechris4short on December 10th, 2007 01:07 pm (UTC)
Well certainly my fan fic ways of writing is different than my original fic ways... since one people (sometimes) read while the other... well you don't see my name published anywhere else besides the newspaper (as a byline... of course)

But I certainly do use some reviews as a maybe kick in the muse's mitka. A lot of times I just write... the ending unfolds as we go. Yes it's a scary way of writing, but I know my characters and they don't let me down. Now many fics have started as "one shots" (1000 Feet Below, for example) and with some encouragement I continued (I did 5 more chaps i think) than people liked it, and I really did too, I continued it to make a longer piece. Most of my fic is like that.

I don't beg (or I don't think I do) for reviews, but you know I am a feedback whore! Who doesn't want to be told their stuff is like awesome and can't wait for the next chapter... but your right - we should write for ourselves and if others like it, yeah! i have a lot of people asking me to R&R their fics because no one else does... and as much as i would love to just read their stuff, sometimes I just can't (many reasons)...

I do find it interesting to see what people do with reviews in context with continuing stories... I will keep my eye on this discussion. Good question Jess!!

jessm78: Long Pondjessm78 on December 10th, 2007 02:15 pm (UTC)
Yeah, see, that's what I use them for, too. Sometimes I'll get an interesting one that has me going... "Hmmmm not a bad idea." But I don't use them as the only source for my ideas and think if I don't get any reviews tonight I can't finish this chapter, bla bla blah.... Ya know what I mean. I think.... ;)

And I can be a total whore of the feedback persuasion too... heh. There are times when I feel like I shouldn't bother posting at SDR because I don't ever get any feedback there. Then again that group has been pretty dead lately if not for the Advent Challenge thingie... But exactly... writing for myself first and foremost. The reviews are just gravy (mmmmmm, gravy....).

Hee, thanks! I find it interesting too. And not sure if you know whose fics sorta prompted this discussion. Will have to fire an email your way about it...

*hugs back*
ridin' the star mile: firefly-kayleestargazercmc on December 10th, 2007 03:27 pm (UTC)
Personally, my reaction when I see a disclaimer that says something to the effect about how the person will quit posting if they don't get feedback is to hit the Back button and save them the trouble of writing. I generally don't read WIPs to start with, but seeing a message like that is a surefire way to make me not read the fic. Why? Mostly because it indicates a lack of maturity which makes me think the writing will be subpar.

And that sounds harsh, but there it is.

And yeah, I've noticed what you're talking about, too, with gearing the writing towards what people FB about. I don't get that - if you have a story to tell, tell it. If you need inspiration, ask for prompts. But to let readers dictate how things will play out? For that, I'd recommend telling people to go buy a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book.

Wow, I seem cranky today. Sorry. I think you just hit one of my pet peeves. :)
jessm78: Long Pondjessm78 on December 10th, 2007 04:43 pm (UTC)
Yeah, seeing something like that really discourages me from reading too. I know people can be hard on themselves when it comes to writing, but saying something like that does kind of point to a lack of maturity.

I've never really understood it either. If you're posting a WIP and need inspiration, I ask for prompts or if something interesting catches my eye, I'll think about it and decide if I want to include something like that in the story at some point. Not that I do it very often anymore since I usually wait till the story is done before posting it.

Choose-Your-Own-Adventure books... yeah, that's a good way of putting it. LOL - no worries. It's starting to become a real pet peeve of mine and I just had to vent about it. *grin*
pr1nce55k1tcat on December 10th, 2007 06:03 pm (UTC)
Needing/begging for feedback all depends on the writer more than the work.

I find that if I see a fic which has a little note begging for feedback then I tend to avoid it or if I'm in the mood I'll read it out of curiosity and then decide about leaving feedback.

I personally aren't bothered by feedback, if I get some then I'm happy and if I don't I'm happy because at the end of it all I'm only writing for myself and not to please other people.

I try and leave feedback as much as possible (whenever I remember to) even if it's something like "aww sweet" it's still feedback, even if it's not what the writer may have expected it is something.

Really want to say more but I'm not making much sense :)
jessm78: Fire and Waterjessm78 on December 11th, 2007 12:35 am (UTC)
Yeah... when I'm confronted with that situation I'm more likely to give feedback if the story is complete.

I try to do that too. I figure that if I took the time to read a story, the least I could do is leave a little note and let the author know what I thought of it. But I'm not crazy about people who hold their fics hostage until they get feedback, or people who let all their feedback determine what happens in the story. But that's just me.

Making sense to me. :)
pr1nce55k1tcat on January 23rd, 2008 06:30 pm (UTC)
I am so slow at keeping up.

With the whole feedback thing, I think that the only time it's appropriate to ask for feedback is when you've written something that involves a character or a pairing and a situation that you're not particulary comfortable with writing wether it's something moral on your part or something trivial about a situation or a particular character to you as a writer because that feedback can then help for anything that you write in future that maybe involves either of those things.

I could never hold anything I write hostage for feedback just to see where people would want me to take it. That's why I'm waiting till I have all of If You Asked, my epic angst-addiction fic finished and then once it's up, I'll let people decide if they want to read it. Although I know pretty much where everything happens with that right down to the very last line spoken.
jessm78: groovyjessm78 on January 24th, 2008 12:57 pm (UTC)
Aw, no problem. :)

That's a good point. I think it's beneficial in that case. If I started writing fic in a whole new fandom, I'd want input from people to see if I pulled it off ok (especially if I wasn't too confident about it).

Same here. That's why I've started waiting till I have my fics all done before posting them (and why I probably won't have anything new posted for quite a while... lol).
(Deleted comment)
jessm78: Fire and Waterjessm78 on December 11th, 2007 12:38 am (UTC)
I used to post WIPs all the time, and back when I was first writing fanfiction I thought the reviews would get me motivated to work on the story and get more chapters finished.

That was ages ago, though. Now after talking to a few other writers I've decided to wait a bit more till I have the stories completed. But sometimes reviews could be little sources of inspiration.

I'm the same way. I mostly write for my own enjoyment and if others happen to like it, well it's a bonus I suppose. :)
tiah15: ShiriColourtiah15 on December 10th, 2007 08:24 pm (UTC)
I have three perspectives here really:
As a reader, I wouldn't want the writer to solely rely on feedback input - especially if you can read the feedback (like on ff.net). Where's the surprise in the story if I can guess where it's going by reading reviews. I don't need the actual story anymore.
And I hate it when people try to coerce me into writing feedback !!! Makes me either want to turn away immediately (like some others have already said) or I feel forced to leave my opinion and can't enjoy the story. Either way it's not what the writer wanted (at least I hope so).
As a beta, I'd tell the writer who depends on feedback ideas, to get his/her own beta !!! Or find someone to bounce ideas with.
As a writer I can't image not even having the smallest idea where the story is supposed to go. Is that really possible ? Then again, I've never written fanfic and therefore never gotten any comment on what I wrote before it was all over anyway :)
jessm78: Long Pondjessm78 on December 11th, 2007 12:45 am (UTC)
I like those perspectives. :)

You're right - if the writer is relying only on my feedback to tell him/her where the story is going, where is the surprise? It feels like you've been spoiled.

*nods* It bugs me when people hold their stories hostage... "Please leave me comments or I'll just stop posting this story right here." While I understand that feedback can be food for the writer's soul, it gets annoying when people are so demanding about it.

It wouldn't surprise me if the people who do this don't have a beta. I have 3 (sometimes more) separate beta readers and they are always great to bounce ideas with. And I have fun bouncing ideas with them whenever they need something betaed.

Most of the time when I write, I'll have a general plot outlined at first... sometimes with specific dialogue or action in a scene. Then I add more detail to it. I could see someone being stuck on a little detail, but to have no idea where your story is going to go at all... I've never really had that.
Working for the Mandroid: and beyondmoonshayde on December 10th, 2007 08:54 pm (UTC)
I never use reviews in my writing process. Aside from one fic, every story I've posted has been completed before I put it online. I never post WIPs.

The one WIP I did post I did on LJ and I already had part of the story written and the rest outlined. That was the one and only time I've done it. In that case, I used community support as an extra push to keep me writing because the fic itself was kind of daunting. Knowing that I had the support from LJ, whether my friends were reading it or not, helped keep me focused. I've never done it since, though.

And I hate when people use their stories for ransom. Frankly, I fele that if you're writing solely for reviews, your story is going to suck.
jessm78: sg-1 teamjessm78 on December 11th, 2007 12:50 am (UTC)
Same with me. I got one or two moments of inspiration from reviews on that huge novel S/D AU fic I wrote. But that was about it. I've shied away from posting WIPs as well... I think it's helping me become more disciplined.

Yeah, one fic in particular, I'd scrolled to the bottom and saw something like "Please comment on this fic. Comments are very helpful and if I don't get any I'll stop posting this story right here." Things like that set up huge red flags for me. It bugs me when people hold their fics hostage like that.

pygmymuse on December 11th, 2007 01:49 am (UTC)
I don't think I've ever written a story and let the reviews tell me what to write... I did add an extra scene for someone who requested one, but I felt the chapter needed something anyways... I don't know... I've never liked it as a reader when I see the "review or else" kind of messages, but I know I've been guilty of the insecure "tell me if it sucks" kind of message... I do write for myself & "i am the writer, my word is law" seems to apply for me... i doubt I would ever change a fic completely because of a review...
jessm78: hairsprayjessm78 on December 11th, 2007 02:22 pm (UTC)
Yeah, exactly. I usually have a pretty good idea of what I want in a story and I'm not totally dependent on reviews to tell me where to take it. Once I wrote a fic for another fandom where I had it all mapped out, but then someone gave me some advice and I liked her idea...so I made almost a separate version of the fic that addressed it. But that was the only time I did that.

And I sorta do that too: the "like it? hate it? please let me know" or "for anyone interested in reading the story here's a link". I hate insecurity sometimes... But on the whole I write for myself. Some of the fics I was talking about are WIPs where the author uses the reviews to tell him/her how to continue the story. Maybe it's just me but I can't do that...
Nick7996gwspeanut on December 12th, 2007 03:24 am (UTC)
I'm not a fic-writer so my thoughts would be from a reader.

A while back I was reading a wip where the writer did a 180 on the story because of comments, I couldn't finish it and totally shied away from wip and this writers work. I will read wip if I know the writer, meaning they write what they feel, not for what the masses want. That includes fics that aren't wip.

Anyway, excellent qwestion Jess, I've been wondering the same thing for awhile.

Oh...I'm SciFiFan from GW. Hi
jessm78: cam/valajessm78 on December 12th, 2007 12:27 pm (UTC)
Hi back. :) I friended you, hope you don't mind.

Thoughts from a reader are just as interesting. I came up with this question while I was reading a few fics but for some reason I asked it from a writer's point of view. Oops.

But I know what you mean. I've run into one or two fics where that happened. I think it's great when someone feels they have a story to tell, and they just lay it all out for you. Not asking "so what should I do next? Please let me know or I'll stop continuing the story."

Thanks. :D Was just something that was nagging at the back of my mind for a while.