Constructive Criticism and Flaming
written by Al's
Now, there may be many different people reading this.
a) People that regularly visit my msting site and wanted to see
what this was.
b) People who have shown a common interest in this area of fanfiction
critic and have encountered it far too many times.
c) People who are reading this purely for academic purposes
d) I (or someone) have reviewed your story with proper CC, in which you have
thought it a flame, and you were sent this webpage in response.
Now, the purpose of this page is because I personally (and many others
I might add) am just getting absolutely sick of young writers asking
for help with their stories on fanfiction.net and when they receive it,
leave nasty messages to the reviewers, thanking them for the stupid flames
and to never review their stories again.
Doing something completely immature, like reviewing the previous
reviewers story with a flame of their own. In the latter case; Suck
it up and grow up.
Now... this article may be a hybrid of rant as well as essay, so bear
'Don't kill the messanger because you don't want to hear their
Constructive Criticism; everyone's aide, whether really wanted or not.
This is essential for every writer that wants to do something with his
or her writing, while taking their readers on a fantastic journey with their
beautiful descriptive words.
In a little experiment of mine, I posted a [purposely] bad fanfiction
up on my ff.net account just to see what kind of reviews I would get. Call
me morbidly curious, but I just wanted to know. The story's spelling was
fairly good, the grammar was correct - the only problem with the story
was the plot itself; it was a Mary Sue.
This is one of the reviews I received:
Doe 2003-05-05 1 Signed
Hey! No fair! You have to continue. I want to know who's there. Poor
Elrohir, he's all abandoned. :( Please get the next part up soon.
While these types of encouraging reviews are very nice to get, this
doesn't exactly help the author with his or her writing talent. This
review above is not constructive criticism; it's praise for
your writing. Sure, I love to get these; we all do, but when you really
want to improve on your writing skills, getting "I love this story! Please
write more!!!" doesn't tell you how to make your story better. If you only
receive these types of reviews (which is nice for the ego), it's not good
for becoming an excellent writer.
For proper CC, please look at the example below (which is referring
to my bad Mary Sue story, but not a official ff.net review):
Doe2 2003-05-06 1 Anonymous
Your fic is not terrible, you have a good grasp of grammar and spelling.
But, there are some questions to ask yourself: Why did I create this
girl? Could I have accomplished the goal of my story without her?
Exploring Elrohir's emotions after his mother sailed - that's a very interesting
idea... go with that, and try leaving out the random girl? See what
you come up with. Don't be afraid to ask for help, people are usually
more than willing to give it. And a beta reader might help you, some
of your sentences were a little awkward. You have potential.
Reach for it.
This tells me how to improve on my story! It gives me suggestions,
plot ideas, encouragement on continuing on my fiction piece and telling
me that I'm on the road to a good fanfic, but as the fiction
stands right now, it needs work. That's what CC is for. It's not to tell
you that your story is terrible if you make mistakes, but to help you to
"reach your potential" as a fanfiction writer. This is the type of thing
that you want people to leave in your review board, if in fact you made
some errors in your story. This is the type of thing that you should be
There are those of you who have received reviews such as the one above
and have put in an author's note stating that you didn't ask for flames.
Let's get one thing perfectly clear:
That. Was. Not. A. Flame.
I haven't even got to that part of the article yet; it's coming, so don't
If you indeed think that that review above is a flame, you have a lot
of learning and growing up to do. That is no where near a flame. Just because
it points out errors in my writing, and it may not be what I wanted to
hear (like trying to change my story with taking out my original [created]
character and changing the entire plot along with it), it's the truth.
Perhaps my original character does suck rocks and should never have
been introduced to the plot in the first place. Maybe she is in fact, ruining
a perfectly good drama fanfic. Maybe I could make my story ten times better
if I take my Mary Sue out and focus only on Elrohir and his emotions towards
his mother leaving home.
If your view of CC of your writing, is mindless praise to boost your
ego, then you're in the wrong profession. Turn in your pencils now, because
you will not get far with that form of thinking. Even the
best writers that have published work out there have things called "editors";
I'm sure you've heard of them. Editors tell the writer what they need to
change about their submitted work, and they don't have to be polite. No where
in the rule book does it say that CC has to be polite, but on the net when
review functions, like the one on ff.net, the majority of people who leave
proper CC do it in a polite way (I didn't say "all"); it's just proper etiquette, plus it's the nice thing to do.
"QUICK!! Get the baking soda!!!"
Flames; the thing that all writers dread. They're not nice. They're
down right mean and they insult the writing, the author and perhaps even
the author's dog. They hurt. Sometimes they appear without good cause, when
other times, the author asked for it. Every situation is different, but
flames turn out everywhere.
This was the most recent review I got for my first chapter of my experiment
Doe 2003-05-06 1 Anonymous
This is such a piece of crap that you shouldn't be threatening not
to post. It would be great if this story didn't go any further, it's gone
too far as is. Your OC is a bobby sue or a gary sue. Some would say since
it's a son it's orginal story line but it's not. Get a beta and in regards
to your 'not going to put up next chapter till I get so many reviews' grow
up, you aren't that good of a writer
Now, ladies and gentlemen, is everyone paying attention? This
is a flame. There is no suggestions to make the story better, no pointing
out mistakes of characters being out of canon, nothing good to say about
the story. Yes, there is a mention of getting a beta reader (which is crucial
in all writing), but that's about it. There's insults, there's discouragement
towards the author to stop writing, and put downs to me as a writer. Sure,
the story sucks - I fully admit that because of the content; as a twenty-two
year old who has been writing fanfiction for nearly six years now, I know
better, but there are hundreds of stories just like this one online
and I may be a young writer who is just starting out and trying my brain
at creating a piece of fan literature.
I generally save my flames for very rare occasions when the author has
done something to deserve such a "review". Some people flip out flames like
some people pop candy; that is just inconsiderate and childish. Those people
need to be taught some manners, but such is life.
One Final Note:
Now, as a final note is to the response of a CC with flame.
A friend of mine reviewed a story that gave proper CC review and was
trying to help the author correct mistakes in the story. Later that same day,
a review in one of my friend's stories was left by a character from the first
story. Yeah, that isn't obvious. This is what was left (used with
2003-05-26 2 Anonymous
What kind of name is Jen? And how did you even manage to get anyone
to put your stories on this website, they are hideously boring, and there
is no plot. At least you seem to be sharp enough to get the facts right
(for the most part). Oh yeah, by the way, you ought to edit your stories,
you're even worse than most people, you use all the wrong words in all
the wrong spots. Didn't your parents care enough to send you to school
(if you're not sure what I'm talking about, school is a place where you
And Wizards are Istari, not Maia!
This is completely childish, uninformed, and uncalled for. People who
do this and don't even read the story, are just trying to make themselves
feel better with justifying this flame with "they did it first". No, you
stupid git, "they" didn't. What Jen left was a CC, what you left was a childish
flame that had no basis for it. In this regard of leaving flames when you
really deserve to get a thwack on the head (or more): Grow. Up. Suck. It.
Up. And. Get. A. Life.
And just so you know, yes, the wizards are Istari AND Maia. This person didn't research far back enough and just made himself look even more stupid. Kudos dude. You're my hero of the day.