All About Spike

Guide to Giving Feedback

Fanfiction writers don't get paid for their work. One of the best things that you, as a fanfic reader, can do is to send feedback. This will show your appreciation, help the writer to understand how others perceive her work, and encourage her to write more.

  • A couple of myths about feedback:
    • Well-known writers don't need feedback.
      Not true. Unless a writer specifically asks that you don't send feedback, she almost certainly would appreciate it. Additionally, sometimes everyone assumes that big name authors don't need feedback, so they end up barely receiving any.

    • I don't have anything to say.
      Yeah you do. Even a "Thanks! I enjoyed reading this story" is better than nothing. It helps just to know that people are reading. Of course, if you have more to say, that's even better!

    • Writers don't want constructive feedback.
      Good writers want to improve their work. Constructive criticism helps. If you're not sure whether it's appropriate, send them an email first and ask if it's okay. But generally, unless an author specifically requests that you don't send constructive criticism, you're encouraged to send it (politely).
  • How to give constructive feedback:
    • Be polite. Don't bash. Give examples of what you're talking about; don't make a general statement unless you can back it up. Mention specifially what works and what doesn't. Temper negative comments with positive comments.
  • For example:
    • BAD: Your dialogue sucks!
      GOOD: Your dialogue often feels stilted and out-of-character. For example, I doubt that Buffy would use a word like "objurgate" in a typical sentence, and I can't picture someone as uptight as Giles calling people "dude." However, I did like ...

    • BAD: Your plot is awful!
      GOOD: Your plot doesn't make sense. I don't understand how Spike could be an international arms dealer when he doesn't even have a telephone. And why doesn't anyone remember that Riley ran away after Buffy discovered his addiction to vampire whores?

    • BAD: You suck!
      Don't even bother. This is bashing and will be deleted. Criticize the writing, not the writer.

    • BAD: This story rocked! It's so much better than all your other stories, which suck.
      GOOD: This story rocked! Your writing has shown an immense amount of improvement. Your dialogue often seemed stilted in your previous stories, but it flows perfectly here. Your prose has also gotten much more sophisticated. For example, ...

    • BAD: This story is great, but why isn't it Spike/Buffy? Spike and [other character] are wrong together!
      This is a matter of taste, not criticism. Don't try to dictate your tastes onto someone else. If you don't like the pairing, stop reading. You have no right to demand that someone else write to your desires.

    • BAD: This story would be great, except all the sex is gross!
      Oh, for heaven's sake. If you're that much of a prude, skim the sex scenes, or don't read the story. Don't try to inflict your repressed "morality" on the rest of us.

    • BAD: This story is great! It's so much better than all the other crap on this site!
      Why anyone would think this is an appropriate comment is beyond me. Just don't.

    • BAD: Post more!!! Now!!!!!!
      GOOD: I love this so much. I'm eagerly awaiting more. I'm really hoping you update soon!
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