Friday, November 18, 2011

Rant of the Day: Don't Be a Flamer

Rant of the Day: Don’t Be a Flamer

First of all, I’d like to put a crucial disclaimer here: This rant is NOT about any of my own readers in any way, shape, or form.  Quite the contrary, in the HP fandom I’ve never received a single review that I would consider a “flame.”  I mean, sure, I’ve had a few comments from disgruntled readers who weren’t pleased with some of my writing decisions, but I try to handle them as graciously as possible by clearing up any points that I might not have gotten across in my writing.  In general, though, my experience in the HP fandom has been a positive one, and most of my own readers have been supportive or, at the very least, civil. (This wasn’t the case when I wrote for the Twilight fandom.  I actually encountered a lot of extremely rude people there; admittedly, I probably didn’t always respond to them in the best manner possible, but at least it was a learning experience.)

All righty, now that that’s out of the way, I was recently looking at the profile of a fellow reader/writer, faultybooster, and came across a rant about flames, which I’ll quote here, since I feel she says it better than I could:

“I've been fortunate to not have received any 'flames' in my very short-lived experience as a fanfiction writer. Well, not yet anyway. Now I'm all for reviews, whether they be light OR critical OR a combination, whatever the case may be. However, I recently came across a flame in a story that was so incredibly RUDE that it actually filled me with undiluted rage, and it wasn't even my story! The reviewer insulted the author time and time again, spewing out pure venom. You'd think the reviewer was a bloody senior editor for some posh publishing company, or some multi-award winning author, the way they were carrying on… I don`t claim to be a professional writer, and I`ll never say that my work is perfect because I`m human and I make mistakes. But if you`re going to shit all over somebody`s story in regards to their `lack of originality, poor grammar skills, improper spelling, etc. etc.`, then you had best make sure that your story is perfect as well and not write like a fucking child. It irks me, it really does. It`s not an easy thing to put your work out there, and expose yourself. And while some need to hone their skills more than others, it doesn`t give anybody the right to belittle a fellow author. We`re all here for the same thing - to read about and/or write about the characters we love. If you like the story, share the love. If you do like the story, but feel it lacks a certain something, then offer some constructive criticism. If you don`t like the story, be critical but kind. And if you can`t handle the latter, then keep your fucking mouth shut. End rant.”

I liked what this person had to say so much that I PM’ed her with this:

“Totally agree, 100%. I'm all about honest feedback (after all, you're not helping an author if you just rave over them when there are areas where a writer could use improvement) but there's no reason not to use tact & to not treat other authors with dignity, especially since a lot of writers on this site are young & inexperienced. I mean, writing isn't like singing, where you just either have it or you don't; it's a skill that's honed & improved with time & experience, so blasting younger/inexperienced writers is inexcusable.”

Curiosity got the better of me, so I decided to ask her about the fic & the flame in question, & I discovered that while the fic in question was a bit…threadbare, in all honesty, there was no true reason for the reviewer to be so cruel in his/her delivery.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of people out there that use the anonymity afforded by the internet to bash others in an effort (I can only guess) to make themselves feel better.  Of course everyone is entitled to their opinion, & this is a writing community, so obviously some people are going to be more critical than others—myself included, since some of my own reviews are bordering on brutally honest, especially if I feel that the story/writer has potential; conversely, if I think something is an absolute piece of garbage with no redeeming values, I usually keep my mouth shut unless the piece is obviously a “troll,” intended to garner a negative reaction from readers. 

However, there's no excuse not to retain civility in the spirit of community.  All this to say that, in my opinion, flaming is straight-up bullying, except that it’s possibly even more cowardly because the bully in question is hiding behind a screenname.

(I might get flamed for speaking out on this matter, but that’s okay because it’ll only prove my point.)


An example of CONSTRUCTIVE criticism that isn't necessarily all praise, as opposed to a flame (The following was submitted in regard to my own fic, Coming to Term, and I actually agree with some of what this reviewer has to say, since it reflects my own thoughts - or at least what I thought some readers might think -  as I was writing in regard to my own work.  Hey, we're all our own worst critics, right?  I certainly don't think my own writing and storytelling prowess is the shit.  Anyway, note the tactful delivery & the fact that the reviewer actually contributed something that she LIKED about the fic in question, making it a well-rounded review.):

"Hermione was rescued (not that there was ever any doubt about that LOL) but also it turns out that Ron wasn't actually raped, and Snape's only purpose was to prove it. It was a bit too convenient. Which goes back to my original question, of why go there in the first place? And then Hermione and Ginny giving birth at the same time, AND then getting pregnant again at the same time was a bit much, even though it's probably canon LOL It just feels like you started out writing one story that was funny, sexy, and sweet, and then you went super dark, and instead of following through, you just went back to the previous story. And I think a fluffy story could have been great, as well as a dark story, but when they got put together it kind of messed up the flow.

All that said, I still think you are a great writer, and I still enjoyed the story. I don't think there are any other stories of Rose's birth that are in any way the same quality as this one. And I admire you for taking risks with your writing. If you aren't experimenting and trying new things, you aren't growing as a writer."
An example of a flame:
"I could wipe my ass with this piece of shit: The writing doesn't flow, the story is contradictory, you put no thought into the plot, which is full of holes, and your writing stinks."

I totally just made up the above, but you get the point: Although it's honest, it offers nothing constructive at all and is intended specifically for the purpose of hurting the author.  A comment like that would sting an adult writer, so I imagine it would be down-right traumatizing to a young first-time writer.

No comments:

Post a Comment