Okay, so here’s another post that might get me in trouble because some people might think it’s being preachy or telling readers what to do and blah, blah, blah. I’m going to post anyway because I’m all fired up and need an outlet for this. Tumblr will have to do. Don’t click the cut unless you want to hear me bitch for a couple of paragraphs. You’ve been warned.
So the subject of today’s rant is twatface reviewers. I know, I know, I’m probably not supposed to call readers that, but let’s face it, some reviewers are assholes. I don’t mean this as a general statement. For the most part the reviews I get are well thought out, encouraging and very kind and I appreciate that. I’ve gotten my share of reviews where the readers are all WTF ARE YOU DOING, MEG?, and I’ve learned the hard way to take that in stride. My instinct is to defend my work, but I have to remember that I know the ending, or I know how a certain situation is going to turn out. The readers don’t know that, even if they think they do. For all they know, I could completely pull the rug out from under them. I’ve done it a time or two, so I’ve sort of earned the reviews I get.
But that’s sort of beside the point.
What I’m more concerned about are reviewers who don’t seem to mind sending PMs to authors to essentially tell them how to write. I received one such PM a while back from a reader who told me that the story she was reading had no plot to it. You know what story that was? Can’t Stop This Thing We Started, and yes, the reader was serious. The reader almost went so far as to offer suggestions on how I could improve my work. Now this managed to not only offend me, but Scribe as well since she co-authored that story with me.
Rather than responding to the PM I was sent by this person, I decided to just ignore it. After checking this reader’s profile it occurred to me that it was entirely possible that the message was spawned by jealousy since this person is also an author, but doesn’t have the same volume of work or a very high review count. I could sit here and tell you that I don’t care about reviews, but that would be a lie. It’s not because of the popularity factor, or because I need validation, but because I’m genuinely curious as to your thoughts about the things that I post.
I don’t expect every reviewer to tell me I’m brilliant, or that I’ve written the best thing ever. Hell, there are times when I wonder why anyone reads my work at all. Any author who says they aren’t in it for the reviews, at least a little bit, is full of shit. And for the newbies authors I’m sure it’s frustrating (been there, done that) when they first start out because it takes a while to build a fan base. There are so many stories out there at this point that it’s difficult to come up with something fresh and inventive that hasn’t been done before. I mean, as a regular fanfic reader I can only read so many teacher/student or what if Sookie met Eric first stories before I want to tear my hair out.
That’s no offense to the authors who write them, by the way, because I’m sure they put their own spin on it, but the concept is one that has been done quite a bit over the years. For those of us that have been around for a while, it’s easy to skip over those stories because we feel like we’ve already read them. So how does a new author draw attention to themselves?
Obviously, an easy way to do that is to write really hot lemons. People go to the M rated section of FFN because they’re looking for that kind of material. There are entire stories devoted to pure porn, and I see nothing wrong with that. If that’s what an author wants to be known for, who the fuck am I to judge? And there are some people who excel at writing sex scenes. I give them props because it’s not an easy thing to write, and I’ve written HUNDREDS of sex scenes over the course of my fanfic career. For some people it comes naturally to them, and I admit, I’m a bit envious of that ability because I still get a little blushy faced sometimes when I write sex scenes.
My point, I suppose, is that if the content of a story seems to be pretty sexualized and that isn’t your cup of tea, why would you keep reading? Unless you’re one of those troll types who gets off on making authors feel bad, or you somehow think your morality should be shoved down everyone else’s throat, how about you back your shit down? If you don’t like what you’re reading, no one is forcing you to click the button for the next chapter.
As an author, I realize I can’t possibly please everyone, and there is no guarantee that a reader is going to take away from a story what I got from it while writing it. My job is to convey those points as best I can, but what I might deem to be the right thing to do in a situation might not be what someone else would find to be acceptable. Morality is a subjective thing, and sometimes the characters we write make fucked up choices because that’s reality. People make mistakes, do stupid things and sometimes fuck like porn stars because they can, and that’s what people do.
At the end of the day this is all fiction and we’re all here for fun. This isn’t my job, nor is it the job of any other author who takes time out of their life to post stories on FFN or any other site on the internet. Our payment is the reaction we get back from the readers, and it’s great when we can laugh together, cry together, etc. over a story that captures our attention and taps into something we can identify with.
Sometimes all it takes is one bad apple to ruin the bunch, and don’t think for a second that authors don’t talk about who the trolls are. We all know who the twatface reviewers are, and there’s a reason why a lot of us don’t allow anon reviews. I never have because I’ve always felt that if you’re going to say something, have the balls to sign your name to it. If you can’t do that, then you probably shouldn’t say anything at all.
So like I said before, I might get myself into hot water for writing up this post, but what else is new? At least I have the balls to sign my name.