Constructive Criticism - it is criticism that is kindly meant and has a goal of improving some area of another person's work. It should be a reasoned, unemotional response IN AN EFFORT TO TEACH.
Cyber-bullying - is the use of social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter to harass, threaten or intimidate someone. Cyber-bullying is often done by children, who have increasingly early access to these technologies. The problem is compounded by the fact that a bully can hide behind an electronic veil, disguising his or her true identity. This secrecy makes it difficult to trace the source and encourages bullies to behave more aggressively than they might face-to-face.
Unfortunately, the latter topic often occurs within fanfiction, but is disguised as or coined criticism, but it is NEVER CONSTRUCTIVE, and it has gotten considerably worse the in past few months. It is also a very common reason as to why great authors pull their stories - their work - because they are unjustly judged and/or ridiculed for their subject matter, writing style, or . . . I, personally, believe jealousy might have a lot to do with it.
Speaking of, since when did fanfiction become a competition?
This fandom used to be such a fun place; however, at every turn there's unwarranted ugliness, problems between authors, authors complaining about flames, or readers complaining about authors. "How dare s/he write that?" The last I heard, we authors wrote OUR stories the way we see them told. If every version of each character were the same, and the same issues plagued them, why bother reading fanfiction? Just read the books the characters stem from. But I digress . . .
For every flame an author gets via a review, they get ten, twenty, sometimes a hundred more reviews singing their praises. There are pros and cons, and I will admit that some wonderful people extremely outweigh the bad.
And there might be a couple who believe your story is wonderful, but . . . disagree with comma placement, quotations, semicolons – jacked-up grammar or problems with flow.
I think those are okay. Me? Personally, as a writer in this fandom, I dig those reviews - I love every one and would never ostracize someone for their constructive comments. Those who have left them for me know that I have written them back with a "thank you".
I will not share any of my own reviews, out of respect to my readers, but I'll give examples.
I feel like doing cartwheels after these: "Wow. This was an amazing chapter." Or, the reader goes on to highlight his or her favorite lines or plot points.
I feel like going back and trying to correct after these, which is fine because writing is also a learning process - for those of us who are not trained or did not go to school for creative writing. "I really like this story, but your grammar needs work. It didn't flow smoothly, and I became lost halfway through. I still like the premise, and these problems are easily fixed with a little help."
And then there are the reviews that make some authors second guess themselves. It's true; they're only words, and . . . this is an actual review I have received, but have since blocked this person, so I no longer worry about offending them.
"First of all, is English your first language? This is horrible and a sad excuse of a story. Your parents should be ashamed to call you their daughter. You use foul language instead of picking up a thesaurus to find words to accurately depict your character's feelings. You write about low-lives and expect people to fawn over your leading male character? Try again because your story sucks. I am surprised I lasted this long. You should consider yourself lucky."
After that review, my story was reported, and then taken down from Fanfiction.net; meanwhile, there was no rape, rough, or explicit sex in it - nor was there violence. On occasion, I get PMs from people telling me off. They have no bearing on my real life, neither do those who post their hate for everyone to see, but since I put SO MUCH of myself into my writing, it hurts.
It hurts very much on a deep, emotional level, like I would imagine it would pain others.
We're a very passionate and opinionated group, and sharing and expressing such things (opinions or thoughts) are not a crime, but leave the unwarranted, harmful, heinous words behind - the words that don't help, but only leave pain in their wake.
It's also a completely other thing to just "dislike" a story and to that we give the responses:
"To each their own"
"Different strokes for different folks"
Or my personal favorite. "Eh . . . it's not for everyone, but thanks for giving it a try."
We're shielded by our anonymity. We have cute and witty pen names, but behind every screen and computer there is a person with feelings. I'm sure most of you who are reading this blog post were privy to an altercation that occurred last night, think that's the cause of this whole . . . rant? Most of it is, as I am sick of defending my work, and I am also hearing from others who are tired of doing the same.
Too many greats are leaving us - The Twi-Fic Fandom, and it's sad.
Thumper said it best, and we've heard it time and time again from our parents:
"If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."
When someone posts or shares their negativity, half of their buddies will agree, while the rest of us will just wonder, "Why? What was the point?" And a select few will quietly bow out, while one or two might disagree, and ask they not say any more bad things. I won't lie; I'm no saint, and I flounce A LOT, but I quietly move on and would never inform the author or speak publicly about it. Just because something is not my cup of tea, I could never imagine insulting the author or putting down the story just because I do not like it. I also would never wonder why anyone else would like it or why something I may not dig has thousands of reviews. "Do people actually like this?"
I'd never ask myself that, since I - personally - LOVE those off the wall, outlandish and original plots, which may be too bizarre for some people.
"One man's steaming pile of dog shit is another man's Mona Lisa." I think my mother said that, but I don't know who may have said the phrase before her.
Then there are those who argue: You write in a public forum. You put yourself out there, and so you should expect mixed reviews. If you can't take the heat, then get the fuck out the kitchen.
That's right, abso-fucking-lutely correct. We, authors, put our stories and ourselves out there. We write to entertain ourselves, because we have a story to tell, we write for fun.
Those mixed reviews? Well, they shouldn't make an author cry, second guess themselves, or make them feel like garbage, like they're being bullied. If people cannot take constructive criticism, then fanfiction is definitely not the correct place for them. But I wouldn't expect anyone to ACCEPT hate, just because . . .
Furthermore, how many of us truly know each other or our back stories or if . . . What if the next person you or whomever offends isn't mentally stable? We hear about it all the time on the news. Not too long ago, a ten year old took his life because he couldn't take being bullied anymore, on the internet and at school.
These flamers, these ignorant people who aim to hurt and unfairly make judgments for their own, sick amusement are just as bad as those real-life bullies at the local elementary, middle, and high school.
Trust me; all of this . . . this whole blog post, has been building and building inside me all fucking week, and I'm so sick of bitching about it. I'll post this, share my story, and then that's it. If it gets to be too much, I'll just quietly disappear.
All this bullying, flames, nasty comments and people . . . it’s getting to me.
Does it make me ignorant for hating HATE? Yeah, it probably does, and it probably makes me wrong that certain actions elicit anger, which makes me come back and respond to crap - crap that I should let roll off my back.
But this bullying---the hate--has to stop. I/we can't control the world. Reacting to hate and insults with more insults doesn't make it right. I always try to keep that in mind, but it's hard.
Maybe we could try, as a fandom. Maybe we can stop the negativity, these flames and the hurtful words.
We have to start somewhere, right? I'm reaching out to you, my people, the Twi-Fic Fandom, who I consider family. And as family, we have drama, but I'd be there for any one of you - fight for you - so I hope most of you will stand behind me in my thoughts and my views.
You don’t have to like my stories, that’s fine with me, but please take my words to heart.
I went from constructive criticism, to harmful and hurtful flames—which is cyber-bullying no matter how you sugar coat it—and then to a RL/personal story. But . . . anyone who knows me knows I'm a wordy whore. I have so many thoughts, they all just run together.
Regardless, I hope you all got the message.
My last thought is a good one. I have met so many wonderful people through Facebook, Twitter, and fanfiction in general. I truly cherish many—whom I should and could call soul mates, as they understand me a lot better than my own family. I have made best friends for life in SO many people. It’s not all bad—the experiences. Like I said earlier, for every few people who dislike you, you have more people who love you—who make IT ALL worth it in the end.
She didn’t write it, but a wise person once told me, "People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel." -Maya Angelou