The Lovesickness of Frey
The Lovesickness of Frey, by W.G. Collingwood

Come on, you’ve been reading giantess porn for years, maybe decades. How often have you given feedback to your favorite authors? I don’t mean bumping into them in live chat and shyly saying “hi” and that’s it. I mean posting a quick note on their blog, or whatever story-storage forum they’re using (GiantessWorld, Giantess Love, &c.) and expressing what you thought of their story, thanking them for the effort.

Many of you are good at this, I know. Some of you are very supportive of your favorite authors. But some people—let’s be frank—feel that, along with their online anonymity, they are entitled to someone else’s craft, training, and labor for free. I’m not saying that you necessarily have to throw money at someone every time you read their work, but there is a reader responsibility to acknowledge these writers. If for no other reason, you do this to cheer them up, encourage them to produce more work. Doesn’t that sound obvious?

I’ve brought this up before, and the most common response I’ve heard is, “I’m not a professional book reviewer. I don’t know what to say.” Well, that excuse is having its plug pulled, because I’m going to give  you a few ideas on how to support the authors whose work you enjoy so well (and how to offer constructive criticism when their work sucks but you don’t want them to end their career).

To start with, I’m not going to get very deep in this. I think if I attempt to train people on how to offer critical analysis on literature, they’ll stop reading and also never offer feedback. But this feedback doesn’t require a lot of effort. It can be as simple as “hey, I love your work”, because something is always better than nothing.

Say you liked it. That’s fine, really. Just pipe up and say you enjoyed their story. You don’t have to say how it changed your life or you’re gonna go out and do the same thing. (If you’re reading Vore, Cruel, or Ageplay stuff, you definitely don’t want to do that.) It still means a lot to writer to put something online, come back a day later, and see that someone bothered to read their work and say something nice. (If you’re on GW, please figure out how the star-dropdown menu works.)

What was your favorite part? Mention a favorite line you read, or talk about a scene that really compelled you. Read the story, walk away for a week, then talk about what you still remember, what sticks out in your imagination. Sometimes these can lead to questions or discussions with the writer (“I loved how he stormed the castle, but why did he eat that baby?”), and either you’ll learn something new or the writer will stop and think about your question and possibly grow by it. A good writer is always developing their craft.

Make references. If something in this story made you think of something else you’ve read, bring it up. There’s a slight chance your writer is ripping someone else off, maybe, but I think many times the writer will either be flattered by the comparison or pleasantly surprised and will seek that other work out. Who knows? I don’t.

Question everything. Pretend you’re a precocious child who needs to understand everything. How’d they pick that title? Are the characters inspired by anyone? How much study did they have to do for this tale? Has the author actually visited the place they set the story in? Are they really into everything they wrote about? Was this inspired by anything that happened in real life? Does the author actually hate women? (Cite your reason for asking that last one.)

Now for the constructive criticism—emphasis on constructive. You won’t make any friends if you come right out calling someone a big dumb idiot, a talentless hack, or worse than that. That doesn’t help the writer improve, and it definitely doesn’t produce more of the free stuff you feel entitled to.

But sometimes, yeah, a story’s really in trouble and you feel compelled to pick out a glaring error. Unfortunately, many writers aren’t disciplined in the art of hearing criticism: they interpret it as a personal attack or judgment. The fact is, you can’t know something until you know it, so if you walk around making an error based on a misunderstanding, you’ll likely never correct yourself. Someone else has to point it out to you, and the correct response… is gratitude.

Still. Be prepared for a fight if you’re trying to help someone out like this, because it’s a hard pill to take. They spent an awful lot of time on their story (probably?), and it’s a labor of love when posting it for free, and now someone’s telling them it’s flawed. Maybe they know they’re a terrible speller, and they don’t let it stop them from creating but it’s still a button for them. Or maybe someone’s learning English and is trying to practice their new language. There are ways to help people along without making them resent you (usually?).

The sandwich. This is a corporate tactic for breaking bad news. You layer the criticism between two slices of compliments. “Super great story, totally into it! That’s not how you spell ‘vagina.’ But keep up the good work, look forward to seeing more!” It helps take the edge off, maybe.

The trusted friend. Pretend the author is someone you like, someone whose feelings you’re trying to protect. How would you break that news to them? “I know you worked really hard on this, and thank you for it, but I just wanted to point out…” Or something like: “In Chapter 12 you mention she revved her ship up to ramming speed. Is that what you meant to say? I only bring this up because, in outer space…” Don’t take a tone of superiority, and don’t make anyone feel bad about what they don’t know.

Priorities. Is it super-important to make this point? Does the author seem like they’re struggling to produce more work, out of time constraints or depression? Does it just annoy you, or is this an ongoing problem that’s bringing their oeuvre down? If you personally believe in serial commas but the writer doesn’t, that’s your hangup. The story is structurally sound as-is. However, if the writer uses them sometimes but not others… well, maybe…

A rule to live by: People have expanded this rule to five or seven points, but when I first heard it, it was only three. When you’ve got to break bad news to someone, ask yourself three questions: is it kind? is it necessary? is it true? If you can honestly answer “yes” to any two of those, say it.

When should you shut up?

  • When the matter is a personal peeve of yours. Unless you commissioned this writer, your personal tastes don’t carry a lot of weight. You’re receiving a gift and complaining that it wasn’t in the shade of blue you prefer. Who’s gonna wanna give you another gift after that?
  • Informing the writer you don’t care about the topic. Don’t complain to her, complain to the guy who held the gun to your head and forced you to read it against your will. And call the authorities.

Speculative fiction author within size fantasy, artist, musician.

8 Comment on “Review Your Writers!

  1. Pingback: Review Your Writers! – El Amante Menguante

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