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Rated: 13+ · Other · How-To/Advice · #1741395
Ever gotten a less-than-stellar review of a bitem? What's the best way to respond?
The other day, I sit down at a computer and come to WDC. I'm in the mood to review, but I have very little time to do so. For that reason, I pick something nice and short, with a big Auto-Award (3K GPs). The review ends up being 6,376 characters. Later, I check my email and find that the author has responded. Out of respect, the author's name, as well as the title of the manuscript reviewed, has been omitted.


Your comments were excellent. Your manner is bratty and snarky for someone who has never been published. But thank you for taking the time to go into such depth. I was amazed at how much I missed. I especially think you are right about cutting down on the appearences of the blur. On the next re-write I will have your review close at hand and welcome any further reviews on any future items I post.

I disagree with several things: I was dealing with sound when I said not a car swished down the street. That is the sound I hear when I hear a single car go by. Okay, in the rain, so I'll change it to a rainy night. Next, if you don't think a stoned/drunk person would say 'reveal yourself' then you need to get out more. The worse a stoner's condition is often the bigger reach they make with their vocabulary.

Fianlly, the blur was a metaphor about opportunity. I thought I gave major hints about it, beginning with the opening line. When Tommy keeps refusing to deal with the blur until it glares at him, or offers itself to him by shining, it shows he is hopeless. By finally asking the light what it wants, instead of going out there and doing something, he kills it off. This makes him very proud that he has killed the light that bothered him, when actually he was just strangling the last hope opportunity had of him ever doing anything with himself that isn't handed to him. He goes to bed ignorant of this fact and once again hoping that something good will happen to him.

It was my first try at writing in metaphor in fiction instead of song. I'm sure it and I will need a lot of work. Again, thanks for your time and review. You are very helpful and I'd like to be reviewed by you again sometime. I just hope if you review me again the voice I hear in my head as I read your words is not that of a whining five-year old telling his dad he wants to go to the mall.

While it's hardly the worst rebuttal I've ever gotten, it breaks enough rules to warrant a small list of what should/should not be done when responding to reviews.

*NoteR* *NoteV* *NoteW*

*Check*1. Insulting the reader, at any point, is a no-no.

All the positive things you say about the review are instantly negated when name-calling is brought into the picture. This is what the reader will remember down the line, when wondering whether or not to review a piece. The reader will remember: the last time I spoke with the author, s/he insulted me. Why would I want to do another review? Why would I even want to support him/her by reading the piece in the first place? All readers are potential fans. If you're unable to send an email to a reviewer without including an insult, it's better to send the reviewer nothing at all.

*CheckB*2. Judging the reader is condescending and narcissistic, and likely a turn-off to potential fans.

In the above example, the judgment comes in the second line:

Your manner is bratty and snarky for someone who has never been published

The fact of the matter is, most of your potential fans are unpublished. Regardless of whether or not the judgment is true, it probably applies to some (if not all) of your fanbase. A reader, no matter his or her circumstances, is a potential fan.

*CheckG*3. When it comes to the Internet, nobody is who you think they are.

There will come times when you're reviewed by someone who is bratty, snarky, and sounds like a whining five-year-old telling his dad he wants to go to the mall. Attacking this reviewer will prompt an inevitable fit--he or she will use the email to say "look at what this author did!" and contaminate future/present fans. He or she will slather WDC with negative comments about you and your work, and probably bestow 1-star reviews on every single bitem, contest, and forum you have. The mature WDCers will ignore the Brat, but the immature ones will buy into the Brat's game. Not only have you lost one fan, you've lost the fans that you might have had.

There will come times, however, when you're reviewed by people known as Wildcard Reviewers. These people are very intelligent, and thrive on chaos. Their influence usually extends far further than the bratty reviewer, and Wildcard Reviewers are often much better at damaging the author's reputation.

Everything an author writes is a reflection of the self, and Wildcard Reviewers are able to look into the work and see the author's personality--and his weaknesses. They will then insinuate a 'tone' into a review with the intention of provoking an attack from the author. Once the attack has been made, the Wildcard Reviewer uses the attack against the author in every possible manner.

Attacking Wildcard Reviewers is the worst possible action an author can take.

So how do we tell the difference between Brat Reviewers and Wildcard Reviewers? We can't, so we have to refrain from attacking either one of them. Even if the review gets your blood boiling, fills your stomach with butterflies, and has your fingers trembling in anticipation, resist the urge to attack. You never know who is going to come back and bite you in the butt.

*CheckR*4. The story should already be explained by the time it is reviewed.

This is kind of the 'odd man out' when it comes to these rules, but the above example provides a prime case of post-explanation. Having to explain something to the reader means there's something missing from the story. How often have you picked up a book by your favorite author, read a few short stories, and then proceeded to email him/her so they could explain the story to you? The best stories are able to stand on their own two feet, as the author leaves nothing to explanation, only imagination.

If you find yourself having to explain something to the reviewer, pay attention to what you say. The things you explain are the things that are missing from the story. Listen to what you have to say, and then ask yourself: how can I put this into the story?

*CheckV*5. Disagreeing with the review is destructive, not constructive.
The goal of reviews is for an author to get the reader's perspective on the story. If a reviewer picks up on something that makes doesn't make sense/sounds awkward/feels strange, then chances are, a lot of other people will too. The trouble about being an author is that you always know what you're talking about. The author's quest is to help the reader know what you're talking about.

Take the above example. At one point in the manuscript, cars were described as "swishing" by. I mentioned that cars usually drive, putter, move (verbs). The author then responds by making it rain.

So there's still a line in there about cars "swishing", there's still no reference to sound, and the line still makes no sense. The only difference is: now it's raining.

It is perfectly fine to disagree with the reviewer's opinion, but sometimes you have to come to a compromise. Accepting constructive criticism can be hard, especially when it comes to lines that you are particularly fond of. But when the line interferes with the story, it's time to change something about the line. The author above can do one of several things:

*PointRight* Omit 'swishing' altogether and replace it with a more appropriate verb (the cars puttering past; cars creeping past, etc)

*PointRight* Leave 'swishing' but give it an auditory indicator (the tires of cars swishing along the damp streets)

*PointRight* Get rid of the whole line and find a more articulate way to depict what he's trying to get across.

One way or another, it's important to realize that just because you wrote the story doesn't mean it's perfect. The reviewers on WDC are always supportive and trying to help one another; it's always exciting to see one of our authors get published. The key to this, however, is that you must

*Check*6. Allow the reviewers to help you.

*NoteB* *NoteG* *NoteO*

A lot of the problems above could have been avoided if the author had waited to publish the story (something else I called him on, which probably caused his hostility in the first place). It's exciting to finish a story, but publishing the first draft is a recipe for disaster. More on this subject can be found at

 On Request-Reviewing  (E)
When is the best time to ask for a review?
#1707912 by tcprescott
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