Urge Your Readers to Read and then Review
by Amanda Mamalio
For writers, fanfiction is free –you do it out of love. However, it can be very frustrating when fanfiction doesn’t love you back.
If you have an account in Fanfiction.net, there is a Traffic Stats link where it gives you the number of views and visitors you have for each fanfiction. So how come the number of visitors does not equal to the number of reviews or favorites left behind? Here are some of the reasons:
- They got bored with the story and clicked the back button.
- They got turned off from your story because of bad grammar and improper use of the English language.
- They don’t agree with the behavior or values displayed in your fanfiction.
- They may also not agree with how you had a character acted or with the plot.
- They enjoyed it but your fanfiction was not enough to move them.
- They just won’t review since they can’t think of anything worthwhile to say (and no, they’re not reviewing just to be mean).
If you read fanfiction as much as you write them, I am pretty sure you’re familiar with the reasons behind it. The problem is most readers won’t tell what you did wrong, leaving you in the dark. So how do you overcome these obstacles?
The primary aim of this article is not to get you many reviews. It’s to get you leads for informative reviews. The reason for these articles (see link https://creativitypunch.wordpress.com/2014/05/25/maximize-in-fanfic-writing/) is to get you helpful feedback that will help you improve your writing which you will someday use to write original works.
Remember, you’re using fanfiction writing as training and testing grounds. It must be one of your means to your end of creating your original works. A serious writer filters through the fluffy reviews and gets the helpful feedback.
“Content is the King” does not only apply to Blog Articles
This is the common advice to anyone who has written for a website. Always, always write good content –fanfiction writing included. All the methods to get informative reviews can be taught but they’re all for naught if readers would hurriedly hit the back button at the first lines of your fanfiction.
A Beta Reader is your Best Friend
If you’re not sure about your grammar skills, look for a Beta Reader. A Beta Reader improves your fanfiction by correcting grammar and spelling. They are also there to improve detail and description of your fanfiction.
Since you are writing fanfiction to learn to write your own original stories some day, request your Beta Reader to highlight the things he or she thinks you’ve done wrong. As a wee bit painful as it is to the pride, the prickle is worth the price to learn from your mistakes. Beta Readers are there to help so be open if they offer some ideas for your fanfiction.
If you have an account in Fanfiction.net, you can look for Beta Readers in https://www.fanfiction.net/betareaders/
Learn from Fanfics –Both Good and Bad
What were the fanfics that you have read over and over again? What are your favourite books and what genres do you gravitate to? There are so many fanfiction profiles out there with a hundred favourite fanfics that are well-written but their own stories are lacking.
Learn from your favourites. Study what elements in those fanfictions have won you over. Was it the sarcastic humour portrayed? Was it the natural conversation flow between characters? How did the writer wrote it? Even if the fanfiction was good, what was it that you wished the author paid more attention to?
Observe also from fanfictions that you think are badly written. What turned you off from the story? Why didn’t a fanfiction work for you even if the grammar is good and the writer stayed true to the characters? What made you not review?
Keep all of these in mind as you write down your fanfiction. Take notice of your portrayal of your story. Would you read and review it if someone else wrote it?
Leave an Impression to the Readers
If you want readers to leave a review, affect them. Stimulate their sense of morals, feelings for the characters and possibilities in that fandom. Even if they have read up to the end of your fanfiction but it did not leave an impression, then you have just wasted not only the reader’s time but also yours in making it. Here are some of the ways to avoid that in fanfiction writing.
- Make them feel something: a writer makes readers feel what they want readers to feel. A powerful storyteller makes the reader feel as if they are going through what the characters are going through. Affect them and there’s a high chance the readers will take it out on you in the review. That’s good –it means you’re becoming an effective storyteller. For more information about this, go to http://ookamikasumi.deviantart.com/art/Writing-Emotions-VISUALLY-152598786
- Prove your Point: when you’re in a fandom, everyone knows the same thing. But if you perceive something different about a character or the show, prove that you’re right through your fanfic. If you want others to see that the bratty antagonist is really a sweet soul hiding in a Godzilla suit, put him in a situation where he acts in-character but for the right reasons. The fans, considering themselves knowledgeable about the show or book, will put your fanfiction under scrutiny and reveal their thoughts in the review. Show, don’t tell as they say. To know more about showing and not telling, visit http://darlingmionette.deviantart.com/art/Writer-s-Tip-Show-don-t-tell-382678069
- Pose a Question worth Answering: in your summary, pose your story question that would pique a fan’s interest. It may be a “what if?” or something that fans haven’t thought about yet. Then answer the question through your fanfiction. At the end of the story, die-hard fans will be compelled to review if they agree or disagree with your answer.
- Create a Twist: you don’t have to surprisingly kill your noble characters in a wedding. But an unexpected touching act from a gruff character or a strong woman breaking down in private can move a reader. Surprise them in the end and they’ll share their reactions with a review.
Be your own Reader
After writing a chapter or a one-shot, one gets that excited urge to post it and see the reviews. Before you do that, be your own reader first. Leave your fanfic alone for three days. Be a stranger to it then go back and read it with a fresh pair of eyes. You’d be surprised to see that the first paragraph is too long or that the conversation in the gang seems off.
Let me emphasize, content is important. If you want readers to review your works, make sure it has good content.
The Author’s Notes: the Final Nudge
Once the reader has done reading, it’s time to look for another. They’d just give a glance at the Author’s Note found at the end of the fanfic –so keep it short and simple. The following are not very effective:
- R&R! No flames, please!
- REVIEW PLEASE (yes, some writers capslocked them pointedly)
- Your shoes will magically tie themselves when you click the review button (although I’ll score this one for humour and creativity)
- Read and review! I won’t be continuing this story unless I get 10 reviews! (not only is this annoying, it also gives an impression of the writer’s attitude)
Once you have affected the readers with the content of your fanfic, it’s time to give them one final push to review your fanfiction.
Politeness is a Policy
Internet has managed to link strangers together who have common interests. Think of your granny and how she always reminds you to remember your manners.
If you are going to include an initial Author’s Note, greet the readers and tell something interesting about your fanfic. Thank the readers at the end Author’s Note for taking the time to read you story and wishing them that they have enjoyed it. In both notes, don’t forget to remind them to leave a review.
Be yourself in the Author’s Notes but remember what your grandma used to say. People will also get the impression that you’re not a psycho in the internet.
Play with the After Emotion
Whatever is the effect left by your fanfiction, relate with one or two statements but don’t elaborate. This is just a subtle reminder to the reader that there’s a writer behind the fanfic and that he’s not alone in reading it.
Include any of these three:
a) Express the Benefits of Reviewing your Fanfiction.
Keep your Author’s Notes short since they’re more interested in the story. Just three lines at most. Even if they can’t see you smile, keep the tone of your words upbeat and accommodating. Benefits included can be:
- Answering questions
- Replying to each and every review
- Giving a preview for your next chapter.
Make the readers have a reason to review and read more.
b) Ask a specific question
Don’t ask a general question like “What do you think?” This causes people to make an effort of writing a review when they’re more interested in reading more fanfics.
Ask specific questions like:
- What’s your most favourite part of the story?
- What don’t you like the least?
- What was your first thought when (insert important story event here)?
Their minds would immediately zoom towards it and type it in the review. These are vital for you are testing what works in your own style of writing.
c) Be clear that you will accept constructive criticism
Everyone would rather avoid the psycho in the internet. Even if they’re halfway round the world, nobody wants to walk up to a pointless verbal war that happens to others. State that you’re open to helpful criticism and that you’re not going to bite off any heads off for pointing out that Sheldon isn’t going to open up that easily or something.
Example of an Initial Author’s Note:
- Hello, everyone! After Harry went off to face Voldemort, I have always wondered what happened between Ron and Hermione. This came up to my mind then. Don’t forget to read and review!
Example of an End Author’s Note:
- My heart would be broken too, if I were in Ron’s shoes. Thank you for reading (Insert Title here), I hope you enjoyed it. What was your favorite moment in the story? Constructive criticisms are also welcomed! P.S: Preview for the next chapter is given for every review.
The tips and advice mentioned above will just give you a higher chance of getting more reviews. However, that is not our aim. Our aim is to get you the informative reviews as feedback for better writing. After getting reviews and faves; comes the next article:
The 3 Types of People You will meet in Fanfiction and How to Get a Helpful Review from Each of Them
This article will introduce that not everything ends with a review. No matter the size of the community, you only need the right people to give you informative reviews.
If you have thoughts to add, I’ll be happy to hear them. If you have any questions, I’ll do my best to answer them. Try them and tell me your results.