Pokeauthors Special Spotlight: The Duality of Authors

Something interesting occurred in this batch: I gave two authors essentially the same review, yet the responses I received were quite different, and quite detailed. For those interested in how content of review correlates to author response, I draw your attention to this case study.


The first review was to “Null”, the high school AU with Hau and Gladion. This was the review:

You’re formatting dialogue incorrectly. Dialogue is written as [“Hello,” she said] or [“Hello!” she said], never [“Hello.” She said] or [“Hello”, she said] or [“Hello” she said]. This is because dialogue and speech tags are considered to be part of the same sentence, so they have to flow together. The only exception to this is if the next sentence doesn’t contain a speech verb. In that case, the second part IS considered a separate sentence, so it’s written as [“Hello.” She grinned], never [“Hello,” she grinned]. Note that something isn’t a speech verb just because it’s a sound you make with your mouth, so generally stuff like “laughed” or “giggled” is in the second category. (“Speak” is also not a speech verb.) Furthermore, if you’re breaking up two complete sentences it’s [“Hi,” she said. “This is it.”] not [“Hi,” she said, “this is it.”] or [“Hi,” she said “this is it.”] And if you’re breaking up a sentence in the middle, it’s [“Hi. This,” she said, “is it.”] The same punctuation and capitalization rules apply to thoughts, except you don’t use quotation marks (or single quotes) with thoughts. This is because quotation marks for thoughts make it look like your characters are talking out loud, which is confusing to the reader.

Hmmm. I find the idea of a highschool AU with these two difficult to grasp. So much of who they both are is due to the specific circumstances they grew up. (For instance, Gladion actually seems pretty chipper by the end when he no longer has anything to fear.) You could adapt a real-world analogue for them, but it’ll take some work.

This is also far too insubstantial for a first chapter. Remember that your first chapter is your opportunity to hook your reader – you don’t need to put all your cards on the table, but you need to have something to show. You need a bit more than a singe short scene this early on. See here for more information: fanfiction (d o t) net/topic/11834/142411850/1/First-Chapters

re: Your review to Null
18 DecCattlecall
A response to your review at https://www.fanfiction.net/r/12762742/

Thank you for your review and suggestions. Out of context your corrections would be more than valid, but in order to portray a character sometimes improper punctuation/grammar is excused, such as exclamation for Hau and abrupt endings for Gladion. (Ex. a.”Oh! My! God!” or b.”Oh. My. God.”) both of these are technically grammatically incorrect but they portray feeling and personality due to punctuation placed the way it is. The characters themselves are portrayed as such in the games. As it is a game for all ages, the personalities of characters may be amplified to make the game more fun and the characters personalities easier to understand for younger players, thus Hau and Gladion being so polar on either end of the spectrum. This is why I’ve written them in such a way.

If I have made any mistake otherwise, it was because my proofread wasn’t good enough. If you want to help, perhaps point out a specific point in which I’ve made a mistake rather than generalize.

And yes, I agree that it’s a bit of a tough situation to write them into simply because it’s not the setting they were made to be in. Keep in mind that it is still possible to have Gladion become chipper via story progression, hence the whole idea of writing a story in the first place. This is the first chapter, it’s not meant to give character development right away. That would be boring. I have kept their personalities as they were in the beginning of the games, as my story is written parallel to those. never did I say that they would stay that way forever.

I do think I’ve stayed true to the characters thus far. At most I’ve dulled their personalities slightly to create a more realistic feel for a High school AU. Realism is not a bad thing, especially because using it I can make the reader feel connections with and relate to the characters more than they would otherwise.

Regarding the shortness of the chapter and lack of substance, I agree it could use more, but this is how I’ve chosen to write it: as an introductory chapter. Often times long intros are more boring than short ones. Using the shortness and easygoingness of this chapter, I can introduce a plot point, a feel for the characters and how they feel about one another, and easily move on to my second chapter where I can introduce more characters and more story line. Having a short chapter such as this just gets the story going. It’s very common to see stories written by people who are still learning with long first chapters, introducing loads of characters and major plot points in just the first chapter which can be a lot to take on for a reader. It can also be really great, but as a beginner myself it’s not very realistic. There are other ways to write a story. This is not a real book, and I don’t intend to write is as such. I’m not here to write a novel, this is just a nice way for me to let some steam and creativity out through characters that I adore. Had I had more chapters than this when you chose to write your review, say, three or four, and still had no substance, I do think this would be a good point, though.

I think maybe as my review to you, the reviewer, I would say try to look into other styles of writing. Not everyone enjoys doing descriptive writing , not everyone enjoys simplistic writing, not everyone enjoys the style of commentary, but they are all styles that do exist and are enjoyed by other people. Thanks anyways :)

So right away we see we are off to a bad start. This response is extremely condescending and ignores the points I brought up in favor of bizarre non-sequitors. It’s clear they didn’t read the threads. I give them one more chance in case they’re genuinely confused…

secs ago[Out of context your corrections would be more than valid, but in order to portray a character sometimes improper punctuation/grammar is excused, such as exclamation for Hau and abrupt endings for Gladion. (Ex. a.”Oh! My! God!” or b.”Oh. My. God.”) both of these are technically grammatically incorrect but they portray feeling and personality due to punctuation placed the way it is.]

Okay, but that’s not what I was talking about.

You didn’t make this mistake because you didn’t proofread, you made it because you don’t know how to format dialogue. That’s fine, few people do, but it’s more helpful for you to read a detailed explanation of the general reviews than for me to go through point-by-point. If my paragraph was too dense, this thread is much clearer and more detailed: https://www.fanfiction.net/topic/11834/21887406/1/Writing-Guide-Part-One-Grammar

[The characters themselves are portrayed as such in the games.]

They really aren’t. Well, Hau, maybe, but Gladion has a pretty complicated personality and acts the way he does for very specific reasons. He acts aloof in the end, but he’s not a completely antisocial shut-in. He only behaves that way at first because he’s stressed to the limit and feels he can’t trust anyone; and even then, he tends towards avoidance rather than outright conflict. If you’re planning to give him a similar backstory that justifies that behavior this is all well and good, but if you want to write about someone who’s just inherently like that, that’s not Gladion. Consider trying this character dynamic out as original fiction, perhaps.

[Regarding the shortness of the chapter and lack of substance, I agree it could use more, but this is how I’ve chosen to write it: as an introductory chapter.]

And my point is that it was not effective at being one. Actually read the links I give you, please: https://www.fanfiction.net/topic/11834/142411850/1/First-Chapters

9h agoI don’t believe I can accept your corrections until I know exactly where i’ve used improper dialogue format. If you can’t be bothered to point this out, instead choosing to send me a link that I have to analyze, I can’t be bothered to fix it. If it pains you so much to read that you have to write criticism as you do, just tell me where I went wrong.

Also, you don’t know who I am or my process. I think using fallacy to justify your argument that my mistakes weren’t due to lack of proofread isn’t really a great way to help a writer fix any issues they may have with writing. Your criticism feels a bit more like an attack than anything (though you claim it isn’t). Perhaps this is why you get so much backlash.

And they really are. Hau, as you’ve agreed. Gladion? I believe so, yes. This is my opinion, though. I don’t own him and I didn’t invent the Pokemon universe. Neither did you, though, to be fair. I haven’t even fleshed out the characters. Why attack something that isn’t there to begin with? Is this something Gladion would really be thinking? Quite possibly.
We never see his actual thoughts, but the way his dialogue is written in game is similar in my opinion.
Did he confront Hau at all in my writing here..? Don’t believe so. They were thoughts, not dialogue. Meaning he did not actually speak any of his negative thoughts to Hau. He seems like a generally narcissistic character in the beginning, as I have written him. Besides the point, it doesn’t matter. It’s fiction and opinion. And, again, it’s literally the first chapter.

I hate to have to defend myself here as I’m not one to typically respond negatively to criticism. It just seems that the way you go about with it is fairly negative and unhelpful. I will reiterate again, don’t criticize how a character is written until you have enough proof to justify the criticism (aka probably more than one short chapter)

And that’s great. No need to be so blunt, it does more harm than good.
Try instead: This is a great start but it would be even better if you added __, __, and __.
But that’s too nice? But they actually did really bad and you really want to tell them so?
I can’t tell you how to live your life, but honestly the way to go is the example I provided. If you don’t want to sound pretentious, that is.

Don’t assume I didn’t read them
Stop assuming things, please. Voicing opinion is fine, but your opinions are definitely not fact.

I am completely open to criticism when
a. Everything said criticizer says isn’t a fallacy
and
b. it’s constructive, not blunt.

Take your false sense of authority elsewhere, please. It’s a fan fiction site, not an ode to George Orwell.

…And they do not take it. They kept talking to me for a while despite all that…

secs agoAll right, if you’re really that lazy I’ll play beta reader for you.

[“Want one?” Said Hau]

That’s a speech verb so it should be [said Hau].

[“God, no.” Gladion uttered]

Again, speech verb, so that should be [“God, no,” Gladion uttered].

[He gave a thoughtful look for a moment before shrugging “Anywhere’s okay with me.]

That needs a period after “shrugging”.

[“Fine. Whatever.” Gladion mumbled]

Again, speech verb. Should be [“Fine. Whatever,” Gladion mumbled.]

Wow, you made the exact same mistake the exact same way at every possible opportunity, almost like this is an endemic mistake and I was completely right. That took me less than five minutes. You absolutely could have found all of these errors if you had compared against my review or the thread I linked.

If all you’re interested in doing is ignoring peoples’ points and dismissing them with condescending non-arguments, don’t pretend otherwise and don’t waste their time with a response. It’s far more polite to just block people.

50m agoThank you. That was far more helpful. I’m not lazy. Why would you expect someone who made these mistakes themselves to be able to correct them?
In that case, maybe I am lazy because I don’t want to go through a long forum post, pull apart my entire story, and find the things i’ve mistaken, sorry. I would not have been able to find them easily. Stop assuming for Christ’s sake.
It would take someone who knows the mistakes already and how to correct them far less time.
Don’t act salty, you corrected it for me. You didn’t have to.

Why would I block you? That isn’t polite at all.
You’re kind of an ass but you’re not harassing me
That seems kind of steep. I can deal with someone’s shitty criticism without crying and blocking them. Not sure if that’s what you’re used to, but I don’t intend on blocking you. You only want that because then it means you’re right, and you are when it comes to grammatical errors in what? 3 spots? Okay.
Please, if it’s such a big deal, block me. Be the polite one.

I’m not ignoring your points, I’m saying their mistaken.
I’m not wasting your time, i’m wasting my own. Sorry you feel that way, but you didn’t have to respond back to me twice.

secs ago[In that case, maybe I am lazy because I don’t want to go through a long forum post, pull apart my entire story, and find the things i’ve mistaken, sorry.]

Yeah, you are. Editing, proofreading, and rewriting are necessary components of writing. Try it sometime and you’ll find it’s not nearly as onerous as you make it out to be.

Unless you want me to hound you every single time you keep making the same mistake, you need to learn on your own. This is not some arbitrary one-time thing, this is a system of rules you need to learn to apply yourself.

[Why would I block you? That isn’t polite at all.]

Oh, but completely ignoring all the evidence I’ve repeatedly provided so you can whine about how I’m not providing any evidence, that’s the height of propriety.

Blocking me doesn’t show you’re wrong, it shows you don’t want to talk to me, which is fine. It saves everyone’s time, especially a month down the line when I’ll have forgotten your name.

2h agoWow, no way. Nobody would have guessed that. I just decide when I wake up to throw words on a page and press submit. You got me. Never said it was onerous. Chill. My point is that this is my past time, I don’t have time to spend editing these tiny insignificant things when I have other homework and a job. Unlike you apparently? Do you spend all your free time posting reviews on fan fiction? For the most part, my spelling and grammar and punctuation is tolerable. It’s not so horrific that my story is unreadable like you make it out to be.

And I can. I don’t think you understand the process of learning. If you throw calculus at someone in geometry, they sure as hell won’t know what to do. I’m not saying the concept were talking about is as difficult specifically, but I don’t gave time to waste learning such an insignificant thing unless I want to be a writer with published books, which I don’t. There’s also such things as editors for this. Not all authors are good at grammar and punctuation, surprisingly. If you really want to be a good writer yourself, you need to learn to stop hounding people. Otherwise you’re about as enlightened as a brick.

You’re acting as though you’re some sort of higher being. You’ve got a superiority complex. Do you think I care if you forget my name? I didn’t even give it to you in the first place. I didn’t ask for your review, I didnt ask you to reply, I didn’t ask you for anything. You decided out of your free will to do these things. Stop acting like a victim and like it’s impolite for me to defend myself. No, that’s normal. Give it up already dude. Half the people who write fan fiction are around thirteen, they’re still developing and learning. Having harsh reviews doesn’t encourage them to get better, it makes them want to quit. I don’t want kids to quit writing because of some dick online being a grammar Nazi because that’s he only life he has; to roast thirteen year olds over something as arbitrary as fan fiction.

secs ago[I don’t have time to spend editing these tiny insignificant things when I have other homework and a job]

And the place where I said you had to do it right this instant is…?

[Do you think I care if you forget my name?]

No, but if I forget it, I’ll review you again by mistake and we’ll have to do this whole song and dance all over again.

And they still haven’t blocked me. Come back next month for the thrilling sequel, I guess.

So that went pretty badly. Let’s compare the response for my second review, of “Prisonnier Immortel”. Here it is for reference:

You’re formatting dialogue incorrectly. Dialogue is written as [“Hello,” she said] or [“Hello!” she said], never [“Hello.” She said] or [“Hello”, she said] or [“Hello” she said]. This is because dialogue and speech tags are considered to be part of the same sentence, so they have to flow together. The only exception to this is if the next sentence doesn’t contain a speech verb. In that case, the second part IS considered a separate sentence, so it’s written as [“Hello.” She grinned], never [“Hello,” she grinned]. Note that something isn’t a speech verb just because it’s a sound you make with your mouth, so generally stuff like “laughed” or “giggled” is in the second category. (“Speak” is also not a speech verb.) Furthermore, if you’re breaking up two complete sentences it’s [“Hi,” she said. “This is it.”] not [“Hi,” she said, “this is it.”] or [“Hi,” she said “this is it.”] And if you’re breaking up a sentence in the middle, it’s [“Hi. This,” she said, “is it.”] The same punctuation and capitalization rules apply to thoughts, except you don’t use quotation marks (or single quotes) with thoughts. This is because quotation marks for thoughts make it look like your characters are talking out loud, which is confusing to the reader.

You wouldn’t capitalize animal or mouse or dragon, so you shouldn’t capitalize words like pokemon or pikachu or charizard. The only time you should capitalize it is if you’re using it as the pokemon’s name, ie, Ash’s pikachu is called Pikachu. This is because you only capitalize when it’s a proper noun, which are the names of places or things. Similar reasoning should be applied to any other words you’re thinking of capitalizing, like telephone or trainer. Or professor. Before you message me about this, please look at fanfiction (d o t) net/topic/11834/55376155/1/Capitalization-Thread to make sure your argument hasn’t already been addressed.

This is too insubstantial for a first chapter. Remember that your first chapter is your opportunity to hook your reader – you don’t need to put all your cards on the table, but you need to have something to show. There are dozens of fics with similar premises; all this chapter does is confirm the genre, not what you’re going to do with it. Start where your plot starts; you’re not obligated to cover every mundane detail leading up to the inciting event. See here for more information: fanfiction (d o t) net/topic/11834/142411850/1/First-Chapters

So almost exactly the same; even worse, by most peoples’ standards, as it’s 100% copypasta and includes the hated capitalization paragraph. This is what I got:

Review
19 DecOtorisosa-kan
I’ll be honest here, grammar isn’t my main concern when I’m writing on this site, especially the whole debate about capitalising with Pokemon/pokemon. I’m also getting a lot of mixed messages about how I should do dialogue too and will disregard that portion too.
I appreciate your help, especially the part about the hook, but I don’t care very much about this, it’s just for fun and pigs will fly before it’s published into a novel or the like.
secs agoIf you don’t want to do it for yourself, will you at least consider doing it for your readers? Grammar doesn’t exist for no reason. The reason I care so much about the dialogue rules is because they make stories much easier to read and understand.
7m agoWell, not all readers care about grammar. Especially on amateur websites like these. Also, correct me if I’m wrong but I think I am doing dialogue correctly because my speech tags are separate sentences.
If not please clear my confusion.
secs agoNot all, no, but many.

Speech tags are actually *not* supposed to be separate sentences, as I explain in the review. As a rule of thumb, you should be able to remove quotation marks and still have it make sense. If my explanation is too dense, this thread has a better one: https://www.fanfiction.net/topic/11834/21887406/1/Writing-Guide-Part-One-Grammar

3m agoIf I promise to make more of an effort on correcting my dialogue and capitalising, will you avoid cluttering my reviews with these grammar points? I had that problem with Farla, she always did it with every Pokemon story I did like eight years ago.
Also clarifying, I am using professor as a title, hence why it’s capitalised and I’m calling the main character’s Pokemon as their species, so Delphox is the delphox’s name.
Anything else I’ll try to change.
secs ago[so Delphox is the delphox’s name.]

Mmh, I’m not really a fan of that. It’s so uncreative, and makes it impossible to feature multiple pokemon of the same species. I know we all do this when we play the games, but it adds more depth to the world if trainers name their pokemon.

[I had that problem with Farla, she always did it with every Pokemon story I did like eight years ago.]

Do you understand why Farla did that?

17m agoI always nickname my Pokemon in the games but this is for the sake of clarifying the trainer’s team.
Well yes, eight years ago I was thirteen and not really up to listening to someone who would copy and paste over and over. Her approach to correcting me wasn’t helping me.
secs agoShe wasn’t just doing it for you, though. The reason Farla insists on public reviews is because it opens a public forum for these things, and increases the possibility that other people will see the review and be exposed to it. I feel similarly, which is why I err on the side of overspecifying things.

I’ll try to remember your name and not repeat messages I’ve already given you (but I can’t promise I will). However, you shouldn’t be troubled by grammatical reviews. If it’s just a simple typo I’ll be very specific about where it is and how to fix it, and if it’s a general error, I’ll accept that you need time to learn the rule. It may seem like clutter, but I believe they are useful for people, and they’re easily ignored if you so wish.

8m agoI’m troubled by having the same review over and over on my work. Especially since I don’t get a lot of reviews to begin with, but then again it’s like you said: I am not very good at hooking a reader.
This is where I come to write for fun, not necessarily to improve on grammar. I’m looking for feedback about how I deliver my story.
I’m trying not making a big deal out of this, I’m just a little sick and tired and have trouble expressing myself. I’m just glad this isn’t like Wattpad.
secs ago[This is where I come to write for fun, not necessarily to improve on grammar. I’m looking for feedback about how I deliver my story.]

Unfortunately, those two things are kind of linked. Grammar is like the foundation of a building; it’s a prerequisite before anything else. The best story in the world is inevitably going to be tarnished if I have to stop every paragraph to figure out who’s talking or what a scrambled sentence is supposed to mean. I really don’t think grammar is that hard to learn, it just takes a bit of practice. If you make the effort you’ll improve over time and won’t get people correcting you anymore.

5m agoThere’ll always be someone correcting me.
I get that but frankly there are worse cases around. I’m sorry if I’m coming across as a spoilt, whiny child.
secs agoHahaha, believe me when I say I know whiny, spoiled children and you’re not coming across like that. The best I can say is to ignore the haters. If you have confidence that you’re right and you’re content with what you’ve done, you don’t need to respond or justify yourself.
3m agoI’m not saying I am right, just that I believe my target audience are only reading for the angsty feel that may or may not appear in future chapters. I don’t think grammar is the first thing that’ll come into their heads.
I appreciate the help, I guess seeing Farla’s post sent my shields flying up.

What particularly impressed me here is that this wasn’t even someone who was on my side. They dislike Farla and her methods, and outright say their desires are at odds with my own. Yet this still didn’t descend into the same shouting match, because they were willing to talk to me in good faith.

Same review but for one paragraph, and the crux of the argument was over something that was the same in both; wildly different outcomes. The difference was in how much the author was willing to engage with me, not in my words.

2 Comments

  1. Cigi says:
    If you can’t be bothered to point this out, instead choosing to send me a link that I have to analyze, I can’t be bothered to fix it.

    My goodness. Were people always this entitled? “Tell me exactly what to do, I can’t be bothered to read the guide you made” is an incredibly disrespectful attitude to take.

    It’s interesting how the second author was willing to admit to making mistakes but the first author wasn’t. Both of them claimed fanfiction is only a hobby for them, but the first author got immediately defensive; there seem to be higher emotional stakes to their receiving of criticism. I also find it interesting how they keep insisting ‘bluntness’ is a bad thing, especially considering the passive-aggressive tone of their first response. Is “you didn’t formulate your review in a tone I approve of, therefore your points are invalid and you’re totally wrong” a very common response?

    (Incidentally, it’s non sequitur, not non sequitor. Sequitor is technically correct, but in the future imperative; you want the present indicative sequitur.)




    1
    1. Farla says:

      It really means, “It threatens my self-image if there are mistakes, so I’m too upset to look.” You’ll notice it’s the one putting effort into their PMs who says it. If you care about how you present yourself, it’s embarassing to be told you screwed up repeatedly, so people’s first reaction is usually denial of one type or another. It isn’t there, and if it is there it’s not a mistake, and if it is a mistake it’s because they didn’t bother because nobody cares and not because they actually made a mistake.

      On the brighter side, usually this is a knee-jerk reaction and they’ll fix it after they calm down, and once they don’t think anyone’s looking to see them admitting they were wrong. 




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