Writers Reading Writers as Readers

6 years ago | Tartra (Member)

This has been bothering me, and I know there will absolutely not be a right/wrong answer, so I'm gunning for a general consensus with this topic. Tell me how you handle this:

I've broken 'readers' and 'writers' into two categories when it comes to talking to them about what I've written that they've read or what I've read that they've written. A reader gives friendly praises, gushes, flames, rants, asks questions, gets excited, says they're quitting the series forever... but they're very fan-based and fluffy. They're the feel-good or knee-jerk comments you get from people who just want to share that they liked what you're doing or that they hate it and they're done reading. A writer filling the same role goes in with a red pen, giving short critiques of what could be changed, how well you're doing, how well things flows - essentially, a writer acts as a semi-beta reader.

What I'm basing this on is the comments I see from WFG authors on other WFG listings. Those who have their own work are there giving constructive criticism. Those who don't are typically just saying what they like or hope will happen and moving on. Every time I go through one of the WFG stories myself, I'm jumping into the 'reader' role, and it makes me think I'm being useless because of other comments fully detailing where things can be improved. I like to be specific when I say what I do or don't like, but that's as far as I go.

My question is, do you - as a WFG writer - expect other WFG writers to come in with advice and do a critique-on-the-fly, or do you expect less detailed (but possibly just as long) comments of people just wanting to talk about how much they like or don't like things but not actually giving advice? Do you expect something but prefer another? Do you want someone like me actively giving advice or hanging back until it's asked for? How do I support you people?!

The Other Kind of Roommate — Like Fight Club meets X-Men meets The Matrix meets Superbad.

Read responses...


  1. Tartra (Member)

    Posted 6 years ago

    Or - or - do you sort of want to skip the comments altogether and just get a review going? What's the priority here?

    The Other Kind of Roommate — Like Fight Club meets X-Men meets The Matrix meets Superbad.
  2. Unillustrated (Member)

    Posted 6 years ago

    Honestly, it's all beneficial. Seeing a short, 'Just found your story and I love it!' comment may not be useful, but it does feel great and makes a wonderful motivator. All the nit picky little 'you left out a word on this sentence' statements are obviously useful but they also feel almost as good as the others. No one bothers with that sort of thing if the story bores them. The best comments (some of which are from writers, some from very invested readers) combine aspects of both.

    As a bare minimum, any comment makes further comments more likely. There's little that helps a story so much as an active and engaged audience.

  3. G.S. Williams (Member)

    Posted 6 years ago

    Are you talking about how to contribute on a writer's site or here on WFG? Because here, analytical "writerly" reviews and emotive "readerly" reviews are both good for different reasons - structural support and emotional support.

    Comments on sites are basically the same categories but shorter, but equally welcome because they accumulate over time on chapters.

    The perfect situation, for me, came about on NMAI when I had invested readers trying to make predictions, and writers were visiting and joining in on the discussions about symbols, sources, allegories and plot the same as the readers.

    I have a deep online affection for Jim Zoetewey, Sarah Suleski and Sonja Nitschke who all helped bring me to WFG, and Fiona Gregory is one of the best readers anyone could ever wish for. Their comments and reviews on my stuff always blew me away. Fiona seemed to have a knack for tracking down the sources I allude to, and a reader who can spot the little things like that is on the ball.

    Worm has an even more invested comment section, with recurring commenters that become known by their points of view. I'm pretty sure Psycho Gecko started writing because of how comments on Worm were received, which is a cool evolution to watch.

    Reader/writer participation is one of the best things we do. Any participation is welcome because it adds to the party.

  4. Unillustrated (Member)

    Posted 6 years ago

    PG is probably the best known example but I can think of quite a few others who did the same thing. I haven't read WDIR but you can definitely see the influences on tone and characterization in the others' work. Acediamonds, yinyangorwuji and underwhelming force off the top of my head. I'm sure there's more and I'd be willing to bet that plenty of other serials have had a similar effect.

  5. Alexander.Hollins (Member)

    Posted 6 years ago

    Definitely, and you will see the same approach in ANY business. Talking video games, the fan will talk about the awesome thing that happened, this piece of story, that bitchin weapon. The game creator will talk about the innovation and way a new mechanic was used, the ability to get around coding limitations, and bugs that are clearly from sloppy coding.

    I try to do both. I like to gush, and I like to give criticism. But yes, I see the same trend. When leaving reviews, i try to think like a reader. when leaving comments on the chapter, or talking here in the WFG forum, i put my writer hat on.

  6. ubersoft (Member)

    Posted 6 years ago

    When I talk about something I like to approach it as a reader, not a writer. I might stray into "writer" a little, but I'm a lot more interested and invested in whether I enjoyed the story, than I am on the mechanics behind it. If the mechanics seriously mess things up for me I'll discuss it, but for the most part I like to focus on what I liked about the story, what pieces caught my attention, how I experienced it overall. When I'm reading, I'm engaging in recreational activity, I don't like pulling work into it. :)

    Curveball (Updating)
    A Rake by Starlight (Updating)
  7. Madiha N. Santana (Member)

    Posted 6 years ago

    I used to be really bad about giving pretentious over-writery advice, and I would do it in really mean or impersonal ways. Nowadays I try to give more down-to-earth advice, or if I'm going to talk raw structural stuff (which I often don't) I just try to make it clear it's my perspective and that there's more than one way to build a house. In a way, I don't want to superimpose the way that I write over the way others do. I don't believe that writing or reading can be wholly objective, and I try not to sound like an authority.

  8. Psycho Gecko (Member)

    Posted 6 years ago

    Well, some of my comments were more expanding on why I liked this or that, others were entertainment, ajd others just kinda explored things. If a work makes you want to say something, say it. A writer can get a bit unsure if nobody wants to comment.

  9. Tartra (Member)

    Posted 6 years ago

    I am really enjoying Alexander's way of thinking: be the reader I hope for in the comments, but the helpful writer I can be while in the forums. It sounds like any and all interactions are appreciated, which is what I figured, but since no one's screaming so far that ONLY THESE TYPES OF COMMENTS ARE DESIRED, I feel better about it.

    @Dennis - I've been on the verge of that a few times, but I always felt a little awkward doing it in a comment section. I mean... it's the comment section. It's visible to the public. I wouldn't scream at someone at a table that they've got spinach in their teeth, so even if it's a more roundabout way of doing, my idea was to email the writer or just wait for a quieter opportunity. :/ Then I started overthinking it and made this thread.

    The Other Kind of Roommate — Like Fight Club meets X-Men meets The Matrix meets Superbad.
  10. Nina Santucci (Member)

    Posted 6 years ago

    I agree, both kinds are helpful. It's the stuff from fellow writers that shows you how you can improve, but it is praise from readers and fans that keeps you going and writing at all.

    Fooled - Never underestimate the Jester!
  11. Tartra (Member)

    Posted 6 years ago

    @Nina - I've really been coming to terms with the opposite of that lately. I'm only up to nine parts of my story. It's too early to expect a legion of followers, so if anyone's praise is going to keep me going, it's mine. Fortunately, I'm my biggest fan! Hahahahah! Haha...! Ha...


    The Other Kind of Roommate — Like Fight Club meets X-Men meets The Matrix meets Superbad.


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