63

You can and should answer these prompts in your own style and voice. I do have my doubts and concerns about these kinds of tests, but if there is any legitimacy to the grading at all, it won't be based on you writing in the style and voice of the sample. (In other words, you're focusing in on the wrong aspects of the sample.) You should be able to ask for a ...


40

Ignore It. The anonymous person in question didn't understand the task. The objective is to criticize your writing, not to psychoanalyze you and recommend a therapy. It doesn't make a difference if your piece is dark, light, or gray, funny or somber. It makes no difference what sexual orientation you express, or political orientation, or anything else your ...


34

I'm fond of the following quote from Neil Gaiman: Remember: when people tell you something's wrong or doesn't work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong. You're the cook, they're the diner. If they don't like the taste of the omelet, you can't tell them ...


29

Depending on the forum you post your fanfiction you will get those comments no matter what you do. It's a sad fact, but there are many people out there who just want to make others feel miserable and growing a thick skin when posting on the internet is a skill that you might need. Other than that it depends on the specifics of your fanfiction. For example ...


28

As a frequent beta-reader, often for friends, I struggled with this question -- and I'm pretty happy with the answers I've figured out. Don't pronounce judgment; help the author level up It makes a lot of sense to tell an author, "Listen, I don't think this is ready for publication." Because, really, isn't that the most important thing? Well, it is, kind ...


23

Feedback is an enormously complex topic, for everyone, everywhere, in every role in life. Some people understand that it's complex. Others do not. Avoid feedback from people who think feedback is simple. Here are some (perhaps too many) of my thoughts. The Briefcase Method Charlie Seashore offers this technique: When someone gives feedback, put it in a ...


22

Assuming that by "non-readers" you mean "people who are not fans of the genre you write", they can be useful beta-readers. Here are some points for you to consider, in no particular order. Being used to certain genre conventions, you might no longer notice when those conventions have some inherent logical failure. For example, being used to D&D, you ...


21

First of all, as a simple metric, your use of the word 'that' is 50% higher than my own (I have 930 occurrences in 100K words.) I've tried to minimize 'that' in my writing. It's one of the words that can be pruned out in revisions without losing meaning (like the word 'just')--and as a side benefit the pacing of the writing is often better. And, as another ...


20

Without having seen your piece, of course, I can only speculate, but I wonder if what you were doing was the opposite of predictability: You signaled you were going straight, or right, when your goal was to go left. I disagree that every book has to be a safe, predictable "the same but different," as Mark's agent said. There's certainly a market for that, ...


20

First, let me say how wonderful it is to have a question from a reader, about helping a writer, for a change; we need more of these. I apologise in advance if any of my "do X" advice is something you've already thought of; I don't mean to patronise. I also apologise in advance if you think any of this advice is bad, in which case you can ignore it. (You ...


19

No matter how good your fanfiction is, no matter how good your fiction is, no matter how good anything you do is, there will be trolls using vile language to put you down. There's not much you can do about them except ignore them. That said, the question of what things to avoid like the plague when writing fanfic is a valid one. The Mary Sue is, I believe ...


18

I think posting a work in progress online for feedback is enormously dangerous. Not because people will steal it. They almost certainly won't. Not because those readers will refrain from buying the book when it's published. Those readers might refrain from buying it, but the number of people would would have bought your book otherwise is a vanishingly ...


17

Great question! A great difficulty here is that there's not really much in the way of "professional beta readers." Someone who's really known for giving excellent feedback, and offers that as a service, is pretty much an editor of some stripe. So aiming to become "well-known", "popular", or "respected" as a beta reader might not be in the cards (although ...


17

Say you wrote a piece that was about something wonderful that had happened to you. A piece that exuded happiness and contentment. Someone—probably the very same person you discuss in your question—is going to comment, "How can you be so happy all the time? What is wrong with you? Don't you know people are suffering in the world?" It's not critique vs ...


14

Ironically, you are basically asking another writer's group by posting here! In general, writing should be tight, and not repetitive. Using "unremarkable" four times in one paragraph might be warranted if the point is to use it for emphasis. But every place you can eliminate connective words like "that" or "the" you should; it makes the text easier to read, ...


13

Pro's: It gives you feedback. Any feedback can help you to improve your work, if you are able to filter it properly. It gives you exposure and generates hype for your work. It allows you to build an audience even before your work is finished. It prevents you from procrastinating. If you don't write anything for weeks, there will be a public record of your ...


13

Answer: To answer these sorts of prompts, particularly in the case where example answers trigger a negative response in you, I recommend the following. 1. Look for the structure of the 'perfect answer' and apply that structure to your writing. 2. Identify the specifics that you dislike, in this case that make a passage sound like fan fiction. The example ...


12

I agree with what others have pointed out: That your readers probably were confused because you either didn't set up reader's expectations well or you didn't set them up at all. Let's say you're writing a love story where A and B first hate each other, but then slowly fall in love with each other. The first half of the story contains lots of dialogue ...


12

Negative comments that are not backed by actual criticism of your story are just trolling and should be ignored. I know it's hard, but try to focus on the positive comments you're probably also getting. If you're still worried about the quality of your story, see if you can get a beta reader (possibly from the same fanfiction community) to catch the worst ...


11

I assume that we are talking about feedback that you are not obligated to follow, or that does not have consequences beyond "will this make the story better". I mean like, you show the story to your lawyer and he says, "If you publish these statements about Mr So-and-so, you could be sued for libel". Or you have a publisher lined up, and the publisher says ...


11

As a teacher, I never look at the examples given as 'correct answers' when we're talking about personal writing topics. Let me elaborate with two examples: a) Write an essay about Romeo and Juliet. Whatever you write, you must include specific content (characters, plot, etc) for you to get a good grade. No amount of excellent writing style will save you. The ...


10

You're essentially asking if it's possible for a human being to be unbiased. The answer is no, it's not. Even in the case of professional manuscript evaluators working for total strangers, there is no such thing as truly unbiased feedback. But there are ways of improving the situation. Background: "Beta reader" is an tern that just screams the words "...


10

This answer is specifically from my personal experience rather than objective reasoning. I think it very much depends on the actual person and their individual abilities rather than whether they read a lot or read at all in your genre. I avoid using friends and family as beta readers even though they read prolifically and in my genre. The reason is two-...


10

Go to a local university and speak with a writer in residence or a professor who is well-respected. Take creative writing courses and listen to the feedback. Join a writers group - but remember, being told that your work is far from perfect is the point. Poetry is such an intensely personal and universal form that you must just keep writing. Listen to ...


10

Both are useful. Someone who is genre-savvy will already know the rhythms and tropes of the genre, and can advise you about extra things to add, or say "This theme has fallen out of favor in the last two years," or point out "So-and-so did this already, so don't borrow too heavily." Someone who is not genre-savvy will be able to tell you what needs ...


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