mannahpierce

Commentary that can ruin a story - a reader's plea

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I was just reading a story on this site - no point saying which one because it applies to many. We get a chunk of the writer chatting about the story, then the chapter, then another chunk apologising for the writer's shortcomings.

It detracts. If the end of the chapter is particularly good, it can ruin it.

Maybe it is just me. I am the person who never wants to watch the programmes about how films were made. I leave the DVD explaining all the ins and outs in the box. I want to lose myself in the story, not have it explained to me.

So my plea is this. If you as an author cannot resist writing about the chapter, separate the commentary from the body of the chapter. The site allows you to put in a horizontal line. Please use that or something similar.

Give people like me a chance to know when to start and, more importantly, to stop reading.

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I agree that the commentary can completely kill the piece. The worst part is when they write disparaging remarks about something that was actually very well done.

The 'apologies' for their writing actually serve to do two things to me:

1) Ruin the story.

2) Make me think that they don't actually want concrit, they just want praise of how well they are doing - the "don't sell yourself short" reviews.

It's almost as good as review whoring at getting me to click the little red X on my browser.

Like you said though, the commentary on DVD is on a separate disk, or accessible thru a separate menu. So, for those authors that are compelled, I would recommend actually making a thread in the forums, putting the hyperlink at the top of the story with something like "Commentary on this chapter can be found here: [ url ]" and then the <hr> to separate the text. Or putting it at the bottom of the chapter is even better.

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Meh, I can't relate, because I'm exactly the kind of person who does that. I'm always glad to see some humility in a writer, even if it's fake and just fishing for praise. Because see, most of us suck. It's nothing personal, it's just Sturgeon's Law. However, a great deal many of us are convinced that they are amazing, decent or just don't want to acknowledge there might be something negative with the story. And that's kind of silly. Because of Sturgeon's Law, odds are your writing sucks. Odds are *my* writing sucks. We can't all be the lucky 10%.

So it's nice when an author displays sufficient self-awareness as to realise that their writing is probably crap. Of course, if they don't really believe it, it's just a waste of everyone's time, but to me, self-deprecation instantly makes me like an author (and their works) a little more.

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Well, there's honest self deprecation, and there's the rather obvious fishing for compliments sort of self deprecation. I'm not inclined to indulge the latter, because they'll only treat honest concrit as a flame and flounce off, and the former is rarer than Sturgeon's 10%.

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Well, I think that a lot of the people who react poorly to concrit and yet admit there are problems with their writing is because concrit reminds them of their failures and they react negatively to it. Is it immature? Of course. But I have to say, it's pretty damn hard to swallow your pride and take concrit when all you want to do is yell "I know! I know it's horrible! Don't rub it in!". LOL. It takes so much maturity and conscious effort I can't find it in me to condemn people who fail to do it.

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I agree it's hard to swallow your pride and take concrit. But if you want to improve as a writer, you need to be able to put your emotions to the side and analyze your work more objectively than that. Needing to improve does not make you a failure. Allowing concrit to turn you away from even trying is failure, because you've let yourself become defined by what you are (a writer) as opposed to WHO you are.

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I have to say this: It works.

Seeing as I haven't read anything here (well, I have, but not as much as I probably should), I draw upon a lot of the writings on FF.net. And it was a very common tactic. Most of the time, they were correct in assuming that they weren't the best, (but wait, shouldn't that be everyone on a FF site anyways? Granted, a few people here are published, but the majority are not) but they got the reviews they looked for because of such tactics.

Now, I always wrote something at the end. Mostly, if i made some strange reference, I'd explain it briefly. (Mandatory input of how I believe it's acceptable, even though I use it and am biased).

But, it's like Twilight to me: A lot of people dislike it, but the writer (Mrs. Meyers) can laugh all the way to the bank as she got a lot of money. (Money being an equivalent to reviews on a much different level)

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I view author's notes with a jaundiced eye. I want to read a story that will hopefully pull me in and hold my attention. Author's notes are jarring and drop me back into reality with a resounding thud. It's unpleasant and mostly unwarranted, because if you need to explain to your readers what you're doing in a chapter, either you are not writing clearly or your readers are potted plants.

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I was reading something on the Pit just the other day that had Wall-of-text then (so-and-so's thoughts) and also (bits like this) in the middle that were authors notes.. It really broke the flow of the story, not that there was much of a flow to begin with though..

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I typically keep my Authoress Note at the top and keep them a couple lines, but it's generally to give warning about something.

Such as situation or scene that might offend. I like to keep things simple. Very rarely do I include anything at the end and if I do, it's a small note about the ending in general.

Now, the giant blocks of text I can do without. Especially when the writer inserts themselves into the story text via brackets or parentheses. It's not so much irritating as it is distracting and offputting. That and I've come acorss stories where the formatting in thees irrelevent texts are better than the actual story. How does that even HAPPEN... ._.

Edited by Soifon

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Now, the giant blocks of text I can do without. Especially when the writer inserts themselves into the story text via brackets or parentheses. It's not so much irritating as it is distracting and offputting. That and I've come acorss stories where the formatting in thees irrelevent texts are better than the actual story. How does that even HAPPEN... ._.

Trollfic. ;)

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I understand the need for author notes, but I have to agree that coming across them in the middle of the story is jarring. I want to read the story without seeing the author's thoughts, notes, apologies or attempts at humor, scattered through out it. Its like you are running along, when suddenly, a wall comes out of nowhere and knocks you off the path. If the author feels the need to clarify a point or to explain something, do it separately. I have lost track of the number of stories I have stopped reading, because of those notes plastered in the body of the story.

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There was actually a review I left over on FFN once:

"Please leave your beta's (parenthetical) comments out of your posting. Thank you."

You're right - it's somewhat akin to those TV chase scenes on horses - "Branch!" and the rider wonders "what the hell?!" and WHAM! he's off his horse and in the dirt.

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Yeah, I've seen author's notes in published books explaining the background of the author when they wrote the novel. At some point, enough is enough. I just want to get to the story and not have to read a whole life story on the author, but that's just me.

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