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Advice for Aspiring Critics


+Chaos Blade+

// Redone and Revamped \\
// A Fanfiction Critique Guide by +Chaos Blade+ \\

Hi, everyone, I'm +Chaos Blade+

Audience: "Hi, Chaos Blade!"

I also go by many other names, like Selestius, Dragonfire, BE, and PMD, but you can call me Denny, okay?

Audience: Okay...HI DENNY!

All right, let's get settled. This "Authors' Helpline" is yet another way to help out the newbies of the forum. This can also help authors find which person scrutinizes every detail or just agrees with whatever they say.

Without further ado, here is the rewritten "Advice for Aspiring Critics".


Part I ~ Critique and You
Part II ~ The Good
Part III ~ The Bad
Part IV ~ The Ugly
Part V ~ "What Have You Learned?"/Conclusion


The average amount of members registered a day is about 100. Fifteen of those 100 want to become authors, and 50 new members often post in the Fan Fiction forum.

The average amount of reviews a fic gets per day is around twelve. Sadly, over half of those reviews are, "Likez OMG!111!!1!!!!111! This fic liek pwns over you! ;251;,net Rulez!!!11!! 100/10!1!!!" or something around the sort.

Others are half intelligent, yet there isn't good grammar, most of it letters representing words, or all-lowercase letters. An example would be, "this fic is going strong. i like the way u use the good descripshuns of pokemon in ur fics."

It's a bit under par. It's not too elaborate. Most reviews by, examples are, Evanarios, myself, Serpent Syra, Scrap, Breezy, Chibi, Burnt Flower, Renegade (especially Renegade), all use contructive, if not supportive, criticism to try to bring the author's fic prowess up.

In order to do that you need to know this commonly used phrase, "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly..."


The Good. What is "The Good"? What's it mean? Well, it means a 'good review'. What this segment is about is showing people the decent version of a review.

Most reviews need to consist of the elements that can help authors achieve their true potential: Construtive Criticism, Strict Ruling, and a Decent Judgment System. Using tons of smilies with chatspeak over and over won't help any author gain anything, except a ton of load time (if they have Dial-Up, which all newbies should take into consideration).

A good review is one that can help an author achieve. Yes, you may think it is mean, but it is actually being nice. Not helping anyone at all won't help you, nor will it help the author of the fic you are reviewing.

The key necessities to a clean, good review are:

1.) Organization - Organize your thoughts. Use little to none "btw"'s at anytime during your review.

2.) Judgment - Use a well-thought-out Reviewing System. One that finds all elements within a fic: Characters, Plotline, Description, Length, and any other aspects that you feel are important.

3.) Respect - If you think the fic is bad, don't say "OMG, this FIC SUX!" No, that's not right. All authors have potential. State to the authors why their fic was 'bad', use links to 'Advice for Aspiring Authors' and other Fanfiction "Helplines".


Inserting tons of smilies is a bad thing. Inserting Chatspeak is not good. Improper use of grammar and many misspellings do not make do to a good review.

Using smilies in a review shows a lack of criticism capability. You need to show the author that you can find any little tidbit in the novel, one-shot, poem, whatever, that needs definite improvement. Typo? Point it out. All the more for the writer to be more perfect.

Improper grammar shows improper maturity when reading. Read the novel as if it were the last readible thing on earth. Read it over and over again, to find any mistakes in spellings, plot holes, character indifferences, anything that you can find to help the author grow in potential.

Basically, be meticulous about everything and scrutinize every last detail. Reading a book is like a crime scene. Trust me, when reading the novel Kindred by Octavia E. Butler, I found a typo. On page 196, the word 'surprise' is spelled 'surpirse'. Sure, a tiny typo, but hundreds of thousands of readers probably didn't notice it.


"LiEk, OmG, tHiS iS tHe BeSt FiC i HaVe EvrE RdEa! u R dA BEST! I Liek, toTalyl Tihnk that ;025; Is, LiEKk, T3H 00bEr CutEz! WaT aBoT u?"

Is that even a review or just a post to make you a Pokémon Champion? People, you need to get it together, and quick, because being on a forum isn't about looking cool and being popular by posts. Most of us had to earn our popularity through rigorous posting effort.

Effort is the key to everything: Fics, Posting, Forums, Websites, Life. This may sound cliché, but when reviewing, reading, or writing Fanfics, or getting a job, give 110 percent. Do whatever you can to aid those around you. And criticizing them to better improve themselves is one great way to help.

Without proper criticism, no one can improve in their writing. When people are really keen in their writing skills, the people should understand everything they wrote. If they don't understand anything, even just one word, state to them "I don't understand this. What's it mean?" You can't achieve anything without asking questions first.

That's how we became writers.
That's how you become critics.


So what have we learned? It's essential that you need to criticize everything, even if it hurts. To quote Renegade's sig: "Did I reply to your fic/RP? Did it get closed? Tough. Flame me for all I care." Being that she deleted that part of her sig, she stated that Flaming her won't make up for a crappy fic.

Next time, don't use smilies, focus on all aspects of a fic (Description, Length, Characters, and Plot, Other Aspects if neecessary), and read if it was the last readible thing on earth.

Good luck and [hopefully] good reviews.
Last edited by a moderator:


I dunno what happened to the old one, but this forum definetley needs one of these threads. Should be sticky-fied.


I like it but shouldn't this be in the Author's Cafe'
and don't they already have one, I don't know.

As always. Run Taylor Save That TREE!
Not trying to be contradictory here, but I do think that when dealing with an utter newbie, you should refrain from loading a ton of critcisms on them. For some, it's their first time around and finding a seemingly endless list of mistakes in their work can be devastating.

I'm not saying don't criticise where necessary, but I'd suggest doing it in stages - give them a little bit to tackle each time so they don't feel overwhelmed. With a manageable workload, encouragement and useful critiquing, newbie authors would probably feel much more positive about writing.

Also, writing can be an intensely personal expression. If people put too much of themselves out and get it riddled with identified mistakes, that's going to be disheartening to say the least.

Older, experienced authors might know that people are just speaking their minds and not to take it to heart, but as every experienced author should know, newbies want to be great and can be hurt and confused when it turns out they aren't yet.

Critique and criticise, but remember when dealing with newbies that they probably haven't developed a thick enough skin to deal with harsh words or enormous amounts of mistakes to correct. Go gently and keep at them. Little by little, that newbie can be coaxed into true authordom. ^^


+Chaos Blade+

True, Piney, but in this, it's not overload. It's just a guideline on how to avoid making not necessarily a bad review, but not a worthwhile one that can help the author. Saying, "OMG, this is the best" to a one-paragraphed chapter is not a review, per sé, but just giving support to a fic that'l just be closed.

Like I mentioned, give suggestions for improvements when criticizing on a fic. That's when a newbie can really shine - knowing their weaknesses, they can improve. That's how I was.

+Chaos Blade+


Just me
What I believe is that it doesn't really matter whether your review is positive or negative - as long as you state what makes it good or bad in your opinion and why it does, it will help in some way, if only to let the author realize what they're doing right (which, to be honest, is usually just as important as making them realize what they're doing wrong). Generally, all being mean, swearing, saying the fic is crappy or whatever will do is to convince the author that you hate them and are just doing this to be mean, which will simply make them less likely to take your advice. What many reviewers don't realize is that people need quite a bit of writing experience to be able to take reviews like that.

I recommend that when dealing with a flat-out newbie fic, start by criticizing spelling, grammar, punctuation and length only. Those are the very most important things that need to be fixed. Correct their spelling and grammar errors, explain the punctuation rules they're breaking (but ONLY if you are 100% positive that you know them yourself - you have no idea how many people I've seen "correcting" people's punctuation incorrectly) and explain the rules about length in the forums. Tell them to paragraph. If they then continue the fic and take your advice, then it's time to go more in depth. (Why waste fuel talking about all the rest when odds are they'll never continue anyway?)


Dungeon Master
What Piney is trying to say is try not to be harsh when critisizing a newbie. We're not all born as Tolken. Also, harshly criticizing a newbie not only makes them leery to post another FanFic, but it can actually drive them away from the Forum, altogether.

Also, don't lock it outright, unless the writer is being intentionally offensive. I remember having one of my first Fics locked awhile ago on another site, but they gave no reason for doing so. I tried asking about it and they told me to drop it. I've since never gone on that site.

+Chaos Blade+

I know that. This is section-by-section, so it kind of helps organize things a little, so it's not asking for things all at once. The most necessary thing is to state in reviews improvements and things to keep.

Saying, "OMG, this r0x0rz!" won't help the author at all.

+Chaos Blade+


One thing I like to do when reviewing a newbie is to intenionally forgo certain errors and focus on a few. By doing this, you can let other helpful people chime in with more information. By this way, people will either feel welcomed (more likely) or overwhelmed (doubtful occurance.) In this way, multiple opinions are garnered and newbs can feel more at home.

+Chaos Blade+

Exactly, Dilasc. But, 'tis not overwhelming. This is section-by-section, so it won't stress them out.

Okay, to popular demand of newbie reviewing, I shall add a new part to the "Helpline" ~ Reviewing Newbies' Fics.

Expect it up soon!

+Chaos Blade+

Blingin G said:
so basically a good review is a review which states their problem and helps it. a bad review is a review that only points out minor mistakes like a few grammar mistakes. and an ugly review is one that just says that it was good but not saying why it was good or stating anything bad


A good review is a review that states to the author what their strong and weak points are, what to improve on, and what to keep.

A bad review is one that points out the minor mistakes and doesn't offer help.

An ugly review is just pure crap.

+Chaos Blade+


Well-Known Member
Any truly good reviewer doesn't even need to read this. (S)he should be able to make a decent post with common sense. Look at me, I started out here as not too much but by watching others I became a pretty decent reviewer here. I won't pretend to be the best reviewer, but I get the job done. All that is required is common sense, but it's amazing how few people actually have that nowadays.

T.W. North

Kiss That!
Heh, this is good, except you might have over exxagerated (sp?) with the chat speak. Honestly, not even people who talk MSN in real life use that much. In fact, there's not to many reviews like that at all, which basically makes this null and void.

Gavin Luper

I disagree with the suggestion that it is "essential" to criticise everything. A review that is so intense that it picks up every single little detail not only becomes overly wordy but is also totally unnecessary. I believe a good reviewer comments on the things that they think relevant or interesting, and no more.

To me, the kind of reviews that are here described as "good" seem pretty much condescending and pedantic.

+Chaos Blade+

indigestible_wad said:
Any truly good reviewer doesn't even need to read this. (S)he should be able to make a decent post with common sense. Look at me, I started out here as not too much but by watching others I became a pretty decent reviewer here. I won't pretend to be the best reviewer, but I get the job done. All that is required is common sense, but it's amazing how few people actually have that nowadays.

This thread is for the Aspiring Critics - you know, the ones who just say: I loev this fic - 10/10! Or they just ask, "When is the next chapter coming up?" This thread is just to ensure that the critic does not screw up by just putting a numerical response. It's for them to criticize the important things in a fic.

Le Rayquaza Made Of Quartz

All those who said that hurling criticism harshly at a newbie like shotguns firing were right. I saw that Odin was devastated after he failed in his first fic. Dilasc, I'm looking at you.

Then look at what's happened to him now......


His sig is the result of that hard blow.

Again treat newbies nicely.


Lost but Seeking
What Dilasc gave Odin was a flame, not a critique, if the thread that I saw was the incident to which you were referring.

Regardless, while I agree that it's best to be gentler with obviously newer writers, it's something that people have to learn to accept. I have no sympathy for people who throw hissy fits over a bit of critique; if you expect everyone to tell you that your stuff is the most awesome work they've ever seen, you're in for a sorry moment of revelation when you go out into the "real world." And psychosis WTF?