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Interviewing the Reviewers

Discussion in 'The Authors' Café' started by Nerdy McNerdface, May 25, 2017.

  1. Hello, fellow fanfic browser! It is a delight for me to say that the Serebii fan fiction section is gonna have a new feature up...

    INTERVIEWING THE REVIEWERS!

    This new feature is a way to encourage reviewing fanfictions within this subforum. Here's how it's gonna work:

    1: At the end of each month, the user who reviews the most fics will go onto the reviewer leaderboards.
    2: That user will then be PMed by me, Ambyssin, or diamondpearl876 a couple of interview questions available for them to answer.
    3: When a reply is given, we may send a few more questions to lengthen the interview.
    4: After the interview is long enough, the answers will be displayed in this thread in all their glory.
    5: If the same user reaches the top of the leaderboard multiple months in a row, then another user who has posted a decent amount of reviews shall be selected for an interview.

    The questions will be varied, but we will ask things like:

    – What are the positives you look for in a fan fiction?
    – What are the negatives you look for in a fan fiction?
    – What is your favourite thing about reviewing?
    – What is your least favourite thing about reviewing?
    – Are there any fan fictions you want to give a shout out to that you really enjoyed?

    The Rules:

    1: Under no circumstances must you PM responses to questions without being sent an official PM with the questions listed.
    2: when answering interview questions, please bear in mind that:
    i) Swearing and stuff over PG-13 is not allowed.
    ii) The response will be available to everyone and so personal information that you would rather keep private is best not included in one of the questions.
    iii) The response should remain on topic.
    iiii) The response should not offend anyone.
    3: The reviews counted for this thread are NOT one liners and are in the Fan Fiction section and its subforums only, so the Shipping Fics subforum is not included.
    4: If you do not wish to be interviewed despite being picked, let us know at earliest notice so that we can select another user.
    5: if you wish for certain parts of your interview to be edited or removed, please let either me, diamondpearl876 or Ambyssin know as early as possible.

    And that's it! REVIEW AWAY!
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2018
  2. Haha, finally! Here is the first interview of last month's winner...

    Negrek!

    What or who inspired you to begin writing?
    Hmm, good question! Writing in general, I don't really remember. I know I started writing stories down when I was five or six or so and just learning to write, but I can't remember anything about them or why I began doing that.

    For Pokémon fanfic specifically, it was actually a Neopets guild that first got me to write it--at the time the Pokemon guild had its own web site, and to rank up in the guild hierarchy you had to contribute to it by submitting fanart, fanfic, etc. I sent in a couple chapters of a terrible OC trainer 'fic with a self-insert main character, but at the time I didn't realize that fanfic was "a thing" outside of that specific Neopets group. It was a middle school friend of mine who actually introduced me to FFN, which was where I first realized that, hey, a lot of people did this writing thing! It was also my first chance to read a lot of other people's stories. In those days OC trainer 'fics were huge, and after reading a few I was convinced I wanted to write my own. Some of the stories that got me jazzed up at the time were On the Wings of Council by Topaz Soarhire, Raven: Emerald Fist by Obsidian Blade, Tangled Web by chicrocketjames, Gods and Demons by Keleri, and The Quest for the Legends by Dragonfree. While most are unfortunately long dead, the last two are actually still updating and funnily enough should both finally be complete by the end of this year!

    What is your favourite aspect of writing?
    Definitely the best thing about writing is when you get into the flow and the words just keep coming to you, where you can't even type fast enough to keep up with the unspooling story and it's like you could sit there and write and watch it unfold forever. When you just keep going, and going, and going until finally you're too exhausted to handle a keyboard and you have to stop even though the idea's still burning in your head, but at least that means you've got some great material to come back to the next day when you're not a zombie.

    Doesn't happen all that often, and it would be great if the mood visited me before four in the morning more frequently, but it's fantastic when the bug's got you.

    What is your least favourite aspect of writing?
    Not knowing what to do next. If you know what needs to happen, and how it needs to happen, and all you have is a case of the Don't-Want-Tos about actually putting it on paper, then at least the solution is straightforward: at some point you need to sit down and put the words on the page. But when you're at a loss, you can sit down, and sit down, and sit down again and still get absolutely nowhere. You can write up one blind alley after another and still keep returning to the same place. This is where some of the wishy-washy mysticism of writing comes in, where you need some inspiration, some revelation to finally show you a way through. There's no way to know if it's going to take days, or weeks, or months for the solution to come to you, and I hate it. That and the nagging question of What if you NEVER manage to figure it out? Getting over these rough patches is always a leap of faith, and it never seems to get easier. I've pulled it off and gotten past the issue every time I've tried so far, but I always have to wonder if this is the time I'll miss and see the whole story go splat.

    What do you enjoy most about reviewing fics by other people?
    For me, reviewing is one of the best ways to make new friends in the fandom. If I enjoy a story, it's great to be able to leave some feedback and maybe get a conversation going with the author. Many of my online friends are people who I first reached out to by leaving a review, or where they'd been one to review a story of mine.

    What is your least favourite thing about reviewing?
    Mostly just sitting down and doing it. It would be awesome if I could just beam my thoughts into another person's head without having to go to the trouble of converting them all into words.

    It's usually a plus that I have to go through and write everything down, mind. A lot of times I don't really think things through properly until I sit down and try to put them down on paper, and sometimes I even come to a completely different understanding of what's going on with the story in the process of trying to get the words together. Still hate it, though.

    Are there any fanfics you'd recommend to other members?
    I actually have a page of fanfic recommendations that I update now and again. It's pretty much perpetually out-of-date, but there's already a fair number to check out on there if you're interested! Since those recs are for completed works, I also sometimes mention in-progress recs on my Tumblr under the "fic recs" tag.

    But to call out a couple in particular that are worth checking out:

    Gods and Demons is one I mentioned before, and it's absolutely one of my favorite trainer 'fics. It's full of adventure and danger and fantastic battles. Characters have to make difficult choices. People get hurt, perhaps irreversibly. The fanmade region feels genuinely huge and ancient, with its own history and myths and culture. And on top of all the drama, it's frequently quite funny! I can't rec this one highly enough.

    I haven't gotten that far into Easier Said than Done, but it's been very good so far. Another trainerfic--love them--about two kids who very rapidly get in way, way over their heads. Lovely complex characters who are very convincingly ten, without being the slightest bit obnoxious or precious, and some very interesting worldbuilding to boot.

    And for some Serebii-specific recs:

    Cutlerine's Arbitrary Execution, of course. Cutlerine's stories are always worth checking out, and this one has a ton of my favorite stuff in it: glitches, intrigue, Team Rocket, and science of dubious ethics. Also a very cute salandit. Another strong rec.

    The Legendarian Chronicles, too! A wonderful action trainer-fic with more Team Rocket, high drama, and an epic-scale plot. Oh, and there are some legendaries in there somewhere too, I guess.

    Which of your own fics is your favourite and why?
    My current chapterfic, Salvage, is definitely my favorite! I don't know whether I'll always love whatever story I'm actively working on at the moment most of all, though that's happened for all the chapterfics I've worked on so far. Outside of that effect, what I like particularly about this one is that it has all my favorite things in it: shapeshifters, Team Rocket, Mewtwo, Orre and all its attendant weirdness. It's also written in an unusual style that's been fun to work with. And I've gotten very attached to the main characters. I love the dynamic between them, and I could happily write a dozen more stories about them doing nothing in particular, bouncing off each other and causing trouble as usual. All in all I think Salvage is one that's going to be hard for me to put to bed once I finally reach the end.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 9, 2017
  3. JX Valentine

    JX Valentine ██████████

    Hey, folks! Sorry for the super-long wait for this month's interview, but here we are, with hot words fresh from last month's leaderboard winner:

    Chibi Pika!

    So! For the audience, how did you get into writing in the first place?

    Oh man, I’ve always been into storytelling, ever since I was a little kid. I had dozens upon dozens of stories I would either narrate in my head, or act out with my toys (almost all of them involving dinosaurs). It’s hard to say exactly when I made the transition into actually writing because in truth, to this day, I still consider myself more of a storyteller than a writer. I’d much prefer to share my stories through any other medium than writing (be it games, comics, you name it.) So I guess I became a writer out of necessity, because as a kid, the only real method I had of sharing said stories with anyone required writing them down. Unfortunately. :p

    But I digress. I started with writing down some of my miscellaneous dinosaur stories, but it wasn’t until middle school that the idea of writing a story based on already-existing media was introduced to me. I didn’t really know of it as “fanfiction” much less that it was a thing that other people did! I just wanted to make stories about me and my friends as Pokémon trainers. xD

    In a nutshell, what's your reviewing philosophy (as in, why do you do what you do)?

    I just want to make people happy. :T This past year, I’ve had a lot more time to read fic than I’ve had in previous years, and I noticed that everytime I left a review, especially in a thread that hadn’t had any posts for a while, the author was always totally shocked and completely ecstatic. I literally had the ability to just… make someone’s day? Just like that?

    And then there was that really bad review drought at the beginning of 2017. After having had a large following for the majority of the time I’ve been posting my fic, I was more than a little miffed to keep checking the forum and see almost nothing going on. Then in April, I grew some self-awareness and realized that if I wanted that to change, I needed to be a part of it myself.

    I suppose on some level, I also want to help people improve their craft. And when I see opportunities to do that, I definitely jump on them. But I also admit that I’m not the greatest at giving insightful critique. :/ That’s why the realization that I didn’t necessarily need to force myself into that was an important one. It helped me break out of my shell, so to speak, and just throw reviews around without worrying about if they were “good enough” or not. (Note: this is not to say that all my reviews prior to that were always high quality. One need only take a look at any of my posts in the fic thread I’ve been following the longest on Serebii to have that disproven. :p

    You've done some pretty awesome work in covering the forum. But besides the obvious "review as much as you can," what usually catches your attention and convinces you to sit down and read a fic? Its title? Summary? Genre? Something else? (And for that matter, do you have any favorite genres/tropes/things that people put in fics)?

    Well, for starters, I do try to prioritize reviewing every new author, every person who reviewed me, and every person who is an active contributor to the forum. But in terms of choosing a read without taking the author into account? An interesting title can usually get me to click on a thread. That, or an intriguing summary in someone’s signature. A cool banner. Hearing good things about it. I tend to go for trainer fics and Poke-POV just cause those are my favorite genres, although they’re not the only genres I’ll read.

    Favorite things… oh dear... now there’s a can of worms. xD I love Legendaries, conflicts between Legendaries and humanity, characters struggling against hopeless odds, complex gambits between chessmasters, characters swept up in vast conspiracies, betrayal, war, heavy introspection, especially when it comes to fear, guilt, regret, and trauma.

    Basically just plunk your protagonist way in over their head into a terrible situation with lots of suffering and I’ll probably read it. :V

    What's your reading process like? Do you take notes? If so, how detailed do you go?

    I do a lot of my reading at work nowadays, which unfortunately means I can’t really take the best of notes. :( Usually I just kind of ramble about whatever catches my fancy. This results in some reviews being on-point and others being… hilariously not.

    While you're great about commenting on everything, is there anything in particular about a story that jumps out at you the most while reading? Do your eyes hone in on characters, for example? Plot? Something else?

    In general, mood, atmosphere, and emotion tend to jump out at me the most nowadays. Because my reviews tend to be written some time after actually reading the fic, in-the-moment reactions to the plot tend to not happen at much. But a powerful atmosphere? A dramatic mood? Gripping emotion from the characters? Those are the things that will resonate with me long after reading, and the things that I’ll remember most later on, even if I find myself a little fuzzy on plot threads.

    What's the biggest piece of advice you'd like to give the writers at home?

    Definitely write down all your ideas. You don’t need to have the most beautiful, organized outline the world has ever seen. But absolutely need to have some place to jot down ideas so you don’t forget them. This was essential for me pulling myself out of hiatus. I ran into critical plot block and had no idea how to proceed, and I forgot my own plot every other week. That hasn't happened in a long time.

    And finally, to wrap this up: care to fire off some fic recs? :D

    Oh geez, it’s gonna be really hard to keep myself from reccing like half the forum. For the sake of brevity, I’m gonna limit this to my top three:

    Will Somebody Stop These Kids? - It’s just so good. You go into it thinking it’s just a lighthearted trainer romp, and then you find yourself swept up in a delightfully complex web of interactions between the six(!) main protagonists, their lives, their hopes, their dreams, and their struggles.

    Electric Sheep - So much more than a simple White Nuzlocke, this fic takes its core concept (mechanical Pokemon) and runs with it so far that it saturates every inch of the worldbuilding and backstory, completely transforming the Unova you knew into something brand-new, with a many-layered conspiracy to boot.

    Salvage - If you just plain want something like nothing you’ve ever read before, then this is the fic for you. Hands-down the most creative trainer fic in the history of the forum, while it might fly over a lot of readers’ heads at first, stick with it and you’ll be rewarded with awesome battles, complex characters, and a whole lot of Rockety goodness.

    Huh, I just noticed that all three of those involve villainous teams. I guess that's a pretty good way to get me to read something too. :D
     
  4. Sorry it's so late, but we have the interview from our third winner of the fanfiction leaderboard...

    Ambyssin!

    what's your favourite thing about reviewing?

    I don't really know if I can pick out one single favorite moment. I really like being able to brighten someone's day and like to think reviewing offers me a way to do that. On top of that, depending on the author's level of activity, I may get a response of some sort. Which I think is really great. I mean, if I went out and reviewed a TV show or video game, odds are I'd never end up getting to meet anyone responsible and ask what they were thinking when they did thing A or B. But these reviews let things like that happen. It's a lot of fun to connect dots in authors' thought process, or just to get told, "No, Amby, you were totally off base on that one, but good try." At the same time, whether I'm playing catch up on a story that's been around awhile or reviewing a story as it updates, it's really cool to see the progress authors make from chapter to chapter.

    what is your least favourite thing about reviewing?

    This will probably sound silly, but my least favorite thing about reviewing is the act of organizing my thoughts. In my mind, I don't want to just give a little snippet when it seems evident that an author's put a lot of time and energy into their story. I want to tell them how I felt reading things. Problem is that I think I'm pretty scatterbrained. While no one's explicitly told me that they're not sure what I'm talking about (yet anyway) I'm always concerned that my "review as I read approach," where I right down my immediate reactions to anything that catches my attention, and then go back to add in some extra thoughts (or a few paragraphs of overall thoughts if I'm reading an old story), may not go over well with someone. Like I may, say, miss something big that the author wanted me to gleam from a chapter or set of chapters. I see trees and miss the forest more often than I'd care to admit. But so far it's going okay, so I'll just keep my fingers crossed.

    What or who got you into writing?

    Funny that question would come up. As it turns out, I really don't have all that much creative writing experience. Back in high school I got "recruited" to help write a newsletter that was sent to students and parents. I don't know what people thought of it, though. Nevertheless, I enjoyed it. So, when I graduated and moved I decided to start posting variations on Choose Your Own Adventure stories on a small, now defunct, web forum. They were all ridiculously cringeworthy, with very little sense of coherent direction. Heck, they were written sloppily in a script style. You guys would probably tear them to shreds.

    Despite that, I continued to do a lot of "professional writing." I ended up becoming secretary for several clubs in college, one of which I ended up as president for. So I had to redo the club's bylaws (not a fun process). And then I had to write several manuscripts for my major. I wound up a clinical research job that has me preparing a lot of reports. So, I guess I just drifted into creative writing as a means of countering my job. I wrote a couple of short stories that I didn't end up posting anywhere, just to prove to myself I could do it. And then I thought I would do another CYOA, using an actual outline for once, but the forum shut down. I kept the outline, though, and ended up adapting it to be a proper chapter fic that I'm now in the process of writing.

    That said, I've read fan fiction for a few years now. Mostly through lurking on FFN and this site. I think it was a friend on Discord who convinced me to, "man up and get an account if you're lurking around there that much." So, thanks, buddy.

    What's your favourite aspect of writing?

    Dialogue. My early writing "attempts" were script format after all. And anyone who's read what little I've done of Guiding Light so far can safely say the dialogue:narration ratio is pretty skewed toward the former. I just love reading (or watching in the case of games, TV, and movies) different characters interacting with each other. I also enjoy headcanoning voices for characters in stories, whether they're my own or someone else's. For example, it's entirely possible that I may have taken Sonic Archie Comics and created cast lists, dividing the comics up into seasons akin to a TV series and giving everyone a voice actor or actress. So, yeah, total, unashamed dialogue dweeb here.

    What is your least favourite thing about writing?

    Right now it's definitely action scenes. While they can certainly make a hearty dent into a word count, at present I have no experience writing them. So, in this case, trying to take the turn-based simplicity of the Pokémon games (especially Mystery Dungeon where the moves aren't quite as flashy as the base games) and translate into something entertaining to read is quite difficult and something I'm definitely going to have to keep working at. As it stands, I seem to be drawing more from the anime than the base games and that's what it looks like most fics tend to do. Action scenes are perfectly fun to read, of course. I just don't think they're my cup of tea to write at the moment. That said, when it comes to reading them I tend to be the type to like something more than just paragraphs of narration or, in the case of Pokémon, the occasional order. Dialogue, a creative approach to conflict, or a lemony narrator that's snarking at everything go a long way toward making action scenes fun for me to read.

    Are there any fanfics you'd recommend to other members?

    Some of these might be redundant, but here I go!

    If you want a thrilling adrenaline ride that'll get your blood pumping, then I'd have to recommend Chibi Pika's The Legendarian Chronicles. Though I feel like a lot of people know about it. I'm a huge fan of action/spy movies and this completely reads like one, so I've gotta recommend it.

    And as a massive fan of political and conspiracy thrillers, I totally have to plug Cutlerine's Arbitrary Execution. It is crawling with mystery and a supernaturally-laden conspiracy that's completely pulled me in.

    Lastly for Serebii fics, I love space-themed media (especially Ratchet & Clank Future's space pirate enemies), so I've got to give DeliriousAbsol's System:Reboot some love. It is equal parts gritty and witty but the cyberpunk aesthetic stands out nicely!

    Now, if you happen to be in the market for something not Pokémon related, then I've got a couple of recommendations that I followed closely. First off, there's Paper Mario: The Temple of the Sun, a (complete!) fic that heavily deconstructs the elements that made folks love the first two Paper Mario games, but does so in a clever and engaging way. I'd be lying if I didn't say it served as an inspiration of sorts for my approach to my current story.

    And, for something maybe a bit more obscure, Dark Legacy and its in-progress sequel, Umbral Visions. Mind the M ratings for violent battles between fantasy creatures, and the slight archive panic (the two stories are approaching 900k total words). They are very enjoyable pieces set in the Legend of Spyro universe. While the games were bad, no serious knowledge of them is required to enjoy these stories. They provide all the background you need (among some really enjoyable world building) and the game characters aren't the main focus anyway. Instead, it takes place after the games, and tackles a lot of heavy issues from class society and warring political factions to more subdued things like a teenager trying to find their place in an ever-changing world.

    which of your fics, unfinished or complete, is your favourite?

    Oh my, this is a tough one. I kid, of course. I've only got one story at the moment and it's Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Guiding Light. I'm not too sure how many PMD stories out there are Gen VII-centric yet. But that's something I really wanted to do. If that interests you at all, give it a read. It's still fairly new, but I'm enjoying writing it. I'm really looking forward to the later chapters, because things are going to get crazy (in a good way, I hope).
     
  5. JX Valentine

    JX Valentine ██████████

    Hey, all! Breaking away from interviewing for a sec to make a couple of announcements.

    First and foremost is the more obvious one: as you can see, we're rearranging stickies in the fic forum (to make things more visible), which means this thread will be in the Author's Cafe from here on out. Sorry for the confusion!

    Second and more importantly, the bad news is that Nerdy and I will be hella busy for the coming months. The good news is that means we're looking for help! If you'd like to try your hand at interviewing, if you'd like to help out around the forum, or if you just want to get to know awesome people in the community, shoot either Nerdy or me a PM saying you want to be an interviewer. We'll walk you through everything you need to know, and you can take things from October onward! Interviewing is super simple, and it's a great way to get in touch with the fic community. So if it sounds like it's up your alley, shoot us a message ASAP!

    Edit: Found a couple of peeps! Thanks to Ambyssin and diamondpearl876 for volunteering, and thanks to all of you for considering!
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2017
  6. diamondpearl876

    diamondpearl876 → follow your fire.

    This month we're featuring a leaderboard runner up to get input from a new reviewer who put in a ton of time and effort in September to check out the community's fics! Without further ado, here's some comments from...

    Bay!​


    First off, congrats on placing in top three reviewers this month! I think I speak for everyone when I say we're grateful for the time you took to read and comment on so many fics, especially when you're busy over at Pokecommunity. How do you choose which fics to read and review? What about a fic keeps you interested and coming back for more?

    Lately I’ve been going for stories from authors I’ve been familiar with since I already have an idea I’ll enjoy their work right off the bat. I’m trying to be better at commenting stories from the newer writers though. But yeah, if your story has decent characters and a premise that sounds promising, I’m there. I’m very open minded, so I’m not that hard to keep coming back. The hard part is keeping up with them when some update at the same time lol.

    What's your favorite part about reviewing?


    To let someone know that I’ve enjoyed their writing, and then hearing back that they appreciate my feedback. In the other fandoms I write for sometimes I don’t get any feedback, so I know how it feels to be unsure if anyone is checking your work. I always try to leave a comment after I finished reading a chapter or catching up.

    Sounds like you'll always take the time to review if you're reading something! About how many stories would you say you're following and reviewing right now? How do you balance all of those stories and make time to review so often?

    I think I’m following like ten or so stories now oh my gosh. I tend to list out which stories I’ll read for the next few days and take it from there. I try to give myself at least an hour to knock out a story or two if the backlog gets a bit big.

    What's your least favorite part about reviewing?

    As I mentioned, it’s trying to keep up with the fics I’ve been following. I think I followed several fics both here and in PokeCommunity, and there have been a couple stories I left in the backlog and feel bad about it. I don’t want anyone to think because I stop replying that I lost interest, just that people are updating faster than I can keep up!

    Besides that, sometimes it’s thinking what I want to comment on. Sometimes I’m better at commenting if I’m binge reading a few chapters than commenting on each chapter as I get to see the overall picture better that way.

    What aspects of a story do you tend to comment on most in your reviews? Characters, plot, setting? Something else?

    Characters and plot mostly. I tend to say a few things how the interactions went and where I think the plot is going. Sometimes setting if I like the worldbuilding, but when reading I focus more on characters and plot. I might comment on grammar once in a while, but usage/prose seems to still be my weakness point in writing so I don’t pinpoint much on that aspect.

    As a writer, what's your favorite review that you've received? What kind of review helps you best?

    I think my favorite review was the one Bardothren from PokeCommunity gave me. He went into great detail which lines works and which ones could use fine tuning in its language. That’s why I sorta switched writing styles in my later stories as I was trying to go for some tips he had mentioned back then.

    I’ll admit, sometimes when stuff like prose and voice is being picked apart I get very bummed out since I’ve been writing for several years already and makes me wonder if I’ve improved after all this time. But yeah, I try to tell myself that if my works needs a bit more polish it doesn’t make me a Bad Writer (TM) and to move forward the best to my ability.

    How do you plan to incorporate the tips you got from Bardothren's review in the future?

    Body language is something I’ve been focusing a lot on lately as he mentioned in that review my writing lacked reactions there. He also pointed out how sometimes I drag on into a character’s thoughts a little too much and so I cut back on that, but I then get some comments that my writing could use more of that, lol. I need to find the right balance of emotion/thoughts and action.

    Skimming over that review again, he also pointed out the awkward sentences that can be fixed by reading aloud. I’ve actually been doing that, but I still have people point out the weird usage here and there. I think it has to do with my brain thinking the prose I have makes sense whenever I self-proofread. This is something I guess I’ll just go at it and I then go back fine tune the language later.

    How would you say Serebii and the Pokemon fandom in general do with fanfiction and reviewing compared to the other fandoms you're in?

    Serebii reviewers tend to be more detailed when it comes to what works and what doesn’t work. In other fandoms that happens too, but overall the culture seems to be that giving constructive criticism is frown upon unless the writer asks for it. I think it’s because with Serebii we have this niche group where we can let each other know how our works are progressing and support one another. Other fandoms are a bit harder to get a support group of that kind because of how a lot of fandom activity is now on Tumblr and groups are more scattered.

    Which fics are you planning to tackle next?

    I think I’ll focus on Foul Play for a little while still since I’m very slow with getting updates ready haha. I’ll get the second chapter of it posted soon, I swear! After that, maybe I want to write some stories focusing on Kukui/Burnet since I got some people like how I portrayed their relationship in New Paths. There’s also one idea where an assassination attempt happens during the Pokemon World Tournament, but there’s still a lot of plot stuff I need to figure out.

    For non Pokemon ideas, I got several ideas for Ace Attorney I want to do. I’m actually thinking of writing Foul Play and an Ace Attorney story at the same time during National Novel Writing Month during November. There are some other fandoms I want to get back writing, like Fullmetal Alchemist and the Bravely series, and others I want to try my hand at. Sometimes I wonder if I’m crazy trying to write for several series, lol.

    How 'bout some fic recs, too, while we're at it?

    I admit, this is tough for me to decide since the fics I’ve read here have been great and don’t want to leave anyone behind. I’m gonna go for the ones that haven’t been mentioned here yet.

    Aeternum’s NWO- All of the Above is pretty cool. I like the interactions between the main character and his Totodile/Croconaw, and his take on some of the characters are interesting.

    ChloboShoka’s Carry On, Blissey has a nice take on what it’s like to be a Blissey in a Pokemon Center. While some reactions from the characters can be worked on a bit more, I think the premise she going has great potential.

    Phalanx’s Sigil’s The Pantheon has some very neat Pokemonized takes on different myths/histories, so if that’s your thing check some of the stories out!

    Special shout out to your fic, Love and Other Nightmares too. While kinda slow going, I like the set up you have so far and looking forward where it goes next.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2017
  7. Ambyssin

    Ambyssin Definitely a winter

    Hiya, everyone! It's time for our fifth interviewing installment. A quick hat tip to Nerdy for checking over the questions to make sure they were okay.

    For this month, we have a long-time veteran who is definitely no stranger to reviewing. So, let's get right to it and hear some thoughts from none other than...

    Cutlerine!

    How do you choose which fics to read and review? What about a fic keeps you interested and coming back for more?

    Honestly, I mostly choose by how many reviews they've got: I got into reviewing in a big way earlier this year, mainly as part of the initiative to revive the forum and raise the levels of activity. If other people are regularly reviewing something, I'm much less likely to weigh in on it, just because there will be other fics that haven't got that attention, and need someone to give it.

    That said, I don't return to every fic I review, particularly if I didn't really get into them that first time. I like interesting and well-crafted stories of all kinds, but I always like it when I find a new character-driven story, just because there aren't so many of them and, as I guess people might be able to tell from my own fics, I believe very strongly that character is the thing that really makes a story. I love intricate settings and clever ideas to bits, but for me at least, very few things make interesting fiction if they don't somehow affect someone, or have an impact on human relations.

    About how many stories would you say you're following and reviewing right now? How do you balance all of those stories and make time to review so often?

    Uh, a bunch? More than ten, anyway, at least here on Serebii. Most don't update all the time – with the exception of System:Reboot and Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Guiding Light, both of which I am constantly falling behind with (not that this is a bad thing: more content is always welcome!) – so that helps out some. I read fast, have long commutes and carry a notebook for jotting down thoughts; obviously I like to devote some of those resources to my own writing, but even allowing for that, those three things together mean it's not too difficult to get a review out every few days. I sort of spent years on this forum just posting, so you know. Making up for lost time, I guess!

    What do you like most about reviewing?


    People like getting reviews. By leaving a review, you facilitate that. Isn't that cool? Here I am, taking twenty, thirty minutes to type up and flesh out some notes I wrote on a train, and on the other side of the world, someone's day becomes just a little better. What an incredible world we live in. Maybe I'm just easily impressed.

    Also, I like helping people improve, even if only by encouraging them to keep on writing. When I was fifteen, I wrote some utter garbage, but people encouraged me to keep doing it, and now I write things that people really seem to like; everyone is capable of that, if they just keep going and learning, and it's such a good thing to be part of someone else's development.

    What's your biggest challenging with reviewing?

    Adapting my expectations. Not everyone is writing at the same level, and critique needs to be offered that is reasonable and helpful for the writer in question, as well as encouragement. You don't need to root out every single flaw, if that's only going to discourage the writer, because the most important thing of all is to encourage them to keep writing, since that is the single most effective way of improving their craft that's open to them. It doesn't mean not being honest, but it does mean tempering honesty with kindness, because pure honesty verges on brutishness, and finding that balance can be a tricky proposition. The goal is to encourage someone to write more, and better, not to tear them down for no reason. Hopefully I'm getting better at it. I learn more with every review I leave.

    Is there a specific storytelling element (e.g. setting, characters, dialogue) you tend to focus on for reviews?

    Grammatical mistakes are always an easy thing to point out, because they're simple to fix and doing so does a lot to make a story more approachable to readers, so I usually devote some time to them; I also usually try to focus on any logical aberrations or anything that might throw a reader off for much the same reason. Other than that, it really depends on the story. If it has a striking setting, or an incoherent one, I'll point it out; if I like the characters, the ideas, whatever, or if I feel that they don't work, I'll point that out, too. Yeah. Depends what the strengths and weaknesses of the story are.

    Do you find that you take different approaches to reviewing different types of stories? If so, how do you adjust the feedback you give to the author when you review?

    Sure. Like I said, it depends on skill level: a very skilful writer might appreciate me taking the time to unpick some of the ideas and technical tricks they're working with, whereas a novice writer might benefit more from me pointing out issues with formatting and pacing. Someone else might have excellent ideas but struggle with character, or setting, or whatever. Whatever I think would be most helpful for the writer in question, I try to do. Maybe I don't always succeed, but as I said above, hopefully I get better with each review I leave.

    How did you get into writing?

    I learned how to write. No, really, that's it: as soon as I could write, I did. I probably started putting stories together when I was five or six, and wrote my first – delightfully terrible – novel when I was twelve. Writing has been my default leisure activity for as long as I can remember. I hate it, obviously, I despise the effort it takes to get words down on paper, but at the same time I love it and no matter how many times I say to myself 'okay, no more' I really, really can't stop.

    What do you enjoy most about writing?

    I like it when it works: when you sit down at three and don't get up till eight, having barely looked away from the screen and produced four thousand words; I like it when people read it and it matters to them; I like it when you hit the full stop key one last time at the end and sit back, spent; I like it when, just by piling word atop word, you create characters out of nothing who seem to live and breathe and travel round with you as you go about your life; I like most of all the fact that if you want to read a story and it doesn't already exist, you can just sit down and bring it into the world yourself.

    What do you find most challenging about writing?

    There's a point, maybe a third to a half of the way through every story, where the initial flood of enthusiasm and inspiration runs out, and you just have to grind at it through the rough patch, cranking out the words purely as a technical exercise without any kind of joy whatsoever, until things pick up again. That's the most challenging bit. But it's worth it, because things do pick up again, and afterwards, when people read the story, they have no idea which bits you liked writing and which bits you didn't, and after a while you forget which was which yourself. (Unless it was, you know, really, really bad, which does occasionally happen.) So it's all okay.

    As a writer, what type of feedback do you find most helpful from reviewers?

    I like knowing what people didn't like. My usual philosophy is that if a reader thinks something doesn't work, they're probably right, but possibly not for the reasons they think. If something fell flat, there are a bunch of reasons why it might have done so, and cleaving too quickly to one or the other is only going to narrow down your thinking and prevent you from seeing any larger problems that might be lurking underneath the surface. I'd hope that people treat my own reviews the same way: sometimes I see things that don't work, but I'm not going to pretend that I can always pinpoint why with 100% accuracy. I'm just a human-shaped meatblob with a keyboard, after all.

    How do you think the reviews you’ve received have helped improve your writing?

    A lot of reviews I got very early on helped me tremendously with character, plausibility, plot coherence, all that kind of thing; now, I find that reviews often help to shape the story itself. Someone mentioned that it was very convenient that, in Arbitrary Execution, Artemis should meet someone like Cass at exactly the time that she needed to, for instance; that was when I decided to give Cass the role that the latest chapter revealed her to have (to try and say it without spoilers). Similarly, someone pointing out how coincidental everything is in Time and Tide is what led me to rethink the final third of the fic and come up with the iteration/probability thing that ultimately came to tie all of the disparate threads and themes of the story together.

    Should I be admitting to making all this stuff up as I go along and finding my themes by accident? Possibly not. But I think it demonstrates how vital feedback is, in both senses of the word; it really breathes new life into stories, and brings them to a point they couldn't get to otherwise. Especially if you're posting chapter by chapter, and don't have a chance to go back and do a big edit at the end, as you would if you were writing a novel.

    Other than that, there are moments, as I said above, where a reader has said that they don't think something works, and I've had to go away and have a think about it, and decide where and what the problem is. That happened twice with Go Home, for instance, and it resulted in (a) Gwyneth's dream recurring but with different interpretations, and (b) the addition of that crucial passage in the final chapter about how Hilbert and Nika got together.

    What writing projects are you currently focused on? And do you have any future plans?

    There's Arbitrary Execution, of course, but I'm coming towards the end of that (I write quite a few chapters ahead of what I post) and my thoughts are turning towards what I've got coming up next: a Y nuzlocke, Oathbreakers, about family, kingship, and the comforts of art in a bleak time. I've never written a nuzlocke before, and I'd like the record to show that my doing so now is 100% Jax's fault.

    I'm also working on an original novel about three trans women, a horse, and metaphysical depression, which is occupying most of my free time; I write my fanfiction mostly to take breaks from my original fiction, so if there's ever any delay in any of my fics, you know what the reason is.

    What advice to you have for someone looking to contribute to the fanfic community, whether it’s on Serebii or somewhere else?

    Interact with people! Leave comments – it doesn't have to be a lengthy, in-depth review; even a line or two will do it – and encourage people to keep writing. There's an old rule of reciprocity in most fic communities whereby giving reviews is how you get reviews; if you're looking to contribute to a community, to make someone else's day better and to encourage them to do the same for others, you could do a lot worse than, if not reviewing, then even just responding. It has the knock-on effect that it makes the community look livelier, too, and that in turn attracts new people, who enrich it further. Nobody loses; everyone wins.

    Finally, any fic recommendations you’d like to offer?


    Given that I'm writing a nuzlocke more or less entirely because of it, I've got to lead with Jax's Electric Sheep, which is the fic that opened my eyes to the fact that you can write a nuzlocke without putting yourself in an insoluble ethical quandary. For something complete, diamondpearl876's Survival Project is a stellar example of the character-driven fics I really like, and one that, like Electric Sheep, has had a big influence on Oathbreakers. (The superb follow-up, Phantom Project, is currently ongoing, if you want more in the same vein.) If you'd like something new to follow, I've been really impressed by Virgil134's Casting Off, of which there's only one chapter at present but which shows a lot of promise. Also in progress is Firebrand's The Amazing Hawlucha Man, which is an excellent all-action adventure that might be the first story to ever actually make me interested in the antics of a bunch of superheroes. Finally, Bay's Foul Play is a really insightful character portrait of two master dark-type trainers with a number of similarities I'd never noticed before, and if you're not reading it you're missing out on some incisive and often very funny writing.

    XxX

    A very nice mix of different fics here for anyone looking for something new to read. Once again, big congratulations to Cutlerine and thanks for taking part in this. We'll be back next month with November's high-scorer, so get those reviews in!
     
  8. Ambyssin

    Ambyssin Definitely a winter

    Just in time for the holidays, we've got the next reviewing installment for your reading pleasure. And, like a Christmas dinner, this one's a bit meatier, as our lovely interviewee had quite a lot to say. I also threw in a couple of extra-special questions, since it's not every day you get to conduct an interview like this with one of our lovely mods. So, enough beating around the bush. Here to give us her thoughts on fics and reviewing is none other than...

    JX Valentine!

    How do you choose which fics to read and review? What about a fic keeps you interested and coming back for more?
    It depends on the forum, actually. With Serebii (and other forums I frequent), I tend to click on everything, especially if it’s new, because I like to keep up with what’s going on around the forum. So when I say I read everything (even if I don’t always review), I literally do mean I read everything, haha. Or at least the first few chapters therein.

    Which goes into the other question, actually. Two things keep me reading above everything else: your characters and your plot. If I think your characters are complex or if they seem like they’re in for a lot of character growth or if I just think they’re fascinating for some other reason, and I kinda want to see what happens to them, I’m definitely sticking to your story. Same with the plot, really. If I feel like it’s going somewhere (and that somewhere is great), then you can bet I’ll want to keep up with it. I admit I’m very picky when it comes to this, which is why I say I read at least the first few chapters of everything; I tend to lose interest in fics pretty quickly (even ones that are otherwise popular in the fandom) if I personally feel like they don’t quite have that spark. That isn’t to say that they’re not good fics, of course—just that they might not be my cup of tea.

    What do you like most about reviewing?
    Reading in the first place, to be honest. So a moment ago, I’d mentioned that I read literally everything. How I do that is pretty simple: I sit down, open up an instance of Chrome, and just flippin’ open everything I can grab in new tabs. I don’t even stop to think about what I’m clicking on, and as a result, I end up with this massive collection of tabs that I’m dedicated to reading before I can close them. It’s like giving yourself an entire tree full of Christmas surprises, pretty much. You never really know what you’ll end up reading until you open the tab and just kinda … start.

    But more than that, it’s just so much fun to read through a fic and see what people do. At the risk of stating the obvious, no two authors are alike ever, even if they’re writing in the same genre, using the same characters, and sticking to the same basic template. Half of the act of reviewing is going through and discovering a lot of that uniqueness all over fandom.

    What's your biggest challenge with reviewing?
    Hoo, actually sitting down and writing them. I’m terrible at taking notes for fics, so if I miss a lot of content, that means I have to rely on memory. That and sometimes, I’m reading quickly (because the above-mentioned method means I frequently bite off more than I can chew), so sometimes, I’m either afraid of missing important details or actually guilty of missing important details. Going into a review with that constant nagging feeling that you’re not prepared is not a good mindset to have (...even though it’s one I know is on me and also easily fixable, haha). And then, of course, there’s the constant struggle of figuring out what to include in a review, haha.

    Related to the above, seeing as you've judged contests in the past, how do you approach judging contest submissions? Is there anything you do different compared to a casual review?
    I know this is going to sound horrible, but when you’re doing a review for a contest, it’s important to be concise. Whoever’s posting the results has to fit your review into one post with two or three others, plus an excerpt of the story (if not the whole story) in question, and Serebii’s character limit isn’t kind. (But even then, when I’ve judged contests elsewhere, I’d still keep it concise because, you know, people still have to read what you have to say.)

    One of the ways I keep that in mind is by being more positive than I normally would be. The way I see it, even if we’re talking about wildly different skill levels, y’all put your best feet forward when you commit to a contest. It’s not easy writing under a deadline, and presumably, you’re putting in extra effort to make your story stand out and be awesome. So when I review for a contest, I’m not doing so to help you improve or to give you feedback on how you’re doing (as I would with ordinary reviews); my end goal is instead to compare you to other people and see how you did in terms of storytelling and following the prompts. If I point out something negative in a contest review, what I’m actually saying is, “This is the thing that might have cost you points, and I’m sorry about that.” Conversely, if I point out something positive, what I’m really saying is, “This is what earned you points. Good job!” That way, if I look back on my review and say, “Huh. I was mostly positive here,” I’ll know how to rank it later on.

    In other words, I fully admit that while my regular reviews are aimed more at talking about the fic in question, when I’m reviewing for contests, I have the contest in mind first and foremost.

    What made you choose to start the Reviewers' Leaderboard?
    One of the things I’ve dedicated myself to after I was given the shiny mod badge was finding ways to boost activity around the forum. I was modded in 2014, and back then, we were going through a bit of a dry spell. There was a lot of awkwardness where people would form knots of friends and just sort of review each other, it was difficult to get reviewed if you were new, and let’s not even talk about activity on the AC. So when I first got started, I was all about trying out new ideas in order to change the culture around Serebii little by little so that, slowly but surely, people will connect to one another and attract new blood, so to speak. Some ideas worked better than others, to put it lightly.

    That’s one half of the story, anyway. The other half is that earlier this year, I had joined the Nuzlocke forums, and I was just blown away by how active, inclusive, and community-like it was. It was, in short, everything I wanted Serebii to be, at the risk of sounding like an advertisement for them. So I spent some time around them, not only getting to know them (I mean, of course I want to be a part of every community I encounter, because a lot of them are full of awesome people) but also trying to figure out what helped them so I can bring a few ideas back to Serebii. One of their biggest philosophies is that you can’t just post a fic and be done with it, nor can you just talk to your other writers and call that a community. Rather, you have to be ready to give back as much as possible. You have to be willing to sit down and read what other people post because it’s a creative community, and that’s supposed to be the other half of the main focus of it. That and showing interest in other people’s work—in the stuff that they put part of themselves into and have fun doing—is just as important as taking an interest in anything else about them, especially for a fanfic community.

    And one of the ways they do this is by, you guessed it, keeping track of how many reviews everyone does. But their leaderboard is a bit different than ours. For one, they don’t really offer prizes (we do, just because our community is so different and has been the way it is for longer than the Nuzlocke forums have even existed), and for another, they don’t actually publicize their full leaderboard (just the top three scores on their Discord). But for them, it was less about the competition of it and more about jumpstarting that philosophy of altruism.

    So in short, you could say I created the leaderboard in order to bring about positive change in Serebii’s community. Ultimately, it’s supposed to encourage people to not only be more active but also more interested in the forum as a whole. I just happened to get the idea from a community that’s very, very much about the exact philosophy I’ve been trying to encourage in the forum for ages, and hey, if it worked for them, you know what I mean?

    How did you get into writing?
    I’ve been telling stories pretty much as far back as I can remember; I just never really knew you could write them down until my family got a computer when I was five. My parents worked a lot when I was a kid (we weren’t poor, but we weren’t poor because of how much they worked), so I was often left at home with my older brother to do my own thing. Sometimes, you know, that meant creating elaborate stories with your tiny Barbie collection about princesses rescuing each other or witches teaching their apprentices. Or, later on when your family gets a computer, writing stories about families stranded on deserted islands in Microsoft Paint. (I had no idea what Microsoft Works was back then.)

    So as a kid, I just sort of … liked telling stories, one way or another. I started writing properly in elementary school, when I’d turn vocab assignments into elaborate stories about a girl detective tracking down some missing cereal (it was stolen by her arch-nemesis, a dude with a mustache!) or slice-of-life picture books about a talking snail in a world populated only by snails (I … can’t remember why). And, well, it’s the fact that people liked those stories that made me keep writing them. Other kids actually wanted to read about the next adventure of Alex the Girl Detective and whatnot, so I just kept going until I’d get bored and move on to the next thing.

    But when it comes to fanfiction, I didn’t really discover that until I started getting into the internet as a preteen in the 90s. My first exposure to that were early, pre- and early-Geocities websites featuring fics about Sailor Moon going to Canada, Brock falling in love with Sailor Saturn, Jessie and James going to Hell and Heaven (respectively and in the same fic), and so on. When I finally caught on that, yeah, fanfiction was a thing (if you’re a fan of Sailor Moon, don’t tell me you never fell for Sailor Earth), it just sort of blew my mind that you could do that, so I started writing stories about self-inserts of my friends and me going on pokémon journeys before, you know, launching off into the “**** it; I’ll write what I want,” self-indulgent, fantasy/sci-fi stuff I tend to write. I remember my first completed work that was actually popular was basically Whose Line Is It Anyway? but with the main Pokémon cast, and it all pretty much went downhill from there. So long story short, I thank the early internet for teaching me that fanfic can be whatever you merry well want it to be. Including an entire fic about the love between Brock and Sailor Saturn. (That’s still one of my favorites, by the way. Hilarious “I’m such a baka” lines and all. Read it if only to get a sense of how amazing the early fandom was.)

    What do you enjoy most about writing?
    For me, it’s pretty much escapism. I like being able to explore whatever fun ideas come to mind, in my own private space. On that note, I admit I don’t publish a lot of what I write—just stuff I think would be fun to share. The rest is about as self-indulgent as you’d imagine, and it’s just a lot of fun and incredibly freeing to just get whatever I want down on paper.

    What do you find most challenging about writing?
    Oof, probably actually sitting down to write. Now that I’m a Responsible Adult™, I spend a lot of time writing … for work. Or I’m editing for work. So by the time I sit down to write, what I actually want to do is play videogames or binge-watch YouTube videos. But I also know that I’m hella susceptible to self-loathing, which is to say I’ll kick myself hard if all I ever do is come up with these ideas and say to myself constantly, “I’ll write someday.” It’s not even about writing for an audience or anything. It’s more like, I know the idea will be so much fun to write, so why am I not writing it?

    My secret, though? Setting aside time every evening. It doesn’t have to be an hour, it doesn’t have to be good enough to publish, and I don’t have to write until I hit a set goal. It can just be twenty solid minutes of writing, and that’s it. But I do that every single day, either using pen and paper or on a computer, because the last thing I want to do is get in the habit of not writing. That’s honestly the best way to kill your motivation: procrastinating on writing until all of a sudden, the act of writing becomes a chore that’s too intimidating to tackle.

    As a writer, what type of feedback do you find most helpful from reviewers?
    (Bundling this with the other question, about how reviews helped me improve, because in a lot of ways, they’re the same question.)

    Lemme give you an example. The most useful feedback I’ve ever gotten on Electric Sheep was when Cutlerine said I repeated stuff a lot. Realizing that hit me hard because I never saw it myself. Like, I’d read over my work umpteen times. I was certain I was thorough. And here, Cutlerine pointed out something that was not only correct but also something I hadn’t even noticed myself.

    And that’s really it, to be honest. For me, the most helpful kind of reviewing isn’t the kind where a reviewer rips a fic apart, looking for minor grammatical issues, or where a reviewer tries to act like they’re teaching writing to a fellow writer, as odd as that might sound. It’s the kind where you offer your perspective on what you read, regardless of whether or not you think it would help or whether or not it was bad or good. The thing about your perspective is that it isn’t the writer’s, so there’s a very, very good chance that you’ll point out something that’s obvious to you but not so much the author. And that perspective is a million times more valuable than a review that intends on teaching me a thing or few about writing or kiss my ***, for that matter. For one thing, those kinds of reviews have taught me to look at my writing from the perspective of someone who isn’t me or to write under the assumption that someone who isn’t me is going to be reading. And let me tell you, that has improved my language skills like whoa.

    What writing projects are you currently focused on? And do you have any future plans?
    At the moment, my foremost project is Electric Sheep, which I should hopefully wrap up in 2018 (although there is a definite second book to that in the works too). I also run an ask sideblog on Tumblr, or a blog where people send in questions, and I answer them in-character. (I can’t say which ask blog it is because I’d prefer keeping my identity as its mun a secret from its followers, but let’s just say that if you know me, you’d know exactly who it’s for.)

    Beyond that, I’m also still working on Anima Ex Machina … but not the form you see in my sig. I’ve been toying with doing a Nuzlocked version of it recently because I realized that I really enjoy writing Nuzlocke fics (if anything, because it’s easy to keep track of when stuff should happen), so that might be a thing if I ever get around to playing the game I want to tackle for it. And while we’re at it, I’m also working my way through the gameplay stage of a third Nuzlocke fic that doesn’t have anything to do with Bill whatsoever (gasp! shock!) and everything to do with this.

    What advice to you have for someone looking to contribute to the fanfic community, whether it’s on Serebii or somewhere else?
    Be altruistic.

    Now, that might sound like straightforward advice. Review and care about other people’s works. Seems simple enough, yeah? But … it’s really more than that. I’ve been around for a while, on different communities, and the one thing that kills forums of any kind faster than anything else is apathy. And apathy can take many different forms. It can be a general inability to care (you know, what everyone thinks apathy is), or it could be that awkward state of being in which people only care about the select few or only care about themselves. Either way, if you fall into the trap that is apathy towards your community, what you end up doing is losing focus on reaching out and working to make things better. You end up procrastinating on giving back because you end up so focused on yourself (either beating yourself up for not doing better or agonizing over whether or not you’ll be seen as intelligent or what-have-you) that you spend more time promising that you’ll do something good and less time, you know, actually doing something good.

    Also, just saying that you’ll give back isn’t enough, and relying on a handful of people to push you into action isn’t enough either. You have to be proactive. You have to push yourself. And you have to do it expecting nothing in return. Don’t do it for the reviews. You will end up either disappointed or burned out that way. And don’t do it to be an upstanding member of the community, either. I guarantee no one cares (and those who do are gullible enough to fall for clear brown-nosing). Instead, do it because you want to support your community. Do it because you want to support good writers. Do it because you know that putting in a bit of hard work will make a place more fun in the long run, or because you want to welcome new people by creating discussion and focusing on them, or because this person hasn’t been reviewed and you want to change that and make them feel like someone actually gives a **** about what they’re writing.

    Or to make things a bit clearer, do it because you can remember what it’s like to be that kid, putting out your work. Do it because you remember how vulnerable that feels for the first time, how uncertain and insecure you might have been at first. Do it because you were that kid once, just sitting there, simultaneously afraid that your work will be torn apart but also incredibly, painfully jealous of the people who get five reviews per chapter seemingly effortlessly, even though you (may or sure as hell may not) say it. Do it because you remember the feeling of getting reviewed for the first time or watching someone light up at what you’ve written for the hundreth. And do it because you connect to someone else and want to pass along something about that connection to them, even if just to reassure them that you’re there.

    But in the end … do it. Like, if you want to contribute … contribute, and do it altruistically. Because if you don’t do it, there is a very, very good chance that no one else will, and that is exactly how a crapton of other communities I’ve seen over the years just shriveled up and died.

    Finally, any fic recommendations you’d like to offer?
    I’m going to do my best to avoid recommending stuff other people have recced, but on Serebii, practically everything Cutlerine has written in the past few years is gold. (I’d say everything, period, but I know how Cutlerine feels about earlier works.) In particular, my personal favorite (that hasn’t been recced yet, anyway) is still A Leash of Foxes because of how unique it is. And also a bit because I’m secretly a sucker for Westerns. Wish more people did ‘em, ngl. Time and Tide is also excellent too, only because it involves pirates, post-apocalyptic swashbuckling adventurers, and Archie and Maxie bickering like a hella dead married couple, not because it’s delightfully Old West. It’s great.

    Also on my favorite authors list around the forum, we’ve got Dramatic Melody, whose one-shots are usually top-not character studies (just like … pick one—any of DM’s one shots—as the quality is consistent and A+), and Firebrand, who usually tackles unusual subjects packed with a lot of action. (I mean, there’s The Amazing Hawlucha Man, but personally, I liked the high fantasy-style, almost Game-of-Thrones-ish Halvarsaga, which is literally vikings with pokémon. But yeah, Hawlucha Man is awesome too. Read if only for the adorable birb that is Hierro.) Also, there’s Sike Saner’s work, particularly Communication, which is a heartrending fic about the life and times of a glalie. This is an excellent introduction to all things Sike, so start here, then move to The Origin of Storms and finally The Worldslayers. It’s a lot of fun. You won’t regret it. 8)

    Other fics to keep an eye on? PMD: Guiding Light by Ambyssin, which is a delightful romp full of lore and the best worst characters ever. Element by roule, which is Japan but with pokémon and an idol who thinks nearly attacking someone is a great way to say hello. Ionization by PhalanxSigil, which is a Sinnoh journey fic featuring a former Team Plasma (not a typo) grunt who has more than a thing or two to learn.

    Off-site, I’m also fond of Motherflipping Oak, who is like the Dramatic Melody of FFN. There’s also Leto, who also writes fun character studies and one-shots … only her work predates forums so hard that the best link I could find of hers is on Tripod. Moving away from character studies (of the heartbreaking or otherwise cute variety), I highly recommend Pokémon Rebirth for animeverse or fakemon fans, as its longest work is a journeyfic set in a fan region that’s got so much detail to it it straight-up built its own encyclopedia to house it all, while its side stories feature the likes of Tracey and Team Rocket in fun little adventures. Conversely, if you want your heart broken, try Iveechan’s Guilty by Design, which is unfinished but still good. Finally, I’ve also gotten super into Nuzlocke fics, as a lot of them are fantastically creative. Some of my favorites: C’est la Vie, Looking Backward, Agency, American Pie, and Hybrid.

    XxX

    Phew. Well, I think that just about covers it. And plenty of suggestions to work off of, too. I'm not entirely sure who'll be interviewing a top scorer from December. So, in the meantime, I'd like to thank Nerdy and Jax for the opportunity to try this out. I hope you guys have enjoyed it so far. Best of luck to everyone taking part in the leaderboard in 2018. And, of course, Merry Christmas and happy new year! :)
     
  9. diamondpearl876

    diamondpearl876 → follow your fire.

    It's officially the new year! :D For the first interview of 2018, I got to talk to a familiar face I've seen around the boards for many years. I think I speak for many of us when I say I appreciate the contributions of this user over the years. Let's hear it for...

    Sike Saner!

    How do you choose which fics to read and review? What about a fic keeps you interested and coming back for more?

    Generally it'll be a title I've seen crop up on multiple visits, though occasionally there'll be one that'll have me intrigued at first sight. Sometimes I'll have previously read something else by the same author and gotten hooked.

    ...Or that's how it was, anyway. These days, owing to deficits of time and especially of energy, I'm sticking to stories I'm already currently reading. That is to say, I'm not taking on any more new fics at this time--not even by the folks whose stuff I've gotten hooked on, heh.

    But that's just here and now. Who knows what I'll pounce on down the line?

    "I've started reading this" is usually plenty for me to stick with a story--I don't really abide by not finishing what I start very well. As for what tends to get me particularly interested... that's basically anything that makes me feel quite a bit, or makes me wonder quite a bit. In other words, basically the same way I am with all media.

    About how many stories would you say you're following and reviewing right now? How do you balance all of those stories and make time to review so often?

    About a couple dozen stories, give or take.

    The current strategy with regards to managing them is catching up with only one fic per site per day. And since I'm really only active on this site, that basically translates to one a day, at most, period. It's slower than the way I used to do things. It means that no, I'm probably not going to respond to every single chapter as it's posted. But it also means I'm far, far less likely to burn out, and I think that's better for all involved in the long run.

    What's your favorite part about reviewing?

    Reading. And yes, yes that's most definitely part of it. How can you know what to say about something you didn't actually read? Well, unless you're like... just reading others' reviews on the thing in question and just sort of copying them, I guess? I don't know if anyone actually does such a thing, but if so: please don't. Reviews should reflect your own genuine responses.

    What's your least favorite part about reviewing?

    Eh. There's sometimes the worry that I won't have chosen the right words. That I'll have failed to say what I actually meant to get across, or worse, said something unintentionally harmful. So basically the same spectre that hangs over social interaction in general, pffff.

    Is there a specific storytelling element (e.g. setting, characters, dialogue) you tend to focus on for reviews?


    Not that I'm aware of. If there's a good line, dialogue or not, I'll usually single it out. If there's a character I'm enjoying the actual heck out of, they'll usually get mentioned. If the plot's got me actively speculating about what's next, I might (might, because sometimes being proven wrong down the line is too daunting for making guesses where they'll be seen) start wondering out loud. So I guess the answer is, more or less, anything goes.

    Do you find that you take different approaches to reviewing different types of stories? If so, how to you adjust the feedback you give to the author when you review?

    I'm probably not altogether consistent when it comes to replying to different chapters within the same story, pffff. For the most part, I just do it in whatever way seems doable at the time. Maybe there'll be quotes. Maybe there won't. Maybe it'll touch on every single chapter since the last time I posted in the thread. Maybe it won't. Maybe I'll get a case of the sillies, and jokes will happen. Maybe not.

    But anyway nah, I don't think I have methods that are specific to this genre or that style or whatever else.

    How did you get into writing?

    There's things I remember from more than three decades ago. That... isn't really one of them, heh. I think I've just... always been making stories, one way or another, for as long as I've been able to speak. It's just something I've pretty much always done.

    What do you enjoy most about writing?

    The short answer: having written. Expanding on that a little: being able to look back on something and think holy crap, I made this. This exists because of me. And on top of that, an even better feeling: wow, this isn't actually as horrible as I thought it was. Writing itself... can be fun. Having immediately written something generally makes me want to fall through a crack in reality out of sheer, self-conscious certainty that I've done a crap job. Coming back to it later on is generally one heck of a relief, heh.

    What do you find most challenging about writing?

    Finding the courage to do it when a very strong faction of your mind is convinced the results will be terrible. A close-ish runner-up: finding an environment conducive to concentrating. Some people can tune out random background noise, even the sound of people talking. I'm not one of those people.

    As a writer, what type of feedback do you find most helpful from reviewers?

    The sort that challenges my assumptions about my abilities. Which is to say, the sort that are inspiring. Encouraging. I think the sentiment I've received that's affected me the most is when someone says something along the lines of you should be proud of this. I think that's an incredibly powerful thing to say to an artist of any kind.

    How do you think the reviews you’ve received have helped improve your writing?

    I'm not sure. I don't think I'm a terribly technical author to begin with. I don't think I actually know what I'm doing in any formal sense, heh. Like playing music without understanding music theory, I guess? I don't know. I guess what I'm getting at is, if anyone's really going to put a finger on it, it'll probably need to be someone other than me.

    About the only thing I can say is that it's been encouraging, which certainly has contributed to a good amount of my public work existing at all, and at times it's gotten me thinking about elements of my stories' verse I might not have thought of otherwise. The latter in turn gets me more invested in my characters. That's probably a good thing, I'd imagine.

    What writing projects are you currently focused on? And do you have any future plans?

    Just The Worldslayers at this time. Following that... nothing chaptered, at least not anything I can foresee. Maybe a stray one-shot here and there, possibly in the same verse as most of my other stuff, possibly not. We'll see.

    What advice to you have for someone looking to contribute to the fanfic community, whether it’s on Serebii or somewhere else?

    Be honest. Which, no, doesn't mean just being as hard and critical as possible. "Brutal" honesty is far from the only sort, and if the criticisms you're leveling are not your own, they're not honest anyhow. What you say, whether positive, negative, both, or something else entirely, should really come from you. It needs to reflect your relationship with the story. If you can't find anything to praise, don't make stuff up. If you can't find anything to criticize, don't make stuff up. If you can't think of anything in particular to say about a given element of the story, don't make stuff up. Replying to stories doesn't have to be about hitting quotas. It doesn't have to be about checking points off a list. It really can just be about letting these people know what you thought and/or felt. No less, no more.

    Finally, any fic recommendations you’d like to offer?

    Sure. Let's go with something finished and something in progress.

    For the former: Time and Tide, which, in addition to garnering some of the strongest emotional reactions (of multiple kinds) that I've ever had to a story, makes one heck of a good point: there's no One True Correct Valid Way to interpret a given universe. Fandom has many voices. Heck, canon itself has many voices, particularly when it comes to something like Pokémon. Imagine. Express. Dare.

    For the latter: System:Reboot, which offers one heck of a creative setting and actually stands on its own quite nicely even if you haven't read the other stories that take place in said setting (Glitched, Switch). That said, I recommend reading them anyhow--if you enjoy one, I bet you'll enjoy (and want to read) the others, too.
     
  10. Sorry this is so late! I had a busy month, and I insisted that because I was the one who first kicked this off that I try to do more interviews. Anyhoo, this month I got to talk to one of our well-known writers here that specialises in one-shots...

    Dramatic Melody!


    How do you choose which fics to read and review? What about a fic keeps you interested and coming back for more?

    I've gravitated more and more towards one-shots, and that's largely because I'm a fan of writing them myself. Not that I think of chaptered fics any less - I have a lot of respect for authors who have such a big project that they require a progression in their stories that only a chaptered fic can provide. But I absolutely love seeing how an author works with the constraints of a one-shot, whether that's length or the promise of a conclusion or whatever else, and what those constraints do to their storytelling.

    Style-wise I love character-driven stories, especially those that thoroughly explore how a character interacts with their world and deals with their respective situations. Similar to why I like one-shots that's mostly because that's what I love writing myself, so yeah. If a fic has strong character dynamics, it's definitely gonna keep me reading, but really any fic that has a strong project and a good understanding of how it conveys its project is awesome enough for me.

    About how many stories would you say you're following and reviewing right now? How do you balance all of those stories and make time to review so often?

    Heh, I'm probably the worst person to ask this question as I am really sporadic when it comes to reviewing. I usually just have weekends or slow weekdays where I suddenly get the drive to review a bunch of fics, which is honestly a bad way of staying active with reviewing ahaha. But in any case I do follow a couple of chaptered fics and one-shot collections now, though getting to reviewing them as soon as possible isn't working out for me.

    What's your favorite part about reviewing?

    How the reviewer and author help each other out! The reviewer obviously helps the author improve their story and their craft in general, but the same can be said for the author helping the reviewer improve how they write their own stories and how they approach storytelling in general. Reading a story with the intention of reviewing it makes you much more focused on its mechanics and elements and all those kinds of things, and in doing so you pick up quite a lot of things that make you go, "Damn, I wish I did that for my story." And those moments are great. Similarly, seeing writers reply to my reviews is always a treat, as on a personal level I'm happy to help a fellow writer out.

    What's your least favorite part about reviewing?

    The fact that I'm not doing much of it tbh. But beyond that I always get these iffy moments where I overthink a certain comment, usually a critique, and second-guess if it's actually a valid and/or helpful thing to say. I'm trying to lessen those doubts, and part of what's helping me out with that is remembering that a review is less about how I think of it and more about how the author can benefit from it. And really, even a comment where you interpret things wrongly could mean something for the author, in that they might not be conveying the idea as clearly as they could.

    Is there a specific storytelling element (e.g. setting, characters, dialogue) you tend to focus on for reviews?

    As I said above, character is always a big part of what makes a story click for me, and if an author understands their characters' dynamics and gives them fleshed out personalities, I'll always commend them for it. A great setting is also something I'm seeing myself appreciate a lot more now, as building up a world is one thing but being able to convey it in a good way is a whole other thing.

    Do you find that you take different approaches to reviewing different types of stories? If so, how to you adjust the feedback you give to the author when you review?

    Hm, I think there’s not much variation in how I review, in that the structure is often the same. If I’m more familiar with the author’s work I tend to make comparisons with their previous fics to better convey what I want to say, but I don’t think that’s what you’re asking for.

    How did you get into writing?

    I answered a similar question here! And I think that covers the gist of it.

    What do you enjoy most about writing?

    I’m gonna answer this in two ways considering my current situation.

    First, writing in general: That there’s no “correct” way of doing it. I mean, there’s good grammar and the basic mechanics of what constitutes a story, yes, but how authors are given the flexibility to approach their works is always something I appreciate about writing. You don’t have to look further than the fics in this forum to see just how varied writing can be, and every one of those authors does things “correctly” and does things “incorrectly” in a way that works for their stories.

    Second, fanfic writing: That it allows me to write about things I actually enjoy. Bit of background, my current work has me writing every day, but as a journalist for a media website. Or in other words, pretty boring stuff. Having to write for work every day has pretty much burned me out of writing in general, but fanfic writing seems to be the exception to that, and so this is pretty much my “creative outlet” or something like that. So I always look forward to nights where the stories I think about are about the people in Hoenn or the conflicts in Unova rather than what’s on the news.

    What do you find most challenging about writing?

    Other than actually finding the time to write, the self-doubt that never seems to leave it. After writing every paragraph there’s always that sense of, “What the heck was that?” “What kind of weak story are you even working with?”, or my personal favorite, “Why do you keep writing if you suck at it?” I don’t want to say it’s an uphill battle, but it’s definitely something I’m trying to lessen but can’t seem to fully shake off until I actually publish what I’m writing. Meh.

    As a writer, what type of feedback do you find most helpful from reviewers?

    This is going to sound like such a cop-out answer, but really every kind of review I appreciate, since I know that whoever reviewed it took the time to not only read my story but also put together a comment with the intention of helping me improve. And that’s really so much to ask from someone as a writer.

    But to be more specific, the reviews that’ve really stuck with me are those that break my project apart and zero in on what didn’t work for them. One example that comes to mind is Dragonfree’s contest review of my entry to Criminal Intent, where she broke down why the central emotional scene of the story both worked and didn’t work for her. That really opened my eyes on how to improve my story upon revision, and looking back that comment really made my story much more fulfilling to publish.

    How do you think the reviews you’ve received have helped improve your writing?

    Like what I said above with Dragonfree's review, the different comments I get have helped me a lot, from simple things like improving my grammar to more complex things like making me think of a whole other (and often better) approach to what I'm writing. The comments I've gotten have also made me do a lot more thinking with my writing, which hopefully is turning out for the better. Hakajin's review of one of my older works was one of the biggest eye-openers I've gotten in that regard, and since then I've always taken that advice of doing more research and really getting into the nitty-gritty of my project before actually executing it.

    What writing projects are you currently focused on? And do you have any future plans?

    A couple of one-shots here and there. I have one that's actually about 75% done in terms of making a first draft (by the time I'm writing this reply), but I'm not happy with where it is now (well, more than usual) so I'm probably gonna revise it from ground up.

    What advice to you have for someone looking to contribute to the fanfic community, whether it’s on Serebii or somewhere else?

    That you make the most out of it if it's two-way! Writing is this whole beast that we love or love to hate depending on what day it is, but reading others' works and reviewing them is a whole other beast that's equally as important. Being both a writer and a reader is what makes joining writing communities such a rewarding experience, and whether that's physical or digital, the interactions and exchanges are really what'll help you in the long run.

    (And as I write that I'm again reminded of how many fics I'm overdue of reviewing. Hah.)

    Finally, any fic recommendations you’d like to offer?

    Of course! I'll also try doing what the previous interviewees have done and not recommend something that's already been mentioned, and I don't see that many one-shots throughout the others' lists, so...

    Chromatic by [Imaginative]:[Clockwork] has been going on for a while now, and it's such a good collection of one-shots that are so distinct from each other but really make a great set of realistic stories. I cannot reiterate enough how amazing of a writer Clockwork is, and they have a lot of amazing one-shots that you can find in their signature. Do yourself a favor and read "Fad". Just trust me on that one.

    A more recent recommendation that's sort-of similar to "Fad" is The Pokemon Trainer's Guide by Phoenixsong, which approaches its project with such care that you can't help but appreciate what it's set out to do.

    My recent Yuletide/contest review binge has also led me to add a lot of great one-shots to my favorites list. "Mojo" by Firebrand is probably my favorite out of all of them, as its premise and setting and characters and everything are all so great. "The Evening Thief" by JFought is the most light-hearted recommendation I'll make in this list, and it really is such a joy to read. And then, on the other end of that spectrum, there's "Worth" by PhalanxSigil, which is just the right kind of heartbreak, really.

    If you want even more heartbreak, one other recommendation I have to make is "Answering Machine" by Blackjack Gabbiani. I mentioned it before in one of my one-shots, but this one has really stuck with me even if it was posted back in 2013. Can you imagine being able to convey that much emotion and weight in under 600 words? How in the world???

    I'll end this with a chaptered fic recommendation: Drowning by Starlight Aurate is everything I ever wanted from a Team Magma and Team Aqua story, and more. You really get a sense of how these teams work and, more interestingly, how these teams can break the minds of their own members.

    This list ended up being longer than I expected, but there are still so much more amazing fics on here that I haven't mentioned! But for now I'll stick with the ones I listed above - they're all really great! :)
     
  11. Ambyssin

    Ambyssin Definitely a winter

    So, we had a bit of a break last month. That one's on my shoulders. With that said, there are currently two interviews in the queue, and I have one of them prepped and ready to go. This one's getting copied over from a Discord conversation, so please let me know if there are any bugs or mistakes. Anyway, this installment's guest surged her way into the Top 3 on the Reviewing Leaderboard last month... a stealth pun for any of you readers of her current project. ;)

    Without any further delay, let's hear from our very own...

    DeliriousAbsol!

    How do you choose which fics to read and review? What about a fic keeps you interested and coming back for more?

    Good characters and a plot that hooks are great elements to keep me interested. I also enjoy use of creative licensing where things might be explained or executed in a way that they can't be in the games. Such as a pokemons' moves being used in unusual ways one wouldn't have really thought about.

    I prefer more sci-fi stories, which is kinda my niche at the moment. So long as a story isn't laced with magic and supernatural elements, you'll probably keep me as a reader.

    About how many stories would you say you're following and reviewing right now? How do you balance all of those stories and make time to review so often?

    I'm not following all that many. Probably only two. It's difficult for me to find a good, solid amount of time to read among my own writing and studies.

    What's your favorite part about reviewing?

    Reading peoples' responses, and knowing that I can share advice that has also helped me to improve as a writer.

    What's your least favorite part about reviewing?

    Honestly? I get nervous. Especially when leaving feedback for someone who is a little more popular in the community. But we were all new once, right?

    Is there a specific storytelling element (e.g. setting, characters, dialogue) you tend to focus on for reviews?

    Story and character development. I really enjoy seeing how the story and its characters grow. Some dialogue and descriptions might stand out to me as well, and if so I like to point them out and compliment them. Writing is an art form, after all. So it's nice to give kudos where it's due.

    I also really enjoy speculating what might happen next. As someone who enjoys receiving those kind of reviews, it's fun for the writer to know just how much the reader is enjoying the story and what things they are looking forward to, or if they are enjoying guessing what's to come ;)

    How did you get into writing?

    Man, I've been writing for years. I can't remember how I ever got into it.

    All my old stories have long since been scrapped. I took a different writing approach and also grew to a degree all the old stuff was just chaff. You won't find anything older than three years old.

    But with that point in mind, that was when I heavily got back into writing Pokemon fanfiction. That's something I've also done for years on and off. But I kinda dropped it as I got older. I got heavily back into it when I came up with the idea for The End. If you don't mind me bringing my faith into this, I saw a way into using the new fairy typing as a form of evangelism akin to Narnia and ran with it. It's a very special story to me, and one I find very hard to let go of.

    What do you enjoy most about writing?

    I write for the sheer joy of writing. It's relaxing, and I love writing for others more than myself. That's the great thing about fanfiction. It's free and readily available, while catering to the fandom. I've met so many great friends through writing Pokemon fanfiction. You don't get that with writing commercial fiction.

    Well, you might, but you'd need to be a social butterfly...

    What do you find most challenging about writing?

    The blank page syndrome.

    As a pantser, I do get writer's block quite frequently. But I just cannot plan out a story to the letter and stay interested.

    Also. Title.

    As a writer, what type of feedback do you find most helpful from reviewers?

    Anything that can help me to grow. I prefer not to get feedback on style. Someone's style is a signature, and not everyone is going to like your style. For example, I'm not a fan of Margaret Atwood's writing style, but she has many fans. So style is a particularly unhelpful thing for someone to comment on.

    But pointing out errors, grammar, misused words... that kind of thing I find helpful. I tend to be repetitive and use rather long sentences. That has been pointed out to me and I'm working on it. My characters tend to do a lot of sighing and staring, so I try to cull it a bit.

    I was writing earlier and trying to figure out how to cut down the amount of times I'd used 'burger' in a small paragraph or two. A lot, to put it bluntly. I fussed over that for I don't know how long! But there aren't many ways to say 'burger' XD nevertheless, you get my point.

    How do you think the reviews you’ve received have helped improve your writing?

    They've improved massively, and given me confidence to post my stories for others to read. If you check the first chapter of The End, you'll see I've clearly stated how nervous I was about posting it. The warm and helpful reviews I've had here have helped with that considerably.

    What writing projects are you currently focused on? And do you have any future plans?

    I'm currently working on System:Reboot, which is gonna be pretty long. I've written I think 59 chapters so far, which is about 20 ahead of what I have currently posted. I'm estimating another two arcs until it's completed.

    As for future projects... I cannot say. Expect some edited The End oneshots every now and then until Reboot is over. There's a project I'm mulling over, but given it might not actually happen I don't really wanna get peoples' hopes up.

    What advice to you have for someone looking to contribute to the fanfic community, whether it’s on Serebii or somewhere else?

    Post your stuff. Post often. Comment on other peoples' posts. Comment often. Join in with community events. We're not scary, honest. I was on the other side of that door once. It's much better on this side.

    Finally, any fic recommendations you’d like to offer?

    Guiding Light by Ambyssin is currently my real binge read

    Also, if you've not seen it yet, Skybound by TikTok. I need to catch up with it, but wow is this a fantastic story

    XxX​

    That'll do it for this installment. I may have another interview going up before the end of month. But, if not, we'll see you guys next month. ^^
     
  12. Negrek

    Negrek Lost but Seeking

    Been a while, hasn't it? Well, we're back this month with the member who took July's leaderboard by storm with a few well-placed reviews. Here to share her thoughts on writing and reviewing, let's turn things over to...

    canisaries!

    How did you get started writing fanfic? Tell us a little about your current projects.

    Well, I've always had a love for writing stories. For the longest time, however, I only considered myself a visual artist and worked on such projects. I only wrote a couple fan theories or such, never seeing myself as an author, but eventually something drove me to try out an actual story for a story's sake. The medium of comics, which I utilized a lot at the time, was too time consuming and lacking in depth to tell the story I wanted, so I brought back the text. The resulting fic was Dear Nemesis, a lighthearted chapter fic about a Twitch Plays Pokémon character seemingly being courted by another character - his nemesis, where the name came. It was liked and fun to write for me, but afterwards I felt like I wanted more from writing, to do something more serious (though still not too serious). This was Agápe, the very same story I'm currently rebooting with my current project Seiren! After Agápe, my writing saw a major change - I wrote a few oneshots with heavier tones and more disturbing themes, fleshing out the protagonist Red. They were in the current style I write in, first person present, in contrast to the third person past I'd used before. This allowed me to get more into the protagonist's head and be more experimental.

    Those oneshots lead me into the story I'm the proudest of yet: Hunter, Haunted. It only got better after I started it - what was supposed to be its original ending became a spot only one third into the whole thing, making the story far more complex and giving than it would have been prior. I had a lot of fun with it, being able to create all kinds of surreal scenarios thanks to the paranormal and psychological themes. One downside to HH, however, was that the graphic imagery and... eccentric protagonist seemed to scare readers off, making me need to work harder for reviews, whether it'd be buying them through a point system, doing a fic review exchange or just not shutting up about it. Seiren still has some of those problems, but it being a newer fic with shorter chapters and less violence seems to patch it up a bit.

    I would say Seiren is about halfway or somewhat over right now. It's my only multiparter currently up and running, but I'm also almost done with a short and sweet oneshot. For the future, I've been planning a PMD world of my own and stories set in that, which would be the first actual non-TPP stories of mine. As for TPP, I'm still drafting the next step in Red's story after Hunter, Haunted and Vivarium.

    So what's Seiren about, then? A shut-in sadist setting out to end the career of a pop star because said celebrity is hogging all the attention of the god he worships. Yeah, remember when I said Agápe wasn't too serious? That's because of the synopsis. Expect yanderes and elaborate schemes.

    It's pretty uncommon to see fanfics set in the TPP universe. What got you interested in exploring that canon?

    Well, TPP fics may be rare in the general pokéfic pool, but they're certainly not unheard of in the TPP fandom itself. I started watching TPP during the very first run and really enjoyed the experience due to its unique nature. It fundamentally rewards creativity, as the fanon is the canon - the players are the ones who come up with the stories and "lore", as it's generally called. In the start, I only did some fanart, but when the playerbase got smaller and we started our more obscure phase, I made a bunch of comics and posts. The community got really tight-knit as we started to be "the ones that stuck around" and I really enjoyed the community and how people seemed to like my content. Still do, even if I've kind of fell off the tracks of the newer playthroughs and become less active due to personal issues. (As I'm writing this, the stream is playing a randomized copy of Pokémon Y, and I don't even know what starter we got.)

    The lore of TPP has a lot one can work with. You have the Pokémon world, and then you have all this added stuff, such as the gods (fossils), the voices (what we call the inputters), the glitches (yeah, the glitches have lore) and so on. What I'm most interested in myself, however, are the characters. With completely chaotic inputs, you get insane nicknames you can try to see meaning in - as an example for those who don't know, we had a Nidoking in the original Red run nicknamed "AAAAAAAAAA", who became known as "King Fonz" in reference to the Happy Days character's catchphrase and began to be depicted wearing a leather jacket. It's the very same Fonz who appears in Seiren, though of course as the interpretation I gave him. Everyones' a little different.

    The character I've given the clear majority of focus is Red, the protagonist of the original run. However, the TPP fandom will agree that my take on him is rather unique. There's no general agreed-upon lore for his character, but him being the sadistic cultist I show him as is not the Red everyone else thinks of. How I ended up with my unorthodox take was a gradual slippery-slope through comics and art. At first he was only a really passionate follower of Helix, then somehow human sacrifice got thrown into the mix (as a joke, I guess), then through months of extrapolation and development he became the misanthropic psycho you can read about today. I've always had a guilty pleasure for edge, and it's clear from my material.

    What kind of feedback do you like to get on your stories? Has a review you've gotten ever had an impact on your writing?

    Any. Please. I like my feedback like I try to make my reviews - with constructive criticism that utilizes examples and valid logic. Vague statements tend to be less helpful and, if negative, more hurtful in a way. I know criticism against one's story should not be taken personally, but unfortunately I'm the type that easily takes stuff to heart. This is why I've had pretty strong reactions to a few reviews, getting outraged or feeling massive shame... luckily, I still have a working filter and (usually) manage to still pick the words of my responses carefully. As for impact, I've had some very helpful points brought up in reviews that I feel have improved my writing upon implementation. That's the kind of help I'd like to give to others as well.

    An element that I don't consider necessary but personally love in reviews is when a reviewer acknowledges little details or fine-tunings put in the story, even if it's just saying "lol" to a cheesy pun. Being a perfectionist, it makes me feel very warm inside to see someone notice and see worth in just a small addition.

    What makes you interested in reviewing a story?

    I'd say about 90% of what makes me interested in reading one. I have a bad habit of being extremely picky about what I read, so I almost always review what I end up getting through. More often than not I have a lot to say, and I know how many writers really want feedback, so I type it out and send it.

    What do you enjoy most about reviewing? What do you find difficult about reviewing?

    I like how reviews can be helpful - not only to the receiving end, but the giving as well. A reviewer might spot a bad or good quality in a fic they read and learn to consider similar things in their own writing, when they otherwise wouldn't have thought of it. Add to this any other writers that may read the post, and you have a lot of benefit on your hands. You might also get a good counterpoint that makes you see things in a new light.

    There are aspects of reviewing that can be tough for me. Personally, I tend to be kind of poor at giving feedback on things more overarching or vague, as I tend to be the best at finding mere nitpicks. It's also why I can struggle to say positive things. I want to say positive things, because me reading all the way to the end means there must be something positive and I also don't want to come off as a total jerk. Thing is, though, that it's most often the flaws that stick out. The things done right feel so natural that you can't even think about them unless someone manages to bring them up specifically. Saying "yeah aside from those flaws this story is all good" at the end of a review is just a copout and barely constructive.

    You mentioned you can have trouble pointing out positives in a review because negative elements tend to stand out more. Is there anything in particular you do to try and find something positive to comment on or otherwise prevent your review from sounding more negative than you'd want?

    Well, I usually manage to recognize at least some of the enjoyable elements in what I read, but if I don't, I turn to review guides for hints on what aspect I may have overlooked. As for avoiding sounding negative, I try to be polite and friendly in how I put my criticism and emphasize how they're only my opinions I'm putting forth in the less absolute flaws. I do have somewhat of an in-built need to not be rude to people online already though sometimes I still do fail, unfortunately ;p, so it doesn't take that much extra effort. Usually how polite or approachable you appear boils down to word choices and how you phrase yourself. Remember to also keep in mind that no matter what you read, someone put effort into it, so you should still treat the author with a certain amount of respect. It also greatly reduces the risk of online fights breaking out, making life easier for many.

    Are there any fanfics you'd recommend to other members?

    Well, like said before, I tend to be annoyingly picky and manage to read very little, so unfortunately I don't have many fics to recommend. However, there's one story I've enjoyed and actually read from start to finish, and that's PMD: Unequivocant by Lucarioknight. If you like epic fantasy adventures with likable characters and an entertaining villain, you should give it a read.
     
  13. Negrek

    Negrek Lost but Seeking

    This month's reviewer managed to take third place on the leaderboard during her first month of participation. Welcome to the reviewer spotlight...

    Firaga Metagross!

    How did you get started writing fanfic? Tell us a little about your current projects.

    Oh, I've had ideas rattling in my head since like 2005 I think, but I didn't start writing until like maybe a decade ago. I had a few stories which ranged from "less than 1000 words completed" to "a few chapters in, then gave up". I really recently got the fanfic bug again (I blame Sun/Moon being really good, among other things) and have a much more concrete writing plan, so I started writing The Skull That Bears Seeds (My first fic published here!), which is almost on its second chapter. It's a story about Team Skull in Alola, from the perspective of one of its admins, as a bunch of tensions in Alola come to a head. I've got another, shorter, more personal story from the perspective of a different character in the story in the works, but considering how slowly I write and how little time I have, who knows when we'll see it.

    What inspired you to write a story about Team Skull? Is there anything in particular you're excited to explore in The Skull that Bears Seeds?

    There's a multitude of small inspirations for my story, but I think what got me to want to write about Team Skull was my enjoyment of their portrayal in S/M. They probably had the closest feel to an actual gang or band of criminals of any of the Pokemon games; the section of the game where you explore Po Town and see the effects of poverty on the members and get a sense of their collective culture really interested me. Plus, them having this sort of secret relationship with Aether adds another interesting plotline to work with.

    I'm having fun going more into detail on how Skull fits into the Alolan community in general and also how Skull internally functions. Basically all of the Pokemon games have very bare-bones depictions of how these teams work, so I want to show the perspective of someone who's deeply embedded in the Skull hierarchy and does more on the bureaucratic end of things. A lot of the major plotlines revolve around how different characters in Team Skull react to a bunch of really big happenings, both original and from the S/M plot, and I'm really excited to get to write those parts.

    How often do you review stories you read? What makes you interested in checking a story out, and what prompts you to leave feedback?

    At least on serebii, I try to review most of the stuff I read, since I don't read a ton anyway and it's a good thing to do. For me, I think the most interesting stories are the one's that play with the canon material in interesting way. I like to be able to see a person's interests and personality through their writing (perhaps a result of being raised on The Chaos Emerald Frontier and a bunch of Fire Emblem self-insert fics) and this is doubly true for Pokemon, a series which I think is overflowing with a large amount of barely developed content.

    A little more on the formatting side, but I don't really like starting reading really established fics on here in general because I'd feel obligated to review and I don't have the time, so I definitely am more inclined to read stuff that's new on here. There's also the upside of getting to watch the writer's journey and support them along the way. :)

    What kind of feedback do you like to get on your stories? Has a review you've gotten ever had an impact on your writing?

    "Constructive Criticism" hahaha. But seriously, encouraging criticism is like 95% of all reviews I've seen on here, and it's definitely helpful. I enjoy fawning praise like most people, but I think that criticism from people who aren't necessarily into your genre or whatever can be really helpful because they come in with a different set of expectations. But I'm down for just about anything respectful on here. Grammar and spelling is helpful, too. It's super tedious and fiction isn't what I'm used to.

    I think the three reviews I've gotten on my story here outnumber everything I've gotten on FF.net in my life time, but my first review I ever got was amazing:
    "I can't decide whether it's terrible or brilliant. It's this bizarre, adjectiveless dissertation."
    There was more to it, but I think that encapsulates it. Certainly made me want to write more.

    I like the feeling of someone caring about my work and I like to reciprocate.

    Is there any criticism that you find particularly helpful? Do you prefer comments on characters, style, structure, etc.?

    I'd accept basically anything written in good faith, but suggestions on improving my prose would be welcome because it's the part of fiction writing that I feel the least experienced/comfortable with. Also, just pointing out inconsistencies in my writing's helpful because I sometimes have the tendency to lose track of what kind of style I'm going for depending on when I actually write a part. Character stuff is helpful, too. Sometimes I get too distracted by thinking of characters as tools for advancing the plot/themes than as people. What I'm trying to say is that what I prefer is whatever y'all can give me.

    Is there anything you find challenging about writing reviews?

    Not just skimming the whole work and missing half of the nuance, subtext, and mistakes. I naturally skim stuff, which means I'll probably never crit anyone's grammar and spelling because it's all a blur to me.
    Otherwise, sometimes its hard for me to come up with concrete negative things to say because I can't always articulate my feelings.

    Are there any fanfics you'd recommend to other members?

    All of Cutlerine's stuff is wonderful and interesting, but it seems like everyone on here knows that.

    The Deprogramming by Arkadelphiak is really fascinating and seems to have very little attention ATM

    All the other trainer fics on here are aight, too, although that's my bias showing :p
     
    Chibi Pika likes this.

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