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Ratings for First Time Stories


MrM

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I'm new so I am still getting used to the reading/writing culture here on GA. I appreciate that it is fairly competative just by the very nature of there being many talented artists here posting their works.

 

So:

 

If, on your first effort, you get a fairly low rating, two stars for instance, will this mean that your work will be pushed underground at the start? 

 

How many chapters in should one go before they pull the plug or should one persevere here with their work and complete it regardless of audience attention?

 

Mind you, I'm not whining so please don't beat on me for that, I'm just asking a question as a first timer trying to get a feel for things.

 

Many thanks!  :boy:

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I'm not an author, but as a comparatively active poster and reviewer I can tell you that stars aren't worth much. They are an anonymous method of feedback and, I've read, will not be present in the new version of the software. Your star rating is based on whoever chose to give you stars, but it doesn't reflect everyone who read your story. Edit: Yeah, as I thought, your 2-stars were based on just a single response, though you have 4 followers for Snowflake.

Edited by Irritable1
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I've not read the chapter but will do so later today. No matter what I or others may think about it, you keep writing as long as you feel the story is not finished. I won't deny it's nice to get reviews and likes, but they're not the main reason why I write. Neither should it be for you, buddy. A wise woman (see the person writing the first response LOL) told me no matter what I write there will be an audience for it. Sometimes it'll be small, and sometimes large. Write what feels right to you and hope you get reviews. Not every author feels the same, but I love the harsh ones. They give me an idea of what I may be doing wrong as an author and gives me a chance to improve.

 

Carlos

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I honestly don't even pay attention to the stars.  I'm more interested in the feedback I receive.  I write for myself, first and foremost, and am thrilled that people seem to like my writing.  I'm sorry someone rated your story so low, but take it with a grain of salt.  It's the opinion of one anonymous person.  Please don't pull the plug on this story.  It's a good story and worth the read.  :hug:

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I never look at those stars and I rarely remember to vote stars. My advise is to ignore them.

I'm bad about remembering to like stories and chapters, too, and this is probably more important to people, even if I also tend to ignore likes on my stories. (But likes of posts in forums is a big deal, lol).

The most significant to me is feedback via review and posts in story forums. Those I treasure, and I try to write them too.

 

PS - I went over and read your first Snowflake chapter, and I'm hooked.

Edited by Timothy M.
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Even as an admin, I never look at the star count on stories or user profiles.  I'll usually look at the number of likes and followers before ever giving consideration to that.  Plus, there are petty people out there that will rate something a one.  The other thing I notice on a multi-chapter story is how many people read chapter 1 vs chapter 2 and chapter 2 vs chapter 3.  There is always some drop off in numbers, but this gives you a good idea of how many people are still reading the story.

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Excellent.

 

Thank you everybody. I can relax about the stars thing then. If it isn't integral to how we operate here (like it does for Yelp or YouTube) then I feel more comfortable posting here.

 

You all make very good points and are providing fine encouragement. Thank you so much! 

 

and

 

 

I'm going to give you 5 stars just for being so bloody sweet! :D

 

 

:heart:

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  • Site Administrator

You got great advice about what to focus on in terms of good feedback from readers. As another writer, I will tell you this--write for you! If you don't like it, you won't enjoy writing it. That leads to less writing, usually. I never suggest that people give up on stories, but sometimes it happens (even I have 2 on holds). It wasn't because of feedback--or lack thereof--but just because I could NOT get the story out on the page. But if YOU like what you're writing, and the story works for you, then keep going. Take advice and comments into consideration if people are trying to be helpful, and ignore folks who give you 2 stars or unhelpful 'I don't like this' commentary as the dross it is.

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You pull the plug MrM, I''ll never speak to you again (Joke), your story isn't to everyone taste and I can say that from experience, but when I was beta reading it for you I'm slowly beginning to like it's not what I would usually go for but keep up the good work and preserve thorough until the end and then after a short break maybe take a different direction, go for a more paranormal theme of take it to outer space write what you want and dont take any notice of the stars write because you enjoy it and dont care what people say just be polite, and if you get a bad review take note and learn from them.

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You pull the plug MrM, I''ll never speak to you again (Joke), your story isn't to everyone taste and I can say that from experience, but when I was beta reading it for you I'm slowly beginning to like it's not what I would usually go for but keep up the good work and preserve thorough until the end and then after a short break maybe take a different direction, go for a more paranormal theme of take it to outer space write what you want and dont take any notice of the stars write because you enjoy it and dont care what people say just be polite, and if you get a bad review take note and learn from them.

 

I'm saving my fantasy one for a bit, Scotty. It might be publishable as a selling novel one day. I've never seen its subject matter done seriously before so I may have come up with something fairly unique.

 

My poem 'Lost Sentinels' is taken from the subject matter of this story.

 

At any rate...I have no intention of stopping Snowflake now. I just wanted to know how ratings worked here. As I have said, many websites use Raings as a default sort. Things rated low at the outset are immediately buried. Yelp is a big offender of this and it loses places business.

 

Anyway...thanks again for Beta Reading and for the encouragement!

 

❤️

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  • 2 months later...

I have a story that's gotten some good response here, and I write (nonfiction) for a living. And one of the things I've discovered is that stars don't count. Astute readers count. Ones who can help you "kill your babies."

 

What I mean is that we don't have the necessary distance from our work to see it clearly. We own the story, literally and figuratively and existentially, and obviously that's of primary importance. But because of that, there's no way we can put ourselves in the position of a reader who's thoroughly unfamiliar with the story we're about to tell, and who may or may not be persuaded to take the ride we're offering.

 

Among those readers will be a rare and precious few whose literary assessment skills are superb. Who can tell us where we've missed the mark or gone over the top in terms of mechanics, style, and/or story. If you can ever find one who's willing to give you feedback without softening the blows, who's comfortable telling you "this (fill in whatever element he or she mentions) is really bad, and for this reason," you have found true Writer's Gold. You always have the freedom to disagree...but it's definitely worth hearing well-reasoned and uncomfortably direct criticism. Stars, not so much. They give you no real useful info.

 

There are occasionally elements in my writing that I'm excessively fond of. A writer's eyes see all his/her babies as beautiful, but some are actually deformed mutants that need to be tied up in a sack with rocks and thrown into a pond. A skilled, well-intentioned, and brutally honest other-set-of-eyes can help immeasurably. It's painful, but you'll be better off for it.

 

If you have somebody like that, screw the ratings. You'll know they won't be about the strength of  your story.

 

I'm intrigued to give your stuff a look and will do so later today.

Edited by Adam Phillips
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  • 2 weeks later...

I have a story that's gotten some good response here, and I write (nonfiction) for a living. And one of the things I've discovered is that stars don't count. Astute readers count. Ones who can help you "kill your babies."

 

What I mean is that we don't have the necessary distance from our work to see it clearly. We own the story, literally and figuratively and existentially, and obviously that's of primary importance. But because of that, there's no way we can put ourselves in the position of a reader who's thoroughly unfamiliar with the story we're about to tell, and who may or may not be persuaded to take the ride we're offering.

 

Among those readers will be a rare and precious few whose literary assessment skills are superb. Who can tell us where we've missed the mark or gone over the top in terms of mechanics, style, and/or story. If you can ever find one who's willing to give you feedback without softening the blows, who's comfortable telling you "this (fill in whatever element he or she mentions) is really bad, and for this reason," you have found true Writer's Gold. You always have the freedom to disagree...but it's definitely worth hearing well-reasoned and uncomfortably direct criticism. Stars, not so much. They give you no real useful info.

 

There are occasionally elements in my writing that I'm excessively fond of. A writer's eyes see all his/her babies as beautiful, but some are actually deformed mutants that need to be tied up in a sack with rocks and thrown into a pond. A skilled, well-intentioned, and brutally honest other-set-of-eyes can help immeasurably. It's painful, but you'll be better off for it.

 

If you have somebody like that, screw the ratings. You'll know they won't be about the strength of  your story.

 

I'm intrigued to give your stuff a look and will do so later today.

 

Wow Adam! Thank you! I'm sorry I just caught this today. I have a couple of folks that are very good at pointing out my problems. They are invaluable to me. If you become one of my readers I would be most honored!

 

Thanks for the response!

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Among those readers will be a rare and precious few whose literary assessment skills are superb. Who can tell us where we've missed the mark or gone over the top in terms of mechanics, style, and/or story. If you can ever find one who's willing to give you feedback without softening the blows, who's comfortable telling you "this (fill in whatever element he or she mentions) is really bad, and for this reason," you have found true Writer's Gold. 

 

Adam is very wise. I agree: I've gotten more useful feedback from people who criticize my work rather than those who compliment me. If they're confused by a story point or if they question a character's motivation, there may well be something wrong that I can't see because I'm too close to the story. It's very valuable to have somebody point this out and have them say "WTF?", and since the story is online, there's no reason why you can't submit a revised version that solves the problem. At least we don't have the problem of the publisher having to recall 50,000 printed books.

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Not all authors want to hear the "WTF".  When a favorite author posted a chapter with a completely unexpected super hard left turn, I said "WTF" in my review, not in those words but you get the drift.  The response I got was to be raked over the coals in the public response saying how awful my comment was and that he worked very hard on the chapter and who the fuck was I to criticize him?  

 

I'm just saying to be careful how you word your "WTF".  I thought I had done ok, but apparently not.

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I agree with Kitt. Before I started writing (January, 2015), I did a LOT of reviewing, and still do. I love to read, so the more authors that succeed and improve, the better. I am always honest in a review, and I never read other reviews before I leave my own. If I like a story or elements of a story, I want to encourage first and foremost. I pick out what I like and comment on it and then QUESTION what I didn't care for. I see no reason to be brutal. So WTF can be 'maybe you should'... It's just as effective and doesn't have a sometimes debilitating effect on the writer. I also try to have patience with a writer... sometimes it takes  a few chapters to get something across that I was looking for. Writers create, and creativity is about being unique, so I try to keep an open mind about what I'm reading, especially with new or newer authors. In the end, we all want to get better, and feedback is a wonderful and necessary thing... but if it isn't constructive, it loses weight, and oft times does more damage than good. Those times, you have to keep in mind that it is one person's opinion. We all want approval, but the other posters are right who say to write for yourself--tell your story your way, and do your best to glean what you can from those invested enough in your story to review, so you can improve. I think over time, we all have to develop a thick skin... but like writing, that's also a process, and in the beginning I think it's understandable that new writers can be a little vulnerable. Fortunately, on this site, I find for the most part, that the people are incredibly supportive... and in my mind, that makes for better writers... just saying... Gary

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I agree with all of the above.  The readers and reviewers here are pretty good at extolling both the positives and the 'maybe you should's of stories.  With my first story here, it was the readers questions and comments about what they'd like to see or know more about that caused me to rewrite and expand it by about 30k words.  It's much better, I think, for all their comments and help.  I don't think I even noticed the stars at first, as the reviews were more critical to helping my writing grow.  I think you'll find that most readers who comment are not so brutal as to write "WTF", but offer suggestions and comments or questions that confuse them.  It's okay to fix things and go back and change them.  Every story I've posted has been edited along the way because of readers comments.  Certainly don't give up writing!  Just let yourself be a little open to amending things.  Most readers here only want to help you write the best story possible. :)

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 I said "WTF" in my review, not in those words but you get the drift.  The response I got was to be raked over the coals in the public response saying how awful my comment was and that he worked very hard on the chapter and who the fuck was I to criticize him?  

 

I'm just saying to be careful how you word your "WTF".  I thought I had done ok, but apparently not.

 

 

I pick out what I like and comment on it and then QUESTION what I didn't care for. I see no reason to be brutal. So WTF can be 'maybe you should'... It's just as effective and doesn't have a sometimes debilitating effect on the writer.

 

Right. To the both of you. Reviewers oughta be sensitive to the issue of how they're going to be received.

 

And the existence of that issue is one reason that reviews, as well as stars, are a less-than-ideal vehicle if your intention is to help a writer. It's public. As a guide to other potential readers of the story, a review has some value. But if in your review you point out something negative, not only have you criticized the writer; you've done it in front of many eyes. If you really want to assist a writer, it seems preferable to me that you do it in private. In an email or via the messaging system here at Gay Authors.

 

In one of the chapter reviews of Crosscurrents, there was a reader who was very complimentary but offered the "advice" that I needed to "revisit [my] use of the semicolon." Predictably, the nice thing he said about my story didn't make as much of an impact on me as the snark about semicolons.

 

Here's why. As a one-liner, in public, the comment was essentially useless to me. I know the ins and outs of punctuation better than many. I'm also aware of something that a lot of people have never thought about re: punctuation., viz., that it serves two purposes, and that occasionally these purposes are sometimes at odds with each other. Punctuation was invented as an aid to clarity. It's this function of punctuation that has caused "rules" to have evolved for punctuating, and violating those rules can compromise clarity. But that's not the only thing punctuation does. An unintended but esthetically delightful subsidiary use of punctuation is to modify a sentence's cadence, that is, its speed and flow and feel and "sound." Its "inflection." A number of skilled professional writers deliberately violate the standard "rules" of punctuation from time to time for the sake achieving something they want with the cadence of the sentence. Of course, to do that effectively, you really need to know your "rules." You need to understand the standard from which you're deviating, and you need to understand the literary consequences of that deviation, good and bad.

 

All that is to say that when I violate punctuation norms in my writing, it's not because I "need to revisit" them. In my opinion, anyway. But whether I do or not, if a reviewer doesn't cite an example or give a general principle which he/she believes I have violated to the writing's detriment, I have no idea what (s)he's talking about or how to begin to "fix" it. I do some fast-and-loose things with semicolons in the context of dependent and independent clauses from time to time, and I do it with complete awareness, and I do it almost always to slow the pace of the sentence. If it's that sort of thing the reviewer is talking about, then what we're discussing is esthetic choices, not necessarily substandard usage. But if you can't specify for me, then the "review" is useless; and you did it in public! And though I don't have a thin skin, I bristled anyway, even though this was not a snarkily-delivered criticism. Likewise, an effusively supportive reviewer said in passing that my story "of course" required "some grammatical and structural editing." Did I receive with graciousness all the other complimentary stuff he said? Hell, no. I focused on the little passing snark. Again, for the same reason. I pride myself on an above-average grasp of the mechanics of language. If I'm effing it up somewhere, I want examples so that I can fix it, if indeed it needs fixing. If you're not going to give me examples, then STFU with your negative bullet-point, lol.

 

Stars. Public reviews. Writers, take them with a grain of salt. And reviewers, consider what your intention is when you write a sentence of critique in your public reviews. And if you're determined to write it in a public review, be as specific as you possibly can, or else your critique will amount to little more than ad hominem.

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So true about the PM'ing. It is my favorite way of pointing something out to an author. To be critical in public is really not my style. As far as punctuation and 'rules', I have learned so much in the last few months. While there is a standard, it is apparent that some very successful authors have their own distinct and different ways of using it. I totally get punctuation for cadence... we all breathe while we read... and if it works, it works.

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  • Site Administrator

Taking a leaf out the good management rulebook: praise in public and criticise in private.

 

Many authors, especially beginning authors, are very sensitive to criticism. Even established authors may choose to not want to see criticism. Negative feedback, even if part of a constructive criticism to encourage them to improve, isn't always welcome. Even when it is, it needs to be handled very diplomatically.

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Taking a leaf out the good management rulebook: praise in public and criticise in private.

 

Quite right - I've learned that the hard way. :facepalm:

I agree with all of the above posts about taking care when criticising. But only saying 'nice' stuff is boring too.

Genuine surprise about the direction a story takes is OK to express (and sometimes a writer wants you to be shocked) and as readers we are allowed to disagree with the choices of the writer. Often saying so (particularly in a story forum) will allow the writer to explain or expand on the matter, or other readers will propose arguments for one view point or the other. I'm sure Aditus appreciated the heated discussion in the RRS forum. :lol:

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Quite right - I've learned that the hard way. :facepalm:

I agree with all of the above posts about taking care when criticising. But only saying 'nice' stuff is boring too.

Genuine surprise about the direction a story takes is OK to express (and sometimes a writer wants you to be shocked) and as readers we are allowed to disagree with the choices of the writer. Often saying so (particularly in a story forum) will allow the writer to explain or expand on the matter, or other readers will propose arguments for one view point or the other. I'm sure Aditus appreciated the heated discussion in the RRS forum. :lol:

Absolutely! I had the time of my life and still go back from time to time wondering about what I unleashed with a harmless little story. :D

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Not all authors want to hear the "WTF".  When a favorite author posted a chapter with a completely unexpected super hard left turn, I said "WTF" in my review, not in those words but you get the drift.  The response I got was to be raked over the coals in the public response saying how awful my comment was and that he worked very hard on the chapter and who the fuck was I to criticize him?  

 

I think if you put your story out on the net for the world to see, you have to be aware that some people may criticize it. I'm honestly not offended if somebody points out a very real mistake or a valid character issue that just slipped past me and my various friends who proofread the story. On the rare occasions I've emailed an author about a story problem, I generally say, "hey, loved the story, thought it was terrific, congratulations... but there was this one little thing that bothered me." If they get offended, there's not much I can do, and I often stress it's just a matter of opinion. On the other hand, I've sometimes seen writers make huge factual errors that just make no sense, and there's no excuse for that. It's either right or it's wrong -- there's no interpretation if it's a historical date, if it's a scientific fact, if it's the spelling of a famous name, or a geographical location.

 

I think there's a way to be critical but also tactful and respectful. I also recognize that authors on the net are writing for free, so they don't really owe us anything. I think it's different if you spend $20 on a hardback novel and it's a piece of crap; if you read a short story or novel on the net for free, be glad you got something. No matter what my comments are, I always try to encourage the author and say, "hey, your story stuck with me for quite some time after I finished reading it, which is rare these days, and please keep writing." Writers need all the encouragement they can get. 

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I think if you put your story out on the net for the world to see, you have to be aware that some people may criticize it.

 

Exactly. And by and large, reviews have always been for and about potential consumers. And creators and consumers don't necessarily have the same aims. I'd still say this, though: Reviewers, make sure you know what your target is when you review. You may not give a flip what the author has to say about your review. And it's not required that you give a flip, either. You may just be writing to warn would-be readers off from the story, or you may be encouraging would-be readers to check the story out. You just need to be aware of the consequences--whether you're aiming at the author or at the would-be and current readers--of the way you say something.

 

And also that thing I said about being specific if you bring a criticism. It's not helpful for either creator or consumer for you to say "Your grammar sucks."  :P

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I find it interesting that you both think I was being uncomplimentary in my comments. I had done nothing but praise the author for sixty some chapters, but that particular chapter took a major plot turn out of the blue and I asked about it. I thought I had been polite but somewhat confused. He apparently did not agree with me however. Oh well. It was the last review I left for the man. I have continued to read what little he has posted since, and to like the chapters, but since my opinion was not wanted unless it was singing his praise, he can do with one less voice in the choir.

 

My point in my first post was to be careful how you word things, that people can take offense at the littlest thing. Some authors want nothing to do with any sort of criticism, constructive or otherwise.

Edited by Kitt
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