I have to disagree, but only partially, with your criticisms regarding Mary Sue/self insert stories. I would argue that creating an additional character, placing him/her within the narrative, and using that vantage point to both view and interact with the canon is possibly the best way to explore Middle-earth through one's own writing. (I'm trying to quote you from memory, and I'm probably sucking.) I agree that to pull it off properly requires a level of skill that most MS/TW authors simply don't have. They can't really be blamed; they are for the most part inexperienced writers interacting with the text, and lots of times they are young people with little life experience and most of what they've learned about sex and relationships has come out of reading romance novels.
Author's Response: Hello Pink, I applogize as I only now realized that you had reviewed this and I do make an effort to reply to all reviews and I do thank you for yours as you have definately given me something to think on as I never looked at it that way. I am definately all for younger readers exploring Middle Earth, In fact I think it is wonderful when someone younger can tear themselves away from twitter and facebook and whatever else is popular to pick up a book that they will read and enjoy so much that they want to explore it further. I wrote this essay a while back and I have softened my stance on Mary sues as there are groups out there who for some reason make a point or pursuing stories that contain what they feel is a sue I am no longer so bothered as when I started to write my very first attempt was very much a sue and so it was really hypocritical of me. I know that if someone had come along and torn me apart that I would have been so upset that I would have given up on writing all together but fortunately that was not the case so it is really not fair of me, I do try to offer advice when I can to younger writers to improve as that is what really helped me along when I was getting started. Thank you again for your review, you have truly given me something to mull over.
I suppose I do understand authors taking constructive criticism as a flame. I remember endless essays I did for English, and I accepted the marks and anything the teachers said about them with equanimity, because they were not personal to me. I did not give a toss about Macbeth or hubris, or Romeo and Juliet. It did not personally touch me at all, it was * work *. A story is quite different, every-one does put a lot of themselves into it, and it then does become a personal affront if some-one says it is a pierce of cack. It is even more so, I think, when it is a self insert as it seems like an attack upon the writer, in a way it is as if the reviewer is saying: '' I don't like you. '', whereas it is probably more a case of '' Middle-earth does not need you in it. ''
I would love my oldest uncle, who taught English for so long to come on and review, as he would '' mark '' stories as a professional teacher, without being swayed by anything except the content of the work itself. He would not automatically dismiss anything until he had read it, whereas I know I, for instance, hate Mary Sue's and girl-falls-into-Middle-earth and am harsh on them. Other people can't stand slash and are down on that, and some won't read anything AU, so personal taste dictate their reviews - well not so much on here, but places like FF.net where flaming is allowed. I might pick about 5 chapters of different stories and see if he has time to read them and * mark * them. He would do it without bias but purely as an English teacher and it would interest me since it would be some-one who is not a Tolkien fan judging the writing solely on its own merits. I look at the writing, but I am not a teacher, and not trained to see it as they do. And of course, I do love Tolkien. I actually like '' brainstorm '' reviews, not a round robin as such, but where people make suggestions of what they would like to see in the story - if any-one wanted to see anything of course. I think role playing for a few years has made me quite used to bouncing ideas off people. If I like a story I will review it, no-one needs to ask, but R&R!! is I feel a bit rude. How much time does it take to put something like: '' I would appreciate any comments, thank you. '' . Plus from looking at people on FF.net who put that and receive reviews like: '' Lolz u rock, plz updayte suun1111! '' What is the point of that except as an ego boost? It says nothing about the story or the writing or even what the reader liked about it.
I have got to say I was wondering for ages what R&R meant, I am such a twonk, I thought Why are they putting Rest and Recuperation at the end of their summaries? O.o. Was writing it that exhausting, then? Poor things. . It was only when I read Read and Review in full I thought: Ahhh, and felt really stupid. >.<
Obviously some Tolkien officiandos are going to slam well... everything, unless it is '' more canon than canon '' , although it would be more productive to look at any piece of writing as a teacher and mark it as an assignment or exam paper, and tell them how to improve, or what was good about it and what needed work. But Tolkien lovers probably are the hardest to please of any fandom. I know when I first discovered it, I thought it was solely '' gap filler '' type stories or '' what if? '' written by people who knew his works inside out and back to front. I didn't realize that the storm of enthusiasm which lead to role play sites had also birthed a plague of self insert/Mary Sue's. If I had not read 3 excellent stories at the beginning: '' For The Love of the Lord of the White Tree. '', '' To see a World '' and '' Annestel '' I probably would have never read any more and joined the purist side, some of whom think that all ff writers should be torn apart by wild dogs. I think that's an unfair view now, as there is some superb Tolkien ff around, it probably has the best writing of any fandom.
I rather think any absolute purist would deny the fact fanfiction even existed and not bother to review, even to flame.
I joined one forum around the time COH was released and a more serious, joyless bunch of stuffy, dusty people I have never encountered.
Ye Gods, Tolkien makes me wildly enthusiastic, these lot were so up their own backsides, so snobbish and so pedantic I used to read their prim, self important little essays with my mouth open. Somehow I always thought Tolkien's world was marvelous, rich and exciting and the managed to turn it into some old fossil kept under glass which was static, untouchable and actually boring. Tolkien had a mind for the epic - they did not, they rather reminded me of literary Scrooges.
I just shook my head and left. They sucked all the thrill from something I loved and I would have said that was impossible. But fanfiction - to them? Pish or plaguerism, take your pick, but so, so not done dear, no, no we don't associate with those sort of people.
Kiss. My. Bum.
They obviously have not read any good ff works, no, make that anything at all, but feel Tolkien should not be touched and when he himself said he would '' leave scope for other minds wielding paint and music and drama. '' that attitude is painful!
Yes, being the man he was of the time he was, there would be some stories he probably would have apoplexy over, but equally, I have read and reviewed some very canonical, book based ones which I think he would approve of.
Author's Response: It is my experience that some people will take anything against their character quite personally and that applies to both RPG’ing and fanfic and its nothing personal but if the character is a huge flaming sue then its not so much a personal flame as the character has fallen into a dangerous stereotype of everybody loves and wants to marry her, especially Legolas.rnrnIt would be interesting to have someone look at a story for how it is structured and so on and not be swayed by the fact it’s a LOTR story since I know I absolutely could not do it because Middle Earth feels like too much of a second home to me, and I know I would definitely be in trouble, lol, as often I just get going on something and have to stop myself to make sure it all makes sense and I have not invented a bunch of new words XDrnrnLike we do all day long in the OR, I honestly loose count of how many times someone will say something pause and then go “Is that actually a word that I now just used?”rnrnI have never really joined any of those sites such as those you mentioned because I know truthfully that they would end up boring me to tears and would probably make me feel 3 inches tall because they know every last date or everything ever kind of thing and that is rather intimating to someone, I love Tolkien’s work but it would upset me to find it so “dry” and more like they are mourning it than actually celebrating and enjoying it.rnrnShort forms, I have to admit I hate them for the most part though I was very guilty of using them a lot when I was charting at the Nursing home just because I never ever had enough time no matter what I did so anything to save sometime was a great help but they are dangerous in that you think you have learned them all and then new ones always spring up, PRN, A and C, A and P, A and D. It does look a better than just throwing in a couple letters if the writer outlines abit more clearly what they are looking for, that way I feel better prepared to oblige them. rnrnPeople write fan fiction for really different reasons, Some people do so because they want to self insert themselves into Middle Earth and personally I stay as far away as possible from stories like that but that is just person preference while others do not want to change Middle Earth but explore it through there own writing. There are proably just as many reasons as to why people write as there are stories out there because everyone is so unique.rnrnI remember in the documentary “Ringers” it talked about how Tolkien reacted to fans reacting to his work and he said something along the lines “The younger population have identified to my stories in a way I will never understand” Something alone that extent, I can’t find the direct quote online but that one quote about leaving it to the scope of other minds is truly my favorite because I honestly believed he didn’t want his world to disappear from imagination as soon as you finished the book, that his stories would live on.rnrnTolkien’s Fandom is undoubtedly the most difficult Fandom and I would say it has the most hardcore fans as well because while some people want to say Anime has much stronger fandom’s I adamantly disagree because you see it in the way that every week there is a new “Flavor” whether it be Sailor Moon, Pokemon, Nauroto it changes so often I loose track and its mostly kids that outgrow it anyways while “Ringers” I find grow and mature into it and enjoy the books on an entirely new level as they grow older. They are not something you read once and toss aside, you know you will come back and read them again and again through the years and I agree that Lord of the Rings has the best Fanfiction as well. rn
Those were some interesting points you brought up. I would have to disagree with you on the point of authors asking for reviews. I know I do it, and although I never really sat down and though about it, I would have to say that I want to know what reactions I get from readers.
Anyway, I had better stop now while I'm ahead, because I am sure you don't want to hear my ramblings.
Overall, a thought provoking essay.
Author's Response: Thank you very much for the review. Absolutely feel free to disagree with anything I have said in here, these are just my own views and opinions and I realize that not everyone is going to agree with them and that’s fine and I can respect that. I have come to review asking for reviews and asking for critique as two completely different things, and again this is my personal opinion but it seems when reviews are demanded it feels too much like someone is just looking for attention and wants to be told how fantastic their fic is while a more serious writer wants to hear what the writer honestly thought and while I may go on about how much I loved the story I do try to include specific examples of what truly stood out in my mind so that the writer can really see what stood out in the story and realize that whatever technique they were using was effective.rnrnI am with you in that I love getting reactions from readers as well, as to what they liked, didn’t like and so on about the story, I always find that helpful so that I can make changes so I am definitely with you there.rnrnLOL, feel free to ramble on, I don’t mind, I do it quite abit myself ;)rn
Great subject Anwyn and a terrific explanation. A lot of that would apply to me. There are stories I must get around to reviewing, but some deserve very long reviews, [ often completed works ] while others I like to encourage the author onward and show I am enjoying it, but would probably wait until the end until writing a long review of my thoughts and feelings on it. I think you are a good * reviewer * in the sense you can encourage and offer suggestions. I know people sometimes see any critique of their work as a flame, but it is not. I think that is a case of '' It's my baby , leave it alone. '' But agents would be a lot more vicious in there criticisms, so I suppose it depends on whether the story is important to the writer as a means of gathering praise, or just something they like to do. When I was first reading work on here a couple of years ago, I did not even notice there were reviews [ blind as a bat ], or post counts. I determined when the site was upgraded that I would just put my writing on as a gesture to show I had done something and the idea of reviews was strange to me. I didn't care if I got any and would never ask for any, the writing is what I enjoy. I won't read stories where people put R & R! Although I will read stories when people ask politely for criticism and input, as that's entirely different. Like you I avoid the stories you have listed, people-from-this-Age-in-Middle-earth, tenth Walker, most Legomances , all self inserts, as they are done to death, and look for the longer, plotty, big stories, although I have read some superb one shots. But since I wrote for * mumble mumble * years alone and screamed when any-one tried to read my stuff, 0 reviews would not matter to me, I would still need to write. An interesting topic, I think I will do my own one on this. Take care.
Author's Response: Thank you very much :) It does seem like we are on the save wavelength in that I too have a huge back log of stories I have been meaning to review which is compounded by the fact I will have to also re-read the story to be fair in that I am not taking things from the top of my head. I really do not have the patience for anyone who takes critique and immediately screams that I am “flaming” them, because that to me is a show if immaturity and I just don’t have the patience for that. However, it is of course perfectly fine if they want to ignore me completely, that is their choice but I do get irked when someone accuses me of flaming when I am not. I think the last time I may have even come close to “flaming” though it was not about a story, but more when someone blatantly stole Anwyn, name et all and used her in his own little fantasy story without asking my permission first and when I confronted him about it he said that he felt quite certain I would be cool with it, I was far from ‘cool with it” lol, and ripped a shred off him…and he changed the character name very slightly and continued on anyways, can’t win them all I suppose. I get pretty turned off when I get the impression someone is demanding a “review” but they are just expecting praise for the story and really seeking attention more than anything else and really I am not big into stroking the ego, though if someone asks me to review a story and let them know what I am honestly think then I am always more than happy to do so but I am not interested in mouthing empty praises. Its hard not to come off as incredibly harsh when writing this, but the thing is that there is always something else to be done, I really love reading the stories of other people and reviewing what not but I do not have the time for *another* Legomance as its just been completely done to death and I don’t go for any kind of romance film or book related and while I realize if maturely written a romance involving Legolas can be quite good as we have seen but more often than not it comes off as wish fulfillment and self insets/mary sues. Though I am going to stop rambling now, and I am off to check out your response to this :)
Thanks for the very revealing essay, Anwyn. You certainly take your reviewing seriously and I'm sure it's greatly appreciated. Keep up the good work.
Author's Response: Hmmm, yeah, it does seem like I take this pretty seriously eh? Well, I do look at fanfiction as I do most things in that ifrnit is worth doing at all it is worth doing well, and same goes for the review though I am trying to make it a habit to reivewrnmore often as there are many wonderful stories on here. Thank you very much for your review on my review of reviews lol ;)
You made me think about a few things. I have been trying to leave reviews for everything I read here. I try to be specific about what I liked, yet brief. I think it's imperative to say SOMETHING when someone is sharing their imagination with you so freely. So I try and leave a note at least, that I've been there.
On the topic of receiving reviews.. hmmm. Since I'm new I guess it was nice to get some. I'm finding my voice, so to speak. So when I look and see how many people have read the stories I've posted, I would like to put a personality to the number. When someone leaves a review, you know something about them. If that makes any sense. Will I not finish my story if I don't get reviews? Of couse I will finish, I gotta get this thing out of my head!
Author's Response: I do try to leave a review but what ends up happening way too often is that I will get distracted by something else and I rndo try to write a review immediately after reading something and while everything is still fresh in my mind becuase it isrnreally not the same when you come back to something a few days later. I definately understand what you mean thoughrnabout putting a personality or a name to the people that are reading the story in that I can see in numbers that people are at leastrnclicking on the story but thats not nearly the same. So yes, it makes perfect sense to me! :Drn