Tolkien, artist

Betas and Reviews

No, not Betas as in the fish, betas as in having a story reviewed and edited by an outside person before putting the story onto a public reading board. I act as a beta for one author regularly as well as with a group of people who, thankfully, have even better eyes than I do and catch more quibbles than I. The group manages to fine-tune stories beautifully and there are several members who have taught me a lot about how picky I can legitimately get in a run-through. I'm always afraid of hurting the feelings of the author, but I can catch most spelling errors very easily and grammatical errors quite often, so I guess I hold my own with my fellow Lizards. My hats off to them and other beta readers, though. Because when a story is not beta-read, it can bring a good story down. I read and reviewed at least one story last night where I did mention that they should have had their story beta-read before posting it. The story was excellent, but the spelling and grammar errors most certainly pulled away from the tale as I was reading it.

Beta Fish

This is a beta fish. This is not indicative of
the work that a beta reader will do for an author.

I have been reading and reviewing for my participation in the MEFA (Middle Earth Fanfiction Awards). This requires me to read stories (no problem there) and review them. The best reviews need a review of at least 1000 words. That's really hard for me. I tend to be quite concise in my day-to-day reviews, and expanding them to reach the word minimum is very difficult. But I am trudging through. I feel that I owe it to the authors who so enrich my life by writing down their visions for others to share. At least tonight is reserved for my beta work, so I won't have to find the words for my reviews. I just wish that the words came easier, I'll continue trying to read and review to my best ability for as long as I can, though. It is fun to read (and in some cases to re-read) some stories again.
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I have a problem with reviewing the MEFA's because I do like to support authors I read by giving them the highest reviews I can. But 99 % of the time, I have already reviewed the story elsewhere, and the review was a 'knee-jerk' - that is it came straight from the gut and the heart; a 'WOW, I love this! Have to review right now!' And I feel those reviews are more real, more spontaneous than those I do for the MEFA's, which I write more formally, an overview rather than a chapter-by-chapter. While I still love the stories, I think my original reviews came straight from my heart, when I was thrilled at what I had just read, and come across as far more enthusiastic. Still, I hope the authors know that I am trying to write an overview, and takes the review in the spirit in which they are given. I am so glad that I cannot be a participant ! Every year there seems to be a big upset, some-one leaves the fandom because they don't get placed. Too stressful. But I do love seeing stories I have been following and authors I love get the awards that are due to them.

Edited at 2010-10-25 10:19 am (UTC)
I try to review by chapter also, for those authors that I love to read (love that you have two new chapters that I can drown in later today). But I don't mind putting an overall review together for people who may not have read that author before.

As for you not being able to participate, you're high on my list anyway, so obviously the MEFAs are skewed.

Ooops - gotta run or I'll be late for my Chiropractor.

- Erulisse (one L)
But I don't mind putting an overall review together for people who may not have read that author before.

Actually that is a good point. I almost always read a few reviews before I read a story. A well-written review usually indicates that the story is well-written, and since I don't mind spoilers at all (they never detract from the enjoyment I find in reading a story) they can also act as a hook.

I had an idea that the MEFA's allowed NC17 this year, but people didn't know, and then later I read that it may depend on what the rating covers. I think too much sex is still a no-no, I don't know. I thought it was okay, and then got confused again. I have a list of NC17 authors to nominate next year, now that they are allowed, so I am going to do it anyway, and see what happens. Either the stories will be allowed or they won't. :\ But awards are not for me; makes it seem to serious. I mean, I know my stuff is depressing, but I still enjoy it d;-)

Edited at 2010-10-25 11:35 am (UTC)
OMG, do you really think your "stuff" is depressing? I find it uplifting. Sure some really, really bad things happened and are still happening, but throughout your writing is a strong beam of light at tne end. And bringing back my favorite Feanoreans, well that is lots of icing on my cake. And now you're doing some VERY interesting things with Huan - I adore dogs. So, I don't find your work depressing in the least bit.

- Erulisse (one L)
I don't find it depressing, lol. I suffer depression, so the last thing I would do is work on something that was unremittingly bleak. I say it deals with people going through trials, (some awful) but surviving them. And bringing back your (and mine)favorite Fëanorions is fun, not depressing, but people have called my work darkfic (and some not read it because of that) since I began posting, so I kind of assumed reading it was akin to a test of endurance for the readers - or maybe that's just the length, lol. :D
It's not 1000 words, it's only 1000 characters, which I think is usually something around 300 words - thank God, or else I probably woudn't be able to finish a single review. *g*
Is it 1000 characters? That would be MUCH easier. I'll double-check that when I have time to sit and review again :-)

I am SO honored that you read my silly little LJ, Esteliel. You just made my day (along with Sian's two new chapters in Magnificat).

- Erulisse (one L)
Is it 1000 characters?

Yes, it must be - my 10 point reviews don't look all that long to me, when I read them back.
Huggles, have you been writing out 1000 words? Not that it's a problem, it would be easy to do that for longer works, but harder for drabbles, lol!
1000 words of fiction is a very good day writing-wise for me - I'd never be able to accomplish a 1000-word review. 1000 characters are already difficult, as I have this inane notion that my reviews should be as clever as the stories I review, which really just sets me up for constant failure. ;) But as there's a deadline for the MEFA reviews, in the end I usually give up and hope that the people I review will be happy to get the points, no matter how ill-constructed the actcual review itself.

I do read, though I'm really behind on reading and commenting. Maybe it's the autumn weather. :/ But today I will write, no matter what...
I guess I hold my own with my fellow Lizards.

You most certainly do, and I, for one, greatly value your input.

On MEFAs, oh, this pains me. In the midst of moving and an increasingly intensifying new job, my leisure time is at a premium, and my MEFA Wish List is massive. I don't know how I am going to do it justice.
You are VERY kind, Pande, and you are one of those whose input I have learned from over the months. I value what you write. As for the MEFAs, it took me a while and I know I won't get everything done that I want, but I'll do the best that I can and, after all, isn't that all that is asked?

- Erulisse (one L)
I did not dare post my first essay or story until I got someone else to review them. I must thank you, 1L, for your reviews and encouragement at the lizards, they are always a boost (sorry, I have now adopted that as your alias, hope you dont mind). It is great to belong to a friendly group of people who can read my ramblings with a fresh pair of eyes. Additionally, since elfscribe agreed to beta read my WIP I have learnt tons and tons, I can't thank her enough.

Please don't mention MEFAs, I seem to go into a mental block faced with the empty review form. I find it difficult to write reviews, must be one of the only things that makes me tongue-tied!
I am honored by the alias "1L" and it certainly works for me. I took the name Erulisse very early on - it was from one of Fiondil's tales and means Grace of God. I am fond of both Fiondil and the meaning. When I joined the Lizards I was informed that there had been a previous Erulisse who spelled her name with 2 ells, so I began the (one L) clarification of my name and I'm pleased with how you, Pande, and other have embraced both it and me. All is good :-)

- Erulisse (one L)
One of the things I've most appreciated about being a member of the LOTR fan community was getting feedback on writing and well as encouragement to keep writing. Over the years, I've been lucky enough to work with a couple of really wonderful beta readers. The Lizards is an excellent group, with astute readers who push you to be better but do it in a supportive manner, which is so important for us writers who put our egos on the line publishing our work.
I've very much appreciated your contributions to the Lizard Council.
Re: reviews on the MEFAs. I'm way behind what I wanted to do there. I find that there is pressure to do a really good job with the review, rather than the usual informal gush that often constitutes my review on an archive and that takes time, often going back and rereading the story. On the other hand, from an author's perspective there's nothing like the reviews we get on the MEFAs. I find that alone is worth the whole process, whether I win anything or not. Thanks for spending the time to make writers happy.
Cheers!
Thank you, Elfscribe. You are very kind (and one of those authors that I truly love to read as well).

- Erulisse (one L)