Any registered member of Bravo Fleet can leave comments on Stories. Simply log in, and when you scroll to the bottom of a Story, you’ll see the text box for you to fill in. There are some simple guidelines when reviewing Bravo Fleet Stories:
- Follow our usual rules on behaviour: treat fellow members with respect, and do not use comments to troll, flame, or harass members.
- Specifying what you liked, however small, is always more useful than generally saying, 'I liked it!'
- Think hard before giving unsolicited critical feedback; not everyone wants a writing workshop out of the blue.
- Don’t hassle people for reviews; if you want feedback, be specific on where you want help, and remember to thank people for their time!
- If you receive a thoughtful review, it’s nice to leave one for that person, too!
Bravo Fleet is a small writing group, and we usually know each other through games, writing, or Discord. The purpose of the review system is to share enthusiasm and encouragement with friends; to build up our community.
It should go without saying that reviews should be courteous; do not use reviews to troll, flame, or otherwise harass members, whether or not they are the author(s) of the Story. Comments are moderated by the Bravo Fleet Intelligence Officer and any found to be in violation of our rules, or at the reasonable request of the author of the Story or comment, will be deleted.
Positive feedback is always welcome. While any writer enjoys hearing the words ‘I loved it!’, I encourage going further. You don’t have to engage in in-depth analysis, but try being specific - ‘I love this character,’ or ‘I love this line of dialogue,’ or ‘I love this plot development.’ And maybe why you love it (it made you laugh, it made you think, it broke your heart)! It’s a great way to help writers know what people are enjoying about their work. And as a writer, it only makes me better to think about specifics in what I like about other people’s work.
Nobody’s perfect. But we are all doing this for fun. We’re not being paid to write, and we’re not even putting our work out there on one of the big fanfiction sites. Think hard before giving negative feedback, however heartfelt or helpful you might think you are. Is this something the author actually wants? If you’re not sure - don’t do it!
If you’re writing just for fun, you don’t necessarily want to be hit with a huge review breaking down your story line-by-line, highlighting every typo, every grammatical error, every inconsistency in characterisation or plot development. Even if this was the most accurate feedback in the world, it can be incredibly demoralising - especially if the author hasn’t asked for this.
If the author’s welcomed criticism, then the standard rules on courtesy apply. It’s also worth thinking about the difference between errors and taste, and how to express those. It’s one thing to point out a plot inconsistency, another thing to not like a character, and another thing entirely to identify errors in grammar. Try to frame your critical feedback appropriately. Not everything is everyone’s cup of tea, and that’s okay.
It is assumed that anyone would welcome feedback; if that’s not the case, it might be worth noting on your Command page that you don’t want comments. And that’s fine!
Normally, good feedback gives you the warm and fuzzies, and that’s that. Feedback which might be a bit more critical is not always easy to swallow, especially if you’re not used to it, and especially if it’s from a friend or someone you respect. Assuming for the moment the comment was polite and appropriate, it’s okay to take a bit of time with your feelings if you didn’t get the raucous response you were hoping for.
We write for fun in a small community; nobody is keeping score. This is the perfect place to try things out, get things wrong, and to learn and try again. Feel sorry for yourself, then dust yourself off, think about the feedback, and learn. Or - and this is important - maybe you just plain disagree with the feedback. It happens! Crack on and live your best writerly life.
If you really aren’t comfortable with the feedback, please talk to the Intelligence Officer. They can identify if the comment is inappropriate, if it needs taking down, if the writer needs speaking to - or perhaps just helping situate you with your feelings.
Many people love getting feedback. Or, they think they do - what they want is encouragement. And that’s absolutely fine; writing on your own can be a lonely prospect, and we are a social group. But please do not bug people for feedback, especially non-specific feedback. It is, frankly, a rude demand on the time of others to ask them to not only read your work, but do the work to say something about it.
If you wish to solicit feedback, by all means do put up a message in the #stories channel on Discord, or in a paragraph on your Command page. But - and this is essential - ask for something specific. Do you welcome feedback on your writing style? Your grammar? Your dialogue? Your characterisation? Whether something specific that happened in your Story worked or not? If I’m asked ‘what did you think?’ then to be honest, I assume that person wants me to tell them I enjoyed their writing. If someone asks ‘what did you think of X,’ then I assume they actually care about that part of their craft, and I’ll try to give it some thought.
If someone takes the time to give you feedback - especially if you solicited it directly - then be grateful. I have seen - yes, even in our own community - people ask for feedback and then go stony silent when someone gives them a thoughtful response. At the very least, thank them for their time.
But here’s the secret: nothing gets you comments like commenting on other people’s stuff. If someone sits down and takes the time to read my writing and give feedback, real feedback, you bet I feel the social pressure to do the same for them in turn! And if they’re picking up on things I’m writing, if they’re having a good time with things I love, there’s a good chance we have similarities in taste, so there’s a good chance I’ll enjoy their stuff, too.
Honestly, that’s how you get feedback: by giving it out.
Every once in a while, Review Competitions will go up: write the most reviews, perhaps only for Stories under a fleet-wide mission or the like, within the time period to win. But here you have to do more than write ‘I loved it!’
The usual standard is that you should write a good paragraph of feedback for the review to be eligible. Try to smash out at least three sentences of some substance, mentioning things you liked, didn’t like; which amused you, which made you laugh, cry, changed your life. Obviously, the usual expectations on courtesy apply, and a competition-standard review is not subject to anything different in terms of giving out negative feedback (be appropriate!) or the like. But you are expected to find specific things to say, you are expected to demonstrate you have read the work, and you are expected to have given the Story more than five seconds’ consideration.
That paragraph you just read? That’s a good guideline of the minimum length of a competition-standard review. There’ll probably be no bonus points for longer reviews (unless the competition is literally about the best review, but that’s something else entirely), but these will not be competitions about who can spam a Story.
Examples will follow soon.