A/N: Thanks to beta Delphina Valitrix, who contributed insightful critiques and suggestions… and also reminded me to post this.
Will the Real Review Please Stand Up?
Friday, August 6th, 2010, The Wonderful World of Witty Writers went offline for good. The online writing site was doomed from its inception. WoWoWitWrit touted a deviation from the set up of other writing communities: an automated review feature. A writer's piece would be commented upon by a site-approved community of volunteers who had no personality whatsoever. The following messages are just a few in the repertoire that writers would receive to encourage their continued commitment to writing fine pieces of literature:
"I think I liked this."
"Good. Please read my story."
"I don't like this. It wasn't bad, though."
"This was exciting, except for the beginning, middle and end."
"I don't know what your story's about, but I could tell it was deep."
"Why did you put, 'The End'? When are you going to post the next chapter?"
Surprisingly, the reviewing system was an egregious flop; and so, a new method was implemented, known as the Form Review. Each insipid member of the review team was given a form similar to this:
Dear (pen name of writer),
Reading (the title of story) has been (adjective). This story reminds me of (some relatable item or subject in reviewer's experience).
Your use of (chose a literary term) was (adjective).
There was one aspect I found (adjective). It was,"(insert quote from story)." I think it was written (adverb).
I think you should consider (verb) in the future.
(Reviewer's pen name)
A list of adjectives and adverbs was included to inspire the reviewer. Here is a portion of the list:
Adjectives – amazing, yellow, incredible, odiferous, adventurous, colorful, filthy, freakish, frank, fortunate, odd, open, mysterious, repulsive, intimidating, talented, important, cruel, intense, shrinking, combative, virulent, sympathetic, crowded, tempestuous, large.
Adverb – happily, joyfully, crazily, hatefully, possibly, beautifully, agedly, frostily, kindly, angrily, coyly, thirstily, hopefully.
Verb – go, stay, run, write, jog, hop, sing, walk, dance, talk, eat, frown, love, laugh, hate, scorn, update, joke, make, reach, toggle, glance, ignore, increase, feel, fret, anger, scoot
The creators were dismayed at the results:
(A review posted on WoWoWitWrit)
Dear Greg Handy With Pen,
Reading The Scuba Diving Encounter has been shrinking. This story reminds me of brushing my teeth.
Your use of onomatopoeia was repulsive.
There was one aspect I found intimidating. It was "through the crustaceous remains." I think it was written coyly.
I think you should consider jog in the future.
Co-founder, Guy Effryman, admitted the flaw in the design of WoWoWitWrit's review practices. "You can't expect writers to submit good stories when the reviews are unoriginal and unhelpful."
But, while The Wonderful World of Witty Writers seemed like a loss to Effryman, it led one researcher to an incredible discovery. "I found it especially provocative that writers, adamant about the seriousness of their art, averred that they did not post on online writing sites for the review, but out of the need to write," wrote Trulie A. Pauld, who has a Ph.D. in social anthropology and has researched this phenomenon in her book, The Review Factor. "If that were the case," explained Dr. Pauld, "the quality of the review would have had no impact; but, it seems to cause a reaction. This leaves two alternatives: either the author was insincere, or the influence of feedback took precedence over the gratification of writing. [WoWoWitWrit] may have illustrated either one or both of these conjectures."
Dr. Pauld has formulated the hypothesis, described summarily in these three words: reviews are addictive. Of course, this statement is known to be fact by online fiction writers.
The article above is being posted to create awareness for the very real and absorbing addiction being experienced by many. The first step is admitting you have an addiction.
Example of Step 1:"Hi. My name is M.T., and I am a review addict."
Try it. It is amazingly freeing. It is even more liberating if you aren't just speaking it to your screen. Click the little "Review this story/chapter" icon and make Step 1 a public statement, as you begin the journey toward freedom.