Do you know all those posts out here about being supportive of young artists and being careful with how you talk to them about their art? Or just appreciating fanart in general and not being a total asshole?
That doesn’t exist for fanfic writers.
I am so freaking tired of seeing posts talking about “what a pain it is to rake through shitty fanfic” and memes about “shitty fanfic existing in abundance” , “shitty fanfic being the only fics that update regularly”, “popular pairings having a ton of fanfic but only a few good ones”, and all this crappy attitude towards fanfics that may not be that eloquent or fandom famous.
Don’t be an asshole. Everyone needs to start somewhere. Maybe in a few years these writers will improve and make much better fanfic. Even if they don’t, they are doing something they love and should not be freaking criticized for it. Keep your ranting and opinions about “shitty fanfic” to yourself. You’re making a majority of fanfic writers feel self-conscious, unmotivated, and even more unappreciated.
Days like ‘fanfic writer appreciation day’ are super nice, but ultimately fall short unless we fix this horrid attitude fandoms have towards fanfic.
Young authors don’t get the breaks that young artists do. New artists will post a sketch and get boatloads of encouragement. New authors will most likely either get ignored or get hatemail (both have happened to me when I was 14).
Everyone writes “shitty fanfic” when they start out. But if you shit on artists when they’re going through their “shitty fanfic” stage then all you’re ever going to get is “shitty fanfic” because young authors won’t stick around long enough to get better
If you can, encourage them while suggesting things they can do to improve. Compliment their enthusiasm, or their good ideas, then gently mention things that they could do to improve – tighten up a long-winded narrative, for instance, or questioning if someone is acting OOC. Offer to act as a beta/sounding board for a writer in whom you see potential if they apologise for being ‘new at this and Idk how good it is’. On tumblr especially you can often see from their posts or notes on a fic whether a new writer is someone who wants to get better at it, and would welcome constructive criticism and advice.
Or maybe just don’t unless they specifically ask you for it. Would you tell an artist that you think they could improve their drawing/painting if they would work on their rendering skills or their lineart or whatever isn’t perfect in your opinion? Would you tell a knitter their handcrafted sweater would look much better if their stitches weren’t so loose? Why is it okay to concrit someone without invitation? And what makes you, as the person who does the concrit, to a reliable expert? Even among so called *experts*, there’s wide disagreement on what makes writing perfect, and the internet is full of (often contradicting) advice. Just let the young writers (or any fanwriter, really) do what they enjoy. If they want a beta, they’ll ask for it. If they want concrit, they ask for it. You never know the person on the receiving end of your well-meant advice, and critique dressed up as compliments just comes across as backhanded and can shatter someone who just wanted to have fun.
Writers get better through practice, but if they always feel sub par because people find reasons to nitpick, this will just stomp out any joy they might find. So. Don’t do this unless they ask you to. You can *offer* by asking them if they want your help/advice/expertise if they indicate something like this, but don’t ambush them with it without asking first.