Excellent thread. Let's see here.
>Do you feel you've improved as an author from your experiences in /fic/? How so? (this is easily achieved; just compare some of your old works to the more recent ones)
Bolded part is nonsense. This would involve reading my older work without rivers of blood pouring out of my eyes. But seriously, an unequivocal yes. I had a number of recurring issues that I wasn't aware were issues; I simply didn't know better. Stuff like an unhealthy ellipses fetish, infodump paragraphs rather than weaving info into the narrative, and this weird quirk that I've seen a few other reviewees do, which I refer to as "show and
tell" (e.g. Rainbow Dash drooped her ears and looked away, feeling very very sad.) Laden with all these issues, I still somehow made it up onto EQD, so I didn't discover /fic/ for months after. Between lurking TTG and other review threads, and getting some direct advise from a strapping young chap named Dublio, I was able to identify these issues and knock them away in short order. I feel like there's a clearly observable leap in quality between my pre-/fic/-discovery and post-/fic/-discovery writing. Between /fic/-discovery and present, harder to say. I've certainly learned a lot of grammatical nuance, and I'm sure that more writing with goals (e.g. this chapter I'm gonna focus on SDT, this chapter I'm gonna focus on Pinkie's characterization, etc) has helped, but even taking a hesitant peek at early-post-/fic/-discovery, it's harder for me to see the improvements. I imagine I can't see them because they're subtle, but in reality I'm sure it's something that a neutral third party would have to judge.
>What helped you to improve?
Knowledge, per above. Presumably practice but harder to be sure, per above. Funny story regarding reviewing: I'd wanted to chip into TTG for a while, honestly just to repay my karma, but I always made excuses for being too busy. And then someone on the Internet was wrong, and made me so mad that I triple-posted (http://www.ponychan.net/chan/fic/res/97243.html#97398
though the mods cleaned up the triple-post), and then I did some reviews, and now here we are. Granted, the majority of my reviews are no longer in TTG (private reviews, write-off reviews, Seattle's Angels, etc) but I at least like to pretend that I'm being helpful. Regarding if this is helpful for myself, I don't think any reviewer here is going to make the claim otherwise. It forces you to learn more grammar rules, gives you an eye for catching mistakes, and grants you experience with objectively reviewing a story, which you can then desperately fail at applying to self-reviewing your own stories. We say it a lot but it bears repeating: if you're not reviewing, start. If not for the feel-good of helping others, then at least do it to improve yourself as a writer.
Participating in write-offs has also been enjoyable. The reviewer side, per above, but also it's good to read the other reviews, because unlike the uncouth masses we actually try to stay critical. I loved Story X, but Bob hated it. Why? Is it just personal differences in taste or did I miss something? If the latter, is this a lesson I could apply to my own writing? As for participating on the writing side, it gives me an excuse to experiment. In all honesty, my primary drive has been and still is my first crossover longfic. But having an excuse to write a quick fun 6k story in a completely different style is certainly a boon as it provides an exercise to stretch myself well if you ignore the fact that this particular 6k was panned in its original form and then I was convinced that it needed to be stretched into a 50k or thereabouts and then I wrote chapter 2 and then my prereader astutely pointed out that it was garbage and then i tried to rewrite it so that it wasn't garbage and then even I could tell it was still garbage and then $%^#%@$% and then it's on hiatus for a bit
I guess the downside to all this is that I'm a lot busier. Ignoring write-offs and reviews and sillily long chan posts, and only counting my active stories, I've written maybe 1k in the last month or more. I regret not writing more on those stories, but I don't regret any of the not-writing-those-stories that I'm doing, which is a sometimes-aggrivating catch-22. I do enjoy the things I do; I simply wish there was more time in the day. I mean, it's like, if I really
cared more about my own personal writing, I could spend this holiday writing instead of reviewing the Hearth's Warming contest, or putting one of my private review friends on hold for a week. But I know full well how that choice will pan out. I don't regret my choice, but merely the fact that it had to be a choice. worlds_poniest_violin.gif
>Which do you think is more beneficial to overall improvement - line-by-line reviews, or overall reviews?
An interesting question which I'm torn on. I personally give line-by-lines, though granted, since I do mostly private reviews and have a rapport with my reviewees, a lot of these line-by-line are "hmm, I'm questioning what Siren's motives are when she says this line" and less of "missing comma here". And I mean, sure, there's value in "catch all the commas", because it's embarrassing for those to slip into the released version. On the receiving end of reviews, not to brag but my reviewers tend to say that my drafts are usually rather grammatically clean
because I spend an inefficient amount of time OCD'ing over my drafts
. But then a few really embarrassing derps (tersing, missing words, etc) always manage to slip through the cracks, so it's really useful to have these few instances caught and flagged, which an overall review might miss. But on the other hoof, for somepony with systemic issues, a complete line-by-line is usually overkill. Repetition does help drive home the point of "here's the kind of sentences where you're doing it wrong" or "look how frequently you're screwing this up", but beyond a point it's just a waste of time. So a lot of reviewers mark the first few line-by-line, and then give up and say "this is a recurring issue; here's what's wrong and how to fix it; find the rest on your own" which is a good enough compromise I suppose.
So I guess the answer is that it depends on the reviewee? If they're really struggling, stick to an overall, and if they know their stuff, stick to a line-by-line?