tl;dr: I like the faves and votes, but I like subjective feedback more. So, if you don't mind, please look for the prompts a bit further down and send the responses to me as you read my submissions.
Real talk: I appreciate the votes, the faves, the star-faves, the likes--whatever the system is. But I have to be honest... those don't tell me a whole lot.
Though there are lots of different systems, it all boils down to the same thing: it converts a slew of subjectivity into an arbitrary metric, that can easily be loaded or interpreted in many different ways.
You'll hopefully not be too hurt to hear that I take those metrics with a grain of salt. I appreciate them, I really do. It's certainly at least something to help me gauge what's going on with minimal involvement on your part. But, I can't really rely on them as a solid form of feedback to help me improve.
The varied systems also don't really compare apples-to-apples. Is a one-star fave on InkBunny the same as a one-star vote and fave on SoFurry? Or maybe four stars and no fave? There's no translation.
The only thing that's consistent on every site is a submission view-count. But this doesn't necessarily indicate (for a story) that the visitor read the whole thing.
Typically, in a series, the first chapter will have the most view-counts, and it sort of tapers off from there. This is because people usually use the first chapter to get an impression of the series as a whole, and gauge whether or not they want to continue. However, as I pointed out in a previous journal, sometimes this number can be drastically influenced by unknown factors, as well.
As a writer, I want to improve. That's why I post my submissions, rather than just keep them to myself. I want my writing to be judged and know what works and what doesn't work. While the systems help judge my writing, I don't get clear visibility into what worked and what didn't.
So here's the thing that I actually care about: personally written feedback.
That is: comments, PMs, and shouts where you can elaborate or explain the reasons behind your vote or fave. I can't interpret these thoughts from a metric; all I can wager is that something worked. I don't know what, but hopefully I keep doing it.
I have gotten this kind of feedback in some doses, both as compliments and constructive criticism, and I have used that to evaluate and tweak my writing. So, for those of you who are reading this journal, I encourage you to provide feedback. However, I understand that's sometimes easier said than done on your part.
In general, I feel like art (pictures) gets more feedback than writing. I believe that's because art is easier to critique, for a number of reasons. The biggest advantage for art-critique is that art is easier to "digest," because we are such a visually-oriented species. We can compare art to the real-world, and we can give feedback based on how appealing or how well-done the picture is. based on that comparison. And we can do this in a matter of moments.
We usually don't talk about texture, color-theory, point-of-focus, shading / line technique, and all the other technical elements of art.
When we think about writing-critique, we often get stuck under the belief that we have to comprehend and talk about the real technical stuff such as: plot, diction, characterization, tone, theme, voice, grammar, spelling, sentence-structure, and all of that. Because of English classes, people get really anxious, sometimes almost a sense of dread, thinking about all that. It takes the enjoyment out of reading.
It also takes a lot of work to "digest" a piece of writing. A picture can be digested in chunks, but you have to read and understand each sentence in a sequence in order to digest the entirety of a piece of writing (tragically ironic that my discussion journals are so long, then, huh?)
I'm going to try to solve that anxiety for you. I've come up with a few feedback-prompts that are intended to be answered as simply or as elaborately as desired. Even if the responses are simple, it at least gives me something more specific than a number. The idea is that I interpret your answers to all the technical stuff, so you don't have to even worry about it.
First, I'll give the prompts. You can copy and paste this directly from the journal to fill in your answers.
Then, I'll give an example of my own for each prompt, so you can get an idea of what I'm looking for. My examples are going to be the "bare minimum," but you are free to be as elaborate as you desire. As a point of reference, all examples will be based on Raspberry Line Chapter 1. The examples don't necessarily reflect my own opinions, and may be different interpretations of the same or similar things about that chapter.
Finally, if you're interested, I'll also explain the purpose of each prompt. This will help you understand how I'm going to use it to tie back to the technical elements of writing. Ultimately, your intuition as a reader will point me to the writing elements.
1. If anything about this submission was compelling or immersive to you, please explain what it was and why it resonated so strongly.
2. If anything about this submission was dissatisfying or distracting to you, please explain what it was and why it stuck out so poorly.
3. If there were any mistakes you feel were made in this submission, please identify them and/or approximate where they occurred.
4. If there were any strong interpretations or connections that this submission made with you, please identify them and explain what led you to them.
1. I felt like I was one of the students sitting in the classroom in the beginning, watching it all play out. What the characters said and all the activity going on really put me in the moment.
2. I got really confused with all the bouncing-around at the beginning. There was a lot going on, and it was hard to tell who was who.
3. In Raspberry Line Chapter 1, Emeral's house is two stories, but later on it's only one story.
4. I think that Ket really likes to help others, but isn't so good at making friends with others. He helped Emeral get Buttons down from the tree without her really asking. But afterwards, when he was just chatting with her, he seemed really uncomfortable and left at the first chance he got, even after promising he wouldn't leave.
1. This response helps me understand what stood out in a positive way, if anything at all. A particular scene that was really immersive. Something that made you laugh out loud or cry. Something worded in a way that you liked.
I will use the response to study how the writing elements contributed to the results.
2. This response helps me understand what stood out in a negative way, if anything at all. A word I used too many times, incorrectly, or misspelled. An awkward or overbearing description. Too much suspension of disbelief required.
I will use the response to see what writing elements (or lack thereof) contributed to the response.
3. This response helps me understand if there was anything drastic that you feel is mistaken or in error. This can be somewhat technical mistakes, such as grammatical or spelling mistakes; or more high-level mistakes, such as as plot-holes, characterization betrayals, or contradictions. Whatever you're comfortable with.
I will use this to make sure I am not causing confusion, or to make sure that I am keeping consistent with the things you pick up on. I am not using you as a proof-reader; I try very hard to avoid these mistakes.
4. This response helps me understand what you got out of the writing, from a more technical oriented perspective, without you having to worry about gearing your answer that way directly. This is just telling me what your "readers intuition" already starts doing (I won't entertain any assertions made here directly, sorry).
I will use this to see whether or not I am drawing attention to the correct themes and plot-points, or spot where I might need to clear up some confusion or correct some misleading plot-points. I might also just appreciate what you came up with. I will not necessarily "steal" your interpretation, but it may be incorporated (nodded-to) in some way, if I feel it doesn't detract from my original goals. If you don't like that idea, then please refrain from answering this prompt.
That's pretty much it.
Bear in mind that some of these questions deal with your interpretations or opinions, and that's exactly what I want to know. Don't be shy or intimidated because you think your opinion is misled or your interpretation is incorrect: there are no wrong answers, as long as you're able (and willing) to explain a little bit.
Obviously, I don't want you to write a thesis. If you are spending more time than you desire or struggling to answer, then say so as the answer to the question. Knowing that you struggled and seeing where might either help me figure out how to clear it up, or guide reading direction.
If you're bold enough, you're more than welcome to post the answers in the submission comments. Otherwise, just send me a PM.
I'm not going to get defensive about any of it (if I did, then I shouldn't be publishing my work), however that doesn't mean I won't debate, counter-critique, or necessarily agree, based on responses.
Don't feel like you have to answer the prompts in order for me to notice your feedback. If you want to give feedback to the beat of your own drum, feel free, it's just as valuable. These prompts are more for those who work better with this kind of methodology, or for those who are more encouraged with structured approaches.
Who knows, maybe this will work for the other writers you follow. At any rate, hopefully reading those prompts gives you a better idea of why a 5/5 +fave leaves me a little wanting.