Anyway, I am reposting it (apologies to those of you on muncle who have seen it before) here, because ... Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time and my intention was to post it to my own journal :-)
There was a very interesting discussion on fanthropology about LoCs and reviews, which led me to decide to share my own thoughts :-)
Warning: the bit labelled 'LoCs' is a rant, and one which a few of you will have come across me making on more than one occasion in the past :-)
LoCs, Reviews and Comments - are they all the same thing?
To me an LoC, a review and a comment are different things.
= An LoC is something that I will send personally to the author of the story.
= A review is something that I would post to a website, my LJ or even a mailing list.
= A comment is something that I might post to a list, or someone's LJ/LJ community.
An LoC is where I go through the story and personalise my views on it to the author. It is something that I send directly to the author, or to the zine editor in cases of anthologies zines where individual email addresses aren't given. I pull out things I particularly liked, mention any lines/scenes that were, IMO, particularly good/sad/moving/contained vivid imagery, etc. I might even mention anything that didn't quite work for me. However, to do such a thing I would have to have filled the rest of the LoC with lots of good stuff and I ensure that anything negative is constructive and I make it clear that the comment is just my opinion, my take.
A review is where I take a step back and unpersonalise my comments, or try to. I basically try to give and overview of the story in question, mention into which genre and sub-genre it falls, mention any OCs and any other basic things about the story. I do not go through the story and pick out bit-by-bit what I liked, what I didn't like. However, I end my 'review' with a basic summing up along the lines of 'over all this story worked for me', or 'over all this story is not my cup of tea', that kind of thing and I might briefly say why I loved it or didn't like it.
A comment is again personal, but has no real depth to it. I just say something quite brief about the story, e.g. 'I really enjoyed that. Thanks for sharing.' If there was anything in particular that really struck me as being superb, or to which I could fully relate I mention it, but only briefly.
Why are there less LoCs than there used to be?
Personally, I believe firmly that the reason fandom has seen a drastic reduction in LoCs is mainly because so many authors who receive them do not take the time to acknowledge them. I've heard all the arguments 'oh, I don't have the time. Wouldn't you rather I was writing new stories rather than answering LoCs?' etc. Well, I don't agree with this comment. It take hardly any time at all to write back and simply say 'Thank you so much for your kind LoC, I really do appreciate you taking the time to write to me', or something like that.
When I first got into fandom several years ago I heard the phrase 'LoCs are like presents to the writer'. Fine, I agree to an extent. However, I still acknowledge presents even now, be it via letter, email, card, phone, or face-to-face. Thus, if I have taken the time (and when I write an LoC, I don't blast off a 'loved it, more please' (well I do occasionally if I'm commenting on list), I write a considered, well thought out LoC. I don't flame, I don't believe in it. I don't say 'God, that was crap, your writing is awful, etc. etc.' I'm a firm believe that if you can't say something good, say nothing. So if I'm sending my 'present' to an author, I expect an acknowledgement. And I'm not talking about people who may have left that particular fandom, I'm talking about people who are still there, and are sometimes highly respected people.
Not all writers are like this, I hasten to add. I can name several (with whom I have become friends as a result of sending LoCs) who do take the time to reply to me. A couple who even reply in as much detail (if not more) than my original LoC. However, for each one who has taken the time to reply, there have been at least two who haven't, and this makes me very sad.
I always take the time to thank people for their comments or LoCs, even if it is just the 'thank you for your thoughts', type of note, whether the comment has been made to me personally, on a list, or LJ.
What surprises me, I have to say, is that from what I have seen most people do say 'thank you', when the comment is made on-list or to a LJ community/their own LJ, so why doesn't the same apply to personal emails? Is it because the comments on-list/LJ are usually short and of the 'this was lovely' kind, thus the author feels comfortable with just a short 'thank you for your comment' response?
Do authors who get long LoCs feel that they have to write back in kind, otherwise the LoC writer will be dischuffed? Again, I have heard this as an explanation for why authors don't acknowledge LoCs. I don't agree with this comment, although intellectually I can see that some writers (both of the LoC and the story) might feel this.
I personally do not expect a long response to an LoC. I do not mind if the reply is simply a 'thank you for this', even if I've written a couple of pages of comments. I just want my LoC acknowledged, I want to know that the author appreciated my 'gift'. Am I totally alone in this? From a few comments on a small list I co-moderator, it seems that I am not.
Okay, I'll shut up now :-)