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Nines


Very divisible.

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Apr
11th
2016

First Impression Reviews · 7:32pm Apr 11th, 2016

I’m going to start doing a review series on my blog, both in an attempt to make it into a more productive space, and also to clear my rather large to-read shelf. As the name of this series suggests, I will not be doing reviews about the stories in their entirety. Instead, I will only write reviews based off of their first chapters. If these stories fail to capture my interest in chapter one, then I move on. For one-shots, or stories with massive first chapters, I will only read up to 3k words and make my decision from there.

This might seem harsh to do, but it’s my feeling that all stories, even “slow-starters”, should be able to convince readers to stick around in the first chapter. Maybe a reader will not be completely enamored with the story by the end of the first chapter, but there should at least be a desire to say, “Well, I can read a little more before I quit.” That’s the point of this review series. I currently have 184 stories on my “to-read” shelf. My goal is to get that down to under ten.



What I value most in stories:

1. Characterization - I value character over plot. You could give me a super basic plot that, when boiled down to simple elements, can be recognized as fairly common. The thing is, there’s a reason they call some plot ideas “tried and true.” So long as your characters feel dynamic, relatable, and interesting, I’ll most likely be on board.

2. Grammar and Spelling - It’s true that a story can still be entertaining and have less than stellar grammar, but if your grammar is in serious need of help, I won’t bother. At most, I can forgive only a certain level of mistakes. My limit is at 3/5 (rating details down below.)

3. Catharsis - I read to feel release as much as to be entertained. This can happen in various ways--either by making me laugh, or making me say, “aww!”, or making me cry, or making me feel smart (like a clever mystery has been solved and I figured out the solution at the same time as the protagonist, maybe even before, without any hand-holding.) If your story gets me to that “cathartic” feeling, then you’ve likely got a new dedicated reader for your story.

My grammar and spelling rating system:

On a scale of 1 - 5, this is what the scores I give will mean.

1 - Almost unreadable writing. Grammar and spelling is so bad I can barely comprehend it. Best guess is that the author is trolling, or English is their second language and they’re new at it.

2 - Fairly bad grammar and spelling, but not so much that I can’t figure out the writing’s meaning. Lots of mistakes suggest that G&S is not the author’s strong suit, and they didn’t bother to proofread and/or get an editor. Either that, or English is their second language, and they failed to seek help when they clearly needed it.

3 - Passable grammar and spelling under some circumstances, but noticeable enough to disrupt immersion and flow. Depending on the subject matter, I may be able to read under such conditions if I love the characters and ideas enough.

4 - Very solid grammar and spelling. There are so few mistakes that any errors barely catch my attention. Mistakes may even be more an issue of missing a typo or two rather than an actual failure of grammar/spelling knowledge on the part of the author.

5 - Perfect grammar and spelling. (Doesn’t actually mean the writing is perfect. Just means it passes what my grammar and spelling skills can detect.)

What this series will NOT do:

1. Personally attack authors or readers of their stories.

2. Use a mocking tone or make mean-spirited remarks. I still reserve the right to express my frustrations in an honest manner, so this is by no means a promise that someone's feeling will not be hurt. Just know that isn't my goal or intent.

3. Accept review requests (I’m trying to cut down my to-read list, not add to it.)

My policy on downvoting, recommending, and favoriting:

I am of the opinion that downvotes should only be used in special circumstances. Usually, I’ll only downvote something if it has more upvotes than downvotes, just to lend to a minority opinion that I strongly agree with. For me, contributing reasons for a downvote might include: the author misrepresenting their story, failing multiple of my quality standards to a devastating degree, being unabashedly lazy and/or abusive, and (to my knowledge) ripping off of another’s work.

Stories I recommend aren’t necessarily my favorites, and I reserve the right to change my mind at a later time about those stories. These are first impression reviews, after all. Sometimes impressions change.

Favorites will be very rare, especially given that, for this series, I’d be stating whether or not a story has entered that venerable shelf on the strength of the first chapter alone. It could be that stories I recommend later become a part of my favorites, but I will not be stating as much in my reviews, even at a later time. It kind of intrudes on the concept of this series.



And that’s all! I hope you guys find my reviews insightful. These are my opinions, in the end, and I am far from the most skilled writer on this site. I just thought this would be a fun and thought-provoking way of selecting stories to read.

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Comments ( 5 )

3878731 Glad you think so. :twilightsmile:

As someone who judges a story mostly from the first chapter I like your idea, but I have to ask about why you include catharsis. If you're reading a one-shot I guess you'll find it, but in multichapter story, isn't that a bit to much to ask from the first chapters?

3879224 Mm... Good question. I suppose I should clarify that a story lacking in immediate catharsis will not be instantly disqualified. A story that manages release in 3k words (I've also had that happen at the start of multi-chapter stories) is pretty much guaranteed a recommendation, though. And it should be said, that given the definition of catharsis:

the purging of the emotions or relieving of emotional tensions, especially through certain kinds of art, as tragedy or music. ... discharge of pent-up emotions so as to result in the alleviation of symptoms or the permanent relief of the condition.

This can happen repeatedly for me during a reading experience. That might make my recommendations a bit personal, as I could have something going on in my life that the author is unaware of, and they just so happen to make me feel better. I would like to think my appreciation for quality can pass on most of the low hanging fruit, though.

3879266 Interesting. Thanks for the clarification!

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