I’ve been preachy and ranty for a long time – it’s time for me to blog about something entirely frivolous! For the purposes of this blog post, I’m also going to be blatantly conflating my preferences with those of writers in general.
In no particular order, because let’s be honest, writers are usually just happy to receive any praise. Really, ranking ‘praise most appreciated’ is mostly akin to ranking one’s favourite fingers.
“I liked it so much that I reread it!”
This one doesn’t really need much explaining – I mean, anything where people willingly choose to spend more of their time with something I’ve written is pretty much aces as far as I’m concerned. But this one comes in a few different flavours depending on your style.
First is “I loved the plot/characters/setting so much I didn’t want to leave them behind!” This is great and will make authors feel warm and fuzzy.
Second is “I had to go back and reread to see if I could pick up on more of your carefully crafted symbolism and foreshadowing!” This is great and will make authors feel warm and fuzzy.
Third is “I appreciate your skills so much I had to reread it so I could take notes and learn from your strengths and weaknesses.” This is great and will make authors feel warm and fuzzy.
Just tell us you spent more time reading our stuff and we’ll love you.
“I don’t really like [trope], but you sold me on it.”
I feel like this one doesn’t need much explaining either, but if saying this to your author friend doesn’t render them at least a little catatonic, they haven’t really understood what you said. Any old writer can win a reader on something they’re already invested in. This is why genre fiction has a reputation for being so formulaic – people like what they like, and when they like it, they want more of it. But taking a trope (whether it’s a particular character type, a particular plot twist, a particular setting, or something like the superhero breaking up with their spouse “for your own protection”) that someone dislikes and making them enjoy it? That’s skill.
“I recommended this to a friend.”
It’s one thing for someone to read your work and enjoy it, but quite another for them to read it and then say ‘other people need to read this, too’. Whether it’s because they desperately needed someone to talk about the book with, or whether they just read your book and thought of someone, this compliment is a Good Thing.
“I liked it so much I had to go check out what else you’d written.”
This is basically number one, with the added bonus that this person is probably going to keep an eye out for new stuff as it comes out. I don’t want to be presumptuous and use the word ‘fan’, but it does rather spring to mind. And having fans is pretty much the best.
“Will you teach me how you did X?”
OK, so it’s not really a compliment, but that’s not going to stop me being pleased if anyone ever considers my writing skilful enough that they think they can learn from me. Even if it’s something I can’t really explain, or a question I get a thousand times (“Where do you get your ideas?” “How did you think of that plot twist?”), it’s still very flattering.
Bonus round, because I know this is a bit controversial and not everyone will be pleased to hear this: “I wrote fanfic/drew fanart of your work!”
Me, personally? I probably couldn’t be any happier if someone told me this. I love fan creations. Someone cared enough about what I wrote to want to stay in that world even when there wasn’t any more of it, so they made more? That’s amazing to me. Plus, people have been known to get into media because someone they knew online started posting fanart and fanfic. That’s free, word-of-mouth advertising, otherwise known as the best possible advertising to have. But I know that not everyone agrees with that, so I didn’t put it in the main list.
Well, there’s my silly, opinionated rant for now. I’ll be back with more serious fare next week.