I’ve read all kinds of posts both from writers and readers lamenting about comments on fic. Authors are upset when they don’t get any, readers don’t know what kinds of comments to leave, etc. And it finally clicked in my brain why I think a lot of people don’t bother writing comments.
And this is what it boils down to:
Writers do not want praise.
We just want to talk about our story.
I can’t speak for everyone obviously - but I think the majority of writers don’t care so much for the “omg you’re a brilliant writer!!” comments as much as we just want to hear your thoughts on the story. Even if it’s just your thoughts as you’re reading of “oooh x happened! I can’t believe y said this! What’s going to happen now that z has happened?!” We literally just want to talk about what we’ve written like you would with a friend about a tv show. We’re not out here demanding praise like some entitled narcissist.
While praising our writing skills or writing style is appreciated, it doesn’t need to be said on every fic and every chapter that you read. If you regularly comment on someone’s work that’s telling enough that you like our technique. Readers shouldn’t feel pressured to have to praise a writer’s abilities every time they want to comment.
In the grand scheme of things, talking about the fic/chapter is actually more helpful to us writers instead of spewing praise. It’s the same with artwork. As nice as it is that people tell me “wow your art is so pretty!” it’s a LOT more useful to me to get comments like “I love their expressions!” or “the lighting on this is gorgeous!” because then I know WHAT people are liking about it. If no one ever comments on my backgrounds, I now know what to improve. If most people comment on liking the expressions, I now know the strong points of my art and can use it to my advantage to make even better art in the future.
The same goes for fic. If multiple people tell me they liked a certain part of the story I now know that things similar to that are a hit. It’s feedback I can use to improve the story and give my readers more of what they want. Without that I have no idea what they like about the fic.
Talking with a writer about their story also gives them inspiration!! Nothing gets us more in the mood to work on a fic than to have people wanting to talk about it. A lot of times just talking about one of my fics with someone will give me that push to continue working on it. Getting a comment that just says “great chapter” or “you’re a great writer” doesn’t do much to motivate us to continue that particular fic. But if you talk about the story and the characters it gives us motivation to continue working on it, may even give us ideas for future chapters. I would hope that those of you with “comment anxiety” find this approach so much easier than trying to praise the writer every time you read.
So that fic the author hasn’t updated in forever that you’re dying to read? Talk to them about the fic and the elements of the story! It will make the writer want to talk to you about it and will get their mind thinking about it, hopefully inspiring them to continue where they left off. Fics that are left in silence are more likely to be abandoned or even deleted because nothing feels worse than putting your heart into a story to have no one say anything about it.
TLDR; Writers do not want praise, we just want to talk with our readers about the story itself, and these are the kinds of comments that inspire us to keep writing more.