Re: Continue...? A weekly reviewing service.

#23

Tana Wrote: That was a fair review. Yeah, the pacing is a bit of a problem. It's a big story with lots of moving parts, and was meant to pace like an RPG paces... which doesn't quite work when converted to novel format.

Incidentally, the typo you caught with the lower-case 'though' was me using a period instead of a coma like I was supposed to.
On the one hand there is a lot of setup, which I struggle to wholeheartedly condemn, as I think it does give us some rating interesting information for later. (All those moving parts you mentioned). But the pacing issues are something I’d strongly encourage you to address, because if had hadn’t committed to reading 50 pages I would have dropped it around chapter 2, with the magic chess. However, in the end the story got interesting, enough so I’ve tucked it on my follow list for later enjoyment. The thread of the story needs to be apparent sooner if you’re going to catch readers like myself. 


Also, I can’t give you a pass on the RPG to book conversion pacing front. If an RPG had thrown the same pacing at me I’d be equally frustrated.

The frustrating part for me was there is such a good story once it gets moving proper, which had intrigued me and made me want to keep reading, but as it stands anyone I’d recommend it to I feel liked I’d have to warn them to give it until at least chapter 4 to see if it hooks them. 

Ah a comma, that makes sense. I hesitate to suggest anything to do with commas because my own mastery of them is, negligent. Grammatical errors were thankfully infrequent and it looks like you’ve got a reader who caught a lot of the other ones I saw. They were just frequent enough to earn the dishonourable mention. Once you’ve fixed the ones your commenter caught the few that remain are unlikely to distract most people. 

Whew, that ended up being a longer response than expected.

In any event, the main post is updated with all the newcomers. I’ll continue churning through things, one a week for the foreseeable future, so those of you near the bottom of the list will be waiting a while. 

Re: Continue...? A weekly reviewing service.

#24

Velara Wrote: Also, I can’t give you a pass on the RPG to book conversion pacing front. If an RPG had thrown the same pacing at me I’d be equally frustrated.


"Chapter 0" and a fair portion of Chapter 1 would be an opening cinematic not unlike, say, Final Fantasy 6 and 8... overall, it should only take a minute or two of video time without a moment of dialogue (kinda like the intro to Up, but not as touching), complete with music that grows in intensity with the scenes. And there's some "End of Disc 1" and "Early Disc 2" reveals that pretty much requires those establishing scenes, otherwise they'd look like terrible asspulls when they occur. But thanks to those scenes, they'll be "oh, I feel like I should have realized that the first read-through" moments.

The pacing once gameplay starts wouldn't be all that different from, say, Chrono Trigger or FF8 (again), with the player given the opportunity to poke around and play some minigames before getting around to actually doing the story. The problem being that sort of "early game exploration", while awesome in RPGs, is terrible when novelized. 


So... yeah... pacing is definitely a weakness in Paradox. I did the best with what I had, but I just don't see a way to streamline further that still works out in the long run. I just have to hope the long-term payoff is worth it in the end.

Re: Continue...? A weekly reviewing service.

#27
I hope you found it useful.

I don’t think it’s necessarily a strike against your fiction as a whole, since a lot of the other reviewers mentioned it getting better. But as it stands now the first 50 pages is not helping you gain readers, so a revision would probably get you a lot of bang for your buck if it gets readers to keep going so they get to see the stronger parts of your story. 

Re: Continue...? A weekly reviewing service.

#28

Tana Wrote:
Velara Wrote: Also, I can’t give you a pass on the RPG to book conversion pacing front. If an RPG had thrown the same pacing at me I’d be equally frustrated.


"Chapter 0" and a fair portion of Chapter 1 would be an opening cinematic not unlike, say, Final Fantasy 6 and 8... overall, it should only take a minute or two of video time without a moment of dialogue (kinda like the intro to Up, but not as touching), complete with music that grows in intensity with the scenes. And there's some "End of Disc 1" and "Early Disc 2" reveals that pretty much requires those establishing scenes, otherwise they'd look like terrible asspulls when they occur. But thanks to those scenes, they'll be "oh, I feel like I should have realized that the first read-through" moments.

The pacing once gameplay starts wouldn't be all that different from, say, Chrono Trigger or FF8 (again), with the player given the opportunity to poke around and play some minigames before getting around to actually doing the story. The problem being that sort of "early game exploration", while awesome in RPGs, is terrible when novelized. 


So... yeah... pacing is definitely a weakness in Paradox. I did the best with what I had, but I just don't see a way to streamline further that still works out in the long run. I just have to hope the long-term payoff is worth it in the end.

My personal opinion is that in trying to give it video game pacing you’ve landed on the awkward midpoint between novel pacing and video game pacing. 

In the end Chapter 0 and 1 don’t end up feeling like 2 minutes of cut scenes at the beginning of an RPG. It feels more like a 15 minute cutscene at the beginning of an RPG. If you gave them that 2 minute light breezy cut scene feel I don’t think you’d run into a lot of your issues with pacing. (Although I still feel the pacing between the first combat and the second is too quick, the situation needs a moment to breathe).

I will say, at the end of my read through one of the thoughts that came up when I was considering the pacing was that you probably needed some of the establishing details from the first two chapters for your story. So I think there is that sensation of potential future interest from those scenes.

In any event. Really all I can do is point to it and say, I think there is a pacing problem in these spots. If you don’t think its a pacing problem that’s feasible to fix, than that’s the way it’ll be. I can just hope that my review induces people to ignore the pacing issues because the fiction is worth reading. 

Re: Continue...? A weekly reviewing service.

#29
After a short discussion on discord regarding reviewing practices in general, I’ve decided to add an additional rule.

Rule 5) I don’t want to deal with drama. If you’d like my review of your fiction removed for any reason, contact me. I’ll remove the review, no questions asked. I’ll also DM you the original and replace the entry in the list below with “Removed at Author’s Request”.  

Re: Continue...? A weekly reviewing service.

#31

Seerica Wrote: No, I understand. Protagonist that rejects his new identity does put a damper on the early chapters. Especially when his established skills are pushed to the side to learn new ones.


To clarify, “protagonist rejects his new identity” is not the sense I got from your character. We occasionally get flashes of that (Binding the chest, refusing photos) but for most of the first 50 pages I’d say we mostly get numb acceptance. If what you’re going for is character rejects their new identity I think you could really amp up the internal and external conflict from that and you’d have a much more compelling start. More arguments/interactions with their family, more breakdowns and mental distress. I understand that flat affect can be a way to cope but it’s a lot harder to make interesting.

Regarding the existing skills, my feeling reading it was that his existing skills should be transferable to a lesser extent. It was his favourite game pre swap and he loved designing virtual mechs before the incident. Yet I don’t feel excitement or passion from the character for designing his own mech. Has he not already done lots of theory crafting for the game, does he not have ideas he’d want to try out? Especially when we start to see the unorthodox mechs everyone made. His former friend had convinced him to try less unorthodox designs irl, where’s the excitement for changing things up and maybe dusting off some of those weirder pet projects.

All of the feelings, rejection of identity, love of making mechs cry out for a character who is actively got desires and goals, who’s passion and emotional struggles we can see. However, instead I feel like we got a character who is just reacting to the world as it happens around them. If you focused on those character driven aspects like his emotional state, his desires in the new world etc. That could drive the story until you introduce a larger conflict.  

Re: Continue...? A weekly reviewing service.

#33
That’s who I meant, yeah.

I felt like the implication was he used to love making all sorts of designs, manager told him to make them more pragmatic. 
Later in the new world he realize everyone else is making off the wall designs and I dunno, I just feel like that’s a perfect opportunity for some thoughts of his old world, a sense of cathartic joy, and a transition to playing around with more experimental robot designs again, which he used to love doing.

It’s entirely possible I’m misreading your characters personality in the first chapter, and what I’m saying doesn’t make sense. 

Re: Continue...? A weekly reviewing service.

#34

Velara Wrote: My personal opinion is that in trying to give it video game pacing you’ve landed on the awkward midpoint between novel pacing and video game pacing. 

In the end Chapter 0 and 1 don’t end up feeling like 2 minutes of cut scenes at the beginning of an RPG. It feels more like a 15 minute cutscene at the beginning of an RPG. If you gave them that 2 minute light breezy cut scene feel I don’t think you’d run into a lot of your issues with pacing. (Although I still feel the pacing between the first combat and the second is too quick, the situation needs a moment to breathe).

I will say, at the end of my read through one of the thoughts that came up when I was considering the pacing was that you probably needed some of the establishing details from the first two chapters for your story. So I think there is that sensation of potential future interest from those scenes.

In any event. Really all I can do is point to it and say, I think there is a pacing problem in these spots. If you don’t think its a pacing problem that’s feasible to fix, than that’s the way it’ll be. I can just hope that my review induces people to ignore the pacing issues because the fiction is worth reading.

I think you misunderstand: I'm agreeing with you, the pacing is weak. I'm just saying that there's not much I can do about it given the circumstances. Anyone who can fix it while remaining faithful to the original game is a far better writer than I.