Re: Ask the Editor

#61

NovelNinja Wrote:
meili Wrote: Hiya, I have a question. If an author came to you with a book and their title was:

I'm Overpowered but I'll Let the Hero Do His Thing While I Save the Last Boss

Would you tell them to change it? I'm bad with titles. An option could be "I'll save the villain!"

That really depends. For a trad novel not aimed at anime/manga fans, neither title would work well. For a web novel, though, it's much easier thanks to the prevalence of other titles with that style.

Not being extremely familiar with those titles and their books, I can't say for certain; but it seems to be that they're all much more tongue-in-cheek, or lighthearted slice-of-life. If you were going for something more serious or more trad-pub, then I'd suggest a title like Villain Rescue. For something trad-pub but signaling humor, then Villain Rescue Service is good, too.

Ultimately, your title is an advertisement for your story. Part of your job is to pick one that will work for your target audience and draw them in.


Thanks for the suggestions! I like Villain Rescue Service a lot! peoeyesparkle It's got a great energy to it.

Re: Ask the Editor

#63

BrightSparrow Wrote: Really interesting thread, I found your replies to others informative!

I would appreciate feedback on my blurb and beginning. Link is here.

It's a good draft. You have good characterization and distinction between the two characters' personalities and social extremes. 

You'll want to strengthen your blurb by teasing what the story is about. Why are a barbarian and a princess traveling together? Why would a princess be without an entourage? What special excitement are they going to face, other than "barbarian and princess have adventures"?

Your opening is also very slow for the first several paragraphs. You might want to skip directly to the dialog, and add in the physical descriptions of their surroundings and themselves once we see them interacting with each other. 

Re: Ask the Editor

#64
Got a few questions and a request, thanks for your time. 

1) Have you ever got a submission so bad you couldn't make it past the first page? 

2) Are there any tropes in SF&F you wish wasn't as common as it is? 

3) Are there any tropes in SF&F you wish was more common than it is? 

4) Is there a trend in modern SF&F you hope will stick around past it's initial five minutes? 

5) Would you mind giving me your thoughts onw hat I've made public of Nisteria Chronicles so far? It should be in my signature, but assuming I messed something up, I'm also adding a link HERE

Re: Ask the Editor

#65

Durmatagno Wrote: Got a few questions and a request, thanks for your time. 

1) Have you ever got a submission so bad you couldn't make it past the first page? 

2) Are there any tropes in SF&F you wish wasn't as common as it is? 

3) Are there any tropes in SF&F you wish was more common than it is? 

4) Is there a trend in modern SF&F you hope will stick around past it's initial five minutes? 

5) Would you mind giving me your thoughts onw hat I've made public of Nisteria Chronicles so far? It should be in my signature, but assuming I messed something up, I'm also adding a link HERE

1) A few, early on. You have to keep in mind that I have different practices depending on the kind of review I'm doing. If I'm doing acquisitions editing, there's not a lot of editing involved; it's more that the best people to go through slush piles are editors, and we can absolutely spot bad stories on the first page. However, if I'm going to be truly editing, and I'm reviewing something an author has send to me as an editor precisely so it can read like a great book, then I'm not going to judge by that first page. In fact, normally I go in assuming that the first three pages will have to be completely rewritten. 

That said, there were a few I got sent early on, after I hung out a virtual shingle and did some solo editing without working through a publishing house, that were so bad I almost went the typical route and charged a reading fee. I didn't do that, however. I have a longstanding hatred of reading fees. It's not because I hate money (though obviously I don't love it enough to move on to a job that pays better), but rather because I hate the idea of a struggling author paying an editor and not getting something in return. I eventually implemented a very different submission process instead. My own wife and my older brother have both had to go through it in order to use my services. It's not a torture process, though it can feel like it. It's a process that forces you to really consider what your manuscript's presentation and structure should be. 

The result was that not only did it have the same effect as a reading fee -- creating a minor speedbump where the author hesitates and thinks "Am I really ready for an editor, or should I do another pass myself?" -- but also helps eliminate the most common issues I saw in those first few years. 





2) Tropes I wish weren't common? Easy. Stop trying to be relevant. If you want your book to be something someone can enjoy for years to come, references to current pop culture, famous figures, and social issues can create problems. This is even without considering that all three of those can be divisive. That doesn't mean "don't reference," but rather don't try to make it all about the references. 

An example of how to do it well, but also some of the dangers, is in the excellent Adventures of Tom Stranger, Interdimensional Insurance Agent by Larry Correia. (Audiobook only.) It's hilarious, all the more so if you already understand insurance (my wife is actually an insurance agent, and the author had a starter job working for a large carrier). However, it's also cultural satire, heavily themed to the author's own political concepts. In the course of the series he skewers multiple US presidents, and people who listened to the story got angry about their side getting made fun of and completely missing that others got made fun of as well. In addition, many of the jokes made reference to recent events, and in five years several of these would be forgotten. There's a reoccurring character in there that I thought was entirely made up until it finally clicked for me, and that was based on a pretty recent event. Fortunately, the author is also aware that much of the humor was in risk of being culturally dated long before people stopped buying it, so wherever possible he tossed in just enough explanation to let the audience figure it out. 

Beyond that, there are many books that try to bend over backward to showcase things currently trending on Twitter, which are either forgotten six months later, or need too much setup, are completely unrealistic based on the setting, or all of the above. One example is from a YA SF book I looked at a couple of years ago that was supposed to be a feminist book based on Indian culture. The problem was that not only was it a strange exaggeration of just certain parts of Indian culture, it also assumed that interstellar spaceships would have crew that could operate said ships without being fully literate. I suppose I could believe that if there was an AI assistant, but there wasn't. In the words of David Weber's most famous character, I don't believe in Atilla the Hun in space. 


3) What do I want to see more of? Optimism, especially in SF. I read a lot of older SF juveniles as a kid, before I realized there was a whole section for SF&F in the regular part of the library. (For context, I read Jurassic Park in fifth grade, so I knew where the good books were at bookstores. I just didn't have a lot of options when living in a non-English-speaking country; and when my family moved back, it took me about three weeks longer to find the adult SF&F section than it took to read the entirety of the science magazines and SF&F juveniles -- before it was called "YA" -- in the kid's section the public librarians ushered me into whenever I asked for help.) A lot of those old juveniles were holdovers from the Cold War, themed with impending or past apocalypses, radioactive wastelands, civilization in ashes. I read tons of those, and while they were interesting, they weren't as fun as something like Star Trek, which told everyone we got out of it. 

That's a big thing that a lot of younger people don't understand these days. Star Trek was revolutionary in many ways, but its most lasting impact is something many people have forgotten, or never realized existed. It was that there was a crew that put an American, a Russian, a Japanese, a Kenyan, a Scotsman, and a Frenchman on the same bridge, and the characters didn't seem to realize there was anything unusual about that. They never even mentioned the Cold War outside of time travel, just like our own ordinary lives wouldn't tend to mention the Spanish-American War. Most people today, in both countries, don't even know that the US and Spain once fought a shooting war. That's the kind of feel I like from fiction. The idea that things can get better. 

We have a really sucky world right now, but it's not quite as sucky as we feel sometimes. I mean, I can list off all the things currently wrong in my life; but if I tried to list my worries from ten years ago, I don't think I'd be able to remember them all. It's easy to assume that everything is doom and gloom from now until forever. Fiction should lift you up and make you stronger, helping you to fight through all that murk in the real world. It shouldn't get you bogged down in the same stuff you're currently drowning in. Yeah, there are a lot of issues out there that make for natural storytelling points, but we shouldn't set out to make fiction all about the stuff that divides or depresses. 




4) I can't actually answer this one, because I can't think of a single current trend that I hope will stick. That's not because there aren't any trends out there that I like; it's that I have seen so many trends lead to failing books precisely because authors focused on those trends over writing a good story. Take vampires. That was really big for a while, even before Twilight; but the market got oversaturated, and people were writing vampire books that either rehashed everything that had previously trended or they tried to change too much. Then there were dystopias, and the biggest thing revealed about dystopias was that publishers really didn't understand what a dystopia was, and so -- like with "vampire" -- the concept got watered down. 

So don't look for trends to guide you. By the time you write a book that fits that trend, it'll probably be over. 



5) Okay, this will take a little while. 

Don't be so concerned about offending people by taking inspiration from real-world cultures. This is normal, especially with the Japanese. They delight in what we would call cultural appropriation. They enthusiastically adopted pretty much everything European except for religion and most philosophy very early on. Today, very few Japanese will get at all annoyed by anyone taking inspiration from their culture or even wholly appropriating it. Unless something about it destroys it for them (such as removing cultural artifacts from Japan), they generally delight in seeing elements of their culture in other countries. The people who usually get insulted are almost always of European descent, and generally have no clue about what they're white-knighting. Focus on telling a good story. The big author's note at before you ever get to the first chapter itself is really just going to distract people and make them think that either you're timid or you've got a bad story. 

Your blurb needs to be replaced. Your first paragraph is a better blurb than what you've currently got, and also happens to be a very bad opener. I've noticed that web novel openers have a stronger relationship with their blurbs than in trad novels, just because you so much more easily go from the blurb to the first chapter; but you still want to drop your reader in rather than give them an infodump first thing. (You'll also need your blurb to at least hint at the conflicts and why we should care about these characters.) 

Similarly, your gamelit elements don't need infodumps the moment anyone mentions "midtier." Let it come out through the story. It's already tagged as litRPG, so you don't need to rush in. 

If the main character's sisters are apprentice seamstresses, that doesn't mean they have large wardrobes. Unless you've got massive magical enhancements, clothing still takes a while to make, and apprentices are mostly doing scut work. Once they become journeywomen, they'll be able to make a lot more, and buy more cloth. The true masters will be highly valued; in medieval Ireland, for example, a skilled embroideress was considered as valuable as a queen. (Seriously. Medieval Ireland had a very interesting legal system, which included standard fines for harming someone to the point that they were unable to continue with their livelihood. The fine for crippling an embroideress was the same as that of a queen.) The concept behind this sort of thing was that since it already took a long time to make clothing, they might as well make it look nice. Same with all sorts of other things, though mostly what survives is metal. Regardless, if they're not supposed to be gentry, then they are unlikely to wear a different outfit for a meal versus for regular day activity. 

Also, I can't imagine any reason why apprentice seamstresses would then go lend a hand in a smithy by shoveling coal. 

I don't know if the horseshoes have been created by magic, but if a month's supply of horseshoes is 1,200 individual units, that's 40 shoes a day. It seems a lot without either a lot of people working or some use of magic. That's not even counting what it might take to make them "enchantable." Considering that the latter is four times as expensive as regular horseshoes, I have to assume they're four times as difficult to make. Moreover, if this is just a single month's supply, why are the adventurers going through that many horseshoes? 

You've also made a common error here regarding economy. If a crown is a gold piece, and if you assume that they're the size of a US dime, then a crown is about 1/10th of an ounce of gold. That makes 3,000 crowns worth approximately half a million dollars in USD. I don't care how amazing those horseshoes are -- that's a lot of gold. If gold is more plentiful in your world, then it sounds more like your currency should be based on horseshoes. 

Beyond that, nothing much happens in the first chapter except for infodumping. What's the meat of the story? 

Re: Ask the Editor

#66

NovelNinja Wrote: 5) SNIP


Okay some of these things are concerns others have brought up, and I'm going to be upfront and saying that blurbs/openings are some of my weakest points. Alongside settling on names, it takes me forever to even have a start I feel I can move past, and even that is barebones. I agonized over this first chapter for months, and while things pick up very quickly, I could never be happy with it, but there are some concerns I can address now/are addressed later in the chapters I have written. 

Magic is super abundant in this world. While low/hard fantasy is generally fun and compelling to me, I wanted to experiment with a world where magic is super common. Most households have a magic item or two, mostly utility items that help with chores. Beyond this, it makes production of food, crops, and even ranching much easier and famine/drought/resource shortages more rare. In this case, the two sisters being seamstresses is supposed to indicate that between cheap material, magic, and their skill, it's relatively easy to replace and repair the simple clothing the family sticks to. Sisters like brighter colors, but the materials are still pretty much wool with a bit of leather and cotton for things like festival outfits. 

As for why they're helping, it's mostly because I wanted to show the family tends to stick close together. While they're apprentices, the tradition in the Kingdom is for apprenticeships to take place during Winter and Spring, while Summer and Fall are when they return home to help with the family. Honestly I could do better at presenting this, many of the early chapters (Up to around eight) were written when I was still wanting to try and maintain a twice a week chapter schedule, and was cutting them shorter to try and fit that timeline. 

I ended up deciding I was never going to make any decisions on how to fix/change these chapters without getting wider feedback, and started publishing despite still being dissatisfied with their current state. 

As for the horseshoes, this is me not being clear with my meaning. The horseshoe order was placed a month ago, and was supposed to be delivered in three months. There is a few lines that partially explain it, but it's not done well. It was in one of the very last paragraphs, and there's more context in a later chapter when it's revealed (Unknown to Kahari) that his father's favored hammer was enchanted, though the enchantment specifics are unknown. The line in question, which is literal (Days with zero rest spent in the forge, though plenty of water and food was needed)

"It was a good workout, but Ranori never seemed bothered by the work. On the contrary, Kahari had seen him work days on end without a break before he even started showing fatigue."

As for the enchantable horseshoes, it comes down to two factors. Material and skill level, they have to be made from an enchantable materials, something Iron and Steel lack for reasons not yet explained. Without a high enough smithing skill, one can't even work the material into something useable. 

As for the Crowns, my latest chapter (Not published, written) actually explains this. A Crown refers to a single copper coin (A Copper Crown), with Crowns made of more expensive materials being worth more overall. In this case a single gold coin is worth 8000 crowns. It goes Copper - Silver - Electrum - Gold - Platinum - Star Mithril . 20 Copper to 1 Silver, 20 Silver to 1 Electrum, and up. 

The reason for so many horseshoes, and more also get revealed within the first ten chapters. The info dumps are a bit front heavy partially due to my originally shorter than desired chapters, but much of it is immediately built upon. Talking about tiers and rankings to the reader leads immediately to the characters mentioning that if more and stronger people are moving to the area, then the size and strength of the monster population will increase with it. Maybe I should reverse the order of the info dumps to make things clearer and flow better, but with possible chapter expansions coming, I'll have to examine that when I'm working on the others.

The meat of the story really happens with the end of the first chapter (The explosion) which leads straight into the second, and third. Those both show the main conflict of the first arc, introduce the first two major allies to Kahari, and get him started on his path. I wanted the first chapter to show a quiet life, set up that magic and such has drastically altered the world, and show the main characters connection to his family before it's all taken away in a flash.

I have changes to make, but part of the problem seems to be the order I put the information in, or using to few lines to far from the context to help tie it together. Thanks for the help, I hope some of what I said cleared things up for you, now I have to look at what changes to make, and where. Just expanding the chapters will help soon, reduce time between info dumps (First ten chapters are really front heavy with them, they become rarer in the next ten as the focus can shift to characters and action instead of setting up the rules I'm trying to keep iron bound)

Re: Ask the Editor

#67
Okay. Some of that does clear a few things up. For example, I had found the mention of the sisters going and working at shops farther into town sometime in the future to be odd; if they were apprenticed now, then they'd either be there now, or they'd be working somewhere closer. It's still an odd setup, but not so much that I would object strenuously if I were your editor. 

The money values help. If you assume that a gold coin in your setup is about one ounce (the size we normally picture in fantasy, though not at all the size of common historical gold coins), then that would put a copper coin at around USD $.21, which makes far more sense. I should talk about that a little more, though.

Assigning real-world money value to fantasy coinage is dangerous due to oversimplification. Most authors (and most people in general) have no clue about how economics work, and even less about historical coinage. For example, buying power changes with both markets and technology. We sometimes react with horror about how there are people living on less than a dollar a day in other parts of the world, but their overhead is far less than in Westernized countries. Raw money doesn't tell you if they're living fulfilled lives in quiet villages, just as it doesn't tell you if they're living in squalor in New York City. It also doesn't translate very well historically, because a lot of factors have gone into making current money worth what it is. Not only is there more gold in circulation today due to ongoing mining, but inflation is no longer an issue tied directly to mining precious metals. 

(For those not really interested in currency as a whole, feel free to skip or skim this next paragraph.)

There used to be a real philosophical problem discussed among the learned in Europe, referred to today as the Diamond and Water Paradox. Diamonds are not necessary for survival, but they are expensive; water is necessary, but (at least in Europe) it's cheap. Well, today, we blink at that and say "Duh, supply and demand, dummy." Most of us don't understand that the first time we ever actually saw inflation in action was in the early modern era, when Spain was bringing back so much gold from the Americas that they had a booming economy they refer to as the Hundred Golden Years . . . which then collapsed under its own weight due to inflation. More gold available meant more people could specialize, but simply having more money in the economy didn't make services pop up to function as what video games call "gold sinks." World of Warcraft had the same issue when they kept making each expansion a little easier to earn gold, causing prices in the player-driven market to go up. The more that cash appears, the less each individual piece of cash is worth. That's why, despite people blaming US inflation on being off of the gold standard, the point at which US inflation started getting out of control was in the 1920s. We were borrowing cash at an exponential rate, injecting additional units of currency into the economy without a corresponding rise in goods and services. People point to the Weimar Republic in Germany as an example, and you can look at nations all over for the same thing (South Korea's actually a great example), but the United States tends to make people sit up and take note just because the USD is such a powerhouse that most people don't realize how much it's inflated in the last century, while its decimal nature means that we can trace that inflation easily since the founding of the country (unlike with the UK, which otherwise would be a better example for medieval currency). 

Long story short, at your cumulative 20:1 ratio, and assuming that a gold coin is one ounce, then in today's USD-to-gold value it makes one copper piece approximately equal to the value of one US penny at the time of the US' founding. (It's actually about 85% of one penny, but close enough.) So that's a very good estimate on your part, with the above qualifications. Mind you, it also means that each normal horseshoe is worth approximately $.27 in today's money, when the real thing costs about $3 even with modern manufacturing, but you can either fudge the price up a bit or say "magic" and move on. 

However, I strongly advise you to say instead that, rather than 3,000 copper pieces, the payment was actually 150 silver. If you've ever held a few hundred pennies, you know how much those weigh; imagine trying to carry three thousand of them. Currency is practical in large part because it's easily portable. (Which is why the ancient Spartans enacted a law that the only currency accepted was decidedly not easily portable, in order to keep them from getting too interested in money.) 

On to the infodumps. You currently have four chapters, the fourth of which was just posted a few minutes ago. There's a massive difference between "wait for the clues on the mystery" and "wait for me to explain the apparent holes in my worldbuilding." The audience is going to be more patient for the first rather than the second, and saying "it's explained in my first ten chapters" isn't great when they don't yet exist. Yes, I know you've already written them, but they don't exist as far as the audience is concerned. Even when they do, it's hard to get to them if your first few chapters aren't as interesting as someone else's story. 

So, first, here's how to trim some of those infodumps down. You don't need to explain everything; you just have to explain enough to let the audience fill in the rest. For example, you can leave the dialog on E and D class enemies but remove the narrative infodump explaining all of that. The audience for a litRPG is going to know exactly what you're talking about anyway, and any potential newbie readers who don't understand litRPG are going to at least get the idea that a D class is more powerful than an E just from context. 

Meanwhile, you explain (at least a little) the necessary esoteric knowledge sufficient for understanding what's going on. If the girls are apprentice seamstresses but are currently not working as such, then that explains why they're free to help out the family at the forge. (I still think they'd be more helpful to their family if they were repairing other families' clothing during the day, if that's what they're really good at. Shoveling coal for a forge is what apprentice smiths are for, and was typically handled by small children.) You can also tease coming explanations through small bits of dialog, such as "So why does the Adventurer's Association need enough horseshoes to outfit an army?" only to get brushed off. 

As for jumping into the action versus showing peaceful life beforehand, this is hampered by the abrupt transition to the second chapter. Have more hints about the coming danger, and preferably end the chapter with the danger arriving. After that, don't jump into the action in the second chapter like that. You can do that with a first chapter, but once you've established a slow start you can't suddenly skip over something as important as getting from the peaceful first chapter to the middle of a battle. I guarantee that will throw off a lot of readers. 

Re: Ask the Editor

#68

NovelNinja Wrote: SNIP


Okay some of this are things I've already started implementing (I changed what the sisters were doing for instance). I added a bit more conversation, reduced some of the infodumps a little (Though admittedly not enough, I struggle in reducing them because as a reader I don't generally mind large info dumps) 

Insofar I've added a bit more dialog about them talking about rumors regarding the horseshoes. I've also been working on shifting the entire fight to start in chapter two, with chapter one ending with them in the tavern they were headed to in I don't know how many times I've shifted this chapter, it used to start in medias res, but I have a personal dislike of the trope the version you read. 

I got the currency values somewhat close to what I wanted, I was wanting the individual coins to be worth a bit more, but I also wanted to have a easy to do conversion system, and this was the compromise. I also wanted to try As it stands I've also added a line mentioning that most people tend to deal in silver for anything besides day to day purchases, as the copper is just to burdensome to carry around. 

As for the horseshoes, while I intended them to be cheaper than normal because of magic, that was a bit much. I shifted the prices around to fifty per enchantable set, and ten per normal set. Still a bit cheaper than I'd like, but I think it's over all a better balance. That's still only .54 cents a shoe, but given the enchantable are five times that, I still think it's decent enough, especially as they're just enchantable not enchanted (Which would be somewhere around 250 crowns a set for the more common enchantments. That'd be roughly 54$ for one set, which is more than most normal workers can afford, but in the realm of a middle class that historically wasn't very big yet, though magic makes it a fair amount larger here) 

If I get annoying responding to these, just lemme know and I'll stop. I have a hard time not responding to criticism, either to defend myself, clear things up, or note how I'm trying to implement recommended changes.

Re: Ask the Editor

#69
I certainly understand the need for easy currency conversion, which is why I didn't suggest changing that. Mind you, I use a screenshot of one I created for an author years ago in my standard worldbuilding presentation, and I always see people taking pictures of that slide in particular. It isn't decimal-based, but it's regular enough for the author to do easy conversions while not looking too regular for the audience (assuming they never see the chart). 

Anyway, it isn't annoying for you to respond. It looks like you've made some good changes. I'm glad I could help. 

Re: Ask the Editor

#70
Could you please give me feedback on my blurb?

Genre: Portal Fantasy (Isekai) with a Comedic Undertone

Title: I'm Overpowered, but I'll Let the Hero Do His Thing While I Save the Last Boss



Quote:Reborn to Rescue a Video Game World! After dying during a worldwide pandemic, ordinary college student Asteria was given a fresh start in the world of a popular video game. Her mission: to protect mankind from a forgotten danger. However, shouldn’t the original main character of “Tales of Vesterland” be given his chance to shine? Now, armed with ALL the cheats, she’s decided to let the hero do his thing while she saves the last boss and gets rid of the real villain who’s been hiding behind the scenes. Join this OP adventurer in her hilarious candy-fueled quest to befriend the hero, save the villains, and kick ass!



I've actually finished my first draft of the book which I plan to self-publish on Amazon. I had two editors edit the prologue to see if we could work together.

The first one was good with line edits but didn't seem to understand my story.
The second wasn't too good. 

peoconfused I'm currently self-editing and rewriting based on the feedback I get from readers.

Re: Ask the Editor

#71

meili Wrote: Could you please give me feedback on my blurb?

Genre: Portal Fantasy (Isekai) with a Comedic Undertone

Title: I'm Overpowered, but I'll Let the Hero Do His Thing While I Save the Last Boss

Quote:Reborn to Rescue a Video Game World! After dying during a worldwide pandemic, ordinary college student Asteria was given a fresh start in the world of a popular video game. Her mission: to protect mankind from a forgotten danger. However, shouldn’t the original main character of “Tales of Vesterland” be given his chance to shine? Now, armed with ALL the cheats, she’s decided to let the hero do his thing while she saves the last boss and gets rid of the real villain who’s been hiding behind the scenes. Join this OP adventurer in her hilarious candy-fueled quest to befriend the hero, save the villains, and kick ass!

You don't need to mention cause of death in the blurb. 

Is it her choice to be in the background or the goddess' request? 

You want to tease something about what she's getting into, either the game world or the sort of shenanigan's she's facing. 

Based on just the blurb and what I gleaned from skimming your prologue and first chapter:

You know what's the best thing about waking up inside a video game? Cheat codes. 

Ordinary college student Asteria died, but was given a new life to fix a goddess' world -- which just happens to be a video game she used to play. Now she's the most fantastically overpowered character in the game, but her greatest power is knowing what the hero doesn't: that the villain of the game isn't the one pulling the strings. Now she'll let the hero be a hero while she secretly embarks on her own candy-fueled quest to rescue the last boss and save the world!

Also, I don't really blame the first editor for not understanding your story. The prologue is mostly infodumps. You should have tested them with the first chapter. 

Re: Ask the Editor

#72

NovelNinja Wrote:
meili Wrote: Could you please give me feedback on my blurb?

Genre: Portal Fantasy (Isekai) with a Comedic Undertone

Title: I'm Overpowered, but I'll Let the Hero Do His Thing While I Save the Last Boss

Quote:Reborn to Rescue a Video Game World! After dying during a worldwide pandemic, ordinary college student Asteria was given a fresh start in the world of a popular video game. Her mission: to protect mankind from a forgotten danger. However, shouldn’t the original main character of “Tales of Vesterland” be given his chance to shine? Now, armed with ALL the cheats, she’s decided to let the hero do his thing while she saves the last boss and gets rid of the real villain who’s been hiding behind the scenes. Join this OP adventurer in her hilarious candy-fueled quest to befriend the hero, save the villains, and kick ass!


Also, I don't really blame the first editor for not understanding your story. The prologue is mostly infodumps. You should have tested them with the first chapter.


Thank you very much for the feedback. That's what I'm saying, it's hard for editors to edit my story since it's a bit weird.

Who knows where I can find an editor who understands a comedy portal fantasy? Kinda weird niche.

Quote:You know what's the best thing about waking up inside a video game? Cheat codes.


I'm afraid not. My story isn't actually LitRPG. There's no cheat codes since it's not a VRMMORPG.


Quote:Ordinary college student Asteria died, but was given a new life to fix a goddess' world -- which just happens to be a video game she used to play. Now she's the most fantastically overpowered character in the game, but her greatest power is knowing what the hero doesn't: that the villain of the game isn't the one pulling the strings. Now she'll let the hero be a hero while she secretly embarks on her own candy-fueled quest to rescue the last boss and save the world!



Thanks, I have a better idea what might work now.

Re: Ask the Editor

#74

NovelNinja Wrote:
meili Wrote: My story isn't actually LitRPG. There's no cheat codes since it's not a VRMMORPG.

I see. The first chapter made it seem like she'd be in a litRPG.


It's um a bit weird. The plot is serious but the tone is comedic. People come to read for the OP MC in a video game world, but they stay for the comedy and characters.

I actually added the "died during a pandemic" bit because people said it was shocking when they first read my story, and there was a death from COVID19.

You didn't say anything about the title. Is it okay if I don't use a comma? It kinda looks ugly on the cover with a comma. No one has complained, so it should be fine?

I'm Overpowered but I'll Let the Hero Do His Thing While I Save the Last Boss

I'm Overpowered, but I'll Let the Hero Do His Thing While I Save the Last Boss

Re: Ask the Editor

#76

NovelNinja Wrote: 3) What do I want to see more of? Optimism, especially in SF



Yup. Me, too. And most of the rest of the reading public. Optimism - the tendency to view adversities as short-term, specific, and generally caused by extraneous factors while treating good things as long-lasting with far reaching effects and generally caused by personal qualities one can grow and develop - is a draw. We like optimists better, they succeed more frequently, make better romantic partners, and are even healthier than their pessimistic peers. And, optimism is a learned response, a pattern produced by the more evolved portions of our brains to interrupt the "run from pain" response of our less evolved systems. (See, The Hope Circuit by Martin E.P. Seligman.) It is closely aligned with a growth mindset - the belief that we can improve our abilities drastically through sustained effort, increased knowledge, and practice. Optimists also tend to perform at their best under pressure. Harry Potter wasn't the one who achieved flawless and effortless performance the first time, that was Hermione. "It's lev-i-o-SA." But he practiced and used it under pressure to stop a troll. (Not to be unfair to Hermione, she had a growth mindset, too - she worked and always assumed she could be better. Despite appearances, overall she appeared to be more interested in getting better rather than looking good. She wouldn't have taken on challenges - the Time-Turner - and risked failure as much as she did otherwise.)

Even beyond that, and going to your response to #2, the urge to be relevant too often leads to worldbuilding that reflects the skewed talking points of  "activists" and the Twitterverse. Unfortunately for activists, we don't live in the worst society ever. Rather, the world today is more peaceful, more productive, and a much better place for billions than it has ever been. In fact, absent the depredations of totalitarian regimes and devotees of Marx, it would be even better. And it will get better if we don't listen to the voices of righteous certitude and virtue signaling. Cultural appropriation? Absolutely! Bring it on! It's a sign of acceptance and understanding. (I'm talking about fun with, not fun about. There's a difference and we all know it.) People build ties of understanding and friendship with those who are different from themselves in an atmosphere of cooperation, not when they fear condemnation for the least mis-step. (See the early school integration research, especially the jigsaw technique.)

What I'm coming to understand as I write this is that your advice all hangs together. Each piece fits. I suspect that's part of why you're successful. Thanks for sharing so much!

Re: Ask the Editor

#77
Hiya! First off, I'd like to thank you for this thread - your answers on everything from an editorial perspective really tie everything together, and it's definitely nice to see:) 

Second, I wonder what your thoughts on the recent influx of portal fantasy are? Could it be pulled off well, even as the concept becomes less and less 'unique,' in a sense? As more and more writers try to break free from the cliche, it does become a cliche in itself; I've seen some LitRPGs published - the Iron Prince, etc. - but I've never really seen a web-originated, published isekai before, so that was just a thought:)

Third - and on an unrelated note - if you're free, any feedback at all on my blurb and prologue would be appreciated! https://www.royalroad.com/fiction/41194/queenscage

Re: Ask the Editor

#78
meili Wrote: You didn't say anything about the title. Is it okay if I don't use a comma? It kinda looks ugly on the cover with a comma. No one has complained, so it should be fine?

I did, but it was an earlier post. You said you liked Villain Rescue Service. If you're keeping the original, then you don't need to add a comma if you don't want to.
Astra Magically Wrote: Hello, can you check my story too?
I definitely need writing advice on my blurb... or maybe also the first chapter of my story?
Thanks in advance.

Your current blurb is:

What would you do if you suddenly got transported to another world? Become a legendary hero? Make a harem? Heck, even building an ever-lasting empire?

Anyone would have dreamed of going to another world, free from all the troubles that the real world presents. But who said the other world was any easier?

This was a story of a certain programmer student — Vincent — as he got transported to another world, filled with strange powers without even a single cheat, except some modern devices with him.


Your offered hooks are good, but yes, you do need a little help on presentation. You're doing a good job at giving the audience the idea that this is an isekai, but not an overpowered cultivation or litRPG. The problem here is that you aren't telling the audience anything more than a really lengthy elevator pitch. The entire blurb could be cut down to It's a high fantasy isekai where the main character doesn't get any mystical advantages. That's an excellent pitch, and you should use some sort of variant of that in your signature rather than your current blurb (just don't copy Tynian's pitch for Journey of a Scholar, which if I recall is The isekai where the hero gets no cheats).

I don't get much from your first chapter on how to tweak the blurb (and I'll get to my critique of said chapter in a moment), so here's my attempt based solely on what I have now. I can't write the best blurb for you without knowing more about your story and whether there's anything stronger to hook.

Vincent, a graduate student from Earth, has been transported to another world filled with strange powers and fantastic monsters. Ideally, this would be the start of his journey to become a legendary hero, build an everlasting empire, and gather a personal harem.

Unfortunately, Vincent is just a programming student with no mystical advantages, special abilities, or cheats. All he has is what's in his head and what he was carrying when he arrived.

No one said this new world would be easy . . .


The main issue with this version is that the last line makes it sound like he is going to become a legendary hero, forge and empire, and gather a harem. I don't know where the story is going, so if that isn't the case then you shouldn't use this blurb.

The advantages of the new version, though, and why I offer it as an example, is that you start with the character and the basic situation, and then you get the ironic reversal of the typical isekai tropes. Blurbs usually benefit from a subtle version of the old cliched sales pitch but wait, there's more! -- because a blurb is a sales pitch, and it's a cliche for a reason.

Now, as to your first chapter, the main issue it suffers from is, I assume, that you're not a native English speaker. I have some advice on that in another thread. Since both you and your character are programming students, I'll also add a reading suggestion of Wizard's Bane by Rick Cook. That book is probably the definitive "programmer defeats evil" isekai.

The next major issue is that I don't see a reason for the double flashback format with what I've read, and you don't want to throw off a reader with your first chapter. You start off with something completely inside the main character's head (meaning no context on his surroundings), then flash back to being on Earth without any real plot development, and then jump to the new world. That's when you should really start the story. If there's something that absolutely has to be explained by showing him on Earth, then it's not obvious in the current version.

InterestingLad Wrote: Harry Potter wasn't the one who achieved flawless and effortless performance the first time, that was Hermione. "It's lev-i-o-SA." But he practiced and used it under pressure to stop a troll.

It was actually Ron who used it against the troll, but that just reinforces your point. Ron wasn't the Chosen One or the star student. Hermione was unable to put her theory into practice (not through fault of her own), and Harry's biggest contribution was poking the troll with his wand. It was Ron, the underachiever, who got it right. He had the most difficult time learning it and that meant he practiced it more, and was therefore the most effective under pressure. It would have been nice to see more of that during the series.
Quote:What I'm coming to understand as I write this is that your advice all hangs together. Each piece fits. I suspect that's part of why you're successful. Thanks for sharing so much!

I wish I were a lot more successful. :) Money doesn't buy you happiness, but it does get you food on the table. But hey, I enjoy doing this, and that counts for a lot.

As for things hanging together, that's always been my biggest advantage. I was never the best student. Actually, I was a terrible student, but I could cross-reference in my head to the point that the professors didn't always realize what I was doing. One of my favorite stories on that topic is when I took the most boring class I ever had to take (a requirement for my degree), even though it was from one of my favorite professors. Most of the class was a seminar format; for those who don't know, that means a semi-structured discussion. We were supposed to read through mind-numbing essays before each class, then pick something to discuss out of them. Each student gave their points in turn, and the professor then wove a discussion out of that, marking down how good our points were. He frequently complimented me on how well I had performed and how I'd brought in relevant points.

Except I never actually did the reading. I'd sit down next to my friend, an A student who poured over every word; she'd ask me "Did you do the reading?" "Nope." "I hate you." I'd then open the assignment, pick something at random, and use that as my point in the opening round-table. I'd then be very active in the discussion because I'd bring in points that the A students wouldn't think of -- precisely because the easiest way to be an A student is to compartmentalize. You memorize what you need for this class, and then move on.

I can't do that. My brain just will not work that way. Maybe it's the combination of being autistic and ADD; I don't know. But it frequently gave me an advantage that kept my head above water, because I didn't just regurgitate everything. I could bring in alternate elements from other classes, classes I was actually interested in, and use them to steer the discussion to elements that I could actually talk about.

And every class, my friend repeated that she hated me. :) But that's how I managed to have a career in this for over eleven years now. I draw on philosophy, physics, archaeology, theology, political science, history, film, biology, psychology, and a whole lot more because it's all buzzing around inside my head. Until I became primarily a stay-at-home dad (Munchkin doesn't like it when I type rather than read him Corduroy for the fifteenth time today, so my editing has been severely curtailed), I was always working on something; and the more I work, the more I learn. I'm always looking for connections, and I love passing on what I know.

incarnadine Wrote: Hiya! First off, I'd like to thank you for this thread - your answers on everything from an editorial perspective really tie everything together, and it's definitely nice to see:) 

Second, I wonder what your thoughts on the recent influx of portal fantasy are? Could it be pulled off well, even as the concept becomes less and less 'unique,' in a sense? As more and more writers try to break free from the cliche, it does become a cliche in itself; I've seen some LitRPGs published - the Iron Prince, etc. - but I've never really seen a web-originated, published isekai before, so that was just a thought:)

Portal fantasy isn't new to me. C. S. Lewis didn't invent it, either. I've been a fan of portal fantasy since long before it was called that. My older brother, who got me into reading fantasy and science fiction (despite the fact that he's a jock and refuses to admit to any geeky tendencies), hates it; but I like the mixture of storytelling elements it brings.

I've never read it, but I know that He Who Fights with Monsters is a portal fantasy, and it was recently published by Aethon. It popped up on a Facebook ad, which is how I found out. But if you mean just a web-originated portal fantasy, not mixed with litRPG, I don't know. As I've been saying, I only seriously started looking at web publishing six months ago, and I'm not even trying to keep up with everything. Web pub circles simply do not overlap with most of trad pub at the moment, which is why I was so surprised at the sheer size of the web pub culture out there, both professional and amateur. I just never came across you guys to this degree before last fall, and there's a huge bias in trad pub that's kept us from seeing how successful you've been.

This is, incidentally, a major reason for why I'm trying my hand at writing not just one but multiple web novels. Due to personal events this year (I'm moving this month, and my wife is going to give birth to our second son this summer), I'm probably not going to be able to have reliable and significant weekly output for several months; so I'm going to just keep writing until I know what I can produce each week, building up a buffer. I'm going to release two at the same time because they're different genres and I want to see what happens with each. I'll also write down all my findings and give them both to this community and to my trad pub forums. If I'm successful, then there are a lot of lesser trad pub authors (and I think at least one major trad author) who will be looking at web pub seriously. (Most of the other medium-to-major trad authors I know are going to just stick with what works for them. No reason to rock the boat when you're already doing well, right? Mind you, one of the biggest authors I know technically already succeeded at web publishing; he just doesn't realize it at the moment because all the money he made from it was through trad sales from an audiobook version.)
Quote:Third - and on an unrelated note - if you're free, any feedback at all on my blurb and prologue would be appreciated!

The blurb seems to skip past the interesting part of the story. In essence, your hook is something that already happened. Tell the potential reader that the meat of the story is what came after the fight.

Your prologue is confusing. There's no context here, and I strongly suspect that the only elements of that scene that wouldn't be easily presented later with better context are the fact that there are Writers, a Censor, and a Watcher, whatever that means for the story as a whole.

The first part of your first chapter is heavy on small paragraphs. You should use small paragraphs either for small moments or for emphasizing singular elements (like And that day, I had lost, which loses its punch because that brevity is overused). You also focus so completely on Seraphina's internal monologue that fifteen out of twenty-five of those paragraphs begin with “I.” All of this section is better if given a little at a time through the narrative, especially since this seems to be a political intrigue story. The mystery of what exactly happens inside the Queen's Cage is something you should tease out. It's a good hook that you're not using to its full potential.

A good fantasy political intrigue is difficult to find, so if you can clean this up I'll be very interested in seeing more. My wife has a particular fondness for political intrigue SF&F, too, so if you can please her, you're probably golden. :) (For comparison, the intrigue in the Honor Harrington series, especially books four and five, are part of what she loves the most about that setting. They make for an excellent example of how to do it without overdoing it.)

Re: Ask the Editor

#80
ArDeeBurger Wrote:
NovelNinja Wrote: (I'm moving this month, and my wife is going to give birth to our second son this summer),

Babies! Oh I am so happy for you. I wish you and your lovely wife many poopless, pukeless nights, although I doubt that you'll get either. 

Thank you. :) I've been considering reposting my social media posts as a narrative on Royal Road; I have amusing little script-format vignettes where our first son (under the name Munchkin) talks in full sentences about being a baby.

For example:

Munchkin: "Father, I am feeling philosophical."
Me: "Really? About what?"
Munchkin: "Everything."
Me: "That narrows it down."
Munchkin: "You see, everything is wrong with the world."
Me: "That is certainly philosophical."
Munchkin: "I'm quite upset about it."
Me: "I can tell."
Munchkin: "In fact, I think I would like to rant about it. For hours."
Me: "Would you like me to carry you while I walk in circles and sing 'Fields of Athenry' to you?"
Munchkin: "That will be temporarily acceptable."

Of course, part of the issue is that many of them come with images and video, and that's hard to put on here. :)