Re: Free First Chapter Feedback!

#141

StgBria Wrote:
Zearth Wrote:
StgBria Wrote:
Zearth Wrote: Hi, just asking again if you're able to review my series, Descent, located in the Signature. I don't know whether you missed the original post, so I decided to ask again.

Would not keep reading. 

So there's a lot to break down here. We'll start with the good. In terms of setting up a magic system through showing, not telling, you did a pretty good job. I got a general sense of what they could do and realized pretty early on that something with heat was going on. If that was accompanied by stronger writing all together, it would be fantastic. You do the same thing when they create their blades, too. You say very little but I get it. 

And that's where the trouble comes in, the writing. The style here is messy. You undescribed things while overdescribing others. There are mistakes. There's awkward phrasing that needs to be cleaned up. In terms of prose, I'm leaning towards saying nothing worked 100%. At one point you tried a metaphor, but it didn't make sense. The follow up was cute and I liked that with the "pot and kettle" but then I just thought, "He had the punch line but didn't know how to get there. That's why the metaphor doesn't make sense."


And the story flows in the same vein. You are just so vague. I get that some people are after them, but that's all I know. It's practically nonsense and it feels like you are intentionally making things unclear to show us later. But it's unnatural. You go to such lengths to leave us in the dark that we are made painfully aware and its frustrating. You just have to say "X group is after us" That's all you need because that's what the characters would say. But no, you have to get all high and mighty about your twists and turns. 

And I guess there's not much more to talk about without getting into specific instances. So I'll just touch on two that come to mind:

  1) When she cuts through the fence. The POV sits down and watches just so he can rush over when she falls. They're both going through the fence. Why would he sit down? It's pretty transparent for dramatic effect, but it doesn't make much sense in context. 

  2) If you're going to make the magazine in a gun explode,  that means the bullets go off. They don't just explode and vaporize. It's the exact same thing as firing a bullet. It would be pandemonium with crap going everywhere. In your case you just write "they did the thing" and immediately cut to something else. Maybe describe the big bombastic action scene. 

That's about it. You have one point that's your strong suit, and it's a pretty rare gift, but everything else needs some elbow grease.
Very fair points raised. Although I did intend not to mention who is after them plainly because the twins themselves really had no idea who they are. I also didn't want to touch on the power in question because there's some plot point to it later. Other than that, ya, your points stuck. 
Ugh, and that's yet another editing hell to go through...
Thanks for the review.
Edit: Thinking about it, it's the same root problem again. I can imagine how the scene would work, but translating that into writing is the issue.
That's an interesting point about the guys that are after them. But it's phrased like they DO know. They call them something familiar like "those guys." Not "the guys that tried to kill us earlier." Or "Who the hell are they anyway?"
That actually makes a lot more sense than what the hell I wrote. Gonna find somewhere to write that for the edit.
Anyways, thanks again. 
On that note, though, I'm just wondering how you'd rate Cry Wolfe. It's not gonna be a series, but I'm curious what my harshest critic to date would think about it. :p

Re: Free First Chapter Feedback!

#142
Hey StgBria! I hate to ask again and be a bother, but I think my request got buried (it was comment #113 here, on thread page 6 :"D) I might also just be blind and missed it! Your reviews have been so insightful so far, so I'd love to hear what you think if it's possible. Sorry to ask again; thank you! 

https://www.royalroad.com/fiction/43131/radical-magic/chapter/681571/one-prophetic-lightless-deaths

Re: Free First Chapter Feedback!

#145

Angry_Raccoon Wrote: Hey StgBria! I hate to ask again and be a bother, but I think my request got buried (it was comment #113 here, on thread page 6 :"D) I might also just be blind and missed it! Your reviews have been so insightful so far, so I'd love to hear what you think if it's possible. Sorry to ask again; thank you! 

https://www.royalroad.com/fiction/43131/radical-magic/chapter/681571/one-prophetic-lightless-deaths
Sorry it got buried. These things are hard to keep track of. 


hmmmmm. You know what, I would read one more chapter. 

It's weird man. And I like that. There's a lot of ideas just kind of thrown in and stewing there, and what makes it almost more interesting, is that they aren't addressed. There's an atlas with rpg stats, sure why not. Both characters are witches. Sure why not. They are already in some alternate rpg world? Sure why not. It's one of those things where I felt it wasn't well written because of this, but at the same time explaining and establishing stuff might make it less interesting. 

It's a weird one in terms of execution. 

Re: Free First Chapter Feedback!

#146

air Wrote: Would it be possible to review the first chapter of my novel as well? A few phrases are in Haitian Creole and Jamaican Patois, so I apologize for that. 

https://www.royalroad.com/fiction/33247/drops/chapter/509282/chapter-1

Thank you, 
Air 12
Would keep reading. . . because I already have.

So this is a first. I've seen your novel so many times in the "recently updated" that I clicked it and read a bit. Uh, the first chapter specifically is really good and I have no real critique for you. Once I get another work that's up there, I'll add yours and the other two to the front page as a "best of the best". 

But, uh, yeah. Good work. 

Edit: now that I think about it there are three. I will put those up soon. 

Re: Free First Chapter Feedback!

#147

OntoSomethingGood Wrote: Hi, This is another of my stories that I've been planning. Would appreciate some feedback if you can spare some time - 

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1nN2jRO242xkw2ZH4gvKGqa2jqwvBVwYJnyws5bOG1Gg/edit?usp=sharing
Would not keep reading, which is horribly surprising. 

More surprising still is the issue I had with it: the voice. Your first work had an amazing voice and the MC really popped. Now you've switched to 1st person and that should be right in your wheelhouse. You can go as far as you want when you're writing in 1st person because everything is 100% THAT character. But lo and behold, I found it kind of bland. There is little character voice and most of the text is just used to pretty basically describe things happening. 


Re: Free First Chapter Feedback!

#148

StgBria Wrote:
Angry_Raccoon Wrote: Hey StgBria! I hate to ask again and be a bother, but I think my request got buried (it was comment #113 here, on thread page 6 :"D) I might also just be blind and missed it! Your reviews have been so insightful so far, so I'd love to hear what you think if it's possible. Sorry to ask again; thank you! 

https://www.royalroad.com/fiction/43131/radical-magic/chapter/681571/one-prophetic-lightless-deaths
Sorry it got buried. These things are hard to keep track of. 


hmmmmm. You know what, I would read one more chapter. 

It's weird man. And I like that. There's a lot of ideas just kind of thrown in and stewing there, and what makes it almost more interesting, is that they aren't addressed. There's an atlas with rpg stats, sure why not. Both characters are witches. Sure why not. They are already in some alternate rpg world? Sure why not. It's one of those things where I felt it wasn't well written because of this, but at the same time explaining and establishing stuff might make it less interesting. 

It's a weird one in terms of execution.



Thank you so much! No problem at all on being buried; it happens.  And yeah haha--it's a pretty weird one; I figured that explaining everything at the first would bog down the story and make it less interesting (plus, mysteries to reveal later on lol), so things are explained later on--for the most part. Balancing exposition and story's always a challenge; that's something I'll definitely keep in mind.

Thank you again for the review! I really appreciate the feedback. :D

Re: Free First Chapter Feedback!

#150

aproyal Wrote: Lake Chillmoore

Appreciate any feedback :) Thanks so much for doing this.
Would keep reading.

  You don't get a lot of classic horror stories on here so it definitely scratches that itch, and the first chapter is good enough to keep me reading.

  With all that said, the execution is on the weaker side. This is by no means exhaustive but here's the highlights:

   Intro is so vague. I thought you were doing a thing where the narrator was intentionally being vague so not to encourage others, but later you spell out all that information so even that intention isn't there. Really, it reads like "A thing happened at a place." Cool. What thing? What place. 

  The bit with the wife going missing was clunky. You don't even talk about her once they arrive until you note that she's gone. I didn't even realize she got their earlier because the paragraph that says she did also contains information directly after talking about what she did that morning. I thought they all came together. And then it's kind of forced to illicit the scaries. There is literally nothing abnormal about what the mom did, but it's painted like this scary thing. Ooooo where is she? 

  And now I'm going to take my soap box because I never get to talk about horror. Horror relies on tension and release. There are a few ways to build that tension, but we're going to focus on the main one and the motif you used: the uncanny. Tension is created when things aren't quite right. A light turned on doesn't create tension, because that's how they work. A light turned off doesn't create tension (the dark may through the unknown but that's a different thing), because that's how they work. But if you walk down the hall and the light flickers, that creates tension because it's just not quite right. 

  So how do you create the uncanny with Sarah? You really don't. The only thing we find out is that she is letting her phone go to voicemail. But here's the thing: we've never met Sarah. We know this is odd because you are telling us it is. If something is going to be uncanny, it has to be ubiquitous with the human experience. Something has to be wrong with Sarah that we say: normal people don't do that. Because, once again, we don't know her and it's pointless to tell the audience that something is off.

  So let's start there. How do you create the uncanny here? What can they find in the cabin that is abnormal to typical human behavior? Well the list is limitless, but the thing that comes to mind for me is the door. Picture this:

   They go into the cabin and it's cold. Really cold. He can't find Sarah but knows she was there. He heads to the back and the door is open with foot prints leading away. That's odd. Humans don't leave doors open, especially not in winter. The MC can say "she wouldn't do that" but we as an audience don't need the verbal clue because we know something is wrong. 

  And then you come back later and find out that the latch to the door doesn't quite work so the wind blows it open if you don't dead bolt it. Which on it's own right creates tension for the future because now something isn't quite right with the house. . . . 

  Okie dokey. Let's move on to the last scene since this is taking so long. 
  
  Here you are evoking a fear of the unknown, bodily harm, and violation of a safe space by an intruder. Great. But where's the tension? The scene starts with the kids TELLING US this is the case. Where's the build up, the deep breath, the uncanny? Not here. 

  So let's create a nice an easy rule of 3's here. First, Kid a comes in and says something isn't quite right. They didn't see a man at the window they heard scratching. Slightly weird but there are trees. There is wind. Could be normal. 


  Then kid B comes in and says they heard someone talking outside. That's even weirder, right? But as an adult you think it's the wind. Although you do want to go check and be sure. These are your kids after all. So as MC is walking to the door, they hear a loud crash down stairs. Yikes, even more unusual. 

  So far, we don't have any proof that anything is wrong. There are logical explanations for everything, but you are asking the reader to imagine both possibilities and the tension is growing. 

  And here is where you have to make an executive decision about the actual release of tension, because there are a lot of ways to do it. Do you want to follow threw and confirm someone was at the house? Do you want to follow through and confirm someone was IN the house? What's the horror. It's too early for the MC to be attacked so bodily harm is out, but you should probably follow through on something since this is the opening chapter. 

  Option 1: Fear of the unknown: the door from earlier is open. But that's weird, it was definitely dead bolted and the MC even wedged a chair in front to be safe. There's no way it could have opened on it's own. Release. We know SOMETHING is going on that we can't figure out. 

  Option 2: The door is open and the MC sees a pair of tracks coming towards the house and then away. Release. There was someone here and he was able to get inside. Violation of a safe space. 

  And that's about it. I was waiting until October to do some spooky stories of my own, but maybe I shouldn't wait because I clearly need to get it out of my system. 

  Anyway, that's about it. It's good but could use a lot of polish. 

Re: Free First Chapter Feedback!

#154

christos200 Wrote: A link to my story: Tales of Heroes and Demons

It is a xianxia with Western fantasy elements. I would appreciate any kind of feedback, both positive and negative. Thanks in advance. :)
Would not keep reading.

 It's certainly well written in terms of prose, but I finished reading it asking "what is it?" In the literal sense, it's five short stories that are vaguely connected. And right away that's where the problem starts. Who is the MC? What am I following here? Are we doing split story lines like ASOIAF? What was the purpose of the scene with the emperor?

  Conceptually I guess I can understand what you are going for. Have small child spend time with his father and then you find out the father is in danger. But then structurally it's all wrong. We barely spend time with them and instead you choose to write at length about the emperor's affair? And then to top it all off, you do that opposite to justify danger to the father.

  One character says, "Let's kill the father, he could stop our schemes." The other character says, "No. He won't stop our schemes he would never do that." Character A comes back in and finishes the scene by saying "You are right. He would not stop our schemes. But I don't like him so let's murder him anyway." It's the opposite of logical story telling.

  I don't know who we're following. I don't know who any of these characters are. I don't know why I should care. Even the character motivations that are presented make no sense. It's epileptic. 

Re: Free First Chapter Feedback!

#155
Thanks for the feedback. I appreciate it. :) 

Yes, while there is a 'central' MC (Jing), it is supposed to follow split storylines (and focus a lot on the supporting characters) that converge at some point. I guess I can try to extend Jing's presence in the chapter to give further indication he is supposed to be the MC, but removing the other storylines/characters I feel would remove the story too much from my vision for the novel and make it into something else entirely (since I have not envisioned the novel as following the storyline of a single MC only). 

For the dialogue about the General and why he should be killed, you are absolutely right. I changed it to this: 

Spoiler :
“There is a slight problem however,” Yi replied. “Minister Feng has the backing of General Yang Wanli. He commands over 100,000 crack troops in the Grand Forts. If Feng is slandered and arrested, I believe Wanli might descend with his army on the capital. If he does so, we will not be able to do much to stop him.”

“Wanli has long been a thorn on our side. This might actually be our chance to get rid of him and the Yang Clan, and install someone loyal to the Generalship of the Grand Forts. We can credibly accuse him and his clan of collaborating with Feng. This is high treason and punishable by death.”

“If framing Feng isn’t enough to get Wanli to rebel, framing him and his family will certainly be!” Yi protested.

Sui dismissed the possibility with a wave of his hand. “Not if we move first. Wanli’s family is here in the capital. If Wanli understands that his family will be exterminated if he refuses to takes his own life, he will do so without a hint of hesitation. He is too ‘honorable’ and ‘virtuous’ and ‘loyal’ to let them die for him.” Sui paused for a moment to take a sip of tea. “Of course if Wanli suspects that there is danger, he will take his family away from the capital. Which is why I want you to not give any indication of our plans: no blabbering, no courting for support and no indication you are pursuing the case. When we declare Feng and Wanli traitors, only the Emperor and a select group of officials should know about it. That way we can take them by surprise.”

Does this work better?

EDIT: 

I've also added another scene with Jing training with his father, to give more 'screen time' to the 'central' MC: 

Spoiler :
That evening, after completing his studies for the day, Jing went back to the Manor’s garden to practice once more his swordsmanship. He would swing left and right his wooden sword, striking at an imaginary opponent. As he did so, he suddenly noticed his father watching him, a wooden sword in his hands. “Father,” he greeted him.


“As I’ve said in the morning, you’ve certainly improved with the sword. But I want to test how you would fare against a live opponent.”


Jing nodded. He moved in swings the sword towards his father, who parried it easily. Wanli then struck hard. The boy countered each blow with a flash of speed. Wanli moved in his attack hard and swift, his blows raining hard on his son. The force of the blows knocked Jing backward. Wanli hit his son with the flat side of the wooden sword, causing Jing to fall from the blow.


“You are good,” the father smiled, “but you still need lots of training and hard work to really become a warrior.”



Re: Free First Chapter Feedback!

#156

christos200 Wrote: Thanks for the feedback. I appreciate it. :) 

Yes, while there is a 'central' MC (Jing), it is supposed to follow split storylines (and focus a lot on the supporting characters) that converge at some point. I guess I can try to extend Jing's presence in the chapter to give further indication he is supposed to be the MC, but removing the other storylines/characters I feel would remove the story too much from my vision for the novel and make it into something else entirely (since I have not envisioned the novel as following the storyline of a single MC only). 

For the dialogue about the General and why he should be killed, you are absolutely right. I changed it to this: 

Spoiler :
“There is a slight problem however,” Yi replied. “Minister Feng has the backing of General Yang Wanli. He commands over 100,000 crack troops in the Grand Forts. If Feng is slandered and arrested, I believe Wanli might descend with his army on the capital. If he does so, we will not be able to do much to stop him.”

“Wanli has long been a thorn on our side. This might actually be our chance to get rid of him and the Yang Clan, and install someone loyal to the Generalship of the Grand Forts. We can credibly accuse him and his clan of collaborating with Feng. This is high treason and punishable by death.”

“If framing Feng isn’t enough to get Wanli to rebel, framing him and his family will certainly be!” Yi protested.

Sui dismissed the possibility with a wave of his hand. “Not if we move first. Wanli’s family is here in the capital. If Wanli understands that his family will be exterminated if he refuses to takes his own life, he will do so without a hint of hesitation. He is too ‘honorable’ and ‘virtuous’ and ‘loyal’ to let them die for him.” Sui paused for a moment to take a sip of tea. “Of course if Wanli suspects that there is danger, he will take his family away from the capital. Which is why I want you to not give any indication of our plans: no blabbering, no courting for support and no indication you are pursuing the case. When we declare Feng and Wanli traitors, only the Emperor and a select group of officials should know about it. That way we can take them by surprise.”

Does this work better?

EDIT: 

I've also added another scene with Jing training with his father, to give more 'screen time' to the 'central' MC: 

Spoiler :
That evening, after completing his studies for the day, Jing went back to the Manor’s garden to practice once more his swordsmanship. He would swing left and right his wooden sword, striking at an imaginary opponent. As he did so, he suddenly noticed his father watching him, a wooden sword in his hands. “Father,” he greeted him.


“As I’ve said in the morning, you’ve certainly improved with the sword. But I want to test how you would fare against a live opponent.”


Jing nodded. He moved in swings the sword towards his father, who parried it easily. Wanli then struck hard. The boy countered each blow with a flash of speed. Wanli moved in his attack hard and swift, his blows raining hard on his son. The force of the blows knocked Jing backward. Wanli hit his son with the flat side of the wooden sword, causing Jing to fall from the blow.


“You are good,” the father smiled, “but you still need lots of training and hard work to really become a warrior.”
It definitely works better, although I would look at using the word "Protested" .

I do feel like my central concern is still an issue overall. You might know your characters and be familiar with everything, but the readers need to attach them selves to the people, the circumstances, the places. We still don't understand WHY they want to off Wanli. 

And let's assume they have a good reason. Have you established something that makes us like the child or the dad? Not for me. All we've had is a couple of paragraphs with them and I can't say I really care if they live or die. 

Normally the structure of the story would first focus on building up your characters. You'd several chapters building up their relationship and them as people to THEN threaten it. What we have here feels like it's the end of the first act, not a first chapter. Normally this is the part where I say: "You could do X to make this work," but I don't know if it can work. Introducing a character only to have them be threatened by long term consequences in the same chapter is a tall order. 

Let's say we're going to make this specific way of writing it work. Structurally, I almost feel like you need to foreshadow the possibility of harm? You have your normal chapter, but then at the end you get to the business with Feng and present it as a possible problem. 

Oh here you go. You have the entire chapter at the estate or whatever it is, and at the end Feng comes in seeking help from the father. The child can overhear this. Maybe have the mother point out that if they help Feng, they could incur the Emperor's wrath. Then with your wide scope, your chapter 2 would be the stuff with the Emperor and them. It would personalize everything. Offer a 1st hand context to the conflict, and allow more time to build the characters that you need to build to get it to work. 

And as a note on top of that, I think if you are going to focus on just the family in the 1st chapter, what happens needs to be more interesting. What you have now almost works in an entertainment sort of way because it is so short and switches so often. In terms of substance, there's nothing particularly interesting there. 

But like I said, I don't know. Whatever it is, you need some foundation to work off of. 

Re: Free First Chapter Feedback!

#158
Thanks once again for the reply. :)  I really appreciate it you taking the time to help me. 

I will be certainly looking over what you've said and editing my chapter. The part about the child overhearing his father talking about the trouble with the court is actually a good idea to both foreshadow the danger and explain why the Chancellor would want Wanli dead - it might also give readers a chance to learn more about Wanli's personality and sympathize with him. So I will be including it in my edit. 

Re: Free First Chapter Feedback!

#160

Gally Wrote: Sure, if you want to. It's not 'original fiction' though, so take that for what you will. I don't believe prior knowledge of the source material is necessary.

https://www.royalroad.com/fiction/43302/attack-on-titan-caged-no-more/chapter/685255/ymir-1
  It kind of hurts my eyes.

  You start right away with a HUUUGEEE paragraph that is a full page long. I know because I copy and pasted to check. It's a full page long under standard formatting. And you have several of those. That's rough dude. I can think of two writers who do that successfully, but they're really good at writing. And I'll take it a step further and say that it wouldn't work for them in this format anyway because it's essentially a huge wall of light on the internet. My eyes are struggling here.  (It might be how you specifically formatted too. Because I know I personally have above average paragraph lengths a lot of times and I check my own work and it doesn't look nearly as imposing as yours.)

  And beyond that, these massive walls of text have very problematic prose. You misuse commas, you don't use commas. The pacing is odd. Sentences are way too long. Some don't make sense. 

  So not only are you asking a lot of us in this format, you're kneecapping us as we try. 


  1. Break up the ideas more. 
  2. Read it aloud and add commas that way. Where do you pause naturally? That's the easiest way of going about it without going through all the rules.