Application Discussion - MALEFICENCE

#1
03/17/2017 15:49:44Dragon God Wrote: [ -> ]

  1. MALEFICENCE

  2. Sci-fi, fantasy, warfare, politics

  3. https://royalroadl.com/fiction/10925

  4. NO. 92. I can pump out the remaining 8, but they will be part of a super long chapter I'm researching, plus I got exams.

  5. An MC who has no powers in a world where a third of humanity were granted esper abilities. MC is intent on World Domination. With nothing but his wits and Rationality to aid him, he'll challenge this unforgiving world.

  6. How many RRL stories have actual believable smart characters? How many of them have Rationalist characters? My fiction was a work created from my frustrations in finding characters to jerk off to. (I'm a sapiophile, and have an fetish for intelligent MCs) I'm a noob author, so I can't promise on the writing quality itself. But I'm willing to learn, to study and to pit my utmost into delivering this unique story. As I assure you; you ain't ever seen anything like it on RRL. 

Apologise in advance for the font; I'm using a dark theme.


Original Thread

Things to include in your endorsement or rejection:

  • State whether you're endorsing or rejecting.

  • Explain the positives about the fiction.

  • Explain the negatives about the fiction.

  • Give some suggestions on how things can be improved.

  • Give some feedback on the story/plot itself.

  • Any other thoughts you have that are relevant to the application. (Optional)

RE: Application Discussion - MALEFICENCE

#2
Rejection.

I read the prologue and a big chunk into chapter 1, and then I just had to give up. So far, everything in the chapter was just one rambling rant, and scrolling down to see how long it was, something died inside of me. That's not very constructive criticism, however, so I'll restart this review.

I commend the author for the vision of writing an intelligent protagonist and focusing the story on clever characters and their plots. Having the protagonist and what appears to be the primary antagonist be former associates is a good way of immediately adding layers to the story.

The story has some problematic issues, however. Looking at the plot as it unfolds in the prologue, its purpose is clear enough; make the reader sympathise with the protagonist and their struggle and generally stir emotions. However, it fails to do so. The discussion concerning which contingency plan to enact doesn't quite make sense; I can't even recap it because I don't understand it. There is some objection against retreating, a different choice is made, but it seems like it ends up in a retreat regardless. A supposedly heroic sacrifice is made by one character against the invading force, detonating a bomb, but that seems strange as well; given the technology and apparent skill of these characters, why is the sacrifice needed? Remotely detonating a bomb should be fairly easy to accomplish.

The protagonist seems highly confused as a character. He rants constanty about all his schemes and how he plans them to perfection, only to panic and despair when facing difficulty. He presents himself as cold and calculated, yet his pride makes him emotional enough to antagonise the, well, antagonist, causing his current predicament. He outright states that there are only two positions that he would be content with, one of which is doing nothing, then immediately states afterwards that he refuses to do nothing; so obviously that is not something he is content with.

If this is to read as a story, the inner monologue of the protagonist should be curbed excessively for reader friendliness. Furthermore, his character needs to be much more strongly established. Right now, his ranting makes him seem like he has severe personality disorder, constantly contradicting himself. The result is a story that is barely readable.

RE: Application Discussion - MALEFICENCE

#3
It's another rejection from me. This story strikes me as a typical case of an author who's story makes perfect sense in his own mind, but fails to translate to comprehensible text. Moreover, there seems to be absolutely no attempt to explain any of the complicated jargon to the reader.

We, as the reader, get no insight into the world where this story takes place, but are instead thrust into an extremely stressful and confusing situation full of proper nouns and vague references that leave us with a swiss cheese impression of what this chapter was really about. I don't know anything about the characters that died, so I can't really sympathize with their deaths. I don't know anything about the world, so I can't understand why their deaths were even necessary. I don't understand this story and I don't want to. I've read the first chapter alone, three times, for the sake of writing this review, and it still doesn't make sense. Nobody wants to put that much effort into understanding something that they are reading for pleasure. Readers are lazy and if you want them to understand something, you have to spell it out for them.

In the second chapter where the author makes an attempt to provide some exposition and world building, it is done through statements in the main character's own mind. This is telling rather than showing and it is both boring and contradictory to previous statements made by the author in chat. It was said that the author's reason for refusing to explain complicated jargon within the main body of the novel, was because it would distract from the character's thought process and break immersion. Yet, in the second chapter, we see a man mentally rambling to himself about his own past, including phrases such as, "Back to my family..." and rhetorical questions which would not typically be present in stream of consciousness narration. I feel that both the opening scene and initial exposition would be better executed as flashbacks once the reader has some awareness of the novel's characters and setting.

The enormous blocks of text also contribute to the novel's problems with readability. Massive walls of text are intimidating and it is easy to lose one's place when reading them. They would be much easier to read if they were broken down into smaller segments relating to one thought. I also noticed numerous grammatical errors such as misplaced commas, sentence fragments, and improper punctuation.

Next, comes characterization. The main character shows signs of being typical to this site. Namely, his wealth, intelligence, good looks, physical competence, and other aspects qualify him as a Gary Stu. I realize that there are other characters with similar advantages, and that's also part of the problem. In the first four chapters, you've already established the 8 or so strongest beings in the world. This gives the story and extremely limited playing field. There are only three or four characters capable of consistently threatening the MC and they all have serious personality flaws that prevent me from taking them seriously. Take the MC for example. I find it hard to believe that this character is as calculating as we are lead to believe. He is emotional, panicky, overconfident, and lustful. These are all things that would cloud his thought processes.

Overall, this fiction comes across as an interesting premise. I love intelligent main characters, but there's a reason for that. When an intelligent MC is well-executed, they make the reader feel just as smart. They spell everything out in a way that makes the readers think that it is their own brain using this knowledge to make these connections. People like to feel smart. They like to understand where the character is coming from, but they don't like to be told what to think. You have to guide them without explicitly stating things. This novel fails to do this, and in failing loses its appeal. Regrettably, it's incoherence, combined with the other issues I have previously stated, leaves me with no choice but to reject it.

RE: Application Discussion - MALEFICENCE

#4
This one's also a rejection from me.

I found 'MALEFICENCE' to be completely unreadable due to the writing itself. In any medium, communication involves conveying information between two or more parties. As applied to literature and writing, this means readers and authors, where authors create text for readers to interpret. Unfortunately, this story neglects half that relationship; the text ignores the need for reader comprehension. I found it impossible to evaluate the story as the quality of writing precludes any means for me to understand it, much less immerse myself in its setting.

Readers are thrown into the story in medias res. While this isn't inherently bad, the method does necessitate feeding readers the requisite information piecemeal so that they aren't totally lost. This doesn't happen in 'MALEFICENCE'. Instead, readers are left with no idea of the setting, the characters, or the events, nor do they have any reason to care for further developments. Put simply, the main character comes off as unrelatable for readers who are simply told every (arguably terrible) thing he did, yet there appears to be an expectation that readers sympathize during a major setback. Without the groundwork and context, it is impossible for readers to connect or invest emotionally with the MC.

Exacerbating this is the extensive use of both jargon and foreign languages, none of which is translated or defined for the reader. Considering that stories on RRL are read for entertainment, is is unreasonable to expect an audience to break their immersion/flow of reading (or any semblance thereof) in order to look up such things. Unless the author is his sole audience, then it becomes necessary to translate the German, Japanese, Latin, etc. and define for readers what things such as 'Bayescraft' or 'Decision Theory'. This is especially critical for in-fiction terms such as 'Panopticon' and 'The Knights of The Round Table', lest readers be confused at their every mention. Absent of these, any use of such terms in the text has potential to disrupt readers. At the very least, 'translating' for the audience would improve their immersion in the story.

The style of the writing is that of a man lost in his own mind. I’m not even sure how much action takes place in the story due to the sheer volume of first-person thoughts. Words hit the reader as a flood as distinct ideas blend together in a stream, or perhaps a maelstrom, of consciousness. The lack of proper paragraphs suggest to me the author doesn’t understand the concept of a paragraph in writing. For example, one paragraph in 'Chapter 1' touches upon the subjects of solitude, fund raising, and somehow introduces a 'Liz'. The subject of Liz then bleeds into the next two paragraphs. Each of these concepts need their own paragraph to organize information to readers. Frankly stated, even a telepath wouldn't be able to comprehend this.

As is, the story is not up to par with our quality standards. The story of ‘MALEFICENCE’ may be interesting and entertaining. In fact, it may actually have amazing potential. However, it falls off a cliff when it comes to execution. In my opinion, the current text should be scrapped in its entirety and its ideas thrown back on the drawing board. Until major edits are made on behalf of the readers, I don’t see any way we can accept this.

RE: Application Discussion - MALEFICENCE

#5
Draft response:


Thanks for your interest in our group and for your patience. Our reviewers have read over 'MALEFICENCE' and have reached an decision. Unfortunately, they found that many improvements need to made before the story can considered for admission. What follows here is a summary of our reviewers' opinions on this work, which we hope you take into consideration in your future writing.

In general, our reviewers thought that this fiction has an interesting premise and a lot of potential. Focusing the story on clever characters and their plots can be a rewarding experience for readers. A smart MC, when well-executed, makes the reader feel just as smart and accomplished as the MC they read about. In addition, having the protagonist and what appears to be the primary antagonist be former associates is a good way of immediately adding layers to the story.

However, our reviewers were left wanting by the execution of the smart character, which caused the story to lose its appeal. Readers like to understand the character's perspective without be told what to think. When readers' thoughts are guided without explicitly stating things, they feel that their own brains are using the character's knowledge to draw those connections. 'MALEFICENCE' does not yet reach that bar.

When it comes to the MC, the character needs to be better established. It is difficult for readers to connect or invest emotionally without context, and in 'MALEFICENCE' readers are simply told every (arguably terrible) thing he did with the apparent expectation that they sympathize during a major setback. Reviewers thought the protagonist seems highly confused as a character. He presents himself as cold and calculated, but this is hard to believe. Instead, he comes across as emotional, panicky, overconfident, and lustful, with his pride being enough to antagonise the antagonist and cause his predicament. He rants constanty about his schemes being planned to perfection, then panics and despairs when facing difficulty. This ranting makes him seem like he has severe personality disorder with his constant self-contradictions. For example, he outright states that there are only two positions that he would be content with, one of which is doing nothing, then immediately contradicts this by stating afterwards that he refuses to do nothing, so obviously that is not something he would be content with.

Storywise, readers are thrown into the story in medias res, which isn't inherently bad, but does necessitate feeding readers the requisite information piecemeal so that they aren't lost in the process. This is a significant issue in 'MALEFICENCE'; readers get no insight into the world where this story takes place, but are instead thrust into a stressful, confusing situation full of proper nouns and vague references. Thus, readers are left with a patchwork understanding of what the opening was about. The opening scene and initial exposition might be better executed as flashbacks once the reader has some awareness of the novel's characters and setting. For instance, the discussion concerning which contingency plan to enact in the prologue doesn't make complete sense. There is some objection against retreating, so a different choice is made. However, it seems like it ends up in a retreat regardless. Supposedly, a heroic sacrifice is made by one character against the invading force by detonating a bomb, but that seems strange as well; given the technology and apparent skill of these characters. Remotely detonating a bomb should be fairly easy to accomplish. Readers don't know anything about the characters that died, so they can't sympathize with their deaths. They lack information about the world, so they can't understand why those deaths were even necessary. Such questions should be addressed for the story to make sense.

Our reviewers all raised issue with the readability of the text. In general, the readers' experience could be improved through changes in writing; readers are lazy and for them to understand something, it needs to be spelled out in a clear manner. Looking at the plot, it's clear that the prologue tries to make the reader sympathize with the protagonist's struggle and generally stir reader emotions. However, it fails to do so due to the previously mentioned issues.

Reading is also made difficult by the extensive use of both jargon and foreign languages, none of which is translated or defined for the reader. Since stories on RRL are read for entertainment, one cannot expect an audience to break their immersion/flow of reading in order to look up such things. It is necessary for the author to translate the German, Japanese,  and Latin phrases and define for readers things such as 'Bayescraft' or 'Decision Theory'. This is especially critical for in-fiction terms such as 'Panopticon' and 'The Knights of The Round Table', lest readers be confused at their every mention. It was said in chat that the reason for not explaining complicated jargon within the main body of the novel was because it would distract from the character's thought process and break immersion. However, using such terms in text without these explanations also has potential to disrupt readers. At the very least, translating the languages and jargon for the audience should improve their immersion in the story.

The large blocks of text also contribute to the novel's problems with readability. In its current state, words hit the reader as a flood of disorganized thoughts, where distinct ideas blend together in a rambling stream of conciousness. If this is to read better as a story, the inner monologue of the protagonist should be curbed for the sake of reader friendliness. These walls of text are intimidating to readers and make it is easy to lose one's place when reading. For example, a paragraph in 'Chapter 1' touches upon the subjects of solitude, fundraising, and somehow introduces a 'Liz'. This story would be much easier to read if each of these were given their own paragraph to organize information to readers, each relating to one thought. Also, correcting grammatical errors such as misplaced commas, sentence fragments, and improper punctuation would greatly clarify the organization of these thoughts and facilitate reading.

In any medium, communication involves conveying information between two or more parties. As applied to literature and writing, this means readers and authors, where authors create text for readers to interpret. Unfortunately, this story neglects half that relationship; the text makes no attempt in ensuring reader comprehension. As is, this work comes across as a case where its story makes sense in the author's mind, but fails to reach the reader through the text. Our reviewers had trouble evaluating the story as the writing itself obfuscated the ideas it tried to convey.

Due to these points, our reviewers found that 'MALEFICENCE' doesn't meet our standards for acceptance. Again, we thank you for your interest in the Order of Phantasmal Architects. If you have any questions regarding this application or on writing in general, feel free to ask them here or on our Discord server.