[23] Undertale Reviews, Part 13


DETERMINATION

A drabble is a story consisting of exactly 100 words. It’s a writing exercise, not a word for any short story.

the way she’s dot on you

I can’t parse this.

you felt you didn’t deserve their kindness (you never did on the surface) you wanted

This needs a comma or period after the parentheses.

It took a whole

“a while”?

the incident with dad

When a title (such as “mom” or “dad”) is used in place of a name, it’s capitalized like one.

It’s written “okay”, four letters. It is not an abbreviation for something else, nor is it pronounced ook, therefore it should never be written as OK, Ok, O.K. or ok.

I’m not sure how to reconcile this with the Chara who’s willing to murder their way through the entire monster race. Should I assume they went bad after the plan failed?

Disbelief

It was time to experiment, there had to be a better way.

This is a comma splice. You need to split this sentence in two or use a different transition.

Your comma usage is wonky throughout this. You might want to get a beta reader.

HARDTO

Missed a space.

Eh, this seems kind of generic. I’d even say it’s out of character for Papyrus to lose faith this easily, given that he never turns against you even though he knows something is very wrong with you in the omnicide run. Even if it wasn’t, Papyrus’ optimism and naivete is his most interesting characteristic, so taking that away leaves him a rather bland archetype. I’d be much more interested in seeing a Papyrus who desperately clings to his idealism to the bitter end, or at least grapples with it instead of tossing it aside so easily.

YOU ARE NOT GOING TO HAVE A BAD TIME. INSTEAD…

…I’M GOING TO HAVE LOTS OF FUN.

This, too, seems out of character. If there’s one thing Papyrus definitely isn’t, it’s sadistic. I simply can’t imagine Papyrus taking pleasure in Chara’s suffering, even with full knowledge of their crimes.

It’s amazing how characters can be so popular and so badly misinterpreted at the same time.

Warmth on a Winter Night

“Hello dearie~” She called out

You’re formatting dialogue incorrectly. Dialogue is written as [“Hello,” she said] or [“Hello!” she said], never [“Hello.” She said] or [“Hello”, she said] or [“Hello” she said]. This is because dialogue and speech tags are considered to be part of the same sentence, so they have to flow together. The only exception to this is if the next sentence doesn’t contain a speech verb. In that case, the second part is considered a separate sentence, so it’s written as [“Hello.” She grinned], never [“Hello,” she grinned]. Note that something isn’t a speech verb just because it’s a sound you make with your mouth, so generally stuff like “laughed” or “giggled” is in the second category. Furthermore, if you’re breaking up two complete sentences it’s [“Hi,” she said. “This is it.”] not [“Hi,” she said, “this is it.”] or [“Hi,” she said “this is it.”] And if you’re breaking up a sentence in the middle, it’s [“Hi. This,” she said, “is it.”] The same punctuation and capitalization rules apply to thoughts, except you don’t use quotation marks (or single quotes) with thoughts. This is because quotation marks for thoughts make it look like your characters are talking to themselves, which is confusing to the reader.

she came into the living room to find Asgore asleep on the couch; mouth wide open and his tongue sticking out to the side

That semicolon should be a period.

Before long, the smell of steak, garlic, and fresh baked bread, and filled the room.

You seem to have lost track of this sentence somewhere.

“ I promise

This quote seems to have gotten away from you.

You’re overusing unusual speech verbs. Don’t be afraid to use said; lovely word, won’t bite, usually more fitting than whatever trendy verb you’re using in its place. You may have heard to avoid said because it’s so bland and boring, but that’s actually its greatest strength. Nonstandard speech verbs stick out; they’re used for emphasis, when how something is said is important to the story and you want the reader to stop and take notice. If you use that emphasis for every single line, the reader will become oversaturated, lessening the impact when you actually do want emphasis on a speech tag.

Goodnight, dad

When a title (such as “mom” or “dad”) is used in place of a name, it’s capitalized like one.

Otherwise, this is very sweet and cute. Muffet’s frankness is an interesting addition to the characters’ dymanic.

despite everything

Another member of Feral’s cult who also uses her titling style. I’m going to be suspicious of all lowercase titles for the rest of my life now.

It takes you a moment to realize it; your mind is fuzzy, causing the edges of the world to blur, but gradually you’re able to piece together the fact that you’re lying in a field of flowers.

The structure here seems a little odd; I feel like the second half has too many clauses for a semicolon to feel natural. Replacing the semicolon with a period or ending “causing the edges of the world to blur” with a period would probably work better.

a city of buildings that looked as though they grew from rock

Shouldn’t that be “look”, since the story is in present tense?

“Huh?” and he stops

The “and” should be capitalized, since it’s part of a non-speaking clause.

you”re

Typo.

He is still holding your hand. It feels small in yours, like you could break it if you squeezed hard enough.

I really like this.

You’d tried, through one small token of appreciation, to repay them, and your actions had nearly destroyed them.

So wait, it was a genuine mistake? That seems odd; Chara doesn’t seem stupid enough for that. I always interpreted it as intentional.

This is very well-written. Chara’s thought processes are very interesting, and you’ve done an excellent job of exploring how they might interpret events. I’ve always thought Undertale’s story felt a little too good to be true, so it makes sense for Chara to feel the same way. Although, I do have to wonder how we get from a Chara who wants to repay them to assuage their own guilt to a Chara who wants to gleefully murder everyone? I could see this Chara hating Asriel after the plan goes south, but they seem too genuinely grateful to the rest of the monsters for the omnicide run to make sense.

things that go unsaid

This is amazing. Chara and Asriel are both so adorable, and you hit such a great balance between Chara being incredibly creepy and kinda controlling while still being a cute kid who genuinely cares about Asriel.

ummm maybe!!! if that’s what you want haha

And oh god I can see the seeds of The Plan all over this and it’s terrifying. Poor Asriel.

Oh, but

“You can’t tell mom or dad or anybody else.”

“Mom” and “Dad” should be capitalized here, since they’re used as names.

wear down your heart

This one doesn’t seem to be Softchara, though. Is all lowercase pretentious titles just the latest fandom trend???

for no particular reasons

“Reasons” shouldn’t be plural here.

You have meet three Johns

You want “met”, not “meet”.

They should change their names that sounds like Flowey.

I’m not sure what this means.

You start off weak, but you will gain LOVE along the way to make your soul stronger than before.

It sounds a bit odd to throw this out in the narration without any other context. It would probably make more sense if you included something like “He explains…”, something to indicate where Frisk is getting this knowledge.

You doubt his words

Why? Did you doubt his words when you first played? Or is this supposed to be timeline shenanigans?

But nobody came.

This sounds strange when the rest of the story is in present tense; it might make more sense to change it to “but nobody comes”.

because his creepy cackles ringing inside your head

That should be “are ringing”, I think.

cornering your enemy right in the center of the fight again and again, even though he

The pronouns don’t agree here; that should be “his enemy”.

You didn’t understand before, but when you woke up to a bed of golden flowers, sometimes memories flickering to and fro, and your head hurt so much you imagine a voice soothing your pain down to a straight line.

I’m having trouble understanding this. They imagined the voice because their head hurt? Why are the memories only “sometimes” flickering? This might be easier to parse if you split the thoughts up into two sentences.

the bullets breaking your soul and leave wounds

“leaving” (the verb tenses have to agree)

tremor filling your brain

This doesn’t make much physical sense. Do you mean “terror”?

but he bullets

Typo.

Your fingers gestures themselves like they hold a knife.

“gesture”

The description and narration here is very good. I’ve seen a lot of attempts to novelize the opening scene, and this is one of the best renditions I’ve encountered. I’m a bit unclear on the setup and mechanics, though, and the fact that the “you” format is maintained even when the main character changes into a different person is confusing. Might make more sense to switch to third-person to convey the change.

moving on and moving forward

Hm.

I’m unclear on the metaphysics here. The story says It isn’t the first time, no, but Frisk feels like somehow it’ll be the last. Does that mean they’ve reached this point in the timeline before but Chara didn’t vanish? If so, why now? Even if not, why are they fading now when they stubbornly clung to life for who knows how long? They say it’s not their choice, but I don’t understand what external factor is causing it.

“I’ve been a ghost long enough, Frisk,” they say, unclasping their fingers from their sweater sleeves and scrubbing the start of tears from their face with both cuffs. “I think I’m ready to move on, thanks to you.”

I’m also unclear on the chain of events here. While I think it’s theoretically possible for Chara to reach this conclusion, it’s a far cry from the Knifey McMurderface we know in canon, and I feel a line needs to be drawn between that and Self-Actualized Chara. How did Frisk help them move on? Knowing that would give this more poignancy, and make for a stronger story overall.

ever since they spoke to Asriel in the ruins

I’m glad you included this, though. This is absolutely what they would do if they were capable of independent action. A lot of narraChara stuff tends to ignore that little detail.

[Deleted]

If there was one thing Frisk never expected out of their decision to jump down the gaping hole on top of Mt. Ebott, it was to find friends, family and understanding the true meaning of loving and being loved in return.

This list lacks agreement. As a general rule of thumb, every item on a list should make sense if the preceding items are removed and it comes directly after the start – so, [If there was one thing Frisk never expected out of their decision to jump down the gaping hole on top of Mt. Ebott, it was to find […] understanding the true meaning of loving and being loved in return.] Notice that this doesn’t sound right.

I would recommend either shortening the list or breaking it into multiple sentences; it’s very long and unwieldy right now, which probably contributed to the problem.

But every story started out somewhere.

I’m also not sure what this has to do with the preceding sentence.

This is far too short for a first chapter. Remember that your first chapter is your opportunity to hook your reader – in other words, to show them what makes your story unique and worth reading. This isn’t even a full scene, it’s just a hint of what your story will be – and it outlines a story that’s been done a hundred times in this fandom, so I don’t see what sets it apart.

Chapter 2

Using ‘ to mark thoughts is confusing; they’re too close to the “ used for dialogue, which makes it look like your characters are talking to themselves. Italics are more standard.

Speaking of which, you’re formatting dialogue incorrectly. Dialogue is written as [“Hello,” she said] or [“Hello!” she said], never [“Hello.” She said] or [“Hello”, she said] or [“Hello” she said]. This is because dialogue and speech tags are considered to be part of the same sentence, so they have to flow together. The only exception to this is if the next sentence doesn’t contain a speech verb. In that case, the second part is considered a separate sentence, so it’s written as [“Hello.” She grinned], never [“Hello,” she grinned]. Note that something isn’t a speech verb just because it’s a sound you make with your mouth, so generally stuff like “laughed” or “giggled” is in the second category. Furthermore, if you’re breaking up two complete sentences it’s [“Hi,” she said. “This is it.”] not [“Hi,” she said, “this is it.”] or [“Hi,” she said “this is it.”] And if you’re breaking up a sentence in the middle, it’s [“Hi. This,” she said, “is it.”] The same punctuation and capitalization rules apply to thoughts, except you don’t use quotation marks (or single quotes) with thoughts. This is because quotation marks for thoughts make it look like your characters are talking to themselves, which is confusing to the reader.

they thought ‘they couldn’t be dead. After all, being dead means feeling pain no more right?’.

Does Frisk think of themselves in the third person?

Then they thought that they were in hell

When referring to the singular place, Hell is capitalized.

This is so riddled with errors it’s nearly impossible for me to follow what’s going on. I would recommend you get a beta reader.

what’s in a name

This is adorable.

A False Sense Of Nostalgia

They never want to wake up on golden flowers

Except the reason Frisk is able to reset is because they don’t want to die. If they ever stop feeling determination and decide they do want to die, they will. This isn’t a Groundhog Day loop; they’re not trapped in the reset by external forces. Unless that’s the point and that relinquishing of determination is what lets Chara possess them?

They stare at themselves as they lift their first to cough into.

“Fist”. This is also awkwardly phrased in general.

Chara walks into the corridor silent

“silently”

Bones smash into them and leave gaping holes Even if you get your body back

Forgot a period here.

There’s a lot of awkward wording here that makes it difficult to follow what’s going on. You might want to get a beta reader to help you with that.

But Somebody Came

Why doesn’t this have a summary?

Flowy

Flowey.

It’s written “okay”, four letters. It is not an abbreviation for something else, nor is it pronounced ook, therefore it should never be written as OK, Ok, O.K. or ok.

There’s a shadowing standing over you.

Not sure what this means.

Sans cannot remember resets in canon. If he has perfect recall, this is an AU and should be labeled as such.

You look at sans

Forgot the capital.

This seems really, really out of character for Sans. In his boss battle he says his modus operandi for dealing with the anomaly is friendliness, not hostility, and we see that corroborated by his behavior in the pacifist route. Even when he describes his despair to Chara, he’s sad, not angry. And that never changes regardless of how many times you reset.

I’m not clear why Frisk can’t just say they want to stay with Toriel.

Strange Places

Toriel hugs them good-bye for the first time since they reloaded their SAVE in the first timeline

Ooh, that’s a nice (and bittersweet) detail.

Oh. Chara is silent

The “Oh” here isn’t italicized.

This looks interesting. A lot of bodyshare Chara stuff feels off and OOC to me, but this seems to work pretty well.

Chapter 2

Again, Frisk hides behind a conveniently-shaped lamp, and again, Papyrus completely fails to look behind it like Sans suggests again and again. In the first timeline, Frisk thought that Sans had tricked them, was trying to backstab them; now, with the benefit of hindsight, they understand that Sans is demonstrating to them that his brother really is harmless.

You’re really good at making this relatable; this mirrors my thoughts during my own first playthrough almost perfectly.

Why would you even say that?! they demand as they LOAD their SAVE. That’s so mean!

If you don’t want mean, then don’t ask me what to say, Frisk!

Heh. Chara makes a good point.

Chara’s behavior and commentary makes them seem like a stand-in for the player, which is fitting given they’re an analogy for player behavior. I approve.

I’m really liking your Sans. He’s a very difficult character to get right and most people don’t manage it, but your Sans captures the balance between aloofness, perception, and concern very well. Papyrus is also excellent.

Chapter 3

They hurry along the stream’s bank, trying to reach the stick

Huh? I thought it was the bandage they dropped?

Why doesn’t Frisk just reload to get the bandage back?

Aw, Sans giving them a blanket is cute.

Chapter 4

An hour later, Undyne’s house is on fire.

I really like the way you’re skimming over canon events. A lot of fic feels obligated to cover them in detail even when nothing relevant changes, which feels very tedious. All we really need to know is that they happened exactly the way we already know they happened, so summarizing them like this keeps the story moving at a good pace.

“Oh, sure, you’ll laugh at the trashbag skeleton’s jokes, but mine aren’t good enough for you?” Flowey grumbles, leaves rustling. “Was it all the times he killed you? Is that it? Do I have to kill you MYSELF to get a reaction anymore?”

Haha oh man this is horrifyingly in-character. Poor messed-up goatbaby.

Chapter 6

This is amazing. I said before your Sans was great, and now you’re doing a great job of writing serious Sans too. Most people tend to overdo it and just make him really boring and generic. I love how intelligent and perceptive he is – and I also love that you noticed he can’t actually remember resets, since that’s another thing people tend to be confused about.

Chara smiles sourly. “I thought so, too. I thought we’d just get a gross pie and we’d all have a laugh. I didn’t know buttercups give your insides blisters.”

So wait, Chara felt bad about that? That seems inconsistent with canon, since they laugh when Asriel brings it up in the tapes.

Chapter 7

Alphys is wonderful.

Frisk suppresses a giggle. Hey, I wonder what’s the difference between the anime version and the video game version, they wonder. Mettaton said there was a game, remember?

No one answers. Their smile dims.

Ooh, that’s sad. Frisk doesn’t notice just how much they talk with Chara until they’re no longer there.

“Unless it’s a punching puzzle. That you solve. By punching.”

“That’d be my kinda puzzle! Why can’t they all be punching puzzles?!”

“We could make punching puzzles!!!”

“NOW YOU’RE TALKIN’!!!”

:D They get along so well.

Chapter 8

Bombs and blocks fall like rain around Frisk, if rain had a tendency to explode and crush anything in its wake.

I like this line. Mangled similes are always fun.

‘Don’t think so fast’? Chara echoes as another wall of blocks and bombs begins to fall their way.

I-I was under pressure!!

:D They’re adorable.

The description of the fight is wonderfully chaotic. It’s interesting that you describe it such detail when you glossed over the other fights, but it is fitting for Mettaton.

I like this portrayal of Chara. A lot of people go too far and insist their tragic backstory means they were totally innocent and never did anything wrong, but I think what you have here provides a good justification for their actions without totally excusing them, while also providing room for them to improve and become a less murdery person.

Chapter 9

even the kid, whose hides their face

Typo.

I’m surprised it took Frisk so long to figure it out; it seems pretty obvious from the combined facts that Chara fell into Mt. Ebbot, had a family (so presumably more than just Toriel), and didn’t seem to have been killed by Asgore like Toriel said all the other kids were. I actually thought Frisk had already figured it out by chapter 6.

Chapter 10

XP

Should be EXP.

I like that Sans’ jokes are what fracture Chara’s resolve; that’s not something I’ve seen before, but it makes a lot of sense and, again, makes Sans a more well-rounded character than the Flanderized hard-edged killer fandom seems so fond of.

Chapter 11

“Why… Why wouldn’t I be?” Toriel wondered.

Toriel never uses contractions.

that one Froggit

“Froggit” shouldn’t be capitalized, since it’s being used as a common noun here.

The throwback to Frisk’s first experience with Toriel in the middle here is a nice touch. The Asgore battle was always memorable for how strongly it called back to Toriel’s, so the juxtaposition works well with those themes.

I do wonder if Chara demanding to spare her is a bit OOC, though, given that that’s the first timeline and they were still murderhappy at that point.

Chapter 12

problem.But

Missed a space here.

Sorrow colors their thoughts as surely as the seven SOULs

Aren’t there only six souls?

Ah, dramatic irony. Unless you’re going for reverse dramatic irony and Flowey is being genuine.

Chapter 13

They on the wall to steady themselves

You seem to have dropped some words here.

I felt sick for a second,

This lacks italics.

Hm, Gaster. I’ve always been disappointed by Gaster-centric fics, but I’ll see where this goes.

So at this point I made the mistake of insinuating narraChara wasn’t canon in an ealier comment thread, at which point the author threw a fit and deleted all my comments, because nothing speaks to the validity of your crazy theory better than obsessively scrubbing all evidence of disagreement from the internet. Although, amusingly, they were too incompetent to actually remove that part and just ended up deleting all of my adoring praise instead.

The story doesn’t warrant further comment anyway. Things just get really convoluted and overcomplicated after this – Homestuckian, I would say. This seems to be a major problem with long-term Undertale fic: they have no idea how (or when) to end.

3 Comments

  1. illhousen says:
    “Strange Places”

    Oh, hey, I know that one! It’s the one where the very first thing Chara says is “I’m sorry,” right?

    You’re way, way more charitable with it than I was. Chara’s first line is actually as far as I got before dropping the shit out of this fic.

    It was actually a sort of breaking point for me. Before that, I was mostly OK with soft!Chara. I mean, it’s obviously not canon, but, eh, it’s fanfiction. I’ve read some decent fics where Tom Riddle was a swell guy, I can roll with sympathetic Chara as long as the story itself is amusing.

    Then I read this. I stopped. I stared at the screen. And I thought, this isn’t Chara. This was never Chara. This is wrong.

    And then I saw green and was filled with burning hatred for soft!Chara ever since.
    (Well, not really, but, you know, I filed it under with other bad fanon and started avoiding fics with that premise.)

    1. Mini-Farla says:
      The reason I was so charitable was that this was supposed to take place after one runthrough had already taken place. I tried to be open-minded and say “okay, maybe Chara isn’t totally beyond redemption and got character development in the time period I didn’t see, let’s see where they go with this…” But then they showed flashbacks to the first timeline where Chara was just as much of a woobie, and, yeah, no.

      Isn’t it amazing how much better your story can look when you leave the reader to fill in the blanks instead of telling them all your crappy ideas up-front?

      1. Gust says:
        By one runthrough, you mean completed Genocide/neutral routes, right?

        They also made the player the antagonist but not in an interesting way! There’s some fun stuff that can be done with the average gamer’s mindset but the author just decides to make them a plain ole villain who is the one at fault for corrupting Chara in the first place. And also they somehow separate Frisk’s soul from body, leaving Chara piloting the thing. I don’t think it’s supposed to work like that.

        But I’m more forgiving of fics with good beginnings that go downhill from there.

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