Obligative Review (A Blessed Life)

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/13184836/2/A-Blessed-Life

Part of the chapter review exchange.

I appreciate that you’re not capitalizing pokemon.

[A little ‘serendipity’ in his childhood resulted in an fate he could not escape from, whether he wanted to or not. However, he still has his personal ambitions to pursue after.]

You want “a fate” there, and ending a sentence with a preposition tends to sound awkward. I’m a little unclear exactly what this is saying – it might be better to rephrase this to be clearer, and maybe combine them into one sentence. Is this saying that Mesprit’s intervention leads to obligations beyond his personal ambitions, which he still wants to pursue after he’s done with its quest?

[By meeting Mesprit, what future awaits him when the Lake Guardian of Emotion tags along with him out of her persistence?]

Mm, I understand it’s more convenient to gender a legendary if they’re going to be a main character, but it’s a little sexist to attribute femininity to the emotion god. When it’s necessary to gender legendaries, I like to give them the opposite gender from what’s expected – not only does this play with gender norms, it helps to reinforce their alien nature by implying their concept of gender is totally different from ours. (“They” or “it” are also options, of course.)

[Older people catching youngsters running around in their prepubescent days without a care in the world usually considered it true that trouble brewed nearby.]

“Prepubescent days” is rather weird phrasing; I don’t think anyone describes childhood that way. In general, this sentence feels just a tad bit overburdened – there’s a fairly long aside between the subject and action here, with not even a comma to separate them. “True that trouble brewed nearby” also sounds a little odd to me – it feels passive voice-y, with the “trouble” not being attributed to anything in particular. Maybe something more like “When youngsters ran around without a care in the world, older people usually took it as a sign that trouble was nearby”?

Ooh, a mention of God. As fun as it can be to speculate on pokemon religion, sometimes it is more expedient to slot in what we’re already familiar with.

[However, if it was a pair of young individuals running off somewhere, it was in their belief that a worse fate was just at their doorstep.]

Isn’t this just reiterating the previous statement? I’m not clear what the difference is here.

[“Shh! Keep your voice down and take a good look at this–” Barry directed.]

“Directed” is a pretty awkward speech verb even at the best of times. It’s only really appropriate for precise, formal orders; i.e., directions. That’s not what Barry’s really doing here. If you’re worried about overusing “he said” tags, it’s reasonably to just omit speech tags entirely for quick back-and-forth. As long as it doesn’t go on too long, readers will be able to follow who’s talking as long as you tag them at the start.

[Motioning for his companion’s quieter voice]

This is awkwardly phrased – “motioning for his companion to be quiet” is generally how it’s phrased. The motion is a direction for his companion, not for his companion’s voice.

[While fixing his space-blue hair]

Eh, it can be a little awkward to include anime hair colors in a non-visual medium, as they’re almost never meant to represent what’s actually there. It might be less distracting to flatten them to the closest real-world color – blue hair in anime generally represents a stylized black, for instance.

[Lucas noticed that the bushed was designed in way that stood out from the rest.]

Typo and dropped word here.

[As if someone attempted to hide something by over-piling leaves and twigs to the bush, only to make it less concealed than hidden.]

This is a sentence fragment; it would be fine to link it to the previous sentence with a comma or dash. Starting with “It seemed as if…” would also work, if slightly awkwardly (because the “it” is an unclear subject).

[“If this is one of your… Aww~.”]

Singsong tildes function as punctuation; you don’t need to include a period after.

[“Ha ha! You dare question my genius plan, but I’ll gladly answer it for you!” Barry said in a rather gallant manner.]

I feel the tag here is overwrought – “in an X manner” is almost always too wordy for what should be a quick tag, and should be reserved for really complex things you can’t describe otherwise. For situations like these, I recommend describing physical aspects rather than the tone of voice – say that Barry struck an exaggeratedly gallant pose, or adopted a similar expression, and that’ll get the point across while also describing more of the scene and giving it a more dynamic feel, as more things are happening during the conversation than just “he said”.

[this lil’ starly]

You want “li’l”, apostrophe in the middle. This is because it’s a contraction of “little”, removing the T’s in the middle.

[I’m betting 100 000 dollars]

Calling the currency “dollars” feels odd when the exchange rate is obviously based on yen and not USD – it’s probably better to call it yen if you want to maintain the same prices as the games. And they are in a Japanese region, so it makes sense.

[He squirmed a bit that rustled the surrounding grass and ferns.]

This is oddly phrased – do you mean “He squirmed a bit, rustling…”?

[“Naw, don’t be such a worrywart, Lucas! But what if this and what if that… You’re becoming, er, paranoid! Yeah!” Barry imitated Lucas’ words in a mocking manner.

“Don’t be such a killjoy with that now; didn’t you say that we wanted pokémon of our own?” Barry continued in a more serious tone.]

You don’t need to create a new paragraph for every new line of dialogue, just for every new subject (usually a speaker change). These can both go on the same line.

[stealing pokémon behind its parents’ backs was still a sin no matter the circumstances]

“Sin” is a really loaded word, and I’m not sure it’s appropriate here unless you’re meaning for this ten-year-old to read as comically stuffy and pretentious. “Crime” seems like it would be more appropriate here? Or just “wrong”. “Sin” connotes a very strong prescriptive moral aspect, like it’s a crime against the universe itself.

[He also thought it was like kidnapping.]

This reads strangely off in a disconnected sentence, since it seems like this should be the important consideration yet it’s phrased like an afterthought. I’d recommend combining it with the previous sentence. You could also skip over this internal monologue and just have Lucas say it’s kidnapping and kidnapping is wrong.

[Barry turned to opposite his direction]

Missing punctuation.

[Flaps of two strong staraptors caused a slight gust of wind blowing towards the two as they both descended in front of Barry with a posture emanating an aura superiority and dominance.]

You want a comma after “wind”, and there’s a missing word here.

[If there was one thing Lucas could have been doing, he could have stayed at home and ate some food while having the time of the last days of his summer vacation in silent solitude]

Eating food is the most exciting thing he can come up with? Not even playing video games or going vacationing? :p It sounds like Barry really did need him to get out of the house.

You shouldn’t use quotation marks (or single quotes) with thoughts. This is because quotation marks for thoughts make it look like your characters are talking out loud, which is confusing to the reader.

[Mom, dad, I don’t feel too good…]

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

[Roughly a 10 minutes elapsed between his knock out and regain of consciousness.]

This isn’t necessary; you can just skip to him waking up. It actually adds more suspense if we don’t know how long he’s out. (10 minutes is also a very long time to be knocked out; if you’re out for more than 1 or 2 minutes, you’ve likely sustained permanent brain damage.)

[Quickly rising up, he studied his arms and shown knees and legs — no form of abrasions or wounds! Even some scars from his previous ‘adventures’ with Barry were cleared out! Scanning his shirt’s left side, the torn mark still lay visible to him. Seeing his clothing as a whole, it was still dirty from his ordeal. In hindsight, disregarding his clothes’ cleanliness, Lucas was treated!]

It’s generally recommended to avoid exclamation marks in narration, unless they’re the protagonist’s own thoughts. This sounds like normal narration, so it’s probably better to keep the tone even.

[its aureolin eyes]

Okay, so in third-person limited POV, the narration is generally supposed to sound like the protagonist, to maintain the idea that we’re in their head. This actually lets you do really clever and subtle things, like focusing on certain aspects of description to show the protagonist cares about those things, or using flowery prose to show the protagonist is very poetic or intelligent. However, I have a hard time imagining a ten-year-old describing anything as “aureolin”, so this sounds very jarring. It can be really annoying to have to limit your vocabulary to be true to your protagonist – I’ve written several stories with kid protagonists and the struggle is real, let me tell you – but it’s worth it to maintain immersion.

[“Um,” Lucas paused momentarily to puff out his anxiety a bit,]

Since this doesn’t have a speech verb, it’s a separate sentence and is punctuated accordingly. So, [“Um.” Lucas paused momentarily to puff out his anxiety a bit.]

The ending here is rather abrupt. All this chapter really tells us is that Mesprit is talking to Lucas. Where are they going to go from here? Why is Mesprit interested in him, what is she going to make him do; what is the story about? The first chapter is where you should lay those things out; this hooks your reader and lets them quickly determine whether the story is something that interests them.

Generally, this is decent. I particularly like that you skip straight to the action and give a more detailed reason for why they’re going out in the first place. The biggest advice I think I can give you is “less is more”. You use a lot of high-level words and long sentences when simpler ones would suffice or even get the point across better. Remember that the key to a good story is to communicate effectively, not just to use the coolest words. Five-dollar words are fun to use when they’re appropriate, but you have to hold them back if another word would be clearer.

I think the scenes here also drag out a bit too long – the opening has Barry and Lucas essentially saying the same thing multiple times, then the chase sequence is just “Barry tries to catch the starly, Lucas stops him, then Barry catches it again, then Lucas tries to stop him again…” Similarly, the fight with the staraptor is very long for what should be a tense encounter where every second counts; Lucas only really needs to get injured and freak out over how he’s going to die once or twice, not for like two pages. You can condense these things to make the story flow better. (This would all give you more space for the Mesprit conversation, the actually important part, instead of feeling like you need to cut the chapter here.)

I’m afraid I’m not too enthused by Mesprit’s characterization here. It’s valid to cast the god of emotion as a bubbly chatterbox, but I find that character type tiring. In general, I’m not a big fan of making the legendaries too human in personality – what interests me is their alienness and speculating on how their different natures might affect their personality and worldview. If they’re just going to be a typical sidekick… eh, it’s a valid trope, but I can get it anywhere, you know? You should think about what makes the Pokemon world unique, and how you can leverage that.

re: Your review to A Blessed Life
Mar 2A response to your review at https://www.fanfiction.net/r/13184836/

Hey St!

Thank you for giving a critical review on this. These really cleared up my doubts on the technicalities like the POV and adverbs of manner.

Also, I tend to avoid using repetitions of the same word hehe. But given this is fiction writing, I guess it can be forgiven. I really should pay attention to my audience. Kinda sucks when I’m used to non-fiction writing.

As for some other parts like the currency and the sidekick trope, I have plans on explaining the why’s to those things in the later parts of the story; I have an outline as to how the story would flow despite it changing every now and then. This is more on the plot itself. I also plan to deviate away from the clichés and norms, but also try to leverage with the uniqueness of the Pokémon world. It might seem strange, but I’ll be going with what Orwell says about storytelling: to break the clichés to at least give some interest in the story, for good or for bad.

But hey, thanks a lot for the analysis again, St! It’ll really help me in the future too.

PS. Kinda sounds strange calling you ‘St’. Can I call you ‘Elmo’ instead? xD

3 Comments

  1. CrazyEd says:

    Eh, it can be a little awkward to include anime hair colors in a non-visual medium, as they’re almost never meant to represent what’s actually there. It might be less distracting to flatten them to the closest real-world color – blue hair in anime generally represents a stylized black, for instance.

    Oh, this reminds me: How do you feel about this with something like Exalted, where people might just naturally have green hair because genetics? I was actually wondering about that earlier. Really convenient this came about, actually.

    2
    1. If it’s there for an in-story reason, that’s fine. Gods and Demons does that, for instance.

      1
      1. Keleri says:

        DO NOT talk about hair color unless your headcanons are THIS elaborate

        I’ve spent some time on the roleplay side where a lot gets started but never continued, let alone finished, so as time goes on I get more and more I DON’T CARE WHAT YOU LOOK LIKE, DO SOMETHING

        balance is needed, of course

        3

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