Obligative Review (Salvation)

A while back I reviewed the story Salvation. The author has since rewritten the story, and asked me to review the new version.

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/13267730/1/Salvation

Part of the chapter review exchange.

I should warn you that I’m not familiar with Pokemon Conquest, so if that’s what you mean by “Conquest AU” I may be lost on some details.

[The sun hung lazily over the peaks, casting jagged shadows across the ruined and shattered plateau. The ancient city that lay nestled into the mountainside burned in agony, smouldering fires spewing acrid black smoke into the pristine mountain air. A ball of flame launched from one of the siege engines surrounding the city.]

I feel that there should be a paragraph break before the last sentence here; though it would make the first part relatively short, I do feel like the shift to talking about the siege engine connotes a change in subject, especially since the sentence is a simple one.

[“You have not failed, Morty, “]

You’ve got extra spaces before your endquotes like this throughout the story, likely a formatting error.

[as she banked hard and swooped around the gengar..]

Extra period here.

[the would be usurper]

“Would-be” should be hyphenated here.

[Lance drew in a sharp breath, steeling his mind for a mental assault. Waves of nightmares crashed into his mental barriers, nearly overwhelming him with violent and visceral details.]

This is a bit telling-not-showing; one of the unique advantages of literature is how much detail you can put into mental states. I think it would be very powerful if you actually gave us a taste of what the “violent and visceral details” looked like, and how they make Lance feel, and exactly how he’s resisting it. This would give us greater empathy for his situation, as well as giving us a better idea of how the gengar’s powers work.

If you’d like an example, I do this in chapter 4 of my Steven Universe fic, “The Darkness Between Stars”. The fics “Gods and Demons: ad terminos terrae” and its sequel “So Comes Ice After Fire” also have good examples of this; the latter in particular goes into a lot of detail on how mental and spiritual fortitude can interact with pokemon battling.

[haunter and ghastly launching themselves at Betherian and swarming over her scaly hide. She cried out in pain, dozens of infernal claws tearing at every inch of her hide.]

The repetition of “hide” here, especially in the same position, is a bit awkward; I’d recommend finding a synonym or rewording.

So once again, this doesn’t seem to have much to do with Pokemon. This is a decently-written fantasy war scene, but there’s just not much in the way of emotional investment. These characters may share names with the canon cast, but they’re effectively OCs. I don’t know who they are or why they’re fighting, and therefore I don’t have much investment in whether they win or lose. Though action scenes are sometimes effective openings, one of this magnitude requires prior context for audience investment. You could maybe work that into the battle through internal monologue; have Lance think on what led them here and what he’s fighting for. You do a bit of that with the nightmares, but that’s towards the end and still vague. As it is, I don’t understand what the political situation between Kanto and Johto is, or why Lance is any more worth rooting for than Agatha.

And though it does add to the battle, I question giving trainers their own magic powers – one of the key traits that separates Pokemon from other fantasy stories is that the supernatural abilities are totally divorced from the humans themselves. If the trainers can throw down too, there ceases to be much distinction between them and their pokemon, turning this into a rather standard story about superheroes fighting monsters.

13 Comments

  1. Suneo Miso says:
    An admirable story, with great English. I am not sure if it is going to be an one-shot, but if not, I can’t wait to read more.

    Here is my personal review/take on the review.

    I don’t think there should be an paragraph break, in my opinion.

    [This is a bit telling-not-showing…]

    Actually, I will have to respectfully disagree. It’s true that there is this advantage, by giving more details about the power, but sometimes it is just better to let readers figure this out by themselves, which will lead to element of surprise.

    The repetition part is a little ambigitous, since it depends on if the author wants to replace the word. In my opinion, there’s just an lack of better word, but it could just be me. I will admit this, though; my first language isn’t English.

    However, there’s no need for rewording, it’s fine as it is. Add ‘the’ in the beginning of this sentence [haunter and ghastly launching themselves at Betherian and swarming over her scaly hide.].

    It is true there’s not much emotional investment, but it’s just one chapter, so there’s not much to be expected.

    Magic power part will be explained later, but there’s no need to question it. Let the author decide a bit. I know there’s not going to be much distinction like this, but it’s there for a reason. Imagine the interesting effects you can get by combining them together!

    I think the story was good, overall!

    Thanks in advance.

    Suneo Miso

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    1. You seem a bit confused; this post is just the review. If you want to give your opinion on the story itself, it would be best to do so by writing your own review on the site (as you have already done), as I’m not aware if the author follows this blog.

      I don’t think there should be an paragraph break, in my opinion.

      Why?

      Actually, I will have to respectfully disagree. It’s true that there is this advantage, by giving more details about the power, but sometimes it is just better to let readers figure this out by themselves, which will lead to element of surprise.

      But there’s not really anything to figure out in that passage. We’re just told that Lance experienced nightmares, and then the story moves on. It’s not that the details are left vague, it’s that there are no details. This should logically be emotionally harrowing for Lance, but he doesn’t seem affected by it at all — the very next sentence is that he shrugged it off. This makes it hard to get emotionally connected to Lance, as he just looks like an invincible superhero with no feelings. We see what his nightmares look like when Agatha attacks him later, so it would have been consistent to show more details here as well.

      The repetition part is a little ambigitous, since it depends on if the author wants to replace the word.

      Not really? It depends on if the author agrees it sounds awkward. Is that what you meant?

      It is true there’s not much emotional investment, but it’s just one chapter, so there’s not much to be expected.

      Emotional investment absolutely should be expected in the first chapter, especially one as long as this; the entire point of a first chapter is to get readers invested. You can have the best second chapter in the world, but readers aren’t going to see it if the first chapter doesn’t grab them. This goes double in serial media where readers do not have access to the second chapter from the beginning, and it goes triple in environments flooded with competition, such as fanfiction. Telling authors otherwise is going to hurt them.

      it’s there for a reason

      And you know this… how? The author seems competent so I trust that you are right, but that is the crux of it: Details should exist for a reason, and it’s possible to disagree if that reason is valid. I’m not yet clear on why they included this element or what it will add to the story, so it is reasonable for me to question it. And, yes, there is personal preference there too — I personally don’t like stories about human trainers with superpowers, because that’s a trope I can get anywhere. I’m here for the pokemon.

      Now, the next time you have a bee in your bonnet about us, I’d appreciate it if you keep it here or on the forums instead of using someone’s story as a soapbox to talk about me, because that’s incredibly rude to the author and, as you said you well know, exactly what they did not want in their review section. If you’re reviewing an author, do it for them, not for me.

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      1. Suneo Miso says:
        I already reviewed the story itself on the site. However, I reviewed your review, because I do not think I agree with some of your way of reviewing. I’m an semi-professional reviewer, depending on what you ask.

        Now, the next time you have a bee in your bonnet about us, I’d appreciate it if you keep it here or on the forums instead of using someone’s story as a soapbox to talk about me, because that’s incredibly rude to the author and, as you said you well know, exactly what they did not want in their review section. If you’re reviewing an author, do it for them, not for me.

        If you think it is rude, like this, then I think it is your problem. It sounds like I’ve just hit an nail in you.

        Expect me to be reviewing most of your reviews from now onward. I like to review stories. It sounds like you just have something about me to say, as well.

        I am just trying to educate the author of the story about the correct way to fix things, hence why I posted some of the criticism about you on there as well. There is some detail that I do agree with your review, though.

        Why?

        Have you studied the Medieval times? I disagree in the fact that there’s an change in subject. Sure, the ball is launched, but we’re still talking about the cities. Storm engines is part of the city, it’s surrounding the city. As such, we do technically still talk about the same subject, which continues into the same thing with the watchtowers. Do you want to hear more? Ask other authors about it. I prefer to not break in paragraph, but it is your opinion, so I will stop here, since not a lot to counter here. You’d understand if you read Medieval stories.

        Not really? It depends on if the author agrees it sounds awkward. Is that what you meant?

        Yes, but it’s also a matter of which word to replace the repetition, so straight to point.

        Emotional investment absolutely should be expected in the first chapter…

        The way you word this paragraph makes it sounds like you just want to force authors to put something emotional. Look at other stories, the beginnings doesn’t have any emotional moments, yet it’s still being reviewed an fair amount of time. Not to mention the fact the emotional moments is more prevalent in the middle.

        It is difficult to put something emotional in the beginning, so don’t force the author to. But if he so wishes to, then fine.

        And you know this… how

        Indeed, the author hasn’t clearly told the reason. There’s a chance it will be told. But let me make this suggestion, if you don’t like that part, why couldn’t you not mention that part? I think it was slightly rude to mention it, but opinions are opinions, so it’s understandable.

        Thanks in advance.

        Suneo Miso

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        1. If you think it is rude, like this, then I think it is your problem.

          No, I know it’s rude, because authors have literally told me it is. Multiple authors, multiple times, sometimes even saying they had to take down their story because they don’t want the drama. Choosing to ignore someone’s express wishes is rude. Say whatever you want about me, but say it to me. Do not drag other people into this.

          I am just trying to educate the author of the story about the correct way to fix things

          …So you are saying your opinion is “the correct way” and mine is not? Your review was entirely your own opinion.

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  2. JoshtheWriter says:
    Hi there, this is the author. I’m just chiming in here to let everyone know that I asked for St Elmo’s review. I’m actively trying to improve my writing as much as possible. I want to be a professional writer one day, and the only way to get better is to hear from people what doesn’t work in the story.

    Thank you both for your time in reviewing this story. However, I’ll have to ask you to relax and not go at other reviewers like this. You make yourself seem like a different user who has a very rocky past in this fandom.

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    1. Suneo Miso says:
      I am aware that you asked for him.

      It’s just that I don’t find myself agreeing a lot with Elmo, Farla & co.’s way of reviewing. While I do think they have their potential to make good reviews, I think the general problem is that most of the time, at certain times though and not this time, they don’t convey their reviews too nicely.

      So, sometimes their reviews can be very demoralizing to the authors, especially if they didn’t ask, unlike your case, since you asked(Your English is very good enough, by the way.) This might lead authors to lose motivation to continue their works.

      I don’t believe their reviews, and their actions, in this current time, would actually help an author. I was trying to help them, since their reputation aren’t exactly this good, and teach them for a moment how to be a little better at reviewing.

      But if you say your wish so, then so be it. I apologize for my behavior. It is true that I had an rocky past with them, though.

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      1. JoshtheWriter says:
        That’s understandable. I’ll agree that St Elmo and Farla have bad reputations. However, they aren’t terrible people and their criticism is always objective and fair. Try to just ignore them if they really bother you that much.

        I’m currently busy, but I’ll PM you a longer in detail response to your review sometime today.

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      2. I was trying to help them

        Starting a fight in the reviews helps no one.

        You are correct, reviews should be to help authors. So make it about them. Tell them what they did right, not just what I did wrong. If they actively request your comment on a specific thing I said, then by all means, do so. But picking over a specific review after a long spiel about what a terrible person I am just makes it abundantly clear to the author that you reviewed because of me, not because the story actually interested you, and you are just using them to get at me. You think that’s not demoralizing?

        Here is an example of an author actually reviewing to show us how it’s done, if you need to see what that looks like.

        6
        1. Suneo Miso says:
          Ha, ha. Did I hit you in your nail this hard? You sound so angry like this, only because I corrected you. Since you insisted it, here you go.

          The beginning was an interesting way to make the story look already dark, and give an possible hint of the matureness, as evidenced by the fireball, Lance’s fight with Agatha, and Lord Marshall’s Oak.

          I like his convinction about being able to beat and hold back the dragon. But it seems like this men he will deal with before the line break will overpower him likely, so his convinction could be in vain… as proved later. He was too confident…

          Lance’s worst nightmare sounded a little emotional. I can’t imagine him having to kill his cousin, it would be distressing if the same thing happened IRL.

          However, the ending part sounded more emotional and distressing. The blood part, and his conosciousness fading into nothing…Sounds like an worthy ending, for an AU… but fate left him in this state.

          There you go, the actual review part, besides the obvious nice English, and the way it’s written. It makes the reader feel some of the despair. No, I can’t review again, since I already reviewed.

          Now then. This is likely going to be the last post, here. I would reason with you further, but since your mind is all about the ‘other’s reviews are their opinions’ and such blabber, I can tell that there is no more reason to reason with you.

          I can tell that you like to nitpick on other authors without stopping. Even if I told you, you wouldn’t change your own behavior, or even stop reviewing.

          The authors take down their stories, because you are the one giving out harsh criticism, even to the newcomers. In addition, you’re giving out wrong suggestions, and you try to force your style on others, expecting that they will listen. This will likely be your downfall, if you so keep up with your behavior.

          I question how could you still be this heartless. You just don’t care, and want to ruin other’s stories. That is your flaw.

          In short, you don’t tell others how to follow your own styles. While they appreciate the corrections or some rewording, they don’t appreciate it if you tell others to never capitalize Pokemon names, or give harsh criticism like forcing your style.

          I’m not sure how did you keep up with this, but props to you for this behavior of yours. Besides you, Farla and your company, there is actually someone who is not apart of your company, but likes to reply like you.

          Goodbye.

          Suneo Miso

          1. Farla says:

            “People said, explicitly and repeatedly, they do not appreciate “counter-reviews” and it’s transparently an ego thing for the people giving them.”

            “WOW YOU’RE SO MAD I SAID I’LL KEEP BEING AN ASSHOLE TO PEOPLE, IT COULD ONLY BE BECAUSE YOU KNOW I’M SO RIGHT.”

            I mean, we literally cannot stop you from being a dick to other people. If your only goal here was to announce your intention to be a dick in defiance of what anyone else wants, well, you sure did that. It’s not going to be great for anyone, but quite possibly it’s better than whatever garbage your actual reviews would be.

            8
            1. JoshtheWriter says:
              So I just spoke with the user. They seem rather reasonable with me. Unfortunately it seems like they have some previous history with the two of you. I won’t reveal their identity, because it’s not Hybrid.

              Sorry for kicking this shitstorm up by asking for a review. I was actually gonna take another pass through the story and make some more changes and ask if you would review, but I don’t know if that’s wise anymore.

              Reply
            2. Farla says:

              Their behavior isn’t your fault or responsibility, both in general and in that if they’re spamming Hybrid’s copypasta in people’s review sections, they were already firmly on this bandwagon and it’s just chance they threw this tantrum using your fic and not another one.

              5
              Reply
            3. SpoonyViking says:

              To add to what Farla said, don’t let shitstirrers get in the way of your goal of self-improvement.

              Sorry I can’t comment on the fic itself, I’m not really a “Pokémon” fan, but keep at your writing.! :-)

              4
              Reply

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