Pokeauthors: The Masqued Avenger

St Elmo’s Fire,

A new review has been posted to your story.

Story: Blood is Thicker than Water
Chapter: 1. Chapter 1

From: TheMasquedAvenger ( https://www.fanfiction.net/u/11189057/ )
Reply URL: https://www.fanfiction.net/pm2/post.php?rwid=265357138
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On the one hand, I appreciate the attempt to try and flesh out Hau’s character to something more than just happy-go-lucky just for the sake of being jolly that the game gives him. In this way, there is at least purpose behind his actions, and hearing his thoughts and fears is nice.

But, this story is really…dull. It’s like, are you even writing for fun anymore? It’s a lot of “event A happens, then event B, and so on.” Aside from giving the character motivation, you leave the rest of the actors in this tale desperately lacking in any sense of characterization. You tried so hard to make Hau not a cardboard cutout, that that’s exactly what you’ve done to everyone else in this. They’re just there to fill out the scenery.

Like others have said in the reviews, this is incredibly dialogue heavy. Though, I’m not going to tell you that you should add more descriptions of scenery or battles or crap like that. Sometimes that gets way too into the purple prose territory, which so many young authors fail to grasp that it can get ridiculous. But, I might also suggest that maybe try to put more feeling into the characters’ body language. Show us how Hau, Lillie, or anyone else feels because God knows these other characters need fleshing out in this story. Most of the language we convey is not in what we say, but how we say it. That’s where I think you can remedy the dialogue issues.

But, one thing I’m not going to do is complain about the OOC thing. I do think it’s important that writers, fanfic writers specifically, find other ways to read into the canon and find new meaning or reinterpret it in their own way. I think you did do that well, and anyone who’s calling you out for making Hau too OOC is just blowing smoke because duh, that was the whole point of this story.

So, all in all, this story is kind of “meh” for me. It’s got some good concepts behind it, but the execution is just dead and lifeless. I think some efforts in characterization and expression would make this story not look like it’s held together with chewing gum and paper clips.

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What’s interesting is that this is pretty much the opposite of what other critics have told me, so let’s see if this definitely completely impartial and not at all vengeful stranger whose only other review is on Farla can elaborate.


re: your review to Blood is Thicker than Water
27 OctA response to your review at https://www.fanfiction.net/r/12311847/

[It’s like, are you even writing for fun anymore?]

…Yes? Obviously, there’s no reason to write fanfic but for fun. I’m not sure what you mean by this?

I’d appreciate more elaboration on what you mean on the poor characterization of other characters, and how I might have fleshed them out. Ironically, most other reviewers said the exact opposite — that the other characters were good but my Hau was terrible. So, I understandably don’t know exactly what to make of that.

[But, I might also suggest that maybe try to put more feeling into the characters’ body language. Show us how Hau, Lillie, or anyone else feels because God knows these other characters need fleshing out in this story. Most of the language we convey is not in what we say, but how we say it. That’s where I think you can remedy the dialogue issues.]

Siiigh… this is why I wish more people would comment on Archive of Our Own. I feel like I’ve talked about this a lot to other reviewers but haven’t gotten much that I can actually use. I’m well aware of the “talking heads in a void” problem, and very purposefully tried to avoid that. I believe the characters are extremely animated and expressive during conversations, so I’m honestly pretty baffled by this criticism and don’t know how I could fix it. Could you point to a specific passage that bothered you and tell me a specific way you would have done it differently?

“held together with chewing gum and paper clips” is pretty accurate, haha. I made this in like two months for a contest, and really ended up rushing it by the end. That’s why there’s such an abrupt time jump at the end, I was just like “okay let’s just finish this already”. If you’d like to see something I put more effort into, you may be interested in reading my Amazing World of Gumball fanfic, The Boulevard of Broken Hearts, or my Reconstruction/I Miss the Sunrise fanfic.

14h ago“I’ve seen some pretty ugly behavior from writers and reviewers in the fandoms I love recently, and I want to help remedy that.” Could you elaborate? Things have definitely been strange in the Pokemon fandom these past few months.
10h ago[I’m not sure what you mean by this?]

I meant that it reads like a book report sometimes. It’s nice, neat, and makes a few interesting points, but it’s just one of those things where I just feel like it was written just to be written. It reads more like it was a chore to write than for any personal interest. With some fics, you can just tell that an author had a great time doing what they do. This just wasn’t one of those times.

[I’d appreciate more elaboration on what you mean on the poor characterization of other characters, and how I might have fleshed them out. Ironically, most other reviewers said the exact opposite — that the other characters were good but my Hau was terrible. So, I understandably don’t know exactly what to make of that.]

Luna’s kind of the best example of this problem, that I saw. I feel like she was the mean, bratty rival (like Blue) just for the sake of being that mean, bratty rival. There’s nothing wrong with having her personality be that way. I’m getting kind of tired of the goody-goody, uplifting rivals in recent games. I want to feel some satisfaction beating them because they deserve it. But, I just don’t see any motivation behind it. It’s like when there’s that one good character who’s only good for the sake of being good. What’s Luna’s motivation? And please, for the love of all that is good don’t tell me it’s because she wants to be the best. Duh, every trainer wants that, and every trainer has their own way of going about it. So, why does Luna think the tough love method works? What can we learn from Hau’s perspective about why she is the way she is? Or, does Hau have some ideas of his own for why he thinks she behaves the way she does? I mean, when authors use the MC as a character, they’re given an opportunity to flesh them out into whatever they want, and this just kind of fell flat to me.

[Could you point to a specific passage that bothered you and tell me a specific way you would have done it differently?]

Let’s try the ranch scene. Yes, the characters are animated. They have movement to go with their speech. Hau vocalizes his opinions very eloquently. But, do we really learn anything else from that other than Hau’s soapbox moment? Now, to be clear, I’m not suggesting a total situation where you describe every little thing. But, every once in a while, I want to know what’s going on in Hau’s head. We know what he’s thinking about pokemon. You make that point very clear. But, what does he think of people? It’s like when I asked if he has any impressions about Luna. What does he think of these ranchers? Does he dislike them for how they treat the tauros? Does he think they’re just misguided? Does he fear that this is the way all people treat pokemon? Or, (something to consider) because he is so in-tune with being in-tune with pokemon, does he even think about the people he meets at all? In which case, maybe showing how that affects his character might be interesting.

I mean, these are just my impressions of the story. Like I said, biggest issue I see is that it feels like it was more of a “I have to” thing rather than an “I want to” thing. I get wanting to enter stuff for contests, but it also doesn’t hurt to revisit those kinds of things after the contest is done.

2m ago[it’s just one of those things where I just feel like it was written just to be written. It reads more like it was a chore to write than for any personal interest. With some fics, you can just tell that an author had a great time doing what they do. This just wasn’t one of those times.]

Uh, you’re gonna have to forgive me if I still find this assertion really weird. Can you explain specifically in what way this felt like I had no personal interest here?

If you didn’t understand what I was trying to do with Luna (big hint: the player character) I really don’t think you were putting much effort into reading the story, yourself. The contrast between Hau’s attitude towards battles and hers is kind of what the entire story is about, as is what her attitude represents in the greater scope of that conflict. If you’re familiar with UnderTale, you might be able to see what I was going for more easily?

[But, every once in a while, I want to know what’s going on in Hau’s head.]

“Every once in a while”? Multiple people have complained this fic spends way too much time on introspection already and I’m inclined to agree with that. The entire point of that scene is that it’s one of the few times in the fic Hau takes direct action instead of waffling over everything.

[But, what does he think of people?]

I think it’s quite obvious what Hau thinks of humans just from what we have in canon. He’s an extrovert who wears his heart on his sleeve and an optimist who hates to think badly of people. Reiterating that would indeed be me going through the motions of something I don’t want to do. What I wanted was to examine how humans relate to pokemon and how that reflects on Hau personally.

The impression I’m getting here is that this is not the kind of story you’re interested in. That’s fine, but it’s really weird to insist a story is objectively bad and phoned-in just because the author focused on the elements they cared about instead of the ones you did.

secs agoBut hey, if you want to read more about interpersonal relationships, my other fic definitely has you covered!
14m agoHey whatever. It’s just a review. It’s only what I think. You can take it or leave it. Sorry I ever bothered to say anything. Lesson learned: don’t review stuff for people who can’t handle constructive criticism. So, uh, no, won’t be interested in reading any more of your work anytime soon.
secs agoBuddy, defending one’s artistic choices is the exact opposite of being unable to handle criticism. If I wasn’t interested in what you thought, I wouldn’t have responded at all, and if I couldn’t take criticism, I’d have blocked you without another word. You just genuinely haven’t said anything I can take use from that other people haven’t already.

Seriously, if you didn’t get the point of Luna, you were not putting a good-faith effort into reading this in the first place. I was blindingly obvious with what I was doing there. Maybe you’re just so genuinely apathetic to the themes you can’t see them at all, but that again just means this wasn’t the story for you. That is okay! But it’s not nice to say authors didn’t care about their stories just because they don’t care about the same things you do.

If this is what they really believe it honestly makes me sad. Like, what a banal and lifeless way of looking at art if you think any conversation between author and reader is a failure.

9 Comments

  1. The Reeds of Enki says:
    Hmmm. Might just be me, but I don’t think that person was trying to troll you. They might have gotten a bit defensive there at the end, but I really felt that it was genuine.

     

    I’ve read both that story and The Boulevard of Broken Hearts, and I have to say that the Hau story is a poor reflection of what you’re capable of. Concerning Luna, I actually had similar thoughts, if memory stands correctly. I think what the person was looking for was “motive,” not “purpose.”

     

    Part of the issue here is that, even if you don’t intend to, you can come across as really rude, even if you’re probably not intendng to be. Phrases like “blindingly obvious” and the parenthetical (big hint: main character), followed by insinuating that they didn’t read it correctly might make responding back appear more trouble than it’s worth.

     

    I’ve given flawed reviews before. I’ve given you flawed reviews before. It wasn’t that I wasn’t trying, or that I was incompetent, it was just that I might have overlooked into something or interpreted it differently than how you/the author intended it. Sometimes I accidentally skip over things, even.

     

    But at the end of the day, for this review, I think it was a solid response. They might not have told you how you wanted or intended it to come off as, but they told you how it came across to them. It’s up to you what you want to do with that information.

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    1. Farla says:

      Mm, while I’d have reacted differently (and did, for that matter – and then didn’t get a response, suggesting it wasn’t what they were fishing for) “the execution is just dead and lifeless” is super, super common from people who went in intending to attack the fic and are upset it wasn’t the garbage they were hoping for. I get it all the time from people who start off the review saying, “So Farla the terrible, let’s see if your writing is any good!” and not from people who don’t.

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    2. Phrases like “blindingly obvious” and the parenthetical (big hint: main character), followed by insinuating that they didn’t read it correctly might make responding back appear more trouble than it’s worth.

      Well, note that this was after they had already responded once and made it clear they were not acting in good faith. If they had given a more genuine response I might have been more charitable.

      Also, in addition to what Farla said, “but what about the humans” and “you clearly didn’t actually want to write this” are also common talking points from our opponents, and also this guy reviewed ZadArchie to just rant about both of us, so.

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      1. Hey. Sorry for the late response, didn’t intend to suddenly go dark in the middle of a conversation. Life stuff got in the way, still in the way really, so I can’t say as much as I normally would/might go dark again if you respond. (I’ll get around to it eventually.) 

        In this instance, I’d say it looks like they might be a troll, or at the very least someone who’s just looking for something to criticize you on, not necessarily to critique fairly. Farla’s not getting a response at all supports that idea, yeah. 

        I still think you should try to be a little more tactful though, Saint. I know most people are just trolls, and you’ve been dealing with them for God knows how long, but it’s easy for people to mistake genuine aid for trolling when you respond with such negatively-charged words. I’d be hesitant to continue a conversation if you told me those things, for example. That’s not to say you can’t give a troll a proper thrashing, but I didn’t see enough to warrant it from the messages received before you responded with the comments I was referring to before. 

        I hope both of you are doing well. I’m probably going to stop by the misc. post just to share my undying hatred of harems, but after that, I’m probably going to step away for a bit. 

         

        1. The thing is, you’re getting a biased sample because I don’t repost conversations with non-trolls. I have gotten several genuine reviews I’ve responded to more politely, but I haven’t reposted them here. I’m generally good at noticing when someone is a troll and when they’re not.

          Like, really, a genuine reviewer doesn’t randomly accuse people of being joyless robotic hacks. :p It was pretty clear what was going on here from the beginning.

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  2. ? says:
    It seems kind of odd to suggest somebody reviewing your fic for one fandom read your other fics for completely unrelated fandoms they may have no familiarity with and/or interest in fanfiction about.
    1. Ghost says:

      Harmless self promotion. Everyone does it

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    2. Not when it’s patently obvious the fandom they are reviewing is me. If they’re willing to boost the review count on my other stories, I see no reason not to encourage them!

      1. ? says:
        They might not bother reading or reviewing them if they don’t know the canons. Though maybe they do. Although I Miss the Sunrise is probably unlikely to be known compared to Gumball and Pokemon.

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