Short Reviews 1

I tend toward reviewing stuff that’s medicre-to-good on Figment because I don’t feel that I’m quite so free to be scathing in a short review when I’m a mod. Considering the pervasiveness of it, I may start giving some copypasta grammar advice just to attempt to get people to improve for my own sake.





permalink: http://figment.com/books/168619
The Underworld Auction


This is a really cute and intriguing premise, and I wish you’d gone further with it instead of just giving us a kind of brief overview of the plot idea.

You really need to watch repetition. You had a lot of word repetition, and also a lot of repetition of information. Your first paragraph was a bit hard to get through because of the way it kept saying the same thing over and over.

You also struggled a bit with the tone. You seemed to be going for a very colloquial, casual, fourth-wall-breaking kind of narration, but you didn’t stick to it, and it was a bit jarring. I think that kind of narration could really work here, but you have to commit and make sure it stays consistent.

Otherwise the writing was solid, and I wish you’d gone all the way with this.

Playing God
 

This is absolutely excellent, and I’m completely hooked. You have a unique and captivating writing style, and Mar is a character that is easy to become invested in. The way in which you aren’t pampering the reader– only revealing bits of information at a time– is something of a lost art here on Figment, and I definitely appreciate it.

Really nice job.

I really adored this piece. I like the author in general (as if that matters) based on the stuff she says on the forums, so it makes me happy to see she’s talented.
 
Wake
 

Well, I got about 3/5 of the way through this before I bailed.

Your problem was that the whole thing was telling, not showing. It was a really long list of events that happened without any emotion or feeling from the narration. There was little if any description of the scene or characters, and no one really had any personality. This makes it pretty difficult to become invested in the story, because the characters are interchangeable and the setting is just a vehicle for the events. The effect on the reader is a feeling of just you wanting to tells us what happens as quickly as possible without getting into it too much. It’s not effective writing.

You have a cool idea here and sci-fi rocks, and I think if you took some time to develop it it could be a really neat little novella.

On the technical side, the writing wasn’t bad. You have a good grasp of all the basic rules. However, your syntax tended to get messy. A lot of the time you’d change tense or voice in the middle, or use too many commas. There were lots of splices and run-ons. Remember that a sentence should have one, solid main idea. Try reading your sentences out loud, pausing at every comma. If it doesn’t sound natural, take out the comma or restructure the sentence.

Agoraphobia
 

I enjoyed this. I thought it was a realistic portrayal of someone with an anxiety disorder, and that the emotions were conveyed very nicely.

The ending was a bit puzzling, though. I couldn’t tell if you were being metaphorical– “the world is like a raging sea”– or literal– he killed himself and their front door is actually on a cliff. I think it’s possible to clear it up without losing the impact of the ending.

Your writing was very strong technically; it’s obvious you have a good grasp of the language. Enjoy being featured, and nice job.

Nonconformed

On one hand, this wasn’t that well written. Citrine is a serious sue, and it’s utterly predictable. On the other hand, I just read the whole thing.

On one hand, it’s a pretty shameless takeoff on the Hunger Games mixed with The Giver. On the other hand, I find the premise intriguing.

It’s pretty solid as YA. There’s not much to it but what’s on the surface, but if you don’t think about it too hard, it works.

It’s not up to the standard I usually hold things to in order to heart them or feature them, but I’ll keep an eye on it. Maybe it will surprise me.

This fic was really a guilty pleasure thing for me. She’s updated it since I last read it, and I may see where it headed. She also asked me to ellaborate a bit on how to avoid Sueness, so I suppose I’ll post that here as an addendum:
 

So, obviously it’s easier to prevent a sue or stu in the pre-writing stage, so I’ll give you some advice for if you ever do a revision (or for future stories) but there’s also things you can do as you continue on with Nonconformed that should help a bit.

One thing you can do if you’re worried about your protagonist being too sueish is to take the characteristics you’re worried about and distribute them to a few characters. That way, the focus is no longer on just the one (and the problems with sues, after all, is that they demand the world warp around them and everyone focus on them). Barring that, doing something like making an auxiliary character the narrator can go a long way toward making sure one person doesn’t get too much attention.

I’m not sure where you’re going with the white hair thing—is it related to her being the Catalyst? It doesn’t seem that way, and you’re going to kind of have to go to some extra lengths to make it work, because I imagine it’s important to the plot she has that trait. Maybe not mention it, and have her think everyone has to dye their hair or something? That way it’s less Speshul. I’m not sure; it’s going to be on you to figure out how to deemphasize it.

Another thing to watch is the way other characters react to the sue. Personally, I would start at Leevy telling Citrine she’s the Catalyst; that way, we lose those annoying chapters of everyone going on and on about how great she is, and we’re just presented with someone being thrown into the fire. We can learn about her as a person based on the decisions she makes as things progress as opposed to being told by everyone else all at once. Leave it up to the reader to determine what kind of person she is.

Sues also tend toward the melodramatic. One of the irksome things you had going on was Citrine’s insistence that she was useless when clearly she was a capable human being. This insistence also required all of the other characters to soliloquize about her awesomeness, which was annoying. I’d set her up as pretty sure she’s going to be a medic or caretaker of some kind and comfortable with that, so that being the Catalyst was something she’d never considered or even wanted—you set up a more interesting conflict that way—should she put herself through this for something she doesn’t feel strongly about, or just be what she wanted to in the first place? This is a string that can carry through the opening.

Obviously all that is stuff to consider in the future.

In future chapters without revision, there’s still stuff you can do to make things work a little better.

The biggest issue was the way in which the side characters only seemed to exist to emphasize Citrine’s awesomeness or move the plot along. You have to remember that every character is a person with a history and a unique voice, and they should all get positive attention from the narration as the protagonist does.

My suggestion would be to take the major side characters and write backstories for them (in your head if you want). Do some character surveys, really develop them. Even if their history never makes it into the story itself, this will give them a unique voice and make you write them as independent decision makers with their own motivations. This is really important: the more developed the aux characters are, the less sueish the protagonist is because then the whole world doesn’t exist for her sake. I think just doing this will make a huge difference.

Sorry for the obscenely long post. If you have any more questions, just let me know! Good luck!

permalink: http://figment.com/books/229516
Deep into the Darkness Peering

In your title, “Into” should not be capitalized. Prepositions and conjunctions don’t get caps’d if they’re less than five letters OR unless they’re the first word of the title.

Your dialogue punctuation is all over the place. I can’t tell if you know the rules and it’s typos in which case you really need to proofread or if you’re just unsure, but here’s the rundown:

Dialogue is written: [“Hello,” he said.] Note the comma and the lowercase “he.” It is never [“Hello.” he said] or [“Hello,” He said] or any combination of those. The only time you use a period is when the next sentence stands alone, ie [“Hello.” He looked away as he said  this.”] Further, with anything that isn’t a speech verb (ie, “slipped”), you should end the dialogue with a period, not a comma. Remember that just because something is a sound you make with your mouth doesn’t make it a speech verb, so something like [“That’s funny,” she giggled.] is incorrect. It would be [“That’s funny.” She giggled.]

[They were Archangels; they were anything if not in control.]

You either mean “they weren’t anything” or “they were nothing.”

[They wore no hats, rain sparkling in their hair and smattering their pale faces.]

There were a few places like this. Commas cannot be used to justify tacking another clause onto a sentence. This is syntactically messy and needs to be rephrased. If you’re unfamiliar with comma rules, Google can help. Here is looks like you omitted some words, and the change in verb tense is odd.

Anyway, I liked this. The writing was generally solid– you need to tighten up your syntax a bit and iron out your dialogue punctuation, but other than that it was good. The premise is interesting and I thought the characterization was good so far. I’ll keep an eye on it.

permalink: http://figment.com/books/119084
All at Once

This kind of opening– “They didn’t know they knew each other, but fate had others plans!”– is very common. I wouldn’t quite call it cliche, but it isn’t something that grabs me or shows me anything particularly unique about your story. That said, I think you pull it off well enough. I didn’t bail out (but that may be because it reminded my of my own tendency to open things this way).

[Their first initial meeting was highly informal.]

I think “first initial” is a typo; omit one of those words.

[They all were at a subway station at six pm on Thursday.]

The consensus at the office is that you should write “p.m.” lowercase and with periods. Nice to see you writing out numbers, though.

[It may seem like a coincidence that they were all there at the same time. However, it was not a coincidence.]

We know; you just told us a few sentences ago. This is redundant information. Prune out the extra stuff.

[Debbie screeched at the top of her lungs. Everyone stared. The man had fallen to the ground, dead. Debbie glanced at the crowd, fear in her eyes.

The next morning, Debbie ]

You’re repeating names a lot; don’t be afraid of pronouns. They make it easier to read.

[And that would be why Debbie would seem to be insane.]

I don’t think this is a particularly powerful closing line. “would seem to be” is a bit wishy-washy. I would go with something more definitive, like, “That’s when they first assumed Debbie was insane.” Or something.

Anyway, I liked this. The writing was really solid, and I thought the style of it was intriguing, if a little bit too drawn out. At times it got a tad convoluted and the repetition of the names was a bit much, so watch your clarity, but it wasn’t anything tragic. I’ll come back to check on this.

 

One Comment

  1. Lulu says:
    I’m so glad that you decided to post that part about Sues and character-making. Thanks to you, there will be one less unrealistic protagonist in this world. 

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