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Jun
17th
2016

First Impression Reviews: Episode Thirteen · 9:36pm Jun 17th, 2016

Below are two fanfic reviews based purely on the initial impressions provided by the first chapter (or first 3k words.) For an outline of what my reviewing guidelines are, go here. Please do not request reviews!

FUN FACT: Both stories being reviewed today are Star Wars crossovers! Again! I was supposed to do this during May, but then I got super sick and busy with life stuff, but now I’m back!


Star Wars: Ponies of the Old Republic by BlueSun52
Rating: Teen
Tags: Alternative Universe, Crossover, Adventure, Comedy, Dark
Summary: A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away….
A thousand years of peace has ruled over the galaxy and all ponykind continued to live happily under the protective eyes of Grandmaster Celestia and her faithful servants of the light, the Solar Knights. But now a dark empire has come upon the galaxy and spreading chaos and misery across worlds and vast civilizations.
Now all hope lies with Garret, a scout who has an incredible gift within himself, Twilight Sparkle, the apprentice of Grandmaster Celestia and a gifted unicorn with tremendous power, Applejack Onasi, an experience veteran of the Republic and a mare with a mysterious past, and their loyal friends and companions as they go find the enemies’ true power and return peace and harmony in the galaxy.
Grammar: 3/5 - This story just manages to get this score, if only because I still understood what I was reading, and the spelling seemed all right, BUT… It just managed to get there as per my grammar score criteria. If there was a further scale within each score, I’d say this story is on the “bottom half” of a 3/5. 3.2, maybe?

There were syntax issues. Missing commas where required. Incorrect phrasing, like, “no other than.” (Reasons for that example here.) Word confusion. (Haul vs. hull) Asterisks for sound effects. The example I saw was further on than I actually read (I only spotted it because I happened to scroll by it.) There may be some gray areas in fiction writing, but I can tell you with iron clad certainty that asterisks are NEVER acceptable in a story. Using those is the mark of an amateur.

Lots of shifting verb tenses too. “She's one of the fleets best pilots and acting commander in Equestria space.” She’s = she is. “Is” is an irregular verb used in simple present tense. In the preceding paragraph, we saw an example of past continuous tense-- “She couldn't explain it, but something was eating at the back of her mind.” Then we see simple past tense-- “Applejack turned away from the window and looked over to the controls to where her crewmen were.” And this was all just within a page length of each other.

A more expanded grammar issue regarding sentence structure is explored below.

My Thoughts:

First chapter was over 5k words, so since I only review the first 3k, this doesn’t cover all of chapter one.

That said, the story seems to open up with… another summary? I suppose the intention here is to emulate the screen scroll from the Star Wars films by giving a brief rundown of the status quo. As an opener, it’s all right. It manages to set itself apart from the story page summary. Plus my inner geek hummed with approval at the substitution of “Nightmare” for “Darth”. It’s a neat little touch that makes the crossover more appealing. There was one bit in the final stretch of the opener that didn’t read well to me, though. Tell me if you grammar gurus agree (or disagree!) The syntax just feels off:

With the help of a young unicorn knight, Twilight Shan Sparkle, gifted with great magical powers, may be the last hope in defeating Moonlight and his dark followers.

If I’m identifying the sentence part correctly… the bold portion is functioning like an introductory description, or adverbial descriptive phrase, which is before the subject and describes the main verb in some way, such as when, where, how, and why. The comma at the end of the description signals the reader that the main point of the sentence is about to begin. Here, the underlined subject is Twilight Shan Sparkle. The italicized verb is defeating? (I put a question mark because I’m not 100% sure on the verb) What’s bothering me is the “gifted with great magical powers” portion, highlighted in red. I believe it’s a parenthetical expression, which you would use to add information not directly related to the point of the sentence. In other words, it’s info that you could arguably put in parenthesis and still have it be correct. IMO, it screws up the flow of the sentence. I’m wondering if it’s really an issue of syntax, or if the parenthical expression can be removed entirely. Perhaps rephrasing could fix the issue? Like so:

With the help of a gifted unicorn knight, Twilight Shan Sparkle, she may be the last hope in defeating Moonlight and his dark followers.

But then I have to ask… Is the adverbial descriptive phrase even necessary? Here’s what the sentence looks like when we remove that too:

Twilight Shan Sparkle, a gifted unicorn knight, may be the last hope in defeating Moonlight and his dark followers.

Personally I like that much better. Not only did I cut it down from 28 words to 19, but the flow feels smoother.

Wow, I went pretty far down that rabbit hole.

Which isn’t good. I shouldn’t be focusing on this story’s grammar issues. I should just be enjoying Applejack being a commander for the Republic. Instead, I’m looking up language rules. It’s bringing out my OCD. Applejack’s dialogue is also nettling me. I’ve stated it numerous times in this series that I don’t mind having her dialect illustrated visually, but in that regard I think less is more. Suggesting accents rather than trying to force them means you avoid the risk of conflicting with how readers think the character would actually sound, and it also improves reading flow.

For the sake of those who might not care as much about these kinds of things, I soldiered on a little more to see what the author had to offer in the story department.

I got to about page six before I had to stop entirely.

The good --

The author has a good grasp of the universe, it seems. When I was reading (and ignoring the various mistakes and typos) I felt like I was reading something that could happen in Star Wars. The general composition of the opening situation and its dialogue felt authentic.

The bad --

Lots of telling versus showing. It’s a challenging thing, describing a large and rapid space battle in a timely manner, but I felt like the author could have done a better job of offering solid visuals for me to picture rather than giving me what felt like a glorified summary.

The fighters got into attack position and both sides opened fired at one another. The Republic fighters were beginning to be overrun by the Imperials and their numbers were quickly deteriorating. The Imperial warships started firing their cannons at the Republic fleet and the Republic ships soon started firing back as well. The battle was massive, fighters were fighting around the warships, while avoiding the cannons firing and the auto turrets and the warships focus their attention on one side of the other. Applejack's defensive strategy was keeping the Imperial warships at bay and the battle was in her favor; for now.

I’m also not into capitals for shouting. Some published authors do it, I know. It’s just a personal preference of  mine.

Final Verdict:

Le sigh… Another Star Wars crossover that I cannot recommend. Do I really need to summarize why? I think I covered everything pretty thoroughly. This story has some upsides. I just felt like the downsides outnumbered them… I didn’t downvote this one, though. Structurally, it felt all right. Spelling wasn’t bad. Author clearly knows his Star Wars.

Keep in mind that if you do end up deciding to give this a chance anyway, this 111k+ word story is on hiatus.


Star Wars: Tales of the Hunter by Clonetrooperkev
Rating: Teen
Tags: Sci-Fi, Crossover, Adventure
Summary: Clone Troopers are some of the most feared warriors in the galaxy. Direct, obedient, and deadly, these warriors fight for the Republic. But one clone makes a discovery that changes everything...
Grammar: 4/5 - On a technical level, the writing appeared all right to me. I think I just noticed an instance of less than optimal syntax, and one instance of a period where a comma should have been. Then again, the grammar may not have been that great? I'm not totally confident in my assessment. I feel I might have burned out on the last story in the grammar critiquing department. :ajsleepy:

My Thoughts:

I… think this is HiE? It was published back in ‘04. Maybe they didn’t have ‘Human’ tags back then?

Anyway… I’m not super into HiE or Human stories, but I wanted to give this a shot anyway purely for the Star Wars.

Just to be fair to the author, I decided to continue reading past the “state of affairs” intro that was given its own section in the fic. I know I said I’d read short intros and review those based on the philosophy of this series, but the intro is 128 words. It would be ridiculous to judge this story on that alone. The actual first chapter, however, is over 2,200 words. So here we go!

The summary confirms what I was worried about-- this is HiE. I’ve read good HiE, but so far…

The story starts out with a LOT of telling instead of showing.

In the deep black void of space, a ship appears in the blink of an eye, alone. Inside this ship, are two Clone Troopers, warriors for the Republic. Clones were raised from birth to be soldiers, professional, dedicated, and deadly. Most Clones have a strong sense of brotherhood with one another.

I also got a bit confused as to who was speaking? The first dialogue line initially appeared to come from the character, CT-6547, but it was actually coming from the trooper named Blazer. And I’m sorry, but I feel that CT-6547 is an unpleasant name to read over and over--the author later just uses ‘6547’, but it isn’t much better. The numbers was what made that designation a mouthful.

I started to skim. My investment waned.

Telling versus showing is not just less entertaining, it also puts distance between your readers and your story. The one thing you absolutely want to avoid doing any ‘telling’ for? When you’re introducing your main characters. Your primary cast will be at the crux of your audience’s emotional investment. Things like--

Blazer had a romantic view of the war.

And

CT-6547 was not your average Clone. He responded to orders, did them to the best of his ability, and was a proficient warrior, like every other Clone. But he was very poor at socializing.

Does not capture my interest. I would have much rather had these details illustrated to me bit by bit via dialogue and descriptive actions over the course of the story.

Final Verdict:

I can’t recommend this one either. We’re now 0/4 for Star Wars crossovers. Such a shame! I didn’t even finish the first chapter before I knew what my verdict was. Like the previous story, this person apparently knows his Star Wars… It’s just too bad the execution of this story doesn’t do his knowledge justice. I didn’t downvote this one either. On a technical level it’s fine. Structurally it’s fine. Just too much telling!

Keep in mind that if you do end up deciding to give this a chance anyway, this 55k+ word story is on hiatus.


NOTE: Yet again, someone has apparently removed a story I had in my list. Last count was 158. When I came back to it, the library shelf count read 157. The strange thing? I seem to be getting conflicting numbers. At the top of my shelf, it says 156, but in the sidebar, it says 157.

I have no idea which is correct. I suppose I could go through and count, but… no. Just no. So after this installment, I’m at...

Current To-Read Count: 155/184

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Comments ( 4 )

If it makes you feel any better I'm pretty sure every Dark Tower crossover is super dead.

4029446 Ah, Dark Tower. I will read this series someday before I die.

4029453 yessssss you should

I cling to Meluch's gorgeous Mass Effect crossover, and the reviews for the X-Com one they put up on the site thing recently were dead right-- it's gorgeous to those of us who love the game, but he communicates the universe so succinctly without mega-info-dumps so it's enjoyable for new people-- in many ways, it's like an original universe, not because he diverges from canon, but because he writes so well there.

Twilight Shan Sparkle, a gifted unicorn knight, may be the last hope in defeating Moonlight and his dark followers.

That works with the opening scroll, but if he WANTED to keep the adverbial part-- which could fit the scroll concept too, I think...

With the help of a young unicorn knight, Twilight Shan Sparkle, gifted with great magical powers, may be the last hope in defeating Moonlight and his dark followers.

The last hope in defeating Moonlight and his dark followers lies with Twilight Shan Sparkle, and her sworn Unicorn companion.

I think switching it to a declarative helps change some of the funkytown.

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