Seattle's Angels 2,652 members · 1,263 stories
Comments ( 35 )
  • Viewing 1 - 50 of 35
Casca
Group Admin

Guess who's got a blank schedule since it's the end of semester?

Before there was Seattle's Angels, there was /fic/, from where more than half of our founding members were sourced. Back then, we didn't dig into a sea of dreck to spoon out praise like we do today. Back then, stories came to us, and we critiqued them. Hard.

As part of a promotion for the new /fic/ group, as well as a warm-up to get back into reviewing game, I (and any of my colleagues who wish to chip in) am offering in-depth critique for the first five stories that make it into the queue.

So, what's this all about?

Essentially, I will read your work and provide pointers and suggestions on where and how to improve. Don't think that this is akin to what we normally do. It isn't. There are very few stories out there which cannot be made better, and I will, in /fic/ style, make this known to you, as best as I can, in the most straightforward manner possible. I've obtained the permission of most of my fellows beforehand, and they have made it clear that I am to make this clear. Hopefully we won't have any misunderstandings on this part.

So, just to make this clear: I am not going to be nice to you unless you've earned it. Bluntness is simply the most efficient way for me to give feedback; by posting your story, you agree to receive the review on the basis of its content, no matter how devoid of hugboxing or pleasantries it may be. Don't take it personally; take it professionally.

Who are you, and why do I want your meanie opinions anyway?

I really am just one person. I don’t represent, nor can I gauge anyone’s thoughts except for my own. But if I had to sell myself:

In addition to my work as a Seattle's Angel, I have reviewed over 50 stories on /fic/, providing full line-by-line editing for perhaps 75% of them. I do not claim to be even good; I simply have experience reading and offering critique, and after a couple of years on-and-off at it, I can put into words opinions that most people cannot formulate beyond ":heart:". Sure, they'd be only one guy's opinions, but they're opinions that you can try and take something from. And if I find your work interesting, I'll give you in-depth discussion that, I daresay, you won't find from many others.

tl;dr you read mai fic and give me critique! Sweet, I’ll-

Hold yer (literary) horses. Just some rules to help me help you:

1) Nothing 18+.
2) I reserve the right to choose the stories that enter the queue. If your grammar is terrible, I won't spend time on it unless I feel like giving ground-level editing. I will reject for strange, possibly unreasonable reasons, but I'll at least tell you why. I can provide better critique if I genuinely want to see you improve, or if I actually understand the universe you're crossovering with Touhou fanfics will be accepted instantly. Original work is actually fine by me.
3) I reserve the right to stop at any point in the story and give you what I thought up until then. This is just here as an escape clause for the 100k epics out there - it's not like I'd just read the first 500 words of every fic and go "this and that" just to make this easier, right? :trollestia: If I do stop before the end, I will let you know why.
4) The critique will be given as in-depth as I see fit. In the past, I've argued with authors over the tiniest points; I've also glazed over several thousand words with no comment. I just take to some stories better than others; don't feel like you've missed out because you got the overall review while someone else got the Google Doc line-by-line. Fair is fair - my best is what you will get.
5) You agree for your critique to be posted openly on this thread. That means both good and bad will be revealed for everyone to see. Think of it as a high-stakes gamble. If you really are as good as you think, this is practically a free pass for recommendation; if you aren't, well, don't act surprised. There has to be some kind of lure aside from thoughtful feedback, after all. Don't worry, though, because I will be moderating replies. Feel free to PM me if there's anything on your mind at all, and we can always work something out.
6) This thread will be locked at a certain time and deleted after a certain time. The novelty only lasts for so long.
7) You do not have to take whatever I say into account. It’d be nice if you replied so that I know you’ve seen it, though.

And that is it. =) I'm looking forward to seeing what you guys have got!

Current queue (as of 24/7):
1) 1178799 (done)
2) 1178898 (done)
3) 1179371 (done)
4) 1179607 (done)
5) 1187707

1178616
Do we simply submit our fic here, or what?

Casca
Group Admin

1178632
Yep! Just drop me a link. I tend to go into things blind half the time, and I make decisions when I reach the story, so things like wordcount and tags are redundant, since I'd be finding out on my own anyways.

1178686

Alright, Here you go.

This story isn't really the best, but there are a few redeeming qualities in it. I hope you find at least some of it amusing.

1178616 What the hell.

The Code's Apprentice

Bring it on! :moustache: I'm... mostly fearless.

Corejo
Group Admin

If you take Gdocs of stories fresh out of rough draft, here you go:
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1pEOrjYMnD_TKdR_9OR6OsVBgHQKu6XjpUBo5-lWG1Qo/edit

If not, no big deal.

Eh, I would, but I dunno if I'm gonna write anymore anyway. :applejackunsure:

Pav Feira
Group Admin

>Didn't require that stories be submitted as a GDoc
Where you are going, I cannot follow. Godspeed, brave warrior.

Feel free to critique Sweetie Bot X.
Or any other story that interests you.

Yeah, this one still needs work: Nightmare Spike. 'Preciate it, Casca, even if you don't go for mine.

1178616

Don't take it personally; take it professionally.

^This. It makes me happy. :twilightsmile:

If only I had actually written anything remotely recently.

Gone by Fresh Cookies

I have it written down, but I don't feel like typing it out :s

Also, I probably missed the queue.

Here's something odd:

I'm working on that I'd like to run through multiple sets of eyes. It's a mini-epic poem, of all things, called The Laughter and the Night. I've got the first of what I think will be three books published but not yet submitted. So if you're in the mood for something rhymey... :pinkiehappy:

Mike

Casca
Group Admin

1178704
All righty, I'm afraid this isn't going to be very long.

First off, disclaimer: I am aware that all of this is just my own opinion. I am stating opinions to be facts, even though they are not, because bugger all that roundabout adding of "imo" to every single comment. I will be blunt, harsh, sometimes passive-aggressive, plenty of rhetoric in this one - once again, please don't take this personally. Take it professionally.

Special note: this may sting very hard. I don't want to discount your mental fortitude or anything, but seeing as this is your first and only fic, I hope you excuse the defensive tone - I've been there many times, and I do know how it feels.


How to use this review
If you have not given yourself time to distance yourself emotionally from this - if the story is still your baby, please do not touch it for at least two weeks. When you are ready to see your own work in as objective a light as is possible, please proceed.


https://docs.google.com/document/d/1gBtKdKXoqVvoAreBk91ZN4FG4DKEeyGDJ-Udq7dc4J8/edit

This is a line-by-line review of that I tried to do of your story. PePr stands for personal preference. I have rewritten a couple of things as examples, and those should not be copied wholesale, or even remotely - they're just there to emphasize and embody points. It became evident that the biggest problem I have with you is so extensive that this, and the advice contained within, is enough - any more would be redundant and uncalled for.

Please read every comment. There are several nested in the big blob of highlight for the first paragraph; clicking every word should reveal them. Mull over it. I shout at you sometimes and for good reason - the more I dug, the more agitated I got. You know, emotional investment and all that. I do wish to help you - if it means expressing to you just how much the style put me off, then so be it. Use my tone as a gauge for what I felt - consider it feedback of the between-the-lines sort.

My biggest issue with this is the style - it's clunky, too wordy without saying enough. You explain everything unnecessarily, and don't present us enough imagery, and we return to that dreaded adage show, don't tell. The link is marginally related, but hey, /fic/ promotion, and the nugget of wisdom that I wish you to take from it is:

First, a translation of what it means when you're told to show-don't-tell, in a single sentence:
"You described this in a way that isn't actually descriptive. Give me some actual details."

In your case, it's either that or too descriptive. This occurs for your scenes. This occurs for your dialogue. Stop telling me what the dialogue means and let me figure it out for myself - that means giving me clues to interpret, but more importantly letting the dialogue speak for itself. When you talk to a checkout girl, for example, you wouldn't say "Greetings, I am greeting you not because I am interested in knowing how you feel but am simply observing social customs", would you? Then why would you say:

In an effort to extend her hoof in amity and gratitude, and also to break the tension, a certain toothpaste-maned unicorn attempted to speak some words of acknowledgement.

Give me dialogue the natural way, the way it's actually used in real life. Words. Tone. Facial expressions. Body language. Otherwise it just becomes unappealing to read, because we don't get to participate.

Some of your sentences are much too long. What's a good indicator? If you can't read it comfortably out aloud. So yes, read your work out aloud. Read it, and you tell me whether it's not tiring to read med-, med-long, long to run-on sentences. If it becomes a drag to the reader, be he/she a mental or vocal reader, it becomes a drag. Vary up your sentence lengths! Short ones grab attention. They're easy to digest, and using them occasionally does wonders for creating an atmosphere the reader can actually remain in.

So far, from what I've read, Carrot Top's a wimp, Cloud Chaser's a dick, Colgate's... some kind of amity/gratitude-desiring pony who's perfectly willing to let Carrot Top be bullied because power dynamics. This angle could be worked well if you wanted us to hate Cloud Chaser, sure, but 1) the style is just too clunky to carry anything 2) you need to stick to a pony for us to analyze the situation through - and to point out the secret indignation so that we have somepony to sympathize with, as a counterpoint for our despising of another character. Fair enough - I haven't stuck with you long enough for you to stick with a pony, but general advice is general.

In conclusion, what I wish for you to take from this is:
1) Stop explaining everything
2) Relatable details
3) Sentence length
4) Don't rehash canon details

Examples of good description, of emotions and motives, through simple dialogue and detail:
SS&E's Simply Darling
CoS's For the Craft

The second in particular is very crisp and clear.

It's the story that you want to tell; don't get bogged down with descriptions - just like how it's the message I wish to convey, even though I'm getting bogged down by repeating incessantly that redundancy is bad. =\

I have not held back just because this is your first story, and because I trust you to be able to take it as it is. This is also your story, and not you - with practice style changes drastically, and is certainly not an indicator of who you as a person are. That's what the two weeks are for (surprise if you hadn't done it) - I feel it necessary to say that while I am indeed rather annoyed with your story, I am not annoyed at you. I wish to help you, and to tell you exactly what is wrong - I would've have spent the past two hours doing otherwise.

This counts as a rejection, so it has not consumed a slot in the queue.

If you have questions or concerns, please PM me or anything. I'm happy to reply as you need. Don't feel rushed to reply. Take your time to digest it. I hope this proves helpful to you. That's all; keep writing.

For more extensive critique, feel free to visit /fic/ itself, where reviewers much better than I roam. The Training Grounds is a good place to get started.

Casca
Group Admin

1178898

Review of Repository, by Corejo

Standard disclaimer: I am aware that all of this is just my own opinion. I am stating opinions to be facts, even though they are not, because bugger all that roundabout adding of "imo" to every single comment.

Now for the story itself. Comments in doc.

Overall, the piece was well-written and well-edited. The characters have strong voices, the pacing is quick enough for things to keep moving, there's enough energy to sustain the reader. That much being said, I didn't feel particularly compelled to continue - the reasons for this are what the rest of this review will try to explain.

First off, and this is simple, all of this is only the introduction. You haven't given me anything in the way of gripping conflict for the most of it, and when you do (Twilight's scene), it suffers from the atmosphere set by using Luna and Celestia as the proxies for setup.

While the idea of the world collapsing is intriguing in its own right, and some of the imagery is beautiful, the more-or-less calm manner and atmosphere established by the naturally chessmaster-y C&L, and the wonders of space, take the edge off this impeding danger. It's a very cool, collected apocalypse that I'm getting from this - so something big is up, ah, the characters aren't reacting too greatly, yes, I can take it in as such. It's unfortunate and, I suspect, unavoidable when handling immortal characterization. It's certainly more preferable to panicky C&L, so there's at least that.

Even so, if you wanted to do a philosophical, musing kind of apocalypse, then I think you've done pretty darn well in setting up the tone. I still don't yet know what kind of story it is you want to tell: is it the standard struggle full of raging and vivid emotions, or is it something like Background Pony, where bleakness and a more chilling despair is the approach to the conflict? You could do interestingly well if you picked the second, I feel - something like Twilight coming to terms with the universe ceasing to exist, the meaning of life, all that lofty philosophy.

If that wasn't your intent, then maybe starting the story with Twilight running would fix that. Start as close to the ending, and all that - have her running, distraught, confused, kick off with a peak of tension and suspense for a bit, and then ease out the setup from dialogue or flashbacks or etc. In media res? Something like that.

While the imagery you've presented is indeed interesting, the way you present it is a bit too brisk for my tastes. The sentences are actually on the shorter side, which gives it that quickened feel - good for setup purposes, but you lose the intimacy to the perspective character because the opportunities we get to sympathize are blown off too soon. I guess the most practical solution is to compound more of your sentences in anticipation of emotional development or setting introduction? The first scene could do with a lettle more compounding either way, I felt. I (and you, heh) am aware that this is personal preference - so there is that too to consider.

You know, that didn't take too long at all. In its current form without much in the way of plot, I'd rate it above average on writing quality and strength of atmosphere (deliberate or otherwise) alone; maybe if there was more in the way of conflict or intrigue, I'd be urged more to continue. This is not to say that I found it boring - I didn't. I just didn't find the little I read amazing, though more meat would very well change that.

And that's it. Keep writing.

For more extensive critique, feel free to visit /fic/ itself, where reviewers much better than I roam. The Training Grounds is a good place to get started.

Corejo
Group Admin

1198683
Thanks!
Chapter 2 is pretty close to being ready for review, which is where things start kicking off. So I'll save big changes to chapter 1 for after I'm able to get that one fully ready for you—if you're up for reviewing the full story piece by piece.

I can feel the sword of Damocles hangin' ovah my head. (that aint no criiiiime)

Yeah I know, I signed up for this. Well, i did want to see just how far I'd come since the train-wreck that was Twilight Struggle. All I can do now is wait.

Casca
Group Admin

1178799
1205759

Review of The Code's Apprentice, by Lapis-Lazuli

Disclaimer: Everything in this review is stated as fact when it is merely opinion. I'm aware of this; now, so are you. Excuse the bluntness; it simply makes conveying the message easier. This is important so that you understand what it is I'm saying to you. None of these are hostile orders. They just happen to worded like them.

This review has taken longer than expected. I apologize for the wait. The main reason for that is distraction - this happened, that happened, so on and so forth, and every time I sit down thinking that I should complete the review, something else grabs my attention. Perhaps that says something about your story failing to hold my interest. Perhaps that says something about me and the never-fading wonder and replayability of Touhou. It's unfortunate because I had built up a little momentum going in, though that momentum is hardly positive, as you are about to find out.

Just some general notes going in: this is not a review of the story as a whole. It is just a review of the doorstep of your fic, your first chapter - I'm going to tell you why I couldn't make it past that.

Line-by-line: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1ne5dYg-k6sl7RDIHk5OMr5Z7aQrEvhWuTvSLyZzveCI/edit

Tags, title, summary and picture aside, the first chapter is the most important. It shows the reader what you, as an author, not just are offering but also what you can offer. It's your only chance to tell your reader that you are worth giving a shot to, out of the thousands of alternatives out there. The first chapter consists of two things: the how and the what. How being style and mechanics; what being, well, the contents.

Let's start with the what first. I'll put it bluntly: it turned me off. You didn't give me plot in the first two sections of your story. You gave me backstory, veiled thinly by an almost formless, lengthy ritual scene, neither of which I had any reason to care for. I tossed this into the chatroom for my fellow Angels to look at, just to make sure it wasn't merely me and my bias against vague, Zen-like lore. There was a bit of discussion; the conclusion is that your first scene is simply not a hook.

What's a hook? It's something that piques interest. It's a situation, something different, a scene that shows the reader, "I'll explain this to you if you'd just stay and read on", but - key - doesn't explain it yet. It is manipulative; it makes the reader want to discover more. That, I feel, is what a hook is.

First chapters, scenes, paragraphs, even sentences, need to be hooks. Not unless you want disinterested people skimming listlessly in your story and then dropping off 500 words in. It's not a matter of decision; it's necessity if you want to make an engaging story, because how else do you intend to spark that inner drive in your reader to keep reading?

Your first scene is not a hook because while it presents a situation, it also presents a ton of lore introduction, none of which is interesting. You see, before you give us your wonderful vast AU universe, you need to get us to care. You didn't. What you did give us is Twilight moving a bunch of bowls around, and Celestia being Confucius sans the brilliant, heartfelt insight on how to run a country and what life is about. You spend most of your words on introducing the lore, which strikes me as nothing but canon reworded and Recapitalized. What you don't spend on the lore is spent on the actions which, while maybe interesting in itself in a new light, mean nothing to me as of yet. You could explain the significance of the ritual to me (and you did) and I would reply with a resounding, "So?".

More on the lore: the first glance you give us consists of basically a parallel of canon. You capitalize words for mystical reasons that make the whole thing sound pretentious. While it's supposed to be different, the essence of your AU is nothing new to us. It's more or less the same. So when you recap all of this to me, I'm thinking: redundancy. So much of it. I know this already; get on with the original stuff!

I'm sure your lore consists of more than that. The fact is that you only showed me the cheap retweaking, which does not make for a very strong start at all. Also, skipped Luna's part more or less completely.

In addition, how is any of this relevant to the story? Where's the conflict and intrigue? Where's that - dare I ask - spechul dark magick OC? I can't help but feel that you could cut out the entire bloody thing and more, and it wouldn't be a loss. That, I feel, would be your solution - get to the plot already. Introduce to us the characters who are doing the playing and start the show already. And if you're going to take your time introducing them, at least introduce them - it's much easier to relate to a character than a lump of headcanon. Lolita comes to mind - Lolita, the novel's very namesake, is not introduced until after Humbert has relayed to us, in effusive detail, the story of his previous relationships, thus revealing him as a character. It works, because 1) the style is so rich that it gives Midas a run for his, haha, money; 2) Humbert's personality and traits are what drives the story along; 3) it's simply interesting. It's told in such a way that we can understand what is going on; it stimulates not only the appreciation of prose, but also the reasoning and analyzing parts of our mind to digest the events and their impact on the characters.

Really, I could condense that entire block up there into that: your first scene is not interesting. Nothing important seems to happen. Its characters do not seem to be impacted significantly; therefore it does not seem to have significance. Give us something we can care about instead. Even the Pony Joe's scene was better - it had interaction and dialogue, something for us that we could relate to, as shoddy as the necessary assumptions were.

There's also the grammar. I was originally going to give you the whole "grammar is vital no matter how good your plot may be" rant, but I'll trust that you're not one of those people who believe otherwise. Suffice to say, bad grammar gives me little confidence in the author I am supposed to invest my time in, and puts me in a state of mild to serious disbelief and skepticism going in. You suffer from bad dialogue punctuation. While your style in terms of description, sentence structure, word use seems to improve by Chapter 31, your dialogue is still punctuated wrongly by the little I've skimmed of the newest chapter of Dr. Negative. Therefore, it is assumed that you need to learn how to punctuate dialogue: here is Ezn's Guide. Scroll down, find the section, read away.

But seriously, that faux Jedi code. Capitalizing Harmony and Teacher And Things. It's silly. Not even Celestia in canon speaks of harmony with more reverence than the mere word it is, much less meditating on it and seeking to Be One With It. I see that many writers do that. That's my cue to look for a new story. Sure, it's tagged AU, but it is also what it is. Count this as falling on the err side of my personal preferences - it's not your fault, it's my inability to suspend my disbelief for it. On these grounds alone my review cannot be considered unbiased even if it does sound like it's taking itself way too seriously.

Your fic is completed at 100k+. To have stuck with it as long as you did as testament to your writing drive, which is commendable, even if the end product may or may not be - after all, authors improve chiefly by writing more, but also by getting feedback and understanding what it is like for readers. This is probably not a good indication of your style nor your capability as a reader as of today, but it still stands - the intro of your story is unappealing, and I advise you to give it a shortening/retooling if you so desire. Also punctuation and capitalization.

And that's it. Keep writing.

For more extensive critique, feel free to visit /fic/ itself, where reviewers much better than I roam. The Training Grounds is a good place to get started.

Casca
Group Admin

1179371

Review of Sweetie Bot X, by Zytharros

Disclaimer: Everything in this review is stated as fact when it is merely opinion. I'm aware of this; now, so are you. Ecetera, ecetera.

On a side-note, this isn't the first time I've read of you. I think I'm following you, actually, from Lament of a Spoon, the style of which I was impressed by. Let's see what this turns out to be.

Line-by-line for C1 and 2: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1MrdE1mYAAdf141eFxJBzfGPmBjOJRWmJjwceLcc-F9Y/edit

Your story suffers from different key problems at different times. I'll break it down to give you a comprehensive image of what I mean.

The first chapter was interesting to critique, because it was an example of how something can be both good and bad. The good was marred by the bad; the good, being your flair-y writing and the humour scattered within, and the bad being dat LUS, occasional clunky phrases, and iceberg-esque paragraphs. I've gone at you at length about these in the doc, but I was won over by it. That much being said, you have a horribly slow introduction. Part of the reason why this took so long is because your intro just wasn't interesting fast enough; you meandered just a little too much for me to be hooked though I don't deny my terrible work ethic.

The second and thereafter chapters were stripped of the flair-y writing and ended up mediocre. They read rather mediocre, and it was just action scene after action scene. It's as if MLP started off with Rainbow Dash learning how to fly, except instead of character moments and adoracute, it's all the mechanics of flying. Explaining how wings work. Explaining how weather affects flight, lengthy theory, so on and so on. The novelty fades fast, and I was skimming the later chapters without thinking I missed much.

See, character moments and plot development produce tension. Tension is a driving force that keeps things going. Conflict provides tension; watching the Crusaders get comfortable with being robots is not tense at all, because we already know the entirety of the idea as soon as we see its head. One chapter is a bit bad; having two of them means you gotta start cutting things. Glaze over all of this and start addressing the key questions - how would child ponies react in a world that is opposite to Equestria in so many ways?

From the doc:

The thing is, it’s so action-heavy that it starts to get old. It’s essentially Crusaders Explore Megaman X Mechanics. I can imagine that it was fun to write, and rightly so, but it doesn’t read as well. It’s hard to stay with you once entering is what I’m saying; give us more plot development, and more character moments, rather than actions and game mechanics.

At the end, I'm not sure what to think. I feel a bit cheated, actually, because your first chapter was written so cleanly; it almost feels like two different people wrote it. Check your later chapters for dialogue punctuation issues, too - you miss an increasing amount of commas after connecting phrases:

"Like so," said the speaker, "the comma goes after the phrase."

But I am confident that once you get your plot together, you'd pull something interesting off. You do have the capability, after all.

That's it; keep writing.

For more extensive critique, feel free to visit /fic/ itself, where reviewers much better than I roam. The Training Grounds is a good place to get started.

1279617
Yeah. The structure of the story is level - plot - level - plot - etc. I wondered if someone would have trouble with that idea. The main reason I haven't updated it past where it is... well, other than my kid, is that I've still been thinking of how to plot the next chapter :derpyderp2: which will be plot centric once I get through describing my vision for Maverick Hunter HQ.

You're right. I think I need to work on my flow... Maybe I'll just skip to the boss fights and montage the levels? It's a thought...

Hmm. Going to have to take a second look at my plans.

Casca
Group Admin

1179607

Review of Nightmare Spike, by Swashbucklist

Disclaimer: Everything in this review is stated as fact when it is merely opinion. I'm aware of this; now, so are you. Ecetera, ecetera.

Full line-by-line: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1E8TIk_0tjR6OEvGvUKVJimpjuuHjUiyCmm9VEmCZMSI/edit

Let's preface this review by saying: that was unexpectedly pleasant to review. Thank you for the read.

There's not much in the way of anything bad, in fact. Good solid style and writing, nicely developed tone, atmosphere, plotting was smart, jokes more or less worked. There's only three things I'd like to discuss here.

First one: the Diamond Dog scene is the weakest. The heat of battle is not quite there, because a lot of the actions are glazed over. Go into the sweat and nitty-gritty of Spike's pumping veins and burning arms. The sensation of hitting things with sticks is quite something; using that in the scene would give it more body. Plenty of references you can find on the subject; just pick a story, read a fight scene, and if it gets you gripped to the end that's something you can model/adapt.

Rarity not using her magic instantly is something of a plothole. It isn't drastic, and this is thanks to the momentum of good reading you built up before. But holes are still holes, and it detracts from the solidity of the scene. Try and justify that more, possibly by not touching her perspective at all when Spike arrives. But there's still the issue of him getting beaten up visually (if not actually) and Rarity acting only much after. Element of Generosity after all...

Second one: ending punchline falls flat on account of being completely unexplained. What is the significance of this and what are we to respond with? "Cool, I totes get that"? Because I don't. Consider tweaking that, or maybe changing "Night Mare" to "Night Mare X" so that the pattern becomes relevant and connect-able.

Third one: while the writing is of good quality, I feel that it suffers from identity mushing. There's too many jokes for it to be a proper adventurey thing; there's too few jokes due to adventure/slice-of-life occupying space for it to be comedy. I think this lies with most of your jokes being somewhat disconnected with the ongoing situation. Throwaway one-liners, I think, most of them were - they're good there, but they could have not been there and we wouldn't have noticed. They were to some degree independent of flow, and so integration isn't complete.

Now, I liked quite a few of the jokes. They work. But overall, the feeling... it's like a sourdough loaf with bits of lemon drops/insert good but unfitting candy in it. The participant is at a loss as to where to place this initially - it's not bad, and actually pretty good! - but the two are distinct enough so that they don't blend immediately. Is this a problem? Maybe. Is it something I have the answer to? No. But is it a problem? Ehh, probably not.

Your scenes could stand to have a bit more body in general. Body refers to sensory details like sound, scent, sensation of a POV character which helps to bring the scene to life. Just a tad more, in your case, would give a richer experience, I feel.

Overall, I like it (liked it too). A solid piece of work that, with a bit more waterproofing, would hold up very nicely indeed. Be proud of this one, it reads well - and keep writing.

For more extensive critique, feel free to visit /fic/ itself, where reviewers much better than I roam. The Training Grounds is a good place to get started.

Casca
Group Admin

1180768
I'm afraid I'm going to have to reject this one.

Here is my attempt of doing a line-by-line for your prologue. Simply put, you need to write more - to get to a better level of sequencing before I can even begin to help you out on the things I can help out with.

The main problem, or at least so I think, lies in your sequencing. There is no proper structure, sense or sequence exhibited in the story; it flits about from one point to another with no direction and ends up a confused mess. It sounds unfair judging it so harshly from less than 500 words in, but first impressions make or break a story, leastways for this particular reviewer. That review of The Code's Apprentice up there shows you enough on my opinions regarding the matter.

I don't presume to think that Chapter 1 is the same. However, this is a rejection, and I wish to delve into this no more than as I do here; if you don't find anything of use in the following, pray least bear with my silliness.

Stories follow some kind of structure. I advise you to check out my brief rant on first paragraphs and hooks in the aforementioned review, as it is your first paragraph that collapsed, though what I have to talk about here is different.

Readers come into a story looking for, well, a story. A sequence of events happening and characters doing things. For this to happen, you need: 1) characters, 2) conflict/motivations - what drives the characters to act; 3) setting - the world for them to exist in. However, having these alone is not enough to make a story functional. You need to make these accessible to the reader in a way where he/she can participate along with the unfurling actions and events.

Backstory explains the characters but does not introduce them. I am tempted to repeat that line; it's something people tend to be confused about. Consider this:

He shook his head at the trembling figure at his hooves, and lifted his legs. The crunch of horseshoe through skull was always the same. Like cookies crumbling.

What does that tell you of the character? Take a moment to glean little bits of it, aside from the rather obvious fact that "he" is a murderer. He shook his head. What does that say? He describes the sound like cookies crumbling. What does that say? Notice the amount of thought that's being generated from two and a half sentences. Now consider this:

Crux Deitri is a cyborg pony engineered by Dr. Faux, a twisted scientist. His memories are wiped, but the psychological scarring from the horrific procedures has left him with amorality. He goes around killing ponies, opting to crush their skulls but not their skins; he does so without afterthought nor concern.

What does this tell you of the character, aside from, well, everything? It might raise questions, but notably not as many of those questions are about the character. In short, giving backstory, rather than having the characters carry their own weight, saps the reader's interest in your story. More accurately, it changes the direction of the reader's interest, but we needn't go that far for our purposes.

Where is this all leading? Well, looking at your first paragraph - you've got a setting, the apocalypse, some random dialogue, some unexplained pony called Nucleus, an interjection about how what'shisface flies fast despite being deaf, random italicised words, a chunk explaining the sirens... your sentences are scattered all over the place. There's no coherency - there's nothing for the reader to question, except: "How am I supposed to make sense of this?"

This is a whole lotta words telling you that you need to rewrite your prologue and settle on what you want to introduce. Pick a character. Start through his eyes. Show us what he sees and what he does. Then go from there.

If the scene happens to be too short, either add more seeing and doing, or forego the entire thing altogether and save the event for later - you can have him explain what happened to a kindly old couple as he takes a rest from running, or whatever. You don't need to let it have its own freaking scene if it doesn't deserve it - if your scenes are too thin, they only confuse your reader and stop them from getting immersed.

That's all I have to say about it. Apologies about the rejection - but I do hope you keep writing.

1314533 Thanks a lot for taking the time to give it such an in-depth critique! Every comment is a treat, so lengthy ones such as yours are small banquets. Some of the flaws you pointed out probably couldn't be fixed without a complete re-write, but it was my first FiM story, so knowing it's decent feels pretty good.

You're not the first person to take issue with the fight scene, though most people only say it felt out of place (which is true, since my only goal at first was to adapt the exhilarating convenience store fight from Kick-Ass, and the rest of NS just sprang up around it). You are, however, the first person to criticize something I already wanted to fix: getting into the details and sensations of the fight, making it feel really brutal.

Rarity, though...she's more difficult. The excuse I came up with for keeping her out of the fight was that she was thrown off by that dirt clud. That's it. But I'll think more on it.

Spike's alias: he drew his inspiration from the fictitious superhero and the name of the holiday. Nightmare Night/Nightmare Spike. The superhero's name was only supposed to be a modifier (that's what it's called, right?) and a noun. The Night Mare = superhero inspiration. Nightmare Night = name inspiration. I'm not quite sure that needs changed.

I'm not entirely convinced the genre ambiguity is a huge problem either (though I am grateful that you pointed it out). It's not much different from Kick-Ass, is it? There are enough laughs and silliness in that movie to label it a comedy, but it's also an action movie despite having sparse action scenes. I doubt I could push Nightmare Spike much farther in either direction.

Again, thanks for reading my fic and giving it such careful analyzation. But to be clear about the end: did you feel that it was a punchline that didn't work or just that the ending in general had no meaning and fell flat as a result?

Casca
Group Admin

1350143

I'm not entirely convinced the genre ambiguity is a huge problem

Just to be clear, neither am I. It is something interesting to note, though, so I mentioned it.

But to be clear about the end: did you feel that it was a punchline that didn't work or just that the ending in general had no meaning and fell flat as a result?

Punchline that didn't work. To end on a pun is certainly not an issue, but the pun needs to be evident to the reader for it to not fall flat. I'm not everyone, but it wasn't evident to me. The whole Nightmare Night thing... the thing is, from around 1/4 into the story, it ceased to occur to me that this was happening on a pony holiday. I feel that the setup was used and then quietly tucked away in favour of focusing on the characters, interactions and actions - which, as you can tell, I found good - but something that is effectively faded out isn't solid enough a reference for something that needs to be as instinctual as a pun.

Then again, I am only one person. I could be slow. =P

Also, should have mentioned this earlier: I don't know what Kick-Ass is at all, so references and borrowing are lost on me - and I forgot about that whole "inspired by Kick-Ass" shindig, heh - but you know how it turned out for me anyways.

1345864
So, if you're rejecting that...
pardon me for being abit of a shark, here, but...
might you take a gander at my fic instead?

Pwease? :fluttershysad:

Casca
Group Admin

1350202
>adult content
>at least not sex tag
You know what, why not? I'll see if I can get to doing yours and Mike's poetry one by the end of the week.

1350216
Oh, you raise my heart so.

No need to worry about clopping lol. I don't read it and and would never dream of writing it. The mature tag is because of the generally mature nature of the fic. It's along the lines of Fallout: Equestria, but abit milder.

I anxiously await your expert critiques. :pinkiehappy:

1350216

Mine's pretty short, too:

Since I've still only got Book I finished. :pinkiesmile:

Mike

1345864Thank youuu I needed this advice. Now I can write more fics without feeling self-conscious.

I am probably a bit young to try and write anything full-length, but this short story that will (hopefully) eventually stick.into place at the end will propel me higher in my skills! As for the first paragraph, that was about a year ago, and I was trying to get an all-around feel for it.

(long story) I wrote clop once and sent it to somebody else to publish as an Anon. First comment agreed with the statement about me needing to write more.

"It may be f*cked up, but this guy needs to write more. I'm hoping to do just that.

Casca
Group Admin

1355853
Heh, atta boy. Practice is the best way to improve, but getting - and giving - critique helped accelerate my growth as a writer. Plenty of epic, convincing stories that you can write as a teen, but as you get older perspectives tend to change. I used to be able to plot really well though my style sucked arse (Gary Stus all the wayyyy); now, I have a solid style I wouldn't trade for a lot... save for maybe the ability to make interesting plots. =\ anyways, glad to hear it - keep on going, and if you feel up for some polishing, you know where to go to. :ajsmug:

Casca
Group Admin

1187707
Review of The Laughter and the Night, by AugieDog

Disclaimer: all that follows are opinions. All opinions are worded as fact or strong imperatives even though they really aren't. Interpret accordingly.

Also, I am an utter plebian at best when it comes to poetry, but I can still give you my thoughts on the piece. They're just not as experienced or time-tested as what I do for prose is all.

At three AM

The relatively modern phrase struck me as jarring in what had up till then remained consistently ye olde-ish. The effect is similar to that of using "laptop" or "truck" in a poem depicting the age of Arthurial knights. Not as drastic, but similar.

Stony shape, so looming and thunderous,

Perhaps thund'rous to make the reading smoother, as this line feels too long. A couple other ending stanzas(?) feel the same, but it's nothing terrible imo.

Ego cold and haughty's a luxury
Luna decides she can not afford:

haughty's a luxury is the focus here. Precisely: the syntax feels wrong, even with poetic license. Perhaps "Ego cold, stiff haughtiness
She knows she can't afford"?

"Exactly!" Luna stomps. "So who's
The one these words suggest??

Double question mark breaks immersion.

Having read the thing, I guess I'd call it pleasant reading. There's good rhythm to most of it, it's got a nice story, and the way the structure of the dialogue is slotted across stanzas makes for a refreshing change of aesthetics. There's not much I can criticize outright. I'm rather embarrassed for having you wait so long for so little: I liked it enough to keep reading, and probably would have continued on had there been more.

That much being said, I wouldn't have actively sought out something like this - though that is very well due to the niche status of poetry. Possibly you could bait your readers by raising the stakes of the conflict, e.g. risking the lives of citizens with Luna moving unconsciously, going out and hurting ponies, but that's just not the story that's being told - nor does it need to be. It's actually fine as it is, and I can't think of any way that would make it better than good that isn't personal preference.

With poetry on a site like this, though, I'd say that the fun of writing it itself is the only reason you need to keep going. What you have is fine. If there was more of the story, developed to a sustainable, suitable proportion, I'd have little problem finishing it in one sitting. Keep writing.

For more extensive critique, feel free to visit /fic/ itself, where reviewers much better than I roam. The Training Grounds is a good place to get started.

1384230

Thanks for the thoughts!

Everything I post on the site here is an experiment of one sort or another, me trying to push myself into kinds of writing different from what I normally do. Still, raising the stakes is never a bad idea no matter what kinda story it is--I'll definitely see what I can do on that count. :twilightsmile:

Thanks again,
Mike

Casca
Group Admin

1350236
1350202

Review of Omega, by Goldenwing42

Disclaimer: Everything in the following is worded as fact when it's merely opinion. Interpret accordingly.

Initial notes: Now, this one's a biggie. The synopsis and tags give me vibes that I am wary of: it's the kind of story done, more often than not, terribly and tragically so. However, I have seen you around - you're a reviewer in your own capacity as well, Golden Vision's had a look-over your story, so I'm going to set aside my negative bias. Mind, the idea sounds very cool indeed. Perhaps I just don't want to go into this with expectations that would only be failed. If you could get rid of one of the tags, it might give me more confidence, though I know not why exactly. Count it on the side of silly irrationality.

This review is going to be done ala stream-of-consciousness, dated to give you a feel of the kind of reading I'm doing. Hint: it's terribly slow. I'll see if I can get to Chapter 5 at least; after that, I'm not sure if my schedule would let me do any more.

Also, at the time of posting: I am in an awkward position. I don't have much to say yet, but you seem revved up to do edits because GV's gone and given you his thoughts of Chapter 1. I'll continue to edit this post as I get progress done, but it'll be terribly paced, so don't wait on this thread too much.

7/8
Prologue
Aside from the fact that Ms. Seer could have spared herself all of that prologue by just teleporting away in the beginning, I'd say that was all right. Are you sure you have to keep it, though? The thing about your prologue is that is only raises one question for me: would this be better as an original story? More precisely, it makes me question the relation of this to Equestria.

Yes, all of this from only reading the prologue. I guess the thing about it is that while it's functional and certainly far from bad, it's not fantastic. Which leads to the question: how to make it fantastic?

Well, more meat would be nice. Prologues, I gather, are there to introduce a world that would not be as well-established if it were in the regular narration, or if it does not relate to the story proper but is worth mentioning. Terry Prachett's prologues consist of Discworld introduction - the whole four elephants on a giant turtle. As information it has no relation to the story, but it establishes the tone, setting, world pretty darn effectively. You go in and read it and you know you're in for a rather zany kind of world...

8/8
...and then there was no prologue. I'll just carry on then.

Chapter 1

I still fondly remembered the days of my venturesome foalhood.

Remove "fondly"; tell when the rest of the paragraph shows the same thing. Also lightens up your sentence a bit, as a lot of these are loaded with a few to several adjectives per line.

“I better go tell them before they kill eachother over who’s to blame.”

It'd be slack standards if I didn't point this out. Missing space

that it was gonna fall of no matter what

fall off

A heavy and imposing stallion

Run out of adjectives, have we? Use different ones, the repetition is jarring

hallway

Describe it a little more for me. Maybe something as simple as describing what the floor looks like, to give it a stronger position in the story. Reason being that I had trouble imagining this, and it took me a bit of time to figure out outside -> club-ish room -> door -> hallway -> apartment.

she sang as if finding small pieces

Extra space

You can only imagine what –“

Quote marks going the wrong way

A/N

Burn it with fire. No exceptions. Leave none alive.

So, end of chapter notes:
Interesting characters, well-written, very nicely envisioned world. A bit slow to start, but this has the shape of something immensely enjoyable.

The biggest problem is that the first half of your chapter, while vital to character introduction, doesn't let on to this. You'd be losing short-sighted readers all too easily, and they're what makes up the bulk of Fimfic's populace. Let me put it another way: why is your opening hook less interesting than what I can grasp of your story?

Having a scene like your prologue, but much, much shorter, and Dissero-centric, might solve that. Perhaps moving the part where Dissero gives in to the beginning - a kind of flash forward then back move? So it'd be "surrounded -> gives in -> routine etc.".


The appeal for me is that your world feels like Final Fantasy XII - commodity-trading city empowered by technology and colourful characters, a very sweet balance between modern-ish efficiency, and grandiose sprawl. This is a bit at odds with the prologue, which is more non-technological - forest scene, griffons and mage fighting - but we'll just have to see. That's not an issue any more, though, and between you and me, I've seen enough of nighttime forest scenes. And hey - if you're going to do a forest scene, try to let it come to life at least. Mix realistic details (e.g. do you realize how humid some of those get? and the bugs, everywhere) with fantasy (e.g. where the forest floor is tens of miles below, and walkways consist of huge, intertwined branches of the giant trees that make it) to create, as you have with Manehatten, something fun to read about and envision.

Characters. Well, they're archetypes, so they're functional, and easy to identify with. You've got the rivals, the foreign cook, the buddies, and Masque, who is a little too brightly coloured for a character that feels like a one-note appearance. I don't mind Dissero's simple suaveness - it gives the rest of the cast and world more of the spotlight, I feel - but there might be a risk of him being nothing more than a vessel for exposition and POV, seeing as he hasn't really done much of significance in the whole of that first chapter, aside from making a choice he was more or less forced to make. I trust that you've got your plans to enrich him, though, and I was willing to put up with Kyon's somewhat overly-intellectualized POV in the Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya novels, so hey.

But, yes - you've given me enough confidence to believe that this will turn out well. If you could find a way to introduce them without the routine feeling of your first couple of scenes, that'd be better still. I'd say your Chapter 1 is pretty decent, but what lifts it to good is the glimpse you've given me of your larger picture.

1524812
Ah, thank yew.
It's okay if you don't get through the whole thing. I imagine when you started this special event you didn't have hundred-thou and above epics in mind.

I think my worst chapters are actually 2-4, and 1 is lacking in hook. So as long as you get the beginning (1-5) I'd actually be rather satisfied. c:

You don't have to do the line-by-line proofreading either, if you don't want. Really I just want feedback on the story itself.

And yeah, I took out the prologue. Basically every review I've gotten since adding it (it was added in along with the 2nd Edition rewrite) has mentioned that it does it's job poorly, and most of them don't even know that nothing that happens in there is referenced to or shows up for twenty chapters, and even then the events within it have no significance for far longer. So yeah, that was a bust. I'm thinking for the 3rd Edition (which I am indeed intending to do) I'll cut out the beginning of the first chapter, so the action starts earlier. Possibly change Dissero's character a bit for more interest.

Anywho, thanks again! Guess I'll look over here again later.

  • Viewing 1 - 50 of 35