Edited by Lord Koji, Jan 15 2012 - 11:25 AM.
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Legacy Of Power: Review
Posted Oct 14 2011 - 08:36 AM
Posted Sep 03 2012 - 11:41 AM
Posted Oct 22 2012 - 01:06 AM
ECC Charity Review of The Dystopian IslandLord Koji,This is a really mixed bag you've given me. On the one hand, I've heard this plotline a hundred times before; an island under siege in stages by an evil villainess who controls mindless minions, and a group of heroes who all have tragic backstories. For that, and for the style it's written in, I feel inclined to dislike the epic. But at the same time, you have scattered moments where I can see you could be so much better. And for that, I'm inclined to write a very long review trying to cover as many subjects and moments as possible, so you can live up to that potential.Just as a side note, I really like that you put in links wherever there was something that had been explained in the chapter on the old forums. Good thinking.So, if you're ready, let the long review commence! (Seriously, it's so long, I couldn't use bbc code for quotes)From chapter 9Dai rested the tip of his sword at the back of the figure’s neck, “If you encounter the Toa of Earth, Agri, you had better not touch him.He’s mine.” Dai hissed, “He’s my student.”This is an incorrect paragraph break, a frequent problem within your writing, but since all your other paragraphs are spaced by a clear line, I think this may just be a typo.From chapter 9“You have your free will, do you not?” She questioned.“I am not bound to your Kanohi Zeyat.” He confirmed.“Just wondering.” Bandiaca said, “Fine; go.” When a character is speaking and you end the quotation marks, that doesn't mean the sentence is over. So this section should read -“You have your free will, do you not?” she questioned.“I am not bound to your Kanohi Zeyat," he confirmed.“Just wondering,” Bandiaca said. “Fine; go."Notice that where you had periods in the dialogue, I have changed them to commas and switched some commas to periods. The question mark, however, stays because it is the only way to denote a question.From chapter 9 The figure rose, “I will bring you the Toa of Fire’s head.” He said, lifting his heavily modified arms. Both of them ended in mechanical ends from the elbow up. They were blocky and clearly mechanical, with various blades emerging. The bottom of the left arm had a blade, while the right had a dagger. There was a curved blade coming out of the outer side on each, as well as a normal blade next to it. He had small mechanical fingers for manipulating objects and the like, but they were mostly covered by the mechanical bulkiness of his weapon arms.He had two black wings on each leg, pointed down. He had a flat, black chest that appeared to have a shine to it, as well as a black Kanohi or helmet ended in teeth or fangs. This is an excessively wordy and redundant description, has the incorrect punctuation in dialogue as aforementioned and it's also an incorrect paragraph break. One way to rewrite it would be -The figure rose. “I will bring you the Toa of Fire’s head,” he said, lifting his heavily modified arms. Both of them appeared to be mechanical from the elbow up. There was a curved blade coming out of the outer side on each, as well as a straight blade next to it. He had opposable fingers for manipulating objects and the like, but they were mostly camouflaged by the bulkiness of his weapons. On his legs, black wings curved downwards. He had a flat, black chestplate, and a black Kanohi - or helmet - that ended in large fangs.From chapter 9 “No; mine.” The black figure said, “The black one is a better swordsman, as far as Dai could tell. Fight him. You don’t even have to fight them; I only need you to stop the others if they come. If. I just need to eliminate the Toa of Fire.” Again, the incorrect dialogue punctuation. Also, this seems like an odd strategy. Kill just the leader and all of a sudden, the other Toa are completely helpless?From chapter 9 “Did I?” Hoji questioned, spinning around. He crumpled to a single knee from the wound across his chest. Hyak turned, laughing at him. The description is very confusing in this part - I had to read it twice before I figured out what you meant. You could say it several different ways: "He fell to one knee in pain", "The pain of his chest wound made him fall to one knee", "The chest wound he had received was too painful to keep standing - he fell to one knee"... Well, you get the idea. The point is, just because a word sounds sophisticated doesn't make it a good fit for the sentence. I always recommend saying your dialogue out loud, to see if it feels natural, but you might want to do that for some of your descriptions, too.From chapter 9 He blocked the blade with the folded blade of his weapon, twisted his firearm, and opened fire on Hyak’s chest, causing him to stumble back from all of the continuous blows. Most writers lean towards either wordiness or extreme brevity - you and I are in the former group. Try to cut your sentences down to what they need to say, then add in a little flourish. For example, "all of" is not necessary in the sentence; it flows better to just say "... Causing him to stumble back from the continuous blows".From chapter 9 They looked each other in the eyes. Hoji pushed on his weapon, sending Hyak a few steps back. He span around, delivering a spinning kick to Hyak’s chest.- emphasis addedThis is a recurring problem. Almost everywhere that you mean to put "spun", you have the word "span".From chapter 9 “Making me fight this way.” Hoji said, bringing the blade out again. He ran forward and ducked the two swings of Hyak’s weapons. He plunged the tip of his weapon into Hyak’s chest, applying all of the force and power he could into it.He shouted, shoving even harder. Hyak started to lose his footing as he was pushed back from the overwhelming force being applied. First, this should all be one paragraph. And since that is also a recurring problem, let's stop for a second to talk about it. Generally, a paragraph should be four to six sentences long. The reason those sentences are grouped together is because they all have a common theme or idea. These two paragraphs are both about the same fight; in fact, they are almost about the same moment in that fight. Therefore, they belong together.From chapter 9 Hoji ignored him and continued talking, “You aren’t the man you used to be." .This is another recurring point. You refer to characters as "men" and "women" at many points in your story. Since this is not a canon epic, you can make your own call about this, but as they are biomechanical creatures, not humans, the words "man", "woman", "child", etc. are all meaningless to BIONICLES.From chapter 9 Hyak said nothing, made no sounds. As his body slammed into the sloping wall, all Hoji heard was a crunch sound as his body was smashed. Hoji released his semi-sentient weapon and let it go. He ran towards Hyak’s falling remains, watching as rocks came down as well, burying them. Corrected -Hyak made no sound as his body slammed into the sloping wall. All that Hoji heard was a solid "crunch" as his former friend's body was smashed into shards. Half in shock, the Toa of Fire released his semi-sentient weapon. He ran towards Hyak’s falling remains, watching as rocks came down, burying him under a pile of debris.From chapter 9 But sitting almost atop the wreckage was something in an odd whitish color. He crouched down and picked it up, pulling it free.It was elongated, almost like the hilt of a sword. That was the way Hoji saw it. He held it as such, feeling odd carvings on the body of it. Corrected -But sitting almost atop the wreckage was a strange, whitish object. He crouched down amid the rubble and pulled it free. It was elongated, almost like the hilt of a sword. He held it as such, feeling odd carvings on the body of it.From chapter 10 A grim smile came to her face, “I have a plan.” The description/narration is awkward here. A smile can't come anywhere; it has no free will or life. I think what you mean is that a smile crept over her face.From Chapter 10 As he was walking among the trees, collecting leaves, turning them all over, looking for the best looking ones – even though nobody actually could see any details on the leaves, or anything – for the sake of his vanity, for the sake of his personality and desire to keep a good appearance, he heard something. He span around, watching as something dark came through the trees. This is one of the longest run-on sentences in the entire epic. The sentences breaks are a good idea, but not well executed. Try to find the end of a thought and let the sentence stop there.Corrected - As he was walking among the trees, collecting leaves, turning them over, looking for the best ones – even though nobody actually could see any details on the leaves, his vanity demanded such attention to the little things – he heard something. He spun around, watching as something dark came through the trees.From chapter 10 The thing didn’t speak. It was a machine, that was obvious.A floating black machine. It had a clawed bottom that helped it to float somehow. It had a winged section over its chest, while similar wings were on the claws on its back. It had a thin waist with a wide chest at the top, and had large armored portions on its arms.It had fairly thick arms, with segments shooting down like tubes on each arm, but only one per arm. Instead of hands, it had large shield-like portions that could have also been blades. For a head it had a large black section with more wings coming off of the back, and two crimson eyes that came off like separate offshoots.“So, you don’t talk.” Magis said, lifting his weapon. He leapt forward, kicked off of a tree, and leapt at the machine from the side, swinging his weapon in. The sentence "A floating black machine" is incomplete - every sentence must have both a subject (a noun) and an action (a verb). A floating black machine.... What? Now, I do want to point out that using an incomplete sentence is sometimes okay or even necessary in dialogue, because that's how people speak. But it should never occur in narration.Also, the first three sections should be all one paragraph, and it has the overly-wordy descriptions we discussed above.From chapter 10 He could feel things going off inside of his new body, and things like that, but couldn’t figure out what any of it meant. He couldn’t tell if any of it had to do with the mind swapping, or if they were just normal things in his new body that were needed. There are a few phrases that should never be used in third person narration. And one of them is "stuff like that". This is an abstract, slang saying that tells the reader nothing. One of the possible ways to rewrite this is -He could feel things shifting and turning on and off inside of his new body, but he couldn’t figure out what any of it meant. He didn't know if any of it had to do with the mind swap, or if these were just the normal things that his new form did.From chapter 11 “What is this warrior?” Cesare questioned.“Not a warrior, per say.” Bandiaca replied, “A beast.”“Beast?”“A beast, yes.” She replied.He gave a small smile, “I fought a beastly warrior once, on Recla Nui.” He said, “Is that what you’re referring to? A beast warrior? Or an actual beast?”“An actual beast.” She replied. This is a prime example of awkward character interaction, which seems to happen with some frequency. Bandiaca has clearly stated that she will give Cesare a beast to work with, but he questions the meaning of her obvious statement for two more sentences. If someone told you you were getting a beast to work with, you wouldn't try to super-clarify everything. Think of how you interact with people face to face when writing dialogue. Use phrases or slang that your friends say (tweaked for BIO, of course). Consider each character's motive and thought process as you read the conversation. All of a sudden, you'll find yourself thinking, "Oh, well of course she'll say this" or "pretty obvious what he's going to do". If you can make your characters real people in your head, then your readers will believe they are real, too.From chapter 11 Hoji span around with a shout. From atop the temple came a beast. A black hound-like being. First, once again, it should be spun, not span. I'm starting to think that might be a problem with your auto-correct, since I haven't found any other obvious misspellings.Second, the two last sentences are really one sentence. The only reason for a dramatic pause is when a character is describing something. Third person narration should be elegant and flowing, not jerky and disorienting. Always try to create a description that sounds like it flows.From chapter 15 He didn’t look opposing, but he was one of the most dangerous of Bandiaca’s warriors. One of the very few misspellings or typos; I think you mean to say "he didn't look very imposing".From chapter 15 “I can try.” Hoji hissed, swaying to his feet despite the pain, “I am the leader of the Toa Cyril! I am supposed to lead us to your defeat! I will see to it that you lose!” Corrected -"I can try,” Hoji hissed, getting to his feet despite the pain. “I am the leader of the Toa Cyril! I am destined to lead us to victory! I will see to it that you lose!”Since most of the above are repeating problems, I'm not going to showcase every instance of their occurrence. Just be aware that these problems exist and will be fairly easy to spot once you know what you're looking for. In figuring out ways to fix them, you'll be forcing yourself to a higher level of writing.For the rest of the review, I want to focus on the plot and the characters. I've taken a few excerpts that best showcase the highlights and low points of your story.From chapter 9 “For what purpose?” ‘'Forte'’ demanded. Okay, I have to ask - why is Forte's name French and always in quotation marks? Again, it feels very much like a graphic novel to me.From chapter 9 “I know.” Hyak replied, “But our friendship is in the way.”“Of what?”“My gaining power.” He said, “I’m a Kabarn. A greedy man who wants treasures. You stand in the way of my greed. I desire your head!”“That doesn’t make sense.” Hoji hissed.“Of course it does. I have my free will, so I can detest you for not saving me.” He looked at his arms, “They ripped my arms off for what they thought I did.” He hissed, “Fortunately, my brethren were more than capable of helping me. I became an effective treasure hunter, by the way.” Stop for just a minute and say these lines to a friend, Koji. No real person would ever say, "I'm doing this because I'm evil". If they're real friends (and they clearly were, based on earlier chapters), then Hyak's species and even getting his arms ripped off are not sufficient excuses for wanting his best friend's head on a plate. The character evolution from best friend to arch nemesis is not impossible, but it is simply not explained enough here. We, the readers, see no real reasons for Hyak to turn. Hoji is right: it doesn't make sense.From chapter 9 “I have more blades!” Hyak shouted, slamming his left arm forward, getting ready to run Hoji through. Seriously? He sounds like a four-year-old. "My dinosaur is bigger than yours!" Hyak as a character feels very undefined; he needs to be more grounded in reality, rather than whatever soap opera he stepped out of.From chapter 9 “Hyak…I’ll have no qualms about ending your life. Not anymore.” Hoji hissed. Wow, his attitude changed quickly. I suppose he's caught up in the heat of the fight, but even so, he's a Toa. Not only that, but a highly experienced Toa. I feel like he shouldn't give in to hate so easily.From chapter 10 Hoji threw his right arm forward, snapping his fingers, “The burning heart of passion! Toa Hoji!” Of all the things that make this epic read like a comic book, this is front and center. Yes, this even beat out the chant of "Cyril Buster" in chapter 11. A role call every time they get into a fight? Try have a wrestling match sometime and do a roll call while your opponent is charging at you. You'll find it's a severe handicap. A battle cry would be fine here, given by one Toa, or even a single phrase they all repeat. But the complete roll call every single time is simply too much.From chapter 11 “One of my other warriors?” Bandiaca questioned, “What for?”“I’m not going to reveal my plans.” Cesare said, “Just send someone, if you would.”“Fine.” She said, “But who? What type of warrior?”“It doesn’t matter. Someone who can afford to be killed by the Toa Cyril.” Cesare replied. Bandiaca is a real pushover, for an evil witch control freak. This strange Toa barges in the door on a private meeting and she just gives him what he demands without wanting to find out what his plan is?! She never considers the possibility that he could be a spy sent by the Toa Cyril? She doesn't even want to know his plan before wasting one of her minions on it? I'm sorry; she is becoming less and less realistic and believable.From chapter 11 “Does it honestly matter?” Magis asked. This was the first time he had actually spoken to the team since the incident with Kyuu the previous day. He had kept to himself and been in isolation for the most part since the forced body switch with the machine, when the machine, in his body, had destroyed some trees, and he had been forced to wound his own beautiful body. Okay, I understand that you want to emphasize Magis' vanity, but no Toa can afford to be so vain that they don't want to get injured for fear of damaging their beauty. They would simply never head into a fight, if such were the case. Why risk a scratch, if you're that worried about perfection? This is just a step too far in trying to showcase the Toa of Air's character flaw.From chapter 11 He slashed them across the blade one at a time. A voice rang out from his weapon, signaling each swipe. After each swipe, the object vanished, returning to light and hitting his guard, as if returning.“Lightning”“Mach”“Kick” This is one of the strangest weapons I've ever heard of. I hope it gets some more spotlight and a longer description, because currently, I am confused. At best, all I can guess is that it has voodoo-doll-like powers.From chapter 12 “I do want you to fight.” ‘Forte’ replied, “Nin, you are a fast warrior. I’m sure you can get out there and kill the Toa Cyril for us before they can react fast enough.” Forte is proven right very quickly; Nin manages to find opportunity to kill each and every Toa except Rei by sundown. Except, she chooses to spare them almost subconsciously because she did not receive her orders directly from Bandiaca. This is such a horrible case of deus ex machina. If she's such a great warrior, why wasn't she Bandiaca's first choice? If she has more people like Nin just lying around, why does she bother sending in a bunch of robots and inferior minons to take Cyril Nui? Nin's appearance and sparing of the Toa is way too convenient, and it doesn't advance the plot in any way at all, except to show that Rei is fast. Come on, Koji; you're clever enough to think of a better way to showcase that.From chapter 13 Arguably the most powerful warrior of Bandiaca’s, even over ‘Forte’ himself, who acted as Bandiaca’s bodyguard and right hand, or former right hand, now that Cesare had taken that position. Putting aside the fact that this really belongs with the previous paragraph and not on it's own, this brings up a good point. Twenty-four hours after he walks onboard her ship, when Bandiaca knows absolutely nothing about his past, his motives, or how he knows so much of her plans, Cesare is her right hand. Sorry, suspension of belief only goes so far.From chapter 13 “I’m sorry, I forgot the new terms.” He replied, “Well then, should Cesare go? I don’t like the idea of giving the Toa any breather room.” Bandiaca nodded, “Yes, you’re quite right, ‘Forte’. Cesare, I want you to go and eliminate the Toa.” Honestly, has she given any strategic thought as to how to take the island? She seems very lackadaisical about the whole thing, for someone who is dying to control Cyril-Nui. From chapter 13 Mirai nodded, “As you wish, Toa.” “Agri.” Agri said. “Mirai.” Mirai said. Why do they say their own names out of the blue?From chapter 14 “You used the word ‘might’.” Rei pointed out, “Where’s the Hoji that believes we could win any battle? Who always shows confidence in combat? Who leads us to victory?” One of the best lines so far. It has depth and realism; I can picture one of my friends saying something similar. This is how good dialogue sounds.From chapter 15 She [Eri] had told this information to Cesare when they had fought each other. What Cesare was currently doing was almost like what she had done in the past. She had done it for security; so she knew she would have an actual life, even if it was one filled with killing and savagery. Cesare was siding with and fighting for Bandiaca for the sake of getting stronger; the sake of training himself against worthy opponents, such as the Toa Cyril. He was making the same mistakes; the same sins. The simple desire to be strong is not, in my opinion, enough motive to try to kill members of your own species. Cesare needs more depth to his motivation. If he just wants to be strong, have him do pilates.From chapter 15 "This is Geki.” Bandiaca said, “He is arguably my greatest warrior." This description does not have nearly as much punch to it when you introduce a different warrior this same way in almost every chapter. There can only be one greatest; pick one and stick with it.From chapter 16 When he saw Geki transform into Gekisou, Cesare realized that Geki was lost. Surely Bandiaca would realize her control had been defeated, somehow, by using her powers on him. Surely that when her control went out to him now, she would feel her influence was very weak, if existent at all, on him.She never showed realization of anything. As plot twists go, this is a decent mystery. You have given us enough information to make us wonder why Bandiaca doesn't seem to realize that her control is weakening, but not enough information to be sure of our guesses. Good job on this.From chapter 18 He ran from the shore. He had to locate the Toa Cyril, explain the situation to them, and warn them that Bandiaca would likely send a more powerful attack soon. He had changed; he had made up his mind, thanks to help from Eri and her words. He was going to join the Toa Cyril, if they would have him. If I were one of the Toa Cyril, that would be a very big "if". Also, just as his motive for trying to kill the Toa was weak and two-dimensional, Cesare's first reaction to a changed heart is irrational. Why in Mata Nui's name would he go to the guys he just tried to kill? These Toa are much more lax about the "no killing" part of the Toa code, and he knows that.From chapter 18 Cesare held his hands up, “You don’t understand! I’m being hunted! Bandiaca is after me, and I’m here to join you Toa!” Magis slashed his weapon, sending a blast of Air to throw Cesare to the ground. He landed next to the downed Toa of Ice, holding his scythe to Cesare’s throat, “Likely story. But you are wounded; I give you points for trying.” Yes! This is an instance of a reasonable reaction - not trusting the guy who tried to kill you and your best friends last week!From chapter 18 “Five Toa destined to rid this island of the accursed witch. We are the Toa Cyril.” He said, but then shook his head, “No. Now, we are six Toa now one, determined to destroy the evils plaguing this island. We are the Toa Cyril!” Cesare nodded and bumped fists with Hoji; now a member of the Toa Cyril. The dialogue is not natural-sounding, but I like the fact that you brought out the good, old-fashioned "six is a complete team" idea.From chapter 20 As the forces of Bandiaca raged unchecked through the streets of Cyril Nui, the Toa Cyril were getting to work. They gathered their weaponry, mounted on their Anverius X3 vehicles – with Cesare riding with Eri – and headed off into the battle. The huge battle scene right at the end is overused and again, gives the story a comic book feel.From chapter 20 ‘Forte’’s body drifted in the ocean, damaged, unconscious. The body disappeared beneath the waves, with bubbles rising around his body as it was sucked down into the depths. And right at the end is what I consider the best description you give throughout the whole 20 chapters! The sentences have flow and purpose; they are concise, but elegant. Taking out "with" is the only thing I recommend on this paragrah.In summation, this story would by much better told in a comic book (or possibly an anime). The plot is mostly predictable, the characters are very two-dimensional, and the narration is wordy. In the bright side, you do have some moments that show you could do much better, and your spelling is almost impeccable. Keep working to improve on your weaknesses and shore up your strengths.-HH
Edited by Hahli Historian, Oct 22 2012 - 01:14 AM.
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