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Review For Cry Of The Broken

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#1 Offline Toa of Dancing

Toa of Dancing
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Posted Oct 14 2011 - 05:13 PM

I must warn everyone before they read this, this story is most definitely going to be PG-13 worthy. Use your own discretion. The idea for this epic is that an entire species/race of beings, the Toa, have been taken captive by the rest of the universe and are used for sport. They are set free on a course that has no escape other than the very end, which is almost impossible to reach. A highly vicious, large species of Rahi are set loose after the runners begin trying to get away. These, along with warriors of many different species, track down the runners and kill them, or they find evidence that proves the runners fell or burned or drowned or died in some way. Cry of the Broken

Edited by Toa of Dancing, Oct 14 2011 - 05:49 PM.

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#2 Offline GSR

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Posted Oct 06 2012 - 03:04 PM

Hey there, Toa of Dancing! I've been asked to review this fic as part of the Epic Critics Club's charity initiative. So I hope you're ready for some completely out-of-left field critique! As is my usual disclaimer, I'll be covering prose and the like first, and plot and content second, opting for specific examples rather than obsessive quoting of every minor issue I find, because that'd drive us both nuts.Let's take a look at the prose then first. The biggest thing I want to hit is the fact that the overall feeling I got from your prose was that it felt kind of clinical, for lack of a better term. Your descriptions and writing style tend to be sort of overly precise and orderly - to give an example, here's a passage from the Toa's attempted escape in chapter 1:

The slash left a long gash up the messenger’s cheek. But before the toa could finish her off, the skakdi was able to stick a dagger in her other arm. The toa fell to the ground seemingly in pain, but actually did it so she could catch him off guard and sweep out his feet. His neck was then crushed by being slammed between her feet.

Three issues here: you're presenting the action very directly and orderly, you're being a bit overexplanatory, and you're writing in a very detached style. For the first issue, note how while reading this the reader is told exactly how the battle went, in small, organized pieces. The messenger was slashed. But then the Skakdi stabbed the Toa. Then the Toa fell to the ground. Then she crushed his neck. When you want something to seem chaotic, it's helpful to try and connect your sentences and avoid using too many 'pausing' phrases that draw away from the action, such as (leading into the second issue here) "but actually did it so". That sort of clinically explains the Toa's strategy as if it were in a textbook, rather than letting it appear naturally as part of the action. That third issue mostly manifests in the final sentence: you've used the passive voice, which detaches the reader from the action (Y was X'd by Z, not Z X'd Y), and by phrasing it as "His neck was then crushed" it's given a very orderly feel to it. To put a poetic spin on it, it's like reading a recipe list - Slash the messenger, and when stabbed, fall to the ground in pain. Then have his neck crushed by your feet.I've also noticed you've got a tendency to repeat yourself a bit, both directly and indirectly. For the former, consider this passage:

“Then, leading the second division is the highly esteemed General Diru, veteran of a hundred Hunts and a thousand wars!” The cheers came yet again.“Leading division three is the powerful General Vryshkahn, known for his brutal strength in battle.” More cheers.“The fifth division is lead by none other than Lieutenant General Arwex, also known as the Rising Phoenix for his quick ascent through our ranks.” By now the cheers were starting to lessen, but they still greatly permeated the air.“The leader of division five is the agile Sergeant Nashia, a prime example of a female warrior.” The cheers seemed to carry more of a feminine taint to them.

While it's understandable you want to show the crowd's reactions, directly stating that they cheered after each announcement gets really repetitive really fast, and also has the effect that when proclamations are made without the notice of cheering, we can only assume there are no cheers. This might be intentional, but even still it's often more effective to group the action together; perhaps as something like "Each proclamation was met with a rousing cheer from the crowd that shifted with the champion - Arwex's support was paltry compared to Diru's, and there were more than a few female voices mixed in with those cheering Naisha". That's just an example, but it hopefully you see what I mean about avoiding the redundancy of adding the note on cheers to every line.For a more indirect example of repetition, consider these lines:

This being is tyrannical, far beyond hope. General Diru is far too evil. Just looking in his eyes I see a love for the suffering of others.

General Diru is an evil man, we understand, but there's no need to hit us with three different ways of saying it in such quick succession. This also wraps into a common pitfall, the issue of "showing, not telling" - here, I think you probably could've used the statement about his love for the suffering of others to get across the idea that this man is a true villain without explicitly telling us he's evil.To zoom out a level here, I also have to question the switches between what seems to be limited third-person POV (prologue/chapter 1), first-person POV (chapter 2), and non-limited third-person POV (chapter 3), which is a term I just made up but feels appropriate. Granted, there's only a few chapters here, so it's a bit hard to tell if there's going to be a pattern, but it can be a little disorientating to the reader to be told the story in a variety of ways so quickly. Ultimately this is a stylistic choice, of course - just be mindful of how it comes off.(Oh, and this is worth mentioning: you seem to have repeated the final paragraph of the prologue by accident. Always helps to give a once-over before you post to avoid such issues. Also, I'm not sure why the last sentences are always in small font, if that's intentional or not.)Anyways, despite what I've been saying above, there is an upside to your writing style, and that's that the reader doesn't get lost. It's all too often I come across stories here where it's not clear what character's doing what action during a fight or chaotic scene, and you've avoided jumping around with flashbacks or the like, which can easily get out of hand. I also noticed you've got a good handle on integrating description into the story without letting it stop the action; the passage that springs to mind is the group bandaging themselves up before the hunt's start, where you worked in a quick physical description for each while moving the preparations forward.Now, onto plot and characters. While it's clear from the get-go that this is some sort of AU, you've taken the important steps of establishing just how it differs from canon quickly and without too much fuss. It's always a little irritating when a story can't seem to get across whether or not it's trying to stick to canon or not, but here you set it up pretty clearly that this is a plot quite distinct from canon but taking place in the traditional Bionicle setting. As for the plot itself, it's only been a few chapters, so unfortunately there's not too much material for me to work wtih here. Indeed, at this early stage it's hard to even say if this'll be a small-scale (perhaps the story just of this one hunt) or large-scale (the hunted attempt a rebellion of some sort, perhaps) story, but for beginnings you've got a decent enough framework going. You have a group of characters to start working with, a tinderbox of a situation, and some villains waiting in the wings. If I did have one suggestion to make at this early stage, it's that your pacing can be a little bit jumpy - consider the bit in chapter 1 where the Toa bursts into the room where Nashia is. Until that moment, you'd been focusing on Nashia's thoughts and her taking a message to the king - and while I realize that's not a tremendously thrilling chapter, having someone randomly burst into the room and start a big fight is jarring, especially when there's no lead-up to it. It might have worked a little better had you included a few lines about Nashia noticing some unusual activity in another part of the castle on her way in or something like that.So, onto aforementioned characters and villains. Unfortunately, thus far the character seem fairly black-and-white, and while that's not always a bad thing, if you overdo it the characters just wind up dull. Consider Nashia: while she's working for the villains, her appreciation of art and beauty, along with her abruptly-mentioned-in-the-narration doubts about her bosses and the Toa's guilt, make it seem quite likely from the get-go she's going to be one of the 'good guys'. (Not to mention Tullë outright thinking that she's "not evil".) Contrast that with the guards, the king, or General Diru, who are presented as pretty pitch-black from the get-go. Again, part of this is that things are early days and the characters haven't had much room to breathe, but so far none of them has really grabbed me yet. This challenge I think is exacerbated by the fact you're following a fairly large group of Toa into the hunt, thus dividing the time the narrative has for each of them. So to wrap things up - well, to be frank, this is a charity review and at the time I'm posting this you haven't signed on BZP for a few weeks, so I'm not sure when you'll see this. Couple that with the fact that this fic hasn't been updated in nearly a year, and you'll excuse me if I conclude you're not that interested in working on this fic anymore. :P But even still, when you do read this, I hope some of the advice I gave above can come in handy with your future writings, whatever they may be. There are some issues, true, but you do have a decent foundation for a story and a world here, and that's key to any work. The best of luck in your future literary endeavors!

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