Posted Aug 21 2012 - 12:42 AM
Hey there Toa Kayn,I've been asked to review what you have so far as an intern for the Epic Critics' Club, so I hope you're ready for some constructive feedback. Without further ado, let's dive in, shall we? I don't know if you've seen my reviews in the past, but I like to focus on prose/orthography in one section, and then plot/setting/content in the other, and I don't see much reason to break that format now. So, starting off with the actual writing - the prose, spelling, and grammar. Generally speaking, I don't see an abundance of direct spelling or grammatical errors - but there are some. A few that jumped out at me:
You'll notice these are issues a spellchecker probably won't catch - they're useful, but you've got to sit down and re-read it yourself.I also noticed that in chapter 2 you followed dialogue within a sentence with a capital letter:
- "It didn't look to good." Nor does it look too good to use 'to' where it should be 'too'.
- I'm not sure what "Kayns vision" is, but "Kayn's vision" is 'the vision that Kayn has'.
- "Forgery" is the act of faking something - "forge" is a blacksmith's workplace.
When using quotations, you shouldn't capitalize the following word unless it's a proper noun or the start of a separate sentence. To put things a little more concretely:
"What the Nui did I just see?" He whispered to himself.
"What the Nui did I just see?" he whispered to himself.
See the difference? The former uses the quoted section as part of the action of whispering, while the latter has a completely separate clause following the quote. That said, that second example isn't quite perfect, and it lets me lead into my next point: you need to work on separating your ideas a bit better. Let's look at the start of chapter 2:
"What the Nui did I just see?" He had no answer.
Try reading it like this; all I'll be doing is adding some line breaks and fixing the orthography issues I mentioned above.
Kayns vision returned to normal and he started breathing heavily. "What the Nui did I just see?" He whispered to himself. His stubby Matoran hands put the strange rusted mask back down on the table. "I must let Turaga Kongu know about this right away." Kayn threw the mask into his backpack and rushed out of his hut. Running through the refugee camp, he saw his friend Pakare working on a new blade at his forgery. "Have you finished the sword that I requested?" Kayn shouted over to Pakare. "Of course! It is as sharp as a Kikinalo horn!"
See how this better divides the action? The first paragraph focuses on Kayn's actions in the hut, the second focuses on him moving through the village, the third has him talking to Pakare, and fourth is Pakare's response. This sort of division can make it easier for the reader to follow along with the action. Really important here is separating Kayn and Pakare's dialogue: it's a general rule of thumb when it comes to writing dialogue that you should avoid having two characters directly speak in the same paragraph. Otherwise, it can quickly become difficult to determine who's saying what. On the subject of writing dialogue, I'd like to raise an objection to your conversation between Kayn and Kongu. Listing off snatches of dialogue with no description or explanation can work if it's used very sparingly (say, at the climax of an argument between two characters), but for longer conversations it leaves the reader floating with no real image of what's going on. We can figure out who's saying what by context, but we don't get any image of the characters - for all we know they're just standing there blankly talking in monotones. This problem is exacerbated by the fact you don't do any sort of setting for the characters - where are they? At Kongu's hut? In the town square? For that matter, what does Turaga Kongu look like? For that matter, what does Kayn look like? All we know is that he has a gray Hau. When you're setting up characters, it helps to give them a proportional amount of description based on their importance - if Turaga Kongu is never going to show up again, you can limit it to introducing him as "the hobbled, forest-green Turaga" or something like that, but for someone like Kayn it helps to paint a slightly more vivid picture.That said, don't use description as an exact substitute for names: in the first chapter, you refer to one Toa exclusively as "the Toa with the Kakama". It's perfectly fine to gloss over a bit character's name, but only referring to him like that makes it seem like his name is actually "the Toa with the Kakama". Pretty silly idea, huh? Just change it up a little bit from time to time if the character isn't named - here it could be as simple as dropping the "with the Kakama" from time to time. On a related note, your use of "Ruru" with quotes in the first chapter is a little strange - your referring to the Goldic as 'The "Ruru"' makes it seem like you're referring to just the mask, and not the Goldic wearing the mask.Now, let's zoom in a bit on single sentences and not whole paragraphs or stories. Remember how we could divide paragraphs to better discriminate the action? Let's step back up to the first chapter and do it with this single sentence.
Kayn's vision returned to normal and he started breathing heavily. "What the Nui did I just see?" he whispered to himself. His stubby Matoran hands put the strange rusted mask back down on the table. "I must let Turaga Kongu know about this right away."Kayn threw the mask into his backpack and rushed out of his hut. Running through the refugee camp, he saw his friend Pakare working on a new blade at his forgery. "Have you finished the sword that I requested?" Kayn shouted over to Pakare."Of course! It is as sharp as a Kikinalo horn!"
Now consider it like this:
Swiftly, Kayn stepped to the side, but something was wrong this time...this time he felt the sharp pain of a blade that had pierced his gunmetal chest plating.
Again, this lets us keep the action better separated and makes the sentence flow more naturally. That semicolon could also be a dash, or even a period - but it couldn't be a comma. Commas are used for 'brief' pauses in sentences; in other words, they generally divide one larger action or clause. In the example above, we're emphasizing first Kayn's action and premonition, and then the action of the blade being driven into him. (As an aside, I'm not 100% sure on the use of "a blade that had pierced" here - "a blade piercing" would make the action feel more immediate and closer time-wise to the action of his attempted dodge. Using "that had" here makes it feel like the blade piercing his armor was something that happened a while ago.)The comma thing a pretty common issue I noticed, I'm sorry to say - for another example, consider this:
Swiftly, Kayn stepped to the side, but something was wrong this time; this time he felt the sharp pain of a blade that had pierced his gunmetal chest plating.
Now consider this revision, which also has some minor grammatical errors fixed.
This was taking longer than Kayn thought, the "Ruru" was crawling towards the cliff that meets the vast ocean and with Kayn at a limping state, they would already be near the edge before Kayn caught up with him.
On a more positive note (because I realize I've been pretty sharp up above), when you do hit a scene you're interested in, your prose picks up - Kayn's death in the vision was wholly unpleasant, as it should be. I won't say just play to that strength, because you can't write a story on severed arms, but it is good to see you bare your writing fangs a little bit.Now, let's move onto plot, setting, and content. Unfortunately, your story was sort of jarring and confusing at times, particularly the opening chapter. I realize that this is a vision Kayn is seeing, so it makes sense to be somewhat disconnected, but I'm afraid it still suffers from somewhat lacking exposition. For starters, what in the world is a Goldic? They seem to wear masks, and in chapter 2 you make mention of them as something Pakare is going to join, so it seems to be some kind of Matoran or Toa organization, but you don't make much of any indication of that in the fight scene. What's more, the setting is a little incongruent with what we've come to expect from Bionicle. True, there are projectile weapons and things like that, but I can't recall there ever being revolvers that shoot actual bullets. On a similar note, I'm pretty sure it's been confirmed Toa/Matoran don't have blood. Granted, this is a fanfic, so the setting can (and some would argue, should) be flexible, but it's still jarring to start dropping terminology that you'd expect in a real-world novel. Pacing-wise, you've also got some issues, particularly in the second chapter. In about 500 words, you have Kayn running back and forth across the village, talking with two people, and running into some Rahi/Toa thing before finding Pakare already gone. A lot of this action is happening too fast, without proper explanation - for instance, Kongu is very quick to conclude the mask is showing the future, and Pakare sure makes tracks to leave the village quick, especially given he made no mention of it to Kayn earlier. The aforementioned Rahi/Toa thing also is around for about a sentence of evil cackling before making tracks - a little more focus on it would help establish it as something important.Also, here's the elephant in the room, in my opinion: Your handling of the Vahi here. Kayn says he just 'found it' while he was out hunting - how did he find it? Where was it? You've made it essentially so he starts the story with it in his inventory, if you will, and that's really unsatisfying to the reader. After that, Kongu seems fairly unconcerned about the mask - the Vahi's the Mask of Time, you'd expect it to get a bit more of a rise out of him. Not to mention that he seems pretty content with letting Kayn run around with a legendary mask - you'd expect he'd want it somewhere a bit safer. We don't know enough about the setting to say if he's got anyone else to turn to - for all we know, he's the last Turaga - but still, you'd think he'd treat this as a slightly bigger deal. In short, the Vahi doesn't have the presence you'd expect, even though it seems to be key to the story.I will say, it's good that you've set up a future event through the Vahi - that gives you a solid endpoint to work towards and hopefully means you've got a good idea of where things are going to go. And if you don't, you can always stop and ask yourself, "am I still on track to hit that future scene, or at least some alternate situation brought about by my characters' actions?" Time travel's nice that way. Basically, overall what I'm saying here is - give things a little more room to breathe. You seem so eager to get to the plot that you're tripping over your story like Kayn over that rock. When you're writing a longer story, especially one that's taking place in an unfamiliar setting for your readers, you've got to slow down a little and set things up so the reader can follow along. Otherwise, you run the risk of the reader getting lost and having to fill in too many of the blanks themselves. Of course, I'm not asking you to describe every last detail - that would just wind up being a very boring way of describing a photograph - but you need to give a little more substance to what's going on. I realize this is a lot, but as I always say - I critique because I care. Don't get discouraged! A lot of these issues are ones that will improve over time as you write more and start to get a better sense of how to write narratively. One good way to help avoid the mechanical errors above is to just crack out a favorite novel - style varies from author to author, but you should be able to see some of the things I've outlined. I've always been of the opinion a good reader has a head start on being a good writer, you see. I also realize it can be a little discouraging to not get feedback from readers - and unfortunately, there's no easy fix for that. All I can suggest is keeping it up - the more you write, the more likely people are to take notice.Oh, and bug your friends to read it - you can usually wring out at least a few reviews from that.
This was taking longer than Kayn thought it would - the "Ruru" was crawling towards the cliff that met the vast ocean. With Kayn in a limping state, they would already be near the edge by the time Kayn caught up with him.
Edited by GSR, Aug 21 2012 - 12:43 AM.