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Review: The Ghost King's Tragedy

Review The Shika Trilogy Dimension Hoppers

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#1 Offline TNTOS

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Posted Aug 01 2012 - 08:51 AM

Hello and welcome to the review topic of my most recent short epic, The Ghost King's Tragedy, which you can read here.The epic, once I have finished posting it, will be ten chapters long. I will post one chapter a week every Wednesday, so make sure to check back every Wednesday for the next chapter in this story.Character bios:Name: The Ghost KingSpecies: UnknownGender: MalePersonality: Paranoid and fearful, to the point of insanity. Extremely distrustful of strangersWeapon: SwordPowers: The true extent of his powers are unknown, although it is known that he can control sound, read minds, and become immaterialName: AkunaSpecies: ToaGender: FemalePersonality: Practical and to the point, though can be stubborn and recklessWeapon: Dagger-tipped staffPowers: Can control lightning (is a Toa of Lightning)Mask Power: Kanohi Ruru, Mask of Night VisionFirst appearance: The Tales of Shika Nui (epic)Name: KiriahSpecies: ToaGender: FemalePersonality: Fairly absentminded and a bit slow-witted, but is loyal to her friends and sticks to her job no matter whatWeapon: Crescent bladePowers: Has psionic powers (is a Toa of Psionics)Mask Power: Mask of HealingFirst appearance: Dimension Hoppers (epic)Name: Oggakia (known as Oggak)Species: ToaGender: FemalePersonality: Intelligent and thoughtful, but can be cold towards others and doesn't always work well with othersWeapon: SwordPowers: Can control shadow (is a Toa of Shadow)Mask Power: Mask of DreamsFirst appearance: An Unlikely Alliance (epic)Name: AhovaSpecies: ToaGender: FemalePersonality: Cheerful and honest, although talks too much and sometimes fails to take the situation seriously enoughWeapon: Magnetic gauntletsPowers: Can control magnetism (is a Toa of Magnetism)Mask Power: Kanohi Kakama, Mask of SpeedFirst appearance: Dimension Hoppes: The Other TaleName: The Master of MistSpecies: N/AGender: MalePersonality: Mysterious and engimatic and short tempered with less intelligent beings. Highly intelligentWeapon: N/APowers: Can control mist, although the fullest extent of his powers is unknownMask Power: N/ACritcisms, comments, questions, etc. are all welcome :) .-TNTOS-

Edited by TNTOS, Sep 05 2012 - 08:54 AM.

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#2 Offline Toa Smoke Monster

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Posted Aug 01 2012 - 09:23 AM

I enjoyed your first chapter of your epic. The Ghost King (which is a really cool name, BTW) sounds like a really interesting character. I like how you showed how he led his fellow ghosts. Using fear like he does on his followers is a good way to lead them for now, but I wouldn't be surprised if they did try to overthrow him in a future chapter.I did find one grammar mistake, and it is:

The Ghost King felt fear spread through his Ghosts, but didn’t bother comfort them.

The bolded words should have 'to' between them.Anyway, this is a great start to your epic and I'm interested to see what happens next week. :)

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#3 Offline TNTOS

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Posted Aug 02 2012 - 08:59 AM

I enjoyed your first chapter of your epic. The Ghost King (which is a really cool name, BTW) sounds like a really interesting character. I like how you showed how he led his fellow ghosts. Using fear like he does on his followers is a good way to lead them for now, but I wouldn't be surprised if they did try to overthrow him in a future chapter.I did find one grammar mistake, and it is:

The Ghost King felt fear spread through his Ghosts, but didn’t bother comfort them.

The bolded words should have 'to' between them.Anyway, this is a great start to your epic and I'm interested to see what happens next week. :)

Thank you for the review, The Smoke Monster :) .Yes, the Ghost King is probably my favorite character from this whole story. There's definitely more to him than meets the eye.@grammar error: Didn't notice that, although "didn't bother to comfort them" sounds a bit odd. You sure it's a mistake? Lots of people say things like "I didn't comfort him" or "I did comfort him" without the "to" and it still makes sense, so I'm not sure if your criticism is accurate.-TNTOS-

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#4 Offline Toa Smoke Monster

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Posted Aug 02 2012 - 10:11 AM

I enjoyed your first chapter of your epic. The Ghost King (which is a really cool name, BTW) sounds like a really interesting character. I like how you showed how he led his fellow ghosts. Using fear like he does on his followers is a good way to lead them for now, but I wouldn't be surprised if they did try to overthrow him in a future chapter.I did find one grammar mistake, and it is:

The Ghost King felt fear spread through his Ghosts, but didn’t bother comfort them.

The bolded words should have 'to' between them.Anyway, this is a great start to your epic and I'm interested to see what happens next week. :)

Thank you for the review, The Smoke Monster :) .Yes, the Ghost King is probably my favorite character from this whole story. There's definitely more to him than meets the eye.@grammar error: Didn't notice that, although "didn't bother to comfort them" sounds a bit odd. You sure it's a mistake? Lots of people say things like "I didn't comfort him" or "I did comfort him" without the "to" and it still makes sense, so I'm not sure if your criticism is accurate.-TNTOS-

I'm pretty sure it is, though I thought of a better way to word it. You could say 'but didn't bother comforting them' instead of putting 'to' in that sentence.

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#5 Offline BioGio

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Posted Aug 02 2012 - 03:30 PM

First, some of the things that I'd change:I wouldn't capitalize "Ghosts," just like one wouldn't capitalize "robot," "vampire," or "regional manager."

The Ghosts all wore identical pale white armor, as per their uniform. They had long brakas monkey-like tails wrapped around their waists, short, sharp claws on their fingers, and little tri-crowns of horns on their heads.Their appearance reminded the Ghost King of his own appearance. He, too, was pale white, but even paler than they. Like the Ghosts, he had three horns on his head, but his were longer and sharper than theirs. He was far taller and bulkier than they, too, and his eyes were green as opposed to yellow.

This style of exposition is very vanilla--sterile, even. Each sentence (with the exception of "Like the Ghosts...") is a simple "Subject was/had X." As a result, I found this rather boring to read. It's tedious to read about people looking at people and the narrator describing what they saw from head to toe: Anybody can list off body parts and adjectives. When providing such basic descriptions, you should try to make it more interactive, in a way. Integrate a mention the color of their armor into a description of a Ghost putting on his uniform; refer to a Ghost's scraping his claws against the hilt of his sword; do something. This way, you'll end up with a lively, more personal style.Also, I object to your use of the phrase "as per their uniform." Its use gives the story a very strict, dry, fact-oriented tone, almost like a guide-book's.On a really nitpicky note, please remove either the word "brakas" or the word "monkey" from "brakas monkey-like tails."

The Ghost King had more urgent issues to worry about than physical appearances, however. He raised his sword and said, “All stand.”

First of all, the second sentence doesn't follow directly from the first, unless you mean to say that raising his sword is a very weighty matter. Second, basically everyone has "more urgent issues to worry about than physical appearances," since basic physical appearances (especially of those you know well) tend to outrank even trivialities such as what to have for lunch. It doesn't really merit an explicit mention. Finally, if he isn't worried about appearances, then why did you bother to tell us about them? You call attention to an apparently unnecessary digression despite a third-person limited point of view. Just get rid of this sentence and be sure to integrate your exposition better (as I said above).

The Ghosts, which had been kneeling

There are much better places to put this: for instance, the first sentence ("looked down on his kneeling Ghosts"), the second paragraph ("They knelt around their king, holding their claws against the hard stone floor"). Here, it's just thrown in, and it disrupts the flow of "The Ghosts rose."

The Ghosts, which had been kneeling, stood up and looked directly at the Ghost King. Each Ghost slammed their fists together in the traditional Ghost salute, which created a loud echo in the stone chamber that quickly faded at a gesture from the Ghost King.

Within two sentences, the word "Ghost(s)" is used (as both a noun and an adjective) a total of five times. What's more, you've begun sentences with subjects so often in this piece (13 out of 15 sentences begin this way) that it's starting to get grating. Also, does the Ghost King have power over sound?

“Now my Ghosts,” said the Ghost King, looking over them all dispassionately.

You need a comma between "Now" and "my" since "my Ghosts" is an address.

rebellion often led to upstarts attempting to dethrone him.

This feels redundant. Wouldn't those rebellions be the attempts to dethrone him?

the Ghosts could not become arrogant, or so the Ghost King believed.

I'm suddenly reminded of my ninth grade English teacher, who had a two-by-four with the word "FORESHADOWING" written on it. I think that she typically brought it out during Of Mice and Men and anything by Shakespeare, since these works really hit one over the head with foreshadowing. The moral of this story: You make it really obvious that the Ghost King is wrong here, and that this will be important. There's nothing necessarily wrong with that, since foreshadowing is a strong tool, but you have to be careful not to overuse it.

He made sure they were always at least a little bit afraid so they would never thinking of overthrowing him.

First, "a little bit afraid" isn't all that interesting or surprising. "A little bit" of fear is the sort of thing that one feels when one might flunk a quiz; it's not all that consequential. Second, you mean "they would never think of."

Virof was taller than the last two, but her claws were longer than the others’.

Swap out "but" for "and," since the two facts--being taller and having longer claws--seem logically connected and not mutually contradictory.

Your Ghostliness

No one called King Louis XIV "His Frenchiness," and the English Queen Elizabeth is not "Her Anglitude," so the Ghost King should probably just be called "Your Highness."

The Ghost King sat alone on his throne, ignoring the blue flames that burned on the bracketed torches on the walls, which had been more for his Ghosts’ benefit than his, for he could see quite well in the dark.

This comes across as: "He sat alone, also by the way there were some torches but he didn't need them but other people did." In other words, the description of the torches feels tacked-on here and would go best much earlier on where it would effectively set the scene.

None of the Ghosts said anything, but the Ghost King could tell they were humbled.The Ghost King felt fear spread through his Ghosts, but didn’t bother comfort them.The Ghost King went over their minds again and discovered that they were surprised, even though their physical bodies were perfectly still.

I get that the Ghosts have to be perfectly still to illustrate their discipline, but they also have to have emotions, as you clearly know. The issue here is that you're telling us all of their emotions. And you only take a few words to describe these feelings. And these few words are literally just the names of the emotions. At the very least, you could provide us with a Ghost's internal monologue. Currently, all the emotion is already digested for the reader, and I'd rather read these sorts of thoughts in an uninterpreted form.Finally, I can't help but question whether this is truly a tragedy. The Ghost King comes across as painfully unlikable, without any redeeming attributes. Oedipus Rex was a tragedy because Oedipus was a noble, just figure with some negative personality aspects. The Ghost King seems less like Oedipus and more like Stalin.Now for the good:Most of your dialogue is pretty much spot-on. It evokes a sense of powerful oratory exactly when it should, but never falls into excessive verbosity. (Now, if the king just had a teleprompter, you could change this balance... :P)You've definitely got me interested. The (obvious) foreshadowing makes it clear that this story will be more than a couple of assassins fighting, and that the scope will probably expand.Your choice to write a true tragedy is great. The downfall of a flawed character is highly cathartic. I cannot wait to see how you treat this and how everything plays out.Sorry for hitting style so hard in this review. It's kind of my forte, so I try to provide a lot of information on it.Oh, yeah--one last thing:

@grammar error: Didn't notice that, although "didn't bother to comfort them" sounds a bit odd. You sure it's a mistake? Lots of people say things like "I didn't comfort him" or "I did comfort him" without the "to" and it still makes sense, so I'm not sure if your criticism is accurate.

He's definitely right. In "didn't bother [to] comfort him," you need to use an infinitive (or gerund, at the least), as one always does after another verb. Here, that verb is "bother." "Didn't" and "did" don't follow this pattern, though, since they only add the past tense, as auxiliary or "helping" verbs (and negative, in the case of "didn't").* "Bother" is never auxiliary (a huge difference grammatically), so it follows the rule of needing the infinitive. Here's some more information on the subject.For a better illustration of this point, replace "bother" with the slightly more common "try," (or even "want") as in "didn't try/want to comfort him." This is also the case in foreign languages such as: Spanish (e.g., "yo quiero leer"), French (e.g., "je veux lire"), and German (e.g., "ich will lesen")**.* English is actually rather interesting, as the past tense can be formed in two ways: tacking on the "-ed" or using a separate auxiliary "did." Thus, "I talked" and "I did talk" have the exact same meaning. The same is true for "I talked not" and "I did not talk," although the latter is obviously far more common. Thus, everyone should say "I didn't/did comfort him," but did is here working like "-ed," as an auxiliary verb.**All of these phrases scan to "I want to read"; the boldface affixes on the second verbs are what mark them as infinitives.~ BioGio

Edited by BioGio, Aug 02 2012 - 03:31 PM.

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#6 Offline TNTOS

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Posted Aug 03 2012 - 08:00 AM

You make many, many good points, BioGio. I really didn't notice those problems. It's odd because I thought I carefully ironed out all of the problems, but perhaps I should have asked someone else to look it over before I posted it.Regardless, I will need to look at future chapters and determine if any of those flaws are present. Thank you for pointing them out :) .I want to address a few points, however:

I wouldn't capitalize "Ghosts," just like one wouldn't capitalize "robot," "vampire," or "regional manager."

I get what you're saying, but I am trying to make a distinction between real ghosts (spiritual beings) and these Ghosts. These Ghosts are physical beings, like Toa or Matoran, and so I capitalize "Ghost" here to show the reader that these guys are only metaphorically ghosts, not real ones. I suppose I failed there, considering you were apparently confused by this.

Within two sentences, the word "Ghost(s)" is used (as both a noun and an adjective) a total of five times. What's more, you've begun sentences with subjects so often in this piece (13 out of 15 sentences begin this way) that it's starting to get grating. Also, does the Ghost King have power over sound?

I knew there was something wrong with that setence. Never could figure out what, though, but thanks for pointing that out.Also, yes, the Ghost King does have power over sound. Perhaps it wasn't clear enough.

Finally, I can't help but question whether this is truly a tragedy. The Ghost King comes across as painfully unlikable, without any redeeming attributes. Oedipus Rex was a tragedy because Oedipus was a noble, just figure with some negative personality aspects. The Ghost King seems less like Oedipus and more like Stalin.

Hmm, you bring up a good point there. My only suggestion is to wait and see how the rest of the story plays out. This is only the first chapter, after all, and I haven't revealed everything about the Ghost King just yet.

For a better illustration of this point, replace "bother" with the slightly more common "try," (or even "want") as in "didn't try/want to comfort him." This is also the case in foreign languages such as: Spanish (e.g., "yo quiero leer"), French (e.g., "je veux lire"), and German (e.g., "ich will lesen")**.

I think I get it now. Thanks for explaining it to me.Now I'll need to do some serious editing, but later after I've had more time to think about this.Edit: Made some revisions.-TNTOS-

Edited by TNTOS, Aug 04 2012 - 07:48 PM.

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"If people only knew how hard I work to gain my mastery it wouldn't seem so wonderful at all." -Michelangelo

A Writerly Blog
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(My Little BIONICLE: Friendship is Explosive Completed 01/05/14)
{The Shika Trilogy Omnibus Completed 03/31/14) (Review Topic)
(In the End Updated 07/21/14) (Review Topic)
The Biological Chronicle: (2001) (2002) (2003) (2004) (2005) (2006) (2007) (2008) (2009) (2010)





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