Reader82, The Wordsmith

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2/14/2020 6:52 AM

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I'm a university student that loves to read fiction in my spare time. I enjoy playing games in which a high emphasis is placed on player choice, and the repercussions of such decisions. (For this reason, Zero Escape is still my favourite visual novel series, and I would recommend it to anyone reading this page.) I'm currently working on a time travel narrative called "Recursion Theory", which is designed to remember and respond to even the most miniscule of choices made by the reader. I'm hoping to publish it some time during the new year. A sneak preview of the first two chapters is available here:




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Heavenly Hints: A Guide for "Recursion Theory"
Summary: No matter how hard you try, you can't break the cycle. The day keeps resetting, your family keeps dying, over and over. What other choice do you have? Though you'd never quite considered yourself religious, you have no options left. Drawing your hands together, you pray to any god that might be listening. 
Author's Notes: This is a short companion piece to my story, "Recursion Theory", which can be found here: It provides a list of hints (as well as a complete walkthrough), and is told in the form of a narrative.  Attempting to figure out puzzles for yourself is recommended before consulting this guide. Most of them can be easily solved if you try going through all possible options. Revisiting previous scenes may yield new results based on previously acquired knowledge. Warning: some of the dialogue contains light spoilers for Act 2 of the main game.  [Right now, only a guide for Act 1 is provided. More chapters will be added as they become available in the actual story.]
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Recursion Theory
Story Summary: Crystal's raven black hair brushed against your shoulder, scarlet lips stretched into a loving smile. "I do," you promised as you leaned over to kiss her softly. "I'll stay by your side forever, until death do us part." Her eyes were always so full of hope and optimism - the folly of youth. "Sweetie," she greeted one day, reaching behind her back to pull out a black and white photograph. "I have a surprise to share with you." Her name had been Sara, and when she'd opened her baby blue eyes for the first time, you'd cried, though you'd never admit to it. Many years later, you would hold Kaitlyn in your arms, heart filled with the same fiery warmth you'd felt that first fateful day. You'd do whatever it took to protect them.  Perhaps one day, you'd be able to look down with adoration at your grandkids. When the time came, your daughters would bury you. You hoped they would weep, remembering you as their loving father. You always tried to appreciate each moment with them, for one day it would be your last.

Accessibility: This game makes heavy use of graphics. It is recommended that you play on a computer rather than a mobile device. (Images should still be visible on smaller screens, but may be more difficult to see and interact with.) Alt. text has been provided for images essential to the plot of the story. There is also the option to manually enter the password for the two digital locks. Simply click on the links "You were having trouble using the keypad" and "You were having problems typing the passcode." [NOTE: Alt text not yet available. Will be incorporated soon.] Development: The full story will be told in three acts. Act 1 is comprised of chapters 1-3, act 2 of chapters 4-6, and act 3 of chapters 7-8. Right now, only chapters 1-3 are available. Chapters 4 and 5 are already written, but not yet revised/edited and are still quite buggy. My aim is to completely finish and publish this story game by some point in early 2020. [The 'Important Notes' below aren't so important for the first few chapters, but will become important when playing through the full story.] Other Important Notes: It is strongly advised that you never press the 'back' button when playing. This is because the story has been coded to remember all choices you make, which influences both the puzzle mechanics and the way the protagonist will react to different situations. If you choose to do so anyway, you may find that certain puzzles are rendered unsolvable, and that some lines of dialogue won't make sense (e.g. the protagonist might suddenly acquire knowledge they aren't supposed to have, or might refer to past choices that never happened). You have been warned. This game is also long (estimated play time: 2 hours). Though the story itself is extremely interactive, there is only one true end. The game automatically keeps track of your progress along the way. You will know you have reached the true end if you are able to rate the game and leave comments. You may sometimes encounter items in this story that you can pick up. Having items in your inventory can unlock new pathways in later scenes, which will be displayed automatically through new links. You will never need to 'use' an item. Attempting to do so can and will interfere with the page scripts. Warnings:
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Contains non-graphic descriptions of death, both due to a fire and other causes. Also includes references to suicide and murder.
Hints / Walkthrough: If you ever find yourself unsure how to progress further, you can always ask God for guidance: Image / Text Credits: All pictures were either created by me or taken from the public domain (occasionally with digital alterations). If you see your image on here but you don't wish for it to be included, simply contact me and I'll remove it. Any scientific information paraphrased in the story has been cited at the bottom of the respective pages. The only directly quoted material is a few lines from two of Robert Frost's poems, which have been altered to suit my narrative. Special Thanks: To Shadowdrake27, TheChef, and all the other commentators who have beta-tested my work – your help is much appreciated.
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Recent Posts

Cave of Time vs Everything Else on 1/27/2020 11:12:10 PM
I agree with this. I think that the point of true endings is that you're only supposed to be able to reach them by gathering information from previous playthroughs. At least, that's the type I like best. Ideally, the choices which will allow you to progress to this ending will either be locked off or simply not visible until you've seen the pathways giving you the necessary information. Then again, most of the games which I've played that make use of true endings are mysteries / psychological thrillers, so perhaps it is different for games of other genres. I agree that Zero Escape was unique in the sense that it offered an explanation for the looping phenomenon. I particularly like games that do this, and that's what I'm going for with my game. And yeah, the room escapes were fun, although sometimes I felt like they detracted from the pacing. I can't comment too much on New Game + since the only game I've played that implemented that was Persona 5.

Cave of Time vs Everything Else on 1/27/2020 9:36:27 PM
Would you say that you disliked the branching style used in the Zero Escape series? This is the type of branching style that I'm referring to. I agree that clicking through the same text over and over again to get slight variations would be monotonous. A story that makes good use of this style would offer the option to automatically skip previously seen text, either via fast-forwarding or via a flowchart that ensures any text you're seeing is always new. (Or some alternative option). I think a Cave of Time approach can also offer a satisfying story as long as each branch is long enough.

Cave of Time vs Everything Else on 1/27/2020 9:23:58 PM
Just out of curiosity, have you ever read the story titled "Through Time" on here? It's one of the most highly rated on the site (7.26 / 8), and it makes use of the 'true ending' idea that I talked about. It definitely is a personal preference, so I can understand why some people don't like the concept. I think it works best for slow-burn type stories, in which part of the mystery of the game is figuring out what's going on. That, or ones in which more convoluted endings reveal more twists to the story. The other endings aren't necessarily false endings. It's simply that they're less satisfying than the 'true path'. Let's say you're reading a murder mystery, and in one of the endings you finally see the face of the killer, but not their motivations, and you aren't able to bring them to justice. Now when you're replaying, you can use this knowledge from the previous playthrough to try and find evidence against them. This is something which you wouldn't have been able to do in your first run through the game, simply because you didn't have that knowledge. In other words, its actually necessary to see all the other main endings to see the true ending. That makes the other endings just as important, but they just don't tie up all the loose ends to the story. If you were able to see the true ending on your first playthrough, that would be unsatisfying. The whole point is that you need the knowledge from previous playthroughs in order to unlock it. Some people might think of this as too linear, but there's some amazing pieces with extremely complex branching that make use of this technique. I am glad that you try and make each of your endings as valid as every other ending, as it seems that offers a large degree of free choice which the reader would appreciate.

Cave of Time vs Everything Else on 1/27/2020 8:38:30 PM
I think your story could have benefitted a bit from expanding some of the branches to be a bit longer. (Perhaps by extending the 'canon' pathway in which Arthur is crowned King of Camelot, or adding a pathway where you somehow make it back to your own time). I really loved the setting / premise though, so it was still entertaining enough that I wanted to read through every route. You had a central theme and concept that extended across all the paths. Also, it was long enough that reading through any individual route took about 15 minutes or so, so it didn't come across as too abrupt. You did a really good job with your endings for the 'wrong' pathway as well. Those were interesting to read.

Cave of Time vs Everything Else on 1/27/2020 7:00:17 PM
Am I correct in assuming that the “cave of time” style is one in which choices never loop back on each other, such that the reader is treated to a different adventure each time? I’m also assuming that each of the pathways are separate, instead of being connected through an overarching plot. These types of stories seem the easiest to write, but I don’t enjoy reading them very much. This may just be a personal preference. The types of stories I like best are those in which there are a variety of different endings, with some being more important than others. Seeing a certain number of these endings is necessary to unlock better endings, and eventually, the true ending. The reason I prefer this style is because each of the endings contribute to the plot, with the last ending giving the most satisfying resolution. I feel like with the ‘Cave of Time’ style, each pathway usually ends up being so short that it’s not as satisfying to read. There are, of course, exceptions. If you’ve written a 600 K - 1 million word masterpiece, you could have many endings where the player gets to experience a well-developed storyline each time. Usually, however, stories of this nature end up only taking me 5-10 minutes to read through each pathway. If there’s no larger mystery at stake connecting them all, I probably won’t be inclined to read through more, unless I particularly love the setting or themes of the story. Of course, I’ve known others who particularly dislike ‘true endings’ and prefer the Cave of Time style, so this is simply my own opinion.

CYS Book Club: Book Ten on 1/23/2020 4:51:43 PM
Sure, this seems like it could be fun.

new and improved on 1/16/2020 8:38:43 PM

Camelon has left you some great comments on this, and I second all of them. I highly recommend you take his advice into consideration. 

I have also included a few of my own edits below. I hope they are helpful to you.



Red was born in Germany in 1928., but Oon the year that he was turning 11, his life went to hell, for he was a Jew. He was forced into a camp and tortured day after day. spaceUntil the incident. spaceIt started like any other day in the camp. He was working in a quary, like every day until a guard camecomes up and knockedknocks him onin the back of the head. Red kneeled from the pain, stars dancing across his vision. makeing him kneel from the pain making him see stars across his vision. He then felt someone bind his wrists and put something over his face. Perhaps a more descriptive word than ‘something’? Maybe “smother his face”? He was confused and terrified. He was hauled to his feet and dragged to a van. These two sentences can be combined into one. “Confused and terrified, he was hauled to his feet and dragged into a van. He triedtryed to keep track of the car’s twists and turns, but the ride was too long. After hours of driving,driveing the van finallyfinilly came to a stop. He was then drug out of the van roughly and then tied onto a chair.



You have some good suspense building in this. I think your writing has a lot of potential. I second Camelon’s comment that you may benefit from slowing down the plot a little bit. Can you explain a bit more about how he was captured and forced into the camp? Also, why is he being kidnapped from the camp? Who are the kidnappers? Are they part of they part of Hitler’s army? If so, why did they put Red in a van when he had already been kidnapped? If they weren’t, how were these people allowed into the camp, and why would they hurt Red?

Please remember that writing is a process of constant self-improvement. You’ve definitely got potential, and you’ve got a good attitude regarding the feedback you've received. If you continue with this attitude, I know you will improve greatly in your writing.

FIREBIRDS N SHIT: THE STORY on 1/16/2020 7:26:04 PM

Yeah, Tri mentioned to me that Gower taught them about supercommas. My bad. Thanks for pointing that out :-). 

FIREBIRDS N SHIT: THE STORY on 1/16/2020 7:09:11 PM

Revision reccomendations and overall comments are in green. 

Editing comments are in red. 

R/w = repeated word (consider using a synonym). 

The Black Mist was receding, just like it did every day at dawn. The grand bird returned as the massive cluster of clouds dispersed--probably instantly reforming at some other part of the world--the wings of the phoenix blessed the morning with golden light. You stand, holding a pestle and mortar in front of a window. You crush the ingredients, casting an incantation of divination. Your world turns blue as your eyes are engulfed in a cerulean mist. Theoretically, this should protect you from long term damage coming off the sunlight. Twisting your torso to the right, you sprinkle the fine powder into the solution beside you. Great, now all you have to do was gaze. 'Have' is present tense, 'was' is past tense. Also, I feel like this sentence can end with a better word than 'gaze'. It's obvious what you're gazing into (since you just mentioned it in the prev. sentence), but it still sounds strange. You clutch at the power How does one 'clutch' at a concept? radiating off of the creature and feel the ecstatic sensation Can you explain why this sensation is causing ecstasy in the protagonist? of being removed from your body.

You are off to a strong start with your introduction. Your sentences flow well, your vocabulary is great, and you've introduced just enough information to intrigue the reader, while leaving them wanting more. 

“Glorious Phoenix Star, my Supplier; my Guide; Semicolons are used to separate independent clauses. Commas can be used here. my Light, I ask you to connect me to my servants,” the elf spoke. Is the elf us? If so, you've switched from the second person to the third person here. That is it. Nothing more, nothing less. LUX didn’t demand large offerings or anything. He was always crisp. You return, stirring your tea and letting out a sigh. Tear/w 'tea' isn’t your thing, but it was the most potent way of accessing the bizarre power of the magika leaf. It was simple to grind into a powder, but getting it down is a challenge. Swallowing the bitter liquid, you look upwards at the firebird overhead; visions swirl in its fiery trail across the sky. As you study the bird, r/w 'bird' knowledge floods into your mind. “They are dead,” you mutter.. “All of them are dead!"

Fantastic suspense-building and descriptions of the scenery! I'm really interested to learn more, now. 

The cerulean r/w 'cerulean' (though it might be more descriptive than just the general colour, so I'm not certain you need to change it) mist around your eyes diffuses, leaving your vision blurry and burning. Great description The Phoenix's consuming shriek beginsbegan to shriek r/w 'shriek' into your ears. Your eyes fluttered shut. Your yellow arms swoop upwards, alternating between rubbing your eyes and covering your pointed ears r/w ‘ears’. Neither worksworked, semicolon needed, not a comma nothing except time wouldwouldn’t silence the noise andor return your vision. All magic had some type of cost. Whether it was short-term or longer-term, I don’t think you need the comma here. depended upon the method. I would consider re-phrasing the last sentence very slightly. The word choice is great; I just think it could flow better.

I like how you’re describing the character’s body language, and how you’ve introduced the idea of consequences for using magic. I also like how you describe the character’s appearance and feelings by showing the reader, rather than simply telling. Your exposition is good.

Occasionally, you’ve switched between the present and past tense. Most of your excerpt is told in the present tense, so I’ve corrected the other instances

“I have to inform the Lord while I still can!” you hollered, stumbling stumbled. You kick the table at your side.. You have two periods here. Magical tools soar through the air, crashing into the floor. Some of them shatter into tiny pieces. The chaos smashes your magic mirror--a gift from your liege. Dust floatsfloated in the air, showering down upon everythingconsider a more descriptive word than ‘everything’. You stagger from the impact, but find balance, steadying yourself against the wall with your metal left hand. I feel like ‘but find balance’ is a bit repetitive since you mention that the protagonist ‘steadies’ themselves next. Maybe you can say: “You stagger from the impact, before steadying yourself…”

I like this sentence You’ve always been mediocre in divination. Your body never conqueredI think there is a better word than ‘conquered’ that you could use. Something to explain that you were never able to deal with it. the after effectsaftereffects of the art. With senses dulled, you are useless to his liege. For you, this was an unacceptable method of serving your lieger/w ‘liege’. It just ends in more harm than good. You are aware of this fact, but you still dodid it. Why? Oh, right, because you were afraid of using more direct methods.

Once again, the suspense-building in this paragraph is great. You’re doing an excellent job of building up a fantasy world, and adding atmosphere to your writing. I feel like the end of this paragraph can be edited a bit. What are these more ‘direct methods’? And I think the flow could be improved a bit.

Dust covering your robes, you shamble out of your quarters and dart down the first corridor you feel for. So I get that you don’t want to use the word ‘see’, since the character’s vision has been disrupted. But “feel for” parses oddly. Maybe consider a synonym. Your eyesight releases pain from pain’sr/w pain? grip just a little bit, mildly returning. The previous sentence parses a bit oddly – consider revising.  Runic sigils good word choice light this passage blue. Each sign is its own separate designI think you can revise this first part of the sentence. You’re trying to say they all look different, right? Or are you trying to say the sigils are physically separated from each other?, and they’re engraved onto the walls and ceiling. Some of these engravings are even yours. This is interesting.  You plant your left hand on thea wall; your sense of touch was unaffected and you need to feel your way around anyway. I didn’t originally get the impression their touch was unaffected, because you already mentioned they were ‘feeling for’ passages earlier. I might suggest something like: “You plant your left hand on the wall, feeling your way around the corridors.” But in that case, you should use synonyms for ‘feel for’ and ‘corridor’ in the first sentence so as to not sound repetitive. As you do so, the sensation of magic pulsating pastpassed your metallic palm becomes evident. “Sensation of” and “becomes evident” sounds a bit wordy. Maybe: “As you do so, you sense magic pulsating past your metallic palm.” It reacts to your presence! A powerful rhythm beckons you to tap into its power. You feel yourself siphoning, How and where are we being siphoned? but before long the power rejects you. In what way does it reject us? How do we know this? The azure rune falls dark, casting a shadow throughout the room.

This paragraph is intriguing, but it confuses me a bit. I think you’ve built an amazing picture in your head (that I’m really interested in knowing more about), but you haven’t given the reader enough details.

YouHe had never encountered anything like this. These runes had always been here--mostly for defensive, utility, and stealth purposes that kept the castle undergroundThe runes making the castle difficult to locate makes sense, but they also kept it underground? Couldn’t it simply have been build underground normally? and difficult to locate-- they were not serving this function any longer. Why not? And how do we know this? Is it because the runes fell dark a moment ago? You even designed some of the runes yourself. You said this already. There was only one location that that magic was leading to: I would rephrase this so that ‘magic’ comes closer to the beginning of the sentence. the throne room. Lord Stone Interesting name This makes me wonder if the elements are important to the magic, somehow. was channeling some type of energy!

You press on. Whatever the purpose of that beacon was, you cancould feel its desire to be used. Intriguing. You cast two minor good vocabularycantrips: a spell of perception, which will restore some of your hearing;comma, not semicolon and a minor haste spell, which quickens your pace. This sentence is excellently phrased. I really like it. I like how you introduced the magical abilities of the protagonist in such a descriptive way. I can’t help but wonder: If the character was able to cast a ‘perception’ spell, why didn’t they do so earlier? Maybe you can clarify in some way that it enhances only auditory perception? (Without actually saying “auditory perception”, which doesn’t flow as well as the way you’ve described it.) In your near-blinded state, such a sensation was a life saver. Now you have a trail to follow. You swivel around thea corner, finding yourself in front of a set of massive oak doors. You can make out a pair of good vocabularyrevenants guarding the doorsr/w ‘doors’. A revenant? That helps to build a lot of suspense. Iron and magic Perhaps a more descriptive word than ‘magic’? It sounds odd to pair ‘iron’ and ‘magic’ together. reinforced the entrance to the royal chambers. A pleasant thought passes through your mind. You are quite close to Lord Stone! Why is this thought so pleasant? Does the protagonist want to see this guy so much? Revenants stood beside doors; they The revenants are were suited in full plate armor, spears restingrested in their hands. Your heart pulsessends fire through your veins, adrenaline overcoming your sense of decencyI’d consider another word than ‘decency’. This prev. sentence is great. It really helps add to the tension in the scene. Breaking into a sprint, you erupt with neurotic energyNeurotic energy? You mean he was anxious? Or are you trying to say something else?, gunning for entry into the Lord’s court! The guards slammed their spears onto the stone floor, before crossing them into an ‘Xx’. Your right shoulder slamsr/w ‘slams’ into one of the revenants, sending it stumbling into the armored door. You crash into the ground, pain pulsing through your body. Great concluding sentence.

“Court Mage,” the other revenant nabbed lifts you to your feet, clutching you in her hands with surprising tenderness. I wouldn’t expect tenderness from a revenant, but perhaps you expected this reaction from the reader. “What is the meaning of this?” Her voice is gravellywas gravel. I like the description you attributed to her speech. You know this one, although you don’t remember her name. I like this prev. sentence too. You open your mouth to speak, but you’re interrupted when the other revenant rises from the ground. Great. I like this paragraph.

**You need to insert a line break when another character starts speaking.**
“--Aand why are you indecent?” the other one wonderswondered. The word ‘wonders’ makes me think that this is a thought. I get that this is a thought the character is voicing aloud, but I think another synonym would work better. His helmet must have fallen off. You recognized this one. You said this already. He iswas a handsome man, with chin-length hair and a strong jawline. If you didn’t know better, it’d be a tough job identifying him as undead. His name was Leon, you think. Here you were in stained and dusty robes--which were somehow torn--trying to reach the Lordlord of the castle! You must look like a madman. Fantastic description of the characters’ appearances, here.

**Line break needed**
“It’s an emergency! There’s an imminent threat to the castle!” Youyou throw out a plethora of frantic gestures in an effort to communicate the seriousness of the situation. “I swear on LUX’s name, that this is serious!” Leon’s eyebrows riserose in surprise, but other than that, the two undead didn’t respond. After all, the undeadr/w ‘undead’ did not worship LUX. They let you in, no comma needed with reluctance. I love this paragraph too. I’m really interested in learning more about the King, now.

Simply Oopening the doors sends a cascade of warm magic to floodflooding through you, restoring your vision and the rest of your hearing, but he was still a wreck. I recommend removing the last part of this sentence. My reasoning is that I’m not sure who ‘he’ is, nor why he is still a wreck. Also, it causes the sentence itself to train on a bit long. You witness a seemingly-boundless multitude of shining runes dancing around the room, illuminating the room with blue light. A boundless multitude of shining runes dances around the room, illuminating it with blue light. Atop the throneno comma needed, iswas Lord Stone. He iswas a tall brute of an orc, his balding gray head reachesreached six feetfoot while still sitting, and his eyes were closed. I feel like you can move the part about his balding grey head next to the part about his wrinkles. I also feel like you should just say he is six feet talk while sitting, instead of saying his balding head stretched this high. His facial features face iswere beset with wrinkles;Use a period instead of a semicolon here. Otherwise, your sentence is a bit long. His teeth arewere sharp, pointed things, with curved canines that jutted out of his mouth; he was balding. Move the ‘balding’ part next to your description about his head.The runes beginbegan swirling around the throne in an azure vortex of pure energy, consolidating as one big wall of magic, wrapping around the orc and permeating him. This last sentence can be rephrased a bit. Firstly, you already described the movement of the runes – it’s okay to describe how they are changing here, but try to use synonyms so it doesn’t sound repetitive. I believe you used the phrase ‘vortex of pure energy’ or ‘pure energy’ before, as well. Secondly, I’m not sure what it means to say that the magic ‘permeated’ the orc.


General Comments:

Overall, I thought this was very well-written. You’ve got some great characterization of the protagonist. You’ve introduced a sense of suspense and urgency that hooks the reader into your story. I love how you started off with the reader performing some sort of strange, unexplained magic ritual. You’ve constantly described the scenery and the characters’ appearance/body language in a way that shows the reader what your characters are like, rather than simply telling them, and that is an excellent thing to do as a writer.

Your world-building is off to a very strong start. I particularly liked your introduction of the magic spells, the mystery surrounding the King of this land, and the revenants. I loved how the revenants described us as the “court mage”: that gives the reader a sense of identity and makes us wonder what role we might play in this environment. I expect this to turn into a very excellent final piece, and I genuinely look forward to reading it.

2019: Objective Weighing of Value thread on 1/16/2020 1:58:52 AM
Thanks puddlebunni, your comment made me smile :-). I needed the motivation to keep chugging for the long journey ahead.